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There Is No Healthy Amount of Alcohol

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

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Alcohol addiction

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

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

How Much Alcohol Is Healthy?

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

Recent Study Published in The Lancet Comes to a Different Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drinking Increases Risk Development

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

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

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

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

Daily Drinking: Perceived Benefits vs. Risks

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

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

Heavy Alcohol Consumption and Binge Drinking Levels

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

The general standards for at-risk drinking are:

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

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

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

Potential Impact of Alcohol Use on the Body

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

Brain Function

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

Liver

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

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

Cancers

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

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

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

Heart Disease

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

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

Pancreatitis

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

Immune System

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

See More Alcohol Abuse Facts

What This Research Means

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

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

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

Explore Our Inpatient Program for Men

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

Substance Abuse Facts and Statistics: Differences Between Men and Women

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

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

Substance Abuse Trends in Men

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

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

Marijuana

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

Heroin

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

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

Substance Abuse Trends in Women

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

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

Prescription Painkillers

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

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

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

Common Factors that Influence Substance Abuse

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

Influential Addiction Factors for Men

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

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

Common Factors Influencing Drug Addiction in Women

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

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

Suicidal Tendencies of Men and Women with Addictions

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

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

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

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

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

Benefits of Sex-Specific Addiction Treatment

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

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

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

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

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

Get Our Free eBook on Sex-Specific Addiction Treatment

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

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

Alcohol Affects Bone Marrow and Red Blood Cell Production

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

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

Sideroblastic Anemia

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

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

Megaloblastic Anemia

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

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

Alcohol Leading to Red Blood Cell Disorders

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

Macrocytosis

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

Hemolytic Anemia

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

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

Alcohol’s Impact on White Blood Cells

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

Neutrophils

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

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

Monocytes and Macrophages

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

Alcohol Holds Back the Blood-Clotting System

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

Thrombocytopenia

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

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

Thrombocytopathy

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

Fibrinolysis Process Gets Impacted

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

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

Strokes

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

Two potential types of stroke are likely:

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

Alcohol’s Role in the Cardiovascular System

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

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

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

Preventing Alcoholic Blood Disorders

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

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

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

Learn About Alcohol & Hypoglcemia

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

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

What Is Fibromyalgia?

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

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

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

Fibromyalgia Symptoms

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

What Is Neuropathic Pain and Neuropathy?

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

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

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

What Causes Fibromyalgia?

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

Genetic Predisposition to Fibromyalgia and Neuropathy

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

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

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

Comorbidities and Illnesses Can Increase Your Risk of Fibromyalgia

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

Diseases that are commonly seen in fibromyalgia sufferers include:

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

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

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

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

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

Emotional and Physical Abuse Leading to Fibromyalgia and Neuropathic Pain

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

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

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Fibromyalgia

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

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

Lack of Exercise and Fibromyalgia

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

Fibromyalgia Is Most Commonly Diagnosed in Women

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

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

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

Untreated Anxiety and Depression Can Lead to Fibromyalgia

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

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

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

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

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

Alcohol and Fibromyalgia: Why Do Fibromyalgia Sufferers Abuse Alcohol?

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

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

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

Fibromyalgia Medications Carry the Risk of Addiction

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

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

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

Common prescription medications for fibromyalgia:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Help a Loved One Addicted to Pain Medication

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

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

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

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

Teen Illegal Drug Use on the Decline

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

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

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

Prescription Opioid Use Among Teens Is Concerning

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

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

Adolescent and Teen Mental Health Issues Still Prominent

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

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

Teen Bullying Statistics

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

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

Other Interesting Findings

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

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

The Takeaways

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

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

Getting a Teen Help for Drug Abuse and Mental Illness

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

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

Dual Diagnosis Resources

The Link Between Hunger Hormones, Substance Abuse and Addiction

When you start continually using a substance such as alcohol, opioids or cocaine, your body not only builds up a tolerance, but it eventually starts to develop cravings for that substance. This isn’t all too dissimilar to cravings you will have for certain kinds of food.

When one’s hunger hormones are out of whack, the person is at risk of overeating and eventually obesity. Researchers have begun studying this phenomenon as it relates to drug and alcohol use. And in limited trials to this point, they have found quite positive results.

This article will break down the likely connection between hunger hormones and substance cravings, and then we will get into the latest advancements and what they could mean for treating addiction in the near future.

How Hunger Hormones May Be Related to Substance Use 

As we learn more about overeating and obesity, the more important it is to focus on how hunger hormones (aka gut hormones) work. And as scientists study these hormones more and more, they are finding an increasingly stronger connection to the continued use of alcohol or drugs.

“Hormones from the gut act in the brain to modulate dopamine signaling, which controls decisions to seek out rewards,” said Dr. Mitchell Roitman, University of Illinois-Chicago neuroscientist, in a Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior article.

It’s no secret that drugs and alcohol have a direct effect on the brain’s dopamine production. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain sent by neurons to other nerve cells. In most cases, drug and alcohol use temporarily speeds up the production of dopamine. It tempts people into repeating and reinforcing this perceived pleasurable activity.

Prolonged substance use changes the brain’s natural ability to produce dopamine, and the body physiologically wants more of the substance in order to feel “normal” again. There is a reward in the brain when substances are used to achieve a certain state, and after a while, that reward almost becomes expected, leaving the person on edge until it is met again.

So if gut hormones have an effect on dopamine, and drugs and alcohol do, too, it follows that the key to fighting substance abuse should be in figuring out how to regulate these hormones. We are starting to understand that gut hormones are responsible for our cravings for more than just food, but any substance we put into our bodies.

Which Hormones Play a Role in Cravings?

There are three main gut hormones in play when it comes to regulating cravings and how “full” someone is regarding food, liquids, substances and more. These hormones are:

  • Ghrelin: The primary hunger hormone that increases appetite and food intake while promoting fat storage. It also plays a role in insulin release, and it can act on regions of the brain known for reward processing. A recent study found that ghrelin can influence the reward value of alcohol intake similar to the way it increases the reward value of food.
  • GLP-1: A hormone that releases while eating to tell the brain when the person has eaten enough. GLP-1 originates in the small intestine, and it stimulates insulin secretion while inhibiting glucagen secretion. This lowers the blood sugar levels in the body.
  • Amylin: Another hormone that tells the brain when to stop eating, and it also mitigates glucagen secretion. Diabetic patients are deficient in this peptide hormone.

Medications that Focus on These Hormones

If GLP-1 and amylin tell the person when to stop eating or drinking, then focusing on these hormones appears to be the key to regulating cravings and preventing overconsumption.

“Medications affecting GLP-1 and amylin are already FDA approved for Type II diabetes and obesity. These drugs could be repurposed for treating drug craving and relapse,” said Dr. Heath Schmidt of the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman Medical School.

And at the University of Rhode Island, a group of researchers from the school’s College of Pharmacy have begun studying how a ghrelin-inhibiting drug affects alcohol cravings. Their studies have worked under the theory that higher concentrations of ghrelin are associated with higher alcohol cravings and consumption.

Professor Fatemeh Akhlaghi said that his team has found positive results when using a drug to block ghrelin in order to stave off alcohol cravings. So far, they have tested this medication in rats, as well as 12 volunteer patients. Their study was published in May in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Granted, scientists need to do further research in order to make a rock-solid conclusion about treating substance cravings by inhibiting ghrelin. But, the early results show much promise, at least.

Types of Diabetes Drugs – and Their Drawbacks

When focusing on hunger hormones in order to reduce alcohol cravings, the goal would be to:

  • Mitigate ghrelin levels.
  • Increase GLP-1 and amylin production.

The University of Rhode Island team used a drug originally developed by Pfizer to treat obesity and diabetes in their study. Elsewhere, scientists are focusing on GLP-1 analogs and agonists. In total, all aforementioned drugs have to do with diabetes and obesity, but scientists are now looking at them as a potential solution to alcohol and drug cravings.

If you’re not familiar with GLP-1 agonists, also called incretin mimetics, some common names to know are (generic name followed by brand name in parentheses):

  • Dulaglutide (Trulicity)
  • Exenatide (Bydureon)
  • Exenatide (Byetta)
  • Liraglutide (Victoza)
  • Lixisenatide (Adlyxin)
  • Semaglutide (Ozempic)

An agonist means it boost the production of, in this case, GLP-1. The drugs listed here are for type 2 diabetes patients and injectable, but they aren’t insulin. Instead, they improve blood sugar control and make you feel “full” more quickly – and for a longer period of time. This helps prevent overeating and, by extension, promotes weight loss.

However, you have to be careful when using GLP-1 agonist drugs and watch for side effects such as:

  • Either diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Indigestion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Heavy sweating

Managing Cravings in Rehabilitation and Recovery

Drug and alcohol addiction recovery programs typically place a major emphasis on managing cravings. This is often part of their relapse prevention education, in which clients learn about cravings and then practice a few strategies for keeping them in check. This is especially important as they graduate the program and return home to everyday life with no therapist or doctor to watch over them 24/7.

Cravings tend to last two to five years in most clients, although they can persist longer in some cases. They tend to lessen in intensity and frequency in time, but it’s important for people in recovery to know how to manage them and not let them draw them into relapse.

Although medications such as diabetes drugs may eventually become popular in order to help with substance cravings, they are not quite ready yet. In the meantime, learn some tried-and-true relapse prevention techniques, and find a rehab program that will teach these to you and give you sufficient time to practice these before you return home as a sober individual.

See Our Relapse Prevention Resource

Preventing Suicide in Those Addicted to Drugs and Alcohol

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

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

Substance Use and Suicide

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

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

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

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

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

Mental Illness, Substance Abuse and Suicide

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

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

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

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

Risk Factors for Suicide

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

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

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

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

Warning Signs of Possible Suicide Attempt

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

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

Suicide in Younger Americans

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Forget Drug Overdose Risks

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

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

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

Preventing Suicide Crises

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

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

Intervention and Rehabilitation

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

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

Explore Our Drug & Alcohol Rehab Programs

Arizona Prescription Drug and Heroin Addiction: Treating the Opioid Epidemic in 2018

Arizona Prescription Opioid Abuse Statistics

Source: Office of the Arizona Governor Doug Ducey

Arizona has taken big steps toward fighting the opioid epidemic in Arizona in 2018. In addition to making more funding than ever before available to local agencies for the prevention and treatment of opioid addiction, the state has also unveiled the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act, and has put in place new Arizona opioid prescribing guidelines.

All of the steps that have been made in the past 1-2 years, are already starting to pay off, with initial signs that the rate of opioid overdoses has slowed down in its runaway growth. While Arizonans hope to see not just slowing, but a reversal of the Arizona opioid addiction trends, this is no doubt some good news that Arizonans need.

Learn More About Opioid Drug Addiction

2018

2018 Arizona Prescription Opioid Statistics

With Arizona’s signing of the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act, came some new statistics and insights into just how prescription opioid abuse and addiction has affected Arizona.

  • 812 Arizonans died of a suspected opioid overdose in just 6 months (between June 2017 and January 2018).
  • 5,202 Arizonans suffered a suspected opioid overdose.
  • 455 Arizona babies were born with NAS (Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome – Addicted to Opioids).
  • Over 6,000,000 opioids were found to be written by just 4 Arizona doctors in a 12 month period (in a county with a population of just 200,000).
  • 75% of heroin users in treatment admit that their addiction started with prescription painkiller opioids.
  • In 2016 almost 1,000 Arizona residents were found to be in possession of up to four different prescriptions from different doctors.
  • Governor Doug Ducey set limits on prescription opioid prescription amounts via Executive Order. This EO limits the first fill of prescription opioids to a seven day supply (only in cases where the State of Arizona is paying for the prescription).
  • Arizona’s Healthcare Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) is the leading payer for substance abuse treatment, drug rehab, and addiction treatment in the state of Arizona.
  • Investments into early addiction intervention, behavioral health counseling, and drug and alcohol detox in Arizona – through AHCCCS – has increased steadily over the past 4 years
    (2015: $162,939,257 | 2016: $207,603,832 | 2017: $236,316,548).
  • Arizona spends a total of $265 million each year in substance abuse treatment and addiction prevention.
  • Prior to the Enacting of the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act, only 47% of those that were treated for an overdose in Arizona emergency rooms were referred for addiction treatment.
  • 3,429 doses of Naloxone were administered by emergency medical services and law enforcement in the 6 months between June 2017 and January 2018. This does not include the number of doses that were administered in hospitals.
  • 86% of those that survived an opioid or heroin overdose in Arizona received Naloxone administered by emergency medical services and law enforcement.
  • Only 20% of Arizona primary care physicians stated that they were “very prepared to identify alcohol or drug dependence.” This means that 80% of Arizona doctors cannot confidently spot addiction in patients.
  • 40% of those in addiction treatment programs in Arizona state that their addiction was not identified by their doctors (primary care physicians).
Arizona Prescription Drug Overdose Statistics

Source: Office of the Arizona Governor Doug Ducey

Arizona Counties with the Most Opioid Overdoses Reported

Arizona Opioid Overdoses Reported from June 15, 2017 to January 11, 2018 *

  • Mohave County: 104 – 235 Opioid Overdoses
  • La Paz County: 1 – 103 Opioid Overdoses
  • Yuma County: 1 – 103 Opioid Overdoses
  • Coconino County: 1 – 103 Opioid Overdoses
  • Yavapai County: 104 – 235 Opioid Overdoses
  • Maricopa County: 3,114 Opioid Overdoses
  • Pima County: 993 Opioid Overdoses
  • Gila County: 1 – 103 Opioid Overdoses
  • Pinal County: 104 – 235 Opioid Overdoses
  • Santa Cruz County: 1 – 103 Opioid Overdoses
  • Navajo County: 1 – 103 Opioid Overdoses
  • Graham County: 1 – 103 Opioid Overdoses
  • Cochise County: 1 – 103 Opioid Overdoses
  • Apache County: 1 – 103 Opioid Overdoses
  • Greenlee County: 1 – 103 Opioid Overdoses
2018 Arizona Opioid Overdoses by County

2018 Arizona Opioid Overdoses by County

The 2nd Annual Southern Arizona Opioid Misuse Prevention Symposium

Arizona’s response to the opioid epidemic has been productive so far, and Arizonans are hoping to address even more points of addiction prevention in 2018. Come September, the 2nd Annual Southern Arizona Opioid Misuse Prevention Symposium will be an event held in Tucson, Arizona, gathering companies, healthcare providers, Arizona addiction treatment providers, and those looking to make a difference in the state.

With a focus on education and prevention of opioid misuse, opioid use disorders, and opioid addiction, the symposium is expected to boost measures, accountability, and bring new ideas into how the state can better work towards its goal of reversing the trends of the opioid addiction epidemic in Arizona.

The 2nd Annual Southern Arizona Opioid Misuse Prevention Symposium
Friday, September 28th, 2018
7:45am – 4:15pm
At The Tucson Convention Center, Copper Ballroom
260 South Church Street, Tucson, AZ 85709 | Parking Lot B

Register for this Event >>

Arizona Opioid Abuse and Addiction Prevention Resources

Developed in partnership with Arizona Prescription Drug Misuse & Abuse Initiative, Arizona Department of Health Services, University of Arizona College of Public Health, and University of Arizona College of Medicine, these online courses are offered for free to help Arizona doctors, prescribers, and those in the medical industry to learn how to put the best opioid abuse prevention practices into real life situations.

Managing virtual patients, the following courses are offered:

  • Introduction to Safe Prescribing of Opioids for Pain Management
  • Safe and Effective Opioid Prescribing While Managing Acute and Chronic Pain
  • Managing Opioid Misuse in Pregnancy and Neonatal Care
  • Opioid Issues in Youth Pain Management for Orthopedic Injuries

Because doctors, physicians, and pharmacists are on the front lines of prevention against prescription opioid abuse in Arizona, proper training can be the first line of defense in preventing further misuse and abuse of RX opioid drugs in Arizona

These Courses offer AMA PRA Category 1 Credit
Course Enrollment

Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act 2018: 

“Our package will attack this issue from all angels, while protecting individuals who suffer from chronic pain, and maintaining compassion for those struggling with addiction.” – Governor Doug Ducey, 2018 State of the State Address

In January of 2018, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey released a comprehensive and bipartisan package of legislation to address the opioid epidemic in Arizona. Governor Ducey touted the fact that this bill – as a package – attacks opioid addiction from all angles.

Using prevention and opioid education methods to prevent further growth of the opioid epidemic, going after “pill mills” (pain management companies/practices that engage in reckless prescribing practices), and making the life-saving opioid overdose reversal drug Naloxone.

Read Details of the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act:
Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act (English)Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act (Spanish)
 
Reflection’s Recovery Center of Prescott, Arizona is proud to support the actions that have already been taken in Arizona toward ending the opioid epidemic, and we believe that these efforts – in combination with the proper addiction treatment practices, including MAT and medical opioid detox – can make 2018 the turning point in the opioid epidemic in Arizona.

New Mexico Substance Abuse, Addiction Statistics and Addiction Treatment Options

As substance abuse trends change across the country, so do the substance abuse and addiction trends in the state of New Mexico. Drug abuse and alcoholism rates in New Mexico been higher than the National average for at least the past 35 years. However, with the nationwide rise in mental health issues and addiction rates – much of which can be attributed to the opioid epidemic – the demographics and trends of substance abuse and addiction have changed drastically.

Facts & Stats

New Mexico Addiction Statistics

Drug Overdoses in New Mexico

The most drastic change to New Mexico substance abuse and addiction statistics is seen in the rates of drug overdoses in the state. From the turn of the century, drug overdoses have spread like wildfire across the state of New Mexico, and overdoses – which were previously confined to poorer communities – have crept into every community, regardless of demographics.

Source: New York Times: How the Epidemic of Drug Overdose Deaths Ripples Across America | January 19, 2016

2016 United States Opioid Overdose Statistics

Source: CDC Drug Overdose Mortality by State: 2016

New Mexico Opioid Overdoses

In the past, New Mexico has seen increases and drops in overdose attributed to meth, synthetic marijuana, cocaine, and nearly every other drug – legal and illicit. In the past 15 years, however, it has been opioid overdoses that have grown exponentially, with no sign of slowing or stopping.

  • 22% of people in New Mexico know someone who has died of a drug overdose, and 54% admit to having a friend or family member with a substance abuse/addiction problem.
  • In 2016, New Mexico had the 12th highest drug overdose rate in the United States, at 25.2 deaths per capita (per 100,000 residents).
    1.) West Virginia (52.0) | 884 Deaths
    2.) Ohio (39.1) | 4,329 Deaths
    3.) New Hampshire (39.0) | 481 Deaths
    4.) Pennsylvania (37.9) | 4,627 Deaths
    5.) Kentucky (33.5) | 1,419 Deaths
    6.) Maryland (33.2) | 2,044 Deaths
    7.) Massachusetts (33.0) | 2,227 Deaths
    8.) Delaware (30.8) | 282 Deaths
    9.) Rhode Island (30.8) | 326 Deaths
    10.) Maine (28.7) | 353 Deaths
    11.) Connecticut (27.4) | 971 Deaths
    12.) New Mexico (25.2) | 500 Deaths 
  • New Mexico’s drug overdose mortality rate in 2014 was twice the National average (New Mexico – 26.4, United States – 14.7)
  • New Mexico’s drug overdose mortality rate in 2016 was 17.5 deaths per 100,000.
  • 547 deaths were blamed on drug overdoses in 2014; more than deaths from firearms, car accidents, and falling deaths.
  • In 2014, New Mexico drug overdose deaths by race were as follows:
    1.) Hispanic-White: 25.8 deaths (per 100,000 residents)
    2.) Non-Hispanic White: 26.2 deaths (per 100,000 residents)
    3.) Black: 15.8 deaths (per 100,000 residents)
    4.) Native American: 11.7 deaths (per 100,000 residents)
  • 70% of all drug overdose deaths in the year 2014 involved opioids or heroin (Opposed to cocaine, methamphetamine, and other drugs)
  • In 2014 7 people died of opioid overdoses every week
  • Opioid and heroin related deaths in New Mexico increased 95% from 200 to 214 (196 deaths to 382)
  • 78 opioid overdose deaths in 2016 were from synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil.
  • Of 2014 Opioid related deaths, 60% involved prescription opioids (without heroin), 30% involved heroin (without RX drugs), and 10% involved heroin and prescription drugs.
  • The overdose mortality rate in women in New Mexico increased 300% from 2000 to 2014.
New Mexico Alcohol Death Statistics

New Mexico Department of Health

Reflections Recovery: Arizona Men’s Only Opioid and Heroin Rehab for New Mexico Residents

Reflections Recovery Center – based in Prescott, Arizona – has been on the front lines of the battle against the opioid epidemic in Arizona since it first began. Our men’s only opioid and heroin addiction treatment programs have helped countless Arizona families find help for their loved ones struggling with addiction to heroin, prescription painkillers, and opioids.

Because our Arizona rehab patients have seen such success with our program – which utilizes a unique approach to long-term heroin recovery – we want to invite New Mexico families to consider our addiction treatment services for their loved ones.
Our opioid rehab programs are dual diagnosis treatment programs that treat co-occurring disorders for heroin and opioid substance abuse and addiction. We offer a full continuum of treatment – from initial detox through aftercare and long-term recovery monitoring – and put a high focus on educating our guests and preparing them for life after rehab.

If your son, brother, husband, or friend is struggling with heroin addiction in New Mexico, we invite you to contact us for an assessment. Reflections Recovery, and our unique opioid rehab program for men can be exactly what your loved one needs to accept treatment and find a way to be comfortable in his own sobriety.

Learn More About Our Arizona Holistic Rehab Program

New Mexico Alcohol Abuse Statistics

New Mexico Department of Health

Alcoholism, binge drinking, alcohol use disorders, and problematic drinking rates in New Mexico have long been higher than the National average. New Mexico has consistently had the highest rates of death due to alcohol-related circumstances in the United States since 1981.

  • Native Americans have the highest rates of alcohol-related deaths out of any ethnicity. Native Americans account for 10% of New Mexico’s population.
  • Alcohol abuse in New Mexico cost residents $2.5 Billion in 2006. That equals $1,230 per resident in the state.
  • Since 1981, New Mexico has consistently had one of the highest alcohol related death rates out of any State in the United States.
  • The leading cause of alcohol-related injury deaths in New Mexico between 2007 and 2011 was due to acute alcohol poisoning.
  • The alcohol-related mortality rate in New Mexico in 2016 was 69.6 deaths per 100,000 residents, more than double the National rate of 32.2 in 2015.
  • 1,254 people were killed in car accidents involving a drunk driver in New Mexico, between 2003 and 2012.
  • Alcohol-related deaths in Catron County, New Mexico between 2012 and 2016 were at 59.7 deaths per 100,000
  • Alcohol-related deaths in McKinley County, New Mexico between 2012 and 2016 were at 135.9 deaths per 100,000 – the second highest rate in New Mexico counties.
  • 6,188 deaths in New Mexico were attributed to alcohol between the years of 2011 and 2015; those deaths by age, sex, and race were as follows:Female Alcohol Related Deaths in New Mexico: 1,869
    Male Alcohol Related Deaths in New Mexico: 4,319
    Alcohol Related Deaths in Whites in New Mexico: 2,281
    Alcohol Related Deaths in Hispanics in New Mexico: 2,586
    Alcohol Related Deaths in Blacks in New Mexico: 90
    Alcohol Related Deaths in Asians/Pacific Islanders in New Mexico: 24
    Alcohol Related Deaths in American Indians in New Mexico: 1,166

     

  • Bernalillo County, NM Alcohol Related Death Rates were the highest in the state (1,883)
  • Rio Arriba County, NM had the highest alcohol mortality rate per capita (144.5 deaths per 100,000).
  • Grant County, NM has the highest alcohol-mortality rate among Native Americans in the state with 245.8 alcohol related deaths per 100,000 residents.
  • Harding County, NM had the lowest rate of alcohol-related deaths in the State (5.9 per 100,000).

Reflections Recovery: Arizona Men’s Only Alcohol Rehab for New Mexico Residents

Reflections Recovery Center’s alcohol treatment programs have consistently been rated as the top treatment programs for alcohol use disorders in the country. Our approach to problematic drinking is evidence based, with a holistic focus.

Our holistic alcohol rehab program utilizes proven techniques for alcohol relapse prevention, and we treat alcohol use disorders as dual diagnosis concerns – allowing for us to address the mental, social and cultural aspects of alcohol addiction, as well as any underlying co-occurring disorders that are contributing to the alcohol dependence.

How can our alcohol treatment program in Arizona help New Mexico families that are struggling with alcoholism? We offer a unique approach to alcohol treatment, with a focus on long-term recovery and sobriety. Our program is not just a set amount of days’ worth of sobriety that our guests need to try and continue after rehab. We teach our guests how to recognize the triggers that give them the urge to drink, and educate them on how to respond to those triggers in a positive way.

Through adventure therapy, we show our guests the beauty of a life without alcohol, and instill them with the tools they need to keep seeking the beauty and enjoyment in life, long after initial treatment has commenced.

Learn More About Our Arizona Holistic Rehab Program

Drug Overdose Crisis Growing in Colorado

The drug overdose crisis is one of the biggest threats the United States faces, and the state of Colorado is no exception to this devastating trend. In 2016, more than 900 people died of drug overdoses in Colorado, which is 300 people more than the number of deaths in auto accidents in the state that year.

Preliminary statistics indicate the 2017 overdose death total will increase in Colorado as well. Experts say pharmaceutical opioids are the cause of about two-thirds of overdose deaths. These include oxycodone, morphine, codeine and Percocet. The remaining third of overdose deaths are from heroin. 

While the Denver and Colorado Springs areas saw more than 100 deaths each due to heroin and opioid overdoses, some of the least-populated areas in the state also endured a disheartening number of overdose-related deaths. These are some of the key findings in the Colorado Health Institute’s recent report, “Death by Drugs: Colorado at Record High.”

Opioid Deaths Rising in Colorado 

Heroin- and opioid-related deaths rose at a rapid pace during the last few years. The Colorado Department of Public Health reported that deaths caused by heroin in Denver have shot up a whopping 933 percent since 2002. The figures also indicate a 759 percent increase in heroin-related deaths from 2001 to 2016 in Colorado overall. Further findings indicate other opioid related-deaths went up 128 percent during the last 15 years.

The 912 deaths in 2016 indicate 16.1 heroin- and opioid-related overdose deaths per 100,000 residents of Colorado. This is an 83 percent increase from the 2001 rate.

Colorado Fatal Drug Overdoses by County

For 2016, the 16.1 overdose deaths per 100,000 residents rate is only slightly higher than the state rate in 2014 and 2015, and it is admittedly lower than the national average of 19.8 drug fatalities per 100,000 residents that year.

Still, these numbers offer little comfort when considering the rate of fatalities within Colorado by county. In fact, when taking a closer look at the death rate resulting from drug overdoses by county, the underlying increase in state overdose fatalities becomes even more apparent.

In El Paso County, 141 people died in 2016 because of drug overdoses, while Denver County saw a similar number (138 overdose-induced deaths). While the numbers are lower in other Colorado counties, this is only because the total number of residents is smaller when compared to more-populated regions.

The fatality rates in smaller counties are remarkably higher than those in populated places when measured per resident. For example, in Huerfano County, there were only six reported deaths because of drug overdoses in 2016, but since the population is 6,700. That means the death rate for this county is an unsettling 152.6 per 100,000 residents.

Below, we have formed two brief lists to provide a glimpse into the extent of the issue within each county and the state of Colorado as a whole. The lists feature the four Colorado counties with the largest numbers of fatal drug overdoses and the four with the highest death rates for 2016.

Colorado Counties with the Largest Numbers of Overdose Deaths in 2016 

  1. El Paso County experienced 141 overdose deaths. With a population of 690,207 residents, the county’s overdose fatality rate for the year was 20.4.
  2. Denver County saw 138 deaths because of drug overdoses. Maintaining a population of 693,292, the county’s death rate was 19.2.
  3. Adams County sustained a total number of 92 deaths. With a population of 497,673 residents, the overdose death rate was 18.6.
  4. Jefferson County‘s population of 571,711 saw 91 overdose fatalities, marking a death rate of 16.4.

Colorado Counties with the Highest Overdose Death Rates in 2016 

  1. Huerfano County had 6,642 residents and saw six drug fatalities, but the death rate per resident was 152.6.
  2. With a populace of 6,497, Rio Blanco County had three deaths and saw a death rate of 52.2.
  3. Las Animas County had a population of 14,082 and saw eight deaths, indicating a death rate of 50.9.
  4. Montezuma County experienced 10 deaths among its population of 26,906. This makes its death rate 42.8.

Consequences of Addiction

As the statistics show, opioid and heroin are far more common than most people think. Not only has opioid use risen in the past decade, but accidental overdoses on prescription opioid painkillers have more than doubled since 1999.

Overdose fatalities and addiction cases are destroying the lives of individuals and families across Colorado and the United States. As the problem worsens, more people are seeking professional drug help in Colorado.

With a concentration on expanding awareness and creating innovative treatment options, Colorado addiction treatment centers and Colorado heroin rehabs continue to demonstrate their commitment to making the state a safer and healthier place. 

Finding Colorado Heroin Rehab Here or Out of State

To treat an addiction to heroin or opioids, it is imperative to address both the physical and emotional health of each individual. If the addiction started due to a prescription that was supposed to address symptoms of physical pain, it is crucial to help individuals find a way to deal with the pain without using these substances.

People struggling with addiction also must address any mental and emotional issues they have tried to bury with substance abuse. In many cases, individuals with physiological issues attempt to use drugs as a form of self-medication. Even if an individual does not have any psychological disorders, he or she  needs to find a way to change behaviors to live a fulfilling, healthy life.

Reflections Recovery Center is located in the neighboring state of Arizona and can help fill the void that Colorado treatment centers leave. With a reputation for helping individuals rebuild their lives and mend their relationships, Reflections is an attractive choice for a number of families who are seeking Colorado heroin addiction help.

Learn About Our Prescott, AZ Location

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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