Tag Archives: Addiction

Understanding Compulsivity and Addiction

Often undiagnosed mental health disorders contribute to addiction or aggravate existing addiction issues. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) note, “Multiple national population surveys have found that about half of those who experience a mental illness during their lives will also experience a substance use disorder and vice versa.” With this in mind, how do mental health disorders like compulsivity and addiction relate to each other?

Compulsive behavior is a core aspect of addiction. In repeatedly returning to a substance, despite the knowledge that it is bad, people are responding to the compulsion to receive a perceived “reward”. Whatever type of high a substance provides, they hope to recreate and satisfy the compulsion. 

Unfortunately with stigma around both mental health and addiction, people are often unable to get the help they need. Further, some disorders are still misunderstood and people fail to recognize something for what it is. This is especially true for compulsive behavior. Compulsivity and addiction often go hand in hand, though compulsive behavior is itself complex and not always a sign of addiction. 

Compulsivity vs Impulsivity

Impulsive and compulsive are very similar sounding words with similar meanings. It’s understandable that a lot of people tend to mix them up. Both involve involuntary actions often with the awareness that the behavior is not positive or helpful. 

An impulsive action is more often a one-off event that is done without giving much thought to the action or potential consequences. The type of impulsive behaviors varies widely and so do the consequences of course. 

Impulsive behaviors include:

  • Expensive purchases (often well outside of a person’s budget)
  • Yelling at someone
  • Going on a spur of the moment road trip
  • Eating fast food rather than cooking at home
Impulsive behaviors may include expensive purchases, yelling at someone, going on a spur of the moment road trip, eating fast food rather than cooking

Someone impulsively buying an expense they cannot afford might suffer financially or at the least experience regret. In contrast, a person who impulsively decides to harm another person would obviously face more serious consequences.

Compulsive behavior is a repetitive behavior that someone engages in often doing so to try to ease anxiety or unease. Examples include continually checking that doors are closed and/or locked, having to count to a specific number repeatedly, or obsessively cleaning surfaces. While the consequences vary, and some actions appear harmless, they are often done despite a person wanting to stop their actions. For many this has the potential to cause serious mental distress.

More In-Depth: What is Compulsive Behavior?

There isn’t one definitive explanation for what compulsive behavior is. Like many mental health terms, this is partly due to ongoing research that helps professionals further understand and define disorders. 

To help improve understanding of compulsivity, an NIH study offers this definition, “Compulsive behavior consists of repetitive acts that are characterized by the feeling that one ‘has to’ perform them while one is aware that these acts are not in line with one’s overall goal.”

Quite often with addiction, whatever the substance or action, people are aware that their actions are not good for them. However, addiction and untreated mental health disorders make it difficult (and even impossible) for them to stop on their own. 

As mentioned above, compulsive behavior doesn’t necessarily equal addiction. A heightened fear of germs may lead to compulsive hand washing or cleaning surfaces. It is possible that many people want to ease anxieties and fears and attempt to assert control through compulsive behavior. 

many compulsive behaviors are a result of someone working to ease anxieties and fears

Many people dealing with compulsivity, whatever the behavior, often feel frustration and distress. Without appropriate help, many attempt to self-medicate and do so through substance use.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Most people are familiar with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD is an anxiety disorder with a variety of symptoms that also vary in severity for each individual. A person with full-blown OCD will have persistent symptoms in two areas: obsessions and compulsions. Many times compulsivity is a result of obsessive thoughts.

Symptoms of obsession include:

  • Aversion to germs or dirt
  • Repeated unwanted ideas (intrusive thoughts)
  • Aggressive impulses
  • Fixation on symmetry and order
  • Persistent sexual thoughts
  • Thoughts of harming oneself, or harming loved ones

Signs of compulsion include:

  • Constant checking – repeatedly making sure doors are locked, lights are off, appliances are in working order 
  • Counting and recounting everyday objects
  • Repeated hand washing
  • Obsessively arranging items to be in a specific order
  • Hoarding items already used or of little to no value

How Does Compulsivity Relate to Addiction?

To reiterate – compulsive behavior is done repeatedly despite knowledge that the behavior is not helpful and even potentially harmful. 

Most people with compulsive behavior, including full-blown OCD, experience significant mental anguish in regards to actions they want to stop. 

As with many mental health disorders, people frequently lack proper resources for help. Consequently, they often turn to substances to try to cope. Drugs (which includes alcohol) provide a rush of dopamine to the brain and many result in a feeling of euphoria. 

Once someone is at the point where the rush of dopamine starts to decrease they are often unable to stop use of whatever substance(s) they are using. It is much easier than most people realize to reach a point of substance abuse and dependency. This is especially true for legal substances like alcohol.

For someone with compulsive behaviors, the risk of continuing to abuse substances and develop an addiction is serious. Someone already struggling with controlling other behaviors will likely struggle to keep any substance use under control. 

substance abuse is commonly seen in people struggling with untreated mental health disorders

Compulsivity and Addiction: Seeking Help

At Reflections we believe strongly in treating each individual uniquely and as a whole. This means we work to understand all of the causes behind a person’s addiction. Is it genetic? Are their physical ailments they are trying to cope with? Are they trying to cope with untreated mental health disorders?

Whatever the cause, whether one cause or multiple, we are ready to help a person treat each issue for the best chance of lifelong recovery. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with compulsivity and addiction, please reach out today. Reflections Recovery Center is ready to help you or a loved one learn to manage compulsive inclinations in healthy ways while recovering from alcohol or drug abuse.

Genetic Predisposition: Is Addiction a Disease?


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

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

Genetic Predisposition and The Nature of Addiction

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

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

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

Image of a man falling into an obstacle: Addiction is considered a long-term and relapsing condition charachterized by the individual compulsively seeking and using drugs despite adverse consequences.Opioids and prescription drugs–especially if overused–can release an enormous, euphoric rush of dopamine in the brain. This release is significantly higher than the natural rewards release amounts–two to 10 times higher, in fact, depending on the drug. 

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

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

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

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

Addiction Risk Factors

Three significant conditions that raise the likelihood of drug addiction: genetic predisposition, environment, and development.There are three significant conditions in a person’s life that sharply raise the likelihood of drug addiction:   

Genetic Predisposition

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

Environment

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

Development

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

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

Addiction Symptoms

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

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

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

Disorder vs Disease: Breaking Down the Differences

Man walking alone on a road: A disease is a pathophysiological response to internal or external factors. A disorder is a disruption to regular bodily structure and function.You might’ve heard of someone struggling with an alcohol addiction as having a “substance use disorder” (SUD). You might’ve also heard alcohol addiction referred to as a disease–so which is it? 

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

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

Other characteristics of disease include the following:

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

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

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

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

Getting Help Today

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

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

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

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

Benadryl and Alcohol


While most people associate drug overdoses with intentional drug abuse, common over-the-counter drugs can still pose a risk when mixed with other substances. This includes combinations such as Benadryl and alcohol. 

What is Benadryl?

Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) is an antihistamine medication used to treat mild allergies caused by insect bites, poisonous plants (such as poison oak and ivy), pollen, and some allergic reactions to animals. It is an over-the-counter medicine (OTC). This means that it does not require a prescription and people don’t generally think of it as a dangerous drug. There have been some cases of teens abusing Benadryl in order to experience its sedative effects. However, there is no evidence suggesting it is an addictive drug. The danger with Benadryl and other common OTC drugs is that sometimes people forget that they have taken them and proceed to consume other substances. 

Benadryl and AlcoholBenadryl is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, much like alcohol. CNS depressants slow down critical brain and nerve function. This depressive effect can be heightened when mixed with other depressants. Most of the time, people do not set out to mix Benadryl and alcohol. Rather, they don’t know the combination can be dangerous or simply forget they took it before drinking. Diphenhydramine’s half-life is 3.4 to 9.2 hours. In other words, if you take 10mg of Benadryl, it will take at least 3.4 hours for that amount to reduce to 5mg in your body. 

Alcohol and Benadryl: What Are the Risks?

Unintentionally mixing of two or more drugs can cause overdoses, especially if one of them is alcohol. When people take them together intentionally, it is called polysubstance abuse. The danger with Benadryl and other similar OTC drugs is that their half-lives are quite long. It can be easy to take an appropriate dose of Benadryl and forget about it later in the day when consuming alcoholic beverages. If the Benadryl and alcohol overpower the nervous system, experiencing an overdose is possible. 

Benadryl and Alcohol

Diphenhydramine Side Effects

Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine have side effects that can become stronger when combined with alcohol. In general, mixing two or more drugs will enhance their negative effects. Some of Benadryl’s side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Stomach aches 
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth

Alcohol consumption poses an additional risk to people taking Benadryl. Some medications contain alcohol and should not be taken with antihistamines. These include laxatives and cough syrups. While mixing the two medications will not necessarily lead to overdose, it will likely cause intense discomfort and make the user feel as if they were drunk. Further, operating machinery or vehicles while mixing Benadryl with alcohol or another drug containing alcohol can lead to heavy impairment and could result in serious injury or death.

Benadryl for Sleep

Some people intentionally take Benadryl to help them fall asleep. This is due to the drowsiness the drug can cause, though doctors do not generally recommend it. While it is sometimes prescribed as a sleep aid, you should never take it for sleep without consulting a doctor or medical professional first. If you have trouble sleeping, it is best to consult a doctor who can then advise or prescribe the proper medication for the situation. 

Benadryl and Alcohol FAQ’s

Can you die when taking Benadryl and alcohol?

While mixing Benadryl and alcohol can lead to heavy sedation and an impared mental state, it is unlikely you will experience a fatal overdose from the mixture alone. The real risk lies in activities you might perform while impaired. Driving after taking Benadryl is never a good idea. When it is mixed with any amount of alcohol, it can pose serious driving risks. 

How long does Benadryl stay in your system?

Benadryl’s half life is 3 to 9 hours. This means the drug will typically leave the system within 24-48 hours. However, improper liver or kidney function can increase this window. There are no Benadryl drug tests, and employers will not look for it when testing for other substances. However, this does not mean it won’t be harmful to your health when not taken as directed.

Can a Benadryl and alcohol overdose cause shaking hands?

Alcohol consumption can cause an uncontrollable shaking, though this is not a common side effect. However, different people experience different reactions with Benadryl and alcohol, and all medications should be supervised when possible. Uncontrollable shaking can also mean an overdose, in which case you should seek medical attention immediately. An overdose commonly occurs when drug stimuli overwhelm the CNS, leading to critical organ failure. Since Benadryl and alcohol are both CNS depressants, it is possible to mix the two and experience an overdose at high enough levels. Some signs of an overdose include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Breath cessation 
  • Blue fingers or lips
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness
  • Dizziness
  • Seizures

Benadryl and Alcohol

Getting Help

Addiction can take many forms and may not be easy to recognize at first. If you are consistently taking Benadryl or alcohol in large quantities to self-medicate for any reason, it may be time to seek help. Getting professional help can ensure that you are addressing the root causes and not just managing symptoms. If you or a loved one is struggling with any form of addiction, please contact us today so that we can help you on your journey to recovery.

Addiction Severity Index


Holistic treatment is one of the most successful approaches to substance abuse disorders. While treating a drug or alcohol problem at face value can have a temporary “band aid” effect, lifetime recovery is difficult or impossible without addressing its root causes. When someone dealing with addiction and their therapist both have a clear view of the problem, they can work together to reach real solutions and prevent relapses. This is where exams like the Addiction Severity Index can help.

addiction severity index

What is the Addiction Severity Index?

The Addiction Severity Index (ASI) is a popular tool that can help provide needed context for people with substance abuse issues. Therapists, medical professionals, and treatment centers use it frequently to understand their patients better. Developed in the 1980’s, it is a 45 minute to 1 hour semi-structured interview that  assesses someone’s need for treatment. Although it can help people with a variety of non-substance abuse problems – from the struggle to keep a job to  chronic family or relationship problems – it is most useful when alcohol or psychoactive drugs are in the picture. 

The ASI can help assess:

  • How seriously an addiction is affecting someone’s life
  • The root causes of substance abuse
  • Key problem areas
  • The type and length of treatment needed
  • Whether a treatment program has been successful
  • How a person can stay sober and avoid relapses after treatment

The index is generally an interview-style conversation. If the therapist asks the questions aloud and in-person, there is a better opportunity to get full and complete answers. They can also spend more time on the most important topics and answer deeper follow-up questions when necessary. The test focuses closely on substance abuse during the past 30 days, and assigns a score based on substance type and use. It also determines how the abuse has affected the person’s life and well-being. The higher the score, the greater the need for treatment.

What Kinds of Questions Does the ASI Ask?

No one’s pathway to addiction looks exactly like anyone else’s. Alcohol and drug abuse can be triggered by genetics, family history, mental health issues, dysfunctional relationships, financial status, and a host of other reasons. Since the Addiction Severity Index is meant to sketch a comprehensive picture, the interviewer asks questions about every aspect of a person’s life. Though it is scored based on the past 30 days, the questions will also cover a person’s childhood, family and relationship history, personal beliefs, and their entire substance abuse timeline. 

The index is also specific about the types of substances a person uses, the amounts, and the frequency of abuse. It’s definitions of intoxication and addiction are fairly flexible. This allows the interviewer to get a personal understanding not only of how much a person consumes, but what their “normal” is and how they understand their own behavior. 

When Do People Take the ASI?

The Addiction Severity Index interview generally takes place at the very beginning of rehabilitation. It helps therapists and patients set down groundwork and understand the best course of action. After this, the interview should be repeated every 30 days until the end of treatment. Answering the same questions on a regular basis is a reliable way to know if someone is making progress. 

Why Does the Addiction Severity Index Matter?

The ASI is helpful in a number of ways. First, it demonstrates a rough idea of how serious an addiction is, the root cause or causes, and the appropriate treatment path. It’s also extremely helpful for therapists and treatment centers. Using one standard interview as the baseline for every case helps make for better treatment. They can make sure programs are strong and single out any areas where they might be lacking.

addiction severity index

At Reflections, the ASI and holistic treatment are an important part of what we do. Our team of medical professionals and counselors conduct full psychiatric and personal evaluations as part of the admissions process. This ensures that each of our clients is in the right program and set on track for a lifetime of health and sobriety. By combining clinical treatment and holistic therapies, we provide our clients with all the tools they need to achieve a life free from addiction. For more information on our process and programs, contact us today

Why is fentanyl so dangerous?

America has been in the midst of an opioid epidemic since early 2017 and fentanyl has been at the forefront of this public health emergency. The amount of deaths caused by fentanyl begs the question why is fentanyl so dangerous?

What is fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid which is 80-100 times more potent and powerful than morphine. It is a very effective pain reliever initially in use to treat cancer patients. When it was first discovered in the later half of the 20th century, pharmaceutical companies claimed that the drug would not be addictive. However, fast forward to 2016, where 42,000 Americans were killed by the drug. Many understood that the drug posed a major threat to public health and safety.

How does fentanyl work?

Like other opioids such as heroin, fentanyl works by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain. Opioid receptors are primarily responsible for the feelings of pain in the body, hence why it is a very effective pain killer. However, fentanyl also causes the release of dopamine. Dopamine helps encourage the repetition of behavior which we find appealing, such as eating, drinking or in this case, doing drugs. Fentanyl also creates a euphoric high which comes from the immense release of dopamine and pain-killing characteristics of the drug.

Fentanyl can also cause a variety of unpleasant side-effects such as:

  • Drowsiness 
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia 
  • Heachaches 
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite

More serious side effects include:

  • Breathing problems (shallow, raspy or no breathing)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Physical dependence and addiction

Fentanyl vs morphine

Fentanyl and morphine are chemically similar and are both opioids with effective pain relief abilities. The difference between the two and between fentanyl and other opioids is the strength of the drug. For example, codeine is a relatively weak opioid in comparison to morphine. Heroin is about two to five times stronger than morphine and fentanyl is approximately 80-100 times stronger than morphine. Not much else is stronger than fentanyl except for carfentanil which is an additional 100 times stronger than fentanyl and is typically an elephant tranquilizer. 

Fentanyl is categorized as a schedule II drug by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) which means it has some potential for medical use but also has addictive qualities. 

fentanyl

Why is fentanyl so dangerous?

Fentanyl is a highly addictive substance. It can cause extreme physical and psychological dependence which can make it impossible to live without. While most people understand that it is dangerous, they may not understand why or how it is capable of killing. Opioids are central nervous system depressants similar to alcohol. It slows brain and nerve function which in turn can slow down critical organ function such as the heart and lungs. An overdose is the body’s adverse reaction to an overwhelming stimulus such as taking too much of a drug. The most common cause of death with fentanyl is a fatal overdose where the CNS becomes overwhelmed and the individual’s lungs stop functioning correctly. 

During the height of the opioid epidemic, drug dealers were lacing marijuana and cocaine with fentanyl without anyone knowing which caused a massive surge in fatal overdoses. Even a very small quantity of fentanyl laced in marijuana or cocaine can cause someone who has never had the drug before to experience an overdose. This is because our bodies build a tolerance or resistance to drugs and as time and usage increases, so will the dosage. 

fentanyl opioid overdoses

Fentanyl and alcohol

Mixing substance is polysubstance abuse and greatly increases the chance of experiencing a fatal overdose. In most polysubstance use cases, the secondary drug of choice is alcohol. Mixing alcohol and fentanyl can be extremely dangerous as they are both strong central nervous system depressants and the combined enhanced effects of the two drugs can overwhelm the body’s critical organs. The overwhelming depressant effects can cause breathing to completely stop and prevent oxygen from being circulated around the body. Even if the overdose does not become fatal, it can cause permanent brain and organ damage. 

How long does fentanyl stay in your system?

Fentanyl has a half-life of 8-10 hours which means it will take 8-10 hours for the initially ingested amount of fentanyl to reduce by 50%. In other words it will take 8-10 hours for 10mg to effectively reduce to 5mg in your body. While the half-life is only 8-10 hours, fentanyl can be detected in the body via blood, urine and hair tests much longer after that. 

why is fentanyl so dangerous

Treatment

Why is fentanyl so dangerous? It is a highly addictive and powerful drug. Very small amounts are frequently in other drugs now and increase risk of overdose and death. Fentanyl addiction is difficult to overcome alone, if not entirely impossible for most. Withdrawal symptoms are severe and require professional treatement.

Most addiction is the result of mental health issues or vice versa. This is a co-occurring disorder. With co-occurring disorders, it is important that both the addiction and mental health issue be treated. Whether someone is coping with mental health and addiction, or just one, working with a professional will ensure that you receive the proper treatment you deserve. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact us today.

Meth Overdose

In late 2019, methamphetamine became the largest contributor of overdose deaths in the United States, slowly passing fentanyl as the center of America’s drug epidemic. In 2017 alone, an estimated 1.6 million people in the United States had reported using meth in the past year and a further 964,000 people had a methamphetamine use disorder. The risk of meth overdose, which can have lasting health effects or even potentially result in death, is serious. Any meth use should be taken seriously as soon as possible.

meth overdose

What is meth?

Methamphetamine is a white crystal-like substance which can be snorted, smoked or injected into the users bloodstream. When taken, the user will experience a powerful euphoric high which can also bring about feelings of confidence, pleasure and make the user feel energized. It’s euphoric properties is one of its more enticing effects which many users begin to crave. Some describe it to be emotionally numbing, therefore allowing them to escape painful emotions and past experiences.

meth overdose

However, meth is also incredibly dangerous due to its high potential for abuse and apparent risk of overdosing. The Drug Enforcement Agency classifies meth as a Schedule II drug which “are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.” Meth users will find that their bodies begin to develop a tolerance to the drug as soon as after their first use. For most, the first use is the most powerful and impactful experience. Subsequent uses of the drug at the same dose begins to feel weaker and weaker over time. Therefore, meth users will continuously increase their dosage in attempts to recreate their first high. However, this often leads to overdoses, as at a certain point your body can no longer handle the high doses.

What causes a meth overdose?

An overdose is the body’s negative reaction to a drug or outside substance. In most cases, this is caused by taking too much of a drug, either on accident or purposefully. Not all overdoses will be fatal, however, all overdoses can become fatal. According to the University of Arizona’s Methamphetamine and other illicit drug education (MethOIDE) journal, the most common cause of death during a meth overdose is multiple organ failure similar to heat stroke. In rare cases, death can also occur from metal poisoning or contamination from illicitly produced, impure meth. Some signs of a meth overdose include:

  • Chest pain
  • Arrhythmias
  • Hypertension or Hypotension
  • Difficult or labored breathing (Dyspnea)
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Rapid or slow heartbeat (tachycardia or bradycardia)
  • Hyperthermia
  • Sweating

While these symptoms are not unique to meth overdoses, sweating profusely is. It is possible to recover from a meth overdose, however, the likelihood of surviving is highly dependent on how soon the individual receives medical attention. If you, someone you know or a stranger is exhibiting the above symptoms, call emergency services immediately. However, even with the proper medical attention, an overdose can cause lifelong health problems.

How long does meth stay in your system?

Meth is mostly unaffected by your body’s metabolism, unlike cocaine. Therefore, its effects can last from 8 to even 24 hours in extreme cases. This does depend on other factors such as how the drug was taken (orally, injected, snorted etc), the overall health of the individual and dosage. Meth has a half-life of around 10-12 hours, which means it takes approximately 10 hours for the initially ingested drug dose to reduce to half its size (i.e. if you took 100mg, 10 hours later, that would effectively be 50mg in your body). However, its detection rates vary depending on the type of test administered and amphetamine, a metabolite of meth may be detectable even longer past the ingestion period.

meth overdose

Meth Withdrawal

Meth withdrawals begin immediately after someone stops using meth and is highly uncomfortable and with the potential to last weeks. The duration and intensity of the withdrawal period does depend on how long the individual has been using the drug. Generally, those with a longer history of meth abuse will experience more intense withdrawals. Avoiding withdrawals is one of the primary reasons individuals will continue to use meth.

There are two distinct phases of meth withdrawal. The first phase occurs during the first 24 hours after last taking the drug and will include symptoms such as fatigue, increased appetite, anxiety and depression. The second phase will usually last 2 to 3 weeks and usually cause intense cravings for the drug and severe depression. In extreme cases, individuals who have an extensive history of abusing the drug may experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) which can essentially extend the withdrawal symptoms up to 6 months or more.

Treatment

Meth is a highly addictive drug. Even just one use can create an immediate desire for more and spiral out of control. It is one of the most dangerous drugs Americans have ever been faced with. However, recovery is absolutely possible. Given the complex nature of the recovery process and withdrawal symptoms, we recommend that you have a plan in place and work with a professional who can guide you during your path to recovery. If you or a loved one is struggling with meth abuse, please contact us today so that we can begin your road to lifetime recovery, together.

Trazodone High


Trazodone is a common antidepressant. It isn’t popular as a recreational drug, and drug tests don’t often check for it. Nevertheless, like any substance the potential for abuse exists. Furthermore, abusing it can still lead to serious dependence and addiction.

What is Trazodone?

Trazodone AddictionTrazodone is a prescription medication which helps treat patients with depression. Designed to boost the brain’s Serotonin levels and change a person’s mood, the drug prevents serotonin from absorbing back into the brain’s neurons. This creates an abundance of the chemical. Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) is a naturally occurring chemical in the brain. Commonly referred to as the “happy chemical,” it promotes feelings of well-being and happiness.  Trazodone has proven as an effective antidepressant, as well as a mood and anxiety regulator. 

However, the idea of a drug giving you the “happy chemical” in order to make you feel happy is misleading. Trazodone does not make you feel naturally happy, as you would when seeing a loved one or doing something you enjoy. Instead, it creates a sedative effect to provide relief. Rather than making you feel happy, it works to calm you down. This is not necessarily the same as a euphoric high one might experience with other drugs, such as Marijuana or opioids. Rather, a Trazodone high is similar to a benzodiazepine high, though the effect is not as strong. Even though it is not a commonly abused drug, its calming and sedative effects can still be addictive. 

Addiction

Trazodone is not usually sold illegally. Nor is it considered to be a controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Typically, Trazodone abuse begins when someone takes too much of their prescription – or takes it for too long. Regular Trazodone use will cause the body to develop a tolerance. Therefore, in order to feel the same calming effects, individuals sometimes take progressively higher doses. An individual who can no longer feel the effects may also move on to stronger and more deadly drugs – such as Xanax or opioids – in order to achieve a high.

Some people enjoy  the Trazodone high because it makes them forget their current situation and detach from life. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that substance use disorders and mental disorders are co-related and usually go hand in hand. This can be especially important to consider when looking at the kinds of patients who take Trazodone. 

Trazodone High

Trazodone Side Effects

Even when taken for the appropriate reasons and at the prescribed dosage, Trazodone can have negative side effects. These include:

  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Digestive problems
  • Muscle aches
  • Dry mouth or eyes
  • Numbness or tingling sensation
  • Constipation
  • Nervousness or confusion
  • Weakness or fatigue

More severe side effects can include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Seizures 
  • Labored breathing
  • Fainting

How Long Does Trazodone Stay In Your System?

Trazodone’s half-life is between five and nine hours. This means that it takes approximately this amount of time for the original ingested dosage to reduce to half of its size. Therefore, it takes approximately 42 hours before the drug completely leaves your system. This does not mean the effects will last 42 hours.  Nor does it mean that all traces of the drug will be gone. However, Trazodone drug testing is very uncommon.

Trazodone High

Overdose

Trazodone overdose, while not common, is still very possible. Most overdoses occur when individuals simply take too much, thinking that a higher dose will help alleviate their depressed thoughts or anxiety. It can also be dangerous in combination with other central nervous system depressants, such as alcohol. CNS depressants can enhance the drug’s effects and lead to overdose by slowing critical brain and organ functions, such as breathing. 

A lethal dose is unlikely, but not impossible. One medical case study found that fatal arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) can occur during a Trazodone overdose. Therefore, always call emergency medical services if you or someone you know shows overdose symptoms.

Treatment for Trazodone Addiction

Substance use disorders and mental health problems often go hand in hand. This is especially true for Trazodone, since it is prescribed to individuals with depression or anxiety. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, seek professional treatment. A professional will be able to help diagnose the root cause rather than just treating the symptoms. Contact us today for help on your path to recovery.

ETOH Abuse

ETOH is the chemical abbreviation for ethyl alcohol, and is usually synonymous with alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is the most abused drug in the world. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 86.3% of Americans over the age of 18 have reported consuming alcohol at some point in their life. A further 26.45% of Americans engaged in binge drinking in the past month. Given the popularity of alcohol, it is not surprising how prevalent ETOH abuse is.

What is ETOH?

ETOH, or ethanol, is the main substance found in alcohol. ETOH is responsible for any alcoholic beverage’s intoxicating effects. Ethanol is able to move through your body quickly. It passes through your bloodstream and heart, eventually reaching the brain where it begins to depress the central nervous system. Here, the feel-good chemical dopamine is released and begins to attach to nerve receptors. This is one of the reasons that alcohol can be so addictive. Your body craves things that make you feel good in order to get you to repeat certain behaviors. Dopamine is released during activities such as eating, sex, or taking certain drugs.

The brain slows down when ethanol binds to glutamate, a neurotransmitter responsible for exciting neurons. By binding to the glutamate, it can no longer become active and therefore slows brain function down. Ethanol also activates the gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), which in turn makes you feel sleepy and calm. 

Some of the most common types of alcoholic beverages include beer, wine, and spirits. The “proof” is the standard for measuring a drink’s strenth. The United States’ preferred measuring system, the proof is double the alcohol by volume (ABV) in a drink. Whiskey, for example, is 50% alcohol by volume, and therefore 100 proof. Some beverages have such a high alcohol content (such as Everclear, which is 95% ABV, or 190 proof) that certain states restrict them.

ETOH Abuse

Why does alcohol make you drunk?

Your liver is primarily responsible for breaking down the ethanol alcohol as it enters the body. However, most livers can only process so much alcohol at a time (around one ounce of liquor per hour). Once it reaches a certain point, the liver cannot process any more alcohol. The alcohol then proceeds into the bloodstream, where it creates an intoxicating effect.

While proof or ABV plays a big role intoxication levels, many other factors can make a difference. These include age, gender, body composition, and drinking history. For example, a person with a low body fat percentage will feel alcohol’s effects more quickly than someone with more body fat. Additionally, an individual with a longer history of drinking can develop a “tolerance.” This means they will feel less than someone who has never had a drink before.

ETOH Abuse

 ETOH abuse

Long-term ETOH abuse can cause severe damage to your organs and take a toll on the body and mind. Some long-term effects of ETOH abuse include:

  • Depression
  • Brain damage
  • Liver failure/disease 
  • Pancreatitis 
  • Hypertension
  • Increased risk for cancer

Another component of alcohol abuse is the increased likelihood of engaging in dangerous or reckless behavior. In the U.S. alone, drunk drivers cause approximately 1 in 3 car accidents in the United States. (These collisions kill 30 people every day.) While moderate drinking is usually safe, binge drinking or long-term dependent drinking can increase your chances of death.

How long does alcohol stay in your system?

ETOH Abuse

Age, gender and body composition all help determine how long alcohol’s effects will last. It can usually be detected in the body for some time after the effects wear off.

Treatment

Another component of alcohol abuse is mental health. Most alcohol treatment groups and centers spend a great deal of time treating mental health issues. Mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety are often a major reason why people start drinking. While the problem is difficult, it is not impossible to overcome. As with many addictions, seeking professional help gives you the best chance of reaching lifetime recovery. Instead of just managing substance abuse symptoms, an addiction specialist will try to diagnose and treat the root cause. It is also important to have close circles of support, such as AA groups, to encourage sobriety. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, please contact us today.

Zombie Drug

The term ‘zombie drug’ is not one which strikes much familiarity with most people. In fact, even Google has very little to offer in terms of answers and the ones you do find online may be very conflicting. However, this so-called ‘zombie drug’ refers to an extremely potent and dangerous drug.

What is the Zombie Drug?

The internet has some conflicting views of what zombie drug refers to. So in order to clear the water, here is what we found:

Zombie drug refers to two different things; Desomorphine, a much more potent version of the opioid morphine or alpha-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone

Desomorphine is eight to ten times more potent than regular morphine. It was used in the 1980’s to treat severe pain. However over time it was phased out due to the negative side effects such as severe respiratory depression and urinary retention, outweighing any of the potential benefits it had. Its illicit production, commonly referred to as ‘krokodil’ is where it got its ‘zombie drug’ moniker from. The impurities found in krokodil often contained deadly substances such as battery acid and gasoline. They often rot the skin around the injection point, thus making it known as the zombie drug.

However, when referring to the zombie drug, it is more commonly associated with alpha-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone, also known as a-PVP or ‘Flakka.’ a-PVP is a synthetic stimulant of cathinone, a drug similar to other amphetamines such as methamphetamine, and can be synthesized into what is commonly known as ‘bath salts.’ 

zombie drug

What is Flakka?

Flakka is the street name for a-PVP and has some dangerous and frightening effects when consumed. It is one of the many ingredients in bath salts and given its close association with amphetamines, it has many of the same effects. There is very little research around its effects, toxicology or physiological impacts adding to its danger. 

When examining case studies or examples of expected behavior, you will encounter some very strange stories. According to Don Maines, a drug treatment counsellor, Flakka “[rewires] the brain chemistry” and those who take it “have no control over their thoughts.” The drug is oddly connected with cannibalistic rages where individuals would run around with no apparent control over their actions, chewing the faces off of random bystanders. Even the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) considers the drug as “meth on steroids” and has it categorized as a Schedule I drug.

zombie drug

The drug is very cheap and usually manufactured and shipped from regions in China, however there have been cases of homemade flakka entering the market in the U.S. The drug’s popularity is rising as it is very cheap and it has similar effects to meth when taken at the appropriate dose. Now, taking flakka does not turn you into a cannibal, even though there have been isolated cases where aggressive cannibalistic behavior has been reported. It does, however, cause very erratic behavior and is very addictive.

What are the effects of Flakka?

Aside from the slight chance you will have cannibalistic tendencies, flakka has similar effects to other amphetamines such as methamphetamine. Some effects of flakka include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusional behavior
  • Bizarre behavior
  • Paranoia 
  • Elevation in heart rate (it is a central nervous system stimulant, just like meth which can help explain the erratic behavior associated with its use)
  • Extreme agitation
  • Jerky muscle movements
  • Hyperstimulation

Flakka can cause overdoses and even death. Even if an individual does not take a lethal dose of flakka, the subsequent behavioral changes can cause them to do things they would not normally do or engage in extremely dangerous behavior. 

Given that there is a lack of scientific evidence of the effects of flakka, it may help to look at amphetamines or even bath salts to provide an insight into the dangers of the zombie drug.

What are amphetamines?

An amphetamine is a highly addictive central nervous system stimulant which causes an increase in brain and nerve activity. When taken at the right dose, it can cause powerful feelings of euphoria. People commonly abuse amphetamines drugs and this includes adderall and methamphetamine. The effects of amphetamines includes:

  • Paranoia and anxiety 
  • Visual, auditory and tactile hallucinations
  • Increased heart rate
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia 
  • Low appetite
  • Depression and fatigue 
  • Sleep depression
  • High body temperature
  • Increased blood pressure 
  • Involuntary muscle control
zombie drug

The effects one will experience while taking amphetamines can have very similar effects to taking flakkas. However, there still needs to be more research done on the effects it has on the body- one point of consensus is that flakkas is a highly addictive, very dangerous drug. 

Treatment

Given the dangerous nature of flakka, it can be hard to understand why anyone would choose to use the drug. Unfortunately, flakkas are one of the cheapest highs available, with the average ‘hit’ cost at $3-$5, whereas a gram of cocaine is often $80 or more. The duration of the high also lasts longer than most drugs lasting around 5 hours. There are currently no medications to treat flakka addiction, however, mental health approaches are helpful to reduce dependency. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact us today.

Recovery for Life

Addiction is one of those words that is often not taken seriously as kids. Most schools had some anti-drug programs with the aim to prevent youth from trying drugs. Further, a lot of us as kids would always say, “not me, I’d never do drugs” – let alone become addicted. Youth drug intervention programs focus on avoiding peer pressure and bad influences. Rarely do they touch on the underlying issues people face which may pave the way for drug use. For some people, it was never as easy as saying “no”- and we understand that. Recovery for life is the goal, even with the possibility and likelihood of relapse.

What are the stages of addiction?

Addiction to drugs is a complicated beast. Drug use is oftentimes voluntary at first. It is the subsequent uses and desires caused by the drug which can lead to addiction. 

Drugs make us feel good. A lot of drugs make us feel good by providing an euphoric high (such as marijuana and opioids). Alternatively, other drugs make us hallucinate which can cause a dissociative feeling of detachment from one’s mind. That is, unfortunately, the harsh truth about them. If they didn’t, substance use disorders would be less of a problem. So why is something that makes us feel good, so bad for us?

Drug use follows a pretty basic progression which can be applied in a very general sense to most drugs. Upon first use, the user will feel an immense rush of chemically induced emotions. This is something they perceive as either good or bad. Good responses will elicit further use, as your mind essentially says “I want more of whatever made me feel like that.” This also applies to other addictions such as food or sex. Our minds and bodies develop a mental connection to feeling good and whatever the catalyst may be. The challenge with preventing the first use happening is when it is through legal means such as an opioid prescription after surgery. Just because it was legally obtained and used to treat a medical issue, does not diminish its effects on the mind.

Different Stages of Addiction

Regular use begins when the user decides to make his or her drug use more predictable. For some, it may be a weekend/party vice that they partake in. For others, it may be drinking after getting home from work. As it begins to settle into a more predictable pattern, the drug becomes more important in their lives. 

Risky use is the stage where people become comfortable enough with the drug that they are willing to take risks that they otherwise wouldn’t, had they been sober. This includes drinking while driving or high. At this point, the user’s behavior is likely affecting their work and family life as they begin to feel more dependent on the drug. Dependence will eventually lead to developing a tolerance.

Another way of looking at it is that your body begins to adapt to the drug in order to lessen its effects because to our immune system, a drug is still a foreign object and your body would much rather be in its natural state of homeostasis. A tolerance will diminish the effect of the drug on the body, which in turn will cause you to take more the drug in order to actually feel the effects. Not only does this increase your dependence on the drug, but it can also cause an overdose if the dose reaches an unsafe level.

recovery for life

How does Reflections approach recovery?

Reflections Recovery Center uses a holistic approach to treatment. While we could simply treat the symptoms, it would do no good in the long run. Recovery is a lifetime goal with no expiration date. Therefore, our approach focuses on the mind, body, and soul, in addition to treating the withdrawal symptoms. Hopefully, with enough guidance, our patients will be able to take their lifetime recovery and sobriety into their own hands and resume living a healthy, independent life. 

Some of the tools we use to develop the mind and body include adventure therapy, yoga, Reiki, team sports and even help our clients develop life skills such as cooking, interview prep, and communication skills. 

substance use disorder

What is recovery for life?

Addiction is classified as a chronic disease. This places it in the same category as other chronic illnesses such as type II diabetes and cancer. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “drug addiction shares many features with other chronic illnesses, including a tendency to run in families (heritability), an onset and course that is influenced by environmental conditions and behavior, and the ability to respond to appropriate treatment, which may include long-term lifestyle modification.”

recovery for life

Addiction also has similar relapse rates as cancer and type II diabetes. No one chooses to become an addict. Just like no one chooses to have cancer which is why it is important to look at recovery for life as the only goal. Simply managing the symptoms will open the door for relapse. This is why Reflections places such a heavy emphasis on holistic treatment and developing a relapse prevention plan. Going to rehab takes time and money, therefore, it makes no sense to try and simply manage the symptoms every time they arise or if you relapse. 

Treatment

Addiction is a complex issue. Reaching a lifetime of recovery and sobriety requires hard work, dedication and the attention of a trained professional. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact us today.