Narcotics Anonymous 12 Steps

Narcotics Anonymous 12 Steps

Narcotics Anonymous 12 Steps


If you’re a woman struggling with a substance use disorder, different options are available for getting help. The most important thing is to find what works for you. For many women, what works is a 12-Step program. If you’re addicted to drugs, the Narcotics Anonymous 12 Steps might be something you consider participating in.

Often when you attend a drug treatment center, you’ll start working on the 12 Steps of Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous while you’re there. Then, when you return home from treatment, you can continue that work you started. So how do Narcotics Anonymous 12 Steps work, and how might it improve your quality of life if you struggle with the disease of addiction?


What is Narcotics Anonymous?

Narcotics Anonymous is also called NA, and it’s the second-largest 12-Step organization. Someone named Jimmy Kinnon or Jimmy K. founded the program. NA began after Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous started in the 1930s, while NA was founded officially in 1953 in Los Angeles. Now, the program is available in thousands of cities around the world. Narcotics Anonymous follows the same model as AA, but it’s for people addicted to drugs rather than alcohol.

When you participate in an Addicts Anonymous group, there’s no distinction between the type of drug you use. You can also join in NA if you also have a co-occurring alcohol abuse problem. There are some drug-specific programs, too, like Cocaine Anonymous, but NA isn’t specific. These programs recognize polysubstance addiction and dependence, meaning you abuse more than one substance, whether it’s drugs or alcohol addiction. If you want to recover from substance abuse, you’re welcome to participate. That’s the only requirement for membership. 

The goal of participation in this 12 Step program is to help in your recovery from drug addiction so you can reclaim your life or find a new way of life free of addictive behaviors or destructive behavior. NA is a nonprofit community fellowship of men and women, and you can find single-gender meetings if that’s what you prefer. You meet with other recovering addicts, all of whom share the goal of staying clean and sober. When you participate in a 12-Step program, you are abstinent from all substances.

There’s no affiliation with any other organization, no dues or initiation fees, and you don’t have to sign anything or make any promises. There’s no particular religious affiliation, nor is this support group politically associated. You can join a 12-Step program like Narcotics Anonymous regardless of your race, age, sexual identity, religion, or lack of faith.

The program is spiritual, even though it’s not religious. You don’t have to believe in God to attend initially, and the model of the program is that addiction is a disease, and you can treat that disease by staying abstinent from all substances and working the program.

Fundamental principles of NA and Twelve-Step groups include:

  • You’re committed, one day at a time, to not using drugs or alcohol as part of twelve-Step programs. 
  • Programs often follow a set format, including a serenity prayer or acceptance prayer. 
  • Regularly attending meetings is essential. Meetings typically last for an hour and are held around the world. Meeting schedules vary, and some are closed meetings, but most are open to anyone. 
  • When you participate in a 12-Step program, you might get a sponsor. A sponsor is someone who can help you stay on the path of sobriety, again, one day at a time. They work you through the 12 Steps.
  • You apply the principles you learn in your everyday life and personal recovery. 
  • 12-Step attendance is a chance to fellowship with other addicts in recovery and create a support system of sober people.
  • 12-Step fellowship groups tend to be a lifelong commitment rather than something you do for a brief period. 



What Narcotics Anonymous Isn’t

We wanted to clarify that participation in a 12-Step recovery program isn’t the same as going to detox or participating in rehab. No licensed addiction specialists are running the programs. Many members of these programs are licensed counselors or therapists, but this isn’t their role in meetings. While they’re in meetings, they’re just sharing their own experiences and sense of hope. You’re not receiving treatment for your actual addiction or symptoms of addiction like you do in a treatment center in a 12-Step NA Recovery Program. 

For someone who requires detox and addiction treatment, you should go to a formal program first. Then when you’re ready, you can find a 12-Step program in your community to continue the work you do while in treatment.


What Are the Narcotics Anonymous 12 Steps?

The 12-Steps Narcotics Anonymous follows include:

  • Step One: Admitting that you’re powerless over your addiction and that your life isn’t manageable is the first of the 12-Step concepts. 
  • Step Two: A belief in a Higher Power that can restore you to sanity.
  • Step Three: Deciding to turn your life and will over to God as you understand Him.
  • Step Four: Search and make a fearless moral inventory of yourself.
  • Step Five: Admitting to God, yourself, and others the nature of your wrongs.
  • Step Six: Being ready to have God remove your defects of character. 
  • Step Seven: Humbly asking God to remove your shortcomings.
  • Step Eight: Making a list of people you’ve harmed and been willing to make amends to them.
  • Step Nine: Making direct amends to people when you can as part of your recovery from addiction. 
  • Step Ten: Taking a continued personal inventory and, when you’re wrong, admitting it promptly.
  • Step Eleven: You seek through meditation and prayer to make conscious contact with God as you understand Him and pray for the knowledge of God’s will.
  • Step Twelve: Having a spiritual awakening as a result of the previous Steps, and then carrying your message to other addicts while also continuing to live the above principles in your everyday life, including complete abstinence from drugs and alcohol. 


Who Does Narcotics Anonymous Aim to Help?

Even though the 12 Steps of Narcotics Anonymous tend to focus on God, they also specify that it’s as you understand Him. You don’t have to be religious or even believe in God to participate in NA. If you have a substance addiction, you can participate. There are a few things to keep in mind with NA and 12-Step meetings. While it’s helped millions of people to participate in this nonprofit fellowship, it isn’t for everyone.

Some of the possible drawbacks of participating in a 12-Step program include:

  • There’s no attention to the physical elements of substance dependence or drug abuse in 12-Step fellowship programs. You need to go to a detox program for this.
  • You do have to be involved socially with the group, and some people don’t prefer that. There are virtual options if you want to socially distance.
  • Not everyone believes an abstinence program is the best path forward.
  • You have to identify as an addict fully, and that can become an ingrained part of how you see yourself. For some people, that’s a positive of a 12-Step program, but it’s not for everyone.
  • You must adhere to the belief that you are powerless over your addiction as part of the 12-Step program elements. There are alternative programs that position you as being empowered and able to overcome your drug use and signs of addiction through your own will, which some people prefer.
  • It’s time-consuming to participate in 12-Step groups regularly. Weekly meetings are usually around an hour long but can be as long as two hours each.

Overall, there are many benefits to the 12-Step model. Before you can get to the point where you’re participating in regular meetings, you need to undergo substance abuse treatment for active addictionOnce you’ve received treatment for your addiction and underlying mental health disorders, participation in a support group can help you remain sober, following a 12-Step philosophy. 

If you’d like to learn more about detox and addiction treatment centers and what programs we have available for women struggling with drug addiction, please contact Anchored Tides Recovery by calling 866-600-7709

Downgrading From Hard Drugs

Downgrading from Hard Drugs

Downgrading from Hard Drugs


If someone considers downgrading from hard drugs, it may be one specific approach to dealing with substance abuse that they feel will work for them. Unfortunately, as a society, we tend to view hard drugs as bad and so-called soft drugs as not so harmful. The reality is that a hard or a soft drug can lead to addiction, health problems, and many adverse effects.

The distinction between a hard and soft drug for many people is legality. Even this isn’t necessarily a good way to think about things.

For example, alcohol is legal if you’re 21 and older, yet it can be one of the deadliest substances. There are also states such as Oregon that are focusing efforts on decriminalized hard drugs. Under new legislation in Oregon for decriminalized hard drugs, you can’t be arrested for having small amounts of drugs like heroin or methamphetamine, both of which are dangerous, deadly drugs. The best option for most people who struggle with drug abuse is to be entirely drug-free rather than downgrading from hard drugs. Many in the recovery community don’t believe any drug use is conducive to a healthy lifestyle if you deal with addiction. 

Below, we go into more about the differences between hard and soft drugs and what you should know about the concept of gateway drugs as well.


Hard vs. Soft Drugs

There are different ways you might view the differences between hard and soft drugs. For example, in some countries, there is a legal distinction made between the two, with soft drugs theoretically being less harmful to people’s health than harder ones. In the Netherlands, soft drugs are not considered harmless, but they have less severe effects. Sedatives, marijuana, and sleeping pills are soft drugs under this model.

Hard drugs in the Netherlands include heroin, amphetamine, and cocaine. The penalties for drug possession of a hard versus soft substance vary from one another. In the United States, we have controlled substance schedules that guide our federal drug laws and laws surrounding drug possession.

A controlled substance is one with a high potential for abuse or addiction. The Controlled Substances Act puts all substances regulated under federal law into one of five schedules. Along with the abuse and addiction potential, whether or not the substance has a medical use is also a consideration.

  • Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse, with no current, federally accepted medical applications in the United States. There is no safe use for these substances. Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD, and GHB. Interestingly, marijuana is Schedule I in the U.S., yet it’s legal for medicinal and recreational use in many states across the country. We talk a little more about marijuana and its legality below. 
  • Schedule II drugs have high abuse potential but with some accepted medical uses. These illegal drugs include cocaine, methadone, morphine, PCP, and methamphetamine.
  • Schedule III drugs have a lower potential for drug addiction than Schedule I or II substances, with medical uses in the U.S. Schedule III substances are hydrocodone, codeine, anabolic steroids, and barbiturates.
  • Schedule IV substances have a relatively low potential for abuse than Schedule III, with accepted medical uses. Schedule IV drugs include prescription medications like Valium and Xanax.
  • Schedule V substances have the lowest potential for dependence compared to substances on the other Schedules, and cough medicines with codeine are an example of these.

While drug Schedules are one way to distinguish the risks of substances, there’s not a particular scientific or legal distinction that we can point to when we talk about hard and soft drugs.

  • For some people, it’s not about the legality or the impact on criminal records for something like simple possession. Instead, it might be about how socially acceptable it is to use a substance.
  • For example, it can be more socially acceptable to use prescription pain medicines rather than heroin in some people’s eyes, even though both have similar effects and risks. Both prescription pain medicines and heroin cause dry mouth, slurred speech, and potentially deadly short-term effects, yet one category includes FDA-approved medications. 
  • A list of hard drugs for a lot of people might include heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. For others, since cocaine isn’t as addictive as heroin, they might not have it on their list of hard drugs.

There are a lot of gray areas when making distinctions like these between substances.



America’s Deadliest Drugs Are Legal

Again, legality and the classification of drug crimes aren’t always an excellent way to separate a hard and soft drug. In the United States, the three deadliest drugs are all legal.

  • The first is tobacco. More Americans die from smoking-related health problems than drug overdoses, car accidents, and homicides combined.
  • Cigarette smoking may lead to one in five deaths in America every year.
  • The U.S. has seen tobacco use go down significantly in recent decades, but it’s still a top killer.

The next-deadliest drug is alcohol.

  • Alcohol-related health problems kill tens of thousands of people every year, which doesn’t factor in causes like homicide and drunk driving. 
  • Alcohol-related deaths have been steadily going up in the U.S. over the past few years, and official death toll numbers may be significantly undercounting alcohol deaths.
  • There are so many ways that alcohol can be one of the deadliest drugs. The health effects of excessive drinking are just one type of risk. There are injuries, crime, and violence, for example, that make alcohol use particularly dangerous and deadly.

The third deadliest drug is opioid pain killers.

  • Since the 1990s, drug companies have been pushing opioid pain medicines on doctors who gave them to patients. 
  • These substances were part of marketing campaigns, and patients got addicted, and many ultimately died as a result.
  • In the past decade, policymakers have been putting more restrictions on prescription opioid pain killers, but it remains a deadly problem in the U.S.

Hard drugs, while dangerous, are linked to far fewer deaths than the three legal substances above. You also have to consider things like bath salts, which can be a highly dissociative drug but are also a common household item. 


Are There Gateway Drugs?

When talking about a hard or soft drug, the idea of gateway drugs also comes up. The theory is that so-called soft substances like marijuana might lead to harder drugs because the gateway drug affects the brain’s pathways.

In some cases, with the use of soft substances, the brain may be more vulnerable to the abuse of other substances, including illicit or harder drugs. These risks are more significant the younger someone is when they start experimenting with substances.

Marijuana is frequently, as was mentioned, what we think of like a gateway drug, and it’s also federally illegal on its own. Much of the prison population is serving time for a criminal offense related to marijuana possession, even as it becomes legal in many states around the country. The criminal justice system hasn’t yet caught up, and there are many drug convictions not yet overturned for the possession, use, or sale of marijuana. 

Drug offenders who got jail time for marijuana and are still behind bars often question why they’re being treated differently by the legal system than legitimate businesses in states where recreational marijuana use is legal. Some are currently serving life sentences in prison for drug crimes related to marijuana and felony drug possession. All of this underscores the fact that legality doesn’t always dictate whether or not a drug is harmful. 


Is Downgrading from Hard Drugs Possible?

Some people think they can downgrade from more problematic substances and only use soft substances like alcohol or marijuana. While everyone is different, this may not be a practical approach to addiction issues. You may find that you cannot use just one type of drug, and as we highlighted, soft substances have genuine adverse effects.

Sobriety is often the best option for someone with a history of substance misuse because casual substance use might not be something they can maintain. Drug treatment and treatment for any co-occurring mental illness can help you avoid facing a felony offense for using hard substances. 

If you or someone you love is dealing with substance use, we encourage you to call Anchored Tides Recovery at 866-600-7709 to learn more about a treatment program that will work for you.

Is Gender-Specific Treatment Actually Gender-Specific?

Gender specific Treatment

Gender specific Treatment


In a yearly national survey of treatment centers in the United States, in 2019, more than 7,800 of 15,960 centers reported offering treatment for women and individuals who identify as females. That, on its face, sounds great as far as the availability of gender-specific treatment, right?

Maybe not so much. 

There may not be a genuine consideration for gender-specific differences and gender issues in the treatment for substance abuse. Even when it’s not mixed-gender treatment, a program might still not be entirely speaking to the needs of women and gearing treatment to women. We are finding as time goes on that the definitions of what truly gender and women-specific treatment can vary significantly between centers and programs. 

When a center reports the availability of programs just for women, it might mean they have a weekly meeting just for women, for example. The broad terminology can mean there are some offerings for women, but they aren’t specific to the needs of women, particularly within the societal and individual context of their situation. There’s a scarce availability of truly gender-specific treatment programs. 

Understanding how our language impacts treatment is essential to deliver that genuinely women-centric focus in treatment. We have to learn more about the roots of treatment and the philosophies it’s built on because those continue to drive how we speak about and treat women. We also have to learn to be more curious in our questioning of what’s brought you to the place you’re in now, rather than simply assigning you a label.

All of this is challenging work because it requires that we reframe what treatment is and the concepts it’s built on. This reframing of the philosophy and language of treatment is a top priority for delivering women-centric addiction treatment for drugs and alcohol. This approach is different from programs that simply offer a gender-specific tract or discuss some gender-specific issues. 


The Male-Centric Treatment Framework

The concept of treating addiction goes back to the early 1900s

  • Courtenay Baylor is one of the names that come to mind as a pioneer in addiction treatment. 
  • Baylor essentially wrote the first textbook on how to be a substance abuse treatment counselor.
  • Baylor’s work is vital in how we do things even today. He based his treatment approaches primarily on men, which continues to influence substance abuse counseling in a larger sense.
  • In his book, Baylor only had one chapter on the treatment of women.
  • Samuel Ashwell was similarly a thought leader in this area, yet he spoke that men didn’t want to treat hysteria, linking it primarily to women. 
  • The idea of women struggling with addiction as being hysterical is one that’s stuck around, even if we don’t realize it.
  • The Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book includes language primarily for alcohol-dependent men.

So, where does this leave women? What are the lingering negative consequences for females who have an addiction to drugs or alcohol, such as an opioid use disorder? Much of this reinforces some of the primary reasons women don’t get help in the first place—namely, shame is a big one, as are relationships and family commitments. Women-focused treatment and women-only programs need to realize what their shortcomings are to address differences in treatment outcomes. 



Why Aren’t We Asking More Questions?

At our gender-specific treatment center, we are rethinking the traditional ideas of addiction and how we can best treat it.

  • Many women who have a history of substance abuse also have a borderline personality disorder (BPD) or similar co-occurring disorders. 
  • A diagnosis of BPD is closely associated with a history of trauma, yet for men, we might diagnose them as having post-traumatic stress disorder instead of a personality disorder. 
  • As a woman with this diagnosis and a substance use disorder, the message becomes “you are the problem,” rather than talking about what happened to you to get you to this point.

Using labels is the prescriptive language often found in outdated gender-specific models not considering sex differences. 

  • When prescriptive language is part of your treatment program, you become your label, even in a gender-specific environment. 
  • You may internalize that label as who you are, which again goes back to the idea that you’re the problem rather than the concept that you have a problem that needs treatment.
  • Often, the labels created as part of prescriptive language models in a rehab program prevent the actual problem from being treated.

Another issue with prescriptive language and labels?

  • There’s no sense of curiosity on the part of your mental health providers, which ultimately leads to unfair treatment. 
  • A treatment provider may believe that because you have the label of BPD, to go back to the above example, they know all of your problems and how you should be treated. 
  • That eliminates the questioning and curious element of treatment. Therefore you’re not receiving addiction treatment as the individual you are.

With this problem of prescriptive language in mental health status, providers aren’t asking relevant contextual questions.

Labels lead to the same treatment for everyone, yet we know that what’s most effective for addiction is to treat everyone with an individualized treatment plan.

  • Treatment language doesn’t tell us what we need to know, as it stands currently. 
  • Instead, we say the person needs to “be fixed.” 
  • When we don’t account for context and experience in the treatment process, we also don’t consider how society influences substance use disorders.

For example, women in treatment are often victims of trauma, violence, sexual abuse, and inequality, which play a pivotal role in mental health and substance abuse disorders. Trauma-informed care and specialized treatments should be an integral part of treatment for individuals, leading to differences in the addiction recovery process. 


Moving From a Deficit to Strength-Based Perspective

Along with taking out prescriptive language and labels, our rehab center’s treatment of substance use moves from a deficit perspective to one of strength. So what does this mean?

Using the borderline personality disorder example, we build you up based on your inherent strengths. With BPD, you may have a focus on your alliance with others. In our approach, we might want to ask what continues to give you strength and a sense of resilience despite your past. We also consider the social context that you’ll return to in our treatment method. Other treatment options that aren’t genuinely gender-specific programs or women-specific might help with job placement and rebuilding family relationships. Still, they don’t consider broader societal elements that will affect your recovery.

  • What societal messages will you receive? 
  • What power differentials will you experience, and how can we internally empower you to deal with those? 
  • Are you returning to a supportive environment, or is it one where something like domestic violence could be an issue? 
  • What is your marital status, and is there a history of abuse? How can we create a foundation despite the traumatic events you’ve dealt with for complete treatment effectiveness? 

Individualized mental health care is about asking what your story is rather than creating stories we believe are relevant to you.

  • We work to exchange labels for curiosity in the addiction community and our mental health settings. 
  • We want to ask questions instead of making assumptions or adding a label where we see a problem. 
  • We also strive to externalize the situation outside of who you are to help you take accountability differently.



Our treatment team will move away from the perception of “I am the problem” to dealing with the problem for our female patients. We can look at core issues and gender-associated differences in patients and how particular situations such as physical abuse could have led you to where you are. 

So with all of this in mind, if you’re seeking treatment or looking for something individualized to who you are, you want to ask whether a program is a gender-specific treatment or if it just has a gender-specific tract.

Anchored Tides Recovery’s ongoing commitment to ensure that gender-specific treatment in all ways means we avoid outdated language in treatment that doesn’t consider the unique elements of what it is to be a woman and how that plays into your individualized treatment needs. Anchored Tides Recovery believes there are tremendous benefits of gender-specific treatment when looked at in the ways above, improving clinical outcomes and retention in treatment. If you’re interested in learning more about how we offer a truly inclusive gender-specific approach to treatment, call our helpline today, 866-600-7709

Signs of Heroin Use in Teens and Young Adults

signs of heroin use

signs of heroin use


The signs of heroin use can be obvious eventually, but early on, not as much. Heroin is a highly addictive, deadly drug for many people, and it’s at the center of the opioid epidemic occurring in the United States. Heroin and other opioids are a big part of a growing substance abuse problem in the United States, and unfortunately, opioid use disorder can be deadly.


What Are the Signs of Heroin Addiction?

The physical signs of heroin use vary depending on personality, genetics, and other individual factors. Physical symptoms of heroin addiction or use include:

  • Constricted pupils when under the influence
  • If someone smokes it, they may have an ongoing cough
  • Dark circles around the eyes
  • When going through withdrawal, a person could have large pupils
  • Heavy eyelids or a droopiness in the face
  • Burn marks on the fingers or mouth, if it’s smoked
  • Nose bleeds if heroin is snorted
  • If injected, track marks on the arms which are needle marks
  • Weight loss
  • Scabs and signs of skin picking
  • Flu-like symptoms if going through withdrawal
  • Drowsiness or increased need for sleep
  • Slurred speech
  • Mood swings
  • Wearing long pants or sleeves, even if the weather is warm or hot
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Itchiness

Some of the behavioral symptoms and psychological symptoms of heroin use or a heroin addiction include:

  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Inability to make good decisions
  • Concentration problems
  • Seeming disoriented
  • Unpredictability in mood
  • Euphoria
  • Lack of enjoyment
  • Loss of self-control
  • Anxiety
  • The presence of drug paraphernalia like aluminum foil
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Changes in menstrual cycles 

When someone has a heroin use disorder, it can have many adverse effects on their entire life. Complications and negative outcomes from ongoing heroin use can include:

  • Job loss
  • Problems at school
  • Poverty
  • Homelessness
  • Problems in relationships or divorce
  • Legal problems
  • Domestic violence
  • Child neglect and abuse
  • Infectious disease exposure
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver disease
  • Collapsed veins
  • Lung damage
  • Damage to other vital organs
  • Overdose or death

It may be a gradual process where you piece together various signs of drug abuse. For example, it can be challenging to know at first in a teen because teens are known for mood swings and generally erratic behavior. For many people, behavioral signs of heroin abuse might be the first indicator. For example, isolation, deceptive behavior, changes in friend groups, or seeming easily agitated or overly fatigued can all be possible symptoms of heroin use or the use of illegal drugs in general. 


How Heroin Affects the Body

When you take heroin, it activates specific receptors in your brain, creating short-term effects. Your body has neurotransmitters, which are natural chemicals. These neurotransmitters bind to receptors in the brain and body, regulating pain, feelings of well-being or euphoria, and hormone release.

When your opioid receptors activate in your brain’s reward center, they stimulate dopamine release. Dopamine creates the high you feel if you use heroin. Unfortunately, what also happens is that the reward center’s activation causes a reinforcement of drug-seeking behavior and usage. When someone takes heroin, they get a pleasurable rush. How much of a rush they feel depends on how much heroin they take and how quickly it binds to their opioid receptors.

Immediate effects of heroin might include flushing of the skin, a feeling of heaviness in the arms and legs, and a dry mouth. Sometimes, you could experience severe itching along with nausea and vomiting. Right after using heroin, drowsiness can occur and last for several hours. Mental functioning is cloudy, and the heart function and breathing slow down.

Opioids like heroin depress breathing because they change neurochemical activity in your brain stem. The brain stem controls automatic bodily functions, including not just breathing but your heart rate. If you take a dose of heroin that’s more than what your central nervous system can handle, breathing can slow down to a dangerous level. When breathing slows too much, it’s an overdose. An opioid overdose can cause permanent brain damage, coma, and death.



The Effects of Heroin on the Brain

With repeated exposure to heroin, the brain’s structure and physiology change, creating long-term effects. Those changes can cause imbalances in your hormone and neuron systems. These are difficult, although not impossible to reverse.

Researchers have found your white matter may deteriorate in response to heroin use. A decline in the brain’s white matter may impact your ability to make decisions, respond to stress, and regulate your behavior. Dependence is a significant risk factor with heroin, as well as developing a tolerance. Even after using heroin a few times, you may create tolerance and need higher doses to get the same effects. When you’re tolerant, you can also become physically dependent on the opioid. If you’re dependent on heroin and stop using it abruptly, you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms, which is one of many effects of heroin abuse. 

Symptoms of withdrawal tend to occur within a few hours after the last time you use heroin. Heroin withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Bone pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Goosebumps and cold flashes

For most people who use heroin, the withdrawal symptoms peak within 24 and 48 hours after their last dose; they get better over about a week. Some people experience longer-term symptoms over a few months.


What Are the Signs of a Heroin Overdose?

If someone you love is experiencing a heroin overdose, it can be challenging to know if that’s what’s happening or they’re very high. Learning to recognize the differences can be lifesaving. If someone is high on heroin, they might seem out of it and have slurred speech, but they can still respond to stimuli such as loud noises.

Signs of an overdose, on the other hand, can include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Not responding to stimuli
  • Awake, but not able to speak
  • Slow, erratic, or shallow breathing 
  • Stopped breathing
  • Weak pulse
  • Low blood pressure 
  • The skin might turn bluish-purple in someone with a lighter skin tone. In people with darker skin, it could be gray or ashen.
  • Choking or gurgling sounds
  • Limpness
  • Clammy, pale face
  • Vomiting
  • Lips and nails turn blue or purplish
  • Slow, erratic, or stopped heartbeat

If someone is overdosing on heroin, you should administer Narcan right away if possible. Even if you have it available, you should also contact 911 or your local emergency services provider. A heroin overdose is a dire and often life-threatening situation.


What Can You Do?

If you believe someone you love is using heroin or suffering the effects of heroin use, it’s a difficult situation. Heroin is a hazardous and addictive drug. Once someone is addicted to heroin, they’re probably also physically dependent. Getting professional treatment as soon as possible is the most crucial thing for heroin users or anyone with a substance use disorder. 

Most people will need a professional detox if they’re dependent on heroin. During this time, a patient receives close observation and medical care to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Going through withdrawal can be one of the most complex parts of stopping heroin, so a supervised detox can reduce the risk of relapse and alleviate some of the challenges during this time. Once a person fully detoxes from heroin and any other substances, they can begin addiction treatment.

Along with types of counseling, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, there are medication-assisted treatment options with FDA approval to help people with heroin addiction and dependence. Often, heroin users also have another co-occurring mental health disorder that can be made worse by the effects of heroin addiction. A treatment program should address co-occurring disorders like bipolar disorder and treat the symptoms of heroin abuse and addiction. 

If you’re interested in learning more about maintaining sobriety, treatment, and recovery from heroin addiction, we encourage you to contact the team at Anchored Tides Recovery by calling 866-600-7709.

Is Drug Addiction Genetic?

genetic predisposition

genetic predisposition


Is drug addiction genetic? Is there such a thing as an addictive personality? These are common questions you may have, and while there is a genetic component, which we talk about below, we also urge caution here. Genetic predisposition factors are just one risk factor for substance abuse, as other chronic common disorders are actual. Genetic studies are increasingly shedding light on the science of addictive disorders. 

Just because a close relative struggle with addiction doesn’t mean you automatically will as well. Having a genetic factor doesn’t make addictive disorders any less treatable either. Understanding the role of heredity and vulnerability to addiction is essential from a scientific and research standpoint and uncover the root causes of addiction. However, genetic risk factors don’t have to be a deterrent to you getting effective help if you are active in addiction.


What is Addiction?

A substance use disorder or SUD means you uncontrollably use a substance despite harmful consequences. Illicit drugs, alcohol, or tobacco are substances that lead to addiction. Some of the most common types of addiction include cannabis use disorder, alcohol addiction, cocaine addiction, and opioid addiction. 

Over time, as the addiction continues without treatment, it affects your daily functionality. The SUD creates problems in your relationships and most other areas of your life. You may experience changes in your behavior and thinking. The brain’s structure changes, and you may have intense cravings for the substance you have an addiction to. Your personality might change. Imaging indicates addiction can lead to changes in the parts of the brain that relate to decision-making, learning, behavioral control, memory, and judgment.

Symptoms of addiction or SUD can fall into one of four categories. These are:

  • Impaired control: Hallmarks of this set of symptoms include intense cravings to keep using drugs or alcohol. You may try to stop using or cut down on your drug intake but find that you’re unsuccessful.
  • Social issues: When you abuse substances, you may experience problems in your daily life. For example, you could find that you’re increasingly giving up things you once enjoyed to use drugs or alcohol. Substance use can affect school or work performance, and it tends to impact relationships.
  • Risk-taking: Drugs of abuse can lead you to do dangerous things. These risk-taking behaviors might happen to get more drugs or because of their effects on you. You’ll continue to use substances even though you realize they cause problems.
  • Drug effects: Physical effects stem from addiction. For example, you may notice you develop a tolerance. When you have a tolerance, you need more significant amounts of drugs or alcohol to get the same effects on your genetic predisposition you did initially. Another physical component of drug or alcohol abuse is withdrawal. If you stop using a substance suddenly and depend on it physically, you might have side effects.



Risk Factors for Addiction

The saying goes that addiction doesn’t discriminate. No matter your background, you can experience a substance use disorder, but some people are more likely than others to develop an addiction.


Environmental Risk Factors

Environmental factors can and do raise a person’s risk of developing a SUD. For example, if you grow up without parental involvement, you are more likely to experiment or take risks. If you experience neglect in your childhood, you might turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism.

The risk of addiction could go up if you experienced trauma in your childhood, such as sexual abuse or physical abuse. Other ways your environment can raise your risk of developing a substance use disorder include:

  • If you face peer pressure from friends or your social circle, it can lead to experimentation with psychoactive substances.
  • When you’re in a group of people with access to substances, you might be more likely to try them.
  • The environmental aspects of addiction are essential to understand if you’re in recovery. You may find that you need to find new friends and avoid specific environments to reduce your risk of relapse.


Other Co-Occurring Disorders

A dual diagnosis means you have an addiction and another mental health condition. If you struggle with psychiatric disorders, like depression, borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, or anxiety disorder, it can be a factor for addiction or raise your addiction risk. 

Addiction can also increase the severity of symptoms you experience from a co-occurring disorder. It becomes a progressive and challenging cycle when you have a mental health disorder and an addiction since both are complex diseases. 


Early Use

The earlier you use drugs or alcohol, the more likely you will develop alcohol use disorders or dependence on addictive drugs. When you’re young and expose your brain to drugs or alcohol, it affects its development. You may also be more prone to developing mental health disorders because of how substances affect your reward centers, levels of serotonin, and other parts of your brain chemistry. 

If you’re young and you begin experimenting with drugs or alcohol later in life, you could struggle to experience feelings of pleasure without substances. The early history of substance abuse shows a strong association with drug addiction later in life. 


Type of Drug and Method of Use

Certain drugs tend to put you at higher risk of the development of addiction. For example, addictive substances like heroin and methamphetamines have a higher risk of physical addiction than marijuana or alcohol. How you use drugs is relevant. If you smoke or inject drugs, addiction is more likely to occur than taking a drug orally.


Is There a Genetic Predisposition To Drug Addiction or Alcohol Addiction?

Now, we come back to the question of is drug addiction genetic? What is it in our genetic predisposition that could create an addiction vulnerability? Why do some people develop addictions and others don’t?

Family studies and identical twins show that as much as half of your risk of developing a substance addiction depends on your genetics. As we learn more about the role of heredity in addiction, it helps us understand the best ways to target treatment. It’s also helpful to overcome the stigma of addiction. For example, addiction in humans is a complex intersection between genetics and other risk factors, but it’s not due to a lack of morals or willpower. 

However, there’s not necessarily a single gene that we can pinpoint right now that determines addictive behavior. If you’re the child of an addict, you are eight times more likely to develop an addiction.

At the same time, we have to remember that if genetics make up 50% of your risk for drug abuse or addiction, the other 50% comes from things other than your genetic predisposition makeup, like your choices and how well you develop coping skills.

This complexity highlights the fact that genetics isn’t your destiny. You’re more than your genetics. You can increase your protective factors against addiction, like a healthy stress response and beneficial coping strategies. As there are growing advances in genetic testing, we may learn even more about heredity and addiction in future studies. We may also learn more about brain chemistry and how this leads to the chronic disease of addiction, impulsive behaviors, and drug-seeking behavior. 

For example, researchers recently uncovered that D2, a type of dopamine receptor, may eventually be used as a way to predict if you’ll become addicted to drugs or alcohol. Current studies show if you have fewer D2 receptors, you’re more likely to develop an addiction. The more we understand biology, the more personalized addiction treatments can become. This understanding of the predisposition to addiction is a big goal of addiction research overall right now. 

Never let yourself get caught up in the thought process because you come from a family with a history of addiction that you have to repeat or remain in those same patterns. 

We also want you to know that while your genetic predisposition could have increased your likelihood of becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol, there are steps you can take in your life to achieve recovery. No matter your genetic vulnerabilities or background, addiction treatment can be effective. We encourage you to contact Anchored Tides Recovery at 866-600-7709 to learn more.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Diagnosis, Epidemiology, Prevention, and Treatment

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome


Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is also known as a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASDs). FASDs include conditions occurring when you drink alcohol during your pregnancy leading to prenatal alcohol exposure. Effects of drinking alcohol during pregnancy can include physical problems and issues with learning and behavior. While it’s devastating for your child to receive a diagnosis of FAS, it is preventable.

With that in mind, below, we’ll talk about fetal alcohol syndrome, diagnosis, epidemiology, prevention, and treatment. 


An Overview of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

When you drink alcohol during pregnancy, it can pass to your baby through the umbilical cord, potentially leading to alcohol-related birth defects and fetal alcohol brain damage. There’s not a known, safe amount of alcohol you can consume during pregnancy. If you’re trying to get pregnant, you should also stop drinking.

If you’re pregnant and drink, the fetus can’t process alcohol through the liver or other organs. The alcohol exposure is the same as the amount in your bloodstream, but exposure lasts longer for the baby. Prenatal alcohol exposure in human populations affects fetal development, especially in the brain and central nervous system.

Some of the ways prenatal alcohol exposure can lead to alcohol-related birth defects include:

  • If you drink alcohol, including hard liquor, beer, and wine, it can kill cells in the fetus that lead to problems with physical development and secondary effects. 
  • Prenatal alcohol exposure impacts the development of nerve cells, including how they travel to different parts of the brain.
  • Alcohol consumption during pregnancy constricts blood vessels, slowing blood flow to the placenta. The result of restricted placental blood flow can be a shortage of oxygen and nutrients to the baby.
  • While your body processes alcohol, it produces toxic byproducts. These toxins can accumulate and cause structural brain abnormalities and other types of brain damage. 

Even before you know you’re pregnant, your alcohol intake could affect your developing baby or lead to secondary disabilities like alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder. 


How Prevalent are FASD and Prenatal Alcohol Exposure?

Getting an overview of fetal alcohol syndrome diagnosis, epidemiology, prevention, and treatment relies on understanding the prevalence.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we don’t know how many people have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. We use varying approaches to estimate how many people in our population might be living with the condition.

  • Using medical records primarily, studies from the CDC show a rate of 0.2 to 1.5 infants with FAS for every 1,000 births in the United States. 
  • Recently, an epidemiological study by the CDC found FAS in 0.3 out of 1,000 children between 7 and 9.
  • According to studies from the National Institutes of Health using physical exams, the actual range of FASDs in the United States and some countries in Western Europe could be as high as 1 to 5 per 100 children—around 1% to 5% of the population.
  • A study from 2020 published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found patterns of maternal alcohol exposure and binge drinking in pregnant women between 18 and 44 in the U.S. went up from 2011 to 2018.
  • Having at least one alcoholic beverage among pregnant women in the past 30 days went up from 9.2% in 2011 to 11.3% in 2018.
  • Binge drinking (four or more drinks in a sitting) increased from 2.5% to 4% in that same period.


Symptoms of FASDs

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are a collection of diagnoses. These represent a range of things that can occur when a mother drinks during her pregnancy. The symptoms affect everyone differently. FASDs symptoms can also range from mild to severe.

Symptoms of fetal alcohol effects can include:

  • Poor coordination and motor skills 
  • Hyperactivity
  • Short attention span
  • Poor memory
  • Low birth weight
  • Problems in school or with social skills 
  • Increased likelihood of defiant disorder or other mental health problems 
  • Learning disabilities
  • Poor impulse control 
  • Low IQ
  • Intellectual disability
  • Sucking and sleep problem as a baby
  • Hearing or vision problems
  • Problems with the kidneys, bones, or heart
  • Being shorter than average in height
  • Small head
  • Facial abnormalities including a smooth ridge between the upper lip and nose, known as the philtrum


Diagnosing FAS

It can be difficult to accurately diagnose fetal alcohol exposure because there aren’t specific medical tests available or set guidelines for diagnosis. There’s also the issue of a differential diagnosis since many symptoms of FASDs overlap with other conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

To  make a diagnosis, a doctor might consider:

  • Prenatal alcohol exposure
  • Lower-than-average height, weight, or perhaps both
  • Abnormalities in facial features
  • Central nervous system problems like poor coordination and hyperactivity



Can FAS Be Treated?

The effects of fetal alcohol syndrome are lifelong, but early intervention can help a child’s development. Treatments include medications and medical care for symptoms, behavioral and educational therapy, and parental training. Researchers also identified protective factors. These reduce the adverse effects of FAS on children and include a diagnosis before the age of six, a loving environment during school years, and an absence of violence in a child’s life. Using special education and social services is also a protective factor.

If you believe your child has symptoms of FAS, but you aren’t sure, talk to your health care provider, who can then refer you to a specialist for intervention services. Specialists include developmental pediatricians and mental health professionals like child psychologists. There are clinics throughout the country with staff specially trained in FASDs and can create individualized treatment plans. 


Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Treatment for Adults

Unfortunately, as we talk about above, there is no treatment for adults or children. FAS is lifelong. Many times, adults with FAS will have mental disorders and legal problems. Adults with FAS are more likely to be in jail or a mental health facility, facing unemployment. Depending on the severity, it can be difficult for an adult with FAS to live independently.

The earliest intervention possible in childhood is the best treatment for FAS that we have available now, although it’s not a cure.


Preventing FAS

Since there isn’t a cure for FAS, prevention of maternal drinking is the only available option. When you use alcohol during pregnancy, it’s the top cause of preventable congenital disabilities, learning disabilities, and developmental disabilities. The only way to prevent your child from being born with FAS is to avoid drinking alcohol during your pregnancy altogether.

If you’re sexually active and not using birth control, you should also avoid alcohol. If you’re pregnant, it can take four to six weeks for you to know that, and during that time, if you’re drinking, you could be exposing your baby to alcohol.

It’s not too late to stop drinking if you’ve already had alcohol during your pregnancy. Your baby’s brain growth and development continue throughout your pregnancy, so stopping as soon as possible is crucial. You should avoid alcohol during breastfeeding also because it can cause development, sleep, and learning problems, although there’s no direct link to FAS.  

If you’re a woman thinking of becoming pregnant, or you could already be, and you have an alcohol addiction, help is available. Again, we want to emphasize it’s never too late to stop drinking; Anchored Tides Recovery can help. Please reach out today at 866-600-7709.

Does Having an Addictive Personality Lead to Addiction?

addictive personality

When a person displays dependence on things like nothing else matters, begins to seem more anxious, distressed, and irritable, will do whatever they can to get drugs or alcohol at any cost? These are some of the signs of an addictive personality type. People with other mental health disorders also have addictive behavior. 

Addictions are defined as behaviors highly likely to result in negative consequences for the individual. Addictive personality traits manifest as compulsions that interfere with one’s relationships, work, and health. A person with an addictive personality has a compulsion to use alcohol, drugs, or other substances or pursue a particular activity to exclude all else. The traits of an addictive personality include:

  • Impulsiveness
  • A need for instant gratification
  • A disregard for consequences when seeking one’s desires
  • The tendency to find more joy in serving self than in helping others


What is an Addictive Personality?

Addiction is a progressive disease that often requires intervention to break its hold on an individual. Behavior (process) addictions include a wide range of activities and substances to which people compulsively engage, despite the negative consequences; some examples are:

  • Gambling 
  • Drugs 
  • Shopping
  • Sex 
  • Food 
  • Gaming 
  • Porn

The concept of an “addictive personality” stems from the difference between these sorts of process addictions and substance abuse. There is an external addictive property for some substances; for instance, cigarettes have addictive ingredients, and some drugs cause physical dependence. Process addiction is more about getting addicted to a feeling or concept. This compulsion is where “addictive personalities” stem from.


Do I Have an Addictive Personality?

Do you constantly crave something, have a history of failed relationships, or are secretive about your behavior? If you answer yes to any of these questions, you could be hiding an addictive personality.

With drug and alcohol addiction, common environmental factors are stress and the availability of addictive substances. When a person has three or more of the following symptoms and problems for at least a year, they may have an addictive behavior – powerlessness to control and continuing desire/unsuccessful attempts to cut down, despite harmful consequences:



Compulsion means someone has an irresistible urge or an uncontrollable desire to perform a specific action. This type of behavior is described as compulsive drug-seeking. Addiction is a compulsion and dependency on a behavior or substance that can harm the addict or others. This condition involves the body, brain, and behavior and can lead to physical dependence and tolerance. 



The development of addictions can change the brain, affecting your ability to evaluate risk. It robs you of your decision-making mechanisms and has an enormous impact on your ability to resist drug abuse and stay clean from the seemingly enjoyable activity. Why? Because cravings cause intense physical and psychological urges, and even when you understand the consequences of taking that first drug, having cravings makes it challenging to resist.



Drug abuse can lead to severe consequences for the addict and those around them. It can also cause serious side effects such as lung cancer, obesity, and depression. One who is addicted to illicit drugs will continue their habit despite the adverse effects and painful feelings. A person may lose interest in other parts of life because they are focused on getting or using their drug of choice, and that is where problems begin.



People with addictions realize that their substance use is spiraling out of control initially, and they try to stop. But, for many people, stopping isn’t that easy. The physical cravings for drugs or alcohol are overwhelming. They may even force themselves to stop using the substance, but eventually, they start using it again.



Some things to look out for include:

  • Difficulty with impulse control
  • Lack of personal goals
  • Susceptibility to risky, impulsive, or thrill-seeking behaviors
  • Failure to take responsibility for actions
  • Low self-esteem
  • Intense mood swings or irritability
  • Isolation or a lack of solid friendships
  • A close relative who struggles with addiction
  • Mental health conditions 


What are the Most Common Addictions?

When we talk about addiction, tobacco, alcohol, and drug addiction tend to come to mind. It’s not unusual for coffee-lovers to describe themselves as caffeine addicts. Chemical dependence is when people with addictions become physiologically dependent and psychologically addicted to a substance. 

Addiction has many faces. Being addicted to certain things can prevent you from having the life you always wanted. According to addiction experts and psychologists, the following are six of the most common habits that affect people today.


Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is a pattern of substance use that becomes compulsive and interferes with daily life. Some of the more commonly abused drugs are: 

  • Alcohol 
  • Marijuana 
  • Prescription Medications 
  • Cocaine 
  • Other Stimulants 


The three main drugs that can cause the risk of addiction are: 

  • Stimulants 
  • Opioids 
  • Sedatives 


The drugs in Opioids are usually used as legal treatments for chronic pains, but more often than not end up being addictive substances and cause significant bodily harm. These drugs use so many effects on the brain that they interfere instead of help.



Daily alcohol consumption is socially acceptable, even expected, but it can be the beginning of a dangerous addiction. Alcohol addiction can be difficult to determine because of the way that our society accepts social drinking. Even though alcohol is legal, the potential abuse and addiction can expose users to numerous health risks

Alcohol addiction is one of the most common addictions, and it is a compulsive need to drink alcohol constantly. The body becomes dependent on alcohol, requiring more significant amounts to feel “normal.” Alcohol addiction can be due to genetic factors, and it can be common among people with mental issues such as psychiatric diagnosis, depression, or anxiety.



Gambling Addiction is a behavior that takes place inside the casinos, and casinos are, in general, closed places. It is hard for people around the individual suffering from gambling addiction to notice or even suspect that they are having some problems with gambling addiction.

Gambling Addiction can cause serious trouble to the person suffering from it. The people around them – their friends, family, or colleagues – might have no clue about this “hidden” addiction.



Sex addiction is a compulsive need to engage in sexual activity, despite negative consequences. Sex addiction may present in various ways, including sexual thoughts or fantasies, excessive masturbation, frequent (and often risky) sexual encounters, multiple affairs, exhibitionism/voyeurism, and more.

Many men and women grapple with out-of-control sexual behaviors and find themselves unable to stop despite the severe toll it takes on every area of their lives. Typically those affected by sex-related problems are people we know—friends, spouses, family members, or co-workers. 


Social Media

Social Media Addiction is a term used to describe a person’s uncontrollable need to engage in social media sites. Often, people who suffer from addiction to social media have no interest in leaving their virtual life for the real one. Studies have found that people who use Facebook or Twitter regularly are three times more likely than average to develop a screen addiction and addiction to social media.

They’ll continue to use social media or messages at work (and get sacked), they’ll neglect partners or children to spend more time online. Withdrawal symptoms can include complete lethargy, depression, anxiety, and fear of being alone.


Relationships / Love

The term love addiction usually refers to a person’s excessive emotional need to be in a relationship. In any relationship, love addicts depend on their partners for happiness, fulfillment, and security. While healthy relationships can be nurturing, a person with an addictive personality requires more from a relationship than most people can provide. 

Love addicts will use manipulation, games, and tantrums when their partner is unavailable or does not meet expectations. Both partners become addicted because the unhealthy relationship becomes the center of each partner’s life.



What Next?

Does this sound like you? Addiction comes in many forms, and many times people who suffer from these compulsions have a high chance of getting involved in substance abuse. If you or someone you love has an addictive personality or drug addiction, call Anchored Tides Recovery. We provide rehabilitative services and life coaching to women of all ages and backgrounds who have developed an addiction. 

Does Being In Recovery Have to Be a Life Sentence?

being in recovery

being in recovery


There are many debates about what “being in recovery” means on a personal and definitive level. Most addiction treatment programs subscribe to the modality that addiction is a disease you carry with you for your entire life, even if you are not actively using drugs, you may again one day. 

The “forever” mentality is controversial amongst people who don’t want to be labeled “an addict” for their whole lives or believe that they can overcome their shortcomings. Others believe that this type of thinking is a crutch that some people with addiction use to justify when they slip up. 

Even though most treatment centers teach addiction is forever, this article delves deeper into the conversation, looks at the facts, and will try to answer the question “Do you have to spend your entire life in recovery?” 


What Does Being In Recovery Mean?

An is challenging because everyone’s journey is unique. In its simplest terms, being “in recovery” is a stage of the addiction cycle that comes after you’ve completed addiction treatment. Experts have made a distinction between recovery and sobriety, which mostly correlates to your desire to use drugs. Sobriety is when you abstain from the use of drugs or alcohol.

So what does it mean to be in recovery from addiction?

  • You take care of your physical and emotional health and make informed decisions about your care.
  • You have a stable home environment that’s also safe.
  • You’ve found a sense of purpose in your life that gives you meaning and income, as well as participation in society.
  • You have a network of people around you who provide you with love and support.

The United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a list of principles that they believe fulfill the criteria. These include:

  • Having hope to stay sober
  • It can occur in different pathways
  • It’s holistic
  • Support from peers and allies
  • Culture influence
  • Traumas are addressed
  • A sense of individual responsibility
  • A basis of respect
  • Following the rules to reduce the risk of relapse

SAMHSA goes on to describe signs that characterize being active in recovery. For example, you address problems as they occur, but they don’t lead you to feel overly stressed or to relapse. You have someone in your life that you can be entirely honest. You know what your issues are versus which are other people’s. You have personal boundaries, and you take time to care for your physical and emotional needs.


Rules to Reduce the Risk of Relapse

  • You have created a new life that focuses on health and wellness, having fun without drugs or alcohol, strong relationships, and dealing with stress in productive ways.
  • Complete honesty is essential. When you were in active addiction, you may have lied often to others and yourself. Now is a time when you can be honest and learn how to trust yourself and other people.
  • You ask for help.
  • You engage in self-care.



The Stages of Recovery

Just as there are phases of addiction, there are also phases of recovery. Everyone may define these a little differently, but they could look similar to the following steps:

  • For many, the first stage is acknowledging that addiction exists and that you need help. The first stage is one of the most pivotal stages because you no longer deny you have a problem, and you start working toward fixing it.
  • In the next stage, you become more aware of how your addiction has affected your life and hurt others.
  • The third stage requires you to seek help if you can’t stop using drugs or alcohol entirely independently.
  • Some will say relapse is part of the process, although this isn’t something everyone agrees on. If relapse does occur, it’s important to realize it’s not a failure but instead that You may need more treatment or different treatment.
  • The final stage is known as termination. During this phase, you are confident in your ability to live your life without a relapse. You are less afraid of the possibility of relapse, and you’re moving forward.

Once you go through the steps above, then you may be able to feel like you’re active in recovery, and instead of just surviving, you’re thriving.


Addiction As a Chronic Disease

There is no cure for chronic diseases. instead, you just work to manage the symptoms, at which point you’re in remission. Addiction is viewed as a chronic illness because of the impacts of substances on the brain. There are also predisposing factors such as environment and genetics that can lead to an increased risk of addiction, which is the case with other chronic illnesses, such as diabetes.

Since science views addiction as a chronic disease, relapse will occasionally happen. There are high relapse rates across the board with chronic illnesses. Interestingly, getting treatment for a substance use disorder is often compared to criminal rehabilitation.


Treatment vs. Criminal Rehabilitation

Some states have criminal rehabilitation efforts that seek to treat a person’s mental health disorders and other root causes of their criminal behaviors. Treatment is holistic, and the outcome of criminal rehabilitation can be better overall. Someone who has participated in a criminal rehabilitation program might be more able to contribute to society in a productive, meaningful way.


Final Thoughts

So, does being in recovery have to be a life sentence? 

That is something that you can decide for yourself. What works for one person might not work for another, so rather than thinking being in recovery means you have to fit in a box, just consider your own needs and your journey. Some people make it to a point where they no longer consider using drugs or alcohol, but for others, it helps to feel like it’s something they will never stop working on. Doing what is best for you is always the right decision. 

Being a woman in recovery is easier with aftercare, which can help you avoid a relapse. Aftercare can include group therapy, individual therapy, or participation in a self-help group, or even direct work with a social worker. Anchored Tides Recovery offers all of these aftercare services, plus the comfort of a woman-only environment. Addiction in women requires a different approach, and having a support system of other women who can share in your experience helps a lot. Call us today to learn more about our program and find your recovery.

Addiction and Employment: Get Help, Don’t Get Fired

addiction and employment

It’s common to feel that addiction and employment do not mix very well and is a severe problem. The American Addiction Centers estimates that there are 14.8 million Americans who use illegal drugs, including thousands of working professionals. It’s good to know that when it comes to addiction and employment, there are resources that can help you overcome your struggles without having to sacrifice your career. Read on to find out more about some of these programs. 

Getting into a rehab program during employment is possibly the world’s most pervasive and damaging vice. The treatment programs address the substance abuse problem and manage any co-occurring disorders among the addicts.


How does Addiction Affect your Employment? 

The answer lies in the effect that addiction has on one’s job security. One significant impact is that those struggling with addiction are more likely to be fired from their jobs, often because they struggle with attendance and job performance. Addiction harms not only the individual employee but also the family and employers of the individual as well.

There are two types of workplace problems common to people struggling with an addiction: substance abuse and absenteeism. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA; funding comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) classifies substance abuse into functioning categories, including no or low impairment, moderate impairment, and high impairment. A person with a dependent or abusive problem is considered to have a high level of impairment if he or she has lost or been dismissed from a job where s/he used to be productive.

girl with her hands on her face


How to Handle an Alcoholic Employee?

An alcoholic employee is someone who abuses alcohol to the point it affects their work. This can take place at any time of day and not just during work hours. Despite the prevalence of drug use in the U.S., both before and during the current recession, many employers are uninformed about how to handle a worker who struggles with an addiction problem.

It’s essential to know the signs that an employee may be drinking as an alcoholic to handle the situation appropriately.


Analyze the effect of employee’s addiction problem at the workplace

Each case is unique, so have a clear sense of the threat your employee’s drug or alcohol use poses to your company. Is your employee creating a direct physical danger in the workplace? 

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), one-fifth of workers and managers report that a coworker’s alcohol problems have jeopardized their safety and productivity. The action of someone who is intoxicated in the workplace can place other employees and property at risk. If an employee’s substance abuse has caused injury to you, your coworkers, or your employer’s property, that’s grounds for termination.


Consult the company’s Human Resources policy

If an employee shows up drunk and disorderly at the office, what is the proper reaction? Having an HR (Human Resource) policy with clear guidelines in place will help you act swiftly and appropriately. While the specifics of each policy may vary across businesses and industries, all procedures should have a zero-tolerance approach to drugs or alcohol in the workplace. 

Distribute a company manual to everyone hired at a new location. The manual should outline company policies, procedures, and practices, including any drug or alcohol policy that may legally prohibit the possession or consumption of an illegal substance by employees. 


Evaluate how substance abuse is affecting the employee’s job performance

If you suspect that one or more of your employees are using drugs, it’s essential to investigate, and possibly perform a drug test. Before you take disciplinary action against an employee, it is good to evaluate the reason for their job performance. Ask yourself if their job performance is due to substance abuse; what can you do about it? 

If drug abuse affects the individual’s job performance, it is in your best interest to terminate employment. Reducing turnover and absenteeism and increasing productivity can add up to considerable long-term savings for you.


Assess employee’s level of substance abuse problem ownership and motivation to change

If your employee uses drugs or alcohol on the job, you can help them without violating their rights or exposing yourself to legal risk. The Employee Motivation to Address Substance Abuse Questionnaire (EMASAQ), in conjunction with the Personal Inventory Questionnaire (PIQ), offers an effective way for you to measure your employee’s ownership of their alcohol abuse problem. By assessing their level of ownership and motivation to change, you can craft an action plan that will have the greatest chance of success.


Job Protections Under Federal Law for employees during drug addiction treatment

If you are dealing with the disease of addiction to drugs or alcohol, or if you have a family member or friend who is, you should know that job protections under federal law are available if you’re considering different treatment options. 

girl drinking beer

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Family Medical Leave Act protect an employee’s rights to maintain their job while overcoming a drug or alcohol addiction. These laws outline what protections you are guaranteed, how to speak with your employer regarding your situation, and how the law may act in your favor if you are being discriminated against due to your drug use.

Additionally, in 2003, the Board of Nursing created RAMP (Recovery and Monitoring Program) as an alternative to the Discipline program. RAMP offers confidential, voluntary support to health care nurses recovering from alcohol or drug dependency. Nurses work with employers and close colleagues while at treatment facilities; here they can receive the appropriate treatment for their recovery and rapid reinstatement.

Addiction affects every aspect of your major life activities negatively, but it doesn’t have to end your employment dream. Contact us at Anchored Tides Recovery Center. A gender-specific rehab center and a place for women to heal will help you fulfill the emptiness and free yourself from the addiction that has hurt you and those around you. Understanding the illness and having a strategy are keys to staying employed while battling addiction. 

Getting into a drug addiction treatment center program during employment can be challenging, and we want to make sure that you get the help you need. Get informed on addiction and employment issues today, and call us to learn more about our therapy sessions and support groups to achieve sobriety.


Weight Loss Pills and the Risk of Addiction

weight loss pills

Most weight loss pills contain amphetamine-like medications and are on the controlled substances schedule. Abuse of these medicines can lead to dependence and addiction. Weight loss pills are weight to treat overweight or obese people when diet and exercise do not cause significant weight loss. Prescription weight-loss drugs are chemically similar to amphetamines, which have a well-established history of abuse. Understandably, some people wonder if these drugs carry a risk of abuse and dependence. 


U.S. FDA-Approved Weight Loss Pills

The United States FDA has approved the following drugs to help to lose weight in overweight and obese people. 


For long-term use

  • Orlistat (Xenical). It works by blocking the enzymes that your body uses to break down ingested fat. It is available both with and without a doctor’s prescription (OTC). OTC orlistat (Alli) contains a lower dose of the medication. 


  • Phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia). This combination product works by increasing energy expenditure and decreasing appetite. You need a doctor’s prescription to buy this product. 


  • Naltrexone-bupropion (Contrave). The medicines in Contrave work in the part of the brain that regulates your appetite and energy expenditure. It is available only with a doctor’s prescription. 


  • Liraglutide (Saxenda). Available by injection only, it works in your gut and brain. Liraglutide slows down the passage of food from the stomach to the small intestine. 


For short-term use 

All the weight loss pills used for short-term weight management are similar to amphetamines. 

  • Phentermine (Lomaira)
  • Benzphetamine (Didrex)
  • Diethylpropion (Tenuate) 
  • Phendimetrazine (Adipost, Anorex-SR)


Can Weight Loss Pills Lead to Addiction?

Abuse of weight loss pills is widespread. Most notably, abuse is more common among young women and those with a history of mental illness or drug abuse. Likewise, eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia, also increase abuse risk. 

weight loss pill and measuring tape

Some people may develop tolerance to weight loss medication, which means they need a higher amount of the drug to feel the effects. Long-term use/abuse may also lead to dependence. When this occurs, users may experience uncomfortable symptoms – such as high blood sugar levels, stomach pain, or other common withdrawal symptoms – upon stopping the drug. 


Does this Mean Weight Loss Pills are Addictive?

Abuse, dependence, and addiction are different things. One may have drug dependence but not an addiction. Addiction is a chronic mental disease that occurs when a person continues drug use despite the known health and other hazards. You should also understand that physical dependence, unlike psychological dependence, is a stronger predictor of addiction. 

Interestingly, this does not mean that addiction is unlikely. There have been several reports of addiction associated with the use of weight loss pills. Medicines in these pills are usually Central Nervous System stimulants; they increase energy levels, lift mood, help drop bodyweight, and cause euphoria, creating a perfect recipe for dependence. 

People also tend to mix weight loss pills with other drugs, or while drinking alcohol. The side effects of the medication sometimes will mitigate the less desired symptoms of drug abuse, like fatigue. 

The addiction risk of weight loss pills is lower than that of amphetamines. Nonetheless, this should not be an excuse for you to abuse them. Abuse may lead to overdose, which can be fatal. 


Does the DEA control weight Loss Pills?

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has categorized weight loss pills into either Schedule III or Schedule IV. 


Schedule III weight loss pills

Moderate to low risk for physical and psychological dependence.

  • Benzphetamine (Didrex)
  • Phendimetrazine (Adipost, Anorex-SR)


Schedule IV weight loss pills

Low risk of abuse and dependence. 

  • Phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia)
  • Diethylpropion (Tenuate) 


Effects of Weight Loss Pill Abuse

In low doses, you may experience:

  • Euphoria
  • Intense Feelings of Wellbeing
  • Rapid Heart Rate 
  • Elevated Blood Pressure
  • Increased Alertness
  • Talkativeness
  • Decreased Appetite


Higher doses may cause:

  • Anxiety
  • Tension
  • Increased Body Temperature
  • Nausea
  • Shaking
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death


Signs and Symptoms of Withdrawal 

The following withdrawal symptoms can persist for one to three weeks. Relapse usually occurs within 4 to 12 weeks of discontinuing amphetamine or similar drugs. 

  • Irritability
  • Aches and Pains
  • Depression
  • Impaired Social Functioning


Treatment of Weight Loss Pill Dependence

A combination of medicine and counseling is the cornerstone of stimulant dependence treatment. Medicines can include drugs to improve mood and control anxiety and seizures. Counseling is an integral part of addiction/dependence treatment. The most commonly used forms of psychotherapy are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Dialectal Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and contingency management (CM). 

girl with two types of pills on front of her



Are herbal weight loss pills safe?

The U.S. FDA does not regulate these products. Hence, their safety is unknown. It is best to avoid these miracle drugs that promise dramatic weight loss in no time.


Does metformin help with weight loss?

With a healthy diet and exercise, metformin works to help you lose a few pounds. However, side effects are common. Some metformin side effects include diarrhea, bloating, muscle pain, and low blood sugar. If you have questions about starting or how to stop taking metformin, talk to your doctor


Key Takeaways

  • Most prescription weight loss pills contain amphetamine-like substances. 
  • Many users have reported dependence and withdrawal. 
  • These medicines are in either Schedule III or Schedule IV of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). 
  • Though these pills are less likely than amphetamine to cause addiction, addiction may lead to potentially fatal overdoses. 


Addiction to these pills is common, along with eating disorders. If you or someone you know is struggling, the staff at Anchored Tides Recovery are very experienced in both areas and have helped hundreds of women find a safe place to heal in Orange County, CA.