The Problem with Cannabis Commercialization in California

Cannabis Commercialization

Cannabis Commercialization

 

California has led the way in terms of legalizing recreational cannabis. Since 1996, medical legalization has been in place, making it the first to pass such a law. Medical marijuana dispensaries and medical marijuana policies were a stepping stone to recreational cannabis laws in California and other states, including Colorado and Washington. 

Since cannabis is recreationally legal in California, local governments can’t prevent adults from growing, transporting, or using it for their personal use.

At the same time, commercial activities can be regulated and blocked by local governments under recreational cannabis legislation. 

When the California government legalized marijuana, growers and suppliers were required to register, comply with all regulations, and apply for permits.

The state’s regulatory agencies initially included the Bureau of Cannabis Control, the Department of Food and Agriculture, and the Department of Public Health. As of 2021, they merged under the Department of Cannabis Control.

While attitudes are broadly shifting as far as the use of marijuana, some worry about the impacts of recreational cannabis legalization, especially on American teens and teen drug abuse rates. 

 

The Cons of Legal Recreational Marijuana

More than half of adults in the United States say they’ve tried marijuana, even though it remains an illegal drug federally. In 1969, public support for legalizing marijuana was only 12%. Now, it’s nearly 70%.

Proponents of cannabis commercialization and legalization say retail sales add billions to the economy and create jobs. Those in favor of legalization also say it frees up police resources and reduces some of the racial disparities in enforcement.

Opponents have their viewpoints, however.

  • Those who are against legalizing marijuana say that it creates high costs for taxpayers and society that outweigh the tax revenues. Those cited costs include emergency room visits, medical care, drugged driving victims, and addiction treatment.
  • Following recreational legalization, related traffic deaths went up 62% in Colorado. Law enforcement spoke up, saying what’s happening is the legalization of a product that creates more impaired drivers on the roadway, more visits to the emergency department, and more deaths. 
  • While not as addictive as some substances, we know that dependence on the drug occurs. The number of people addicted to and dependent on marijuana is likely to grow as legalization expands.
  • Heavy cannabis users can experience withdrawal symptoms, including insomnia, anxiety, nausea, and depression. This is similar to any other substance use disorder. 
  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse believes as many as four million people in the U.S. currently meet the criteria of a marijuana use disorder.
  • There are also opportunities for black market cartels to offer lower prices on marijuana and undercut legitimate sellers. With the tax structure in many states with legalized cannabis, it’s not difficult to do.

“Big Marijuana”

The concept of the “Big Marijuana” industry is also one that floats around. When you commercialize a substance like marijuana, there is a fear that there will be targeting of children and young people and exploitation for profit.

  • It’s similar to Big Tobacco. 
  • For years tobacco companies were marketing their products that explicitly appealed to children and young people with characters like Joe Camel.
  • We already see with cannabis commercialization that products include marketing with bright colors and sweet flavors. 
  • Marijuana retail sales include lollipops and gummies, and candy bars, which hold appeal for middle and high school students. 

A study published in JAMA Psychiatry in 2019 found small increases in heavy and detrimental marijuana use among American teens with access to legal shops during the study period. Based on the observational study, there were also small increases in cannabis use disorders among adults. 

  • Researchers looked at data from a national survey to understand marijuana use patterns. 
  • The study found among teens between the ages of 12 and 17; problematic marijuana use was 25% higher when states legalized it.
  • The researchers were careful to say they weren’t suggesting that marijuana not be legalized, but it did give pause to some when seeing the effects on secondary school students and teens. 

The issue with legalizing any psychoactive substance is that it makes it more readily available. While there are age restrictions to purchase it in states where there’s cannabis commercialization, teens can often find ways around that.

 

Self-Medicating with Marijuana

The other glaring problem is that when something is legal, we tend to see it as being safer than what it is in reality.

For example, consider alcohol. Alcohol is one of the deadliest substances available, and it contributes to numerous deaths and diseases. Still, since it is legal, we see it as more socially acceptable than something like heroin.

The same can be true of substance abuse related to prescription drugs. Opioids are among the most dangerous substances in America, but many view them as less harmful than illicit drugs because they’re available as a prescription. 

Prescription drug misuse has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans. This isn’t to say that marijuana is as harmful but instead that our perception can shape attitudes towards drugs with risks. 

Many people who self-medicate with marijuana will usually have the same issues they’re self-medicating for (such as anxiety & depression) become a much bigger problem in the long-term due to their marijuana use. 

 

Adolescent Marijuana Use 

The teen years are when young people explore the world around them and take risks. Teen drug abuse rates tend to be fairly high because they often seek out independence. Unfortunately, some of their risk-taking can have adverse effects.

In 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 22% of surveyed high school students said they’d used marijuana in the past 30 days. The percentage of students who said they’d used it in their lifetime was 37%. It’s not uncommon for 8th graders and middle school students to also report regular marijuana use in addition to older teens, such as 10th graders through 12th graders. 

While there can be risks of using marijuana no matter a person’s age, these tend to be greater in teens.

  • Using marijuana puts teens at risk of developing mental health issues, including depression and social anxiety. 
  • Some people develop temporary psychosis. There’s an association between marijuana and schizophrenia when people start using it early in life.
  • Driving under the influence can be a major risk with marijuana. Marijuana, much like alcohol and illicit drugs, affects reaction time, coordination, and concentration.
  • Around three in 10 people who use marijuana products meet the diagnostic criteria for a cannabis use disorder. Symptoms of a marijuana use disorder include trying to quit or cut back unsuccessfully and giving up other activities to use the drug. When they begin using cannabis, the younger someone is, the more likely they are to develop a marijuana use disorder.
  • Teens regularly using marijuana can experience problems focusing and maintaining attention, difficulties with problem-solving, and memory and learning issues. 
  • The teen brain actively continues developing until around age 25. Cannabis exposures in the teen and early adult years can be harmful to a developing brain.
  • While initially, marijuana use can solve problems in the short term, like depression or anxiety, over time, it worsens these issues. It can also serve as a gateway to other drugs, including illicit drugs for some young people.

 

The Final Word

While we don’t know the full ramifications for American teens, we know that cannabis commercialization can negatively impact younger people and teens.

We have to be mindful going forward of what harm can stem from the commercialization of marijuana, particularly for younger age groups. Teen drug abuse can have unintended implications related to recreational cannabis commercialization and recreational marijuana legalization. 

If you’d like to learn about treatment for marijuana use disorders or any other substance use disorder, please contact Anchored Tides Recovery at 866-600-7709.

Drug Addiction in Elderly Women

addiction in the elderly

addiction in the elderly

 

An estimated 2.5 million older adults have a drug or alcohol problem. From six to 11% of hospital admissions among the elderly are due to alcohol or drug problems. Fourteen percent of elderly emergency department visits are substance-related, as are 20% of psychiatric admissions among older people.

Addiction in the elderly is a growing problem. Many factors contribute to a rising number of older Americans with substance use disorders.

Drug addiction in the elderly and alcohol abuse have accelerated during the pandemic as well. It’s important for families and loved ones, as well as health care providers, to watch for the signs of drug or alcohol misuse in older people.

Below, we discuss addiction in the elderly, particularly among older women who may have even more risk factors than older men.

An Overview of Substance Use in the Elderly

Typically, after young adulthood, rates of substance use decline. However, millions of older adults have a substance use disorder in the United States.  

Some people begin using substances early in life, which puts them at risk of later substance use. For other people, these patterns don’t start until they’re older.

Some of the risk factors for addiction in young people are similar in older people and often amplified.

  • Grief, financial stress, and a lack of social support contribute to addiction in people of all ages. 
  • Mental illness and social isolation are factors.
  • For older women, in particular, these risk factors can be common. Women tend to outlive their spouses, meaning they deal with grief and isolation more often, increasing the risk of addiction. 
  • Older women are most at risk of prescription drug abuse, while men’s substance use patterns later in life often involve alcohol.
  • The highest rates of alcoholism in the country are in widowers over 75. 
  • An estimated 20-25% of adults 75 and older intermittently drink heavily. 
  • The number of older people hospitalized for problems that relate to alcohol is equal to the number hospitalized for heart attacks.
  • An estimated 11% of older women abuse prescription medications. Non-medical use of prescription opioids is higher than abuse rates for other prescriptions, including sedatives and stimulants.
  • The adverse effects of drugs and alcohol can be more significant on elderly adults. As we age, our bodies become more sensitive to alcohol and substances. Your tolerance can decline, so you might feel the effects faster than you did when you were younger.
  • Amounts of drugs or alcohol that weren’t necessarily unsafe earlier in a person’s life can become dangerous or deadly in older people. 
  • The risks of cognitive impairment, worsening medical conditions, reduced quality of life, and addiction issues can increase in older people.

Addiction Risk Factors That Are Unique to Older People

While some risks of addiction in the elderly are the same for younger people, other factors are more predominant in older people. 

One is that older people are more likely to have chronic health issues. 

  • These issues can cause chronic pain in elderly patients
  • Older people may be prescribed prescription medicines to treat the pain or attempt to self-medicate. 
  • As people age, they also see an increasing number of doctors. 
  • Those doctors might not communicate with one another, meaning prescriptions can overlap or interactions can be overlooked.

When we’re in the younger phases of our lives, even though we might feel lonely or disconnected, we are often surrounded by other people. We have responsibilities to keep up with daily, like working or caring for children. If someone is experiencing substance abuse, it may become apparent to the people around them.

  • Older people can go extended periods without seeing anyone. 
  • This puts them at greater risk of isolation, which is in and of itself an addiction risk factor.
  • There’s also a lack of oversight into what someone is doing when they spend most or all of their time alone. 
  • Physical disabilities and physical pain may mean older people spend most of their time at home. 
  • The pandemic has worsened isolation for many people and fueled a rise in substance abuse across all age groups, including the elderly.
  • Older people can get confused and take larger doses of medicines than they’re supposed to, take doses more frequently than they should, or mix medicines that shouldn’t be combined.

​​

 

Drug Addiction in Elderly Women

Above, we touch on some of the gender differences in addiction in older men and women. As mentioned, men are more likely to abuse alcohol and women prescription drugs. There are other differences as well:

  • Women often use smaller amounts of drugs for shorter periods of time than men before becoming addicted.
  • Women are more likely to have drug cravings and relapse after treatment.
  • Due to sex hormones, women may be more sensitive to the effects of drugs than men.
  • When a woman uses substances, there may be more physical effects on their blood vessels and heart.
  • Changes in the brain and cognition are more common in women.
  • Females are more likely to go to the emergency room or die from an overdose due to substances.

 

Opioid Addiction in Elderly People

Opioids are a class of drugs available by prescription. Heroin is an illicit drug, meaning it’s illegal, but the effects are similar to prescription drugs. Opioid prescription medications include morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone.

Doctors can give these pain-relieving medications to patients to manage various chronic pain and, more commonly, acute conditions.

In older people, because of health problems causing pain, opioid use is somewhat common.

Opioids attach to certain receptor sites in the central nervous system. They change how pain signals are sent. These medications also slow down the central nervous system.

The slowdown in the CNS can lead to symptoms including low blood pressure and heart rate and slow breathing.

Older people are more sensitive to the effects of drugs, so this slowdown can become dangerous or deadly with a smaller dose than it might in a younger person. Opioid medications contribute to tens of thousands of deaths each year because of overdoses. 

The risk of overdosing on prescription pain medication is higher when combined with other substances, like benzodiazepines or alcohol.

The Signs of Addiction in the Elderly

Spotting a substance use disorder in older adults or opioid addiction in the elderly is difficult. Many of the signs of substance abuse in the elderly population are similar to aging and chronic health conditions.

For example, addiction can lead to loss of balance and coordination, lack of interest in personal hygiene, forgetfulness, and cognitive problems. Symptoms of a new or worsening mental health disorder can be a sign of addiction. These are symptoms that often overlap with other things in older people.

  • If you have a loved one you’re concerned about, try to monitor their medications as much as possible. 
  • Check in with them regularly, and encourage them to use technology like video chat to stay connected. 
  • Going to their doctor’s appointments can be helpful when you can.

Older people are likely to refuse addiction treatment because they don’t like to leave their familiar surroundings or perhaps don’t recognize a problem.

Addiction treatment options are available that can specifically speak to the needs of older people with drug or alcohol addiction. Effective treatment often includes behavioral therapy, and consideration for co-occurring disorders, like depression or management of a chronic illness. 

If you’d like to learn more about how you can help someone in your life get treatment, reach out to the Anchored Tides Recovery team by calling 866-600-7709 today.

The Reality of Dating an Addict

Dating an Addict

Dating an Addict

 

If you are dating an addict and would like to remain hopeful of a successful union, some tips can help. While you can look forward to some trials, they can serve as steps to confirm your readiness. Equipping yourself with some vital facts can help turn what could otherwise be a heartbreak into a fulfilling, harmonious relationship.

 

Red Flags of Dating A Drug Addict

The challenges of dating a drug addict can exist at different levels. They will depend on the intentions and the receptivity of both individuals. Dating an addict who has no desire to aim for recovery is like walking through a minefield. That relationship is almost certain to face bad times. However, dating a recovering addict can prove more hopeful when handled rationally.

If a relationship with a drug addict is to succeed, both members need to be aware of the facts about addiction while being willing to deal effectively with them. If such a couple is to have the potential of being a long-term quality connection, it must honor the same values necessary for any successful relationship and then some. The recovery process requires a certain amount of extra sensitivity.

 

Second Thoughts About Dating an Addict Are Acceptable

After dating a recovering addict for some time, you might have reservations about taking the relationship further. If this is the case, you have no reason to judge yourself. Looking at a prospective alliance objectively before engaging in one that you might not serve in the best way is commendable. 

 

Being With an Addict: A Game Changer

If you want to be involved with someone with an addiction, you must prepare for a few life changes of your own. Although this is true for any relationship to a point, being in love with an addict is likely to require you to have even more understanding and flexibility. 

Understand that recovery is not a finish line that, once crossed, represents a final victory. On the contrary, addiction recovery is a lifelong journey. The everyday lifestyle of a recovering addict will include having to bounce back from some pitfalls and consistently nurturing the newly learned ways of thinking and living. 

 

Honor Yourself While Dating A Recovering Addict

A person with high self-esteem and self-confidence is more likely to deal effectively while being with an addict regularly. An individual who exercises codependent characteristics will not serve the relationship well.

For example, giving in to a compulsion to help another indulge in an addictive activity (like offering a pill), known as enabling, is not helping this person. As with any relationship, having the capacity to be understanding and compassionate is crucial, but encouraging that person to be dependent on you is sure to lead to a relationship that suffers. 

While dating an addict, keep things in perspective. You want to be supportive, but you cannot “fix” this person. Do not become obsessive with the addictive issues. Remember to honor yourself as an individual who has a life of your own.

 

Increasing Your Chances of Success Dating an Addict 

While dating a recovering addict, you will be dealing with the issues from the other side of the table. It can include discussions about your partner’s current status or feelings and attending supportive recovery meetings. You may even discover that obtaining counseling of your own will help gain insight into your personality. It can help you to respect the needs of your partner and yourself. A relationship founded on outstanding communication and mutual respect can enjoy a reasonably high chance of success.

 

5 Tips for Dating an Addict

  • Be empathetic to the situation.
  • Communicate regularly.
  • Be a supporter.
  • Do not enable your partner’s addiction.
  • Honor yourself as an individual.

 

Being Married To A Drug Addict

A marriage that has enjoyed a history of success is not necessarily immune to the possibility that a spouse will take a turn toward addiction. It can happen for several reasons, including work-related issues, insecurities that manifest, misuse of a prescription drug, or something else. 

If your spouse is experiencing an addiction, you might feel inclined to hope the issue will go away by itself, especially if your marriage has generally been a good one with few challenges throughout the years. Unfortunately, such situations do not usually fix themselves.

At the very least, make a call regarding possible solutions. When encouraged to take a more proactive stance toward arranging for treatment, do not resist.

 

 

Can Two Addicts in a Relationship Make it Work?

It is not uncommon for both people in a relationship to be drug users. That does not imply it’s a smooth ride by any means. Unless one member seeks help, the relationship will be in jeopardy.

Hopefully, one partner’s receptivity to treatment will inspire the other to follow suit. If the two are to survive as a team, they must find themselves on the same page. When the decision to seek treatment is mutual, the chances for relationship success can transcend from hope to probability. 

Some of this treatment may involve both people attending sessions together, but a reputable goal-oriented program will consist mainly of therapy provided on an individualized level. A couple following the prescribed plan can face the future with newly found optimism.

 

Dating an Addict Can Lead to A Positive Outcome

While dating a recovering addict, it will be crucial to maintain a healthy perspective. Due to the adjustment, times are likely to exist when you are the one who feels the effects more than your partner. Often, you will have to be the stronger of the two. Maintaining your self-respect and personal dignity will come to your aid during the more trying moments.

A compassionate heart, flexible mindset, open ears, and rational approach can all contribute to enjoying a successful relationship with a person who lives with addiction. The path is not likely to be without its rocks and dips, but a commitment to overcome them one at a time will eventually lead to smoother pavement ahead.

If you, or someone you love, are struggling with addiction in Southern California, call 866-600-7709 and talk to an Anchored Tides Recovery team member today.

Gateway Drug Examples in 2022

Gateway Drugs

Gateway Drugs

 

The study of gateway drugs began nearly fifty years ago. While its hypothesis continues to face some controversy, the seriousness of drug abuse remains indisputable. If you currently suffer from addiction, things can improve from this point on. With the help of trained people who care, you can experience a better reality.

 

What Is A Gateway Drug?

A gateway drug is a substance that, when used, opens the door to the use of more harmful ones. They are addictive, relatively easy to access, and less potent than the more powerful and illicit substances for which they roll out the carpet.

The common usage of gateway substances by society puts them within the easy grasp of adolescents and young adults. They are made available by friends, schoolmates, siblings, and parents. 

Growing up in a household in which at least one parent smokes cigarettes or drinks alcohol can automatically increase the chances that a youngster may eventually subscribe to the use of them. Although Mom or Dad may preach “do as I say, not as I do,” the visual example set by their behavior usually serves as the real teacher.

 

A Few Examples Of Gateway Drugs

A complete list of gateway drugs would likely face controversy, as many opposing views on the topic exist. Even so, substances that have stood the test of time as candidates usually fall under four general categories:

 

The Four Types Of Gateway Drugs

  • Nicotine
  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Prescription Opioids

 

Nicotine: The Gateway To The Hypothesis 

When Dr. Denise Kandel coined the phrase “drug gateway” in the mid-seventies, she acted in a way that was contrary to others’ expectations. During that period, marijuana was the subject in the limelight. Her research project was supported and funded by those who hoped she would spotlight marijuana as a possible gateway drug.

Instead, she followed her inclination to place the focus on nicotine. Her efforts revealed that tobacco was the substance most likely to fit the bill as a gateway to others. 

The initial stages of her research confirmed that youngsters were more prone, to begin with, to cigarettes, beer, and wine. After all, these were legal for adults and, therefore, more accessible to them.

 

Alcohol: The Culpable Companion

Both nicotine and alcohol have long been considered two partners in crime in the gateway drugs arena. The use of both has proven to be responsible for both short-term and long-term harmful consequences. 

Research supports the notion that alcohol is the most widely used substance of these gateways. Whether or not it is the most likely to lead young people to polydrug use cannot change the well-known fact that excessive use of alcohol is detrimental to a high quality of life. 

 

Is Marijuana A Gateway Drug?

There seems to be much controversy with classifying marijuana as a gateway drug. The inclination might be that it is not since most people who use it do not switch to using harder drugs.

However, the relaxing, sometimes euphoric, state that occurs while using marijuana reportedly diminishes over time with constant use. If it is resorted to as a means of escape from the stresses of everyday life, the quest to access more powerful, even illicit, drugs remains a possibility.

 

Prescription Opioids: Risky Business For Addictive Personalities

Opioids prescribed by doctors can effectively reduce mild to severe pain. They can also suppress coughs. Used properly, they have their place.

These drugs can also cause an intense high or euphoria, which often compels one to overuse them to continue re-experiencing that state. In turn, the user may be likely to seek out heroin, an illegal opioid.

Opioid abuse is out of hand. The United States is currently in the middle of an opioid epidemic. The effects of overdosing on them (most often unintentional) are catastrophic.

In 2022, scientific research continues. Much progress has emerged through molecular biology that shows evidence of gateway characteristics of how substances affect mice. 

For example, such research has shown pretty conclusively that mice exposed to nicotine respond more readily to cocaine. Until more concrete evidence can parallel these findings with humans, it seems the hypothesis is yet to earn the status of qualifying as a theory.

Scientists have also exhaustively studied the use of alleged gateway drugs on a demographic level, looking for patterns and connections between the biological makeup of purported gateway drugs and their use.

 

gateway-drugs

 

Addiction Goes Deeper Than The Drugs Themselves

Addiction goes beyond the scope of the attributes of drugs at a molecular level and demographics. Other factors contribute to the actions of an individual looking for relief, perhaps more than what can be fully understood.

However, some of these factors are not difficult to deny. People have individual characteristics, traits, personalities, backgrounds, and ways of handling life situations. These variables and more can contribute to the role a given substance plays in one’s life. 

Science has a way to go. The attainment of conclusive evidence is still a goal. However, one significant fact that people can bank on is this: There is help available to people experiencing addiction challenges.

 

Women In Need Of Treatment For Addiction

In starting treatment, women often face certain obstacles that need to be acknowledged rather than avoided. The tendency to evade enlisting the help of others is all too common. Remember that, for every challenge, there is a solution.

For example, the stigma that often accompanies substance abuse is somewhat common among women. Also, the fear of losing child custody is a concern shared by mothers. Women with children facing addiction issues may face other obstacles, too. There may be countless excuses that an individual might see as valid reasons to delay seeking treatment.

The truth is that there is no legitimate reason to prolong the shackles of addiction when there are trained professionals who have effectively seen others through similar situations time and time again. Clinics specializing in helping women with addictions are fully aware that treatment is to be provided empathetically and in a way that addresses all the specific conditions of a woman’s life situation. 

 

The Gateway To A Better Outlook On Life

If addiction is an issue in your life, acknowledging it and asking for help is a tremendous, notable stride toward recovery. Some people care and can, with your permission, help you to face each day with optimism. 

Decide that, whatever it takes, you can get through any obstacles you might currently be facing. At the moment, things might seem a little murky. But the clouds always pass to make way for the sunshine. For you, the sky’s the limit.

If you, or someone you love, are struggling with addiction in Southern California, call 866-600-7709 and talk to an Anchored Tides Recovery team member today. 

Dual Diagnosis and Treating Problems at the Root

Dual Diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis

 

Mental health problems and addiction usually go hand in hand. With rising statistics of these two disorders being simultaneously diagnosed in people, the need for a new term arose. 

Read on; in this article, we will explain the term “dual diagnosis” – what it means, how it is diagnosed, what the statistics are pointing at, and the available treatments. 

 

What is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis is a term that is used to name dual mental health conditions in which a person battles a mental disorder and addiction (or, as it is academically called, “ substance use disorder.”) 

The term “addiction” includes all kinds of addiction – drugs, alcohol, food, sex, video games, gambling, or even work. The other mental health condition or disorder can be general anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, or any other mental disorder diagnosed by psychiatrists. It’s important to note that two mental or emotional disorders happening simultaneously are NOT a dual diagnosis. The term is used for the combination of a mental illness and an addiction.  

The term itself is very broad, and it doesn’t matter if the addiction or the mental illness came first. The most common case is a dual diagnosis where addiction arises as means to lower or ease untreated symptoms from the mental illness. But, as we will elaborate in the next section, the connection between addiction and mental illness goes deeper.

Furthermore, the severity of the dial diagnosis might vary – a teenager with mild depression and a habit of compulsive eating can be diagnosed with a dual diagnosis. A bipolar person with a relapsing heroin habit can also be diagnosed with a dual diagnosis. 

 

Why Does Dual Diagnosis Happen?

To understand the basic principle of a dual diagnosis, we need to take a look at both the conditions separately, and the combination of the two. 

The NIDA (or the National Institute on Drug Abuse) segregates the reasons as follow: 

  • The two conditions have common risk factors – Early development trauma, genetics, and family history (as well as functionality) play a big role as risk factors for developing both substance abuse and mental disorder. It’s usually the environment (and learned behavior) that sparks the possible transferred genes into active addiction or mental illness. 
  • Mental illness can lead to a substance abuse disorder – Research has shown that mental disorders increase the chances of developing an addiction. Primarily used as a “medication” for the mental disorder, the addiction is seen as something that can soothe the person and the symptoms. Furthermore, some conditions such as Bipolar disorder (especially mania episodes) or Antisocial Personality disorder increase the possibility of the individual indulging in unlawful behaviors, including drug abuse. 
  • Substance addiction can cause a worsening of mental health disorders. With the uncalculated behavior that substance abuse brings, the individual is more likely to commit a crime, expose themselves to traumatic events, or cause life-altering situations. That can, in turn, spark or worsen mental illnesses, especially if there is a genetic predisposition for the illness. 

The dual diagnosis is most often a cycle, where both the addition and the mental illness contribute and perpetuate one another.

 

Signs of Dual Diagnosis

If you suspect that you or someone you know might be battling dual diagnosis, these are the signs you should look for: 

  • Unusual new behavior and change in sentences or word patterns;
  • Worse work or school performance; abandoning activities that the person previously enjoyed;
  • Closing up and not wanting to communicate with people;
  • Leaving behind friends and family and hanging out with new groups;
  • Unusual need of money, obtained by either asking for them or stealing; 

 

In people that only have a diagnosed mental illness:

  • Sudden wish to stop medications
  • Asking for money; possible stealing, and lying 
  • Change in the way the person speaks and behaves
  • Strange new behavior that wasn’t previously displayed as part of the diagnosis 

 

In people that already had an addiction, but not a mental illness:

  • Strange new behavior that they didn’t previously display 
  • Closing up and not wanting to communicate with people
  • Change in the way they talk, think, or speak; believing 
  • Taking an even bigger dosage of their substance of abuse


What the Numbers Show

A survey from 2013 done by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) came up with some numbers about people with dual diagnoses: 

  • In 2013 there were around 24 million illicit drug users in the United States
  • In the same year, 1 in 5 adults; and 1 in 10 adolescents; has suffered from a mental illness
  • Around 1.4% of adolescents had a major depressive episode and substance use disorder
  • 3.2% of adults had a mental disorder and substance use disorder

 

Some of the most often mental illnesses that have risks of addiction are: 

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Personality disorders
  • Dissociative identity disorder

 

There are tens of thousands of people that battle dual diagnosis each year. No matter what the cause of simultaneous occurring of mental illness and addiction, there needs to be a special treatment that can help these individuals work on both conditions. 

 

 

Treating Problems at the Root 

In people with mental illness, the drug or addiction of choice helps with coping with the symptoms from the first diagnosis. Without proper treatment, the risk for addiction relapse is bigger. 

Existing addicts who develop a mental disorder will only increase their usage, which will rapidly worsen the symptoms and the progression of the illness. 

Only by working on both of the conditions with the help of specialized treatment centers a person with a dual diagnosis can get better. 

Following the advice given by the World Health Organization, there is a need for continued and detailed care for people battling a mental health issue and an addiction. Numerous treatment clinics work with broad spectrums of adductions and are equipped to treat patients with Dual Diagnoses. Those rehab facilities can provide the person with an individual treatment plan based on their set of mental and substance abuse disorders. 

 

What is the Dual Diagnosis Treatment Model?

For individuals with Dual Diagnosis to recover, they need to have help in attending and working on both the addiction and the mental illness in treatment centers. 

For the best chances of recovery, Dual Diagnosis the professional care of the rehab facility should include: 

  • Substance abuse specialists and mental health professionals working together 
  • Psychotherapy or any other kind of therapy that helps the individual in their coping and managing of the conditions 
  • Prescription medication and therapy based on the individuals’ needs
  • Inclusion of spouses, family, friends, and the whole community on the road towards recovery. 
  • Work in and with support groups 

 

There are addiction treatment specialists that have psychiatric backgrounds, and they can help with both definitive diagnosis and treatment of the dual diagnosis. 

A drug rehabilitation center has all kinds of professionals, treatments, therapies, and medicaments that can help the individual. 

They should also have intensive, residential treatment programs which can help individuals with severe mental or substance abuse problems. 

 

Seeking Help

Dual diagnosis is a term that is used to describe a combination of two disorders – a mental health one and a substance abuse one. There are more possibilities why are mental illnesses and addictions connected, including mutual risk factors or one condition feeding the appearance of the other. Nonetheless, a dual diagnosis treatment model is available and includes simultaneous work and special care to both the mental illness and the addiction. 

If your daughter is struggling with addiction and another mental health issue, call Anchored Tides Recovery at 866-600-7709 to discuss support in Southern California. 

Parenting Someone with a Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine Addiction

 

Addiction in a child, tween, or adolescent can be devastating for parents and the family as a whole. Parents need to understand how fighting within the family unit is not conducive to effectively addressing their child’s addiction. Parents must treat addiction as a disease that affects the brain and understand how it affects the family as a whole. Luckily, with more knowledge and noticing the signs of drug addiction, namely the signs of cocaine addiction, parents can mitigate the child’s tendency to try drugs and risk factors by recognizing their own examples in parenting. 

One key element to examine is the role of the enabler. The family unit can sometimes contribute to the drug use of their youth by focusing on them and their addiction to the exclusion of developing healthier family dynamics. Sometimes, the parents are unaware that their attention to the drug and their child can actually conform that child to more maladaptive behavior patterns that perpetuate the drug use. Family intervention with a specialist may be the key help that restores the child and reorganizes the parental role as it affects addiction in their loved one.

Cocaine addiction in teens is a serious problem in many ways. Because this population is still young, cocaine and crack can have a serious effect on their developing brain and body. If cocaine and crack are used in the teen years, they have more likelihood to continue into the young adult years, 18-25 years of age. While it is known that people in this age group are prone to experimentation, there is a need to notice if this is not a severe drug addiction-forming.

Commonly, underage drinking is a prevalent concern amongst young people, and so is the rarer occurrence of cocaine addiction amongst teens. First, the prevalence of the problem of cocaine may be rare because cocaine may be harder to access and afford. Still, there are noticeable signs of cocaine addiction and symptoms that every parent should know if they suspect their child is engaged in drug abuse of any severity.

 

Signs of Cocaine Addiction

There are always noticeable behavioral changes and abnormalities that may be easy to see but hard to diagnose. Some symptoms of the drug use and cocaine effects to watch for are:

 

  • Dilated pupils
  • Erratic and hyper behavior
  • Runny nose
  • Weight loss
  • Risky activities
  • Nosebleeds
  • White powder residue
  • Talkative more than usual
  • Drug paraphernalia

These are just a few of the signs as well as: consequences to school performance, friendships, associations with the “wrong” crowd, truancy, hostile behavior, and illness.

Parents must accept that addiction is not the problem of the youngster alone. Cocaine addiction or any sort of drug abuse is primarily a sign of dysfunction in the family, or is even concurrent with another family members’ use and genetic predisposition. 

 

 

How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System?

Cocaine can last in the system depending on how often you imbibe it. Snorting cocaine can leave a high effect between 5 and 30 minutes and compel the user to repeat use based on the severity of the crash period. Cocaine can last longer in the system and show up in drug tests a few days afterward.

Cocaine effects are dire and affect the developing physical body in several serious ways. Frequent and ongoing use of cocaine can lead to heart attack, stroke, seizures, liver failure, heart failure, and severe impairment in cognitive function. 

How Does Cocaine Affect a Young Person?

Cocaine is a stimulant for the central nervous system that increases energy and awakeness. Cocaine floods the brain with dopamine and leads to a boost in confidence and short-lived pleasure. About 14% of youth aged 12 or older have used cocaine in the United States at some point. Cocaine effects can significantly alter the brain’s chemical makeup and is extremely challenging to quit. 72% of cocaine use is in the form of smoking a rock, known as crack cocaine. 

 

Cocaine Abuse Symptoms

Cocaine symptoms look like a person has changed, perhaps becoming more talkative, excitable, with fewer inhibitions and increased confidence, lower appetite for food, decreased sleep. The high is followed by a crash that affects eating and sleeping patterns as well. The behavioral effects can be long lasting after initial use and can be noticed as:

  • Hostility
  • Anger
  • Irritability
  • Violent outbursts
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucination

 

Parenting Someone with a Drug Abuse Problem

Parents can improve the family environment and improve their parenting skills in some ways. Start by asking your teen about their opinions on drug use and find out if they are truly aware of the consequences of drug abuse like cocaine addiction. We can discuss cocaine addiction as leading to a loss of potential and joy related to achievement in school, milestones in life, and drastic sabotage into adulthood. 

Give your child a natural loving confidence as a way to buffer them from being affected by peer pressures. Know their activities, establish firm rules, avoid scare tactics, and know who their friends are. Increasing your support of them can be felt and truly encouraging in preventing them from becoming addicted to anything!

Try talking to your teens about the consequences of using drugs and teaching them how to make healthier choices by avoiding drugs altogether. Know that your child may be experiencing peer pressure issues amongst their social group, insecurities and a lack of confidence, and a desire for social acceptance. Many teenagers may not be paying attention to the risks and consequences and need more parental monitoring and close attention.

If you’re a parent looking to help prevent your child from falling back into drug addiction, let Anchored Tides Recovery help by calling 866-600-7709.

What is Addiction?

what is addiction

what is addiction

 

Addiction is widely misunderstood, even though it touches so many of us, whether it be directly or indirectly. When you have an addiction, your brain experiences a chronic dysfunction in reward, motivation, and memory systems. 

Your body begins to crave a specific substance or even a behavior because of these brain changes. Despite the harmful consequences, you continue to use addictive drugs. 

As much as understanding what addiction is can be helpful, it’s also important to know what it’s not. For example, addiction isn’t a choice, nor is it a moral failure.

 

An Overview of Addiction

Addiction is a chronic disorder that affects someone’s brain and behavior. When you have an addiction, you can’t stop using a substance such as drugs or alcohol or engaging in behavior like gambling, even though it’s causing harm in your life.

According to The American Society of Addiction Medicine, it’s a chronic medical disease involving complex interactions between your brain, genetics, your environment, and your life experiences. While addictive disorders are a chronic condition that doesn’t necessarily have a “cure,” it is treatable. You can manage the symptoms.

If you have a chronic disease like diabetes, the concept is similar. You may not be able to cure the underlying condition, but it’s manageable with different therapies, medications, and lifestyle changes. When your symptoms are under control from a chronic illness, it’s known as being in remission.

When you have a substance use disorder that’s well-managed and not active, you’re in recovery.  

Some of the most addictive substances and illicit drugs include:

  • Cocaine
  • Alcohol
  • Heroin
  • Methamphetamine
  • Nicotine

 

Symptoms of Addiction

Addiction tends to create symptoms that fall into one of three broader categories. There are cravings, loss of control, and continuing to use the substance despite adverse consequences.

Physical signs of addiction can vary depending on the substance used but may include:

  • Being under- or overactive
  • Repetitive or unusual speech patterns
  • Dilated pupils
  • Red eyes
  • Pale skin
  • Sniffly or runny nose
  • Clothes aren’t fitting the same
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Lack of personal hygiene

Behavioral addiction signs can include:

  • Irritability or defensiveness
  • Problems coping with stress
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Changes in social groups or social withdrawal
  • Confused easily
  • Justification for behavior
  • Minimization
  • Blaming other people or events for substance use or effects
  • Diversion, meaning often changing the subject to avoid talking about substance use
  • Missing school or work
  • Declining performance at school or work
  • Isolation or being secretive
  • Legal or financial problems
  • Relationship problems

 

What Causes Addiction?

We’ve learned so much since the 1930s when researchers first started looking at the causes of addictive behavior. Before this research, the old way of thinking was that if you had an addiction, you didn’t have the willpower, or you were morally flawed. That incorrect thinking led to ineffective treatment approaches to dealing with addiction.

For example, punishment or trying to force someone to break their habits were common strategies.

Now, scientific advancements help us understand again, addiction is a chronic disease altering the brain, one of our most important organs. Like cardiovascular disease affects your heart, addiction takes over your brain.

Research guides addiction treatment programs and mental health treatment for co-occurring disorders in practical ways. 

Some of the steps that can occur in the development of addiction include:

  • Your brain registers pleasure as something it wants to seek out and continue to experience. Pleasure can come from natural sources, such as sex or having a great meal. Pleasure can also stem from the effects of psychoactive drugs and alcohol.
  • When you experience something pleasurable, your brain releases a neurotransmitter—dopamine. Dopamine floods into your brain’s pleasure and reward center—the nucleus accumbens.
  • Since the use of drugs or alcohol can be a dopamine-triggering event, there’s a compulsion for your brain to want to continue it.
  • It’s not only the pleasure element that can lead to addiction. Dopamine is one part of the process, but so are learning and memory. Learning and memory play pivotal roles in moving from thinking something is appealing to developing an addiction.
  • Repeated exposure to an addictive substance causes nerve cells in not only your nucleus accumbens but also the prefrontal cortex to communicate in a way that makes you want to continue it. You have a sense of motivation to keep seeking out pleasurable stimuli.
  • Eventually, compulsion will take over. The pleasure you associate with an addictive substance goes away, but you still have the memory of the desired effect. You keep wanting to recreate it. Compulsion leads to out control cravings but is drug addiction a moral failing?

Certain factors such as a family history of addiction can make you more likely to develop a substance use disorder. Mental health issues can also raise the risk of drug misuse and substance abuse issues. 

 

 

Are There Treatments for Addiction?

Substance abuse treatment is available, although it’s not always straightforward. The goals of any treatment for drug or alcohol addiction are to help you stop using drugs, remain drug-free, and be productive in your family, at your job, and in society.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, evidence-based addiction treatment should include the following:

  • Addiction is managed as a complex although treatable disease affecting behavior and brain function
  • There’s no single treatment that’s right for everyone
  • You need easy and timely access to treatment 
  • Effective treatment addresses all of your needs as a whole person, and not just your drug or alcohol use
  • You must stay in treatment for long enough
  • Behavioral therapy and counseling are the most commonly used types of treatment
  • Medications can be an essential part of treatment, particularly combined with behavioral therapy
  • A counselor should regularly review your kind of treatment plan and, if necessary, change to fit your evolving needs
  • Effective addiction treatment should address other co-occurring mental disorders you may have
  • Medically-assisted detoxification isn’t treatment in and of itself—it’s the first stage of treatment
  • Your drug addiction treatment doesn’t have to be voluntary for it to be effective
  • Effective alcohol rehab or drug treatment should address criminal behavior, infectious disease, or other related situations. 

Treatment can take place in different formats and settings for a substance use disorder. For example, there are inpatient and outpatient programs available at treatment facilities. An inpatient program is more intensive and requires a residential stay. Outpatient treatment can be a lower level of care after inpatient rehab. You might also begin your treatment there. 

 

Does Health Insurance Cover Addiction Treatment?

Since a substance use disorder is a medical condition, in many cases, your health insurance company will cover some or all of the costs of addiction treatment, including medication-assisted treatment. In 2010 with the passing of the Affordable Care Act (2010), a mandate required that insurance companies and insurance plans cover the same level of coverage for addiction treatment and mental health disorders as they do for other medical conditions.

If you aren’t sure what your insurance will cover as far as addiction treatment providers and essential health benefits, the best thing you can do is contact them directly. They can let you know your health coverage and the treatment options available to you. The team at our treatment center can also help you with insurance-related questions as they specifically apply to our center.

The big takeaway that you should remember is that addiction is a chronic and also progressive disease. Untreated, it will get worse and cause more severe side effects. Effective treatments are available, however, and are accessible to you. Insurance policies will often cover the cost of treatment, including inpatient rehab. To learn more about the women-only outpatient treatment program at Anchored Tides Recovery, call 866-600-7709 today!

Weight Loss From Drug Use

weight loss from drug use

weight loss from drug use

Weight loss from drug use is one of the more common symptoms or red flags that you may spot early on. Many drugs can contribute to reduced body weight. There are also multiple, specific ways they contribute to someone losing weight or body mass. 

On the other hand, some drugs may cause weight gain, but this tends to be a less common side effect of substance misuse.

 

What Drugs Make You Lose Weight?

Rapid weight loss is a sign of addiction because substances can, directly and indirectly, cause weight loss.

Some of the drugs that are most commonly associated with weight loss include:

 

Stimulants

Stimulants include methamphetamine, cocaine, and sometimes we can characterize MDMA, also known as Molly or ecstasy, in this category. 

  • Stimulants, including both prescription drugs and illicit drugs, suppress appetite. 
  • Stimulant drugs can also change how the body metabolizes fat and calories. For example, researchers believe cocaine affects how your body stores and processes fat.
  • Drugs like cocaine and other stimulants can also affect the central nervous system. These drugs speed up processes in the brain, dulling feelings of hunger.
  • Prescription medicines for ADHD like Adderall are also commonly associated with weight loss. 
  • Adderall is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. These are stimulants affecting brain chemicals.
  • Rarely, Adderall is prescribed off-label for weight loss in obese people. 

Crystal meth is one of the illegal drugs we most often think of as causing weight loss. 

  • Meth is a powerful stimulant. 
  • Crystal meth also has a significant potential for abuse and addiction. 
  • When someone abuses meth, they may have reduced appetite. 
  • The drug can cause them to lose fat and muscle and burn more calories. 
  • Indirectly, meth can contribute to weight loss by causing someone to stop taking care of themselves.
  • When a person uses meth, there’s excessive dopamine in their brain. Those high levels of dopamine can decrease food cravings. When you don’t have an appetite, you don’t even think about eating. Your brain doesn’t receive hunger messages.

Generally, stimulants also increase the number of calories your body burns. 

  • Stimulant drugs cause heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, body temperature, and wakefulness to go up. 
  • All of these are processes requiring energy. 
  • When you use stimulants, and these processes speed up, you may burn calories faster.
  • People who use stimulants can also stay awake sometimes for days at a time. 
  • You burn more calories when you’re awake compared to being asleep.

 

Opioids

While weight loss isn’t as commonly associated with opioids as with stimulants, it’s still possible.

Opioids include heroin and prescription pain medicines like oxycodone and hydrocodone. Opioids slow the central nervous system down, contributing to weight gain.

Symptoms of opioids can also include nausea and vomiting, which can cause weight loss.

 

Alcohol

Excessive alcohol use can damage your entire body. Some people may gain weight if they use alcohol excessively, but weight loss can occur for other people. One reason alcohol contributes to weight loss is that it damages your internal organs, intestines, and stomach lining.

When these parts of your body are impaired, it can impact your ability to absorb nutrients. Other side effects of alcoholism contribute to weight loss, including vomiting and diarrhea. 

Drinking excessively can harm the liver’s ability to process toxins, causing damage to the organ or potential failure. Liver problems can lead to GI issues and nausea, leading to weight loss.

 

Indirect Causes of Weight Loss From Drug Use

While stimulants can physiologically affect the body and contribute to weight loss, drug and alcohol abuse can cause weight loss for less direct reasons. For example, someone who’s using drugs or alcohol may have a change in their lifestyle.

They may stop caring about ensuring they’re eating well or getting the proper nutrients. When they have an addiction, the focus of someone’s life is usually on the drug or alcohol. They don’t care as much about eating at the proper times. Eating may not be a priority at all, let alone eating nutritious foods. 

Someone who’s in an active addiction doesn’t prioritize self-care, such as getting regular exercise or eating a healthy diet. 

weight loss from drug use

Other Signs of Drug Use or Addiction

Along with weight loss from drug use, there are other signs you may notice in someone who’s using drugs or alcohol.

Substance use disorders can change how someone looks, acts, and feels. The symptoms of drug use can be behavioral, physical, and psychological.

 

Physical Signs of Addiction

While weight loss is one we often think about first, other physical signs of addiction include:

  • Runny nose
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Problems with coordination
  • Lethargy
  • Chemical odors coming from the breath or clothes
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Eyes that are red or watery
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Jaw clenching
  • Problems falling asleep
  • Irregular sleep habits
  • Skin marks
  • Lack of personal hygiene

Behavioral Symptoms of Addiction

  • Changes in hobbies or normal activities
  • Changes in friend groups or social circles
  • Less participation in family events
  • Declining performance at school or work
  • Lying or deceit
  • Legal problems
  • Secretive behavior
  • Isolation
  • Lack of care about responsibilities
  • Financial problems

Psychological Signs of a Substance Use Disorder

  • Personality changes
  • Mental illness symptoms, such as anxiety or depression
  • Paranoia
  • Fear
  • Obsessive thoughts
  • Negative self-image
  • Poor outlook on life
  • Emotional withdrawal
  • Loss of motivation
  • Apathy or lack of interest

 

What If You Notice the Red Flags of Substance Abuse?

If you notice the signs of substance abuse in your teen, first, remember that substance abuse is a mental illness and a chronic disease. Changes occur in the brain, making it difficult to stop. As a parent, if you believe your teen could be struggling with drugs or alcohol, it’s a good idea to learn as much as you can about the disease of addiction before you talk to them.

  • From there, you want to ensure you approach the conversation in a direct but non-judgmental way. 
  • Let your teen know that you love them, and you’re there to help.
  • You can start to learn more about what they’re going through if they’re willing to open up and talk to you. 
  • You can begin to understand their situation, which is important as a parent.
  • Before you talk to your teen about addiction, you should make sure you’re ready and that you’ve processed your own feelings. You don’t want to come at them with anger because this will push them away.
  • When you talk to your teen about potential treatment, present it as an opportunity for them to get help and feel better rather than as a punishment.

If you’d like to learn more about teen addiction or treatment options, the Anchored Tides Recovery team is here and available to help; just call 866-600-7709.

America’s War On Drugs: Did It Work?

War on Drugs

War on Drugs

 

The government used the War on Drugs for decades as a strategy to reduce the drug trade and use consequences. Unfortunately, from the perspective of many, the war on drugs is a failure. Along with not working to curb substance abuse rates, some critics feel it’s contributed to mass incarceration and racial disparities in the prosecution of drug crimes. 

 

How Did the War on Drugs Start?

The War on Drugs was a government-guided initiative to stop the use of illegal drugs and their trade and distribution. The primary way of doing this was through increased criminal penalties for users and dealers.

  • Early laws date back to the 1800s criminalizing drug use, but this didn’t ramp up to what we currently know it to be until the 1970s.
  • President Richard Nixon signed the Controlled Substance Act into law in 1970.
  • The CSA outlines five schedules. These schedules classify drugs based on their abuse potential and their medical uses.
  • A Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act is the most dangerous, at least according to the federal government. 
  • A Schedule 1 drug is one that the government says has a high addiction risk with no major medical application. Interestingly, marijuana is still Schedule 1 federally, despite many states legalizing it. 
  • Also, Schedule 1 is heroin, the dissociative drug ecstasy, and LSD.
  • In 1971, then-President Nixon officially declared there was a war against drugs. Nixon said drug abuse was the number one public enemy at the declaration. Combative, war imagery was often used, such as the term drug czar. 
  • As part of his efforts, Nixon increased federal funding for drug-control agencies. There was a call for strict measures, including mandatory prison sentences for drug crimes.
  • Night after night, on the evening news, people were bombarded with words and images about the drug war. 
  • Nixon created the Special Act Office for Drug Abuse Prevention at the time. 
  • In 1973, Nixon created the Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA is a police force dedicated exclusively to illegal drug use and smuggling in the U.S. There are thousands of agents, and the DEA has a budget in the billions of dollars.

In 1994, John Ehrlichman, who served as Nixon’s domestic policy chief, indicated the War on Drugs was primarily a means for the president to stay in office and appeal to his base while targeting his political enemies. 

Ehrlichman explained during a magazine interview that the Nixon campaign saw itself as having two enemies—black people, especially African-American men, and the left fighting against the war.

Many people criticize even the current drug laws, citing their racial motivations that continue to affect communities of color. 

In a quote, Ehrlichman said the administration couldn’t make it illegal to be people of color or anti-war hippies with marijuana. Hence, they wanted the public to associate heroin and marijuana with those groups of people instead.

Shockingly, Ehrlichman said because of the declaration of war with drugs as the enemy; the government could arrest community leaders, raid their property and break up meetings. He said the administration knew even when they started the policies, they were lying about drugs.

 

Jimmy Carter’s Election

In the mid-1970s, rhetoric about criminalizing drugs cooled off. Between1973 and 1977, 11 states decriminalized marijuana possession. 

In 1977, Jimmy Carter became president after campaigning to decriminalize marijuana. 

During Carter’s first year in office, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to decriminalize up to an ounce of marijuana.

 

The 1980s and “Just Say No To Drugs”

President Ronald Reagan came into office in the 1980s, bringing with him an expansion of Nixon’s drug policies. First Lady Nancy Reagan launched the “Just Say No” campaign, which was meant to showcase the risks of drugs.

Reagan put intense focus on passing very stringent penalties for drug crimes.

The rates of incarceration for nonviolent drug crimes soared.

In 1986, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act was passed, establishing mandatory minimum prison sentences for some drug crimes. 

Long after and to this day, it’s criticized as being racist. The legislation gave longer prison terms for offenses involving crack cocaine compared to powder cocaine. Crack cocaine use was predominantly associated with black people and cocaine with white people.

Five grams of crack led to an automatic sentence of five years, while it would take 500 grams of powder for the same sentence.

 

 

Where Do We Stand Now?

Over the years, public support for the concept of severe criminalization of drugs has declined.

Between 2009 and 2013, 40 states reduced their drug-related penalties and shortened minimum sentences. 

The passage of the Fair Sentencing Act in 2010 changed the difference in sentencing from crimes related to crack versus powder cocaine.

 

Did the War on Drugs Succeed?

There are no indicators that show any of the harsh programs against legal drugs are a success.

Eleven years ago, in 2010, NBC wrote the drug war met no goals.

We continue to see the widespread use of illegal drugs, as well as death and destruction as a result. The prison population swelled due to the war on drugs, filling even with people guilty of recreational drug use only. 

Now, more than a decade after NBC wrote there was no successful metric with the war rhetoric, people continue to be in jail for non-violent offenses.

The Justice Department estimates a price tag of $215 billion a year due to drug addiction in the U.S. The illicit drug industry brings in $320 billion annually. Ten percent of the economy in Mexico is from drug smuggling.

When Nixon initially started launching programs against drugs, to be fair, most didn’t see people using drugs as needing help or interventions. Drug users were seen by most as displaying violent behavior or being destructive to communities. Society knew a lot less about the underlying elements of addiction. 

 

The Problem with the Punishment Model

The entire theoretical framework of the war against drugs is built on a model of punishment, zero tolerance, and being hard on crime. 

Incarceration is the main form of deterring people from using drugs in a punishment model. When people go to state or federal prison, they’re very rarely given treatment or behavioral therapies for the addiction that landed them there, even currently, according to drug policy experts. 

Rather than taking a punishment approach, many policymakers and individuals now favor the concept of drug addiction as a public health policy, not a criminal one. The long-term effects of this policy on illegal drugs and drug possession may be beneficial, but it’s going to take time to get there. 

Despite changing perceptions and attitudes, there’s still inevitably a stigma that keeps too many people from getting help for a disease. While we’ve made progress since the 1970s in some ways, we also tend to see people with substance use disorders as somehow being morally weak or corrupt or perhaps lacking self-control.

By 2014, Pew Research Center found that most Americans prefer the government to treat people who use drugs rather than prosecute them.

Many people also criticize the marijuana legalization happening all over the country even though there are still people in jail for offenses related to the drug years ago. Entrepreneurs are becoming wealthy because of the growing marijuana industry, while others remain behind bars for minor crimes. 

 

The Future of How We View Drug Use in America

In 2016 during the presidential campaign, most candidates from both parties spoke about being smarter in the approach to combat drugs.

Now, rather than an epidemic of crack cocaine, there is an epidemic of opioid painkillers. In 2020 during the pandemic, the U.S. saw soaring overdose death rates, often due to opioids.

Synthetic opioids, like a type of drug called fentanyl, are especially prevalent and deadly. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the black market for these drugs is massive, coming from Latin America and Central America and then over the border, and China and other countries. 

The president of Mexico at one point said if the United States wants to stop the flow of substances over the border, Americans will have to do something about their insatiable desire for dangerous drugs. 

The real balance in the coming years has to be addressing the very real harm of drugs but doing so in a more productive way. Racial elements have to be removed from these policies and rhetoric as well.

The hope is that as we learn more about the science and biology of addiction through modern research, we can also continue to break down the sense of stigma many feel, which often stems back to the War on Drugs policies of the 1970s and 80s.

To learn more about substance abuse, or women only outpatient addiction treatment, call the team at Anchored Tides Recovery at 866-600-7709

How Drug Addiction Ruined My Life

 

We often hear from women who feel their alcohol or drug addiction has ruined their lives. While it can feel this way, and undoubtedly addiction affects your life in many ways, there is always hope. 

Addiction is a disease affecting your brain and physical health. When you have a substance use disorder to alcohol or illegal drugs, it also affects everything else in your life. These effects can extend to your family and children, your career, and your finances.

Those effects can lead to feelings of guilt and shame. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, guilt and shame then perpetuate the cycle of addiction. 

If you can break that cycle with practical, evidence-based treatment. In that case, you can begin to repair the other areas of your life you feel your relationship with addictive substances has damaged. 

Hope is never lost. During a rehab program, we address not just ways you can stop using drugs or alcohol. We also work on relapse prevention and coping strategies and help you prepare to re-enter your life and thrive.

Before you can get on a path to recovery, you need to take steps to get treatment, which will be the most challenging part of the situation. Recognizing the impact and harmful consequences of your addiction can be painful. That recognition is necessary, however, to move forward.

 

What Is Addiction?

Understanding the biological elements of addiction can help you eliminate some of the shame you might feel. Addiction is a chronic dysfunction of your brain. 

  • The disease affects the parts of your brain controlling motivation, memory, and primarily, reward. 
  • When you’re struggling with addiction, you won’t be able to stop using the substance often without professional treatment.
  • You may have no self-control. Your desire to keep using drugs or alcohol outweighs everything else because your brain is compelling you to keep using.
  • Even when you realize the adverse effects of your addiction, you can’t stop. When you have a substance use disorder, you may try to cut down or stop, but you can’t.

 

What is the Most Addictive Drug?

The most addictive drugs include:

  • Cocaine
  • Alcohol
  • Methamphetamine
  • Nicotine
  • Heroin
  • Prescription drugs like oxycontin and other opioid pain relievers

 

Is Drug Addiction a Disease?

Addiction to both drugs and alcohol is a brain disease. 

  • When you use addictive drugs, they create a euphoric high. 
  • The high is pleasurable and is due mainly to effects on dopamine levels.
  •  There are physical and psychological elements to the euphoria that comes with extraordinarily high levels of dopamine. 
  • For some people, once that pleasure occurs, the reward pathways in the brain are activated. 
  • While initially using the drug may have been your choice, eventually, your brain adjusts itself to the presence of the substance.

There is also a physical element which is dependence. When you have physical dependence and psychological dependence on any type of drug, if you stop suddenly, it will cause withdrawal symptoms if you stop suddenly. 

Some people can use substances and never become addicted. Then others might use drugs or alcohol for a short period of time and develop an addiction. 

  • Some of whether or not you develop a substance use disorder depend on the frontal lobes of your brain. 
  • Your frontal lobes ordinarily help you to delay gratification or reward. 
  • If you have a malfunction in your frontal lobes, gratification is immediate, potentially triggering an addiction.
  • Other parts of your brain play a role in addiction too. For example, the nucleus accumbens controls sensations of pleasure. This part of your brain can increase your response when there’s exposure to substances or even behaviors that can be addictive.
  • Chemical imbalances and co-occurring mental illness can also put you at a higher risk of alcohol addiction or addiction to recreational drugs. 
  • When you have an addicted brain, it affects your decision-making, learning and memory, behavioral control, and judgment.

These effects are why you’ll often see someone who was once a high achiever, for example, losing everything before seeking substance abuse treatment. 

 

 

Addiction is a Chronic Disease

Along with being a disease, more specifically, alcohol or drug addiction is a chronic illness. Chronic disease can be treated and managed, although not necessarily cured. 

Addiction is not a moral failing. 

Long-term recovery is when you’re in remission from the disease of addiction. For people in recovery, it’s essential to focus on continuing your treatment plan and making healthy lifestyle decisions to avoid addictive behaviors. 

Risk factors increasing your risk of developing a substance abuse disorder include genetic factors and family history, environmental factors, and the use of drugs or alcohol in your developmental years. Having a mental health issue or a medical condition like chronic pain can also raise the risk of addiction. 

 

How Addiction Affects the Family

The devastating effects of addiction impact families, including spouses, children, and parents, significantly.

If you have a young child, seeing you suffer from addiction can create emotional pain and distress for them. When a child faces exposure to drugs or alcohol, it can affect their emotional and mental health and stability.

Again, a key symptom of addiction is that the substance takes priority over everything else, wreaking havoc on all parts of your life.

Even though an addicted person may recognize the negative consequences of their addiction to alcohol or drugs, they can’t stop. 

Other effects of substance use disorders include:

  • Declines in work performance
  • Job loss
  • Breakdowns in romantic relationships, such as a marriage
  • Health issues
  • Changes in mood or behavior such as a lack of energy, being socially withdrawn, or neglecting hygiene and appearance
  • Significant financial problems

 

How to Help Someone with Drug Addiction

Maybe you aren’t the person struggling with addiction, but you have a loved one who is. What can you do? There are certain things out of your control and some steps you can take.

  • Learn as much as you can about substance abuse and addiction treatment. When you understand that dealing with substance use disorders isn’t a choice and is a disease, it can help you come from a place of empathy rather than judgment. There are good resources like the Mental Health Services Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse to connect with information. 
  • Often people with a substance use disorder have an untreated co-occurring mental health disorder. They may turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. You can take the time to educate yourself on mental health disorders and their effects. You might even reach out to a therapist or mental health provider on behalf of your loved one.
  • Don’t wait for your loved one to hit rock bottom before saying something about their drug misuse. The longer they go with untreated addiction, the more significant and devastating the effects. Speak out as soon as you can.
  • Be honest about your concerns. Offer particular examples of the effects of addiction-related destructive behavior. Be honest about your feelings as well.
  • Listen to what the person is saying. Don’t try to argue with them. Instead, let them feel heard, so they can understand you’re a positive support system.
  • Offer information about how the person can deal with their addiction to drugs or alcohol, such as contacting a rehab center.
  • Don’t try to bribe, threaten or lecture the person. Emotional appeals tend to bring about more feelings of guilt. Again, guilt fuels addiction, which is counterproductive when interacting with people with substance use disorders. 
  • Know that one conversation is unlikely to encourage the person to change. It takes time, and recovery is a process.
  • Consider staging an intervention.
  • If your loved one agrees to treatment, realize that every person is unique, and so is their recovery. Be patient, and manage your expectations.

Drug addiction can and often does ruin your life. That doesn’t mean that your life isn’t salvageable, though. Whether you’re personally in the midst of active addiction or you have a loved one who is, help exists.

Treatment for drug addiction, including alcohol or opioid addiction, requires behavioral therapies and in some cases medication-assisted treatment. It’s also important any underlying mental health conditions receive treatment before the recovery process can begin. 

The first step to facilitate a sense of hope is treatment. Call 866-600-7709 and reach out to the Anchored Tides Recovery team to learn more.