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Understanding Opioid Receptors, The Opioid System, and the Risks for Opioid Addiction

February 21st, 2017

Understanding Opioid Receptors, The Opioid System, and the Risks for Opioid AddictionThe United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that around 2.1 million people in the United States are currently suffering from substance use disorders related to prescription opioids. Another nearly 500,000 are addicted to heroin, another opiate. Opioid addiction is, in the words of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a national epidemic. The CDC estimates that about 91 Americans die every day from opioid overdose. This is more than four times the number of opioid-related overdose deaths since 1999. To get to the bottom of the ongoing opioid problem in the U.S, one must first understand the brain’s opioid receptors and the opioid system.

Taking a Look at the Brain’s Opioid System

The opioid system is the part of the brain that controls feelings of pain, pleasure, and reward. It is also in charge of addictive behaviors. Neurons in the brain release a family of endogenous peptides, such as endorphin and dynorphins, during activities such as eating, sleeping, exercising, and sexual activity. These peptides activate opioid receptors in the brain, triggering the reward system and generating feelings of pleasure and happiness. The opioid system is the brain’s way of keeping the body alive – offering rewards for activities necessary to sustain life.

The opioid system contains three G protein-coupled receptors: mu, delta, and kappa. It is these three receptors that the release of peptides stimulates in the brain. Mu receptors trigger the brain’s reward system. Studies suggest that it is the mu-opioid receptor that initiates addictive behaviors. The delta receptor is in charge of emotional responses, such as depression and anxiety. These two receptors may hold the key to why people become addicted to opioid drugs – and how to stop addiction in the future.

How Opioids Work on the Brain

Taking a Look at the Brain's Opioid System

Opiates are any drugs naturally derived from the opium poppy. Opioids are the synthetic and semi-synthetic drugs that stem from modified opiate foundations. For the most part, however, people use the terms “opiate” and “opioid” interchangeably. Opioids are a category of drugs that act on the brain’s opioid receptors to create feelings of euphoria. They include morphine, heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and fentanyl. Opioids work by acting on the brain’s opioid receptors, activating them as the natural releases of peptides normally would. In this way, opioid drugs act as painkillers – and highly addictive recreational drugs.

When a person consumes opiates, they bind to the opioid receptors in the brain. This is possible because the chemical structure of opioids mimics that of the brain’s natural transmitters. Once attached, the drug blocks pain and slows down breathing, creating a clam and pleasant effect. The drugs do not activate the nerve cells the same way as natural transmitters – instead, they send abnormal messages through the brain’s opioid system. They flood the brain’s reward circuit with dopamine, a neurotransmitter that regulates feelings of pleasure, emotion, motivation, and cognition. It is the overstimulation of the reward system that leads to the euphoric feelings, or “high,” of consuming opiates.

Understanding Opioid Addiction

After consuming opiates, the brain associates them with pleasure. Opiates trick the brain into thinking taking the drug is a life-sustaining activity. This deception is what leads to a person wanting to take the drug again and again. Sometimes an opiate is strong enough to create this reaction after just a single use. When taken over a long period of time, opioids change the way the brain’s nerve cells function. Eventually, the user is unable to experience pleasure without the drug. At this point, the person is addicted. An opioid addict will experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms without the regular use of the drug.

Opioids act on the body’s limbic system, brainstem, and spinal cord. The limbic system is responsible for controlling emotions such as relaxation, contentment, and pleasure. The brainstem controls the body’s automatic systems, such as breathing. Opioids in the brainstem can slow breathing and reduce feelings of pain. The spinal cord transmits sensations from the brain to the body and vice versa. Opioids on the spinal cord can decrease feelings of pain, such as after a serious accident. Injecting opioids into the bloodstream creates a faster, more intense reaction to the drugs. Taking an opioid by mouth results in slower effects, but is safer.

Opioids change the brain’s reward system, leading to addiction regardless of a person’s age, gender, or income. Opiate addiction does not depend on a person’s willpower, strength, or other dispositions, despite common misconceptions. Opiates are a dangerous and common substance for abuse. Understanding opioid addiction as a disease, and not a pitfall of a certain personality type or demographic, is the key to preventing addiction.

Opioid Addiction in America

The current opioid epidemic is due in large part to lax prescribing practices and lack of awareness and education about opioid addiction. Doctors around America issue prescriptions for strong painkillers to treat chronic pain and certain conditions, such as migraine headaches. Often, doctors fail to warn patients of the risk of addiction to prescription drugs. Patients typically do not associate prescription medications with drug abuse and addiction, since they are legal and given to them by a doctor. The combination of lack of addiction awareness and loose prescribing practices has led to the current opioid epidemic in the nation.

Heroin is just a step behind, with studies linking the increase in heroin use to the increase in prescription opioid addiction. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), heroin use in the U.S. tripled from 2007 to 2014. The number of deaths involving heroin skyrocketed from 3,036 in 2010 to 10,574 in 2014. As of 2015, the DEA estimated there were about 600,000 heroin users in the U.S. Understanding opioid addiction is the first step toward reducing the opiate powerhouse overtaking America.

Hope for the Future

In spite of the frightening rise in opioid abuse and related deaths in recent years, there is hope for the future. Many states have enacted systems to monitor prescribing practices in an effort to limit the number of prescription opioids that go to patients. Drug awareness programs have sprung up around the country, as have treatment centers. If you or a loved one is struggling with an opioid addiction, get help. Contact The Treatment Center.

Don’t Let Your Loved Ones Suffer From Their Addiction to Opioids! Talk to One of Our Professionals Now!

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What Is Emotional Sobriety?

February 14th, 2017

What Is Emotional Sobriety?An estimated 20 million people in the United States, struggle with a substance abuse disorder, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Unfortunately, only about 10% of these people receive appropriate treatment. Whether you’re struggling to regain your life or well on the road to recovery, you’re probably focused on attaining or maintaining your sobriety. This is a noble goal, but there is more than one kind of sobriety. While your physical abstinence from substances is a vast and important piece of the puzzle, so is your emotional sobriety, which enables you to live a productive and fulfilled life.

Do You Know What Emotional Sobriety Is?

We use the term “emotional sobriety” to describe a state of mind that goes beyond physical recovery. While giving up drugs and alcohol is an important first step, emotional sobriety is essential in maintaining your positive lifestyle change. Emotional sobriety involves honing the ability to cope with your emotions, especially those associated with drug and alcohol use. Our brain defends us from painful realities by creating defense mechanisms. Unfortunately, addicts usually protect themselves from these feelings with drugs or alcohol. Achieving emotional sobriety is essential for maintaining your physical sobriety, as you will be better equipped to handle the negative feelings and events that are an inevitable part of life.

Addicts often feel that detox is the hardest part of getting clean, and this is partially true. Detox is often the most physically rigorous aspect of sobriety. Learning to cope with your feelings along with addressing and resisting temptation is a lifelong battle. Emotional sobriety is the most important part of finding peace with your past actions and finding confidence in your healthy future. An emotionally sober addict will be able to handle their feelings in all of life’s moments and also acknowledge when they need help.

How Can I Achieve Emotional Sobriety?

There’s no magic class or patented method for achieving emotional sobriety, like physical sobriety, it is a constant effort. Your rehabilitation program, however, will likely address emotional sobriety. Group therapy, family therapy, and individual sessions all help you uncover the factors that have been driving your addiction. This allows you to address them without the help of alcohol or drugs. For example, if your addiction arose in the aftermath of a traumatic event, you’ll have to address the negative feelings associated with that event that you’ve been masking with substance abuse.

How Can I Achieve Emotional Sobriety?

Emotional treatment plans are focused on helping you be comfortable in your reality, no matter what it may be. The aim is to help you find your authentic self, both in good moments and in bad. This is a vital part of living a fulfilling life in sobriety.

Each person’s journey to emotional sobriety is a little different. Since no one shares the same struggle, your treatment will also be tailored to your unique needs.  Treatment will involve helping you find and maintain your healthy emotional balance. You will have to accept reality as it is, stop dwelling on past mistakes, and look forward to all aspects of the future.

Why Emotional Sobriety Is Important

Some addicts take charge of their physical sobriety but never learn how to address and process their emotions properly. These people are more prone to relapse. The most successful addicts are the ones who realize their journey to recovery will never end. Recovery is a lifelong fight to resist temptation and address the negative and positive feelings in their life in equal measure. Life is full of challenges, and recovery is focused on being able to cope with them. Emotionally sober people can resist the urge to turn to substances, not matter what they’re feeling. When you’re comfortable in your own skin, you’re more likely to confront your emotions than avoid them with substance abuse.

Think of emotional sobriety as a healthy mindset. It will take work, but this healthy emotional mindset will put you on the road to a healthy life.

Achieving a Healthy Emotional Balance

Addicts struggle to achieve emotional balance more than most. Since intoxicants dull feelings (often purposefully so), addicts experience emotions in hyper drive after finding physical sobriety. Addressing these feelings as they come is an important part of attaining emotional balance. Learning to cope with life’s highs and lows and become present in each moment is difficult. Your sensations may hit you with more ferocity than before, which can throw you back into temptation. You must live consciously and deal with your life, no matter what its terms. This is the emotional balance.

Finding a balanced state of mind is easier said than done. It’s not so much a process as it is a commitment. To start, commit to having a positive outlook on life, no matter what the circumstances. This could include starting a gratitude journal or taking a few moments to think of what you’re thankful for before you go to bed each night. Meditate. Talk to friends. These little things add up over time to create a well-adjusted, positive sense of self.

At the same time, be careful not to create a veneer of happiness that hides sadness underneath. It’s just as important to address painful experiences, as it is to acknowledge positive ones. When you’re feeling low, talk to a friend or your sponsor. Discuss temptation and your continued road to recovery. By putting these feelings out in the open, you’re allowing yourself the opportunity to process and put them into perspective.

Emotional sobriety is not an easy task, but its well worth the effort. Make your commitment to recovery a holistic one, healing your mind, body, and spirit. This enhances your ability to live a long and fulfilling life.

The Treatment Center’s Addiction Treatment Programs Focus on Building Multiple Levels of Sobriety

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How Naloxone Reverses Opioid Overdoses

February 13th, 2017

How Naloxone Reverses Opioid OverdosesThe United States is in the midst of an overdose epidemic involving opioids. In 2015, prescription and illegal opioids killed 33,000 people. An estimated 1.9 million individuals in the country are addicted to or abusing opioids. A medication known as Naloxone can reverse the symptoms of an opioid overdose and give addicts an opportunity to recover.

The Impact of Opioids in the Body

Opioids include all substances that bind to opioid receptors in the brain and throughout the body to block the experience of pain. The chemicals also stimulate reward centers in the brain, cause drowsiness, and depress respiration. Secondary effects of opioids include constipation and irregular heartbeats.

Over time, users may need more of the drug to achieve the same state of well-being. Continued use can also change the natural release of opioids in the body, creating a sense of discomfort and craving for the drug. Users can experience an overdose if they take too many doses at one time, mix opioids with other drugs, or alter the drug’s composition for faster absorption. The drug’s effects on the brain can cause a user not to realize the potential deadliness of the dose taken. Taking opioids based on how one feels is dangerous.

Signs Of Opioid Overdose

When someone overdoses on opioids, his or her breathing slows significantly. Often, a person suffocates without losing access to air. Those who die during opioid overdoses lose consciousness and stop breathing. If taken with a stimulant, the effects of the opioid may not manifest until the stimulant wears off.

Signs of an opioid overdose include constricted pupils, trouble breathing, and loss of consciousness. A witness may notice changes in breathing, bluish extremities and nails, and vomiting during an overdose.

Death from an opioid overdose can happen quickly or over the course of several hours. In the event of an overdose, first aid life support combined with the administration of Naloxone can prevent death. Anyone who notices the signs of an opioid overdose should immediately contact emergency services.

Signs Of Opioid Overdose

How Naloxone Combats Opioid Overdoses

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist and will not affect individuals who have not used opioids. Health care providers may use naloxone to diagnose and treat opioid overdose. Given via injection or nasal spray, the medication blocks the effects of opioids for up to an hour and a half, which allows the body time to restore respiratory capabilities.

The medication will reverse the overdose effects for anyone who has used:

  • Heroin
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone
  • Methadone
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone
  • Codeine
  • Buprenorphine
  • Hydromorphone

Naloxone is only used for opioid overdose and will not stop the effects of stimulants, hallucinogens, benzodiazepines, or non-opiate sedatives. Taking naloxone will not make anyone experience a high, and opioid users will not develop a tolerance to the medication. It only reverses opioid effects on the body.

Treatment Using Naloxone

To reverse the symptoms of an opioid overdose, care providers may administer between 0.4 to 2 milligrams of Naloxone every two to three minutes until the individual begins breathing normally. If the patient does not respond after receiving 10 milligrams of Naloxone, the care provider may need to begin an alternative therapy. Naloxone typically takes about five minutes to reverse the effects of an overdose. If the person overdosing took a delayed-release or long-acting opioid, a professional may recommend ongoing Naloxone treatment and constant observation until all opioids have left the body.

Side Effects of Naloxone

The drug itself causes few side effects. Someone allergic to naloxone may experience difficulty breathing, hives, or swelling after treatment. More commonly, patients will experience opioid withdrawal symptoms after taking the medication. Symptoms including stomach pain and upset, fever, sweating, nervousness, chills, increased blood pressure, and a fast heart rate may all arise after the effects of opioids wear off. Certain medications, herbal supplements, and vitamins can interfere with the efficacy of naloxone.

Naloxone Kits for High-Risk Individuals

Naloxone Kits for High-Risk Individuals

Certain states now sell naloxone kits over the counter because of the widespread opioid epidemic. CVS and other pharmacies may sell kits without a prescription in Arkansas, California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin. Access to a naloxone inhaler or injection kit could save someone’s life in the event of an overdose.

According to the most recent information available from the World Health Organization, naloxone kit distribution in the United States prevented more than 10,000 overdose deaths between 2006 and 2010. Today, the number may be much higher thanks, in part, to the number of states that sell kits without a prescription.

Preventing Future Opioid Overdoses

One risk associated with a Naloxone-remediated overdose is the secondary overdose. Individuals who take additional opioids after receiving a naloxone treatment may overdose again. Naloxone is not a backup plan for opioid addiction. It is an emergency treatment given only in life-threatening situations. After an overdose, withdrawal support and additional therapies can address the underlying opioid addiction and help individuals on a path to recovery.

Naloxone plays a crucial role in the opioid epidemic as the first step in addiction treatment. When combined with proper aftercare and support, it offers addicts another chance to live life without substance abuse.

Opioid overdoses can happen unexpectedly to anyone who abuses prescription narcotics or takes illegal opioids. The amount of drugs and the time frame can vary widely, making immediate naloxone administration vital to survival. Instead of turning to opioids for pain management and recreational drug use, health care professionals recommend finding natural ways to stimulate the opioid receptors in the body. Meditation, exercise, and biofeedback practices can all minimize pain and create a natural feeling of ease and wellness.

While Naloxone May Save A Life When Administered, Those That Continue To Use Opioids Still Risk The Possibility of Overdose And Death

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Why Do We Drink Alcohol?

February 13th, 2017

The Reasons Why We Drink Alcohol?

Alcohol is one of the world’s most popular and accessible drugs. The ubiquity of alcohol consumption, however, belies the major health risks associated with alcohol abuse. In 2012 alone, according to the World Health Organization, alcohol abuse was responsible for over 3.3 million deaths across the globe.

The dangers of alcoholism are numerous and pervasive. Physical dependence, cancer, liver disease and personal injuries are common among those who consume large amounts of alcohol on a frequent basis.

It’s important to note that these risk factors are widely known. Most Americans are educated on the numerous health risks that accompany alcohol abuse from a young age via school programs, televised health campaigns and social media. However, the effectiveness of this messaging has been inconsistent at best – data collected by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reveals that nearly 27 percent of Americans ages 18 or older participated in binge drinking in 2015.

Considering that Americans are generally well-educated regarding the risks of excessive alcohol use, it is surprising that that so many individuals continue to put their health, well-being and loved ones in danger by abusing alcohol. A closer look at the issue shows that several factors, ranging from social pressures to genetics, encourage people to drink heavily regardless of the consequences. Understanding these motivators is a crucial step toward identifying the factors that drive loved ones into bouts of self-destructive drinking.

Multiple Factors Encourage Alcohol Abuse

Researchers have studied alcohol use for decades, but these investigations have yet to identify a simple explanation as to why people choose to abuse alcohol. Instead, data has revealed that the causes of alcohol addiction are complex and nuanced. It’s common for those who abuse alcohol to do so for multiple reasons and those motivators are often interrelated. Additionally, the causes of alcoholism vary significantly across economic, cultural and generational boundaries.

Compare the typical reasons a college student may fall prey to alcohol abuse to the factors motivating a senior citizen. A desire to meet new people and constant pressure from peers are among the most common reasons that college students choose to drink heavily. Alternatively, older adults with greater financial resources and smaller social circles may be more motivated to abuse alcohol in response to long-term loneliness.

The major takeaway from this comparison is that treating the addiction like a simple cause-effect relationship is an ineffective strategy for identifying the reasons that individuals choose to abuse alcohol. A comprehensive approach provides a more accurate picture of the forces that make friends, family and loved ones vulnerable to the self-destructive cycles that characterize alcoholism.

Peer Pressure and Substance Abuse

Social dynamics play a large part in determining how susceptible an individual is to abusing alcohol. This trend is especially prevalent among college students, many of whom have left the structure and security of their family home for the first time and are coping with a completely new environment. In situations like these, college students are very susceptible to the influence of their peer group. In fact, an article published by the Department of Applied Psychology at NYU Reinhardt emphasized the unique role that peer pressure plays in encouraging students to participate in “risk-taking behaviors.”

While the impacts of peer pressure are typically associated with adolescence and early adulthood, individuals at all ages are susceptible to the influence of their peer group. Many office employees, for example, face social pressure to participate in work-related happy hours on a weekly basis. Scenarios like these can contribute to an individual falling into alcohol abuse just as readily as a college tailgate party.

Early Exposure to Alcohol

Many individuals who struggle with alcohol abuse began drinking long before they were able to understand the long-term side effects of their consumption. Scenarios like these are especially prevalent among children who observe unhealthy drinking habits at home – the natural instinct of children to model their parent’s behavior can become a gateway toward alcoholism.

Data analysis performed by the Kansas State University emphasizes the pervasiveness of this trend. According to KSU, nearly half (47%) of individuals who began drinking prior to the age of 14 eventually developed a dependence on alcohol. Among those who started drinking after the age of 20, however, only 9% began to abuse alcohol later in life. This data suggests that many individuals who fall victim to self-destructive drinking patterns in their adult lives do so as a direct result of early exposure to alcoholism.

Alcohol as Coping Mechanism

It’s not uncommon for an individual to begin drinking more heavily in response to overwhelming or traumatic experiences. A divorce, loss of a family member, career disappointment and a long list of other negative experiences can have severe, lasting emotional impacts and subsequently encourage men and women to turn to alcohol as an escape.

An article published by the Royal Society of Arts noted that individuals turn to alcohol in times of anxiety and emotional turmoil because of the substance’s unique chemical properties. Alcohol is a psychoactive drug that efficiently limits communications between neurons. By hindering the transmission of electrical signals in the brain, individuals feel less affected by negative thoughts and are more able to live in the moment. This state of mental dissociation is an attractive option for people facing extreme emotional hardship, resulting in higher risks for alcohol abuse as individuals leverage drunkenness as a form of self-help therapy.

A detailed understanding of why individuals turn to alcohol in spite of the numerous health risks highlights the multifaceted nature of substance abuse. If a family member or a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse, it’s dangerous to assume that such a complex problem can be addressed with a simple solution. That’s why it’s so vital for those looking to overcome their addiction to identify a reputable, established treatment center where their unique experiences will be respected.

Don’t Let Your Loved One Suffer From Their Alcohol Addiction Any Longer!

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Links Between Social Media Usage and Substance Abuse

February 10th, 2017

Links Between Social Media Usage and Substance AbuseSome people are at a greater risk of substance abuse than others. Researchers believe there is a genetic link to addiction, as people with a family history of substance abuse disorders may struggle with addiction themselves. While there are inherent factors that contribute to illness, lifestyle also plays a role. A lack of support system and intense exposure to peer pressure, for example, are contributing factors to substance abuse and addiction. Even our social media networks can influence our decision to use drugs or develop unhealthy behaviors. Could Facebook be putting your loved ones at risk?

Social Networking and Teens

In 2011 when Columbia University added relevant inventory items to their annual National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVI: Teens and Parent, researchers began examining the link between social media use and substance abuse. The survey asked 12 to 17-year-olds whether they spent time on social media sites, such as Facebook, every day. The overwhelming majority (70%) reported typical day social media use. This daily use put them at higher risk for several kinds of substance abuse. Compared to their peers who did not use social media, these teens were five times more likely to smoke, three times more likely to drink, and twice as likely to use marijuana.

Social Networking and Teens

Evidence also suggests that Facebook and other social media sites can normalize binge drinking and other dangerous substance abuse behaviors among teens. According to the survey, nearly half of all teens that use social media regularly have also seen pictures of their peers drinking, passed out, or using drugs. These children were three times more likely to drink and four times more likely to use marijuana themselves.

A 2013 study from the University of Michigan found a positive correlation between Facebook use and unhappiness and dissatisfaction with lives. In other words, the more some teens use social media, the more discontented they can become. Combined with co-morbid mental disorders such as depression, low self-esteem, and anxiety, or environmental factors such as lack of social support or situational induced stress, teens are more likely to turn to substance abuse. 

Cyber-Bullying and Substance Abuse

Teens are more vulnerable to peer pressure and bullying than they ever before. It’s easier for teens to achieve anonymity online. The disconnected nature of online discourse causes teens to be bolder in regard to teasing. About half of young people (aged 18 and younger) admit to being cyber-bullied at some point. Over half of young people who use social media admit observing cyber-bullying. Compared to their peers who have not been bullied online, teens that experience cyber-bullying are twice as likely to abuse alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana.

Can We Become Addicted to Social Media?

A 2015 study from the University of Albany revealed we could actually become addicted to social media. Published in the journal Addiction, the study found about ten percent of Facebook’s user’s display “disordered social media use”. The individuals who met this criterion were also more likely to have impulse control disorders and drinking problems. The study’s head researcher suggested these findings illuminate the idea that the same risk factors that increase susceptibility to substance addiction also increase the likelihood of disordered online social networking.

Addiction, Facebook, and Our Brains

These findings aren’t entirely surprising when we consider our biology. Drugs are addictive because of the way they interact with our brains neurotransmitters; creating a rush of endorphins we call a high. While chemical substances create a more intense cycle or high and withdrawal, other activities such as sex, gambling, and even social media use create similar cycles of cravings and rewards. The social media rewards we receive (for example, a notification saying someone “likes” our activity) can create cravings for more approval, generating an addictive pattern much like substances do.

In its most basic form, this is called variable schedule reinforcement, and it’s effective in creating patterns of compulsive behavior. Facebook makes it easy to fall into addictive behavior because of things like push notifications and apps. Users don’t even need to log in to get their social approval; it’s available on the go with their mobile app.

Correlation, Not Causation

While the literature regarding social media use, addiction, and substance abuse are illuminating, it’s important to consider them in context. These studies suggest a link between social media use and addictive behaviors in at-risk members of the population. This doesn’t mean that we are all addicted to social media. People that already struggle with impulse control are more likely to display disordered social media use, and these people are also more likely to struggle with substance abuse.

Correlation, Not Causation

Addiction is a complex medical condition that arises from a combination of risk factors. Biological predisposition, co-occurring mental disorders, and environmental reasons such as stress and lack of family involvement all contribute to addiction. There is never just one reason for addiction, and each struggle with substance abuse is unique.

Social media can be a wonderful way to connect with others and share experiences. On the other hand, overuse can become a problem for some. In teens exposed to illicit drug use online, social media use can lead to an increased likelihood of smoking, drinking, and marijuana use. Parents should take steps to be involved in their teen’s online activities by talking to them about online safety and the dangers of using illicit substances.

Teens Are Becoming More Active on Social Media Which Leads to More Cases of Cyber-Bullying and Substance Abuse! Speak to Our Counselors About How to Help Prevent Your Teen from Experimenting with Drugs and Alcohol Today!

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Facts and Statistics on Alcohol and Health in the United States

February 9th, 2017

Facts and Statistics on Alcohol and Health in the United StatesAll over the United States, people drink alcohol in excess, which has not only a detrimental effect on their physical health, but on the mental health of their families. Learn how alcohol affects the mind and body, as well as the health of the nation.

Alcohol Use Versus Abuse: What’s Healthy?

First, it’s important to distinguish alcohol use from alcohol abuse. Drinking alcohol isn’t necessarily detrimental to your health if you’re considered a “light” or “moderate” drinker. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designates “moderate” drinking as one drink per day for women and two drinks a day for men.

A drink is:

  • 12 oz. of Beer
  • 8 oz. of Malt Liquor
  • 5 oz. of Wine
  • 1.5 oz. of Liquor

Moderate alcohol consumption may actually be beneficial to your health, including decreased risk of stroke and heart disease. Experts think part of this may be because moderate drinkers are more likely to drink in a social setting, and strong interpersonal relationships decrease stress.

Drinking alcohol in excess of moderation is called heavy drinking or binge drinking. Binge drinking is defined as more than 4 drinks in a single session for women, or more than 5 drinks for men. Excessive drinking is considered more than 8 drinks per week for women, or 15 drinks a week for men. It’s important to realize that most people who drink, even those who binge drink or drink excessively, are not alcoholics or alcohol-dependent

Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Use Disorder

When alcohol use begins to impair your ability to lead a healthy and productive life, it may be a sign of something more. Prolonged and heavy drinking can lead to alcohol use disorder (AUD).

AUD is a medical condition that requires people meet certain diagnostic criteria. For example, if you experience a strong craving to drink and drinking (or being sick from its aftereffects) interferes with your job, schooling, or ability to care for your family within the same 12-month period, you may have AUD.

You don’t have to have AUD to experience the negative health effects of drinking. Alcohol can be a risk factor for other conditions, like obesity, cancer, and diabetes.

The Prevalence of Alcohol Abuse in the United States

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that, excessive alcohol use led to almost 90,000 deaths annually from 2006-2010, shortening the average lifespan of those who died by 30 years. Excessive drinking is responsible for 10% of deaths among working-age adults in the United States.

The Prevalence of Alcohol Abuse in the United States

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), conducted annually by the National Institute for Health, found that 27% of those surveyed in 2015 reported binge drinking within the previous month. In the same year, 15.1 million adults aged 18 and older had alcohol use disorder. Of these people, only 8% received treatment.

Unfortunately, the death rate associated from alcohol use has increased in recent years, according to federal data. In 2015, the death rate reached a 35-year high, claiming nearly 31,000 lives. The United States has experienced a 37 percent increase in the number of alcohol-induced deaths since 2002. This number only includes deaths directly related to alcohol consumption – victims of drunk driving, accidents, and homicides where alcohol was a factor were excluded.

Alcohol Claims American Lives

Much of the public health headlines dominating the news of late have surrounded the opioid epidemic. Americans focus much less attention on the dangers of alcohol, perhaps because of its legal status. But it’s no less deserving of our attention. In fact, in 2014, alcohol-induced accidents killed more citizens than heroin and prescription opioids combined.

Drinking has increased across all Americans in recent years, but the increase has been more pronounced among women. The percentage of women reporting past month drinking rose from 47.9 to 51.9.

Alcohol Has Negative Health Effects

Heavy and prolonged alcohol abuse can lead to a host of health problems. Long-term drinking often leads to cirrhosis, a liver condition that can lead to death. In 2013, nearly half of all liver disease deaths were caused by alcohol. This was slightly more likely in men than women. Among all cirrhosis deaths in 2013, 48% were alcohol-related. Alcohol-related liver disease is also the primary cause of an estimated 1 in 3 liver transplants.

Alcohol Has Negative Health Effects

Alcohol abuse affects more than just your liver. Drinking also increases your risk of oral cancer, including the esophagus, pharynx, and larynx. In women, alcohol abuse is linked to an increased incidence of breast cancer.

Lastly, heavy drinking is bad for your heart. Over long periods of time, excessive drinking can cause serious health problems. Excessive drinkers are more likely to develop arrhythmias, stroke, high blood pressure, and cardiomyopathy, a condition characterized by the stretching of the heart muscle.

The Alcohol-Obesity Connection

Alcohol also has an indirect effect on our health by causing us to be more prone to obesity. At 7 calories per gram, alcohol is a calorie-dense substance that is often sweetened with sugar and other caloric additives. Excessive consumption of these calories can lead to positive energy balance and weight gain. Excess weight is also associated with numerous negative health outcomes, from cancer to diabetes.

Alcohol and Your Mental Health

Drinking can also increase anxiety or exacerbate feelings of depression. When we drink, our brains are wired to produce more cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. This can lead to increased anxiety when we stop drinking, which in turn may lead to an urge to drink more. It’s easy to see how a vicious cycle of alcohol abuse and stress can develop.

Alcohol Abuse in America

Alcohol use continues to be a major issue in America. Even though the majority of Americans who drink are not alcoholics or alcohol-dependent, they may still struggle with health problems caused by the consumption of alcohol. Alcohol-related health problems cost Americans almost $250 billion each year. It is time we take steps to address the problem.

 Alcohol Addiction Is Becoming More Common and at Younger Ages! Please Don’t Let Alcohol Take over You or a Loved Ones Life! Speak to One of Our Counselors Today Before It Gets Worse!

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The History of Poppies and Opium

February 2nd, 2017

The History of Poppies and OpiumWhen most people think of poppies, they think of an innocent red or pink flower. They might think of the flower that put Dorothy to sleep in The Wizard of Oz, a fairly innocent children’s story. But poppies have a dark side with a long history – they are inextricably tied to drug addiction. Poppies are known as addictive plants and have long been used in opium production.

If you grow poppies in your garden, there is no need to panic and uproot them all at once. Nor is there any need to warn your families, friends, and neighbors against the evils of having a poppy in a bud vase. However, it is vital for everyone to educate themselves about the poppy’s history as an addictive plant. Education will help you and your loved ones guard against hidden sources of dangerous drugs.

How a Beautiful Flower Became a Dangerous Opium

Poppies have been cultivated for opium as far back as 3400 B.C. It was first cultivated in lower Mesopotamia, or what is now Southwest Asia. Poppies were progressively passed from the Sumerian culture to the Assyrians, and then to the Egyptians. The plant was commonly called hul gil, or “the joy plant,” because of the “highs” one can get from opium. From 3400 B.C. onward, opium importing, exporting, and use were common in many empires.

The main reason opium use spread so fast, was the Silk Road. The Silk Road refers to a series of interconnected trade routes running from Europe to China. The trade routes first developed between Persia (now Iran) and Syria, as well as in East Indian kingdoms. They grew along the Mediterranean coast, expanding well into China, and into European nations like Italy. By the Middle Ages, the Silk Road’s trade routes reached as far as Scandinavia. The Silk Road encompassed land and sea routes, making opium spread even farther and faster.

Opium was not always used recreationally. As far back as the 1600s and 1700s, it was primarily used medically, such as in traditional Chinese medicine. Recreational use was not unheard of, but uncommon, until the beginning of the Opium Wars. Until then, people who sought opium for recreational use depended on smuggling and commercial loopholes.

The Opium Wars

Although opium was not the only product traded on the Silk Road, it was always in high demand. Empires used it to increase their power and influence, and to control other nations. For example, Britain used their control of the East India Company to smuggle opium into China during the 1800s. The smuggling guaranteed Britain could meet its citizens’ constant demand for Chinese-produced tea. However, the more opium smuggled into China and other nations, the more people became addicted. By the early 1800s, China’s number of opium addicts had skyrocketed, partially due to Turkey’s involvement in the opium trade. An influx of American ships carrying Turkish-grown opium supplied China and other nations with heavy amounts of this coveted drug.

In 1839, China recognized this problem and shut down Britain’s drug trafficking racket. China also confiscated existing opium, which angered Britain and touched off the first of the Opium Wars. China’s Daoguang Emperor was determined to stop the spread of opium addiction in his country, and so Imperial Commissioner Lin Zexu enacted laws banning opium in China and cracking down on opium traders. British traders demanded compensation for their lost opium, but when the Treasury could not afford it, the war was used to resolve Britain’s debt.

During this time, Lin Zexu sent a letter to Queen Victoria, appealing to England’s own ban on the opium trade. He pointed out that if England was going to ban the drug, China was justified in instituting its own ban. In response, the Royal Navy blockaded Pearl Bay to restrict free trade in drugs. However, runs on the blockade, lost English and Chinese ships, and expeditionary forces kept the Opium War going until 1842.

The first Opium War ended with the Treaty of Nanjing, which established Hong Kong as a British territory. The treaty forced China to set up five treaty ports at which the British could trade all goods, including opium, freely. However, a second Opium War began in 1856 when Chinese officials seized the Arrow, a former pirate ship with a Chinese crew and expired British registration. This time France joined the war, having been involved in the treaty port business since 1843. Britain’s constant demand for concessions from China, failed diplomatic missions, and other issues made the Second Opium War stretch until 1860.

The Boxer Rebellion of 1899 further damaged relations between China and the West, and increased the opium problem. Today, the Opium Wars are known as part of China’s Century of Humiliations, and of the conflicts that destroyed Imperial China.

The Rise of Opium Across the World

Opium first entered the United States when Chinese immigrants arrived to work on our many developing railroads. The Gold Rush of 1849 brought a larger influx of Chinese immigrants, along with increased opium smoking and addiction. Opium addiction was not just a Chinese problem, however. By the mid-1800s, opium dens could be found around Southeast Asia and in parts of Europe. Immigrants from many nations brought opium with them, and dens gradually sprang up in the United States, especially in places like San Francisco and New York.

From the 1850s to the 1890s, opium use became more common in the United States. Opium could be drunk, injected, or smoked; drinking and injection were two popular methods of the time. San Francisco effectively banned opium smoking in the late 1800s, but the versatility of opium made it difficult to eradicate altogether. The Harrison Tax Act of 1914 sought to outlaw opium nationwide. However, opium, and especially its derivatives, was readily available to those who knew where to find them.

Opium Derivatives

Along with opium, itself, heroin can be produced from the opium poppy. This particular type of heroin has a long medical history; it was used as an asthma treatment in the 1830s. It was also used to calm fussy babies, as were its derivatives morphine and synthesized heroin. At the time, “heroin” was a brand name of the Bayer Company, now known for its aspirin, not just a street name or moniker for an illegal drug. After the Civil War, Bayer Heroin was actually used to help people addicted to morphine get rid of their addictions. Additionally, it was used as a pain reliever. These uses eventually backfired, and the Heroin Act of 1924 made heroin use illegal for medical and recreational uses throughout the United States.

Despite heroin’s illegal status, its use has been widespread for centuries. It was popular among jazz players and enthusiasts of the 1930s; this subculture gave us the term “hipster.” Heroin, opium, and related drugs such as LSD, MDMA, and marijuana have gained popularity in recent decades, too. Many people continue to use opium, heroin, and morphine to relieve chronic pain or induce sleep, which can lead to severe and lifelong addictions.

Codeine and Oxycodone are two other opium derivatives. They are arguably more dangerous than some of the others because they are often prescribed to treat common illnesses. Codeine, for example, is found in many popular cough syrups. It can also be taken orally as pain relief, and is much less potent than morphine. Yet constant or prolonged codeine use carries risk of dependency and addiction. As for Oxycodone, it too is a commonly prescribed pain reliever. It is made from a component of opium called the Baine, and can be snorted or injected.

Opium Addiction Signs and Symptoms

Opium has been used in medicine since at least 460 A.D., when Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, admitted its usefulness as a narcotic. However, opium’s addictive effects have consistently proven more harmful than beneficial. Today, opium addiction flourishes around the world, particularly in Asian and South American countries such as Thailand and Colombia. International drug trafficking organizations continue to market opium, heroin, and similar drugs throughout the United States.

Today, opium abuse is more commonly called opiate abuse. Abuse covers illegal drugs such as heroin, as well as legal ones such as fentanyl. Physical signs of the use of opioids include drowsiness, confusion, restricted pupils, slowed breathing, and intermittent loss of consciousness. Some opiate abusers experience marked euphoria and mood swings.

Opiate addicts often “doctor shop” to get the drugs they want. Their loved ones often notice extra pill bottles in the trash, or an increase in doctor’s appointments. Due to the doctor shopping, opiate addicts often experience financial problems. They may withdraw from friends and family to keep their addictions secret.

Some opiates are used to treat anxiety and insomnia, so addicts may experience an upswing of these symptoms when they can’t get their drugs of choice. During opiate withdrawal, addicts battle headaches, nausea, constipation and diarrhea, and fatigue, among other symptoms.

If You or a Loved are Suffering From an Opiate Addiction and Need Professional Help, Please Contact The Treatment Center Now for Individualized, Professional Rehabilitation.

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Simple Tips to Help Family Members Cope With Addiction Within the Family

January 30th, 2017

Tips to Help Family Members Cope With Addiction Within the FamilyMuch research has been done regarding the effects of substance abuse on an addict. When someone is addicted, there is plenty of focus on how to provide treatment and help them stay sober. However, family members often don’t receive the attention and treatment they need. If you are an addict’s family member, you’re probably going through a plethora of confusing emotions and wondering where to turn for help. The Treatment Center is honored to provide the guidance you need.

Educate Yourself

Some drug and alcohol abuse symptoms are common no matter what substance the addict uses. Such symptoms include severe weight loss or gain, bloodshot or glazed eyes, poor performance at work or school, and loss of interest in favorite activities. That said, some symptoms are unique to specific drugs. A heroin addict might have nosebleeds or a sore or peeling nose if the drug is snorted.

The Treatment Center urges family members to educate themselves on the specific drug being abused and its effects. Additionally, family members should educate themselves on recovery. Many people assume once an addict achieves sobriety, the addiction is “over.” Actually, addiction is a lifelong disease. Your loved one may relapse, or need continuous therapy to maintain sobriety. Most addicts battle temptation the rest of their lives, but can overcome it with a strong support system of family and friends.

Treatment, Not Punishment

Addicts’ family members often communicate treatment is punishment, whether they mean to or not. The addict gets the message he or she has done something bad, shamed the family, or deserves to feel miserable. Thus, his or her confidence and self-concept sinks lower, increasing the likelihood of seeking substances for relief. A vicious cycle begins, one that families struggle to escape.

Although you may be angry, sad, or confused, don’t treat your addicted loved one as if he or she is being punished. Do not shut the addict out of your life unless they ‘re a legitimate danger to themselves or others. Don’t shield an addict from negative consequences such as court appearances or jail time, but don’t shame them. Set boundaries, but do not use them to shame the addict, or as a form of discipline.

Provide a Safe, Relaxing Environment

Addicts often struggle to feel safe. Their brains have been so affected; they think they need their substances of choice for basic survival. Addicts may deal with anxiety, depression, nightmares, tremors, and other frightening symptoms, especially during withdrawal. They will be given a safe environment in inpatient treatment; professionals are trained to help them cope. After treatment, though, your addicted loved one needs to feel safe and secure in whatever environment is available.

Your addicted loved one has learned to use drugs and alcohol to relax, or as a reward. Give them healthy alternatives; enjoy a shared hobby together, encourage them to exercise and eat some favorite healthy foods, or encourage them to get adequate sleep and do relaxing activities such as yoga and meditation. Keep the environment as calm as possible; in a relaxing environment, the addict’s brain will gradually calm, as well. It will relearn substances aren’t necessary for survival.

Do Not Enable Your Loved One

Loved ones often enable addicts without realizing what they are doing. Enabling can be anything from giving an addict money to giving them transportation to dealers. Sometimes, offering an addict a place to live is enabling, because the addict assumes they can use drugs in your home. Speak with treatment professionals to determine what constitutes enabling. Learn to say “no” and stick to it. Learn to recognize manipulation, and refuse to be sucked in.

Watch out for statements like,

“If you loved me, you would…” or “You know what will happen to me without this substance.”

Addicts’ families often struggle to set and keep boundaries on their own. They also struggle with getting an addicted loved one to accept treatment. If this is the case, seek outside help from family, friends, clergy, and addiction support groups like Al-Anon. An outside support system will not only keep your loved one on track, but also prevent you from enabling.

Recognize an Addict’s Potential

Engage in behaviors that encourage the addict to change. This is called positive enabling. Positive enabling encompasses offering the addict the opportunity to change through long-term treatment, and letting him or her know you believe change is possible. Let your addicted loved one know you remember who is still there underneath the addiction. Communicate that he or she can be that person again. Emphasize that although you will not contribute to the addiction, your love for the addict has not changed.

Take Care of Yourself

An old proverb says you cannot pour if your own cup is empty. While dealing with addiction, physically, mentally, and spiritually care for yourself. Eat right, and get adequate sleep and exercise. Do activities you enjoy, and don’t be afraid to get away for a break. Do not blame yourself; your loved ones addiction was not your fault. Your addicted loved one needs your strength, but strength can only come from a person who takes care of their own needs.

If Your Loved One Is Suffering From an Addiction, Don’t Hesitate to Contact
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Mind-Body Therapies in Addiction Treatment

January 26th, 2017

Mind-Body Therapies in Addiction TreatmentThe phrase “addiction treatment” usually brings to mind detoxification and treating physical symptoms. Proper detox is key in helping addicts achieve sobriety, and physical symptoms must be dealt with to ensure addicts do not turn back to drugs for relief. However, treating the mind is vital, too. Low self-esteem, extreme stress, mental illness, and other such issues contribute to substance abuse. In many cases, they are the roots of addiction. Mind-body therapy teaches addicts to recognize these issues, and gives them healthy coping mechanisms.

Additionally, drug and alcohol abuse has myriad negative effects on brain chemistry. Long-term addicts often struggle with memory loss, cognition problems, and the inability to make sound decisions. They often fail to recognize potential consequences of their actions. Along with counseling, mind-body therapy or holistic therapy helps retrain the mind to think beyond a next drink or fix. As their brains and bodies heal, addicts relearn to take responsibility for their actions and decision-making. Over time, their memory and cognition improve as well.

How Addiction Affects the Brain

To use mind-body therapy effectively, providers must know how and why addiction affects the brain. Within everyone’s brain, there is a neural reward system. Our reward center, sometimes called the pleasure center, is activated when experiences give us pleasure. Most people’s reward systems are activated when they engage in a hobby, eat a favorite food, enjoy intercourse with a partner, or spend time with their families and friends. For an addict, however, these experiences no longer provide rewards. The addict’s reward center has been rewired to prioritize his or her substance of choice, recognizing it as the only worthwhile reward available.

Addiction also compromises survival needs. A non-addicted person understands what he or she must do to survive, and the brain prioritizes those needs. They include food, water, and shelter. In contrast, an addicted person no longer responds to survival needs. In an addict’s mind, the substance of choice is the key to survival. Addicts will pursue their substances at any cost out of a real fear they will die without them. As a result, many addicts deal with malnutrition, severe lack of sleep, and myriad health problems.

Mind-body therapy such as meditation, yoga, and acupuncture rewire the brain so it does not respond favorably to substance abuse. The addict’s neural pathways, especially those to the reward center, are retrained to interpret healthy activities and experiences as pleasurable. The brain is also retrained to respond to survival needs. As the mind recovers, addicts begin focusing on self-care, hygiene, nutrition, and adequate sleep.

Types of Mind-Body Therapy

There are several types of holistic therapies, and rehabilitation facilities around the country are embracing them more each day.

Yoga –  is one of the most popular, partially because it has so many physical benefits. Yoga can be modified to fit any fitness level, making it ideal for addicts whose muscles have weakened or atrophied. Yoga has been proven to reduce stress and actually grow new gray matter in the brain. This may help the brain physically heal itself more than most other mind-body therapies, because substance abuse has not damaged the new gray matter.

Meditation – Many people meditate in conjunction with or while performing yoga. Despite its connotation, meditation need not be religious, although many people use it that way. Addicts are encouraged to meditate because the practice helps their brain calm down. During addiction, the brain is constantly “on.” It fires signals at frenetic paces as the addict searches for a drink or fix, or works out how to manipulate people and systems. The brain is also challenged to function without sleep and food, running almost entirely on chemicals. Meditation teaches the brain how to quiet itself, hushing those frenetic signals. Additionally, meditation significantly decreases symptoms of depression and anxiety. This is particularly beneficial for people addicted to prescription anxiety medications.

Acupuncture – is another mind-body therapy that may help addicts. Much of the evidence for acupuncture is anecdotal; study sizes have been too small and poorly controlled to provide much statistical backup. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has found acupuncture has some positive impacts on alcoholics and opiate or heroin addicts. Studies indicate acupuncture reduces drug cravings, lessens the pain of withdrawal symptoms, and calms the nervous system.

Animal – Acupuncture, meditation, and yoga are often the three things people think of when mind-body therapy is mentioned. There are several lesser known types, though. Many addiction treatment centers use animal contact or pet therapy to reach their clients. Animal contact therapy can be as complex as a full-fledged equine or farming program, or as simple as spending quality time with dogs and cats.

Non-Traditional Mind-Body Therapy

Addiction treatment providers use animal contact because it reteaches addicts what it means to have someone depend on them. Addicts often become so dependent on their substances, they develop a narrow and self-centered worldview. Animal therapy gently forces them to think about the world around them. Animals cannot be manipulated or let us down the way people can, so addicts must relearn patience and kindness to get an animal to do what they ask. Additionally, like many mind-body therapies, animal contact therapy releases endorphins, showing an addict what it means to feel happy without substances.

Art, music, and other creative therapies are also used in various treatment centers. These therapies let the addict focus on creating something rather than engaging in destructive behavior. They also build self-esteem and self-confidence, which many addicts sorely lack. Like yoga and animal therapy, creative therapies can be continued after treatment, giving the addict a healthy outlet for his or her feelings.

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Benefits of Acupuncture

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 over-stimulation 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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