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The Benefits of Acupuncture During Drug and Alcohol Detox

January 20th, 2017

The Benefits of Acupuncture During Drug & Alcohol DetoxAddiction is more common than we may think. According to the National Study on Drug Use and Health, there were 20.8 million people aged 12 or older suffering from a substance abuse disorder in 2015. Of these, more than 15 million had an alcohol use disorder, while 7.7 million were dealing with an addiction to drugs. Based on these numbers, researchers estimate that about 1 in 12 people living in the United States require substance abuse treatment.

Effective treatment for substance abuse disorders is multifaceted and requires a holistic approach. By addressing mind, body, and spirit during rehabilitation, patients can adapt healthy lifestyle changes that support long-term recovery. Acupuncture is one such method. Learn about the benefits of acupuncture for drug and alcohol addiction treatment and the detox process.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a complementary therapy that involves stimulating certain points of the body with needles to relieve pain or other symptoms associated with certain medical conditions.

The earliest written account of the practice dates to 100 B.C. in China; although researchers believe acupuncture predates its written accounts. According to Chinese philosophy, acupuncture works by improving energy flow through the body (called qi or chi) and achieving proper balance.

The type of acupuncture delivered in hospitals and treatment centers throughout the United States does not follow traditional eastern philosophy. Physicians and researchers have developed several theories for how acupuncture works. Most involve the idea that nerve stimulation creates a flow of positive activity through the body – the brain may release endorphins, stimulate nerve growth factor, or decrease inflammatory proteins in the body.

Does Acupuncture Work?

Acupuncture is becoming an increasingly popular complementary therapy in western medicine. One of the largest reviews of the literature to date involves a meta-analysis of 29 studies encompassing 18,000 patients and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. This meta-analysis found acupuncture to be moderately effective for the treatment of pain and a “reasonable referral option” and complementary therapy for patients.

Since it is the most popular alternative medicine practice in the United States, researchers continuously study the efficacy of acupuncture to treat a range of conditions from depression to drug addiction.

The Role of Acupuncture in Addiction Recovery

Patients suffering from addiction who are admitted for treatment, report some uncomfortable symptoms during detox. Withdrawal from alcohol and other drugs may produce nausea, vomiting, insomnia, mood swings, changes in body temperature, profuse sweating, hot flashes, chills, fatigue, or anxiety. Proponents of the practice report acupuncture may be effective in treating all these symptoms.

A recent study reported in the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing found that patients suffering from drug and alcohol addiction who received a particular type of acupuncture that stimulates the ear experienced an increased sensation of well-being and relaxation after treatment.

Auricular Acupuncture and Addiction Treatment

The most common type of acupuncture used in addiction treatment centers is auricular acupuncture (AA). This practice involves the insertion of three or four needles in the ear to relieve symptoms of nausea, pain, and anxiety. According to ancient Chinese medicine, these points connect to the kidneys, lungs, and liver, all of which drug addiction affects adversely.

A study conducted at Yale University found that 55 percent of cocaine addicts receiving auricular acupuncture tested clean in their last week of treatment, compared to the 23.5 percent of the control group who didn’t receive AA. Both groups were engaged in other forms of treatment, including 12-step programs, psychotherapy, and group sessions.

Why Does Acupuncture Work for Detox?

The literature surrounding acupuncture use in addiction treatment is varied. Most theories involving the efficacy of acupuncture focus on the physiological basis for drug addiction. For example, we believe dopamine is the common mechanism for many illicit drugs, producing the exhilarating rush that leads addicts to seek their next highs. A dopamine imbalance within the body also helps produce common symptoms of withdrawal.

Researchers have established that acupuncture follows similar pathways. For example, acupuncture stimulates activity in the hypothalamus, and the subsequent production of endorphins creates a feeling of well-being while relieving pain.

Bridging Modern and Ancient Medicine

Chinese philosophy says that our health depends on the balance of two sides of ourselves – yin and yang. In this view, illness is the direct result of an imbalance of these energies.

While we often see modern and Chinese medicine as being at direct odds with one another, in some ways they are not so different. Traditional science hypothesizes that our bodies are continually working toward homeostasis or a state of equilibrium.

Chronic overstimulation of the brain from drug use interrupts the brain’s homeostasis by creating dips and spikes in endorphins. Administration of acupuncture during withdrawal helps the body regulate these endorphins and achieve equilibrium. When we look at it this way, the guiding philosophies between ancient and modern medicine aren’t dissimilar.

Acupuncture Complements Other Treatments

The benefits of acupuncture during addiction treatment and detox are numerous. Patients report increased relaxation, a sense of well-being, and less nausea. Acupuncture also provides analgesia, which is particularly useful for those addicted to opioids due to chronic pain.

Acupuncture is an effective complementary therapy for those who struggle with addiction. When used in tandem with other conventional therapies, patients will be better equipped to face the recovery process and lead healthy, productive lives.

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Why Anxiety and Addiction
Are So Closely Related

January 11th, 2017

Why Anxiety and Addiction Are So Closely Related

Affecting an average of 18.1 percent of adults living in the US, chronic persistent anxiety and anxiety disorders are characterized by restlessness and worry that is seemingly “out of nowhere,” or without cause. For those suffering from anxiety, it is a constant struggle to feel comfortable or “normal.” When you compare the symptoms of anxiety and panic disorders with the symptoms of drug and alcohol withdrawals, a very clear relationship develops between anxiety and addiction.

Similarities between Anxiety and Drug
and Alcohol Withdrawals

The medical community has recognized the incontrovertible evidence that anxiety and drug and alcohol withdrawals are both very similar in nature. In fact, when addicts are within their first year of recovery, there may come a time – often around six months to a year of sobriety – when the individual starts to get feelings of anxiety and wonders, “Is this just an anxiety attack, or are my withdrawal symptoms returning?”

The likely answer, in most cases, is usually both. In the first year of sobriety, coming off drugs and alcohol, it is not unusual to have bouts and flare-ups of withdrawal symptoms from time-to-time. These attacks are usually short, intense, and often have weeks or months between any episodes – mimicking non drug-related anxiety attacks. This is opposed to the peak severe withdrawals one goes through during the initial detox and withdrawals of the first few weeks and months of cessation of drugs and alcohol.

Relationship Between Anxiety and Withdrawals

Drug and Alcohol Use Can Cause Anxiety

It is a fact that the use and abuse of illicit drugs, prescription drugs, and alcohol can cause anxiety in numerous ways. The use of cocaine – even in small amounts usually gives users slight anxiety as the drug enters the bloodstream, and this anxious feeling is part of the “high” that the drug user gets. Marijuana-induced “paranoia” is nothing more than anxiety and the body’s reaction to the chemicals in the bloodstream. That all-too-familiar hangover you get after a night of too many drinks also usually comes with shakiness and worrisome feeling that is attributed to anxiety. All of these chemicals cause very mild symptoms of anxiety when they are used, and while these symptoms may be slightly uncomfortable for a moment, are not usually alarming to the individuals experiencing them. However, the more an individual uses drugs and alcohol, and over longer periods of time, those mild symptoms of anxiety build up over time, and anxiety becomes a not uncommon response by the body.

The Cycle of Anxiety and Addiction

We had previously stated that the use of drugs and alcohol causes mild bouts of anxiety during their use, and that it is often so mild that it is not worrisome. Coming off of drugs and alcohol, however, causes anxiety that is much more intense, and can be very worrisome.

For an addict experiencing feelings of dread, panic, trouble breathing, and experiencing pains and feelings similar to a heart attack are often too painful to experience, and will use drugs or alcohol again to battle back these feelings of extreme anxiety. And usually, the drugs and alcohol do work, and the intense anxiety subsides into the milder, less intense sense of discomfort – rather than fear. However, the anxiety never fully went away, the core problem was never sufficiently addressed, and the intense anxiety will come back the next time the individual tapers off of drugs or alcohol. This is the beginning of the anxiety-addiction cycle.

Anxiety Addiction Cycle with Alcohol Use

Alcohol is a chemical with broad potential for abuse, and in modern addiction studies have been referred to as the most dangerous drug known to man, and “worse than heroin” by some. The seriousness of alcohol abuse cannot be overstated – alcohol is addictive, does significant damage to all of the organs and tissues of the body, can lead to death, and is a major contributor to anxiety and panic disorders in those that abuse it.

Alcohol abuse is also one of the most obvious examples of the continuation of the cycle of anxiety and addiction. Anxiety is one of the main symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, characterized by long anxiety and panic attacks that are intense and worrisome. Even withdrawals from smaller amounts of alcohol – seen in next-day hangovers – can be quite severe. A common term in popular culture, “hair of the dog that bit you” is the practice of consuming alcohol the morning after drinking to “lessen” the negative effects of the hangover – hangover, being mild withdrawal symptoms. Moderate to severe alcoholics often continue this cycle for days, weeks or months allowing the addiction to feed the anxiety, and the anxiety feeds the addiction.

Breaking the Cycle of Anxiety and Addiction

Now that we understand just how individuals get caught up in the cycle of addiction and anxiety, the obvious question is now, “how does one break the cycle of anxiety without suffering through the anxiety and withdrawals?”

Vitamins and Nutrition to Combat Anxiety and Withdrawals

While withdrawal symptoms can never be completely avoided during the detoxification from certain drugs and alcohol, many forms of detox can make the anxiety and withdrawals less intense, and more tolerable when beginning addiction recovery. Firstly, proper nutrition during detox and recovery is an integral part of ensuring a more tolerable detox. Much of the anxiety and symptoms of withdrawal stem from malnutrition due to the abuse of drugs and alcohol, and deficiencies of vitamins and enzymes in the body during the detoxification period. Replenishing the vitamins and nutrients to the body before detox can make the process less intense and a bit more comfortable.

Certain drugs and alcohol can cause severe withdrawal symptoms that can be deadly, and therefore these chemicals cannot be stopped “cold turkey,” but rather have to be tapered off of – preferably in a safe and medically supervised environment. Alcohol and benzodiazepines especially need to be tapered off of, and the anxiety during detox for these two chemicals is known to be some of the most intense of any particular chemicals.

When Does Anxiety Stop For Recovering Addicts?

While it is expected that anxiety will reduce incrementally the longer an addict has been recovering, the exact timelines for this differ between the types of chemicals abused, the length of time abusing, and health history and underlying conditions. Remember that there is substance-induced anxiety, and there is anxiety disorders – the former caused directly by drug use, and the latter caused by underlying health conditions. If anxiety symptoms persist or increase, you may need to check with your doctor to find the underlying cause for the anxiety – which could be related to vitamin deficiencies, depression and mental health issues, or other health conditions.

Anxiety can be one of the most frightening and distressful symptoms recovery from chemical dependence and it is all too easy to let this fear derail your hopes and plans for recovery. However, it is so crucial for those suffering from addiction to know that the anxiety will subside, and you will feel better, more comfortable, full of life, and at ease when finally make the change towards sobriety.

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How Alcohol Abuse Affects The Major Organs Of The Body

December 23rd, 2016

How Alcohol Affects The Body Organs

Alcohol abuse has been proven to be deadly if continued over long periods of time, but we often overlook the long-term effects of alcohol abuse, as many believe that “long term” is considered to mean years or decades. This lack of foresight and understanding of just how much of an effect alcohol actually has on the entire body contributes to the high rates of alcohol abuse.

It is often difficult for human beings to truly grasp the repercussions of our actions in the long term, but sometimes taking a little time to learn exactly how our decisions will affect our future is all we need to gain clarity. With this clarity and understanding, making the right decisions may be easier. It is our hope that this article will help readers gain a better idea of just how alcohol abuse affects the body – in particular, the major organs.

Alcohol Abuse’s Effects On The Brain

We will start with the effects that alcohol abuse has on the brain, as that is one of the first places where we begin to feel or notice the effects of alcohol after consumption. First off, we should remind our readers that alcohol has long been used as an antiseptic: Its antiseptic properties come from the fact it can very easily break down cell walls and even tissue. While this is helpful for weakening or destroying viruses, bacteria and other single-celled threats, alcohol will also weaken or damage the individual cells and tissues across your body’s systems – especially the most fragile of cells and tissue, located in the brain.

As alcohol travels through the bloodstream, it runs through the various blood vessels in the brain and through brain tissue itself. This causes damage to the tissue of the brain, especially in certain concentrated areas, including the limbic system, thalamus, hypothalamus, frontal lobe systems and neurotransmitter systems.

While nearly half of the average 20 million alcoholics in the United States show no signs of cognitive damage, the other half show mild to severe neuropsychological difficulties. Of the most common, these difficulties can range from minor shakiness, anxiety and depression to the extreme symptoms of impairment of language, reasoning or learning.

Wernicke–Korsakoff Wet Brain Syndrome From Alcohol Abuse

Also known as alcohol-induced persisting amnesic disorder, this disease is a form of brain damage that results from the leeching of Vitamin B1 (also known as thiamine) out of the body from alcohol. This vitamin deficiency can cause a range of symptoms, including:

  • Confusion
  • Loss in mental activity
  • Abnormal eye movements
  • Loss of muscle coordination

While certain symptoms of Wernicke-Korsakoff can be treated, and vitamin treatment can restore the thiamine deficiency, cessation from alcohol use and abuse is the only way to prevent the disease from progressing any further. If left untreated, this disease can eventually lead to coma and death.

Alcohol Abuse’s Effects On The Heart

Alcohol is well known for causing a wide variety of issues with the heart and the circulatory system. As stated earlier, alcohol is transported throughout the body in the blood stream, doing damage to the blood vessels along the way, and to the heart when it reaches that junction.

Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy

A form of heart disease that is specifically caused by ongoing alcohol abuse, alcoholic cardiomyopathy is a thinning and weakening of the heart muscle. This is where the problem starts, but it spreads from this point, causing further damage and additional ailments. When the heart weakens, less blood will flow readily throughout the body. This lack of blood flow will disrupt ALL major body functions, and most often lead to cardiac failure.

Symptoms of Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy:
  • Change in the output of urine
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rapid, irregular pulse
  • Swelling of the legs and feet

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy and heart failure are the prime concerns regarding the heart and alcohol abuse, but one must also remember that high or low blood pressure disorders from drinking and diabetes can also be the result of alcohol abuse – either of which will contribute to heart disease and eventual heart failure.

Alcohol Abuse’s Effects On The Kidneys

Binge drinking especially has a profoundly negative effect on the kidneys, though any amount of alcohol consumption over the doctor-recommended safe level will certainly affect the kidneys. Binge drinking and long-term alcohol abuse creates changes in the kidney structure itself, with the glomerulus becoming heavily thickened and the kidney itself enlarging.

Blood flow changes

Again, alcohol abuse affects blood flow: In this case, blood flow to the kidneys. The purpose of the kidneys is to filter blood and to remove toxins from the bloodstream before these toxins leave the body in the form of urine. One such toxin that the kidneys are eager to rid the body of is alcohol, and the kidneys will work overtime during alcohol consumption to not only get rid of the alcohol within the bloodstream, but to keep up with the steady flow of more alcohol into the body from consumption.

While the kidneys are hard at work removing alcohol, they begin to slip when it comes to maintaining the distribution of other elements in the bloodstream such as sodium, chloride and potassium. All of this abuse on the kidneys takes its toll, and can lead to alcoholic kidney failure. Going back to the heart again, let’s not forget that alcohol increases the risk of high blood pressure, and that high blood pressure is the second-leading cause of kidney failure.

Alcohol Abuse’s Effects On The Pancreas

Alcohol can often confuse or impair the judgment of those consuming it, and it can confuse a variety of organs as well, causing these organs to malfunction, or not properly function. The pancreas is quite often confused by the presence of alcohol, and begins to malfunction in its duty of secreting enzymes to the small intestines.

Instead of sending these enzymes to where they are needed, the pancreas tends to build up the enzymes or only secrete them locally. As the enzymes build up in and around the pancreas, inflammation begins to take hold – causing sharp pains in the abdomen, nausea and vomiting.

Alcoholic Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis simply refers to the inflammation of the pancreas, and the severity can vary. In extreme cases of acute pancreatitis, surgery and medication may be needed immediately – coupled with stopping the intake of alcohol. In the worst cases, pancreas function can be forever altered, requiring enzyme replacement therapy, insulin and analgesics. As in the case of all alcohol-induced diseases, the affected patient will have to stop drinking or watch the disease continue to progress.

Alcohol Abuse’s Effects On The Liver

The most profound impact that alcohol has on the body is seen within the liver, and this is where the most serious effects are usually seen. So why did we save the effects on the liver for last? As an example of the finality of the damage of alcohol to the liver.

Quitting drinking early on will help stave off the most devastating damage on the liver, and certain damage can be reversed, but you really need to understand that the majority of the damage taken by the liver from alcohol will be permanent. While it is a frightening fact, when it comes to liver disease, it is quite often considered terminal, meaning it will never go away – and simply keep progressing.

Liver disease is a general name given to several diseases of the liver including cirrhosis, alcoholic steatohepatitis, hepatitis [A, B, C, D and E], non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, iron overload and Epstein Barr. Liver disease is the progressive failure of the liver itself, the largest organ and largest gland in the human body. While specific treatment can extend the life of the organ and the patient, the progression of liver disease often requires liver transplants, and can turn into liver cancer in 4th– and end-stage progressions.

It’s Never Too Late To Stop Alcohol Abuse

We have taken a long tour around a body that has seen its share of negative health effects from long-term use and abuse of alcohol. While much of this information can cause anxiety or even fear, we hope that our readers will take away the true message that we were hoping this article would convey, which is that it is never too late to stop alcohol abuse.

While damage may have already done, a full healthy and happy life can still be achieved by recognizing the problem of alcohol abuse or alcoholism, and consciously taking steps in the right direction. Between medical assistance and alcohol abuse treatment programs, it is possible to heal some of the damage and to guide yourself toward a life of sobriety and recovery.

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Norco Pain Pills Are A Gateway For Addiction

December 23rd, 2016

Commonly Prescribed Norco Pain Pills, A Gateway for Addiction, What Are Norco Painkillers

The United States has been in the midst of a drug abuse problem for years, but it has grown to an epidemic status in recent years due to legal painkiller over-prescription and abuse. Commonly prescribed opioid painkillers include Vicodin, Percocet, and one of the most commonly prescribed painkillers: Norco.

What Are Norco Painkillers?

Norco is the brand name for a mixture of hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen, making for an opioid analgesic used to treat moderate-to-severe pain and discomfort. Hydrocodone is a controlled substance, and it’s only available with a valid prescription in the United States, though studies have shown that doctors are prescribing more hydrocodone-based medications every year.

Why Have Opioid Prescriptions Increased In Recent Years?

The increase of prescription opioids in recent years has been linked to several variables. First, the abuse of painkillers has become more common. Studies have shown that there has been an increase in the recreational use of prescription drugs in general, with opiate-based painkillers seeing the largest increase in abuse statistics. Second, studies have documented a general rise in the overall prescription rates per patient, meaning that more individuals are taking painkillers on a regular basis and for extended amount of times.

A Gateway To Opioid Addiction

Opiate-based medications are highly addictive, with a serious dependence on the drug being possible within months or even weeks of prolonged use. The longer these drugs are used, the stronger the addiction and dependence becomes. While the extended use of painkillers is often very necessary for chronic pain in certain patients, statistics show that long-term prescriptions have increased exponentially – hinting at over-prescription rather than an increased need.

While some serious diseases require strong pain medication – such as morphine or fentanyl patches – Norco and hydrocodone pills are generally prescribed for less serious procedures and short-term pain relief. Common reasons for the prescription of opioid painkillers range from dental procedures and oral surgery to broken bokes and mild-to-moderate chronic pain.

Opioid painkillers can become a gateway to addiction in 2 main ways:

  1. Extended Use of Painkillers: For most minor procedures that permit the prescription of Norco and other comparable painkillers, doctors surmise that the patient should be out of the discomfort and pain requiring doses in roughly 7-10 days. Though doctors recommend this specific time frame, it is very much up to the patient to follow through and work toward getting off the medication.
    Very often, patients who have anxiety about pain levels will not taper off their drug usage, and rather will continue to take the medication for several weeks. Sometimes this leads to the patient missing his or her window of opportunity to taper off the drugs without any harsh side effects or symptoms of dependence.
    At this point, the roots of addiction have already taken hold, and will likely cause the individual to actively search for more drugs or keep the prescriptions coming by exaggerating his or pain levels. In recent years, doctors and addiction medicine specialists have seen a large increase in patients citing this form of “extended use” as the root of their addiction.
  2. Recreational Prescription Drug Abuse: Another often-cited root of opioid addiction comes from using the drugs as purely recreational, and never related to any treatment for pain or discomfort. Teens and young adults are often found in this category – purchasing the prescription pills from friends or on the streets, or taking leftover painkillers from household medicine cabinets.

The recreational abuse of Norco and other painkillers is truly playing with fire, because just as quickly as addiction and dependence can sneak up with extended medical use of the drugs, it can sneak up just as quickly with only a few weeks of recreational use.

Though this is often seen in young adults and teens, addiction due to recreation painkiller abuse is being seen more in the age ranges of 30 to 45, and even in seniors 65 or older. The reasons adults begin to abuse prescription painkillers are varied, but no age group is invincible from drug dependence and addiction.

How Opioid Painkillers Can Lead To Stronger Drugs

In the United States, not only do we have rampant prescription drug use ravaging the country, we have also seen a uniform increase in heroin abuse, addiction, overdoses and deaths.

Why does the rate of heroin abuse and prescription painkiller abuse rise in relation to each other? Both are made from opium, have similar chemical structures, work on the same pleasure-related regions of our brains, and – the most important factor – each drug can be a supplement for the other during withdrawal. In short, an individual suffering from hydrocodone and prescription opioid withdrawal symptoms can satisfy the cravings by using heroin, while heroin addicts can allay their withdrawal symptoms with painkillers.

With heroin and prescription opioids being two different types of essentially the same kind of drug, you will see the figures for the abuse of both rise together. The most troubling evidence of this is seen in those that unwittingly became dependent on legitimately prescribed opioid painkillers, and have resorted to using heroin after the prescription drugs were no longer available. Drug treatment centers and counselors in Florida and across the United States have seen an increase in patients seeking treatment for heroin addiction that originally started as addiction to painkillers and opioids.

How Do We Treat And Prevent Opioid Addiction?

If there is any silver lining to the fact we have more people in our country addicted to heroin and prescription opioids than ever before, it is the fact the issue cannot be ignored any longer. Also, we now know we have to take real steps to not only treat those who have already become addicted, but to prevent anyone else from getting swept up in this epidemic.

Lawmakers, medical professionals and addiction counselors are all doing their part to raise awareness about this national emergency, as well as studying further into the root causes of addiction and how to effectively treat it.

Prescription drug drop-off events are becoming quite regular all over the country, a frontline in preventing the initial abuse of prescription drugs. Opioid monitoring programs have been implemented in many states to keep track of not only how often individuals are being prescribed dangerous drugs, but also how often individual doctors are prescribing these drugs to their patients.

Doctor shopping laws have also taken hold in certain states, which promotes record keeping between prescribers to better recognize those that are doctor shopping – or seeing multiple doctors with the intent of being prescribed more pills.

As for the treatment of withdrawal symptoms associated with detox from opioids, the process is getting easier with the help of new medications that ease the symptoms, coupled with new forms of counseling and medically sound rehabilitation.

What is needed most of all is wider knowledge of just how dangerous and addictive hydrocodone combinations such as Norco, Lortab and Vicodin can be if misused, and to teach the importance of reducing the longevity of use of painkillers to avoid dependence.

For those that the disease of addiction has already touched, it is important to seek treatment as early into the addiction as possible. A full recovery from opioid and dependence IS POSSIBLE, and it starts with admitting the problem and accepting any help that is available.

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Supporting Sobriety Through the Holidays

November 23rd, 2016
 Supporting Sobriety Through the Holidays

The holiday season is filled with warmth and happiness. Many spend the last few months of the year eagerly awaiting these special dates in a state of joy, and families gather together to dine and celebrate. For others, however, the holidays season brings an array of negative emotions and can be hard to get through. This is especially true for those in addiction recovery. Besides the regular stress of present-buying and holiday travel, those in recovery face additional obstacles during the season. Fortunately, if someone you care about is in recovery, there are tips you can offer to help them get through difficult situations.

Staying Sober at Gatherings

Regardless of culture and religion, the typical holiday gathering involves an abundance of alcohol, and being surrounded by substances can be difficult for those in recovery. This could be a trigger for relapse, or simply put the person in a very uncomfortable spot.  The excitement of spending time with friends and family can turn into anxiety about encountering alcohol in every corner. Here are some steps your loved one can take to manage such situations:

  • Offer your support. Before attending a party or gathering, it’s important to talk to a friend or relative who will also be there about the situation. Having a support buddy to talk to in moments of discomfort provides a safety net for your loved one.
  • Take a break. If a situation is stressful, it is okay to take a break. Advise your friend or relative in recovery to go for a walk, call their sponsor, or read a chapter in a book.
  • Don’t be scared to leave. Your loved one may feel obligated to stay through the whole gathering, but they should always remember that recovery comes first. It is absolutely okay to remove oneself from an environment that may be triggering, and the family and friends at the event will understand.
  • Attend a meeting. Always remember that there are local AA/NA meeting for additional support! If your loved one plans to travel, help them do some research to find their nearest meeting.

Coping with Holiday Blues

Another reason the holiday season is difficult for some is it often brings along bouts of sadness. Whether it is from missing a loved one who is no longer with us, feeling financially inept or other reasons, depression is often present around these times. Since almost one-third of people with major depression also have a substance abuse problem, it is not uncommon to deal with holiday blues while in recovery.  However, there are things those in recovery can do to keep their spirits up:

  • Don’t isolate. If your loved one is feeling down, they may feel like they don’t have the strength to attend events or hang out with anyone. However, staying cooped up will only give their mind room to fill with negative thoughts. Even small outings such as visiting a relative or having lunch with a friend can help.
  • Get in the spirit of giving. Practicing generosity will not only help others, but it will help your loved one feel good as well. They can donate presents for underprivileged children, make care packages for the homeless, or even volunteer with a local organization.
  • Practice gratitude. Breaking the chains of addiction is no easy task, but they have managed to do it and are now living a sober life! Your loved one can make a list of things they are grateful for, send “thank you” cards as needed, and remember the countless ways in which recovery has made their life better.

Supporting Loved Ones in Recovery

There are ways to be helpful and supportive throughout the season. Let your loved ones know that you are proud of them. Offer to be his or her support buddy, and be there for them to listen, step outside the party for a while, or even join them in sobriety at certain events. Most importantly, remind them that recovery is the best gift they can give you.

The holiday season can be a stressful time for people in recovery, but it can still be filled with love and joy. After all, the holidays are not about drinking or using – they are about showing love and gratitude. If you find yourself or a loved one needing help with a substance addiction, please don’t hesitate to call us at 855-545-6777. Our admissions counselors are glad to answer any questions you may have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – even on holidays.

Meet Our Clinical Director of Outpatient Services

November 15th, 2016

Brian Murphy, Clinical Director of Outpatient Services

Meet Brian Murphy, Clinical Director of The Treatment Center Outpatient Services. As Clinical Director, Brian guides the Outpatient Services team as they help patients transition from the early stages of recovery into a healthy and secure sober lifestyle. Along with his team of therapists and case managers, Brian strives to give patients the best treatment, carrying out The Treatment Center’s mission of providing the highest standard of patient care.

Brian and his team at Outpatient Services understand that recovery is a continuous, lifelong journey. After participating in a 30-day inpatient program, patients often need assistance transitioning into a sober lifestyle outside of treatment. With the help of programs such as individual and group therapy, anger management, family workshops, relapse prevention and more, patients in Outpatient Services are able to reinforce their foundation as they step back into life outside treatment.

In this video, Brian explains his vision and goals for Outpatient Services and how he and his staff work hard to accomplish them and help patients transform their lives:

“Restoring hope is so important because we see so many folks come without any hope, and that’s what we help you focus on. How can you rebuild your life, not going back but moving forward? How can we help you let go of the past so that you can embrace your destiny?

Hi, my name is Brian Murphy, Clinical Director of The Treatment Center Outpatient Services. As Clinical Director of the Outpatient Services program, what I strive to accomplish is leading my team of therapists and case managers to provide the best care that they can, which is what we do on a daily basis.

My main goal is to continue the vision and philosophy of The Treatment Center, which is to provide excellent evidence-based treatment and recovery options as well as a personal, caring environment for every single one of our patients.

At Outpatient Services what we do as folks transfer from inpatient, we can provide all that structure support therapy that’s going to help them bridge that gap from early recovery to a maintenance stage and moving on into a lifelong experience of growth, recovery and healing. We have programs like relapse prevention, an experiential workshop, hypnotherapy, family therapy, as well as provide a supportive, caring, loving environment with all of our staff and professionals that deal with the issues that you’re facing.

Our patients work through triggering emotions, thoughts and events that have crippled them in the past. Rather than using substances, what they do is begin to practice and use new skills that are functional in their life. They also learn how to love themselves and be loved by others.

I know as a family member, addiction and alcoholism is very confusing. That’s why we’re here to help you help them to be able to break the chains of the past, and create a new future for your loved one and your family.

If you think that your loved one is struggling with these issues, please give us a call.”

Carfentanil: The Latest Deadly Opiate

October 4th, 2016

Carfentanil - The Latest Deadly Opiate

Carfentanil, a powerful sedative normally used to tranquilize large animals such as horses and elephants, is the latest deadly opiate being sold on the streets and causing an increase in overdose deaths. In the past month, roughly 300 people in at least four states have died at the hands of the potent sedative. Ohio and Florida have so far seen the most cases of carfentanil use, but it is still difficult to determine just how much this drug is being abused around the country because not many labs are equipped to test for it at the moment.

What is Carfentanil?

Carfentanil (also known as Wildnil or Carfentanyl) is a synthetic opioid that, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is approximately 10,000 times stronger than morphine. It is also 100 times more potent than the more commonly known fentanyl, which has its own body count. This large-animal tranquilizer is not approved for human use in any way, as very minimal amounts can be deadly. In fact, officers and health officials have to take precautions to avoid accidentally inhaling or even touching carfentanil. When tending to overdose victims, they wear protective masks and gloves to avoid any sort of direct contact with the drug.

Most carfentanil on U.S. streets appears to be originating from labs in China, where the synthetic drug can be manufactured inexpensively and shipped to online buyers. Carfentanil can be pressed into pills or mixed with heroin. The drug is added to heroin to increase the length and potency of its high, but because it is clear and odorless, users may not even know when it is present. In addition, it is still uncertain how often carfentanil is being combined with heroin or other opioids. This makes street drugs all the more dangerous, as users may be thinking they are taking their usual dose of heroin while actually taking a much stronger dose of carfentanil that may lead to their death.

Effects of Carfentanil on the Body

Carfentanil produces effects of numbness like other opioids, but will also induce sedation because of its potency. Similar to opiates such as fentanyl, carfentanil can cause the following side effects:

  • Itching
  • Nausea
  • Clammy skin
  • Constricted pupils
  • Lightheadedness and lethargy
  • Respiratory depression
  • Heart failure

The human body can take hours to metabolize carfentanil, allowing it to produce a longer-lasting high while making it difficult to reserve its effects after an overdose. Naloxone, an emergency antidote used to counteract opioid overdoses, has proven to be less effective with the extremely-potent drug. In situations where one or two shots of Naloxone are usually enough to reverse a heroin overdose, carfentanil calls for approximately six shots, and even that much will sometimes not be enough to stop the drug’s deadly effects.

Signs of Opioid Overdose

Opioid overdoses can be fatal and require urgent medical attention, so it is important to recognize them as soon as possible when they occur and take action by calling 911. A person who is suffering from an opioid overdose will likely experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Pale, clammy face
  • Limp body
  • Blue or purple colored fingernails
  • Vomiting
  • Gurgling or choking sounds
  • Slowed or stopped breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Inability to speak

Since carfentanil is so much stronger, the signs of an opioid overdose may happen more quickly and be more severe.

The Ongoing Opioid Epidemic

These cases of carfentanil overdoses are part of the growing opioid epidemic that has been impacting the United States for years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of opioid overdoses has quadrupled since 1999. There were more overdose deaths in 2014 than any other year on record, and three out of five involved an opioid.

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Over half of the overdose deaths in 2014 were caused by prescription opioids such as Oxycodone, Methadone and Hydrocodone. However, in recent years, there has been a surge in synthetic opioid usage. Carfentanil is the latest synthetic opioid to trend in the United States, and has already started to contribute to the epidemic with the numerous overdoses it is causing. Law enforcement has started to crack down on the drug, moving forward with the first federal carfentanil case in the country. Two dealers were indicted last week in Cincinnati after lab tests of drugs they sold out of their apartment came back positive for heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil.

Meanwhile, the opioid crisis is taking more and move lives. Street drugs like heroin are often laced unbeknownst to users, making them even more dangerous and increasing the risk of overdose. Recently, a photo surfaced of two unconscious adults who had overdosed in their car with a 4-year-old sitting in the backseat. They are just a few of the many victims affected by the ongoing epidemic. These opiates are extremely addictive, but recovery is possible with professional help.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an opioid addiction, find help today by calling us at 855-545-6777. Our admissions counselors are glad to answer any questions you may have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Tackle Your Drug and Alcohol Addiction

September 25th, 2016

Let’s face it: admitting that you or a loved one has a drug or alcohol problem is terrifying. You find yourself not knowing what to do, where to go or what questions to ask. The truth is, you are not alone in this battle, and there is hope. It’s time to tackle your addiction once and for all.

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The Treatment Center acts as your own personal defense against drugs and alcohol. Our treatment teams are comprised of board-certified medical doctors, nurses, therapists, counselors and more. Together, they have decades of experience helping individuals recover from drug and alcohol addiction. They will help you work through any underlying issues contributing to your substance abuse and teach you healthy coping mechanisms to maintain a sober lifestyle.

If you or a loved one are in need of drug and alcohol treatment, look no further. Our comprehensive treatment programs provide individuals with the tools they need for a successful future. Contact us today at (844) 9-TACKLE. We are available 24/7, including holidays, to answer any questions you may have. All consultations are free and confidential.

How Addiction Recovery Improves Lives

September 15th, 2016

How Addiction Recovery Improves Lives

September is National Recovery Month! Every year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) sponsors Recovery Month with the goal of increasing understanding and raising awareness of mental health and substance use disorders, as well as celebrating those in recovery.

Recovery Month aims to spread the message that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people recover. This time of the year also reminds those suffering from addiction that they are not alone–in fact, according to SAMHSA, 21.5 million people aged 12 or older were classified with substance dependence or abuse in the past year, and as many as 1 in 10 Americans in that age range used an illicit drug in the past 30 days. With such a vast amount of people facing substance use disorders, it is important we give this issue the attention it deserves by increasing awareness and providing those in need with the right tools and education.

Millions of Americas suffering from addiction experience positive life-changing transformations through recovery. SAMHSA defines recovery from mental health or substance use disorders as, “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.” This comprehensive definition points to the fact that recovery is different for everyone, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to treating these disorders. However, no matter which path is taken on the road to recovery, one thing is for sure–recovery from substance addiction brings endless benefits and life improvements. Below are just some of the ways in which recovery can enhance your life.

Health Improvement

There are countless physical and mental health benefits brought on by addiction recovery, as substance abuse is linked to many medical issues. Alcohol consumption, for example, can damage the brain as well as most body organs, and is linked to an increased risk of several types of cancer. Heroin is associated with increased risk of infectious diseases, and cocaine use can negatively affect the heart as well as the respiratory, nervous and digestive systems. Other drugs, such as prescription medications, amphetamines, steroids and inhalants, also negatively impact physical health. People suffering from addiction often neglect their overall health. Those in recovery, on the other hand, increasingly engage in healthy behaviors such as regular exercise, healthy eating and even regular dental checkups.

In addition, drug and alcohol addictions often go hand-in-hand with mental health issues. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly one-third of individuals with a mental health disorder abuse drugs and/or alcohol. However, recovery from addiction to these substances can greatly improve a person’s mental health. As a matter of fact, the Life in Recovery Survey reports that recovery reduces untreated mental health problems by 400%.

Career Improvement

Professional endeavors are another important life aspect that can be majorly improved by addiction recovery. Alcohol and drugs greatly impact their users’ professional lives with issues such as decreased productivity, employee morale and increased absences. Workplace injuries and even fatalities are also increased by substance use. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, breathalyzer tests found that 16% of emergency room patients with on-the-job injuries had consumed alcohol, and 11% of workplace fatality victims had been drinking.

In addition, recovery can improve employment stability. Workers who have had three or more jobs in the last five years are about twice as likely to be users of illegal substances as those who have only had one or two jobs. According to the Life in Recovery Survey, steady employment in recovery is increased by more than 50%. As the duration of recovery increases, the rates of steady employment increase. The Survey also shows that as recovery duration increases, more people go back to school or obtain other types of job training, and more people even start their own business.

Family and Personal Life Improvement

As many of us have heard before, addiction is a family disease. Whether it is parents desperately trying to heal their child, spouses doing their best to help their partners, or children dealing with the consequences of their parents’ troubles, families are deeply impacted by the perils of addiction. However, recovery helps those whose family lives have been damaged by addiction. Addiction recovery is associated with a 50% increase in family-activity participation, and involvement in domestic violence decreases dramatically.

Those in recovery can also experience significant improvements in their personal lives. Volunteering in the community and/or a civic group increases more and more as recovery progresses, and voting rates rise as well. Also, people in recovery are more likely to pay taxes, have good credit, pay back debts and make financial plans for the future. In addition, more people report having their own place to live, having a bank account and paying their bills on time as recovery progresses.

Life in Recovery is Better

The numbers prove just how much recovery can improve lives, but the most valuable evidence comes from the people who live in recovery every day. Here is what they have to say:

“Today, I have a whole different outlook on life. My life is positive, it’s happy, and I’m able to help other people who are just like me.” – Heather

“Now, I am not scared to face life and life problems that are thrown at me, I have great relationships with my family and I’m no longer controlled by drugs and alcohol.” – Jordan

“When I was using and I was in my addiction, I didn’t even know a life like this was possible. Now, I have my family back in my life who I have a great relationship with and they trust me again. I have friends in my life who actually care about me and my wellbeing.” – Mark

Life in recovery is better in countless ways. Join us in the observance of Recovery Month–visit us on Facebook to see and share recovery facts and stories. You can even find a Recovery Month event in your area, such as Art of Recovery, an open mic and art exhibit in Lake Worth, FL featuring a performance by recovery singer/songwriter, Elizabeth Edwards. Most importantly, if you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, don’t hesitate to reach out for help and get started on the road to recovery.

The Link Between Alcohol & Cancer

August 31st, 2016
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Alcohol consumption, especially in frequent and/or large amounts, has long been known to negatively affect drinkers in a variety of ways. Alcohol significantly contributes to social and economic concerns–it causes the weakening of relationships, lack of productivity at work, and costs that are detrimental to the community. Alcohol is also the third leading cause of preventable death. An average of six people die every day due to alcohol poisoning in the United States. Other fatal effects of alcohol use include traffic accidents, injuries, interpersonal violence and even suicide. In addition, there are commonly known health risks from long-term alcohol abuse, such as cirrhosis, liver damage, heart disease and stomach bleeding. However, alcohol consumption also poses a lesser-known threat: cancer.

More and more research is proving that alcohol consumption increases the risk of at least seven different cancers. A new publication by a scientific journal, Addiction, covers years of research data from around the world and reports that drinking alcohol can cause the following types of cancer: throat, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum and female breast. There is even strong evidence that other cancers could be caused by alcohol as well. The publication states that, according to current estimates, “alcohol-attributable cancers at these sites make up 5.8% of all cancer deaths world-wide.” This actually makes alcohol use one of the main risk factors for cancer, along with tobacco use, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity.

How Does Alcohol Increase the Risk of Cancer?

There are different ways in which alcohol affects the human body that increase the risk of cancer, and they may vary. Here are some ways in which alcohol can cause cancer:

  • Alcohol impairs the body’s ability to absorb important nutrients whose low levels are associated with cancer risk, such as folate, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D and more.
  • The human body converts alcohol into acetaldehyde, a toxic chemical that not only damages DNA, but also prevents our cells from repairing the damage inflicted.
  • Some carcinogenic contaminants added during fermentation may be found in alcoholic drinks.
  • Drinking raises the levels of estrogen in blood, which is linked to the risk of developing female breast cancer because of estrogen’s importance in the growth of breast tissue. In fact, the increased risk of female breast cancer seems to be one of the cancers most affected by alcohol consumption. A study conducted in the UK concluded that in women, for every 10 grams of alcohol consumed per day, there was a 12 percent increase in the risk of breast cancer.

Should Only Heavy Drinkers Be Worried?

You might think the risk of cancer from alcohol is only a concern for heavy drinkers, but that’s not the case. Although the risks are higher for those who consume alcohol regularly or drink large amounts, all drinkers are advised to cut down on their intake.

Studies show that even light to moderate drinking increases the risk for cancer, so there is no entirely “safe” alcohol limit when it comes to cancer risk. It is also important to note that all types of alcoholic drinks are linked to the increased risk of cancer, regardless of whether they are in the form of beer, wine or spirits. The amount of alcohol consumed over time is the main factor in the increase of cancer risk, not the type of beverage.

Those who smoke should especially consider reducing their alcohol intake, because alcohol and tobacco have been proven to work together to harm the cells in our bodies. Alcohol, for example, makes it easier for the carcinogenic chemicals in cigarettes to be absorbed into the mouth and throat. The use of both of these drugs combined presents a much greater risk for cancer than the use of either one by itself–a study conducted in 2012 found that drinkers who also smoked cigarettes were 3 times as likely to develop cancer as drinkers who did not smoke.

What Can We Do?

The answer is simple: reduce your alcohol intake. Scientists have found that over time, the alcohol-related risk of cancer decreases in people who quit drinking. As a factor in more than 200 diseases and injury conditions, alcohol consumption is a dangerous habit that is very much worth kicking. Quitting or limiting your alcohol consumption will not only reduce your risk of cancer and other diseases, but also benefit you in numerous other ways.

Here are just some of the other benefits of being alcohol-free:

  • Better sleep
  • Increased concentration, productivity and work performance
  • Lower levels of cholesterol and glucose
  • Improved complexion
  • Less empty calories consumed
  • More money saved

The negative effects of alcohol are undeniable. Whether it is by dividing families, posing a financial burden, causing traffic accidents or bringing about disease, alcohol consumption has the potential to destroy and end lives. Quitting alcohol isn’t always easy, but it is possible, even for those who suffer from alcoholism.

If you or someone you know needs help recovering from alcoholism, we can help – chat with an admissions counselor or call us at 844-816-1662.

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