Tag Archives: Popular

Living Sober

Sober living is  – you guessed it – a lifelong journey. It’s also a richly rewarding one, though it’s no easy task. Becoming independent of addiction can take months or even years, which is why it’s so important to maintain that hard-earned sobriety on a daily basis. Here are some tips and tools others in recovery have successfully used to stay clean and sober for life.

Sober Living Strategies

Have a Sober Companion

A sober companion (or sponsor) is someone who spends time with you and acts as a constant support system throughout your day. They provide emotional and physical encouragement as you maintain your sobriety.  Sober companions are also typically in recovery but have a long history of sobriety. Their experience means they remember how hard the beginning can be and know what helped them stay sober. The level of attachment is up to you. However, in the beginning, it’s important to spend most of your time with one or more sober companions. They will help you avoid triggering situations and people who could be a negative influence on the progress you’re making. 

Individuals new to recovery may also find it hard to self-motivate when working, cooking, and taking care of themselves. While a sober companion is not a maid or social worker, they can provide you with tips which have helped them steer their life onto the right path. Think of them as a close older sibling or mentor. 

Living Sober

Consider Sober Living Homes

Sober living homes are group homes for people who have just finished an inpatient recovery program. Also sometimes called halfway houses, they provide a safe, and temptation-free environment as you transition into your new lifestyle. Alcohol and other drugs are not allowed on the premises, and visitors are usually vetted before residents spend time with them. Life in this environment is essentially like renting a house with roommates, but with intentional rules and guidelines. Residents pay rent, pitch in on cleaning and maintenance duties, and keep each other accountable. While living at a sober living home, you are encouraged to find work while still attending meetings. There is usually a house manager who supervises the house and enforces the rules. For the most part, though, you are in charge of your life and recovery work. 

The benefit to sober living homes is that they create a supportive environment with like minded people who encourage you to make the right choices. They will expect the same from you. A study conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) found that a “lack of a stable, alcohol and drug-free living environment can be a serious obstacle to sustained abstinence.” Sober living homes can greatly increase your chances of long-term sobriety and help you build new, healthy relationships. 

Living Sober

Explore AA, NA, and Other Support Groups

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is the world’s best-known sobriety support group. It has chapters worldwide and most known for its “12-step program.” Joining an AA or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meeting puts you in community with larger groups of like-minded individuals. You will share stories, celebrate successes, and encourage each other to stay the path. Many people’s recovery journey begins at an AA-style meeting, and it is a great place to meet a sponsor or sober living companion. An AA program is more flexible and you can attend meetings that fit into your schedule. Joining a group like this is one of the best and most popular long-term sobriety tools. Even years after you move out of a sober living home and transition to a more normal lifestyle, going to meetings can help you stay grounded and intentional about your sobriety.

Sober Living and Avoiding Relapse

Addiction is a chronic disease. It even shares similar relapse rates with other chronic illnesses, such as type II diabetes. It’s no surprise that recovery is difficult- but that does not mean it is impossible. Statistically, relapse is most likely to occur during the first year of recovery. This is why long-term treatment programs and sober living houses can be so beneficial. Trying to assess how you will stay sober for a year is a daunting, even overwhelming task. Therefore, it is best to take bite-sized steps towards long-term recovery. Do not think of it as staying sober for a year. Rather focus on staying sober for a day, and watch that one day turn into days, weeks, and months. Take it one step at a time and find time to understand what your triggers are.

Triggers can be anything that causes you to repeat destructive behavior. It can be anything from being around intoxicated people to being stressed. Understanding and recognizing your triggers can help you avoid temptations to relapse. If you know that doing x will cause you to experience temptations, then avoid it as best as possible. It is easier to do so when you are surrounded by other people who are doing the same as with a sober living home. 

Living Sober

A common misconception is that “recovery” is complete when treatment ends. Recovery programs are intended to help set you on the right path, but actually staying on that path is your responsibility for life. You will probably always deal with certain substance abuse triggers and temptations. Recovery is about learning to avoid and manage them.  

Dealing With Relapse

If you have relapsed after attempting to get sober, it is not the end of the road. Many people experience a relapse at some point in their journey. Acknowledging that it is just a setback is the first step in dealing with it. Some people enter into a self-destructive mindset and convince themselves that since they have relapsed, lifetime recovery is impossible. This could not be farther from the truth. Remember that addiction is a chronic disease which means that statistically, relapse is more likely than not. What is important is the determination to keep trying. Reaching out to a recovery center is a helpful step in the right direction as it will realign you with your goals.

Getting help

Recovery is a difficult journey, but is one which will change your life for the better. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please contact us today. Together, we can help you begin your journey to lifetime recovery.

Why is fentanyl so dangerous?

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

What is fentanyl?

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

How does fentanyl work?

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

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

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

More serious side effects include:

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

Fentanyl vs morphine

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

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

fentanyl

Why is fentanyl so dangerous?

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

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

fentanyl opioid overdoses

Fentanyl and alcohol

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

How long does fentanyl stay in your system?

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

why is fentanyl so dangerous

Treatment

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

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

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