Moderation in Drugs: A Dangerous Road or Logical Harm Reduction?

moderation in drugs

moderation in drugs

 

Is moderation in drugs or alcohol even feasible if you have an addiction? It’s controversial, and the topic leaves people sharply divided. Most drug addiction treatment programs subscribe to the modality of total abstinence, meaning they abstain from all use of drugs and alcohol. The belief is that if you have addiction in your genes you are powerless against it, and unless you remain completely sober, you will eventually succumb to your addictive behavior. 

Total abstinence may be the best chance to prevent relapses for a person with a history of drug abuse, or alcohol abuse, but some people don’t like to subscribe to the idea that they are powerless. You may feel like a slave to your addiction, or like you will always be “an addict” if you can’t control yourself to have a drink occasionally in appropriate circumstances; some of these people may try to exercise restraint and practice moderation.

Moderation in drugs is a skill that involves great discipline, knowing when it’s okay to use, and knowing when to stop. Most people who struggle with addiction lack these skills, and for this reason, substance abuse treatment centers generally avoid this thinking and tell you to focus on long-term sobriety. 

 

Understanding Addiction Recovery

Before you can delve into moderation in drugs when someone is technically in addiction recovery, it’s important to understand how addiction works.

  • Addiction is a disease affecting the brain, body, and behavior. When someone first uses a substance, that’s ultimately a choice. Then, their brain develops a tolerance to the drug, affecting their brain’s reward centers.
  • When your brain feels like something is creating positive or pleasurable effects, it may compel you to keep seeking it out. That compulsion can develop into an addiction. Compulsive substance use of addiction is characterized by continued use, even when there are harmful consequences.
  • There are changes in the brain structure that cause intense cravings, changes in personality, alterations in movement, and other effects. Researchers have done brain imaging studies and found that the parts of the brain related to decision-making, learning, judgment, memory, and behavioral control are all affected by substance use.
  • The complexity of addiction as a psychological and medical condition highlights some of the reasons why it can be dangerous to consider moderation in drugs or alcohol if you’re in addiction recovery.
  • The majority of people who use drugs or alcohol don’t become addicted. However, some people are predisposed to addiction for one or more reasons, or their brain responds to the stimuli of drugs and alcohol differently. Someone with an actual addiction can have a triggered brain response, even when they think they’re using moderation or when that’s the plan.  

Some of the same symptoms medical professionals use to diagnose addiction address this topic. For example, one of the symptoms of addiction is using more of a substance than intended or being unable to stop using drugs or alcohol even when you try or want to. That lack of control and compulsive substance use makes moderation difficult if not impossible for many people with a substance use disorder.

 

Comparing Moderation in Drugs and Abstinence

  • Abstinence is a concept in addiction recovery where you avoid all substances. There is no gray area.

  • Moderation requires self-discipline and control, and you theoretically could practice moderation in drugs or drinking, meaning that you limit yourself.

There’s a term called Moderation Management or MM that may be interesting to some people. Moderation management is an approach that offers an alternative to the abstinence of 12-Step programs. Moderation management teaches problem drinkers more responsible habits so that their drinking doesn’t become compulsive. Moderation can work, possibly, but not for everyone. It typically won’t work for someone with a full-blown addiction. Instead, it might be a good option for someone whose use of drugs or alcohol is problematic and who wants to make a change without being abstinent.

Demi Lovato recently coined a phrase that garnered a lot of attention— “California sober.” After a nearly fatal overdose, many were surprised to hear her refer to herself with this term because there’s a pretty common opinion that sobriety has to be all or nothing. California sober can mean different things to different people, but the general idea is that someone in recovery might still drink occasionally or only use “soft drugs” like marijuana.

In some cases, controlled drinking or moderation in drugs is utilized to get to complete abstinence. This controlled drinking or drug use can be beneficial for someone resistant to the idea of treatment initially.

What About Using a Substance to Treat An Addiction To Another?

Sometimes, in addiction recovery, one substance is used to treat another substance addiction. 

  • For example, opioid addiction often uses prescription medications, that are explicitly approved to treat opioid use disorder (such as methadone, naloxone, and buprenorphine) to ease the dependence off of the opioid addiction 
  • With alcohol, someone might use naltrexone or disulfiram to treat withdrawal symptoms 
  • Nicotine addiction uses drugs like bupropion that can help with cravings

These medications can help reduce cravings and restore normal brain function. Some medication-assisted treatments also block the effects of substances on the brain and body.

This area of addiction treatment is controversial; the idea is somewhat in line with harm reduction principles. The ultimate goal of using medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is typically to help the person get off all substances, although it might be gradual.

 

Are There Benefits to Moderation?

For some people, there are genuine benefits to a moderation approach. It can be intimidating and overwhelming to stop drinking or using drugs suddenly; moderation may make quitting seem more manageable. Also, going back to the idea of harm reduction, any steps that a person can take to lower the risks and harms associated with substance use is a positive thing.

We’re learning more about the fact that not everyone who uses drugs or alcohol has an addiction, and there are many types of problems that exist on a spectrum. For some, that can mean that full-fledged abstinence isn’t needed.

 

Moderation vs. “True Addiction”

Recognizing the differences in problem substance use and addiction is very important when discussing the concept of moderation. Someone with a less severe problem may shy away from taking steps to help themselves because they fear abstinence. On the other hand, moderation is probably not a viable option for someone with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, and it may be dangerous.

There is something that tends to happen when someone completes treatment. They may begin to think they can exercise moderation in drugs or alcohol, leading to relapse. There’s a false sense of security or comfort, and that slippery slope quickly appears. With that in mind, someone who is most likely to benefit from moderation or be successful at a moderation approach could include:

  • A person with a shorter history of substance use
  • Someone without physical dependence on substances
  • An individual not experiencing severe life problems as a result of substances
  • A person without co-occurring medical or psychiatric problems

On the other hand, abstinence is likely a better choice if:

  • You’ve been diagnosed with a substance use disorder
  • You lose control when you use substances
  • You become violent or aggressive
  • There have been legal issues resulting from substance use
  • You have a mental health disorder made worse by drinking

The benefits of abstinence over moderation include:

  • Abstinence is the safest option. There’s no safe level of drug or alcohol use that eliminates all harm.
  • You can take on a new perspective with abstinence and see the actual effects of substances on your life and what it’s like to live without them.
  • You can learn how to control your emotions and process them without relying on substances.
  • You may discover voids in your life that you were filling with drugs or alcohol.

So, with all that being said, is moderation in drugs or alcohol an option in addiction recovery? For people who have a genuine, diagnosable addiction, moderation is probably not an option. For someone like Demi Lovato, who experienced a near-death overdose, the concept of “California sober” may be a hazardous one.

Whether you’re completely sober or plan on practicing moderation Anchored Tides Recovery can help equip you with the aftercare resources you need to be successful in your recovery goals, contact us today for more information. 

Benefits of Having a Social Worker in Your Support Group

Social Worker

Social Worker

 

Your support group is one of the most important resources you have in recovery; you will have a better chance at maintaining long-term sobriety if your group is strong. Most people on your team will be friends, family, or even other people in recovery who understand your struggles, but don’t you agree it would be good to have someone on your side that can help with issues beyond cravings. One professional who can play a valuable role as you’re navigating recovery is a social worker.

Social workers are trained to help you solve and cope with problems in your everyday life. The benefit of a social worker being in your support group is that they can also serve as a resource for you to rebuild your life and to thrive.

Anchored Tides Recovery Center has social workers on our staff to help with issues beyond the basic addiction troubles. Situations like career-related issues, custody, living arrangements, and more. These are the sorts of services that help us stand out from all of the other treatment centers, in a good way. 

 

What Does a Social Worker Do?

A social worker has a degree in social work and is trained to work with individuals to solve, and cope with, problems that arise in their daily lives. A clinical social worker can also diagnose and treat behavioral, emotional, and mental health issues. In general, some of the specific things a licensed social worker might do includes:

  • Determining the needs and strengths of individuals then help them develop goals
  • Assisting clients to adjust to challenges that exist in their lives, including addiction recovery
  • Referrals to community resources like healthcare and childcare services
  • Crisis response during mental health emergencies
  • Continual follow-up with clients to check in and see if they’re meeting their goals and their lives are improving
  • Providing therapy services

Within the larger category of social workers are other areas of specialty. For example, bachelor’s social workers (BSW) and (MSW) will work with community organizations and policymakers to create programs that benefit the community on a more significant level. Both have degrees in social work education, a BSW has a bachelor’s degree and a MSW has a master’s degree; once an MSW has a certain amount of hours of clinical experience they can become a (CSW) and a (LCSW). 

A clinical social worker (CSW) or licensed clinical social worker (LCSW)  require a master’s degree and can provide individual or group therapy. They can work with clients and other health care professionals to create customized treatment plans. Some social workers specifically help people with mental illnesses and substance use disorders; they can help their clients find support groups and other programs and rebuild their lives.

 

 

The Consequences of Addiction on Daily Life

Social workers are multifaceted as far as their services and the benefits they can provide to clients. This is important when discussing a substance use disorder because of how far-reaching the effects are on every aspect of a person’s life. Once you go to treatment, you may find that there is a lot of work to do to get your life back on track the way that you envision it.

Some of the ways that addiction can affect your life include:

  • You may be facing legal problems; if you’re charged with a crime because of your substance use disorder, you may have to go through the court system and pay fines or face other punishments.
  • You might have family-related legal matters; for example, you could have lost custody of your child, or you may be going through a divorce. 
  • You may have financial problems or have lost your job as well.
  • Your relationships may have been deeply affected by addiction; Your loved ones may be hurt by what happened during your active addiction, and they might have lost faith in you or trust. 
  • You could be dealing with chronic health issues resulting in, and you may need regular medical care and treatment.
  • You may have ongoing mental and emotional side effects from your addiction, even if you’re sober. Many people with a substance use disorder have a co-occurring mental health disorder.

 

Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders

It’s worth talking about co-occurring mental health disorders and substance use disorders on their own because this highlights the benefits of a social worker. A co-occurring disorder is when someone has two or more either mental or physical health disorders. Substance use disorders are strongly correlated with mental health disorders. Around half of the people with substance use disorder will develop at least one mental health disorder in their lifetime, and vice versa. There are three reasons that doctors and researchers believe this might be true.

  1. The risk factors for substance use disorders and mental health conditions often overlap with one another: For example, trauma exposure, abuse, and genetics play a role in substance use disorders and mental health disorders. 
  2. Self-medicating: Someone with a mental illness might use substances to deal with their symptoms. 
  3. Changes in the brain stemming from substances: The parts of the brain most affected by the use of substances are associated with the areas that relate to mental health disorders.

 

The Benefits of a Social Worker in Addiction Treatment and Recovery

The above factors highlight the benefits of a social worker in treatment and recovery from substance use disorders. Social workers are educated in mental health, and they can also specialize in helping clients with substance use disorders. An addiction social worker understands psychology and psychiatry, biology, and physical health. They are also connected with the safety net of social services in the community where they work. A trained social worker knows a balance and connection between mental health, behavior, and physical health. They can also oversee the different services included in an addiction treatment plan like counseling and medication.

Specific benefits of a social worker in addiction include:

  • Assessment: Before a social worker begins treatment, they will conduct a complete evaluation that will help them understand each of the factors that contributed to someone’s addiction and its effects. This allows them to create a very tailored treatment plan.
  • Treatment plans: Social workers can oversee treatment plans that last for months or even years. Social workers collaborate with other providers in the delivery of treatment plans.
  • Coping skills: Working with a social worker can help someone in addiction recovery learn new coping skills, such as stress management and conflict resolution.
  • Resource connections: Social workers are well-versed in the various resources and systems available. They work within the system to help with bureaucratic or legal issues you might face; they can even connect clients with employers who are hiring. 

Social workers can be beneficial and empowering if you are dealing with addiction or you’re in recovery. They are part of a continuous aftercare plan for many people following treatment, and they can help you set and meet your goals.

 

Seeking Help

Long-term sobriety is a marathon, not a sprint; the process of getting sober and staying sober can sometimes last a lifetime. The quality of the skills and resources you develop on your road to recovery directly relates to your chances of maintaining sobriety. Anchored Tides Recovery has the aftercare and resources, like social workers and group therapy, that will help you at any stage of recovery. Call us today for a consultation and take the first steps towards long-term happiness. 

Screen Addiction and Substance Abuse

screen addiction

screen addiction

 

Screen addiction and substance abuse are two things that are growing increasingly prevalent independently of one another. Sometimes, they also develop together, or one might come before the other. Many of the underlying factors that contribute to screen addiction also play a role in substance abuse.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a rise in both screen addiction cases and substance abuse as well, highlighting the importance of discussing both right now.

 

What is Screen Addiction?

Screen addiction isn’t an addiction to the screen itself. Instead, it’s usually an addiction to social media, certain apps, video games, or mobile device dependence. Younger people, including children, are especially susceptible to screen addiction, which research shows can lead to changes in the structure of their brains. Screen addiction can impact long term neural development, which is one risk factor for a screen dependency disorder.

Some of the signs of screen addiction, especially in kids and teens, can include:

  • There’s no control over screen use. You may notice this in your child, your partner, or even yourself. You or your child or loved one might try to stop using a device and find that they’re not able to stop for an extended period.
  • With a screen addiction, there may be a loss of interest in other activities. For example, someone could stop spending time with friends to use their device instead or play a game.
  • Thoughts are preoccupied with a game, social media, or a smartphone, even when it’s not being used.
  • Screen use contributes to problems in relationships and conflict.

 

How Does Screen Time Change the Brain?

There was a study done by the National Institutes of Health in 2018 that found that children younger than 11 who spent more than two hours a day on screen activities scored lower on thinking and language tests. Children who had more than seven hours of time in front of a screen day had thinning in the frontal cortex of their brain. This is the part of the brain related to reasoning and critical thinking.

While more research needs to be done, this could show that the effects of screen time can change the brain in pretty profound ways by narrowing the focus.

Children can develop tunnel vision rather than experiencing a varied environment and different experiences, which impedes their development. Children who spend a lot of time on screens may have slow social and language development, and they may develop problems with attention and focus.

 

Understanding Behavioral Addictions

Screen addiction can fall into the larger category of behavioral addictions. Behavioral addiction is also called process addiction.

  • A process addiction can include video games and screen time, sex, exercise, eating, gambling or shopping.

  • There is debate as to whether or not “process addiction” should be classified in the same way as substance addiction, although we are increasingly finding similarities.
  • With both process and substance addictions, a person continues to engage in harmful or damaging activities, even with the negative consequences they create.
  • Studies have shown changes in the neural pathway of the reward system in the brain that are similar to behavioral and substance addictions. For example, if someone is addicted to social media and gets likes or comments, they might have a rush of dopamine that is the same as what someone addicted to drugs gets.
  • When the behavior becomes an addiction, the person is entirely focused on getting that dopamine rush again and again by doing the same activities. Once something reaches this point, it’s often destructive to relationships and every area of the person’s life.

Researchers have looked specifically at social media. For example, a study by Harvard University found that self-disclosure on social media platforms can light up the same parts of the brain that are affected by taking an addictive substance.

When you get a dopamine rush because of social media, your brain starts to be rewired due to positive reinforcement. You’re getting attention for very minimal work on your part.

Researchers have also found that our brain reward centers are most active when we talk about ourselves. When you’re on social media, and you’re sharing something about yourself or posting a picture of yourself, then your brain is again stimulated to release dopamine.

 

 

Does Screen Addiction Affect Substance Abuse?

There can be direct and indirect relationships between screen addiction and substance abuse.

For example, if the brain is wired to want easy dopamine spikes from screens, then that could make you more susceptible to chase the same high from substances. It could also be that the changes in your brain that occur because of screens make you more likely to develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Someone who’s absorbed with screens may have impaired relationships with other people, leading them to rely on substances because of loneliness.

Another possible link between screen addiction and substance abuse is that if someone is regularly overstimulated, they might want to keep up that high level of stimulation throughout their life. That can then contribute to a substance use disorder. There are a lot of ways screen addiction and substance use can interact with one another.

 

Getting Substance Abuse Treatment Without Screens

Interestingly, if someone is going for substance abuse treatment in an inpatient facility, they are often not allowed to use their phone and usually any other device. While all centers have their own rules, the idea is that cell phones and devices can distract people from their recovery during substance abuse treatment.

There’s also the fact that having screens and devices while you’re in substance abuse treatment can bring stress into your life so that you cannot fully put all of your attention into your recovery. Treatment centers for so long have been mainly against bringing devices to rehab. It may be that they were onto something, now that we see the negative ramifications of screen addiction. It’s also possible that some people dealing with their screen addiction could become part of their substance abuse treatment. 

Alcoholism: Gender and the Rate of Addiction in Women

addiction in women

addiction in women

 

Until the late 1990s, almost all clinical studies on drug addiction in the United States were only done on men; no consideration was given to the differences between gender or how drugs may affect each differently. Advanced research in recent years shows that addiction in women has different, and often far worse, effects than in men. These consequences are much more exaggerated for women who are pregnant and the developing child. 

Science didn’t discover most of the gender-based differences in addiction’s impacts on the body until recent decades. Advanced research shows that addiction affects women differently and often far worse than men. These consequences are much more significant for women who are pregnant and the effects on the developing child.

 

Addiction in Women

Addiction to substances such as heroin and alcohol affects women differently than men. Men and women respond differently to addiction and drug abuse. The differences between addiction in women suffering from addiction arise from biological and sociological differences. Many researchers now explain gender differences between the two due to society’s impact (such as child care responsibilities, addiction stigma, relationship dynamics, etc.).

There are also biological differences between men and women, revolving primarily around testosterone and estrogen production and average body size and composition, which cause substances to affect the body adversely.

 

Does Alcohol Affect Men and Women Differently?

According to the National Institute of Alcohol Addiction, “Women are more vulnerable than men to alcohol-related organ damage and trauma, and tend to develop alcohol addiction in much less time.”

In today’s age of stress and anxiety, people often tend to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol for their mental disorders to find an escape from reality. Research shows that women’s addiction is often related to controlling emotional pain. Feeling stressed and fed up with the grind of daily life grind, some women resort to binge drinking to forget about their worries for a period of time. 

 

girl holding a bottle of alcohol

 

Consequences of Alcohol Addiction in Women

Women report unique reasons for using drugs, including controlling weight, battling fatigue, coping with pain, and attempts to self-treat mental health problems. Scientists who study substance abuse have found that women may experience issues related to hormones, menstrual cycle, fertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause. 

At every stage of life, women quickly become dependent on Alcohol and drugs and suffer the consequences, including mental issues, damage to the brain and other organs, and fatal accidents. What’s most dangerous is the severe attack of alcohol addiction on pregnant women. The fetus suffers the tension created by Alcohol in the woman’s body and may permanently damage or have limited growth.  

Women are more prone to the physical and emotional damages caused by addiction. Women addicts are more likely than men to develop liver infection and get addiction-related brain changes. Women addicts are also likely to get heart disease and strokes more than men. Besides, women are more likely than men to develop addictive hepatitis and to die from cirrhosis.

 

What is the Effective Treatment Strategies for Women?

With so many differences between how men and women experience and deal with addiction, it’s a wonder that so many treatment facilities aren’t gender-specific. Yet, it only makes sense that treating a disease that is so different for men and women that the treatment options aren’t different. 

Unfortunately, people may feel ashamed of having an addiction because they have been told that it’s just something you need to get over, so they see themselves as unique and less than human when they can’t. This isn’t true. 

Just as is the case with any other mental health issue, it takes much more than lectures, willpower, and other platitudes to conquer an addiction. When it comes to addiction in women, proper health care takes a professional treatment program and support groups of other women who can empathize with your experience. 

 

girl standing in the wind with a mask on

 

Substance Abuse Treatment

If you have substance use disorders that affect your daily life, short or long term, consult one of our care coordinators.  

Anchored Tides Recovery is a comprehensive dual-diagnosis enhanced Huntington Beach rehab program explicitly designed to treat addiction in women. Contact us today, and we can help you recover from alcohol addiction if you’re ready. 

America’s Fentanyl Crisis: Synthetic Opioids

Americas-Fentanyl-Crisis

Americas-Fentanyl-Crisis

 

Before we get more into America’s fentanyl crisis and how dangerous fentanyl addiction is, it helps to know what the drug is and how it works. Fentanyl is a big factor contributing to the opioid crisis and opioid overdoses. Opioids (heroin, morphine, methadone, and codeine) are typically used for treating pain symptoms and are usually prescribed by doctors and then people become addicted quickly.

 

What is Fentanyl?  

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, made in a lab, used to treat patients with extreme pain (especially after surgery, like morphine.) However, Fentanyl is 50x stronger than heroin and 100x stronger than morphine. This makes the chance even more significant for an overdose; a minor change in dosage can cost you your life. 

Tolerance happens when you require a larger and/or more regular dose of a drug to get the desired results. It is sometimes used to treat people with chronic pain who are physically tolerant to other medications, and nothing seems to work on them anymore.

 

How do People Use Fentanyl?

When prescribed by a doctor for extreme pain, fentanyl is usually administered in a patch, shot, pill, liquid, or tablet. However fentanyl is sometimes distributed on the streets as a powder, and this illegal fentanyl can become combined with other products, sometimes on purpose or accidentally through cross-contamination. It sometimes even gets put in eye droppers, nasal sprays, or made into pills that look like other prescription opioids.

When used as prescribed, this medication serves as an effective pain killer. Illegally used fentanyl is closely associated with America’s recent spike in overdoses. 

Fentanyl is often mixed with other narcotics, such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA. This is because generating a high with fentanyl requires a very small dosage, making it a cheap additive. This is particularly dangerous if drug users do not know that they are consuming the opioid. They may take a dose that is stronger than their bodies can handle and may are likely to overdose.

 

What Are The Side Effects of Fentanyl?

Fentanyl side effects can be life-threatening and include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Drowsiness
  • Weight Loss
  • Heartburn
  • Difficulty Urinating
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fainting
  • Difficulty Sleeping
  • High Blood Pressure

 

Fentanyl Overdose

An Individual can more easily overdose on fentanyl than on any other drug. When people have an overdose of fentanyl, their breathing can slow or stop altogether. Hypoxia causes the amount of oxygen that enters the brain to be decreased and can lead to a coma, irreversible brain damage, and even death.

America’s Fentanyl Crisis

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “From 2017 to 2018, overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone, which includes fentanyl, rose 10 percent. More than 31,000 individuals died in 2018 from overdoses involving synthetic opioids.”

 

America’s Fentanyl Crisis

Fentanyl confiscations rose by almost 7x from 2012 to 2014, according to data from the National Forensic Laboratory Information System. In 2014, there were 4,585 confiscations, this means that the sharp rise in opioid-related deaths could be due to the increased availability of illegally manufactured, non-pharmaceutical, and non-prescribed fentanyl.

The number of states that record 20 or more confiscations of fentanyl per six months is growing. 

The most popular drugs implicated in drug overdose overdoses in the United States are now opioids, including fentanyl. In 2020 fentanyl was involved in 80% of opioid-related deaths, compared to 14.3 percent in 2010!

Keep fentanyl out of reach of children; If used unintentionally by a child who has not been prescribed the drug, fentanyl can be life-threatening. Fentanyl, even partially used, can contain a sufficient dose enough to cause severe injury or death. 

If you are prescribed Fentanyl, be sure to keep it in a bottle with child safety locks to prevent accidental overdose. Dispose of partly used medication according to the manufacturer’s medication guide immediately after use. If you witness someone who is overdosing on fentanyl or any other opioid call 911 immediately so they can administer an antidote that, if administered quickly enough, can rapidly reverse the effects of opioid overdose.

 

Not a New Drug

Fentanyl is not a new drug. It has been around and used in medical settings since the 60s, but it only is getting national attention in the past few years. High publicity deaths, like Prince and George Floyd, pointed the spotlight on fentanyl and its dangerous properties. 

Even though America’s fentanyl crisis has only become popular in recent years, opioid use disorder has been plaguing people for a much longer time. If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid use disorder contact us for help. Anchored Tides is a female-only treatment environment that encourages growth far beyond drug addiction treatment. 

Opioid Overdose: Causes, Signs, and Precautions

opioid-overdose

opioid-overdose

 

Opioid Overdose

About .5 million deaths are attributable to drug use worldwide; more than 70% of these deaths are related to opioids, with more than 30% of those deaths caused by overdose. According to The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, approximately 115 000 people died of opioid overdose in 2017. What are opioids, and why is opioid misuse so common when there are so much evidence points to a drug overdose? Here is everything you need to know about the epidemic of life-threatening opioid overdose, its causes, signs, and precautions. 

 

What are Opioids?

Opiates, or opioids, are narcotic painkillers that bind to neural opioid receptors in the brain. Once attached to your opioid receptors, the substance depresses your central nervous system, creating a “downer” effect, and suppresses pain while simultaneously producing a euphoric effect. In a medical setting, opiates are prescribed for pain management, which is how many people get hooked. Opiates are highly addictive and currently are the most abused substances in America. 

Opioid use and misuse can result in addiction, overdose, withdrawal, and death.

 

Can a Narcotic Painkiller Become My Drug of Choice?

The United States is currently facing an opioid epidemic; according to the latest statistics from National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), approximately 11.4 million people in the United States and around 36 million people worldwide abuse opioids every year. 

Narcotic pain relievers include:

  • Codeine
  • Heroin
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • Methadone
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone (Percocet or Oxycontin)
  • Fentanyl (Synthetic Opioid)
  • Tramadol

The regular use of opioids, prolonged use, abuse, and use without medical supervision can lead to opioid dependence and other health problems, such as overdose. 

 

Signs of Opioid Overdose

You can identify an opioid overdose by a combination of three signs and symptoms:

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Unconsciousness 
  • Breathing difficulties

Prescription opioid use can even lead to opioid overdose death due to the pharmacological effects on the part of the brain that regulates breathing.

 

Prevention of Opioid Overdose

There are specific measures that can be taken to prevent an opioid overdose at an early stage:

  • Increase the availability of opioid dependence treatment
  • Reduce irrational or inappropriate opioid prescriptions
  • Carefully monitor opioid prescribing and dispensing
  • Limit inappropriate under-the-table sales of opioids
  • Find alternative pain management methods

Opiate prescriptions have been increasing since 2010, despite the data showing opiate overdose death rates increasing as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), In 2017, there were almost 58 opioid prescriptions written per every 100 Americans.

There is a massive gap between recommendations and practices. Only half of the countries provide access to effective treatment options for opioid dependence. Less than 10% of people worldwide, who are genuinely in need of such treatment, are receiving it.

 

What to Do if you Witness an Opioid Overdose?

If you witness someone, or you yourself feel you are, on the verge of collapsing due to an opioid overdose, calling 911 for an emergency response protocol may save a life. Opioid overdose death can be prevented if the person receives a timely administration of the drug Naloxone, an antidote that rapidly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose if administered to the patient in time

There is limited availability of naloxone in many countries, and access to naloxone is generally limited to health professionals and not available over the counter. On the contrary, some countries have already made naloxone available in pharmacies without a prescription. 

People with substance abuse are generally aware of the risks and dangers that come along with opiate addiction. If one were to decide they wanted to overcome their addiction to opiates before things got worse they may likely be facing Opiate withdrawal and a detoxification process. 

 

Opioid Withdrawal 

When you’ve become addicted to opiates you will become emotionally and physically dependent on the presence of the substance. With time, your body becomes desensitized to the drug, and you’ll need more of it to feel its effects. After heavy use, once you stop taking these drugs you will likely experience several symptoms of withdrawal. 

Opioid withdrawal can be categorized as mild, moderate, moderately severe, and severe. Your healthcare provider can determine this by evaluating your opioid use history and symptoms.

Opiate withdrawal occurs in two phases. The first phase includes several symptoms, such as:

  • muscle aches
  • restlessness
  • anxiety and depression
  • teary eyes/ runny nose
  • excessive sweating
  • Insomnia
  • agitation

 

The second phase is marked by:

  • diarrhea
  • abdominal cramps
  • nausea and vomiting
  • increased heart rate and blood pressure

opioid-overdose

These initial phases can last anywhere from a week to a month and can be followed by long-term withdrawal symptoms that may involve emotional or behavioral issues.

 

Medical detox from Opiates

It takes time to recover from opiate addiction. Recovery is a journey, not a destination. Opiate detox from home is strongly not recommended, it is dangerous and statistically ineffective. 

Recovery centers are best suited for medical detoxification from opiates; will improve your overall health and reduce your risk of complications related to opioid dependence and help prevent relapse. In some cases, withdrawal from opiates could be deadly. A recovery center with medically assisted detoxification services will have a team that can monitor your vitals, keep you safe, and use medications to mitigate the symptoms of withdrawal (making the process as comfortable as possible.)

Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about addiction treatment programs. Once you successfully get through detox, you will feel an overall improvement in your physical and mental health.

 

Aftercare

Detox is generally the first step in the recovery process, but detox alone is not a treatment. After detox, your counselor will curate a plan for you to follow that will have you stepping down levels of care. You may be recommended to complete residential inpatient care, followed by outpatient therapy services, followed by sober maintenance through treatment options such as support groups. The process may seem long, but it has been proven to help save countless lives and provide hope for those who feel lost. 

If you want to learn more, visit our website or call us at 1-866-753-5865 and talk to our health professionals to enroll in an effective women-only treatment center and live a drug-free life. 

What Happens When You Smoke Too Much Weed?

When it comes to cannabis, do you realize we’re witnessing history unfold? The prohibition of marijuana will be written about in history books, just like the alcohol prohibition from the early 1900s. Over the past 20 years, we’ve witnessed a lot of progress regarding the national status of weed addiction, and those changes continue to happen and come with some questions.  
  • What are the long-term effects of marijuana? 
  • Can you have a fatal overdose of marijuana? 
  • What are the proven health benefits of marijuana, if any?
  • Is it possible to have a “weed addiction?”
  • Is there a cure for marijuana addiction?
  Anchored Tides Recovery has been helping women struggling with addiction for years. In our experience, these are some of the questions that are commonly asked in a treatment setting. While there is no shortage of questions as we navigate through the developing status of marijuana. There is, however, a shortage of long-term scientific research to have conclusive answers. This article will do our best to answer some of the most commonly asked marijuana-related questions using science. We will educate you on the long and short-term effects of marijuana use, and what you read may shock you.  Before we get into the effects of marijuana use and abuse, it helps first to understand how we got here and the current state of the drug…   Smoking-too-much-weed  

Marijuana Prohibition…

For years we have seen a movement to legalize marijuana that has gained a lot of traction and attention. In 1996 marijuana was first legalized for medical use in the state of California; before this, marijuana was highly illegal across the country, with no explanation given as to why. One thing that was clear, whether it was legal or not, people were still using marijuana. As of 2016, millions of U.S. dollars were being spent annually to keep 2.3 million people incarcerated over marijuana-related crimes.  It was legal to drink alcohol when, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “Excessive alcohol use is responsible for more than 95,000 deaths a year.” Meanwhile, there is not a single recorded death in history from a marijuana overdose? It just didn’t make sense. The public demanded some leniency and logic from their government and eventually got what they were asking for.  After California made cannabis medically legal in 1996, other states soon followed. As of 2020, 11 states allow legal recreational use of marijuana, and 47 out of 50 states allow medical use of marijuana in some form. However, marijuana is still technically illegal on a federal level. The morality and the legality of marijuana use in the united states come with many different opinions. Regardless of where you stand, the fact is there is still a lack of long-term scientific research to support or refute marijuana use.   

Lack of Scientific Research Regarding Marijuana? Why?

Before 1996, no research was allowed on the effects, medicinal benefits, dangers, or any other aspect of the drug. The government considered marijuana explicitly to be a dangerous controlled substance and not to be tampered with. Once it became legal for medical use in California, grants were issued to begin conducting research.  Smoking-too-much-weed We understand more now than we did 20 years ago, but we are still learning and making scientific advancements. This research has allowed for the creation of CBD (Cannabidiol), an extracted component of marijuana with no psychoactive effects. Scientists are trying to utilize the medical properties of marijuana without the “getting high” part. Like with marijuana, the data related to CBD is still limited and in the early stages.  We face a clear divide on the topic of marijuana in the United States. Marijuana is a drug; as with all drugs, the common factor is long-term damage. Despite its widespread use, the truth is there are many risks to using marijuana.  

Short-term Effects of Weed Addiction:

There are no recorded deaths related to marijuana overdose; it may not be possible to die due to a pure marijuana overdose. That being said, it would be incredibly irresponsible to think marijuana is not dangerous. Even though there is no evidence of a fatal overdose, many deaths are related to marijuana use. People with pre-existing medical conditions are the ones at the highest risk for short-term marijuana-related issues, such as:   Heart attack: Marijuana increases your heart rate for up to 3 hours after use, so older people and people with any existing cardiovascular issues are at high risk for heart attack.    Breathing problems: Marijuana is typically smoked, which is an irritant to the throat and lungs. There are obvious long-term effects of smoking any substance, but in the short term, someone with asthma or other lung issues may stop breathing after inhaling harsh marijuana smoke.   Choking hazard: THC binds to saliva-producing receptors in your glands and can prevent new saliva production. This is referred to as “cottonmouth” among users. Cottonmouth can make it difficult to swallow or breathe; when a person has a hard time swallowing or breathing, this also tends to make them panic, possibly to the point of losing consciousness.    Disorientation: Marijuana is an intoxicant, so it does disorient your senses. This makes you more likely to have some form of accident. You are at higher risk for a car accident or possibly falling while disoriented.      Psychosis: There are many ways to ingest marijuana. A common occurrence is when someone takes an edible form of marijuana and ends up eating too much. This can result in panic attacks or even psychosis. The effects after consuming an edible can last for 6-12 hours. Marijuana has also been found to awaken some resting mental health issues, such as schizophrenia. If you have schizophrenia but never showed any symptoms, marijuana could trigger it.   

Long-term Effects of Smoking too Much Weed:

Although people with pre-existing medical conditions are at higher risk for short-term issues, nobody is safe from the long-term effects of marijuana abuse.  The more you use marijuana, the more tolerance you build up, and you feel less high and more “normal.” Eventually, chronic users find themselves getting high just to perform everyday functions like; sleeping, laughing, or finding motivation.   Smoking-too-much-weed  

Dependence

While marijuana isn’t chemically addictive, it is still possible to have a weed addiction. Habitual use will increase your tolerance for the drug’s effects and cause your mind to become dependent on its use. This leads to a host of other issues, such as:
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Laziness
 

Cancer

For certain types of cancer, A doctor may prescribe marijuana to help ease some of the chemotherapy symptoms and improve life quality. Ironically, smoking marijuana will put you at a significantly higher risk to develop certain cancers, such as:
  • Lung
  • Throat 
  • Mouth
 

Inhaled Illnesses

Aside from lung cancer, the inhalation of marijuana smoke will also contribute to other smoking-related issues, such as: 
  • COPD
  • Emphysema
  • Asthma
  • Chronic cough
  • Halitosis (Sour breath)
 

Is There a Cure for Marijuana Addiction?

There is no simple cure for marijuana addiction, although sobriety is attainable through a combination of counseling and treatment at a recovery center.  Marijuana is not considered to be a “hard drug,” so marijuana addiction is often overlooked, but the long and short-term effects and risks you face by using this drug are apparent. Once use becomes abuse, then you are facing more long-term risks. The prolonged exposure to the effect of the drug can wreak havoc on your mental health, while the long-term effects of common ways to administer the drug bring potentially fatal physical risks.  Anchored Tides Recovery believes some important aspects of overcoming cannabis addiction are environment, counseling, and support. We provide a gender-specific climate for women to overcome addiction and an all-female support group to help with cravings and moments of weakness. If you or someone you know is struggling with marijuana addiction, contact us to take the first steps towards a healthier life. 

Co-Occurring Disorder: Treatment for Substance Use Disorders

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co-occuring-disorder-treatment-for-substance-use-disorders

Co-Occurring Disorders

Individuals who struggle with addiction or substance use disorders and mental health disorders are diagnosed with co-occurring disorders or dual diagnoses. A dual diagnosis is an approach that allows healthcare providers to treat the whole person and not solely their addiction. This has shown to be incredibly beneficial as substance use and mental illness are often closely related. Lets talk about some treatment for co-occuring disorders.  

Substance Use Disorder

Substance use disorder is diagnosed when a person’s use of alcohol or illegal drugs leads to severe mental and physical health issues. This can result in problems at work, school, or home and ruin close relationships with family and friends.  Substance use disorder often occurs with mental health issues such as depression, attention deficit disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other behavioral illnesses. It is difficult to determine if the substance use caused the mental illness or the other way around in many cases. In either case, substance use cannot be treated without considering cognitive and behavioral health disruptions.  

What does substance use disorder include?

A substance use disorder includes:
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Alcohol or drug dependence
Co-occurring disorders can be difficult to diagnose. Symptoms of illicit drug abuse or addiction and mental illness may mask one another, making it difficult to identify what a person is actually struggling with. Often, individuals with mental health problems do not discuss their drug use with mental health professionals because they do not think it is related to their illness. This can increase the amount of time it takes to get to a correct diagnosis. It is not uncommon for people struggling with their mental health to turn to drug use. Anxious people may take drugs to feel calm, and depressed people may take drugs to numb the pain. In addition to addressing the mental health problem, alcohol or other medications often prevent a person from developing successful coping skills like maintaining satisfying relationships and feeling happy with themselves. It is also important to know how drugs and alcohol impact medicines prescribed for mental illness. Dru and alcohol use, in short, makes mental health conditions worse when not properly disclosed to your healthcare provider. People with co-occurring disorders can stop using alcohol or other substances, but as symptoms of their mental health disorders continue, they may face difficulties. To remedy both conditions, patients need a care team with an awareness of the entire patient history and experience in treatment for co-occuring disorders.    co-occuring-disorder-treatment-for-substance-use-disorders  

Substance Abuse & Addiction

Though it is a fine line, some people may use drugs without becoming addicted. Addiction begins with compulsive behaviors to seek out and use drugs with little regard for the consequences. The increased drug use leads to drug abuse where a person continues to use more of a substance to chase the same high. The increased volume of drug consumption results in long-lasting changes in the brain. Some of these changes are irreversible and permanent.  Exposure to drugs in social settings is often where drug use begins. It may also start with misusing a valid prescription ordered by a doctor. As the person becomes accustomed to the feeling of using drugs, they increase the amount and the frequency in which they operate. This leads to experimenting with and abusing different drugs. The risk of addiction varies according to the substance (controlled or illegal) and how easily you become addicted. Some medicines have a greater risk and induce dependence more quickly than others, such as opioid painkillers. Attempts to stop drug use abruptly may cause intense cravings, make you feel physically ill (withdrawal symptoms), and be dangerous if not properly supervised.  

Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

Previously, in the United States, opioid and alcohol abuse treatment was distinct from mental health treatments because there was not a broad understanding of co-occurring conditions. Care was administered using drastically different clinical methods at various facilities. Consequently, many individuals with depression, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, treatment for co-occuring disorders and other severe conditions never received a treatment plan for their substance abuse problems.  Treating only one condition will not cause the other to change immediately, and a siloed treatment approach will not give you lasting results. Both conditions must be treated simultaneously, in the same place, by the same care team to be successful. This is a form of integrated cognitive behavioral therapy, and it is highly effective. About 7 million people who have received treatment for mental health still suffer from opioid or alcohol abuse. The secret to shielding this population from poverty, disease, loneliness, incarceration, and homelessness is integrated care for co-occurring disorders. Are you someone who is looking to help your daughter, mother, sister, or friend? Are you looking for substance abuse treatment options and support groups specifically for women? Join us at the women-only treatment center, Anchored Tides Recovery. Call us today at 1-866-524-6014 and get your loved one on the road to recovery.

How Domestic Abuse Can Cause Substance Abuse For Women

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There are many issues in society that people simply aren’t comfortable discussing. Sadly, many of these issues tend to go hand in hand. This is exactly the case when it comes to domestic violence and substance abuse. These are almost always found together. When someone abuses drugs or alcohol, they tend to lose control of themselves. Substance abuse has the potential to destroy relationships with loved ones. When someone surrenders control of themselves to the cycle of addiction, they tend to lash out at loved ones. This can lead to domestic violence.

At the same time, the inverse is also true. When someone is the victim of domestic violence, this can drive someone to the bonds of addiction as well. For this reason, many women who end up in the world of substance abuse are also victims of domestic violence. It is critical for everyone to know how the two are related. That way, they can get help if they need it.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is any pattern of behavior in a relationship that is exercised to gain or maintain power over someone else. Domestic violence is a major problem in society and many people feel that the exact figures are under-reported. Domestic violence can take many forms. While many people feel that domestic violence is limited to physical abuse, this is not the case. This type of behavior can also include verbal abuse, emotional abuse, and even sexual abuse.

Domestic violence, like addiction, has the potential to cause collateral damage as well. In households where there are children involved, they can end up getting caught in the middle. This can lead to severe trauma for children, tearing a family apart. Finally, women who are victims of domestic violence are far more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol down the road.

Addiction and Domestic Violence are Related

What many people don’t realize is that addiction and domestic violence are related. The actions of domestic violence come out of someone’s desire to control someone else. When someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they are going to lose control of their own inhibitions. When someone is under the influence, they are far more likely to engage in abusive behavior. Furthermore, research has shown that the vast majority of domestic violence crimes are related to the use of drugs.

Drugs have the ability to change how the neurotransmitters in the brain flow back and forth. The brain develops a need for these drugs and will do anything to force the person to find them. As a result, significant others who get in the way of this addiction will cause someone to lash out. This will lead to domestic violence. There are a few major characteristics that addiction and domestic violence share. Both activities can cause someone to lose control over the actions, engage in dangerous behaviors despite the negative consequences, will get worse over time, and can lead to both denial and shame. In many cases of domestic violence, both the abuser and the victim have a substance abuse disorder. This only complicates things further. If there are children involved, the situation only becomes even direr.

The Effects of Addiction and Domestic Violence

The effects of these two dangerous activities can lead to serious issues. When someone is the victim of domestic violence, they are far more likely to experience other mental health disorders. While substance abuse is a mental health disorder unto itself, there are numerous other complications that might result as well. Some of the problems that might arise following addiction and domestic violence include:

  • The development of other dependencies including designer drugs and alcohol
  • The development of eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia
  • Depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder can also start to manifest
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is becoming more common

These are only a few of the many mental health issues that might result when someone is the victim of domestic violence. Addiction is bad enough; however, when it is coupled with domestic violence, the consequences can be particularly severe. That is why it is important for everyone to rely on trained professionals to help address addiction and substance abuse. Nobody should have to face these problems alone.

Rely on the Professionals at Anchored Tides Recovery

At Anchored Tides Recovery, we are drug abuse and addiction treatment program designed by women because we believe that women deserve to have a dedicated cadre of professionals who know and understand them. We know that drug abuse and domestic violence go hand in hand. That is why we tailor our addiction treatment plans to meet your individual needs. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you, please contact us today.