Author Archives: Reflections Recovery Center

Surprising Facts About Substance Abuse and Anxiety Symptoms in Men

,It’s commonly believed that women suffer from anxiety disorders more than men, but the statistics can actually be misleading.

In fact, men suffer from anxiety and depression as frequently as women. However, men aren’t diagnosed and treated for these mental illnesses as often as women are.

This puts men with anxiety disorders at even greater risk for complications stemming from untreated mental illness – including alcohol and drug abuse.

Statistics on Depression and Anxiety Symptoms in Men

Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental illnesses in the U.S.

It’s estimated that in any given year in the U.S., around 16 percent of the population will suffer from a depressive disorder and 18 percent will suffer from an anxiety disorder.

It’s also common for someone with an anxiety disorder to suffer from depression, and vice versa.

Data from the National Health Interview Survey (2010-13) found that 8.5 percent of men experienced daily feelings of anxiety or depression. Only 41 percent of those men took medication or talked to a mental health professional about their feelings.

A 2013 study in JAMA Psychiatry found that more than 30 percent of men have suffered from depression at some point in their life.

This same study found that there was no significant difference in the rate of depression between women and men.

The study measured depression using a “gender-inclusive depression scale” that took into account the fact men often experience symptoms that are different than the standard diagnostic criteria.

Only 41 percent of those men took medication or talked to a mental health professional about their feelings.

Rates of Anxiety in Men Match Women

In fact, when the JAMA Psychiatry study looked at symptoms of depression that are more commonly expressed by men – including aggression, anger attacks, risk taking and substance abuse – men were found to have a higher rate of depression (26.3 percent) than women (21.9 percent).

When taking into account both traditional and alternative male-type symptoms, the rate of depression was nearly equal between the sexes (30.6 percent of men to 33.3 percent of women).

Despite the nearly equal occurrence of anxiety and depression in both genders, women are diagnosed with depression twice as often as men are, and with anxiety about 70 percent more often than men.

Why Do Men with Anxiety and Depression Go Undiagnosed?

Women are more likely than men to seek out treatment for anxiety and depression. As a result, they are more likely to be diagnosed and receive treatment.

Why don’t men seek out this same help as often as women do?

Because emotional imbalance is seen as a “woman’s weakness”, men are especially reluctant to seek treatment for mental or emotional illness.

Cultural norms project the idea that men need to be strong at all times. Additionally, because emotional imbalance is seen as a “woman’s weakness”, men are especially reluctant to seek treatment for mental or emotional illness.

If they even acknowledge that something is wrong, the tendency is to simply label it as “stress” and try to manage their symptoms on their own, or look for a physical illness as the cause, such as heart problems.

In fact, male diagnoses for anxiety often happen when a man mistakes his panic attack symptoms as a heart attack. Symptoms of a panic attack and a heart attack include these same three characteristics:

  • Racing heart
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath

However, since a heart attack is more common among men, and anxiety is more commonly diagnosed among women, even doctors may mistakenly assume that these symptoms in men are due to a heart attack rather than a psychological disorder.

Signs of Depression and Anxiety in Men

Women and men may also exhibit different signs of anxiety or depression.

With depression, women may more often express sadness, whereas men may display antisocial behavior as they go on the offensive to try to cover up their inner insecurities.

Other male-type depression symptoms can include:

  • Coldness
  • Bullying
  • Angry outbursts
  • Abusiveness

Even though such behavior is generally believed to be inappropriate, it’s still considered better to be a jerk than to have a mental disorder, because “at least being a jerk is ‘manly'”.

Because men are afraid to admit to their anxiety problems, they often feel they are the only man who suffers from this sort of thing. The fewer men who speak up about their suffering, the less likely it is that other men will also speak up and ask for help.

Other male-type depression symptoms can include: Coldness Bullying Angry outbursts Abusiveness

Conditions That Amplify Depression and Anxiety in Men

There are a variety of different anxiety disorders. Some involve anxiety about a specific phobia, such as a fear of spiders or heights. Other types include social anxiety disorder, panic disorder and agoraphobia (fear of being outdoors or in uncontrollable, distressing situations).

One of the most common anxiety disorders is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

This refers to a persistent anxiety that isn’t necessarily focused on a certain situation or trigger, but is ongoing and has a negative impact on a person’s life.

Statistics show that only about one-third of the people who suffer from GAD receive treatment. Signs and symptoms of GAD can include:

  • Worry or fear that is greater than the situation justifies
  • Constant uneasiness or nervousness
  • Easily startled or alarmed
  • Restlessness
  • Sleeping difficulties due to anxiety
  • Irritability due to tension
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Shakiness

Other signs to watch out for, which can occur with a variety of mental illnesses, include:

  • Significant changes in mood and behavior
  • Anger, aggression, irritability
  • Risk-taking behavior
  • Sleeping problems – trouble falling asleep, sleeping too much or having nightmares
  • Changes in appetite and/or digestive difficulties
  • Persistent anxiety, nervousness or worry
  • Headache, nausea, pain and other recurring physical symptoms
  • Mood swings that interfere with work and family life
  • Persistent sadness, apathy or loss of hope
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Problems concentrating
  • Obsessive or compulsive thoughts or behavior
  • An increased use of alcohol or other substances to cope with symptoms

The Link Between Low Testosterone and Anxiety

Disorders aren’t the only physiological factor that can play a role in how depression or anxiety manifests in a man. Anxiety symptoms in men can also be the result of a decline in hormone levels.

Low testosterone, for example, contributes to an increase in the stress hormone, cortisol. Since cortisol is known to drive anxious feelings, any number of the symptoms outlined above may be expressed or increased in response to this hormone change.

Signs and symptoms of GAD can include: Worry or fear that is greater than the situation justifies Constant uneasiness or nervousness Easily startled or alarmed Restlessness Sleeping difficulties due to anxiety Irritability due to tension Fatigue

Self-Medicating for Anxiety

Many men do not even realize they are battling a mental disorder, and try to handle their symptoms on their own. They often credit it to “just stress” and feel the need to “man up” and deal with it as best they can.

As a result, men are more likely to become addicted to substances such as:

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Marijuana
  • Street drugs like heroin and cocaine
  • Illegally acquired prescription drugs such as anti-anxiety medication

While choosing to deal with anxiety on one’s own may serve a man’s pride in the short term, it ultimately prevents him from getting the correct help for his illness – or any help at all.

Over time, untreated anxiety disorders – and the substance abuse that often accompanies them – can lead to failed relationships, lost careers and legal consequences.

Men and Anxiety: Substance Abuse and Treatment

For men who suffer from both anxiety disorders and substance abuse, one of the best forms of treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

CBT has been proven highly effective in showing men that the symptoms they thought were unchangeable – “just a part of who they are” – are, in fact, able to be improved. This knowledge provides relief from their symptoms and additional motivation and commitment to the recovery process.

While choosing to deal with anxiety on one’s own may serve a man’s pride in the short term, it ultimately prevents him from getting the correct help for his illness - or any help at all.

At Reflections Recovery Center, we use a trauma-informed approach to treatment that looks for underlying causes of addiction, such as anxiety and depressive disorders.

Using CBT and other proven therapies, we guide men toward taking back control of their lives from the debilitating symptoms of mental illness and addiction.

If you have a man in your life you believe has become addicted to drugs or alcohol due to an underlying mental disorder, it’s important to seek care as soon as possible. A substance abuse treatment facility like ours can help address the specific needs of dual diagnosis rehabilitation.

Our mental health and addiction experts perform a detailed assessment of each of our clients to determine which factors have led to addiction, and then we plan to treat all contributing factors at the same time. This is the best way to reduce the chances of addiction relapse.

Contact us today.

Genetic Predisposition: Is Addiction a Disease?

Though habitual drug and alcohol abuse has long been perceived as exclusively an issue of moral failing, modern science continues to unravel the truth about the chronic nature of addiction. The way we understand genetic predisposition has a lot to do with this changing perspective. 

The term “chronic” indicates that the condition persists for a long time or is constantly recurring. Addiction is defined as a chronic disease by most medical associations, including the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). While there is no cure, it is, thankfully, treatable. 

Genetic Predisposition and The Nature of Addiction

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) all describe addiction similarly. These organizations consider it a long-term and relapsing condition characterized by the individual compulsively seeking and using drugs despite adverse consequences.

Addiction is the result of a distortion of a natural process in the brain’s reward system. Most addictive substances cause the brain to release high levels of dopamine or serotonin. These are the same chemicals that the body produces as natural pleasure or reward.

Dr. Jillian Hardee from the University of Michigan explains:  “The healthy brain releases dopamine in response to natural rewards, such as food or exercise, as a way of saying, ‘that was good.’ But drugs hijack dopamine pathways, teaching the brain that drugs are good, too.”

Image of a man falling into an obstacle: Addiction is considered a long-term and relapsing condition charachterized by the individual compulsively seeking and using drugs despite adverse consequences.

Opioids and prescription drugs–especially if overused–can release an enormous, euphoric rush of dopamine in the brain. This release is significantly higher than the natural rewards release amounts–two to 10 times higher, in fact, depending on the drug. 

The brain is constantly trying to maintain a balanced state. So, when substances like these throw things “out of whack,” the brain tries to re-normalize in one of two ways:

  1. minimizing its reaction to those rewarding chemicals, or
  2. releasing stress hormones

Thus, if the brain is forced to continue processing unnaturally high levels of dopamine,  it produces less–or reduces the number of brain structures that receive–dopamine.

This explains why individuals who chronically abuse drugs or alcohol begin to appear lethargic, unmotivated and depressed. Over time, dopamine has less and less impact on the reward network, which, sadly, diminishes an individual’s ability to experience pleasure even from things they once enjoyed. 

Addiction Risk Factors

Three significant conditions that raise the likelihood of drug addiction: genetic predisposition, environment, and development.

There are three significant conditions in a person’s life that sharply raise the likelihood of drug addiction:   

Genetic Predisposition

If addiction runs in the family, NIDA says you have up to a 60% greater risk of also becoming addicted.

Environment

Similar to the way that growing up with a diet high in sugar plus fried and processed foods increases your risk for heart disease and diabetes, living in a home with observable drug use increases the risk of addiction.

Development

Using drugs during the brain’s formative years (up to age 25) greatly increases your chances of addiction. Additionally, this can cause serious, lasting development damage.

The greater the number or greater the influence power of any of these factors in a person’s life, the more likely they are to struggle with avoiding or managing an addiction.

Addiction Symptoms

Some of the strongest indicators of drug addiction symptoms or behaviors include, among others:

  • An inabilaty to control the use of a particular legal, medical, or illegal substance
  • Expending, time, effort and money into securing more of the substance
  • Needing more of the drug over time to feel the same effects
  • Engaging in risky behavior
  • Inability to stop using the drug even when it causes harm to the body
  • Failing in attempts to quit using the drug
  • Experiencing uncomfortable or painful withdrawal symptoms without the substance

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, or you can recognize them in a loved one, contacting a medical professional may be the first step in a road to lifelong recovery. 

Disorder vs Disease: Breaking Down the Differences

Man walking alone on a road: A disease is a pathophysiological response to internal or external factors. A disorder is a disruption to regular bodily structure and function.

You might’ve heard of someone struggling with an alcohol addiction as having a “substance use disorder” (SUD). You might’ve also heard alcohol addiction referred to as a disease–so which is it? 

A disease is a pathophysiological response to internal or external factors. A disorder is a disruption to regular bodily structure and function. The distinguishing characteristic between the two is the fact that a disorder often results from disease. 

An example of this dynamic might be how an arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) is a disorder resulting from heart disease. The symptoms of the disorder are the by-product of a disease, but arrhythmia is not a disease in-and-of itself. 

Other characteristics of disease include the following:

  • It is diagnosed and treated based on abnormalities in systemic/organ functions
  • These systemic interruptions can cause both physical and emotional signs and symptoms
  • They are accompanied by pain, dysfunction, distress, social problems or death
  • They have a potential for genetic predisposition

Drug addiction is a disease that affects a person’s brain and behavior. The significant changes it makes to the brain leads to an inability to control the use of a drug or medication, whether legal or illegal. A chronic disease is a long-lasting condition that can be managed, but not cured.

Why Consider Addiction a Disease? Isn’t Drug Use a Choice? 

Misunderstanding about the relationship between addiction and choice leads to a great deal of confusion and heartbreak. Similar to the way diabetes is a chronic disease of the pancreas, and heart disease is one of the heart, addiction is a chronic disease of the brain.

Getting Help Today

Addiction shares two important-to-understand characteristics with chronic disease:

  1. There is no cure; but
  2. It is entirely possible to live a meaningful, joy-filled life in remission from disordered habits.

Learning to find pleasure again in community, healthy activities, exercise, and gainful employment can help you manage–or better yet, thrive–in spite of the disease of addiction. 

The empathetic professionals at Reflections Recovery are ready and willing to help you start this process. Reach out to us today to find out how. 

What is a Seroquel Overdose Like?

Individuals suffering from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder may be prescribed Seroquel to treat symptoms of their condition. As an antipsychotic, this substance can help individuals who are experiencing psychotic symptoms of a medical condition. Off-label use of Seroquel, however, can develop into a substance use disorder (SUD). Long-term misuse of the substance can lead to health problems, as well as put the individual at risk of Seroquel overdose.

What Kind of Drug is Seroquel?

Seroquel, also known by its generic name quetiapine, belongs to a group of substances known as antipsychotics, or neuroleptics.

While opioids typically treat pain and stimulants may be prescribed to treat conditions like ADHD, neuroleptics are typically employed by medical professionals to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Specifically, symptoms like hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, or frantic thoughts can be helped with a neuroleptic prescription.

Though both have similar effects, neuroleptics fall into two main categories: One type (typical) affects dopamine neurotransmitters in the brain, while the other type (atypical), affects both dopamine and serotonin receptors.

In the brain, these chemicals are responsible for several aspects of life, including mood, appetite, and reward responses. While it might seem counterproductive to inhibit these chemicals in the brain, individuals who suffer from psychotic symptoms often have an overabundance of serotonin and dopamine, which means this method of action can have a balancing effect to help treat the individual’s symptoms. Quetiapine affects both dopamine and serotonin transmission, so it classifies as the second type of neuroleptic.

Hands holding pills and a pill bottle: Neuroleptics are typically employed by medical professionals to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Seroquel Half Life

The 6-hour-long Seroquel half life is somewhat short for prescription medications. This means that it typically takes six hours for the human body to chemically eliminate half of a given dose of quetiapine.

So, if a patient were to have a dose of 200mg, there would be 100mg left in their body after six hours had passed. In another 6 hours, there would be only 50mg. This process would repeat every six hours until the entire dose is eliminated from the body. Since the Seroquel half life is short, individuals with a prescription may need to take it daily in order to experience its effects continually.

Individuals who have a prescription for Seroquel may experience several side effects. Most of these effects are mild, but some serious effects can manifest by consuming Seroquel and alcohol simultaneously. The most common side effects of Seroquel include:

  • Tiredness
  • Sore Throat
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Weight Gain

Some individuals may also use the drug to self-medicate, or to treat an off-label condition that the FDA has not recognized quetiapine to treat. For instance, an individual may take advantage of the tiredness that often comes with taking Seroquel for sleep. However, using the substance for non-prescription purposes can lead to dangerous consequences or an unexpected interaction with another substance.

Illustration of a person exhibiting symptoms. Common side effects of Seroquel: tiredness, sore throat, dizziness, muscle weakness, weight gain.

Risks for Seroquel Overdose and Abuse

Quetiapine has had a history of abuse, but these reasons differ from the usual motivations for misuse. While some individuals may abuse a substance to experience euphoric effects or pleasant symptoms, abuse of this drug is usually the result of individuals consuming Seroquel for sleep loss or anxiety symptoms.

Seroquel for Sleep

Though more “innocent” than other reasons for prescription drug abuse, any inappropriate use of prescription medications can have uncomfortable consequences. Misuse also often forms a dependent relationship with the drug.

Individuals with a history of substance abuse may seek Seroquel as an alternative to their former addiction. Long-term use of the drug, however, can have detrimental effects on metabolism, weight gain, and blood fat content.

True addiction potential for Seroquel has yet to be measured. There have been multiple cases of individuals abusing or misusing Seroquel, but scientists have not yet determined if the substance can be physically addictive.

Notably, nearly all of the cases in which individuals misused Seroquel had previously suffered from a substance abuse disorder. Due to the nature of quetiapine abuse cases up to this point, it seems unlikely for someone to suddenly develop a Seroquel misuse problem. Rather, individuals who have had a history with substance abuse are most at risk of abusing the prescription drug.

Seroquel Overdose

Seroquel may, therefore, be low-risk in terms of addictive potential, and Seroquel overdose is also relatively low-risk. When compared to other similar neuroleptics, the list of Seroquel overdose symptoms is short.

While still potentially life-threatening for some individuals, the most dangerous Seroquel overdose symptoms recorded manifested as a high heart rate. Other symptoms included drowsiness and a weakened heart beat.

When compared to the life-threatening overdose symptoms of many other substances, quetiapine’s effects are relatively mild, even in high concentrations. However, these symptoms may be more serious when combined with other substances.

Since Seroquel abuse often occurs in individuals suffering from another substance abuse disorder, the potential for dangerous interactions may be more likely than normal.

Person handling a test tube: Scientists have not yet determined if Seroquel can be physically addictive.

Steps Toward Recovery

While Seroquel abuse is unlikely to develop by the drug alone, individuals who have a history with prescription drug abuse may be at risk of abuse. Though the side effects and Seroquel overdose symptoms may appear to be mild, substance misuse or abuse should always be taken seriously and addressed quickly.

If you think a loved one is suffering from Seroquel abuse or any other kind of SUD, contact us today. Reaching out can be one of the first and most crucial steps to take to help a suffering loved one.

Buspar and Alcohol: Facts and Side Effects

Buspar is a type of anti-anxiety medication. The manufacturer of the branded version of Buspar discontinued its production in 2010, but the generic version of the drug can still be prescribed. Though in short supply, doctors have found buspirone (Buspar’s generic name) to be an effective medication for the treatment of anxiety symptoms. Like the mixture of many substances, taking buspar and alcohol together can yield unpleasant and sometimes even harmful side effects.

Buspirone – Just An Anxiety Medication?

Though it is commonly compared to Xanax, buspirone does not trult belong in the same substance classification. Rather than qualifying as a benzodiazepine, buspirone belongs to the family of substances known as azapirones. This class of substances, like benzodiazepines, can treat the symptoms of anxiety. However, doctors often choose to prescribe buspirone over benzodiazepines (benzos) because it is less likely to be abused. While individuals may experience tolerance and eventual dependence to a benzodiazepine, buspirone has not been shown to be addictive.

While buspirone may be a solid alternative to some anti-anxiety medications, there are a few things that are unknown about the substance. Particularly, the method with which this drug takes effect is unclear. Researchers have speculated that the substance affects the part of the brain that is responsible for governing fear response, but clear evidence has not been observed yet. While the reason for the effect may be unknown, the side effects have been studied and are mostly well-understood.

While individuals may experience tolerance and eventual dependence to a benzodiazepine, buspirone has not been shown to be addictive.

Buspirone’s Side Effects

Buspirone’s most common side effect is dizziness. There are also several varied effects that patients may experience. Though it’s uncommon, anything from blurry vision to nausea can occur. The complete list of typical side effects includes:

  • Odd Dreams
  • Poor Coordination
  • Confusion
  • Tiredness
  • Excitability
  • Headaches
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Tingling Skin
  • Blurred Vision
  • Ringing Ears
  • Chest pain
  • Congestion
  • Sore Throat
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Tremors

Though the list of potential side effects is long, these effects are rare, and only manifest in a small number of patients. Additionally, side effects tend to subside as treatment progresses.

How Long Does Buspirone Stay in Your System?

Buspirone is eliminated quickly from the body; individuals who took one dose typically were free of the substance after 24 hours had passed. The half life of buspirone is similarly short: only around 2 to 3 hours. Effectively, this means that the body removes half of the current amount of the substance within 3 hours. If an individual were to take a dose of 30 mg, then in 3 hours, that individual would have only 15 mg of buspirone in their system. This process would keep repeating every 3 hours or so until the entirety of the drug is eliminated. Due to this short timespan of effect, individuals who have a prescription to buspirone may need to take a dose daily, or more often.

Since Buspirone can treat the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder with very little risk of dependence developing, researchers have investigated its effectiveness at treating withdrawal symptoms of other substances. Oftentimes anxiety and cravings appear in patients who are suffering from withdrawal symptoms. This means a substance that mitigates those symptoms and also has little risk of being abused itself may be the perfect substance to help recovering individuals. In a pair of studies, patients recovering from alcohol abuse and patients recovering from opioid abuse showed improvement while taking buspirone. While this kind of treatment has not been proven to be effective by the Federal Drug Administration, the results of these studies are promising, and may provide an additional help for patients suffering from or recovering from substance abuse.

Buspirone is eliminated quickly from the body; individuals who took one dose typically were free of the substance after 24 hours had passed.

Buspar Interactions With Alcohol

Fortunately, buspirone has a low chance of being abused. However, the side effects of the substance can worsen to dangerous levels if combined with other drugs. One of the most commonly abused drugs, alcohol, has one such interaction. Buspirone/Buspar and alcohol should never be consumed at the same time. 

The effects of alcohol use are somewhat similar to a few of buspirone’s side effects. Notably, dizziness, impaired coordination, and confusion all can result from both buspirone use as well as alcohol use. If an individual takes buspirone and then consumes alcohol, they may experience more potent versions of these side effects. Extreme dizziness and intense confusion can be dangerous, especially when driving. While the interaction may cause some intense feelings of disorientation, the combination is unlikely to be anything worse than that. Some substances can interact fatally with alcohol, so it is important to always be careful when on a prescription and consuming alcohol.

If an individual takes buspirone and then consumes alcohol, they may experience more potent versions of common side effects.

Understanding the Risks of Mixing Buspar and Alcohol

Though buspirone has effectively no risk for abuse, alcohol’s risk for abuse is nearly the opposite. Substance abuse of any kind can be extremely damaging over time, alcohol especially. If you think a loved one is suffering from a substance abuse disorder, contact us today. Alcohol may be the most common, but that does not mean it is the least threatening. An individual suffering from an addiction may not realize there is a problem, so reaching out to them may be life-changing. If you would like to read more about potential drug interactions or substance abuse disorders, read our blog.

Methadone Withdrawal

Watch a commercial for any prescription drug and you may notice that it likely spends more air time disclosing all the potential side effects of a medication than talking about the benefits. A common dilemma in the medical field is the fact that a particular treatment will often solve some problems–and create new ones.

The use of methadone as an opioid addiction treatment is a prime example. While historically effective in helping patients disengage from heroin dependency, it has the potential to simply replace one addiction with another. Thus, one removed obstacle can lead to another one: overcoming methadone withdrawal.

What Is Methadone?

Methadone is a prescription drug medication commonly applied as a treatment for opioid addiction. Also an opioid itself, doctors will occasionally prescribe methadone to treat severe pain, but this application is less frequent. Methadose and Dolophine are common methadone brand names.

Examples of other opioids include heroin, morphine, and codeine. While methadone and heroin share the same drug classification, they act upon the body differently. Because of this, and the fact that methadone is much less likely to induce a “high” or any euphoric effects, it can be used to treat opioid addiction.

Methadone is a prescription drug medication commonly applied as a treatment for opioid addiction

According to the CDC, addiction to synthetic opioids, such as heroin, is the leading cause of drug overdose in the United States. As a closely-related substance, methadone has been shown as an effective treatment to “wean” an opioid abuser off of the substance.

The very characteristics that make it an effective addiction “antidote” also make methadone a viable candidate for dependency and abuse. If someone has “weaned” from a heroin addiction via methadone, there is still a detoxification process that needs to occur for full addiction recovery.

Thankfully–though it can be uncomfortable and difficult–methadone withdrawal is not life-threatening.

How Long Does Methadone Stay in Your System?

Methadone is a slower-acting opioid than its synthetic counterparts. This means that a methadone half life is longer, ranging from 8–60 hours. For comparison, oxycodone’s half life is just 3–5 hours.

This comparatively longer methadone half life does not necessarily make the drug “safer.” On the contrary, methadone’s half life means there is a potential for a higher concentration to build-up in the body if it is taken in more frequent intervals than prescribed.

It’s worth noting that patients who have withdrawn from opioids are at increased risk of overdose due to reduced opioid tolerance. These types of risks have contributed to methadone slowly falling out of favor in the medical community.

More and more addiction specialists see methadone as a crutch at best–and a risky one at that. Many are trying alternative methods to help patients overcome addiction to pain-relieving narcotics.

What Is Methadone Used For?

There are two main forms of addiction treatment involving methadone: methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) and medication assisted treatment (MAT).

The former is the type of treatment program mentioned above that more professionals are moving away from. It essentially “manages” heroin withdrawal and cravings by giving patients consistent doses of methadone. The main objection to this concept is that it has enables clients to simply remain addicted to a different opioid, with no built-in program to taper clients off to prevent severe methadone withdrawal.

On the other hand, a medication assisted treatment program (MAT)–with an emphasis on the word assisted–provides more comprehensive care for those struggling with a heroin addiction. As a general rule, most MAT programs have plans to get clients off all opioid-based medications within three months.

Methadone Maintenance Treatment vs Methadone Assisted Treatment

A holistic approach to methadone withdrawal may include supplemental treatments such as:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Vitamin supplements
  • Healthy meals
  • Exercise and sports activities
  • Massage
  • Aromatherapy
  • Spa amenities and treatments

Treatment centers with this type of holistic-minded MAT program are more respected by addiction specialists and see better recovery results than MMT services.

What Are the Symptoms of Methadone Withdrawal?

Methadone withdrawal symptoms may begin within 24-36 hrs after the last dose. Days two and three are when symptoms usually peak and should slowly decline over the following days.

Methadone withdrawal symptoms for first 30 hrs might include:

  • Tiredness
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Sweating
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Yawning
  • Trouble sleeping

Extended symptoms–which often feel similar to the flu–may occur over the following weeks:

  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Goosebumps
  • Severe nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Drug cravings

The timeline for methadone withdrawal varies from person to person, and largely depends on the length and intensity of a patient’s opioid addiction. The total time for detox can last anywhere from two to three weeks up to six months.

tiredness anxiety restlessness sweating watery eyes runny nose yawning trouble sleeping

This is why it is imperative that a medical professional monitor the methadone withdrawal process. Attempted alone, the chances of returning to other opioid use increases significantly. Tapering off of methadone in the safety of a MAT program makes full recovery more likely.

Recovery & Help

Symptoms of withdrawal aren’t life-threatening on their own. However, they can become so with use of an improper detox method or a person relapses soon after completing detox.

Because of these reasons, we highly recommend seeking professional treatment. The best kind is one that includes medically-supervised detox and ongoing support to stay sober after detox.

These are services which you can find at Reflections Recovery Center. Give us a call to see how we can help you or a loved one start the road to recovery today.

Oxycodone and Alcohol

Prescribed primarily as a sedating painkiller, oxycodone falls into the drug classification of “opioid”. It is, however, unique within this classification due to its partially natural and partially synthetic production.

Oxycodone is the generic term for the substance that appears under brand names such as Oxycontin, Oxaydo, and Roxicodone/Roxycodone. As with all polysubstance abuse combinations, this drug interacts poorly if combined with alcohol.

How Does Oxycodone Work?

Before understanding how oxycodone and alcohol interact, it can be helpful to get a sense of the opioid’s action in the brain. Knowing how substances affect the brain and recognizing similar substances can reduce the number of accidental interactions.

Like most all opioids, oxycodone affects the brain’s pain-sensing pathways. Specifically, it effects the brain’s receptors, decreasing neuron excitability, and reducing communication between brain cells.

In doing so, the substance decreases neuron excitability, and reduces communication between brain cells.

In terms of potency, oxycodone parallels the strength of morphine–another opioid. 

Oxycodone has, however, been found to be less toxic in the long-term than morphine. For patients suffering from moderate-to-severe pain, therefore, oxycodone can be an excellent help for managing it. 

Unfortunately, ease of access to oxycodone means individuals often abuse this opioid. Substance abuse almost always naturally progresses to dependence, creating a heightened tolerance to the drug that leads to addiction.

Consequences of Oxycodone Misuse

While opioids can be a literal life-saver in the medical field, they can also be life-threatening when misused. The likelihood of discomfort, pain, or even death increases in the case that a user ingest incompatible substances at the same time. 

Individuals who misuse opioids may experience some unpleasant symptoms, and might also suffer from withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop. Even with prescribed use, the symptoms of oxycodone generally include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Pain Relief
  • Slowed Breathing

Some kinds of oxycodone leave the user with liver damage after an extended use time. Habitually taking too much oxycodone can cause a tolerance to form, where the user must then progressively ingest more of the substance in order to experience its effects. 

This increased dose-size can put them at risk of an overdose, which exhibits symptoms such as:

  • Extreme Sleepiness
  • Light Breathing
  • Cold or Clammy Skin
  • Slow Heart Rate
  • Coma
  • Death

If you think a loved one is experiencing an overdose, call emergency services immediately.

oxycodone overdose symptoms

Opioids and Ethanol – A Deadly Pair

The effects of oxycodone are remarkably similar to those of most sedatives: pain-killing and drowsiness are common effects of such substances. While these can be helpful when applied to individuals suffering from pain or other conditions, abuse of the prescriptions for the effects can lead to devastating outcomes.

Unfortunately, one of the most widely used and abused substances is also one that reacts dangerously with oxycodone: alcohol.

As a sedative, the symptoms of alcohol use commonly include drowsiness, unconsciousness, muddy thoughts, or slow speech. If these effects pair with oxycodone’s sedative-like effects, the symptoms can result in dangerously slowed body processes.

oxycodone and alcohol can dangerously slow body processes

Combined, these substances often produce effects similar to a life-threatening overdose. While many believe they understand the risk and take adequate lengths to avoid combining substances, alcohol’s tendency to impair the decision-making process can lead to accidental mixing.

Other Dangerous Interactions

Alcohol is likely the most common substance mixed in the body with oxycodone. However, other interactions can also be dangerous for an individual on a prescription or suffering from an addiction.

One other commonly used substance–marijuana–can be dangerous to combine with oxycodone. Studies examining the combination in the human body found that individuals experienced a compounded pain-killing effect. 

This effect is markedly less dangerous than alcohol and oxycodone, but the dual-enhanced sedative effect of the two may amount to a dangerous dosage size. 

A similar situation arises if oxycodone and stimulants are combined. Stimulants, like amphetamines (e.g. Adderall, Concerta, etc.) are substances that increase energy or activity processes in the body. Taking the two drugs together enhances the painkilling effects of the opioid, and the individual may end up taking too much of either.

Most of the time, combining any prescription with another–or even with an OTC medication–results in a dangerous combination. In the case of mixing oxycodone and alcohol together, the combination can be fatal.

Finding Freedom from Polysubstance Abuse

Opioid misuse can be a dangerous road, and combinations with other substances can yield unpredictable, often dangerous, effects. If you think a loved one is suffering from substance abuse, contact us today. 

Connecting to knowledgeable resources can help you make a decision about where to go from here. Understanding the options is a crucial first step in helping a loved one overcome a substance abuse disorder.

The Alcoholic Nose Myth


Snout…Schnoz…Honker…Nozzle…Sniffer…whatever name you call it, a prominent nose can be a distinguishing characteristic. Often, unfortunately, a distinctive nose is viewed less than favorably. This is especially true for someone thought of as having an “alcoholic nose.”

What is Alcoholic Nose?

Rhinophyma, the medical term for “alcoholic nose” or “drinker’s nose,” describes a clinically-diagnosed skin condition where a person develops a red, bulbous nose over time. Even with treatment, both the formation on and red color of the nose can increase over time.

Researchers have found that it seems to occur most often in men and women age 50-70 of Caucasian (specifically Irish, English, Scandinavian, Scottish, and similar) descent.

More recent research reinforces the opinion of many experts that alcohol abuse alone should not be seen as a sole cause of this condition. For example, a 2015 analysis of rhinophyma patients at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine revealed many of the participants reportedly drank very little or not at all.

“alcoholic nose" describes a clinically-diagnosed skin condition where a person develops a red, bulbous nose over timeThe medical community does not currently have a conclusive answer to the cause of rhinophyma. More and more evidence suggests, however, that it is, in fact, a side effect of advanced rosacea.

So Where Did the “Drinker’s Nose” Stigma Come From?

William Claude Dukenfield–better known as “W.C. Fields”–was a famous comedian, juggler, and hard-drinking entertainer in the 1920’s. He is credited with popularizing the idea of the “alcoholic nose.”

A known abuser of alcohol during prohibition, Fields’ acts used references to alcohol, drinking and being drunk as his main source of comedic material. He regularly referred to the bumps on his famous snout as “gin blossoms.” These and other wisecracks about his bulbous nose effectively embedded the nose/drunk connection in his viewers’ minds.

Thus, the relationship between rhinophyma and alcohol became a classic case of the correlation = causation fallacy.

The truth of the matter was that he did little to treat his rosacea–the real cause of his iconic snout. If anyone would’ve had any idea the long-term rippling effects of his self-deprecating jest, someone should’ve told W.C. Fields to “keep his nose out of it.”

Does This Mean a Bulbous Nose and Alcohol Are Unrelated?

Alcohol is a known catalyst for rosacea flare-ups whether they occur on the nose or elsewhere. A bulbous nose, therefore, should certainly not be cause to assume someone is a “heavy drinker.” Even a minute amount of alcohol can trigger a flare-up for those sensitive to it.

Rosacea flare-ups are caused by more than just alcohol. A wide variety of food and drinks may cause inflammation.Other triggers that can cause rosacea sufferers unsightly or uncomfortable inflammation include:

  • Hot beverages (e.g. coffee, tea, hot chocolate)
  • Spicy foods (e.g. hot peppers, salsas, sauces)
  • Dairy (e.g. milk, yogurt, cheese)
  • Foods containing histamine (e.g. tomatoes, citrus, legumes, chocolate, nuts)
  • As well as foods high in sugar, fat, sodium, and starch

Although rosacea is more common in women than men, its manifestation in the form of a bulbous nose is more common in men.

Help for Alcohol Abuse

While science strongly indicates the idea of an “alcoholic nose” as a diagnosis on par with “old wives tales,” the effects of alcohol abuse and addiction are very real. Many people–with and without a bulbous nose or rosacea–struggle in secret and aren’t sure where to turn.

If you know someone exhibiting signs of alcohol abuse, reach out today to find out how we can help.

“I Hate My Life”: Expression or Depression?


“I hate my life.”

Have you ever heard these words from a loved one? Or even said them yourself? 

It’s not uncommon for people to experience discouragement or a lack of motivation to complete regular daily tasks following a traumatic event or life change. However, continuously feeling defeated or that one is tired of life, are sentiments typically expressed by a person experiencing low grade depression.

Left unaddressed, these types of thoughts can grow into a crippling depression that has long-lasting effects. One of the most potent side effects of a crippling depression is chronic apathy.

The definition of apathy is a lack of feeling, interest, enthusiasm or concern.

It is almost impossible for the average person to go through life without ever experiencing apathy at some point. Sufferers from depression, however–especially if it leads to substance abuse–often report an inability to escape from apathetic thinking. 

Apathy is defined as a lack of feeling, interest, enthusiasm, or concern.

What is the difference between someone who is experiencing low grade depression vs someone who just feels apathetic? 

Having a “low” day, or a temporary mindset of feeling defeated can occur after events that overwhelm the emotions, mind, body and spirit. These might include death of a loved one, job loss, abusive relationships, extreme loneliness and even traumatic injury or chronic health conditions.

It’s not uncommon for these events to serve as a catalyst for depressive episodes that continue throughout life. Most often, though, these evens lead to periods of apathy only in the short term. 

On the other hand, someone who is suffering from crippling depression–or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, debilitating anxiety–tends to experience these feelings on a regular or even daily basis over a longer period of time.

Apathetic feelings in the average person can still be subject to the will to change negative thinking patterns or habits. Mental health sufferers, however, report that apathy in the context of depression seems to numb their ability to even want to change.

Having a "low" day, or a temporary mindset of feeling defeated can occur after events that overwhelm the emotions, mind, body, and spirit.

This “numbness” or lack of control is further compounded if substance abuse enters the picture. 

How could feeling that “I hate my life” lead to substance abuse?

Unfortunately, depression can contribute to the development of a substance use disorder (SUD). SUD can, in turn, escalate low grade depression into crippling depression. This is because people often seek illicit substances (or overmedication of legal substances) as a way to escape pain. 

Many people believe addiction is born out of a desire to attain the pleasure of a high.

While this is true in some cases, more often than not addiction victims report that the main motivation behind their first one or several uses of drugs or alcohol was to dull or eliminate–not to achieve–something: namely, pain.

SUD victims then proceed to fall into a cycle of apathy that keeps them trapped in addictive habits. Their increasing tolerance to a drug or alcohol substance may lead them to take more and more of it to escape the mental pain of debilitating anxiety or feeling tired of life.

The more the cravings rule their lives, the more powerless they feel to break out of this lifestyle. 

The feeling of being out of control and/or purposeless can lead to substance abuse and addiction. Addiction leads to more feelings of lack of control and defeat, for which substances seem to be the only cure. And the cycle repeats.

Getting Help

The progression described above is vicious and can have devastating effects on a person’s quality of life. Because of the nature of addiction, this cycle can be difficult to break, but it is entirely possible with help. If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, professional treatment is the most effective way to start the road to recovery. Contact us today.

Cymbalta and Alcohol


Duloxetine, sold under the brand name Irenka or Cymbalta, is a prescription medication that usually comes as a capsule. Doctors usually prescribe Cymbalta for anxiety or depression, but they may also recommend it to help relieve pain.

Cymbalta can lead to complications with the liver, so consuming alcohol with the medication can cause liver damage or worsen a pre-existing liver disease.

Doctors usually prescribe Cymbalta to treat either anxiety or depression, but it can also be used to help relieve pain.

Cymbalta – The Ins and Outs

According to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), Cymbalta can treat the following:

  • Major Depressive Disorder in Adults
  • Generalized anxiety disorder in persons 7 years or older
  • Diabetic nerve pain in adults
  • General muscle pain in persons 13 years or older
  • Chronic pain in the bones, ligaments, tendons, or muscles in adults

The FDA classifies Cymbalta as an antidepressant, but it can also be used to treat several types of pain. Both diabetic patients and those simply suffering from chronic pain may experience relief with proper use of Cymbalta.

Cymbalta mainly reduces stress and also reduces severity of emotions. Duloxetine works by reducing the brain’s ability to absorb both serotonin and norepinephrine. Serotonin is one of the body’s emotional hormones. By preventing its absorption, Cymbalta reduces the severity of emotions a patient will feel.

Norepinephrine, on the other hand, is the body’s ‘stress’ hormone, and is produced when the brain determines that the body is under tension. Cymbalta prevents norepinephrine from being absorbed in the brain, and improves mood as a result. In essence, this drug mainly reduces both stress and severity of emotions. 

However, the FDA recognized that the following side effects were common in patients with major depressive disorder who took antidepressants: 

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability/hostility or aggressiveness
  • Impulsivity
  • Restlessness
  • Bipolarity

The FDA also noted some side effects exclusive to Cymbalta:

  • Liver failure
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Serotonin syndrome
  • Increased risk of bleeding
  • Skin reactions
  • Increased blood pressure

Indeed, Cymbalta can cause a number of unpleasant side effects, but most of the serious ones are rare. Moreover, they are more likely to cause complications in patients who have a pre-existing conditions. Fortunately, the FDA also determined that people who take Cymbalta don’t develop a dependence on the drug. Since it is non-addictive, it might be a better option than some other antidepressants.

 Cymbalta can cause a number of unpleasant side effects, but most of the serious ones are rare

The Impact of Alcohol

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH) clearly outlines how excessive and/or chronic alcohol consumption can negatively affect the body:

  • In the brain: Alcohol interferes with the brain’s regular pathways, and interrupts clear thinking, decision making, coordinated movement, and mood.
  • The heart: Too much alcohol can lead to a number of heart-related complications, including misshapen heart muscles, irregular heart beat, stroke, and high blood pressure.
  • In the liver: The liver metabolizes alcohol, and takes a toll from it in the form of a fatty liver, inflammation, scar tissue, and chronic liver damage.
  • In the pancreas: Alcohol prompts the pancreas to produce toxic substances that damage both the pancreas and surrounding organs.

Alcohol has also been studied to put the user at a higher risk of cancer. Too much alcohol causes a heap of unpleasant symptoms, but the combination of alcohol and Cymbalta can yield particularly nasty side effects. 

Cymbalta and Alcohol – A Dangerous Combo

It may not be inherently obvious that these two substances mix poorly, but if one were to take a look at both lists of side effects, the overlap puts the liver at especially high risk.

The FDA noted that Cymbalta should not be prescribed to individuals with pre-existing liver disease or chronic liver damage. This decision was due to the fact that Cymbalta sometimes causes liver damage, and patients who previously had liver complications could suffer severe liver damage.

On the other hand, NIH’s breakdown of alcohol’s effects on the liver include some of the exact side effects. Alcohol can wreak havoc on the liver, resulting in the formation of damaging scar tissue. Thus, excessive alcohol use can create the exact conditions that makes using Cymbalta excessively dangerous.

Alcohol can wreak havoc on the liver, resulting in scar tissue forming and chronic liver damageCymbalta can, however, also be applied to help patients who are struggling to overcome an alcohol addiction.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) conducted a study in which doctors prescribed Cymbalta to help mitigate the anxiety-like effects felt by individuals struggling with alcohol cravings. The participants originally responded well to Cymbalta, showing reduced cravings for alcohol. Unfortunately, many patients of the study suffered severe liver damage as a result of the drug.

Thus, while the drug can help patients overcome alcohol cravings, Cymbalta’s effect on people who had previously suffered from alcohol addiction is primarily negative, and other ways of overcoming cravings are more promising and less damaging to the liver.

Closing Thoughts

Cymbalta, an antidepressant, treats a wide variety of symptoms, including depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. Some of the side effects from it make it dangerous in individuals who have a liver disease, or who consume a large amount of alcohol.

The anxiety-treating aspect of Cymbalta can help decrease alcohol cravings in patients overcoming addiction, but the liver damage that commonly results make it a poor choice for treating the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

To read more about addiction, visit our blog. If you think you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, contact us today, and we can help you on your journey. Overcoming addiction is difficult, and different for each person, but it doesn’t need to be taken on alone.

Morphine Addiction & Withdrawal Effects


Morphine is one of the most abused drug substances in the world.

According to the International Journal of Molecular Sciences (IJMS), morphine’s high rate of abuse potential is closely associated with the chronically high frequency of its administration.

Morphine and its opiate counterparts have highly addictive properties that, without careful medical supervision, can lead to tolerance, dependence, addiction, and even death. 

What is Morphine? 

Morphine is a pain-relieving medication that falls under the opioid class of drugs. This classification includes illegal forms of opioids such as heroin, synthetic forms like fentanyl, and pain relievers available by legal medical prescription such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and many others.

In its proper medical application, a doctor will prescribe morphine to treat moderate-to-severe pain. A patient may receive morphine in the form of a pill or swallowable liquid. It may also be applied intravenously, but this usually occurs in a hospital setting. 

What is Morphine Used For? 

In its proper medical application, a doctor will prescribe morphine to treat moderate-to-severe pain.

Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams, is credited with the origin of morphine’s name due to the “dream-like state” that users report experiencing.

Morphine relieves pain by causing a flood of dopamine in the brain’s reward center. This dopamine release causes a euphoric high, which encourages morphine addiction. People who exceed their prescription limits or use morphine for non-medical purposes are more likely to become addicted to an illegal opiate like heroin.

Whether because the prescription runs out, they’ve built a tolerance to the current dosage, or are already showing signs of addiction, morphine abusers often turn to street heroin sellers to get an immediate or stronger high. 

Addiction–also known as “substance use disorder” (SUD)–is classified as a chronic recurrent disease of the central nervous system (CNS) which leads to personality disorders, co-morbidities and premature death.

SUD develops as a result of long-term administration of substances with abuse potential and includes physical addiction and/or psychological dependence. Psychological dependence is compulsive drug use to improve the perception of well-being whereas physical addiction means the cells can’t function without the drug they have become accustomed to.

While most people take morphine to experience the “desirable” side effects (pain relief, euphoria, etc.), it is all too easy to overdose by accident. If you see a loved one or anyone near you exhibiting any of the following signs of overdose, call 911:

  • Extremely pale skin that feels clammy to the touch
  • Body goes limp
  • Fingernails or lips have a purple or blue color
  • Vomiting or gurgling noises
  • Unable to respond or wake up
  • Slowing or stopping of breathing/heartbeat 

Signs of a morphine overdose: Extremely pale skin that feels clammy to the touch Body goes limp Fingernails or lips have a purple or blue color Vomiting or gurgling noises Unable to respond or wake up Slowing or stopping of breathing/heartbeat

How Long Does Morphine Last? 

The average morphine half life is about 2-3 hours. It takes several half-lives for the drug to be completely eliminated from the body, so 12 hours is a usual amount of time for morphine to be out of the blood.

Someone taking morphine will usually feel its effects within 30-60 minutes after oral ingestion. It generally wears off by about 4-6 hours after dose. Some extended-release formulas may not wear off until closer to 8-12 hours later. 

What Are the Symptoms of Morphine Withdrawal? 

It is extremely important to communicate frequently and clearly with your doctor about how you’re feeling while taking morphine. If you do need to stop taking it, do not do so abruptly. In order to reduce or avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, your doctor can help you slowly reduce dosage over time in a process called “tapering.”

Morphine withdrawal symptoms can begin within the first 24 hours after the last dose. Withdrawal occurs when the body establishes a dependence on the drug, but this usually doesn’t develop until after several weeks of use. 

Initial symptoms after you stop using the drug might include:

  • muscle aches
  • restlessness
  • anxiety
  • lacrimation (eyes tearing up)
  • runny nose
  • excessive sweating
  • inability to sleep
  • yawning very often

Later symptoms–which can be more intense–begin after the first 24 hours and may be: 

  • diarrhea
  • abdominal cramping
  • goose bumps on the skin
  • nausea and vomiting
  • dilated pupils and possibly blurry vision
  • rapid heartbeat
  • high blood pressure

Morphine withdrawal symptoms can begin within the first 24 hours after the last dose was taken. Morphine withdrawal symptoms, though they can be unpleasant and painful, usually begin to improve within 72 hours. Within a week you should notice a significant decrease in the acute effects. Still, rapid (or “cold turkey”) detox is not recommended. 

Morphine Addiction Recovery Treatment

While rest, plenty of fluids, & acetaminophen or aspirin can help address mild withdrawal,  more intense withdrawal symptoms may require hospitalization and other medications. 

Overcoming long-term addiction requires a little more care. The main treatment for prescription opioid addiction is medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which combines counseling and community support with medicines to moderate the withdrawal process.

If you or a loved one is suffering from morphine addiction, give us a call to see how we can empower you to help stop drug use and learn to thrive without opiates.