Understanding Addiction with Reflections Recovery Center

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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

Studies 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.

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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

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.

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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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Carisoprodol (Soma) Abuse and Addiction

Carisoprodol/Soma abuse and addiction is becoming more common in recent years, and this may be in response to the changes surrounding opioid abuse, addiction, availability, and dangers. Abuse of non-opioid prescription drugs have become more common because the dangers of opioid prescription drug abuse have become widely known.

Many prescription drug abusers feel that the abuse of non-opioid RX drugs are safer. However, prescription drug abuse of any kind holds many dangers, and Soma/carisoprodol can be very dangerous drugs.

What Is Carisoprodol (Soma)?

Carisoprodol is a musculoskeletal relaxer that is often used to treat painful muscular or skeletal conditions including back pain, joint pain, and severe arthritis. The most common form of carisoprodol used for medical purposes in the United States today is in pill form under the brand name “Soma.” Because of its sedative properties, it is often misused, abused, diverted from legitimate medical uses for recreational use, and is considered addictive and deadly in the event of overdoses.

Carisoprodol/Soma Side Effects:

  • Paralysis (numbness or loss of feeling in extremities).
  • Weakness, lack of motor control, uncoordinated movements, inability to stand or balance oneself.
  • Loss of consciousness, blacking out or fainting.
  • Increased heartbeat or tachycardia.
  • Seizures and convulsions, uncontrollable tremors, muscle spasms.
  • Blurred vision, loss of vision
  • Agitation/Confusion

Carisoprodol/Soma’s Potential for Abuse and Addiction

The potential for substance abuse involving Carisoprodol/Soma has been widely documented, with its abuse potential being compared to hydrocodone, oxycodone, and codeine. A 2007 study on carisoprodol abuse in Norway [New Tab Link to: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2000626/] not only proved that substance abuse from carisoprodol was highly likely, but the study helped to get the drug banned in Norway in 2008.

In the United States, Carisoprodol/Soma is legal to use with a prescription, but has been a schedule IV drug in the U.S. since January of 2012.

How Is Carisoprodol/Soma Abused? 

Carisoprodol is a skeletal/muscle relaxant that can help with back pain and other chronic pain issues by providing sedative, relaxant, and anxiolytic effects. Many soma abusers take the drug by its self in high dosages to maximize the effects felt, though carisoprodol/soma is also used for its potentiating effects when mixed with opioid narcotics.

The Dangers of Mixing Carisoprodol/Soma with Opioids

As a “potentiater,” soma/carisoprodol – when mixed with opioid drugs like codeine or hydrocodone – increases the amount of codeine/hydrocodone that is converted in the body to morphine/hydromorphine. In short, mixing soma with opioids makes the opioid effects stronger and more potent. It also dramatically increases the risk of accidental overdose and death.

The Dangers of Mixing Carisoprodol/Soma with Alcohol 

Carisoprodol is also often mixed with alcohol by recreational users, and mixing soma and alcohol – like mixing it with opioids – increases the effects of alcohol on the body. When mixed, a small dose of carisoprodol and as little as 1 drink of alcohol can have extreme effects, causing blackouts, slurred speech, complete lack of balance, and loss of consciousness.

The biggest danger of mixing soma and alcohol is the risk of overdose and possible death. The overdose symptoms caused by carisoprodol is very similar to overdose symptoms of GABAergic chemicals like alcohol, opioids, or heroin. The risk of respiratory depression is high with soma overdose, which can lead to hypoxia and death quickly.

Can You Get Addicted to Carisoprodol/Soma?

Yes, physical chemical dependence and addiction is very possible with carisoprodol. The risk of addiction and dependence to soma is based in the way the drug works in the brain, acting on the GABA receptors of the brain – just like heroin, opioids, and alcohol. Once the individual has become dependent on the drug, withdrawals can occur if they discontinue use of the drug without tapering or quit cold turkey.

Carisoprodol/Soma Withdrawal Symptoms

Again, because soma is a GABAergic drug, the symptoms of soma withdrawal are quite similar to alcohol and opioid withdrawal symptoms and include:

  • Changes in Cognitive Function, Confusion
  • Increased Anxiety
  • Increased Depression or Sadness
  • Mood Swings
  • Tremors, Shaking or Seizures
  • Agitation and Aggression (Aggressive Thoughts and Behaviors)
  • Insomnia/Sleeplessness
  • Muscle Cramps or Pains
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Increased Heart Rate, Tachycardia, or Heart Palpitations
  • New or Worsening Mental Health Conditions (Phobias, OCD, Co-Occurring Disorders)

Because so many soma abusers mix the drug with other drugs and/or alcohol, the severity of the withdrawals and the timeline for withdrawal can vary greatly. Just like alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal, carisoprodol withdrawals can be deadly in certain cases. It is very important to seek soma detox or full medically assisted drug detox when attempting to quit carisoprodol.

Carisoprodol/Soma Addiction Treatment and Recovery

Carisoprodal and opioids are very closely related, in-that they share common action mechanisms and risks for dependence, overdose and withdrawal. Not only have we seen an increase in individuals abusing soma since the opioid epidemic has arisen, but we have also seen many chronic pain sufferers that have been switched to carisoprodol from opioid medications to treat their chronic pain.

The risk of abuse, overdose and addiction to carisoprodol is very real, and those that have found themselves dependent on soma will need addiction treatment for soma dependence to treat the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of addition.

Arizona Prescription Drug Rehab 

At Reflections Recovery Center, we have become renowned for our efforts in treating prescription drug addiction in men throughout the opioid epidemic. While the majority of the country has now woken up to just how dangerous prescription opioids can be, too many are underinformed of the dangers of other prescription drug that are used to treat chronic pain conditions like severe back pain.

If you have found yourself with an addiction to soma, or if your loved one has become addicted to carisoprodol, Reflections’ men’s prescription drug detox and treatment program can help you to recover.

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Preventing Suicide in Those Addicted to Drugs and Alcohol

Did you know that this month is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month? Suicide claims more than 41,000 American lives each year, so now is as good of a time as any to learn the signs of suicidal thoughts in your loved ones and to reach out to them if they are struggling.

We will cover several of the warning signs and risk factors for suicide in this article, with a particular emphasis on the relationship between suicide and drug and alcohol use. We also want to focus on suicide risks in teenagers and young adults – demographics which are highly vulnerable to thinking about or attempting suicide.

Substance Use and Suicide

Drug and alcohol abuse can be a manifestation of depression and suicidal thoughts, but it can also exacerbate those feelings and make suicide an even bigger threat. In either case, it’s a vicious cycle.

Here are a few stats and facts to know, courtesy of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):

  • Suicide is the leading cause of death among Americans with a substance use disorder.
  • Having a co-occurring mental disorder in the mix increases the risk of self-murder even further.
  • People treated for alcohol abuse or dependence are about a 10 times greater risk of suicide than those in the general population.
  • Alcohol use is present in 30 to 40 percent of all suicides and suicide attempts.
    • Alcohol intoxication is involved in 22 percent of all deaths by suicide.
  • Opioids (heroin and prescription painkillers) are present in 20 percent of all deaths by suicide, while marijuana is present is just over 10 percent of all such deaths.

Alcohol and drug abuse tends to lower inhibitions and exacerbate feelings of depression, which partially explains why addicted individuals are at greater risk of suicide.

However, “more research is needed on the association between different drugs, drug combinations, and self-medication on suicidal behavior,” according to SAMHSA.

Mental Illness, Substance Abuse and Suicide

There’s a wide intersection between substance abuse and suicide, and another dimension is added when you consider co-occurring mental health disorders (depression, anxiety, etc.). The findings in a 2011 SAMHSA survey showed just how great the risk of suicide increases as you add a substance use disorder, and then when you add mental illness and substance abuse, into the mix.

According to the survey, the following types of individuals reported suicidal thoughts over the preceding year:

  • People with any substance use disorder in general: 11.2%
  • Those with alcohol use disorder: 10.7%
  • People with an illicit drug disorder: 16.4%
  • Those with co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorder: 30.7%

For people without any of these disorders, only 3.7 percent reported suicidal thoughts over the year prior to being surveyed.

Risk Factors for Suicide

You could be at greater risk for suicide depending on a number of ethnic, health, job, sexual orientation, environmental and a number of other circumstances.

Statistically speaking, the following circumstances make for a greater risk for suicidal behaviors:

  • American Indian or Alaska Native descent
  • Engaging in non-suicidal self-injury (such as cutting)
  • Prior attempts of suicide
  • Arduous medical condition(s)
  • Mental health and/or substance use disorders
  • LGBT orientation
  • Current or prior service in the armed forces
  • A man in middle age or elderly years (the rate of suicide in men is 4 times higher than in women in the U.S.)
  • Access to lethal means (such as a gun in the home)

If you’re worried about a family member and he or she falls into one or more of these categories, then you’ll have to be extra vigilant and supportive as he or she battles hard times and toxic thoughts.

Warning Signs of Possible Suicide Attempt

Worried that a loved one may be on the verge of suicidal behavior? Some specific warning signs to look for are if they:

  • Openly talk about wanting to die or kill himself/herself, even in a joking manner.
  • Actively look for a way to kill himself/herself.
  • Introduce drugs or alcohol to the mix, or increase their use of either.
  • Frequently act anxious, restless, agitated or reckless.
  • Sleep too much or too little.
  • Isolate himself/herself from everybody else.
  • Talk about being a burden to family members and others.
  • Mention wanting to seek revenge on someone.
  • Show frequent, extreme mood swings.

Suicide in Younger Americans

Suicide actually occurs in older Americans more than you would think. In fact, the highest rate of suicide occurred among men aged 75 years and older, at least according to SAMHSA data from 2013. In women, those between the ages of 45 and 54 were responsible for the highest suicide rate.

While older Americans are more prone to completing a suicide attempt, it’s the younger ones who battle suicidal thoughts on a more frequent basis. In 2014, the highest rate of “serious thoughts of suicide” occurred in Americans aged 18 to 25, according to SAMHSA.

And here are the numbers among high school students in 2014:

  • More than 17% had seriously considered suicide.
  • More than 13% had made a plan to take their own life.
  • And more than 8% had attempted suicide.

Suicide also happens to be the second-leading cause of death among young Americans between the ages of 15 and 24 years old. The same is true among 25- to 34-year-old Americans. The leading cause is accidents (unintentional injuries), if you’re wondering.

And if you have a child in college, you have to worry about binge drinking increasing the risk of suicide. The 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that 74 percent of students who identified as binge drinker had attempted suicide before.

Don’t Forget Drug Overdose Risks

On a related note, don’t forget the threat of a loved one overdosing by accident if he or she is battling suicidal thoughts and has taken up substance use. Your loved one may think about committing suicide and even make plans on doing it, but still a small percentage actually go through with it.

If they are using drugs or alcohol heavily during this whole process, their life may suddenly and unintentionally be taken by another means – drug overdose or alcohol poisoning.

In 2016, more than 4,100 Americans between the ages of 0 and 24 years olds lost their lives to opioid overdoses, according to Kaiser Family Foundation. The highest death toll that year was among the 35- to 44-year-old demographic: more than 9,700 fatal opioid overdoses. There were more than 63,000 drug overdose deaths in total in the U.S. in 2016.

Preventing Suicide Crises

Although suicide-prevention efforts are happening on national and local levels, we encourage you to be active on the ground level to help any loved ones that might be at risk. Here are some fairly simple steps you can take to keep a loved one safe:

  • Remove or lock up any objects in the home that can be used in a suicide attempt, such as firearms, knifes, dangerous prescription drugs, etc.
  • If they are in an immediate crisis, stay with them until further help arrives.
  • Talk openly and honestly about suicide, and ask direct questions such as, “Are you having thoughts of suicide?”
  • When they talk, listen without judging and express that you care and that they are loved.
  • Don’t argue, threaten or raise your voice.
  • Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong.
  • Ask what you can do to help, including anything you can get for them, as long as the request is reasonable.
  • If there are multiple people with the person in crisis, be sure only one person talks at a time – to avoid overwhelming the loved one.
  • Both you and the loved one should get familiar with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website and phone number.
  • If they have also been battling drug abuse, schedule an intervention and start making plans for an extended trip to rehab.

Intervention and Rehabilitation

On that last note, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program will provide your loved one with ongoing counseling that can get to the root of low self-worth and suicidal thoughts. Addressing those issues effectively also has the by-product of helping the individual stay drug free for a longer period of time.

Reflections Recovery Center can provide a professional intervention and long-term inpatient treatment help your loved one who is struggling with substance abuse and suicidal behavior. Getting a loved one into rehab as soon as possible not only helps with their suicidal tendencies, but it will remove the threat of overdose, as well, so don’t delay seeking help on their behalf.

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Men’s Only Rehab: Building Brotherhood in Recovery from Addiction

Reflections Recovery’s addiction treatment program for men has an added benefit – that many other addiction treatment programs – do not have; guests of our program build bonds between each other in their recovery, and form a brotherhood that lasts well beyond treatment and into long term recovery and sobriety.

The Reflections Recovery Center Family

Supportive Addiction Recovery Staff
It is not only our guests that form bonds during addiction treatment and recovery; the Reflections Recovery Staff, counselors and therapy providers also work closely with the men staying with us, and we quickly form bonds with each other.

Though we as addiction counselors all develop a strong relationship our guests, it is our guests themselves who form the strongest bonds with each other, creating a brotherhood. This brotherhood helps individuals to strengthen their will and want for sobriety, and really gives guests a sense of purpose – even from the first days of recovery – that helps them to carry on through treatment, into aftercare, and continues long after our guests transition back into their lives outside of treatment.

Men in Addiction Recovery Need a Sense of Purpose During Recovery: Brotherhood Gives Purpose

One of the challenges in early addiction recovery for men is for those in treatment to find their purpose, or a motivation for continued work during treatment. When men suffering with addiction to drugs and alcohol first arrive in treatment, they are in a very fragile state. Many have hit a “rock bottom” moment, where they are unsure of what the future holds for them.

Many of our guests are in a state of such a severe addiction, that they are literally faced with life or death decisions – recover or face the very real threat of death – especially with severe addiction to alcohol, opioids, and heroin.

Our guests are in a period of transition in their lives when they arrive at our Northern Arizona rehab facility, and often need a little motivation to keep them on-track with their recovery goals. Even though our addiction treatment staff welcomes our guests with open arms when they arrive, it is usually their fellow men in treatment that make them feel fully at home and comfortable.

Brotherhood In Recovery - Reflections Arizona

Building Brotherhood in Recovery Through Outdoor and Adventure Addiction Therapy

One of the forms of therapies we utilize in our men’s substance abuse programs is adventure therapy, and we participate in a lot of outdoor activities throughout treatment. For those that have spent years focusing only on keeping up with their addiction, getting fresh air and enjoying the outdoors is actually a new experience for them.

Through our outdoor sessions, wilderness hikes, mountain climbing, cliff-diving, and swimming, men in our program further strengthen their bond of brotherhood.

Men in our program support each other through not only our counseling and group therapy sessions, but throughout our outdoor therapy adventures. As friends and peers, our guests work together to find purpose and to understand how a life without drugs and alcohol can be rewarding, and worth living.

Arizona Adventure Therapy for Addiction Treatment

At Reflections Recovery Center, we regularly schedule outdoor activities for our men’s rehab program attendees that – depending on the season – can include watersports, kayaking, hiking, and more. We regularly explore the many environments Northern Arizona has to offer, including trips to the Grand Canyon, trips to the beautiful and mystical Sedona, Arizona, getaways and day trips to Flagstaff, or exploring the wilderness around Prescott and Prescott Valley.

Our guests enjoy our activities and trips in between the hard work it takes to reshape your lifestyle, and learning how to live a more positive and productive life without drugs and alcohol. The memories made during their stay at Reflections last a lifetime, and serve as a basis of how life experiences can offer happiness and comfort in their sobriety.

Why Men’s Only Rehab with a Focus on Building Bonds Works to Prevent Relapse and Strengthen Addiction Recovery

Our men’s only treatment program for substance abuse and addiction has been recognized as one of the top centers for alcohol treatment in the country, best dual diagnosis and mental health treatment facility in Arizona, and has been called the “best heroin treatment program for men” due to our unique treatment style.

Putting young men in a sterile and institutional setting and telling them what they need to do is simply not as effective as creating a program that responds to their unique needs and shows them how a life without drugs and alcohol can be more rewarding. Furthermore, our rehab alumni take with them the experiences from treatment out into the world, and embed what they have learned into their own lives.

To put it simply, our men’s only rehab program works for men young and older, and offers a better chance at a successful rehabilitation from substance abuse and addiction.

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Nicotine Addiction in Combination with Drug and Alcohol Dependence

It is quite common for someone who is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol to also be addicted to nicotine. Addiction is a constant struggle to keep a comfortable amount of a certain chemical in your bloodstream, and nicotine – especially when smoking cigarettes – is a perfect example of this struggle. The peak and decline of nicotine in the bloodstream happen very quickly, which is why smokers tend to smoke every 30 minutes or so all throughout the day, smoke before bed and smoke the first thing in the morning.

In many ways nicotine addiction is an extension of the other addictions in poly-addiction, meaning that users will often cover up withdrawal or cravings for one drug or alcohol with nicotine. Anyone who has had a multi-addiction that includes nicotine knows that it is a constant battle to quit or cut down on any one of the addictions.

Using Smoking Cessation Options in Rehab 

Nicotine Addiction in Combination with Drug and Alcohol DependenceSo which one should you quit first? Do quit smoking, drinking, and doing drugs all at the same time? Can you even fully beat drug and alcohol cravings when you are still feeling urges for nicotine and giving into those urges?

The easy answer to all these questions is that in a perfect recovery, you should quit all addictions at once – but is any addiction recovery perfect? A more realistic answer and the one that many addiction treatment programs utilize is to take nicotine addiction out of the equations as much as you can, so you can focus on the other addictions. This means getting you on smoking cessation alternative – preferably a measured dosage nicotine patch. Traditionally nicotine patches are used in a step-down format, where you would taper down the dosage of nicotine in steps.

However, the taper down combined with detox from drugs and alcohol can give your body mixed signals, and the combined withdrawals can be too much to allow you to focus on recovery efforts and learning to deal with urges. Post-acute withdrawal syndrome symptoms can also add another layer to this already complex process.

Nicotine Replacement in Addiction Recovery

Instead, many find comfort and ease by using nicotine replacement during early recovery from drugs and alcohol. This means finding the moderate dosage of nicotine (Average 7mg per day) that is time delivered, preferably through a patch. This keeps the nicotine levels consistent throughout the day, staves off nicotine withdrawals, and allows you to focus on the withdrawal symptoms of the drugs and alcohol instead.

Nicotine Addiction Facts and Statistics

Nicotine product use and addiction is in a decline right now, thanks to changing social behaviors and even new ways to quit smoking such as vape products, but there are still many that struggle with addiction to tobacco products.

  • In 2018, there are approximately 50 million Americans who are addicted to tobacco products, including cigarettes, snuff, chewing tobacco, and cigars.
  • Nicotine addiction costs in the U.S. are approximately $193 billion per year. This includes healthcare expenses and time/productivity in business that is lost to smoke breaks.
  • 90% of smokers have already started or become addicted by the time they turn 18 years of age.
  • Because the brain reward system is still developing in the teenage years, if a person starts smoking in their teens, it will be decidedly more difficult for them to quit later in life.
  • Smoking rates have been declining by about 5% each year since 2002.
  • Tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 different chemicals. 70 of these chemicals have been recognized as carcinogenic or cancer-causing, while many of the others are considered toxic or harmful to health.
  • 5% of men are smokers, while only 13.5% of women smoke.
  • 3% of smokers are living below the poverty level, while 14.3% are living at or above the poverty level.
  • In 2016 a study concluded that 20.5% of those that identify as LGBT were smokers, compared to a rate of 15.3 amongst those who identify themselves as “straight” or heterosexual.
  • A study showed that during 2007-2010, male military veterans were 5% more likely to smoke than non-veterans (29% compared to 24%).
  • 40% of men living with a mental health condition (anxiety, depression, PTSD, or more serious and debilitating mental health conditions) are smokers, while 34% of women with a mental health conditions smoke.
  • A 2016 study found that adults with disabilities had smoking rates of 21.2%. This is compared to the 14.4% seen in adults without disabilities.
  • The smoking rate in Arizona in 2015 was 14%, much lower than the national rate of 17.5%
  • A 2015 study showed that “vaping” rates are quite high in Arizona, among high school students. 27.5% of high school students admitted to using vape products at least once in the past 30 days. This is compared to the 24.1% national rate.
  • Arizona healthcare costs are estimated at 2.38 billion per year due to smoking.

In the end, the decision comes down to you and the addiction program counselors, on how to tackle a polydrug addiction that includes nicotine addiction. However, we can say that nicotine addiction is deadly, and should be addressed as soon as possible.

Smoking cessation help is offered as a part of our drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs at Reflections Recovery, and our counselors will set a plan for treating all aspects of your or a loved one’s addictions while under our care.

Our program, combined with exercise therapy, nutritional therapy, and our outdoor adventure programs help to get those in recovery physically active and involved in their health recovery. Utilizing our addiction treatment group activities, many of the men who have joined our program were able to quit smoking, quit drug and alcohol use, and find a healthy way of living that inspires them to stay healthy long term.

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Opioid and Benzodiazepine Abuse: Two Dangerous Drugs are Often Mixed

Both opioids and benzodiazepines are dangerous drugs in themselves, but a deadly cocktail is mixed when these two drugs are taken together. Even though the dangers of combining these two drugs are extreme, most recreational users do not understand just how dangerous it can be to take both drugs at the same time.

The Dangers of Opioids: Why are Heroin and Prescription Painkillers like Oxycontin so Deadly? 

The opioid addiction crisis that has swept across the United States in the past 20+ years, and increased exponentially starting in 2007, has brought more attention to the dangers of opioids, but many in the younger generation are still oblivious to the very real dangers.

Are Opioids Narcotics? 

Opioids are drugs in the narcotic class that include heroin, oxycodone, Oxycontin, Vicodin, Opium, fentanyl, and morphine. In a clinical setting, they are used to treat chronic pain, and many will receive a short-term prescription for opioids following surgeries or injuries such as broken bones. The drugs are also highly addictive, which means that long-term use should be reserved only for cases where the quality of life is severely decreased without the medication.

Opioid Overdose, Hypoxia, and Death 

What makes opioids so deadly is the fact that they suppress breathing function. The more opioids a person has in their system, the more the breathing is suppressed. In cases of overdose, the breathing suppression is so great that breathing stops completely. The body literally forgets to breathe – this leads to lack of oxygen to the brain (hypoxia), which quickly leads to brain damage and death.

In many of the cases involving opioid overdose, the individual falls asleep or loses consciousness. With the brain not able to make the conscious decision to breathe, breathing becomes shallower and shallower until the body stops breathing altogether.

How Benzodiazepines Increase the Dangers of Opioids 

Mixing and two or more drugs will always increase the dangers of those individual drugs, but when it comes to mixing benzos and opioids, the dangers are far greater. We have already established that the primary concern with opioid overdose is that the individual falls asleep or passes out – leading to the suppressed breathing function. When benzodiazepines are in the body, the likelihood of passing out or falling asleep is greatly increased.

Benzodiazepines are primarily used for their main effects: general anesthesia, muscle relaxation, drowsiness, and sleepiness. These effects may help with symptoms of anxiety or sleeplessness, but are downright dangerous for anyone experiencing suppressed breathing function.

Benzodiazepines and Opioids Prescribed Together 

In some cases, both types of drugs may be prescribed to a person. However, doctors and pharmacists will advise not to take the two together. Because so many people have overdosed on taking the two drugs in a relatively short period of time, doctors are reconsidering prescribing the two at the same time and checking prescription drug monitoring systems before prescribing.

However, in some cases, the two drugs need to be prescribed for two separate medical issues at the same time. In these cases, doctors warn about the risk of overdose and advise patients to look closely at the half-lives of both and to ensure sufficient time between dosages.

Recreationally Using Benzodiazepines and Opioids Together 

The real concern of mixing these two drugs comes to those who have not been prescribed one or the other, but are using the drugs recreationally. All you have to do is look online in forums and on social media to see the extent of the problem among today’s youth. Kids as young as 13 are regularly taking both opioids and benzodiazepines to get high. Besides the fact that both are some of the most addictive medications available, both have the very real danger of causing overdoses.

Today’s younger generation isn’t just taking a few pills here and there either, they are taking handfuls of pills and mixing them together to achieve an “even greater high.” Even worse, some that have found themselves addicted to opioids have realized that benzodiazepines are often used during medically assisted detox for opioids. The danger here is that many attempts to detox themselves from opioids by taking benzodiazepines. This should never be attempted, and detox efforts should be left to the professionals.

Can You Be Addicted to Opioids and Benzodiazepines at the Same Time

Yes, it is possible to develop an addiction to both opioids and benzodiazepines at the same time. Polydrug use like this is extremely risky, not only due to the risk of overdose, but because withdrawals from both drugs can be life-threatening. It is extremely important to get yourself or your loved one into medical detox to begin detoxing from both benzodiazepines and opioids as soon as possible.

Addiction Treatment for Opioids and Benzodiazepine Abuse

We cannot stress the dangers of opioids and benzodiazepine abuse enough. With an addiction to opioids or with an addiction to benzodiazepines, the risk of overdose and death is very high. However, if someone is mixing the two or are addicted to both, that person is a ticking time bomb. You cannot wait to get someone in this situation helps. You need to perform an intervention immediately, set a plan for recovery, and get them into detox as soon as possible.

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How Panic Disorders Affect Men: Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Substance Abuse

Hundreds of thousands of American men struggle with both substance abuse issues and panic disorder. These two mental health disorders reinforce one another, making it nearly impossible to achieve recovery on one’s own. However, by attacking both problems at once through dual diagnosis rehabilitation, men can take back control of their lives and achieve lifelong holistic health.

What Is Panic Disorder? 

How Panic Disorders Affect Men: Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Substance AbusePanic disorder is a psychological condition characterized by sudden and unexpected panic attacks. According to the DSM-5, panic attacks are defined as an abrupt onset of overwhelming feelings of fear or discomfort that can reach peak intensity within a matter of minutes. Individuals suffering from panic disorder live in constant fear of experiencing a panic attack, which often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Episodes of a panic attack in men reportedly occur at least once or twice in a lifetime during periods of intense stress. However, a full-fledged panic disorder is characterized by experiencing at least one month of constant fear or worry about suffering from a subsequent episode of extreme panic. 

It is important for men to realize that even though panic disorder is an extremely upsetting condition to live with, proper treatment and therapy can greatly reduce negative symptoms and improve one’s overall quality of life.

How Panic Disorder Relates to Anxiety Disorder 

While panic attacks are a common feature of all anxiety disorders in men, panic disorder is different in that the sufferer’s panic attacks will occur without warning or predictable triggers. It is important to remember that although panic disorders in men and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) share a number of common symptoms – including excessive fear or worry – they are in fact two separate and distinct conditions. 

It is, however, possible to suffer from both GAD and panic disorder concurrently. Many men with panic disorder also suffer from other co-occurring mental health conditions, such as depression, social phobia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Signs and Symptoms of Panic Disorder 

As previously mentioned, panic attacks usually seem to occur “out of the blue” to a panic disorder sufferer and can arise at any time, even in the middle of the night while sound asleep. And while panic attacks only rarely last for more than 30 to 60 minutes, an episode can leave men feeling worn out and fatigued for many hours after the symptoms subside.    

Although panic attacks manifest themselves differently from man to man, there are a number of common signs and symptoms, which include:

    • Sweating
    • Shaking or trembling
    • Racing heart, palpitations and high blood pressure
    • Tightness or pain in the chest
    • Feeling dizzy, lightheaded or fainting
    • Feelings of detachment or unreality
    • Numbness or tingling in the extremities
    • Nausea
    • Shortness of breath
    • An impending sense of doom
    • Abdominal cramping

Perhaps the worst side effect of panic disorder is the intense fear that another panic attack could strike at any time. This concern often leads men to avoid going out in public and, in serious cases, can even lead to the development of agoraphobia.

Panic Disorder FAQs 

How common is panic disorder?

A study published in The Lancet medical journal found that approximately 2.5 percent of people will develop a panic disorder at some point in their lifetime. 

Can I die from a panic attack?

Although the symptoms of panic attack vs. heart attack in men share a number of frightening similarities – such as shortness of breath, heart palpitations, vertigo and numbness of the extremities – panic attacks are not deadly.

How long do panic attacks last?

While the distressing symptoms of a panic attack typically reach peak intensity within 5 to 10 minutes, they generally subside within half an hour. It is extremely rare for a panic attack to last more than an hour. 

The Relationship Between Panic Disorders and Substance Abuse 

There is a robust body of evidence that suggests men who suffer from an anxiety disorder, including panic disorder, are at an elevated risk for developing other mental health disorders. One of the most common of these co-occurring disorders is issues with drug or alcohol abuse.

In fact, data from The National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions shows that it is more common for men diagnosed with an anxiety disorder to suffer from a co-occurring substance use disorder than to not.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has reported similar findings when looking at panic disorder in particular. The NIAAA’s research shows that, at a minimum, 20 percent of individuals diagnosed with panic disorder have a co-occurring substance use disorder.

Such data should come as no surprise given the fact it is incredibly common for men to turn to drugs or alcohol in an attempt at self-medicating the symptoms of a wide range of mental health disorders. It does not take long for men abusing substances for self-medication purposes to develop both a psychological and physical addiction.

When a man suffers from both mental illness and substance use disorder, the two quickly begin reinforcing each other, creating a powerful feedback loop that can be nearly impossible to escape on one’s own. 

Which Manifests First? 

Despite the findings above, it would be overly simplistic to conclude that the self-medication hypothesis explains every case of co-occurring panic attacks and substance abuse. Other studies have indicated that many cases of substance abuse arise prior to the development of panic disorder.

Regardless of the question of which disorder causes the other, there’s no mistaking that the combination of substance abuse and panic disorder creates serious problems in a man’s life.

Panic Disorder and Depressant Drugs 

Psychoactive depressant drugs, especially when abused, wreak havoc on the delicate structures of the brain. Many men suffering from an anxiety disorder experience panic attacks after drinking, which is likely the result of alcohol’s negative impact on the brain’s neurotransmitter symptoms.

Abruptly ending the consumption of depressant drugs can also exacerbate the symptoms of an individual’s panic disorder. For instance, the intense hangover and withdrawal symptoms associated with depressant substances like alcohol, benzos, and opiates can cause terrible stress in the user. Such high levels of stress are known to trigger the onset of panic attacks, especially among men already dealing with an underlying anxiety or panic disorder.   

Panic Disorder and Stimulant Drug Use 

There is currently a debate within the addiction treatment community as to whether stimulant drugs in and of themselves cause panic attacks, or if they simply worsen the symptoms of an individual’s underlying anxiety disorder. Either way, it’s no secret in the medical community that such drugs trigger feelings of panic and anxiety due to their ability to rapidly increase the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain.

Stimulant drugs commonly associated with increased levels of anxiety include:

  • Caffeine
  • MDMA (ecstasy)
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Amphetamines (Adderall, Ritalin, etc.)
  • Ephedrine

Get the Help You Need with Dual Diagnosis Treatment 

Chemical addiction and panic disorder feed off one another, making it nearly impossible to effectively address one without simultaneously addressing the other. If you struggle with both of these types of mental health disorders, your best chance of successful recovery is to undergo dual diagnosis treatment. 

At Reflections Recovery Center, we offer dual diagnosis treatment for men that is widely regarded as among the most effective program of its kind in the state of Arizona. We accept patients from across the country who are looking to take back control of their lives. So don’t wait! Reach out today and discover how our holistic approach to recovery can help you live a life free from addiction and panic disorder.

 
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What real clients have to say about Reflections Recovery Center in Arizona
Reflections provided me with the tools that got me where i am today with 14 months sober.
— Ricky A, Long Beach CA
Reflections gave me a life and an opportunity to become part of society. They challenged me and shaped me into the man I want to be.
— Dyer K, Gilbert AZ
I learned how to stay sober, found my best friends and created a new life at Reflections
— David S, Phoenix AZ

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