Author Archives: Reflections Recovery Center

How to Help Someone Who’s Struggling Physically or Emotionally with Mental Illness

Many people suffering from stress disorders and other forms of mental illness need encouragement, support and empathy from those closest to them. It can be difficult to determine the best ways to approach a person struggling with mental illness, and stress effects are different for everyone.

However challenging it may be, developing healthy coping strategies and trying various types of stress-management techniques can prevent people struggling with mental illness from falling into addiction. An important part of addiction awareness is understanding the main risk factors for addiction, and stress is one of the most prevalent.

Relationship Between Stress and Mental Illness

There are countless possible stress causes in the world, and every individual will respond to them differently. However, people who suffer from mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and other conditions may have trouble using typical coping techniques.

They may also feel the negative effects of different types of stress more acutely and take longer to recover from periods of extreme stress. Unfortunately, many of these individuals begin to consider alcohol or addictive drugs as the only viable stress busters available.

Types of Stress

Some people experience high-stress situations acutely during disasters, emergencies and traumatic events. Others may experience consistent but less severe stress over time from work, school or everyday obligations.

People who experience extremely stressful incidents may develop mental health conditions as a result. One of the most common is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition affecting combat veterans and victims and witnesses of violent crimes, disasters and accidents.

PTSD can cause nightmares, periods of extreme depression, paranoia and a host of other symptoms. This condition is just one example of how acute stress can cause long-term problems, but chronic exposure to lower-stress situations is also damaging. The workplace is a stressful environment for many people, for example.

Unless these individuals develop viable methods of handling their everyday stressors, chronic stress can start to affect physical and emotional health.

Stress Effects: How Stress Can Lead to Addiction

Stress can eventually lead to addiction without healthy alternative coping strategies. One of the most vital steps of addiction recovery is discerning the root cause or origin of a substance use disorder, and one of the most commonly cited causes is stress.

Some people feel overwhelmed by their circumstances and turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. The brief periods of artificial happiness, relaxation and euphoria that drugs provide will eventually devolve into habit, routine and then full-blown addiction.

Drugs as Coping Tools

Different drugs may appear to alleviate stress in different ways, and people may use them for various reasons as coping tools. It’s crucial to understand the dangers of different types of drug dependencies:

  • Opioids: Someone suffering from mental illness may begin to self-treat their symptoms with drugs meant for physical pain, and opioid painkillers are the strongest painkillers available.
  • Hallucinogens: Distorting one’s perception of reality can feel like a welcome escape when reality is stressful or too difficult to handle sober. Hallucinogenic drugs can eventually deteriorate one’s personality and interpretations of reality, leading to serious psychological problems over time.
  • Benzodiazepines and tranquilizers: People who struggle with anxiety disorders may receive prescriptions for benzodiazepine medications and begin abusing these drugs. Anti-anxiety drugs can produce feelings of calm, and eventually a person will begin to rely solely on these drugs for relief from stressful situations.
  • Alcohol: One of the most commonly abused substances on Earth can lower inhibitions, create pleasurable feelings and act as a “social lubricant.” Many people rely upon alcohol to unwind after stressful days at work. Unfortunately, alcoholism progresses rapidly, and the lifestyle of a high-functioning alcoholic isn’t tenable.

Cycles of Dependency

Stress never really ends; we just develop better ways of handling it over time. However, resorting to substance abuse creates a slew of new stressors.

Addiction effects vary for everyone, but the overwhelming majority of addicts face:

  • Economic ruin
  • Damaged personal relationships
  • Strained career choices
  • Myriad physical health concerns

The Effects of Stress and Addiction on the Mind and Body

Chronic stress can deteriorate physical health, leading to problems such as:

  • Obesity (from overeating as a coping mechanism)
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Many other possible issues

Instead of treating stress by self-medicating, one should learn healthier coping strategies to prevent substance abuse and make it easier to both handle everyday stress and recover from acute stressors.

Stress Management: Developing Better Ways to Cope

Addiction treatment services typically include a full regimen of holistic and natural therapies and activities to de-stress the mind and body and to recover more wholly from substance abuse.

A few examples of effective stress-relief treatments include:

  • Exercise and physical activities: A healthier body naturally encourages better mental health, and a person with a healthy physical body can better handle and process stress in optimum ways.
  • Meditation and mindfulness exercises: These practices can help overcome the psychological effects of stress.
  • Behavior therapy: People struggling with mental health disorders often need behavioral therapy to understand their situations and process stress in constructive ways. Addiction behavior generally focuses on reward-seeking patterns and responses to stimuli. Behavioral therapy can help a person acknowledge dangerous patterns and develop healthier responses to his or her environment.
  • Support from friends and family: One of the most essential tools in addiction treatment is building and rebuilding personal relationships. Suffering from a mental health disorder or substance use disorder can be very isolating. Thus, interpersonal relationships are crucial for overcoming the loneliness that substance abuse often entails.

Help for Stress and Substance Abuse

There are many resources for addiction help and addiction treatment available, but it’s important to know what to expect from the rehab experience. For instance, physically removing drugs from the body (aka detox) is just the first step in a long process.

Addiction help is available for those willing to take the next step and learn to manage their stress in healthier ways. If you or your loved one is battling substance abuse along with excess stress or a mental health condition, look into Reflection Recovery Center today. We will craft an individualized treatment plan that can help you or your loved one learn to manage stressors in healthier ways while recovering from addiction in an inpatient setting.

Holistic Therapy Is Great for Managing Stress

See Which Techniques We Use

There Is No Healthy Amount of Alcohol

Numerous studies exist on the impact of alcohol on people’s health. The results can seem obvious at times: Drinking large amounts of alcohol can put you at a risk for many health conditions, including, but not limited to:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Alcohol addiction

In most research, there is a clear link between excessive drinking and negative health conditions.

On the other hand, many studies over the years have suggested that moderate drinking can help improve your health, as long as it is limited to a certain number of drinks per week. The specific health effects depend on the type of alcohol, such as the potential for drinking a glass of wine once per day to improve heart health.

How Much Alcohol Is Healthy?

While the findings of such studies may seem like great news to the casual drinker, they’re not as beneficial as you may think. A newer study has found that, despite previous research, there is no healthy amount of alcohol.

Recent Study Published in The Lancet Comes to a Different Conclusion

Medical journal The Lancet published a study in August that made waves in regard to global alcohol consumption. English researchers Robyn Burton and Nick Sheron took a closer look at the 2016 Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study (GBD), which gathered data on 195 countries and territories from 1990 to 2016. Burton called the GBD 2016 “the most comprehensive estimate of the global burden of alcohol use to date.”

Results of Burton and Sheron’s Analysis of the GBD 2016

The GBD 2016 had already found that alcohol was the seventh-leading risk factor for death, as well as for disability or shortened lifespan. In those between the ages of 15 and 49 years old, alcohol was the leading risk factor for both death and shortened lifespan in 2016.

According to Burton and Sheron’s report after their analysis of the GBD 2016, “The conclusions of the study are clear and unambiguous: alcohol is a colossal global health issue and small reductions in health-related harms at low levels of alcohol intake are outweighed by the increased risk of other health-related harms, including cancer.”

Based on their findings, they could not support any level of alcohol consumption as being “safe.”

Findings such as these serve as a sobering reminder of the impact alcohol can have on our lives. Even people who drink moderately and responsibly can still be at risk for other health conditions that will be exacerbated by their drinking.

Drinking Increases Risk Development

Alcohol-related health problems do not always develop solely from drinking. Conditions such as heart disease and cancer can emerge due to numerous other genetic and lifestyle causes. However, moderate drinking increases the risk of conditions such as these.

In comparing individuals who don’t drink to those who indulge in daily drinking, there is a 0.5 percent higher chance of those in the latter group developing an alcohol-related health problem. Yes, that’s not too drastic, but this risk, as one would expect, increases the more someone drinks:

  • People who drink two alcoholic drinks in one day have a 7 percent chance of developing an alcohol-related health problem.
  • People who drink five drinks per day on average have a 37 percent increase in risk.

When you start to break down the potential risks for moderate drinkers, there’s hardly a statistical difference in developing health issues between no drinks and very few drinks. However, there is still a risk, which can easily counter the potential benefits someone may hope to gain from moderate drinking.

Daily Drinking: Perceived Benefits vs. Risks

Even if someone does benefit from regular drinking, such as improving the condition of diabetes or increasing antioxidant consumption, alcohol can still simultaneously promote negative results, such as cancer development, as Burton and Sheron’s research found. Drinkers ultimately may come to accept these risks, but they’re not ones that anyone hoping to avoid deadly diseases should take.

The negative health risks exist in tandem with additional risks that alcohol poses in regard to others’ safety and interpersonal relationships. This especially applies to people who drink beyond safe levels and engage in binge drinking on a regular basis.

Heavy Alcohol Consumption and Binge Drinking Levels

While drinking any amount of alcohol can become dangerous, high levels of consumption pose the greatest risk. The precise amount of heavy alcohol consumption can vary depending on a person’s age, body, genetics and other health considerations.

The general standards for at-risk drinking are:

  • More than four servings a day, or more than 14 drinks per week for men.
  • More than three drinks a day, or more than seven drinks per week for women.

About a quarter of people who regularly exceed these limits have an alcohol use disorder. The remaining three-fourths are at much greater risk of developing both an alcohol use disorder and other alcohol-related health problems.

Unfortunately, this level of alcohol consumption is common, and it puts numerous people at risk. The top 10 percent of alcohol drinkers consumes upwards of 74 alcoholic drinks a week – averaging about 10 drinks per day – according to National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) data.

Potential Impact of Alcohol Use on the Body

Both regular drinking and binge drinking can easily lead to numerous health issues, as Burton and Sheron’s research reaffirmed.

Brain Function

The feeling of being drunk comes from the way that alcohol interacts with the brain, decreasing the functioning of neurotransmitters and impacting emotion regulation, cognition and impulse control. Repeated heavy drinking makes the brain used to drinking, potentially leading to symptoms of alcohol withdrawal when one tries to abstain.

Liver

The liver can suffer from inflammation and multiple problems due to heavy drinking, leading to possible problems such as:

  • Steatosis (buildup of fat in the organ)
  • Fibrosis (thickening or scarring of connective tissue)
  • Cirrhosis
  • Alcoholic hepatitis

Cancers

One of the most severe health conditions related to heavy alcohol consumption, cancer is a greater risk the more one drinks. Nearly 3.5 percent of U.S. cancer deaths in 2009 were alcohol related.

Regular heavy drinking can increase the risk of developing one of the following types of cancer:

  • Head
  • Neck
  • Esophageal
  • Liver
  • Breast
  • Colorectal

Heart Disease

Despite the reported heart-health benefits of alcohol, even drinking in small amounts can damage the heart, potentially causing:

  • High blood pressure
  • Arrhythmia (irregular heart beat)
  • Stroke
  • Cardiomyopathy (stretching and drooping of heart muscles)

Pancreatitis

Drinking causes the pancreas to release toxic substances. Heavy and continual drinking then leads to high levels of these substances entering the body. This can cause pancreatitis and prevent proper digestion of food and nutrients.

Immune System

In addition to other specific health issues, heavy drinking can weaken your immune system, providing diseases with an easier entryway into your body. Binge drinking, for example, can potentially weaken your immune system for 24 hours after the last drink.

See More Alcohol Abuse Facts

What This Research Means

The GBD 2016 and the recent study published in The Lancet have provided many insights into the overall impact of alcohol. Long-term health effects of drinking abound, overriding any previous studies that boast of the miniscule benefits of drinking.

Furthermore, these studies should serve as a reminder that regularly drinking isn’t a bona fide way to improve your health, and those who don’t drink shouldn’t start simply to reap some health benefits. The potential risks are much too great to be worth it. We’re not saying don’t drink at all – just that you should be careful.

If you or a loved one is struggling with excessive drinking, Reflections Recovery Center can craft a plan that leads toward long-term sobriety.

Explore Our Inpatient Program for Men

Sources:
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)31571-X/fulltext
https://medium.com/wintoncentre/the-risks-of-alcohol-again-2ae8cb006a4a
https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/How-much-is-too-much/Is-your-drinking-pattern-risky/Whats-At-Risk-Or-Heavy-Drinking.aspx
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/09/25/think-you-drink-a-lot-this-chart-will-tell-you/?utm_term=.32b122a51cce
https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/alcohols-effects-body

Signs of Hidden Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol addiction can disrupt a person’s life greatly, but it’s not always easy to tell when a loved one has a problem. Many people struggling with alcohol addiction tend to keep their activities hidden from their friends and family. Why? They either underestimate the extent of their problem or they don’t want others to interfere.

Unfortunately, even obvious symptoms of alcoholism can go unnoticed, particularly if your loved one is a high-functioning alcoholic. However, you can determine if your loved one has a hidden alcohol problem by learning how to look for signs of alcohol abuse. By staying alert, you can help identify a drinking problem and then support your loved one throughout treatment.

Signs of Hidden Alcohol Abuse

We’ve grouped the various signs of alcoholism into five main categories:

High Alcohol Tolerance

Numerous factors can impact someone’s tolerance for alcohol, including weight, age, sex and genetics.

No matter what other factors are in play, though, the more a person drinks, the higher his or her tolerance will be. Thus, the more drinks it will take to become intoxicated. Repeated drinking episodes can lead to very little functional impairment, even after consuming large amounts of alcohol.

To tell if your loved one has a high tolerance for alcohol, watch their behaviors after drinking. As an example, a 155-pound male will take about three drinks to become “tipsy.” If he don’t show any signs of intoxication at that point, then he may have a high level of alcohol tolerance.

Experiencing Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Repeated drinking does more than build an alcohol tolerance in the body; it also impacts people physically and mentally. The body starts to adjust so that drinking becomes the norm, which means not having a drink can cause withdrawal symptoms.

For alcohol, common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Shaky hands
  • Insomnia

While symptoms of alcohol dependence don’t always indicate alcoholism, the impact of withdrawal can play a major role in forming alcohol abuse and addiction. If your loved one starts to exhibit physical signs of alcohol abuse in the form of withdrawal after not drinking for some time, then he or she may have a hidden alcohol problem.

Secret Drinking

Hidden Drinking Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms - Reflections Recovery CenterBecause people struggling with alcoholism have a higher tolerance for alcohol, they often need to drink more to feel intoxicated. This can lead to behaviors where someone may drink alone or while getting ready to go out to a social event with friends; the latter is known as “pregaming.” Secret drinking can also involve drinking after coming home from events.

To facilitate this type of drinking, people with hidden alcoholism will sometimes have hiding places for alcohol:

  • Bathroom shelves, dresser drawers, the garage, and behind other items in kitchen cabinets are common places to covertly store alcohol.
  • Furniture can also be a place to stow empty bottles and cans.

If you have concerns about hidden alcoholism, you can search those places. You may also check the outside trash bins, as your loved one may be taking out empty bottles and cans directly to the main trash when nobody’s looking.

Making Excuses to Drink

To make their drinking behavior seem less like a problem, people struggling with alcohol addiction will often make up reasons to drink:

  • If something bad happens, they will use alcohol to make themselves feel better.
  • If something good happens, then what better way to celebrate than with a drink?

These “reasons” become protection if you or someone else tries to point out your loved one’s drinking behavior.

Additionally, people struggling with alcoholism will make excuses for why they can’t or won’t stop drinking:

  • Some will say that they can stop whenever they feel like it. (They can’t.)
  • Others will argue that their drinking only impacts themselves. (It doesn’t.)
  • There’s also a chance that they will agree to get help, then come up with excuses to keep putting it off.

Unexplained Injuries

Episodes of binge drinking can lead to falling and blackouts – both of which can easily cause injuries. The lack of bodily control after heavy drinking can contribute.

The potential damages can range from minor cuts and bruises to larger traumatic injuries; but, one scenario will often serve as a telltale sign of hidden alcoholism: The person doesn’t want to admit what caused the problem.

Those struggling with alcoholism will often feel too embarrassed to admit what really led to their injuries, so they’ll brush the problem off without answering. Or, if pressed, they may make up a story about what happened.

If your loved one has suspicious or repeated injuries and won’t give you a clear answer as to how these wounds occurred, alcohol may have contributed.

Helping a Loved One with Hidden Alcoholism

Living with someone who has an alcohol addiction can be a challenging experience. Your loved one may experience mood swings and ignore responsibilities in favor of drinking. He or she may look to you to encourage the behavior or actively start to tear down various relationships when drinking.

The key is to remember that you cannot control your loved one’s behavior and that the situation is not your fault. You do not need to enable the addiction or accept poor treatment from them.

However, it’s possible to learn how to help an alcoholic. Once you’ve identified that your loved one may have a hidden alcohol problem, you can plan appropriately. Enlist the support of your friends and family, and possibly an intervention specialist. You should also care for your own personal needs throughout the process, so that you are in the right state of mind to fully help your loved one.

From Alcoholism Intervention to Rehab

Before staging an intervention, you and the intervention team should carefully plan and rehearse what will happen. Prepare possible treatment options, so that your loved one can’t stall the admission process. Once you’ve completed the intervention successfully and your loved one begins receiving treatment, remain supportive and participate where possible. The encouragement of friends and family can make or break a recovery from alcohol addiction.

At Reflections Recovery Center, we provide the highest quality of care for our male clients, every step of the way. Explore our men’s alcohol rehab programs, or get in touch with us to discuss how we can help your son, husband, brother, etc. overcome his drinking behavior.

See More Alcohol Addiction Facts

Sources:
https://www.beachhouserehabcenter.com/learning-center/5-signs-your-loved-one-is-masking-a-drinking-problem/
https://www.briarwooddetox.com/blog/8-signs-your-loved-one-is-alcoholic/
https://www.new-hope-recovery.com/2013/10/14-warning-signs-of-a-secret-alcoholic/
https://www.evergreendrugrehab.com/blog/obvious-alcoholic-drinking-behaviors-hard-ignore/
https://casapalmera.com/blog/living-with-an-alcoholic/
https://americanaddictioncenters.org/alcoholism-treatment/how-to-talk/
https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/loved-one-drinking-what-to-do#2

Adderall Cocktail Mixing: Dangerous Drug Pairings Detailed

Mixing drugs is an unfortunately common occurrence in the United States, but many people mistakenly believe some drugs to be less dangerous than others are. The reality is that most drugs have the potential to cause serious and even life-threatening medical complications under the right circumstances.

Similarly, mixing drugs – even prescription drugs – with certain other substances has the potential to cause devastating results.

Why Is Mixing Drugs Dangerous?

When a doctor issues a prescription for a certain type of medication, he or she must check the patient’s medical records and known drug history to identify any potentially dangerous allergies or interactions. Doctors also provide prescriptions under the assumption that patients will follow the instructions for proper use to the letter.

Unfortunately, some patients may misunderstand a doctor’s instructions or may believe that mixing a prescription drug with another substance won’t be harmful.

Risks of Adderall Abuse

Adderall is most commonly prescribed for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Unfortunately, Adderall abuse has become one of the leading types of prescription drug abuse in the U.S.

When used correctly for a qualifying condition, Adderall can help manage the symptoms of ADHD and improve:

  • Focus
  • Attention span
  • Short-term memory
  • Motivation

However, Adderall also carries a high potential for abuse, due to the fact it is a very powerful stimulant.

Adderall’s side effects can include several negative symptoms when abused or misused. A person who starts to take Adderall beyond the scope of their prescription may experience long-lasting bursts of energy followed by crashing.

It’s also possible for Adderall to interfere with sleep cycles. This amphetamine drug can also cause paranoia, aggression, mood swings, rapid heart rate and a host of other symptoms. When an individual combines Adderall with other drugs, the risk of adverse side effects dramatically increases, and the effects will differ based on the other substance used.

Adderall and Heroin Abuse

If a person who has a prescription for Adderall starts abusing heroin, there are many possible consequences. On the street, “speedball” is a common term for a combination of an “upper” like Adderall and a “downer” like heroin.

Some people mistakenly believe that a speedball offers the benefits of both drugs while canceling out the negative effects, but this is not the case. Adderall mixed with heroin simply increases the chances of suffering the adverse effects of both drugs at the same time.

Learn the Symptoms of Heroin Abuse

Adderall and Cocaine Abuse

Cocaine abuse isn’t as widespread as it was in the United States during the 1970s and 1980s, but it is still a problem for countless Americans. Combined Adderall and cocaine effects can include:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Extreme spurts of energy and alertness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Trouble breathing

Both of these substances are powerful stimulants. Taking both together greatly increases the risk of heart attack and brain damage.

Mixing Adderall and Alcohol

Similar to the thinking behind a speedball, many people combine Adderall with alcohol in an attempt to experience the benefits of both without the negative side effects. A person may drink to calm down from the burst of energy that Adderall offers, or may use Adderall to wake up from the sleepiness that alcohol intoxication can cause.

Unfortunately, the effects of Adderall can make it harder for the person to feel the effects of alcohol, encouraging him or her to drink more alcohol than he or she normally would; this increases the risk of alcohol poisoning. Additionally, long-term patterns of combining Adderall and alcohol can lead to heart failure and other cardiac conditions.

Xanax and Adderall Abuse

Xanax is a benzodiazepine medication that can treat the symptoms of anxiety disorders. It can produce feelings of calmness and relaxation, the polar opposite of what Adderall causes.

While there are no immediate dangers of taking both together, doing so can greatly increase the risk of developing an addiction to either or both substances. Since these medications effectively counteract each other’s effects, a person who takes both may feel diminished effects of both, eventually encouraging him or her to take more of either than necessary.

Adderall and Marijuana Use

Marijuana’s legal status is a hot topic of public discussion, as many states have legalized medical marijuana, and a few have even decriminalized recreational pot. No matter how a person obtains marijuana, it’s important to know the risks of combining it with Adderall.

Combining marijuana and Adderall has the potential to increase the user’s risk of heart failure. Additionally, these two substances counteract one another and may encourage the user to ingest more than necessary, which can speed up the development of Adderall addiction.

Methadone and Adderall Use

Methadone is a common prescription for opioid addiction. This synthetic opioid medication can help a person transition away from harder opioids like heroin or prescription painkillers. But, methadone also carries the potential for abuse on its own.

When combined with Adderall, the stimulant can actually mask the signs of methadone overdose, potentially putting the individual’s life at risk.

Methadone abuse can lead to respiratory depression, coma, heart failure and a host of other complications. Adderall can effectively keep a person alert and moving through the early stages of an overdose. Meanwhile, others nearby may not recognize the danger before it is too late.

Adderall and Methamphetamine Abuse

Methamphetamine (or simply “meth”) is a very powerful synthetic stimulant capable of severe side effects on its own. Adderall and meth together become a very powerful surge of stimulants that can have devastating consequences.

Meth on its own can cause:

  • Delirium
  • Aggression
  • Heightened energy
  • Personality changes
  • Severe brain damage

Combining meth with another stimulant like Adderall, especially over repeated episodes, is something you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.

Risk of Overdosing on Drug Cocktails

Most forms of substance abuse carry a risk of overdose, and it’s essential to acknowledge the risk of overdosing that Adderall presents on its own. Some patients who take Adderall may start using the drug in different ways for more pronounced effects. For example, snorting Adderall produces the desired effects much more quickly, but it also dramatically increases the risk of overdose.

Adderall Overdose on Its Own

It’s possible to overdose on Adderall alone. Too much of the drug in a short time or a concentrated dose can cause tremors throughout the body, irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing and several other adverse effects – including episodes of mania or even psychosis.

Most people who combine Adderall with other drugs do so to either counteract or enhance the effects of Adderall, and some take Adderall to counteract or enhance the effects of other drugs.

Some people who experience illicit drug withdrawal may start taking Adderall for its stimulating properties. They may feel relief from the symptoms of withdrawing from other drugs, but this relief is short lived and creates more problems.

For example, opioid withdrawal can cause extreme fatigue and depression, and a dose of Adderall may temporarily relieve these symptoms, thanks to this amphetamine’s stimulating properties. Eventually, this type of use will lead to Adderall abuse and make an already bad situation worse.

Getting Help for Adderall Cocktail Mixing and Abuse

An overdose can lead to respiratory failure, coma or death in a very short time without medical intervention. When an individual abuses Adderall with another illicit drug, these interactions can produce extreme results very quickly.

It’s essential to acknowledge the risks of Adderall abuse and how it can interact with other drugs – licit or illicit. A person who takes Adderall with a prescription may assume that it is safe simply because a doctor prescribed it, but this is only true when the patient takes it exactly as intended and directed.

Additionally, individuals who take other prescriptions or who abuse illicit drugs cannot fall into the trap of believing that Adderall can cancel out the effects of those other substances. If you know someone who has been using Adderall in a dangerous way, reach out to Reflections Recovery Center for guidance on how you can help stop their drug abuse.

Learn More About Prescription Drug Abuse

Sources:
https://deserthopetreatment.com/adderall/mixing-drugs/
https://www.rehabcenter.net/dangers-using-heroin-adderall/
https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/cocaine-addiction/cocaine-and-adderall/#gref
https://www.alcohol.org/mixing-with/adderall/
https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/combining-adderall-xanax
https://skywoodrecovery.com/dangers-of-combining-marijuana-and-adderall/
https://www.drugrehab.org/dangers-mixing-methadone-adderall/
https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/adderall-and-alcohol
https://www.healthline.com/health/can-you-overdose-on-adderall
https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/adderall-overdose/
https://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/a18196737/adderall-overdose/
https://www.drugrehab.org/dangers-of-snorting-adderall/
https://www.thedailybeast.com/7-things-you-need-to-know-about-adderall

The Dangers of Fentanyl Patch Abuse: Know the Signs

One of the most widespread problems when it comes to addiction and overdose deaths in America is fentanyl. What is fentanyl? This substance is a synthetic opioid similar to heroin, but capable of producing much more potent effects.

A sample of fentanyl could be as much as 100 times more powerful than heroin, and the lethal dose is much smaller than that of heroin. Some drug manufacturers provide fentanyl medications to ease certain types of pain, particularly chronic pain that hasn’t responded to other treatment methods.

It’s possible to take fentanyl:

  • Orally with a pill
  • Through an edible product such as a lollipop or lozenge
  • With a transdermal patch

Unfortunately, some people have started abusing fentanyl patches because of their potency and viability compared to other forms of opioids like heroin. It’s imperative for anyone with a valid prescription for any type of fentanyl-based medication to take precautions to prevent others from using or having access to it.

Coming into contact with the sticky side of a transdermal fentanyl patch can lead to serious medical issues. Overdose is one of those risks, especially if a child or a person with little tolerance for narcotics touches the patch.

Risks of Fentanyl Exposure

How long does fentanyl stay in your system? That generally depends on the delivery system. An injected dose will be very potent and fast acting, but may not last as long as a dose taken orally.

Fentanyl patches generally release a low dose of fentanyl into the bloodstream over several days. Duragesic, the leading manufacturer of fentanyl patches in the U.S., reports its patches last for about three days before they require replacement.

Unfortunately, it is very easy to manipulate these patches for enhanced effects. Therefore, some people are abusing them in lieu of street heroin. Others simply do not realize that they can be more dangerous than street heroin because they are technically legal with a prescription.

How Do People Abuse Fentanyl Patches?

A fentanyl patch is similar to an adhesive bandage, but the underside has a gel coating that contains the fentanyl. Some people who misuse fentanyl patches will remove the gel and immediately ingest the entire dose at once. This is equivalent to consuming a three-day supply instantly. Others may apply multiple patches at once to absorb more of the drug.

Some people remove the fentanyl gel from patches and combine it with water or melt it down to inject it directly into the bloodstream. It’s also possible to chew on the patches to release the layers of fentanyl quickly; the mucous membranes of the mouth will absorb it into the bloodstream. Fentanyl is incredibly potent, and any of these methods carries a significant risk of overdosing.

When fentanyl enters the bloodstream directly or through the digestive system after a person chews on a patch, the risk of overdose increases dramatically. The body cannot process fentanyl well in these circumstances because it absorbs it too rapidly – compared to transdermal absorption.

Even used patches can still be fatal after a few days. A fentanyl patch may still contain up to 50 percent of the original amount of the drug after three days.

Signs of Fentanyl Overdose

Opioid addiction is incredibly powerful and entails some of the most severe withdrawal symptoms of any form of substance abuse. Fentanyl withdrawal can entail:

  • Hallucinations
  • Extreme drug cravings
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Several potentially fatal medical conditions

Some individuals may attempt to take more fentanyl than they can handle to stave off these symptoms, potentially opening the door to an overdose.

Some of the early signs of fentanyl overdose can include:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty breathing

Since many individuals prefer to use alone or in seclusion, there may not be anyone around to intervene in the event of an overdose.

Fatal Risks of Overdosing

A fentanyl patch may cause an overdose on its own merit, or an individual may manipulate the patch for a more potent dose and then experience an overdose. Any overdose has the potential to be fatal, and it’s imperative to seek medical treatment immediately if you or someone you know begins to display the signs of overdose.

In particular, a few very dangerous symptoms to stay vigilant for include:

  • Slowed breathing
  • Unconsciousness
  • Extreme sweating
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Muscle cramping

Falling asleep under the effects of fentanyl is also extremely dangerous, especially after taking a large or concentrated dose. The respiratory system naturally relaxes and breathing slows during sleep. Since fentanyl can easily cause respiratory depression, it’s possible for a user to fall unconscious and slip into respiratory failure without anyone else noticing.

Signs of Fentanyl Addiction

Many individuals receive prescriptions for fentanyl for legitimate medical reasons. Unfortunately, these medications are very powerful and easily habit forming.

It’s essential for anyone who takes fentanyl medications to heed the instructions from their prescribing doctors very carefully and to only take these medications exactly as directed. It’s also vital to remember that following a prescription’s directions to the letter isn’t a foolproof way of avoiding fentanyl addiction (or overdose).

A person who develops an addiction to fentanyl may start exhibiting strange behavior, and loved ones should pay close attention to the warning signs of fentanyl patch abuse. Some of the signs could include:

  • Using more than the prescribed dose.
  • Appearance of damaged or destroyed fentanyl patches around the patient’s home or in trashcans: This could indicate that someone is opening the patches to remove the gel for a stronger dose.
  • Wearing more than one fentanyl patch at a time: There is no reason to ever apply more than one patch, even for acute pain. Some people mistakenly believe they can apply a patch directly to a specific part of the body for more targeted pain relief, but this is generally not the case. Always follow the instructions that accompany any fentanyl prescription.
  • Purchasing fentanyl patches from other people who have prescriptions.
  • Displaying fear of running out of patches.
  • Declining performance at work or in school.
  • Neglecting household duties, chores and basic living needs, like making meals and cleaning clothes.

Your Role

Do you know a friend or loved one who takes a fentanyl medication for a medical issue or has taken it recently? It’s important to stay vigilant for any changes in behavior that might indicate addiction.

A person in the early stages of addiction may be in denial about his or her behavior, but it will be obvious to others who start noticing some of the telltale behaviors associated with addiction.

Intervention and Treatment for Fentanyl Patch Abuse

It’s possible to develop fentanyl addiction simply by taking one’s prescription as directed. Others can propel themselves further into addiction by taking more fentanyl medication than prescribed.

It is imperative to acknowledge the extreme dangers of fentanyl patch abuse to prevent overdose deaths. Additionally, some individuals need to confront their addiction and seek treatment before it’s too late.

Fentanyl Abuse Detox and Rehab

There is no need to wait to hit “rock bottom” before seeking addiction treatment. The sooner a person struggling with substance abuse enters rehab, the better their chances are of getting and staying sober.

Fentanyl is a powerful opioid, and its withdrawal symptoms can be severe. Medically assisted detox is the best way to start the recovery process. An intervention can help get the person to this stage if they will not go willingly.

The thought of entering rehab may be scary, but the alternative is much worse. Detox and rehab are hard at first, but going through the recovery process can potentially save your loved one’s life. Instead of risking addiction and possible death by overdose, it’s crucial to spot and address the early signs of fentanyl patch addiction, and then take appropriate action.

See Our Prescription Drug Fact Sheet

Substance Abuse Facts and Statistics: Differences Between Men and Women

Every individual who suffers from substance abuse has a different experience, but there are some general trends that apply to men and women that may help inform aspects of one’s treatment.

The best way to counteract substance abuse is with an individually tailored treatment plan, and this requires a careful examination of a patient’s past and the factors that influenced his or her addiction in the first place.

Substance Abuse Trends in Men

In general, men are more likely to abuse illicit drugs than women. However, there is a relatively equal chance for both men and women to develop substance use disorders.

Men and women also tend to display different preferences for the types of drugs they use. For example, marijuana consumption is more common among men than women, and women generally experience enhanced effects from stimulant use compared to men.

Marijuana

Among marijuana users, males have a higher tendency to have additional substance use disorders, as well as mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. Men also generally experience a greater “high” from marijuana than women do, which can lead to patterns of abuse over time.

Heroin

Men are far more likely than women to inject heroin, and most women who inject heroin on a regular basis report social pressure and pressure from a romantic partner as their main motivations for injecting. Women who inject heroin typically take smaller doses than men to reach equivalent levels of addiction.

While studies also show that women are more likely to suffer a fatal overdose in the first few years of injecting heroin, this is likely due to their higher tendency to abuse prescription painkillers in addition to heroin. Women who do not fatally overdose in the first few years of heroin abuse are more likely to survive through recovery than men.

Substance Abuse Trends in Women

Laboratory studies suggest that hormonal differences between men and women may be the reason men and women experience drugs in different ways. The physiological differences between men and women lead to different experiences with illicit drugs, and substance abuse treatment professionals can use this information to develop individualized treatment plans.

For example, a woman who uses prescription opioids to self-medicate for depression would likely benefit from mental health counseling. But, she is statistically more likely to experience a relapse during recovery.

Prescription Painkillers

Some research indicates that women are more sensitive to physical pain than men and are more likely to experience chronic pain. This leads to a trend showing higher rates of prescription opioid abuse among women.

Women also have a greater tendency to take prescription painkillers for issues such as anxiety or depression. Additionally, studies suggest they appear to be more willing to take prescription painkillers that do not belong to them.

While women are more likely to abuse prescription opioids and more likely to relapse, men generally take larger doses and represent the lion’s share of overdose-related fatalities. In 2016, nearly 10,000 men and more than 7,000 women died from prescription opioid overdoses in the U.S.

Common Factors that Influence Substance Abuse

Many studies have shed light on the most common causes of drug addiction in men and women. Environmental factors, past trauma and co-occurring mental health conditions are some of the most prevalent driving forces behind addiction for both sexes.

Influential Addiction Factors for Men

Many of the factors that influence male substance abuse are external, such as work, life events, injuries or combat-related trauma. Men generally wait longer than women before seeking help with a personal problem or medical issue. And, men generally have higher physical tolerances for drugs than women do.

Essentially, this means men who abuse illicit drugs are more likely to do so at extreme levels than women in the same amount of time. Furthermore, men are more likely to develop long-term medical conditions resulting from drug addiction than women are.

Common Factors Influencing Drug Addiction in Women

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that women are more likely to experience domestic violence than men, and these incidents can lead to several health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, obesity and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Since women are more likely than men to self-medicate for mental health issues like anxiety and depression, traumatic experiences are unfortunately a common gateway to drug addiction in women. Female substance abuse is more common among those who battle mental health conditions or who have been victims of violent or traumatic events in the past.

Suicidal Tendencies of Men and Women with Addictions

Substance Abuse Trends In Men - Reflections RehabStudies from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicate that the suicide rate among men is four times higher than among women. Men are not only more likely to attempt suicide, but they also tend to successfully complete a suicide attempt at a higher rate.

Furthermore, about 22 percent of suicide deaths in the U.S. involve alcohol, while opiates play a role in roughly 20 percent of suicides.

Suicide is the second-most common cause of death among people of ages 10 to 24. About 4 percent of American adults 18 and older report having suicidal thoughts each year. Also, about 1 million people attempt suicide in the U.S. each year.

As you may have deduced, drugs and alcohol play a major role in U.S. suicides and accidental deaths. Drug abuse also increases the likelihood of a suicide attempt succeeding.

For example, a heavily intoxicated man may be far more likely to turn a firearm on himself without taking time to think about this decision, whereas a sober person might stop and reconsider before pulling the trigger.

Benefits of Sex-Specific Addiction Treatment

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction, you may wonder why anyone would need sex-specific addiction counseling and treatment. There are many co-ed rehab programs available across the country, and some of them offer stellar services. However, it’s important to realize that the best way to approach substance abuse treatment is with an individualized plan.

Since men experience substance abuse differently than women, entering a sex-specific rehab program means that your treatment will focus on the issues and influential factors most likely to contribute to your pattern of addiction.

Men are generally more likely to use illicit drugs earlier in life than women. They are also more likely to use drugs to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder from military service or for recreational purposes. Men are also more likely to use drugs to increase productivity at work. On the other hand, women generally become addicted to drugs more quickly than men and are far more likely to self-medicate for mental health issues.

Substance abuse treatment largely centers on individual and group counseling, and co-ed treatment facilities can complicate this process. Residents of a sex-specific treatment facility won’t feel compelled to keep up appearances for the opposite sex, and they will be surrounded by like-minded individuals who share similar experiences.

Feeling comfortable with your rehab environment is a crucial component of a successful recovery, and both men and women generally report feeling more comfortable in sex-specific addiction treatment centers.

Get Our Free eBook on Sex-Specific Addiction Treatment

Long-Term Prescription Stimulant Use: What Are the Risks of ADHD Medications?

The millennial generation is the first in history to be routinely prescribed stimulant medications like Adderall, Ritalin and Concerta to treat the symptoms of ADHD. Not surprisingly, many in this generation are also suffering from issues with stimulant drug abuse. Studies show that the recreational use of ADHD medications is the second-most common form of illicit drug use among college-aged adults, just behind marijuana.

The rise in young adults taking ADHD medications is shocking. In fact, in the four-year period between 2011 and 2015, the number of American workers who tested positive for amphetamine drug use increased by 44 percent.

Because stimulant ADHD medications are prescribed by doctors, many users mistakenly believe that there is little to no danger associated with taking them long-term. In reality, however, these drugs have a powerful effect on users, and extended use should never be taken lightly. Let’s take a closer look at the effects of long-term ADHD medication use.

Long-Term Adderall Abuse and the Brain

Stimulant ADHD medications increase energy levels and focus by artificially increasing the amount of specific neurotransmitters in the brain. The primary neurotransmitters affected by Adderall, for instance, are:

  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine
  • Serotonin

Over time, the brain adjusts to these elevated levels of neurotransmitters and loses its ability to produce enough of them without the use of drugs. Habitual amphetamine users, for example, often suffer from low dopamine levels, which greatly reduces the ability to feel joy or pleasure without chemical assistance. When the user’s tolerance to the effects of stimulants increases, they often become unable to function normally without them.

Those addicted to Adderall and Adderall-like drugs experience a number of troubling psychological symptoms upon stopping use, including:

  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of motivation
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Aggression
  • Suicidal thinking

Many researchers believe that the emotional and psychological effects of long-term ADHD medication abuse are the greatest risks users face. In extreme cases, prescription stimulants have been known to trigger the onset of serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia, psychosis and bipolar disorder. Those with a preexisting mental health disorder are at an elevated risk for developing negative side effects after long-term stimulant medication use.

The Dangers of Childhood Stimulant Use

Childhood Prescription Stimulant Use - Reflections Rehab
Those who take prescription ADHD medications at a young age are at a unique risk for developing future issues with drug abuse. In addition to the effects that stimulants have on brain chemistry, they also play a powerful role in a person’s behavioral and emotional development.

Because Adderall and Ritalin help to increase energy levels and motivation, those who take these drugs during childhood often report that they never developed the ability to accomplish tasks and goals while unmedicated. While many outgrow their ADHD symptoms upon reaching adulthood, many childhood Adderall users find that they are unable to function effectively without drugs.

It is important to remember that even though ADHD medications can be used therapeutically and legally, there is always the possibility that long-term use can have serious, lifelong consequences.

Research on Long-Term Stimulant Use

Studies have suggested that the therapeutic effects of prescription ADHD medications begin to disappear when taken for longer than two years.

This research suggests that the long-term treatment of ADHD symptoms with amphetamine drugs may be ineffective. While not all health care professionals share this opinion, the growing body of research cannot be ignored.

A study published in 2017 in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry found that long-term Adderall and Ritalin use was ineffective for long-term ADHD treatment. In addition, this study found that ADHD medications may also suppress psychological development well into adulthood.

Symptoms of Stimulant Medication Abuse

There are a number of physical side effects associated with the abuse of ADHD medications. Over the long term, amphetamine abuse can lead to problems in both the heart and cardiovascular systems. The most common of these problems include hypertension (high blood pressure) and tachycardia (irregular heart rate). Although rare, amphetamine abuse can even lead to sudden cardiac arrest and death.

Other side effects of long-term Adderall abuse include:

  • Headaches
  • Constipation
  • Hyperactivity
  • Insomnia
  • Heart disease
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Weight loss
  • Tooth decay
  • Heart palpitations
  • Respiratory trouble
  • Dizziness

Recognizing ADHD Medication Abuse

Again, because doctors routinely prescribe amphetamine medications to Americans with ADHD, it can be difficult to recognize when the use of such drugs has become problematic. Recognizing the warning signs of amphetamine abuse is the first step toward correcting the problem before it’s too late.

Signs that a loved one has developed a harmful amphetamine habit include:

  • Prioritizing stimulant medication use over one’s responsibilities
  • Taking more of stimulant medication than prescribed
  • An inability to function without stimulant drugs
  • Misrepresenting one’s psychological symptoms in order to obtain ADHD medications
  • An inability to either stop or control one’s use of ADHD medications
  • Transitioning to the use of street amphetamines or methamphetamine

Overcoming Prescription Stimulant Use

Breaking an addiction to stimulant drugs is incredibly difficult, especially when the use of such drugs began in childhood. A key part of any effective drug abuse treatment program is identifying the underlying problems that led to addiction.

Those abusing drugs like Adderall and Ritalin may need help coping with their attention issues naturally. Often, these underlying issues stem from other undiagnosed psychological disorders. Therapeutic tools such as group counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can aid those struggling with addiction in achieving stronger mental health.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to prescription stimulants, know that there are people who can help. Contact a member of our team at Reflections Recovery Center today, and discover how our men’s rehabilitation program can help you retake control over your life.

Learn About the Reflections Experience

How Long-Term Alcohol Abuse Affects the Blood: Blood Disorders and Complications from Alcoholism

Alcohol abuse can have several impacts on one’s health, but some of the most harmful can happen at the microbiological level, where we can’t even see it. Studies have shown that long-term alcohol abuse impacts the blood, including red and white blood cells alike, as well as blood cell production in the bone marrow. When these problems continue for an extended period, they can have a severe negative impact on overall health.

Alcohol Affects Bone Marrow and Red Blood Cell Production

One area of the body that long-term alcohol abuse starts to affect is the bone marrow, where red blood cell precursor cells form. Vacuoles start to develop in these precursor cells, which are responsible for stimulating the development of complete red blood cells.

Often, such vacuoles are a key indicator of alcoholism in blood tests, though the complete extent of these vacuoles on red blood cell development is still unknown. However, the impact of alcohol consumption can lead to two major forms of anemia: sideroblastic and megaloblastic.

Sideroblastic Anemia

Sideroblastic anemia occurs when there are complications in the development of red blood cells related to iron and hemoglobin levels in the cell. When iron doesn’t properly incorporate into hemoglobin, the cell becomes a sideroblast, which cannot form into a proper blood cell, reducing the level of red blood cells in the body.

Alcohol abuse can interfere with hemoglobin formation, leading to this type of anemia, while abstinence from alcohol can reverse the effect.

Megaloblastic Anemia

In a similar process, a lack of folic acid and B vitamins can cause complications when precursor cells try to reproduce – and instead produce non-functional megaloblastic cells. With a reduced number of functional precursor cells, the body’s production of red and white blood cells, as well as platelets, is reduce. This leads to symptoms of anemia.

Many who struggle with alcohol abuse also have a hard time maintaining a healthy diet, which can lead to a deficiency in folic acid. Furthermore, alcohol can alter the absorption of folic acid from food, potentially exacerbating an existing deficiency.

Alcohol Leading to Red Blood Cell Disorders

Past the development of blood cells in the bone marrow, alcohol abuse can also cause many other complications in red blood cells. With issues in these cells, the human body can experience complications in providing oxygen where it’s needed.

Macrocytosis

Macrocytosis is a health complication that involves red blood cells enlargement. Unlike other conditions with enlarged red blood cells, those found in macrocytosis are uniformly round. While macrocytosis does not cause harmful effects on its own, it can be an indicator of other serious health complications aside from alcohol abuse.

Hemolytic Anemia

Alcohol abuse can lead to the development of two forms of hemolysis:

  • Stomatocyte hemolysis occurs when there are increased levels of misshapen red blood cells, which the spleen subsequently traps and destroys.
  • Spur-cell hemolysis also involves misshapen blood cells, which the spleen destroys, too. In all cases, the destroyed cells contribute to anemia.

Alcohol’s Impact on White Blood Cells

Alcohol can also impact white blood cells in the body. White blood cells are responsible for fighting off infections and other intruders in the body. Thus, negatively affected white blood cells contribute to the increased likelihood of bacterial and other infections in those struggling with alcohol abuse.

Neutrophils

Neutrophils are one type of white blood cell that helps fight off infections. In someone who does not drink large amounts of alcohol, these cells increase in number during severe bacterial infections.

Alcohol abuse influences the development of neutrophils, leading to reduced numbers in the bloodstream. Alcohol also can impact neutrophils’ ability to arrive at the scene of the infection. This makes the task of fighting off the infection difficult.

Monocytes and Macrophages

Like neutrophils, monocytes and macrophages play a major role in defending the body against any incoming infection. Alcohol can also affect the development and function of these types of cells, throwing the monocyte-macrophage system out of balance. With an impaired monocyte-macrophage system, the body is more susceptible to microorganisms before and during infections.

Alcohol Holds Back the Blood-Clotting System

The body’s blood-clotting system is responsible for closing damage to blood vessels. This process prevents excess loss of blood and helps scabs form. When the blood-clotting system doesn’t function to its full capacity, the body remains open to potential infections and serious levels of blood loss. Alcohol can affect several different parts of this system, putting people at risk.

Thrombocytopenia

Thrombocytopenia occurs when someone experiences a reduced level of platelets in the bloodstream. When it comes to clotting blood, platelets are the ones that secrete proteins, triggering the rest of the process.

With lower levels of platelets, there can be a reduced blood-clotting effect. Thrombocytopenia is an especially high-risk condition for those who regularly drink large quantities of alcohol. However, abstinence can help reverse the effects.

Thrombocytopathy

Aside from reducing the number of platelets in the bloodstream, long-term alcohol abuse can also lead to impaired function of existing platelets. This leads to many of the same difficulties as in thrombocytopenia. Those with thrombocytopathy are at risk of negative reactions to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as painkillers like ibuprofen.

Fibrinolysis Process Gets Impacted

When clotting blood, the body forms fibrin, a protein that forms the mesh that helps catch blood cells and prevents excessive blood flow outside the vascular system. Once the wound has healed, fibrinolysis occurs, breaking down the fibrin mesh and restoring regular blood flow.

While studies show mixed conclusions, ingesting large portions of alcohol may run the risk of hindering the fibrinolysis process. This would put individuals at risk for thrombosis, a condition where clots block blood cells from circulating properly.

Strokes

When there are problems in the blood-clotting and fibrinolytic systems, there is a high risk for medical consequences. Long-term alcohol abuse can contribute to these complications, thereby increasing the chances of suffering a stroke.

Two potential types of stroke are likely:

  • Hemorrhagic strokes occur when a ruptured blood vessel leads to bleeding in the brain.
  • Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel.

Alcohol’s Role in the Cardiovascular System

Aside from these specific impact alcohol has on the blood, alcohol abuse can lead to many other changes in the cardiovascular system, such as:

  • Blood pressure
  • Heart rate
  • Tone of heart muscles
  • Viscosity of the blood

In addition to increasing the risk of a stroke, these effects on the cardiovascular system can also contribute to numerous other health complications.

Preventing Alcoholic Blood Disorders

These alcoholic blood disorders can have a serious impact on your life and overall health. Fortunately, abstinence from alcohol can help to reverse many of these effects as the body begins to regulate itself. However, for those struggling with alcohol abuse and addiction, cutting oneself off from drinking can be a difficult task.

Reflections Recovery Center’s extended care inpatient programs can help men overcome their alcohol addiction, which will help reduce the risk of alcohol complications and get their lives back on track. With ongoing support from medical professionals and other men facing similar challenges, the active and structured lifestyle of Reflections Recovery Center can help move your life away from alcohol abuse and toward better health.

For more information on how alcohol impacts your health, read about the connection between alcohol and low blood sugar:

Learn About Alcohol & Hypoglcemia

Primary Source: https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh21-1/42.pdf

Alcohol and Fibromyalgia: The Links Between Alcohol Abuse and Neuropathic Chronic Pain

What Is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a long-term (chronic) condition characterized by widespread pain and chronic fatigue – the source of which is subjective, and cannot be determined by tests. Because the source of the chronic pain cannot be pinpointed, diagnosis and treatment are also fairly subjective.

Physicians don’t currently have a clear understanding of fibromyalgia’s root causes, and therefore treat the condition based on several working theories. One theory is that fibromyalgia pain is a type of neuropathic (nerve) pain.

“Fibromyalgia affects between 1% and 5% of the world’s population.”

Fibromyalgia Symptoms

  • Chronic, Widespread Pain (Particularly in “Tender Points”)
  • Chronic Fatigue, Lack of Energy and Constant Feeling of Being Tired
  • Sleep Problems (Insomnia, Hypersomnia, Inability to Fall or Stay Asleep)
  • Concentration Problems and Cognitive Impairment (Sometimes Referred to as “Fibro Fog”)
  • Anxiety, Depression and/or Panic Attacks
  • Stiffness in Joints and Muscles (Particularly in the Morning)
  • Numbness in Hands, Feet and Extremities (Tingling, Sharp Pain and “Pins and Needle” Pain)
  • Headaches and Migraines
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Problems with Urination
  • Increase in Menstrual Pain and Cramps
  • Manic or Rapidly Changing Moods

What Is Neuropathic Pain and Neuropathy?

Neuropathic pain emanates from the central nervous system itself, due to damage or dysfunctional nerve tissues.

In non-neuropathic pain, the nerve cells and tissues are working properly, and report damage or injury to surrounding muscles and tissues to the brain as pain signals.

With neuropathic pain, the injury or damage affects the nerve tissues themselves, or there is no damage at all, yet still the nerve tissue reports pain signals to the brain.

What Causes Fibromyalgia?

Without being able to pinpoint the causes and mechanisms of neuropathy and fibromyalgia pain, it is difficult to say that any one or multiple factors can cause fibromyalgia. However, physicians have pinpointed seven factors that can increase your risk and/or predisposition for fibromyalgia. Those factors include:

Genetic Predisposition to Fibromyalgia and Neuropathy

Children of fibromyalgia and neuropathy sufferers are more likely to develop symptoms themselves – suggesting that genes and genetics commonly play a role in the development of fibromyalgia.

Particularly, genetic polymorphisms (variations) in the systems regulating serotonin, dopamine, and in the catecholaminergic system are suggested risk factors, according to a study* on “Genetic Susceptibility to Fibromyalgia.”

*Park D-J, Kang J-H, Yim Y-R, et al. Exploring Genetic Susceptibility to Fibromyalgia. Chonnam Medical Journal. 2015;51(2):58-65. doi:10.4068/cmj.2015.51.2.58.

Comorbidities and Illnesses Can Increase Your Risk of Fibromyalgia

Those suffering from fibromyalgia often have one more more co-occurring conditions affecting their health – both physical and mental health conditions. Neuropathic pain is more common in those that have had traumatic physical injuries, or who have lived through traumatic events.

Diseases that are commonly seen in fibromyalgia sufferers include:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Chronic Headache/Migraines
  • Tension Headache and Stress-Related Headaches
  • Depression, Anxiety and Panic Disorders
  • Endometriosis
  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Restless Leg Syndrome

According to a Mayo Clinic study**, the following comorbidity rates were seen in fibromyalgia sufferers:

  • Chronic Joint Pain and Degenerative Arthritis was present in 88.7% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Migraines and chronic headaches were present in 62.4% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Hyperlipidemia (High Cholesterol) was present in 51.3% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Obesity was present in 48% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Hypertension was present in 43.2% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Type 2 Diabetes was present in 17.9% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) was present in 32.5% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Plantar Fasciitis was present in 24.8% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ & TMD) were present in 17.4% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Chronic Pelvic Pain issues were reported by 15.3% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Depression was present in 75.1% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Anxiety was present in 56.5% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Insomnia was present in 50.6% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Restless Leg Syndrome was present in 20.3% of fibromyalgia sufferers.

“50.5% of fibromyalgia sufferers also met the criteria for a metabolic syndrome – like diabetes.”

**Vincent A, Whipple MO, McAllister SJ, et al. A cross-sectional assessment of the prevalence of multiple chronic conditions and medication use in a sample of community-dwelling adults with fibromyalgia in Olmsted County, Minnesota. BMJ. Open 2015;5:e006681. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-006681

Emotional and Physical Abuse Leading to Fibromyalgia and Neuropathic Pain

A connection between emotional, physical and sexual abuse and fibromyalgia has long been suspected, but a 2011 study on “Emotional, physical, and sexual abuse in fibromyalgia syndrome: a systematic review with meta-analysis” found significant associations between abuse and the incidence of fibromyalgia.

Scientists theorize that past trauma – physical, mental or emotional – can actually change the way the way the brain utilizes pain signals. Some studies suggest that the body and brain create false pain signals in reaction to stressors such as disease, mental health conditions and feelings/emotions that are causing stress.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Fibromyalgia

Numerous studies in recent years link PTSD to fibromyalgia and chronic neuropathic pain. These studies found that not only could fibromyalgia pain be directly related to the presence of a trauma-related disorder, but also that fibromyalgia symptoms were much more severe in individuals who showed more severe symptoms of PTSD.

One study dealt specifically with the topic of “Fibromyalgia in Men Suffering From PTSD,” concluding that while there was a strong association between PTSD and the tender points for neuropathic pain, sufficient exercise could decrease the pain.

Lack of Exercise and Fibromyalgia

Lack of exercise is also directly related to increased neuropathic pain. Studies have shown that fibromyalgia sufferers are more likely to not exercise regularly. Also, fibromyalgia sufferers who don’t get enough exercise report more painful symptoms.

Fibromyalgia Is Most Commonly Diagnosed in Women

An astounding 91 percent of fibromyalgia diagnoses are of women. Physicians agree that women are more likely to suffer from neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia. However, they also agree that fibromyalgia in men is widely underdiagnosed.

Doctors worry that this underdiagnosis of men with fibromyalgia is indicative of misdiagnosis, meaning many men with the symptoms of fibromyalgia may have incorrect diagnoses. Studies show that neuropathic pain in men is much less severe than in women; this means that women feel the pain more intensely than men do.

If this is true, it could mean that men diagnosed with depression, anxiety, PTSD and other mental and physical disorders could be living with undiagnosed fibromyalgia.

Untreated Anxiety and Depression Can Lead to Fibromyalgia

One of the biggest concerns among mental health experts and substance abuse counselors is the theory that untreated anxiety and depression can lead to the development of fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia and neuropathy rates are much higher in populations that have at least one mental health condition. Medical professionals warn that if patients don’t receive adequate treatment for these mental health conditions, the resulting stress and effects will transcend from mental symptoms to physical symptoms – in the form of neuropathic pain.

Under this theory, if an individual does not adequately treat and deal with his or her mental health issues, the brain begins to scream for help by igniting pain signals all throughout the body. Essentially, this is the brain giving them a “zap” to try to get some relief from the symptoms of the comorbidities. This may involve underlying physical illnesses and mental health issues such as depression, anxiety or trauma.

“It is hypothesized that individuals suffering from fibromyalgia are getting the pain signals from the nervous system, but – without any visible injury or obvious reason for the pain – don’t understand how to prevent or stop the pain signals.

“Without a valid way to stop the pain, most individuals are forced to self-medicate in an attempt to numb the symptoms and chronic pain.”

Alcohol and Fibromyalgia: Why Do Fibromyalgia Sufferers Abuse Alcohol?

Self-medication is extremely common in fibromyalgia sufferers. This is understandable when you consider that standard medical care practitioners still really don’t know what causes fibromyalgia, or how to even adequately diagnose the condition with 100 percent certainty. All fibromyalgia sufferers know is that the pain is immense, relentless and that they want to feel better.

Alcohol has the ability to numb pain, a property that has been known for thousands of years. However, alcohol is not a considered a suitable long-term method for dealing with pain. It is simply too addictive, and the drawbacks of persistent use greatly outweigh any perceived benefits.

Doctors know all too well the cycle of self-medication and addiction that alcohol brings. But for everyday pain sufferers, alcohol may feel like a cure for their pain – in the beginning. Alcohol doesn’t cure anything, unfortunately, and does an even worse job at managing pain in the long term. In the end, individuals who try to self-medicate underlying physical and mental health conditions with alcohol end up becoming dependent on the chemical.

Fibromyalgia Medications Carry the Risk of Addiction

Prescription medications for dealing with fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain can offer much needed relief to sufferers. However, without a known way to “cure” or reverse the symptoms of fibro, the only option is to preserve quality of life through medication.

Medications for fibromyalgia aim to treat the various symptoms that fibro causes, including pain, cramping, anxiety, depression, insomnia and concentration/cognitive problems. These medications would inherently need to be used long term – since the symptoms will likely not go away.

Long-term use of any medication carries the risk of dependency, abuse addiction, and possibly overdose. The medications that treat fibromyalgia symptoms are infamously addictive.

Common prescription medications for fibromyalgia:

  • Sleep Aids – 33.3% of fibro patients
  • SSRIs (Antidepressants) – 28.7% of patients
  • Opioids – 22.4% of patients
  • SNRIs (Antidepressants) – 21% of patients
  • Alpha-2-Delta Ligands (Seizure and Pain Meds) – 19.4% of patients
  • Benzodiazepines (Sedatives) – 18.5% of patients
  • Tramadol (Opioid) – 15.7% of patients

Opioid painkillers are one of the riskiest types of medication that doctors commonly prescribe for the long-term management of fibromyalgia-related pain symptoms. Opioid painkillers for the management of chronic pain disorders carry a very large risk: the risk of addiction. The recent opioid epidemic has taught us the dangers of these drugs.

Benzodiazepines can treat anxiety and insomnia issues related to fibromyalgia. Though benzos were once thought to be non-addictive, widespread benzodiazepine prescribing since the 1960s has shown that not only are these drugs addictive, but also that benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms can be as deadly and dangerous as alcohol withdrawal and delirium tremens (DTs).

Mixing alcohol with fibromyalgia medications is another grave concern, though a popular practice. Estimates show that up to 15 percent of fibromyalgia sufferers mix alcohol with their medications.

How Do You Treat Drug and Alcohol Addiction in Fibromyalgia Sufferers?

Fibromyalgia sufferers already have a lot stacked up against them. Doctors aren’t sure what causes fibromyalgia, nor how it causes the symptoms that it does. Up until recently, doctors weren’t even sure if fibromyalgia was a real condition, or if those claiming neuropathic pain were being truthful.

There are currently no medical tests that can say for sure you 100 percent have fibromyalgia. And, even if you do get diagnosed as likely suffering from fibromyalgia, the only treatment is addictive medications that could bring on more symptoms and underlying issues.

What happens when, on top of all of this, you feel like the medications you are taking are starting to cause more problems, and the benefits you once received from them are waning? How can you get off the medications and/or alcohol and still adequately manage your pain? Is it possible to live pain free without fibromyalgia medications?

Though you should make lifestyle changes, you can still control fibro symptoms and pain with lower-dose medications for pain management, and through holistic treatment therapies.

”Living with fibromyalgia is all about managing how healthy and well you feel throughout your mind and body.”

By making some small changes to your health and lifestyle, you can see reduced symptoms and decreased neuropathic pain. An unhealthy body and mind invites worsening symptoms of fibromyalgia. Through diet, exercise, management of mental health conditions, and pain-management techniques, you can achieve greater control of your fibro.

While Western medicine has not yet found a cure for fibromyalgia, we do know how to bring fibromyalgia under greater control. And, with this control, you can find a greater quality of life – one that is free from self-medicating with drugs and alcohol.

Do You Have a Loved One Suffering From Fibromyalgia and Substance Abuse? Call Us to Learn How a Substance Abuse Treatment Plan Can Foster Proper Pain Management and Sobriety.

Help a Loved One Addicted to Pain Medication

Teens Using Illegal Drugs Less, But Face Other Challenges (Depression, Bullying, etc.)

Today’s teens are very much different than the ones 10 years ago, who are very much different than the ones 10 years before that. To people older than 30, you probably don’t have to make much of an argument to get them to agree with that assessment.

But if you do need to, you can point to a few statistics to prove that the behaviors among America’s current high schoolers differ than those in generations before.

With all of the talk about opioids, “Molly” and head-scratching viral movements like the Tide pod challenge, you might be inclined to think today’s teens are experimenting more and using more drugs than ever before. Recent statistics, however, don’t support this theory. But, teens are increasingly facing other kinds of challenges, which we will explain in this article.

Teen Illegal Drug Use on the Decline

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) paints a pretty extensive picture of where teens stand with drug use, mental health issues and other lifestyle factors. The survey is conducted every two years, and the 2017 results were just released this summer. The latest survey drew from nearly 150,000 students all over the country who were in grades 9 through 12.

Here are some of the findings regarding illegal drug use among high school students:

  • 14 percent of students had ever used an illegal drug such as cocaine, inhalants, heroin, meth, hallucinogens or ecstasy.
    • This is down significantly from the 22.6 percent of high school students who responded the same way in 2007.
  • Only 1.5 percent of high school students said they had ever injected a legal drug.
    • This is down from 2.0 percent in 2007 and the recent high of 2.3 percent in 2011.

Prescription Opioid Use Among Teens Is Concerning

Despite illegal drug use being down across the board, the misuse of prescription opioids such as codeine, OxyContin and Vicodin was fairly high. The survey found 14 percent of high school students had misused prescription opioids, with more females responding positively than males.

This question hadn’t been asked in the survey before, so there’s no historical data to compare it to. The question was added to the most recent survey due to the country’s problems of late with opioids and heroin.

Adolescent and Teen Mental Health Issues Still Prominent

The most recent YRBS also had some revealing findings regarding teens’ mental health:

  • 31.5 percent of high school students reported persistent feeling of sadness or hopelessness within the past year, the highest mark in the last 10 years.
    • This number has been steadily on the rise since the 26.1 percent mark in 2009.
    • There was a big disparity among the two sexes in 2017: 41.1 percent of female students reported sadness/hopelessness feelings, compared to “just” 21.4 of male students.
  • 17.2 percent of students said they seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year.
    • This number was higher than the 14.5 percent who said the same in 2007, but is similar to the results from the 2013 and 2015 surveys.
    • Significantly more female students reported considering suicide than male students – 22.1 percent to 11.9 percent.
  • And how many actually attempted suicide? 7.4 percent of students said they had tried within the last year – 9.3 percent of female students, and 5.1 percent of male students.
    • This number was higher than the 2007 mark of 6.9 percent, but lower than the 2015 mark of 8.6 percent.

Teen Bullying Statistics

Nineteen percent of high school students said they had been bullied at school within the year prior to the 2017 survey; more than 22 percent of female students responded this way, compared to 15.6 percent of male students. The overall number was actually down slightly from the 19.9 percent mark in 2009. The number has stayed relatively the same over the last eight years.

Just under 15 percent of high school students said they had been the victim of electronic bullying within the last year; more than twice as many females said so than males did. The 2017 mark was down from 16.2 percent who responded the same way in 2011, the first year the survey asked this question.

Other Interesting Findings

The CDC survey also had some interesting findings about lifestyle factors among high school students:

  • Just under 40 percent said they had ever had sex, down from 54 percent in 1991 and 48 percent in 2007.
    • In fact, the number has been steadily declining since 47.4 percent of high school students responded positively to this question in 2011.
    • Just under 10 percent in 2017 reported having four or more lifetime sexual partners, a number which has also been steadily decreasing since 2011.
  • Only 53.8 percent of students reported using a condom during their last sexual intercourse, a number which has been steadily declining since the 61.5 percent mark in 2007.

The Takeaways

To boil all of these numbers down to a few memorable takeaways, here’s what we can conclude about today’s high schoolers:

  • They are using illegal drugs less and injecting less.
  • Prescription opioid misuse is a concern.
  • More students are experiencing depression-like thoughts and symptoms.
  • More students are considering suicide or have attempted suicide than the high schoolers from 10 years ago.
  • Bullying, whether online or at school, is still a concern, although not on the rise.
  • Hopelessness/sadness, suicidal thoughts and bullying are affecting female students much more than male students.
  • Teens are having less sex, but using condoms at a lower rate when doing so.

Getting a Teen Help for Drug Abuse and Mental Illness

Dual diagnosis treatment for drug or alcohol addiction and an accompanying mental health disorder is becoming increasingly important in our country. If you have a son who is at least 18 years old, Reflections Recovery Center can help if he’s struggling with drug abuse and a potential mental disorder – such as depression or anxiety.

There’s no shame in surrendering to the care of professionals for help in turning your loved one’s life around. Contact us today to learn more about our renowned Prescott, AZ inpatient treatment program.

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