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Xanax and Alcohol Mixed

Alcohol and Xanax (also known as Alprazolam) are both substances that are legal. They are also both substances that are widely available and commonly abused. This can make it difficult to recognize any issues. In regard to alcohol and Xanax, mixing the two can be incredibly risky even without a severe addiction to either. In moderation, alcohol does not cause severe damage every time it is consumed. Xanax is a controlled substance, that medical professionals issue to often help with anxiety disorders or panic attacks.

However, it is possible for them to both easily become an abused substance. Alcohol and Xanax can both have negative side effects. Mixing them can magnify what each substance does and cause greater harm. Combined alcohol and Xanax use increases risk for overdose, something many people may not realize.* To understand this better, it can help to know how each substance affects people and what happens they are mixed.

What is Xanax and what does Xanax do?

Xanax is the brand name for Alprazolam, which is a short-acting benzodiazepine often used to treat anxiety, panic attacks, or even nausea from chemotherapy. It is the most commonly prescribed psychiatric drug in the United States and often frequently abused. Like other legal drugs, there are counterfeit pills that can be found on the black market. While they may be similar, they are often cut with other substances and can cause significant harm. From McGill University, “GABA is a chemical messenger that is widely distributed in the brain. GABA’s natural function is to reduce the activity of the neurons to which it binds.”* Neurons can become overexcited, which can lead to anxiety. Benzodiazepines, like Xanax, work to enhance the actions of GABA, which depresses the over-excited central nervous system, and provide a sense of calm.

Clearly, when done legally and under medical supervision, Xanax is meant to be helpful and it has helped people. However, like any medication, it can have adverse side effects. Symptoms will vary for different people and will range in severity. Some common side effects can include: memory or concentration problems, depression, fatigue, suicidal ideation, or trouble breathing. Withdrawal from Xanax can be severe, and should be done under the supervision of a medical professional. Xanax is a short-acting drug that processes quickly and leaves the body quickly. This leaves you at a higher risk for withdrawal, since your body has less time to adapt to working without the drug.* Listing these symptoms is not a scare-tactic, but rather a way to convey issues that can arise. Further, it is helpful to understand the side effects to then understand how mixing alcohol will interact with Xanax.

What is alcohol and how does it affect us?

Simply put, alcohol is an organic compound; it is alcohol ethanol found in alcoholic beverages, which occurs by fermenting sugar with yeast. The alcohol humans drink acts as a suppressant to the central nervous system, similar to Xanax. It can boost one’s mood and increase their inclination to be social, while calming any over-excited nerves that usually make a person anxious. Many people drink for just these reasons. The negative aspects for alcohol, which become worse the more one drinks, are numerous, but the severity will affect individuals differently. Short-term effects might include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, anxiety, and fatigue. Alcohol can be addictive, which can lead to dependence and withdrawal. Long-term effects include liver damage, neurological damage, and various forms of cancer. Furthermore, the abuse of and addiction to alcohol can also lead to significant problems in one’s social and professional life.

Despite many of the negative aspects listed above, alcohol is one of the most common recreational substances. It has been around for thousands of years and it’s prevalence makes it widely accepted. In an article from National Geographic, archaeologist Patrick McGovern said, “Alcohol is central to human culture and biology because we were probably drinking fermented beverages from the beginning.” What is more, in modern times alcohol is marketed as a way to more fun and a better life. Even some of the adverse effects of alcohol, primarily concerning behavior during drinking and hangovers, are seen as humorous. This attitude combined with the popularity of alcohol makes it hard to recognize when it becomes a problem. Or that it can even become a problem at all. With that in mind, it is understandable how many people can then miss the dangers of drinking combined with something like Xanax.

Alcohol and Xanax Mixed

Alcohol and Xanax both suppress the central nervous system and mixing the two can intensify the actions of both substances. From an article published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), alcohol enhances the effects of Xanax which includes drowsiness, sedation, and impaired motor skills.* As both substances are sedatives, they significantly impair breathing when combined. As more alcohol is consumed, the areas of the brain that regulate “basic life-support functions—such as breathing, heart rate, and temperature control—begin to shut down.”* Consumption of alcohol and Xanax at any amount can be dangerous, but the risk of overdose becomes even more dangerous the more alcohol is consumed. Alcohol impairs one’s ability to think clearly, which makes recognizing symptoms of overdose even more difficult.

When taking Xanax, there is a warning not to consume alcohol. However, many people may either disregard this or not realize the severity of mixing the two substances. When dealing with addiction, someone might not be in a place to consider or assess the risks at all. What is more, with addiction, it is likely that someone could turn to using unregulated Xanax. This increases the risks with unknown substances added.

Treatment

It is possible, and often likely, that someone dealing with addiction will be facing issues with more than one substance. With alcohol and Xanax, it is tough to recognize that you or a loved one might have a problem.

At Reflections Recovery Center, we offer a detox center with a 5-day program. Withdrawal from alcohol and Xanax can both be dangerous to do alone. Our highly qualified team of medical professionals will work with clients to ensure a safe detox process. We also offer inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, with many resources available to create a unique and thorough treatment plan. Reflections can also treat co-occurring disorders, providing essential treatment for mental disorders and substance abuse disorders. Our goal is to help each client through every step of the process and to provide tools to maintain sobriety long after treatment. Alcohol and Xanax can be an incredibly dangerous combination. If you or a loved may be struggling with this, contact us today for help.

*Resources:
Understanding the Dangers of Alcohol Overdose – NIH
Side Effects of Benziodiazepines – Mind.org
Were Humans Built to Drink Alcohol? – National Geographic
Alcohol and Medication Interactions – NIH

How Long Do Alcohol Cravings Last During Alcohol Addiction Recovery?


Those that are recovering from alcohol use disorders, especially those trying to quit alcohol on your own, often have a lot of questions about the alcohol withdrawal symptoms that occur when first stopping alcohol use. First of all, it is important to know and understand the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, as well as the alcohol withdrawal timelines.

Alcohol

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

Though the exact timeline depends on how much alcohol you usually drink, how long you have been drinking, your unique health conditions, and the patterns of your alcohol use; generally the timeline for alcohol withdrawal seen in patients with a dependence to alcohol is as follows:

Stage 1 Alcohol Withdrawal

After taking the last drink of alcohol, someone who is chemically dependent on alcohol with begin feeling the early alcohol withdrawal symptoms within 8 hours. Within the first 8 hours to 24 hours of alcohol cessation, you can expect the following symptoms – starting as mild-to-moderate, and getting increasingly worse:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Gastrointestinal Upset, Stomach and Abdominal Pains
  • Headache
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Anorexia (loss of appetite and purposeful abstinence from food or even fluids)

Stage 2 Alcohol Withdrawal

After the first 24 hours without drinking, the alcohol withdrawal will begin to move into stage 2, characterized by worsening day 1 symptoms and the addition of the following symptoms of alcohol withdrawal:

  • Increase in Blood Pressure
  • Increased Body Temperature
  • Abnormal Heart Rate, Palpitations
  • Confusion, Trouble Focusing

In between stage 2 and 3 comes the peak symptoms of acute alcohol withdrawal. It is in this timeframe that severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, or delirium tremens (the DTs) will make themselves known.

Symptoms of Delirium Tremens (DTs) Include:

  • Seizures
  • Dangerously High Blood Pressure
  • Extreme Confusion
  • Hallucinations (Primarily auditory hallucinations, but mild sensory and visual hallucination can occur)
  • Fever, Dangerously High Blood Pressure
  • Tremors, Uncontrollable Shaking
  • Paranoia
  • High Anxiety, Panic Attacks, (Feeling like you will have a heart attack or die is common, as your body is sending signals that something is very wrong)
  • Sleeping an Entire Day or Longer (In some cases of DTs the patient goes into a sleep patter through the DTs, a semi-comatose state)

Stage 3 Alcohol Withdrawal

In most cases, stage 3 marks a decrease in the intensity of stage 2 symptoms. After 48-72 hours, the symptoms slowly decrease in their intensity until “stabilized” within 2-3 days. This decrease should continue for the next few days until the symptoms are more or less resolved. However, because of the possibility of prolonged alcohol withdrawal, post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), and a number of other factors, a person may feel alcohol mild withdrawal symptoms in some form or another for up to 6 months.

How long do the Urges to Drink Alcohol Last after Detox?

First of all, it is highly recommended that you go through medically-supervised alcohol detox that tapers you down before completely weening you off alcohol. This is the safest method for quitting alcohol, and will help to decrease the severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms – including the urge to drink, or cravings for alcohol.

If you quit alcohol on your own – not using a medically assisted alcohol detox program – alcohol withdrawal symptoms can persist for longer, fluctuate in intensity, and put you had higher risk of post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). Self-detox, improper alcohol detox, and lack of alcohol counseling in the initial withdrawal stages can lead to increased urges in early recovery, or relapse due to uncontrollable urges to drink alcohol.



Why Some Alcoholics Have No Urge to Drink Again After Detox

The urge to drink alcohol is purely a mental symptom of alcohol dependence. The body has no need for alcohol unless you are chemically dependent on alcohol due to alcohol abuse. Many recovering binge drinkers and chronic alcohol abusers find that after alcohol detox, they have no craving for, or urge to drink alcohol.
It really comes down to how you look at alcohol use. If you know that alcohol is not going to give you any pleasure, and will only cause more harm than it has already done, it is much easier to resist these inflated mental “urges” to drink.

Some patients that suffer acute alcohol withdrawals, DTs, or severe alcohol withdrawals have stated that the experience was so bad that it made them never want to drink again – because they never want to feel that way again. The urges might still be there in the first few months of recovery, but they are able to resist those urges until they subside completely within the first year of sobriety.

Still, some recovering chronic alcohol users still have it in their mind that alcohol will give them benefits, or they don’t consciously recognize the negative outcomes associated with their choice to drink or not drink. Some foolishly still believe that alcohol can be fun in moderation, or simply want the feelings alcohol gave them in the past. These are not physical urges for alcohol, they are purely mental, and if you are feeling these urges, they need to be dealt with mentally – in the form of alcohol counseling.


How Alcohol Counseling and Alcohol Treatment Suppress Urges to Drink in Recovery

Alcohol treatment programs utilize counseling and mental health treatment to deal with the mental effects of alcohol addiction. Alcohol counseling can help dramatically improve many of the mental symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, including the subsequent bouts of depression or anxiety that hit in the first months of sobriety.

Even more importantly, alcohol counseling uses therapies to tackle the mental urges to drink. Therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Alcohol Abuse are used to help you to realize that drinking again will not give you any pleasure, will not make you feel better, will not get rid of the urge to drink, and can only cause more harm. Once you have made this connection in your mind between alcohol and negative repercussions, resisting the urges is much easier.


A common saying in addiction recovery is “alcohol creates a need for itself.” You don’t need alcohol, but the addiction to alcohol can make you believe you do.

The Best Ways to Fight Urges to Drink in Early Recovery from Alcohol Abuse and Addiction

So many recovering alcoholics and former drinkers worry about the urges for alcohol that occur in early recovery, and believe that alcohol urges – like alcohol withdrawal symptoms – will never go away. This is truly a frightening thought, but unfounded. Alcohol urges and symptoms do go away, and they decrease every day that you stay sober.

Sure there will be times when you will be faced with a situation where you are tempted to drink (perhaps a company party, family get-together, an awkward social situation, or even times of stress), but as soon as you decide to NOT drink, you will be surprised at how quickly that urge subsides.

There are some tips for alcohol relapse prevention that can help you to overcome alcohol urges, though. Finding a non-alcoholic beverage of choice, remembering all the hard work you put into recovery, staying away from tempting situations, etc. These tips can help definitely help, but what helps the most is alcohol counseling and treatment during the beginning of your sobriety; and having aftercare options available to you, attending meetings, and having peer support work the best.


Thinking About Quitting Alcohol, or Have a Family Member that Needs to Quit?
The Best Start to Alcohol Recovery Begins with Alcohol Detox

Medically Assisted Alcohol Detox

Relapse Prevention for Alcohol Abuse: Tips for Staying Sober


Alcohol treatment centers are the oldest consistent forms of addiction treatment programs. People have been struggling with addiction to alcohol since we started manufacturing alcoholic drinks thousands of years ago. In all that time, alcohol relapse has remained a problem, with alcohol relapse rates averaging anywhere from 30-80%.

Relapse prevention has become a needed component to alcohol addiction recovery, due to the fact that urges and triggers are ever-present in sobriety. Quitting drinking is one thing, but how do you stay sober after alcohol rehab?

How Long Does It Take to Become Addicted to Alcohol

How long does it take to become addicted to alcohol, or physically dependent? The exact time it takes for the body to develop a chemical dependency to alcohol has many variables, but many recovering alcoholics will admit that they can remember a single moment when their alcohol problems began. This doesn’t mean that it took a split second to become addicted, but it certainly did only take a moment for the seeds of addiction to be sown.

In early alcohol addiction, the signs of a problem are obfuscated – meaning the signs are hazy and not exactly clear. Binge drinking, and drinking 6-15 beers in a single night is an obvious red flag, but most don’t recognize that as being a problem in the early stages. When you start craving a drink every night after work, that is another obvious red flag, but many simply write it off as a stress-reliever.

Alcoholism is a progressive disease, and in its early stages it can look similar to the habits of social drinkers. The problem is that problematic drinking doesn’t go away, it worsens. For that reason, it could take as little as a month to develop the early stages of alcoholism and alcohol addiction. This may seem like a short amount of time, but when you think of the fact that severe alcoholism and end stage alcoholism can develop in the short span of 5 years, a single month of binge drinking is more than enough time to do damage.

10 Tips to Quit Drinking Alcohol and Stay Sober

Before you can focus on staying sober, you first have to quit drinking. Quitting alcohol is the first hurdle in alcohol abuse recovery. This is easier said than done for most people who have been chronic drinkers or binge drinkers for a long time. The best way to deal with an alcohol use disorder is to seek help and treatment from an alcoholic treatment program. However, it could be beneficial for you to take these tips to stop drinking.

  1. Take a Good Look at Your Social Circle and Your Entertainment Habits

    Your entertainment habits include what you do to relax and enjoy yourself. It includes going out to dinner, watching movies, attending events with friends, and what you do to keep yourself busy. If dinner with friends always includes or is based off of drinking – that is a problem. If you go to sports events, movies, or concerts, and you have to have a few drinks to enjoy the event – that is a problem.

    Look at why you need to drink to enjoy these things. Is it because your social circle is drinking and you want to feel part of the crowd, or do you not truly enjoy the activity, and enjoy the drinking aspect instead? Looking at this and making a change to how you spend your free time can be the biggest help in cutting down or quitting your drinking.

  2. Look at Your Mental and Physical Health

    Self-medicating with alcohol is very common for a host of mental and physical issues including depression, anxiety, and underlying medical conditions you might not be aware you have. Find out what makes you happy and what doesn’t. If you find that you have to have alcohol to boost your mood or feel the excitement, then there is likely an underlying condition that needs to be addressed. In many cases, treating anxiety, depression, or other health concerns can fix the perceived need for alcohol.

  3. Replace your Alcoholic Beverages with Non-Alcoholic Drinks

    An issue that is very common amongst long-term beer drinkers is that the habit and action of drinking alcoholic beverages has become an addiction. In short, your drinking is just a habit that you have fallen into. You might be able to recognize this if you have ever had an empty drink, and the feeling of needing a replacement could almost drive you mad. What do you need another drink for? Is it just to have one?

    Try switching drinks to non-alcoholic choices, and have those choices available to you at all times. Sugary sodas are not the best option, but seltzer water, juice, tea, and flavored waters are great choices.

    Try and break the habit of giving the body an alcoholic drink every time the urge comes along. It might be tough to break the habit at first, but in many cases where the issue is problematic drinking, and not alcohol dependence, this solution may be enough to get you to cut out alcohol completely.

  4. Focus on Better More Quality Sleep

    Sometimes our cravings for alcohol equate to self-medication due to exhaustion and stress. The body’s natural remedy for these feelings is to get a good night of deep and restorative REM sleep so you can awake relaxed and refreshed for another day. If you are caught in the cycle of working late, drinking even later, waking up feeling sluggish and sick, and repeating the whole cycle over again, you are due for some rest and relaxation.

    Try getting a full night’s rest and waking up in the morning naturally (no caffeine), and see if this decreases your cravings for alcohol. Alcohol may feel like it helps you overcome a fast lifestyle, but when the alcohol becomes a bigger problem than you can handle, nipping it at the bud and focusing on slowing down your lifestyle might get to the root of the problem.

  5. Compare Your Drinking Habits to Those of Your Significant Other

    If you are in a relationship with someone, you can definitely adopt their habits, or their drinking habits can affect yours. Similar to our first suggestion of “Take a Good Look at Your Social Circle and Your Entertainment Habits,” take a look at what you and your spouse or significant other do together to keep each other busy.

    How much of your relationship is built on drinking? Would cutting down or quitting drinking put you at odds with your S/O, or would they be willing to cut down or quit as well? If your significant other is unwilling to change, how do you expect to be able to spur a change in yourself?

  6. Find Your Hobby. What do you love to do?

    Drinking is very much an affixation. When you are young and drinking is a new experience, it quickly becomes an easy go-to for entertainment. Think about those early experiences with alcohol – when it was new, it quickly became something that you planned on doing on weekends, or created a new angle on activities you enjoyed. The problem is that alcohol quickly takes over, and soon enough you look forward to the alcohol more than the activities. Instead, replace the alcohol with activities.

    Find out what you love to do, and can see yourself doing for hours on end, without even worrying about alcohol. For some, exercise is a natural replacement activity; for others, creating art or writing is a replacement. We can give more generic examples, but really it comes down to finding what you like to do. Can’t think of anything that interests you? Start trying new things and search out what makes you happy. Just don’t let alcohol be the only thing that brings you (what you perceive as) joy and fulfillment.

  7. Exercise, Eat Healthy, and Focus on Bettering Yourself

    Exercising and being healthy can be the activity or hobby that some find they love to spend their time on; but even if this is not going to become your hobby, it should be a part of your routine. Focusing on moderate exercise, healthier diet choices, and an overall focus on a healthier attitude and daily routine is essential for everyone – not just those looking to cut down on unhealthy habits.

    Diet and exercise plays the biggest part in who you are. A poor diet and lack of exercise can make you depressed, anxious, moody, emotional, and pretty much hate life. If you have these types of negative feelings, simply cutting out alcohol isn’t going to reverse everything and fix all your problems. Cutting out alcohol, eating a healthier diet, and getting a moderate amount of exercise will make you feel better though.

  8. Stay Away from Social Media (Or Moderate its Use at the Very Least)

    Social media is a very tricky thing; while it promotes that it is an easier way to help you stay connected to friends, social media is not your friend. In fact, it is the enemy of your mental and emotional health. Health agencies are starting to find that we are in the midst of a mental illness epidemic the likes of which has never been seen before – and it can be tied directly back to social media usage.

    Researchers have also begun to link increased drinking and an increase in alcohol use disorders to those that spend more than an hour per day on social media. Social media is built on reward triggers in the brain, just like drugs and alcohol trigger reward centers. Removing the source of these triggers can help greatly in reducing urges to drink when first quitting alcohol, or when trying to stay sober.

  9. Spend Time with Friends (and Without Alcohol), or Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself When Alone

    Social interaction (real social interaction, not social media interaction) can greatly help your mental health, and can help to prevent urges to drink. Spend time with your friends, and get your brain to spark the reward centers based off interaction with others. The reward your brain gives you for enjoying a conversation with a friend or talking about what you two have in common is chemically the same as reward response triggered by alcohol.

    Not only that, but talking about your feelings, problems and emotions with a good friend gives you another viewpoint. Talk through your problems with someone else, or vent a little – it can take a load off your shoulders.

    What if you’re an introvert, and prefer some time alone over too much time with others? Hey, no one loves you like you love you… but make sure it is self-loving and not self-loathing. Spending too much time focused on your problems, shame, embarrassment, or what doesn’t make you happy will only cause more negativity in your life. Don’t ruminate! If you don’t have anything nice to say about yourself, find a community or group activity that you can get involved with and try and get some new experiences that teach you to love yourself.

  10. Take a Look at Your Behaviors

    Nearly every aspect of staying sober comes down to your behaviors – whether it is what type of drink is in your hand, who you hang out with, how much exercise you get, or what activities and hobbies you are engaged in. There is a good reason alcohol abuse is often referred to as a behavioral health issue – the act of drinking is a behavior that is detrimental to your health.

    Take a deep look at your behaviors and ask yourself, why am I doing this? Why do I want do drink that drink? What reward am I going to get from that drink? What would I be missing out on if I don’t drink that drink…? This deep look at why you do what you do is a staple of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and CBT is one of the best therapies for alcoholism and alcohol abuse.

    CBT does work best when you have someone objective that is guiding you through the process (at least in the beginning), but you can get into CBT all by yourself, and it can change your life. For everything you do in life, there is a thought process that happens in the blink of an eye, too fast for you to even realize the decision-making process that just happened. By slowing down and looking at that decision-making process, you can make better choices, or at least make choices that guide you toward better outcomes.

Alcohol Relapse Rates 

All of the ideas we have given are great examples of how you can fight urges to drink when you are first quitting, or if you find yourself in a situation where your sobriety is tested. However, alcohol addiction and the urges to drink can be powerful, they can even be stronger than your better judgement, in some cases.

*Short Term Alcohol Relapse Rates (Within the First Year of Recovery):

  • With Treatment – Vary between 20% and 50% depending on the severity of the alcohol use disorder
  • Without Treatment – Vary between 50% and 80% depending on the severity of the alcohol use disorder.

*Long Term Alcohol Relapse Rates (Within the First Year of Recovery):

  • With Treatment – Average 23%
  • Without Treatment – Average 40%

This is why we urge those who have struggled with alcohol use to get into treatment,if they can’t do it on their own. When we look at the numbers, we can see that alcohol relapse rates are much higher in those that do not receive any help at all. You are stronger than addiction, but sometimes you need a coach in your corner that motivates you to show that extra strength and knock back the urges.

We can also see that the rate of relapse drops significantly if you can stay sober in your first year. Getting through that first year is key, and most of us need professional help for alcoholism and alcohol abuse to get through all of the triggers that present themselves in the first year.


*Moos RH, Moos BS. Rates and predictors of relapse after natural and treated remission from alcohol use disorders. Addiction (Abingdon, England). 2006;101(2):212-222. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2006.01310.x.

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Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy: Symptoms, Causes, Life Expectancy, and Recovery


Alcohol abuse – especially binge drinking and long-term chronic alcohol abuse – takes its toll on the heart muscle and vascular system. We often forget just how dangerous alcohol can be, and wrongly assume that it takes decades for severe problems to show up from excessive drinking. 

How Alcohol Affects the Heart 

There are several concerns about the heart and circulatory system with heavy drinkers:

  • Arrhythmias
  • Strokes
  • Hypertension
  • Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy (Heart Failure)

Arrhythmias Caused by Alcohol Abuse – Abnormal heartbeats are quite common in heavy and chronic drinkers. The severity of arrhythmias ranges from mild to severe, with the least concerning being “innocent” heart palpitations and arrhythmias. These innocent heart arrhythmias could be temporary and could stem from a simple electrochemical imbalance or from poor nutrition and diet caused by alcohol abuse. Both atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia are forms of arrhythmias in common with alcohol abuse.

Alcohol-Related Strokes – A more serious concern is the risk of strokes with alcohol abuse. Binge drinking and chronic alcohol consumption for months or even a few short years can increase the risk of ischemic strokes and hemorrhagic strokes. Alcohol-induced strokes can occur in otherwise healthy patients and without existing coronary artery disease.

“Binge drinkers have an increased risk of ischemic stroke, are 56% more likely to have a stroke than non-binge drinkers, and are 39% more likely to have any type of stroke.

Alcoholic Hypertension – Binge drinkers and chronic drinkers know all too well the fact that heavy alcohol use raises blood pressure – sometimes raising it to dangerous levels. Alcohol causes your arteries and veins to stiffen, instead of flexing to the beat of the heart. Worsening the problem, continued alcohol abuse can cause the blood vessels to constrict within the already shrinking arteries and veins. Hypertension is an early sign of the increased risk of stroke and heart disease.

Alcohol and Cardiomyopathy 

Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy is the most serious concerns of the effects of alcohol on the heart. Cardiomyopathy means “heart failure,” and alcoholic cardiomyopathy simply means that the heart failure is caused by alcohol. Alcoholic cardiomyopathy is a progressive disease, meaning that it worsens over time – especially with continued alcohol use.

“Quitting alcohol as soon as possible, and staying sober can immediately stop the progression of alcoholic cardiomyopathy in many cases – as long as the heart failure is not in the late stages of progression.”

Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy Symptoms 

It is good to note first that just because you have one or more of these symptoms, it does not mean that you immediately have heart failure. The symptoms of very serious cardiomyopathy are similar to the symptoms of less serious heart issues that can be temporary and also caused by alcohol. If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to see your doctor and have them test to know for sure what is causing those symptoms.

That being said, the following are the symptoms that should prompt your doctor visit:

  • Edema (swelling of the ankles, feet, and legs)
  • Swelling in the extremities, neck, torso and overall swelling
  • Shortness of breath, especially when running or with strenuous activity (dyspnea)
  • Difficulty breathing (especially when laying on your back)
  • Weakness, Fatigue, and feeling faint or lightheaded
  • Foggy head (decreased alertness or difficulty concentrating)
  • Coughing and a cough with mucus discoloration (pink or frothy)
  • Decreased urine output (oliguria)
  • Increased urination at night (nocturia)
  • Heart Palpitations (irregular heartbeats)
  • Rapid pulse (tachycardia)

 Can Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy be Reversed? 

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy can be treated, which is good news for those suffering the symptoms of early stages of the disease, however, it does require a change of lifestyle to be effective. It all depends on how early you catch the disease, and whether or not you can quit drinking for good – that means no alcohol at all.

Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy Life Expectancy

Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy: Symptoms, Causes, Life Expectency, and RecoveryWhat is the prognosis and life expectancy for someone who has been diagnosed with alcoholic cardiomyopathy? The prognosis really depends on whether or not the patient is able to quit drinking. If he/she stops drinking and the damage to the heart is not severe, the outlook is very good, and one would not expect a shortened lifespan. However, if the disease is in late stages and the damage is severe enough, it may be too late. Someone with end-stage alcoholic cardiomyopathy is not expected to live more than 4 years.

If someone does not quit drinking, the progressive disease is expected to get worse, and the outlook is grim for someone who continues to drink alcohol and let the disease progress to final stages. Let us be clear that if you do not stop drinking, alcoholic cardiomyopathy will lead to death – although this could take anywhere from 2-10 years, depending on how much existing damage there is.

“We cannot say this enough: quitting alcohol completely gives you the best shot at slowing or reversing this disease, and continued drinking only leads to worsening the disease and eventual death.”

Preventing Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy: Alcohol Treatment Programs 

Again, alcoholic cardiomyopathy is a progressive disease, and gets worse as you continue to drink. When diagnosed with this disease, it is imperative that you quit drinking completely. It is at this stage – when trying to quit – that many binge drinkers and chronic drinkers find that they cannot quit, or can’t stay sober for an extended period of time without relapsing.

When alcohol has such a strong hold on you that even the threat of terminal heart failure can’t get you or a loved one to quit drinking, the need for an alcohol treatment program that is intensive and offers a high chance of turning around both your lifestyle and health is needed. Individuals at this point are in a serious position where the stakes are high, and they need the best clinical and therapeutic care they can get.

Reflections Recovery Center is a leading alcohol treatment center in Arizona that can deal with unique needs an of alcoholic men facing health problems due to chronic drinking. The Reflections program puts emphasis on adopting a healthier lifestyle and finding joy in being sober and caring about your health and happiness. Our program can be just what men need when faced with the reality that they need to quit drinking, or face serious health problems.

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Nutritional Deficiencies and Substance Abuse: Nutrition in Addiction Recovery


Nutrition is closely tied to substance abuse and addiction. While using drugs and alcohol, poor nutrition makes changes to the way the body and brain function. These changes and the deficiency of vitamins and nutrients in the body are one of the root causes of the negative symptoms that many who have been abusing drugs and alcohol feel.

Symptoms of nutritional deficiency, coupled with the symptoms of withdrawal, can make the first days and weeks of sobriety draining – mentally and physically. Coupling nutritional therapy with detox and rehabilitation therapies eases many of the symptoms of drug and alcohol withdrawal and can make for an easier early recovery.

Am I Malnourished from Drugs and Alcohol?

It is fairly easy to recognize the symptoms of malnutrition, though many who abuse alcohol, opiates or other drugs don’t readily make the connection between how they are feeling and their substance use. Drugs and alcohol not only leech vitamins and nutrients from the body, but slow the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from the food you eat.

Think about how you still felt healthy before or even during the first months and years of your substance abuse. As the use continued, it became harder to feel your best; your highs seem lower and your lows sink lower. Even drugs and alcohol can’t cover the symptoms of your body signaling that it is malnourished.

Signs and Symptoms of Nutritional Deficiency from Drugs and Alcohol

Just as nutritional deficiencies happen slowly, and get worse over time, the signs and symptoms of poor nutrition from alcohol and drug use disorders will build slowly over time, and get much worse the longer you continue to abuse substances. Below is a detailed list of symptoms, many of which will be very familiar to anyone who has abused alcohol or illicit or prescription drugs.

Drug and Alcohol Fatigue

Fatigue is common with extended drug and alcohol use, and worsens as the deficiency of protein, iron, magnesium, potassium, Vitamins C, B1, B12 and other B vitamins grows. The lack of these nutrients also contributes to:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cardiac failure
  • Anemia
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Anxiety
  • Major depression

Itchy, Dry Skin and Easily Bruising 

Skin symptoms caused by excessive use of alcohol and drugs like heroin and opioids are quite common, and often tied directly back to lack of specific nutrients. Dry skin is a sign of missing essential fatty acids. A lack of vitamin C also causes a long list of skin problems, including red,flushed skin, excessive bruising and excessive itching.

Muscle Pains and Cramps 

Alcohol is especially hard on muscles and muscle tissue, and alcoholics will have noticeably deteriorated muscle mass. Vitamin deficiencies hamper the ability for muscles to repair themselves and will cause worsening muscle pains and cramps. Magnesium, Vitamin D, B1, sodium and potassium deficiencies are characterized by increased cramping, spasms and muscle soreness.

Opioid addiction is synonymous with muscle pains and cramping, especially during opioid withdrawal. These pains are amplified by vitamin deficiency, which is why vitamin therapy for opioid addicts is recommended in early recovery and opiate/opioid detox.

Diarrhea and Constipation with Alcohol and Opioid Use Disorders 

Gastrointestinal health is severely impaired with alcohol and opioid addiction, and nutritional deficiency worsens those problems. Diarrhea is a common problem with alcohol abuse, while constipation is prevalent in opioid use. Serious constipation arises in individuals abusing prescription opioids, and the filler drugs in pills like Oxycontin, Vicodi, and other opioids worsens the problem.

A lack of vitamin B3 can be blamed for persistent diarrhea and can contribute to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and malabsorption can occur with the continued abuse of alcohol and drugs. Constipation is a sign of a deficiency of:

  • Fiber
  • Folate
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • The most important element for a healthy body: water

Dehydration is not only a deficiency in itself, but can cause the deficiency of all other nutrients and vitamins.

Neurobiological Symptoms of Vitamin Deficiency 

Some of the most severe symptoms of poor diet and nutrition from drugs and alcohol start in the brain, causing the following:

  • Restless legs
  • Muscle spasms
  • Loss of balance
  • Feeling vibrations and numb spots
  • Lack of ability to feel vibrations
  • Weakness and shakiness of extremities
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Numbness and tingling of the hands and feet

A lack of vitamins B1, B12, B3, B6 and E contributes to the above symptoms and is a sign that the poor nutrition is beginning to affect the brain and nervous system. Folate, essential fatty and amino acids, and Riboflavin are important for cognitive and nervous system function, and opiate use in particular will trigger these symptoms.

Depression, Irritability, Anxiety and Lack of Concentration 

Anyone who has experienced problematic drinking will know that irritability, anxiety and depression seem to work together in a cycle that makes quitting drinking feel almost impossible. The good news is that many of these symptoms have more to do with poor nutrition from alcohol use than the alcohol itself.

Starting a nutritional rehabilitation regimen during early recovery from alcohol addiction can greatly reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

With opioid use, too, one can minimize depression and anxiety by replacing essential vitamins and nutrients such as Vitamin C, B, B3, B6, B12, folate, fatty acids, iron and magnesium.

Nutritional Rehabilitation Through the Phases of Addiction Rehabilitation

Vitamin, dietary and nutritional therapy are essential in three stages of stopping and recovering from alcohol abuse and alcoholism. First, it is necessary to boost the body with essential nutrients before or while tapering down the amount of alcohol being taken in.

With serious alcohol addiction and dependence, it may be difficult or impossible to go through a nutritional “primer” to prepare the body for quitting alcohol. However, if it is possible to start vitamin therapy for alcohol abuse before the detox phase, doing so can help ease the symptoms of withdrawal during alcohol detox.

Second, a complete and medical alcohol detox program will begin the process of detoxing from alcohol dependence. Detox specialists will administer multivitamins specifically made to address the needs of alcohol cessation, especially for the acute withdrawal symptoms.

Third, the rehabilitation plan should include a nutritional program for alcohol recovery. This nutrition plan should include a mix of fresh vegetables, fruits, meats and grains so the body can get used to absorbing the nutrients it needs naturally, and away from the need for supplements. A successful dietary rehabilitation program should teach the individual in recovery how to make the right nutritional choices in sobriety.

Vitamins for Alcohol Detox and Recovery

(Note: Always check with your doctor or a nutritional therapist before starting any vitamin therapy.) There are a number of vitamins and nutrients that alcohol depletes from the body, but some of the most common deficiencies in those with a history of abusing alcohol include:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D3
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
  • Vitamin B9 (folate)
  • Vitamin B12
  • Magnesium
  • L-Glutamine (amino acid)
  • L-Tyrosine (amino acid)
  • L-Theanine (amino acid)
  • 5-HTP (Serotonin Precursor)
  • Omega 3 (fish oil)
  • DL-Phenylalanine (DLPA)
  • Multivitamins (for iron, zinc and other minerals)

Vitamins for Heroin/Opioid Detox and Recovery 

(Note: Always check with your doctor or a nutritional therapist before starting any vitamin therapy.) There are a number of vitamins and nutrients that heroin, prescription painkillers and other opioids deplete from the body, but some of the most common deficiencies in those with a history of opioid addiction and opioid use disorder include:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
  • Vitamin B9 (folate)
  • Vitamin B12
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • L-Glutamine (amino acid)
  • L-Tyrosine (amino acid)
  • DL-Phenylalanine (amino acid)
  • L-Tyrosine (amino acid)
  • 5-HTP (serotonin precursor)

Addressing Nutritional Deficiencies and Substance Abuse in Rehab

Recovering from deficiencies and a poor diet is just as important as your recovery from alcohol or drugs. After an extended period of time of alcohol and drug abuse, the body and mind will need to be retrained to make healthy nutritional choices. Without nutritional therapy and training, the body will attempt to get “quick fixes” from junk food sources.

Avoiding Sugar in Recovery 

Many in early recovery develop sugar cravings and, even, sugar addiction. This is the body craving a quick and easy source of energy. Reintroducing the body to natural sources of vitamins and staying away from too much sugar will be key in your recovery.

When you start your recovery from substance abuse and addiction – whether it involves opioids, cocaine, meth or alcohol – addressing nutritional deficiency will be one of the first and most important steps. It is important to know that even though the first stages of detox and rehabilitation are tough, proper nutritional therapy can reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

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Alcohol Treatment Centers: What Treatment Types Do Alcoholics Need in Rehab?


All alcohol rehabilitation programs are not created equal. Finding a rehab center with the most effective types of treatment can make the difference between relapse and lifelong recovery.

Below, we’ll take a closer look at some of the best alcohol treatment options for achieving a life of sobriety.

Medically Supervised Alcohol Detox

Patients going through alcohol detox are at risk for a number of potentially dangerous side effects. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal typically begin six hours after the last drink, and include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Heart palpitations
  • Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Delirium tremens (DTs)

These symptoms, and the anxiety that they produce, can make the already difficult process of recovery even harder. Detoxing from alcoholism in a facility with around-the-clock medical supervision ensures that these symptoms are promptly treated.

Medical supervision also helps put the patient’s mind at ease, allowing them to focus on overcoming acute withdrawal and starting their recovery. 

Effective Therapies for Alcoholism Treatment

There are many best practices when it comes to helping alcoholics put down the booze for good. Most of the top alcoholism treatment centers use a mix of clinical and holistic therapies.

Here are five of the top treatment modalities you should look for in a worthwhile alcohol addiction rehab program:


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is used in addiction treatment to help clients overcome the harmful patterns of thought, behavior and emotions that led to addiction. CBT can be broken down into two primary components: functional analysis and skills training.

Functional analysis works on the principle that a person’s behavior is influenced by their environment. Through working with a cogitative behavioral therapist at an alcoholism rehabilitation center, clients discover the situations that trigger their addictive urges. Recognizing the situations that lead to addictive behavior is the first step toward avoiding these triggers in the future.

Once the client has discovered the environments and situations that led them to drink, their therapist will begin the skills-training portion of CBT. Skills training is the process of unlearning destructive habits and replacing them with healthier ones. Retraining the way a client copes with stressful environments greatly reduces the risk of relapse.


Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a treatment strategy that emphasizes both individual psychotherapy and group skills-training classes. The goal of DBT is to help guide clients toward developing a life they believe is worth living.

DBT has five primary components:

  1. Improving the client’s own capabilities through DBT skills training
  2. Improving the client’s motivation through extensive individual psychotherapy
  3. Customizing treatment strategies to each client through in-the-moment coaching
  4. Structuring a positive environment through individual case management
  5. Providing support to the client’s primary therapist with a secondary DBT consultation team

What sets DBT apart from other types of therapy is its focus on finding the right balance between acceptance of one’s present situation and the motivation to change. In other words, DBT helps clients come to terms with their past while building the skills that will improve their future.

The four primary skills clients learn through DBT are:

  • Mindfulness the skill of maintaining focus on the present moment
  • Distress Tolerance learning to accept and tolerate discomfort without trying to change it
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness effectively expressing desires and setting boundaries with the people in the client’s life
  • Emotion Regulation – the ability to recognize unwanted feelings while finding ways to overcome them


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy was developed by psychologist Francis Shapiro in the late 1980s as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Because there is a strong link between PTSD and signs of alcoholism, individuals looking for the best alcohol treatment center should make sure that EMDR therapy is utilized in the facility’s addiction treatment protocol.

EMDR therapy works by allowing patients to reprocess the traumatic events in their lives. PTSD entails a person’s brain mistaking a memory for reality. From the brain’s point of view, remembering past trauma is the same thing as the trauma happening all over again. After treatment with EMDR therapy, clients will not feel the same negative emotional response when (or if) they recall these painful events.

EMDR therapy is an eight-stage process that begins by identifying the traumatic experiences in the client’s life that have overwhelmed their brain’s natural coping mechanisms. Next, the client focuses on a painful memory and identifies the negative feelings and beliefs associated with it.

The therapist will then perform a number of exercises that utilize bilateral stimulation (rapid side-to-side eye movement, for example) in order to desensitize the patient to these painful memories.

Bilateral stimulation is an extremely effective tool for reprogramming the mind, which is why we believe EMDR therapy is one of the best alcohol treatment options for those suffering from co-occurring PTSD.


Access to Trauma-Informed Addiction Therapy

Trauma and alcoholism go hand in hand, making it extremely difficult to treat one problem without also addressing the other. Traumatic experiences can result in a number of mental health issues, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

A trauma-informed approach to alcohol addiction treatment refers to a specific mindset. At Reflections Recovery Center, our therapists work closely with both the client and his family members to identify the signs and symptoms of trauma.

Our therapists then create a recovery plan designed to help the client heal from both alcohol addiction and his traumatic experiences at the same time, while actively avoiding any re-traumatization in the process. 

Our commitment to a trauma-informed approach to alcohol addiction treatment is one of the reasons Reflections is considered by many to be one of the best alcohol rehab centers for men struggling with alcoholism.


Nutritional Therapy

Alcoholism wreaks havoc on the body. Consuming too much alcohol can lead to liver damage, memory disorders, heart problems, alcohol poisoning, etc.

One risk of alcohol abuse that is frequently overlooked is digestive system disorders. Over time, alcohol consumption will inhibit the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food, potentially leading to severe vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Vitamin therapy for alcoholism treatment helps to reverse this damage. Making sure that clients receive high doses of essential nutrients during the recovery process helps to relieve the symptoms of alcohol detox while also jump-starting the body’s metabolic systems. Many of the top treatment centers also offer nutrition counseling and put their clients on a customized meal plan that addresses their dietary needs, preferences, goals, etc.

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Alcohol Treatment Centers: Intensive Outpatient Treatment

Not everyone can afford to put their lives on hold while working toward sobriety. But for many, programs like Alcoholics Anonymous are just not enough. Intensive outpatient treatment may be the best option for men at this point in their recovery.

A quality outpatient treatment program will include many, if not all, of the services offered to inpatient clients. Intensive outpatient treatment is a reasonable option for those with a stable living situation and strong emotional support system at home. 

At Reflections, men who graduate our inpatient program can move to this level of care afterward (if their family leaves nearby or if they stay in a sober living home). Some of our clients actually start out at this level of treatment if they already live in the area and if their addiction isn’t severe enough to warrant 24-hour supervision in an inpatient environment.

Rehab Aftercare Program for Alcoholism

Making the transition back into society after rehab is no easy feat. A robust aftercare program can make the difference between relapse and lifelong recovery. In Reflections’ aftercare program, we teach men the skills they’ll need to navigate the challenges of everyday life while remaining alcohol-free.

After graduating from our alcohol rehabilitation program, our alumni are offered a number of services for alcoholism relapse prevention, including:

  • Housing and job placement services
  • Weekly monitored urine analysis
  • Recreational activities with fellow alumni and current clients
  • Twice-weekly group counseling sessions


Sober Housing Options

Spending time in a sober living program is a great option for those seeking additional help during the transition process. Sober housing allows patients to receive support from both fellow alumni and addiction counselors while they rebuild their lives. Patients can attend school, maintain a job and practice life skills in an environment dedicated to healing and recovery.

Alcoholism Treatment at Reflections

Reflections’ men-only alcoholism treatment center utilizes the most effective treatments designed to set our clients on a path toward lifelong sobriety. If you or your loved one is seeking to overcome an addiction to alcohol, know that help is just a phone call away.

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After Alcohol Rehab: Preventing Relapse and Ensuring Long-Term Recovery


Learn the Tools to Protect Against Relapse After Alcohol Recovery

Overcoming alcohol or drug addiction is extremely challenging – both mentally and physically. Medically assisted detox and rehabilitation can offer an effective means to overcome dependency and addiction. Continue reading for an overview of the detox, rehabilitation and post-treatment process for alcohol recovery.

How Alcohol Detox Works

Detoxification is the first stage of alcohol treatment for men and women. It involves cleansing the body of alcohol and the toxins in it.

The first step is to stop drinking. After that, the body releases the toxins that are part of dependency, which will give rise to withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol withdrawal without medical supervision can be dangerous. Of course, withdrawing from any addictive substance is extremely painful and hazardous in certain circumstances. Withdrawal symptoms related to alcoholism, however, are some of the worse.

What Is Medically Assisted Detox?

In some cases, it is possible to go through detox without any kind of medical assistance; we usually do not recommend this, though. Medically assisted detox is when the person who is addicted goes to an alcoholism treatment center for help with recovery.

At these facilities, a staff of medically trained professionals will start by helping the person work through the withdrawal symptoms safely and effectively. The team can also prescribe medications that can ease the pain and discomfort of the symptoms.

Detoxing Without Help

Moment Right Before You Give Up Is Usually When A Miracle Happens - Reflections RecoveryDetoxing alone is not only risky because of dangerous symptoms, but also because of the higher likelihood of relapse.

When people who struggle with alcohol try to detox alone, the odds of not taking a drink when their body goes into convulsions or they begin hallucinating are nearly insurmountable.

When this happens, they often count it as a personal failure, adding to the cycle of addiction.

At a high-quality detox facility for alcoholism, a group of trained professionals can help people suffering from dependency complete the detox stage of addiction.


Stages Of Alcohol Detoxification

The first stage of the detox process is an evaluation. Each person who comes enters an addiction recovery program has a different level of dependency. Medical professionals analyze all of the details about this dependency and the person’s medical history.

The second stage is stabilization, which is the main part of detox. By not drinking, the body begins to rid itself of the toxins it had become accustomed to having through drinking.

The final stage of detox is about building awareness. Medical professionals and counselors explain the continuation of treatment after the initial detox stage and discuss tools to prevent relapse.


After Detox

The complete process of detox can take any amount of time, depending on who it is and how intense their dependency was. The second phase of treatment includes counseling and education.

Counseling is a crucial component to recovery, as alcoholism doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The underlying reason for the addiction must be addressed for a person to feel in control of the addiction.


Counseling Technique: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an umbrella term in the field of psychotherapy for practices that work to alter unwanted behaviors in favor of more positive ones.

Cognitive behavior therapy addresses the mental portion of the recovery. Its purpose is to help people adjust the way they are thinking so they make positive choices that lead to better health and greater stability. If they can find a way to control their emotions more productively, it could reduce the chances of relapse.

CBT has proven to be an extremely productive method within addiction treatment. Unlike many other therapy methods, cognitive behavioral therapy can shorten the recovery process and lessen the instances of relapse.

This kind of therapy considers the whole person and makes treatment more effective because it treats the individual, not the addiction. The therapist can easily personalize the program to help with specific issues. This personalized method can also help the person figure out which thought patterns lead to the negativity that makes them want to drink or take drugs.

This cognitive behavioral method also helps show the person how to independently stabilize emotions after finishing treatment It gives people the skills they need to succeed outside of rehab. This reduces the likelihood of relapse.


Alcohol Relapse Prevention

The months after getting out of rehabilitation are the most dangerous time for people struggling with addiction. The temptation to drink again is strong, especially with familiar friends and places haunting them. Having a relapse prevention plan in place can increase a person’s chance of a successful recovery.

For the first three months after treatment, the prevention plan should be updated every month. After that, it should be updated each quarter for the rest of the year. Then, the updates switch to twice a year for the next two years. After three years, the updates happen annually.

More than half of the relapses that people struggling with addiction experience happen in the first six months of recovery, making those months crucial for proper support.


What About Relapse Prevention Meetings?

Another outlet for helping people after they leave an alcohol rehab facility is through connections with other people. Relapse prevention meetings help people stay strong after leaving a treatment facility.

The initial meeting is a review of the list of warning signs, strategies to control them and s general recovery plan. After that step, the assessment gets updated with any recent documents or evidence that shows a variation in the recovery process. This update includes any new warning signs that have come up since treatment.


What You Can Do as a Family Member or Friend

If you have a loved one who is struggling with alcohol dependency, evaluating alcohol addiction recovery programs that suit your loved one is an important first step. However, there are other efforts you can make to help this loved one.

Often, professional interventionists can help convince your family member or friend that going to rehabilitation is the right thing to do. They can also help you choose the correct treatment center for your loved one.

Search for Alcohol Addiction Recovery Programs

There are many different rehab programs for alcoholics, but you should find one with significant experience, compassion and specialized care. Unfortunately, many treatment centers can initially alleviate the addiction through detox, but they don’t give people the proper tools they need to combat the disease in the future. If you’re concerned that a family member’s drinking has become too much for them or you to handle, talk to one of our admissions counselors.

As a place that focuses on recovery for men, Reflections Recovery Center in Prescott, AZ can help men conquer the specific nature of their addiction. We do this by not offering a watered-down version of addiction treatment. Our programs teach men not only how to overcome their addiction while they are in treatment, but also how to maintain sobriety after they leave our facilities.

See Relapse Prevention Tips and Strategies

Hypoglycemia and Alcohol: How Alcohol Is Connected to Low Blood Sugar


The Connection Between Hypoglycemia and Alcoholism

Hypoglycemia is an indicator of abnormally low blood sugar. Blood sugar, or glucose, is the body’s main source of energy. When glucose levels dip too low, the following symptoms can emerge:

  • Fatigue
  • Shakiness
  • Sweating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hunger

Hypoglycemia is very common in alcoholics. Statistics show that a startling 95 percent of alcoholics and almost 90 percent of those with alcohol use disorder are hypoglycemic. Understanding alcohol-induced hypoglycemia is the first step in overcoming both conditions.

About Hypoglycemia

Percentage of Alcoholics Who Are Hypoglycemic - Reflections Recovery CenterHypoglycemia is not a disease; rather, it’s an indicator that something is wrong within the body. Specifically, it means that the brain and body do not have enough glucose to function properly.

The loss of too much glucose can cause irritability, drowsiness, anxiety, and many other symptoms.

As hypoglycemia worsens, more serious symptoms can manifest, including

  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Seizures
  • Fainting

Immediate treatment of hypoglycemia to restore blood sugar levels involves eating certain foods or taking medication. Long-term treatment and reversal, however, require addressing the underlying cause of the condition. For many, that cause is alcohol abuse.

Low blood sugar and alcohol inhibit the body in tandem. According to one study, out of 100 alcoholics, 96 were hypoglycemic (with glucose levels below 70 milligrams per deciliter). By comparison, only 14 of 100 non-alcoholics in a control group had hypoglycemia.

The connection between hypoglycemia and alcohol lies in how alcohol affects the liver. The liver regularly releases a form of glucose into the bloodstream, maintaining steady blood sugar levels.

Alcohol consumption takes a toll on liver function because the liver has to process the alcohol instead of releasing glucose on time. Lack of regular infusions of glucose can cause hypoglycemia. If left untreated, blood sugar imbalances can become a major health concern.

The Cycle of Low Blood Sugar and Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol consumption not only induces hypoglycemia and accompanying symptoms; the reverse is also true. Hypoglycemia can cause strong cravings for alcohol, since alcohol contains large amounts of sugar. An alcoholic may experience the symptoms of low blood sugar and reach for another drink in an effort to ease them. Consuming large amounts of sugar, caffeine and alcohol are common signs of someone with undiagnosed hypoglycemia.

Ingesting more alcohol, however, is the exact opposite of what the body actually needs. Low blood sugar may cause alcohol cravings, but drinking more alcohol forces the liver and pancreas to produce more insulin. Insulin removes sugar from the blood, worsening hypoglycemia.

It’s a vicious cycle that can lead to major health problems if left untreated. If these symptoms seem familiar to you as someone who has had problems with alcohol (for example, if you’ve experienced mild to moderate alcohol withdrawal symptoms and hangovers), there is a way out.

How to Reverse Hypoglycemia Due to Alcoholism

There is hope for people with hypoglycemic symptoms due to alcohol use and abuse. It is not enough to simply treat the symptoms of hypoglycemia with sugary foods or medications. To truly regain your health and normal liver function, you must address the underlying issue: alcoholism. The alcohol abuse recovery process is vital to regaining your health.

Detoxification and rehabilitation are the best ways to reverse hypoglycemia related to alcohol abuse. The body needs to detox from too much sugar, alcohol, caffeine and other stimulants that can exacerbate hypoglycemia. The liver and pancreas need to return to their normal levels of function without the interference of alcohol. Most importantly, the system needs proper nutrition to combat and reverse the symptoms of hypoglycemia.

To break the cycle of hypoglycemia symptoms and alcohol consumption, the individual needs Alcohol Nutrition Therapy. Nutritional therapy and lifestyle changes are integral parts of a full recovery.

It is important for those struggling with alcoholism and related health problems to seek a rehabilitation center that includes dietary and nutritional therapy, such as Reflections Recovery Center in Arizona. Proper focus on health and nutrition is the only way to make a full recovery and reverse hypoglycemia for good.

Never Detox on Your Own

Hypoglycemia is not something you should treat lightly, as it can cause serious problems like seizures, loss of consciousness and brain damage. On the road to recovery from alcoholism, the symptoms of hypoglycemia can make it difficult to successfully outlast withdrawal and detoxification. Correct alcohol withdrawal nutrition can ease the symptoms of hypoglycemia, help combat depression and facilitate full-body healing.

At Reflections Recovery Center, we guide men through the entire recovery process. Our alcohol rehab treatment center is comprehensive. This includes explaining the deep connection between alcohol and nutrition and offering therapies to get men back to healthy physical lifestyles. With help from our nutritionists, you can address blood sugar balance issues, which will reduce alcohol cravings and the risk of relapse.

Remember, alcoholism has trained your body and brain to rely on the substance when your blood sugar balance is off. Retraining your system through proper nutrition in the first months of recovery is key.

You Can Leave Alcohol-Related Health Problems Behind

Drugs and alcohol wreak havoc on the body and brain. Your system cannot function properly under the influence of substances. Drugs such as opioids and alcohol work by disrupting your body’s normal processes, creating feelings that make you want to do it again and abuse the substance.

Understand, however, that the body can only withstand so much disruption. Hypoglycemia is just one of the common health problems connected to alcohol dependency, as the body’s systems struggle (and often fail) to keep up with the intake of substances.

Nutritional therapy during rehabilitation is the answer you’re looking for if you or a loved one has hypoglycemia related to alcohol consumption. Poor nutrition is a mainstay for people struggling with substance abuse.

Don’t let alcohol or related hypoglycemia permanently damage your health. Partner with Reflections Recovery Center to address all aspects of your dependency.

Read More on Alcohol Detox and Recovery

Understanding Drug and Alcohol Detox from a Family Member’s POV


How to Get Help with Drug Addiction

If you’re wondering how to deal with an addicted husband, son or brother who is repeatedly using drugs or alcohol, you probably know that he needs to go to rehab. But what does that involve exactly?

Medically assisted detox is the first step in the treatment process. Here’s what family members need to know in order to create an intervention plan that is safe and likely to lead to long-term sobriety.

What Medically Assisted Detox Is, and Why It’s Safer than At-Home Detox

Acute Withdrawal Timeframes for Specific Substances Chart - Reflections Recovery CenterDetox refers to the initial period of treatment in which the body is cleansed of the drugs and/or alcohol. This first step is critical because it’s impossible for an addicted person to make healthy lifestyle changes while still under the influence of toxic substances.

While detox can occur naturally simply by no longer ingesting the substance, this is not recommended because, in some cases, it can lead to life-threatening withdrawal symptoms – even death.

While severe withdrawal doesn’t happen in all cases, there’s no way to know for sure until it does happen. So, it’s best to play it safe and make sure that your loved one goes through a medically assisted detox program.

Medically assisted detox means that the addicted individual goes to a rehabilitation or treatment facility where medical staff oversees the detox process. In a safe and controlled environment, doctors monitor the client for any signs of health problems during the detox process, and they can prescribe medication to help ease the pain and discomfort of withdrawal symptoms.

The medical assistance provided during the detox process makes medically assisted detox both the safest and most comfortable method of overcoming withdrawal.

The Dangers of Detoxing Alone

In addition to potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, one of the dangers of detoxing alone is that the individual will simply find the process too unbearable and decide to go back to substance use.

Withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the drug and the individual, but can include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea and other gastrointestinal discomforts
  • Fever, chills, sweating
  • Muscle aches
  • A runny nose, excessive tearing
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Depression (including suicide risk in some cases)
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Restlessness and difficulty sleeping
  • Hallucination
  • Pain
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Intense drug cravings

Detoxification is an intense process both physically and psychologically. For these reasons, a professionally managed environment can support your loved one through this process much more reliably than even the most supportive and loving family member.

Who Benefits from Medically Assisted Detox?

Because of potentially life-threatening withdrawal complications, medically assisted detox is especially important for those addicted to the following substances:

  • Alcohol
  • Benzodiazepines and Barbiturates
  • Opiates and Opioids (i.e., heroin and prescription painkillers)

Even for substances that do not have dangerous withdrawal symptoms, it is still important to have a professional oversee the withdrawal process to provide support and supervision and to ease discomfort.

Since going through withdrawal is the first and most painful part of the treatment process, most drug users and alcoholics are eager to avoid it. Helping your loved one understand that the medical staff can ease their discomfort may help convince your loved one to agree to go to rehab.

The Three Stages of Detox

If your loved one is unclear on what detox in a professional setting involves, let them know about the three different stages in the process:

  1. Evaluation Medical professionals assess the individual to get a thorough understanding of his condition, including which substances are in his body, his current mental health state and any history of medical or mental health issues. Then, an appropriate detox strategy will be created based on his needs.
  2. Stabilization This is the main part of detox treatment, when the patient is introduced to the process and provided with ongoing medical and/or psychological services to help ease him through the detox process.
  3. Awareness building The patient is informed about the next stages in the recovery process, and encouraged to commit to further treatment, since detox alone is not sufficient for full recovery and long-term sobriety.

What Happens After Detox

Once the detox process is complete, which can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the substance and the individual, then the second phase of addiction treatment begins. This second phase of treatment features 1) counseling to help the individual overcome the issues that led to addiction in the first place, and 2) education to help him avoid relapse in the future.

This step sometimes begins during the later stages of the detox process, once patients have detoxed enough for them to have a clear head and honestly process their thoughts and feelings without the influence of substances.

Rehab programs differ in terms of how much of the addiction recovery process they cover:

  • Some facilities only do detox, in which case you would need to make plans for continuing support at another facility, either on an inpatient or outpatient basis.
  • Some rehabs only provide long-term treatment and will refer you to a separate facility for the initial detox process.
  • Some rehabs offer a combined, full-service detox and treatment program. This may be entirely on an inpatient basis, or a combination of an initial inpatient period followed by outpatient care.

When evaluating rehab centers, find out what they do to support family members and educate them on how they can help their loved one stay sober when he returns home.

How to Get a Loved One into Detox

To find the appropriate medically assisted detox program for a family member, as well as long-term treatment, it’s best to work with a professional interventionist who knows how to convince even the most stubborn person to agree to rehab. Intervention experts can also help you choose a detox and treatment facility that is right for your loved one and fits your insurance and budget requirements.

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All Conversations Are Completely Confidential

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12 Ways to Best Provide Alcohol Abuse Solutions


Addiction treatment professionals approach alcoholism in mostly the same way they would try to treat any other form of chemical dependency. However, there are a few techniques and approaches that are unique to the alcohol abuse treatment process.

An effective treatment program for alcohol abuse is going to include concentrated up-front treatment as well as long-term support to prevent relapse. It may also begin with intervention services to help the individual see the need for, and commit to, entering rehab.

What Should an Effective Alcohol Abuse Treatment Plan Include?

For alcoholism, we’ve identified 12 features a professional treatment plan should include for the highest chances of a successful recovery from alcohol abuse. The best practices for alcohol abuse treatment include:

1. Personal Commitment to Treatment

Although someone who is physically dependent on alcohol can’t choose to stop drinking, he or she can choose to seek out help. In fact, this commitment is critical: No one can force a person to change if the individual hasn’t decided he or she wants the change.

2. Professional Evaluation and an Individualized Plan

Each person turns to alcohol for their own reasons. Creating a treatment plan that is customized to each person’s needs provides the best opportunity for long-term recovery.

At the start of a treatment program, a professional evaluation usually begins with a mental health assessment, medical history review and possibly a physical health examination. The staff should then work with the new client to create an alcohol treatment plan tailored to his or her needs.

This should include a plan for treating underlying issues such as depression, trauma or PTSD. The treatment plan should also accommodate for underlying physical issues, such as alcohol-induced heart and cardiovascular problems or severe damage to the liver.

3. Detoxification

Reflections Recovery Center Unique Addiction Treatment PlansDetox involves ridding the body of the harmful substance(s), and is the first step in getting the body back to normal functioning.

Detox should be done under medical supervision because, in some cases, the detox process can be dangerous if not done correctly, especially when alcohol is the substance being treated.

Additionally, medically supervised alcohol detox treatment will not only save you from the more dangerous symptoms of alcohol withdrawal (such as seizures or heart attack), but can lessen the severity of post-acute withdrawal symptoms you may have in the first six months after detox.

See Reflections’ Detox Program

4. Mind-Body-Spirit Wellness Approach

Since mental, emotional and physical well-being all influence one another, a comprehensive treatment program will seek to heal the whole person, not just cure the physical ailments. Relapse is less likely to occur if the source of alcohol abuse is addressed and the person is taught new skills to build a stable life without the need for substances.

5. Emotional Healing

Individual and group therapy sessions led by professional counselors help recovering alcohol abusers address the emotional and psychological factors that led the person to drink, and heal from events that resulted from the addiction. This trauma-informed approach to substance abuse therapy can help an individual through the process of understanding why he or she turned to alcohol in the first place.

6. Physical Healing

An emphasis on balanced nutrition and healthful physical activity such as walking, hiking, sports, yoga, etc. helps a recovering alcohol user build strength in the short term and begin to develop healthy, lifelong habits. Alcohol is a poison that throws off the physical and nutritional balance in the body, and restoring this balance through nutritional therapy – coupled with creating a healthy exercise routine – will decrease the symptoms felt in early alcohol recovery.

See Reflections’ Physical Health Services

7. Peer Support

The most effective rehabilitation programs will involve some level of interaction between those going through recovery together – usually in the form of discussion groups, social activities, group therapy, 12-step meetings, etc.

8. Groundedness and/or Spirituality

Addiction often stems from, and leads to, feelings of helplessness, insecurity and loss of control. Getting in touch with something that feels solid, reliable and imparts a sense of purpose is an essential piece of the foundation for a healthy life free from addiction.

Some people find this base through religious or spiritual practices, while others learn to mentally tap into an inner core of strength that they can rely on in any circumstance, whether easy or difficult.

9. Education and Training

Clients often come into rehab with gaps in their knowledge about how to address the issues that led to addiction. Small-group educational sessions, which often offer time for questions and discussion, give clients the knowledge and skills they need to build the kind of life they want for themselves once they leave the program.

10. Family Support and Healing

Addiction is especially taxing on relationships with loved ones. A worthwhile rehab program will support clients in mending relationships, and may even have education, support and therapy sessions for family members.

See Reflections’ Family Services

11. Help with Legal and Professional Matters

The kind of problems that come with alcoholism often lead to legal ramifications. To help clients stay focused on their treatment, the top rehab centers should help facilitate communication with legal representatives while clients are in residential treatment.

12. Long-Term Support

Because relapse into alcohol use is common, a robust aftercare support program is an important part of any long-term recovery program. Aftercare should include services such as ongoing counseling, support group and specialist referrals, access to alumni activities, and possibly even assistance with finding employment.

Alcohol treatment aftercare services should not only be proactive in helping the individual return to a life of sobriety, but should offer a clear addiction relapse prevention plan.

See Reflections’ Aftercare Services

Where to Turn for Alcohol Abuse Solutions

With sound treatment and long-term support, overcoming alcohol addiction is a very real possibility. For anyone whose life has been impacted by alcoholism, the key to hope is reaching out to get professional help. No one should have to struggle with addiction alone, especially when there are tried-and-true practices that make recovery a real possibility for so many suffering from alcohol addiction.

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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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