Tag Archives: Recovery Process

Agitated Depression

Most people see depression as black and white – you either have it or you don’t. However, depression can present itself in many different forms, making treatment more complicated. Agitated depression is one form that is often overlooked, but it is just as serious. If it isn’t treated, it can feed into substance abuse cycles and damage long-term well-being. 

What is Agitated Depression?

Agitated depression is a type of depression which comes with strong feelings of restlessness and anger. Though it is not a medical term, it is a good description of some people’s symptoms. It usually means a combination of depression and anxiety.  Agitation is common in people who deal with major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. 

So what is the main difference between ‘normal’ depression and agitated depression? Major depression on its own does not usually cause agitated behavior. Typically, there is an additional underlying cause to the agitation, but it can heighten and complicate the depressive feelings. 

Agitated Depression

What is Agitation?

Agitation can have several symptoms:

  • Angry outbursts
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Inability to sit still
  • Tension
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Clenching fists
  • Problems focusing
  • Pacing
  • Fidgeting 

It is essentially a very restless state. Agitation can be the result of being in a new environment, being uncomfortable, recovering from substance abuse and dependency, or having alcohol in the system. Though it can be very difficult to pinpoint the direct source of agitation, some studies have found a strong correlation between substance dependence and agitation.  

What is Depression?

Depression has varying levels of severity. It is the most common mental illness in the United States, and over 17.3 million adults reported experiencing at least one depressive episode in 2017. Depression often comes with persistent feelings of sadness or loss of interest in activities you once found enjoyable. The causes of depression are very diverse and can be difficult to accurately identify. However, there have been strong ties found between depression and substance abuse. Typically, individuals consume drugs as a means of altering their state of mind or avoiding their own reality. When not under the influence and faced with the facts of their life, people with depression can come face to face with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Mental illness coupled with substance use disorders are collectively referred to as co-occurring disorders, and a reported 8.5 million adults dealt with some form of a co-occurring disorder in 2017.

Agitated Depression

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling sad
  • Hating life
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Changes in appetite 
  • Loss of energy
  • Lethargy 
  • Insomnia 
  • Feelings of worthlessness 
  • Feelings of guilt 
  • Suicidal thoughts

Depression does not develop the same way for everyone, but it does tend to follow certain patterns. Often, the disease progresses slowly over time. However, sudden tragic events can also trigger it, such as physical trauma or the death of a loved one. Depression is a curable illness, but overcoming it is more likely with personal attention from a trained professional. If depression is left untreated, it can cause long term emotional damage and even lead to suicide. 

What is a Co-Ocurring Disorder?

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) defines Dual Diagnosis (or co-occurring disorder) as the simultaneous experience of substance abuse disorders and mental illness. Either the mental illness or substance use disorder can develop first and cause the other disease to appear. Dual diagnosis can create a vicious cycle of bad habits. Some people choose to get high as a way of avoiding their depression, for example. If the depression is never truly treated, they may simply resort to drugs each time their depression symptoms flare up. With enough use, this “self medication” becomes a habit, causing a recurring cycle of depression and drug abuse. It can get out of hand very quickly and needs to be treated by a mental health professional. 

Suicide Prevention

Depression is one of the leading causes of suicide. Suicide on its own is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and 2nd leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34. In 2018, an estimated 48,000 people committed suicide in the US alone. Given that depression is a major catalyst for suicide, emphasis should be placed on treatment. An estimated two thirds of individuals suffering from depression do not seek treatment. 

Treatment

Depression is something many people are familiar with. However, it is not an end state. Treatment, recovery and happiness are absolutely achievable. Changing lifestyle habits can be an effective way of dealing with depression, though managing symptoms does not solve the problem. In order to cure the illness, you have to address the root causes, rather than just treat symptoms. Getting help from a professional who can help address the causes of depression and agitation can increase your chances of recovery. If you or someone you know has been suffering from agitated depression and substance abuse, contact us today so we can help on your road to recovery. 

Baclofen Withdrawal

Baclofen is an antispasmodic medicine, which means it treats muscle spasms and twitches by relaxing the body’s muscles. When taken as directed by a doctor, it can be an effective treatment for symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, spinal injuries, and even alcohol detox. On its own, it is not a particularly addictive drug. However, mixing it with other drugs, such as marijuana, alcohol, or opioids, can increase the “high” it causes, making Baclofen potentially addictive. When someone is dependent on baclofen, stopping suddenly can cause serious withdrawal symptoms – sometimes the same symptoms it is intended to treat. 

What is Baclofen?

Baclofen works by reducing the communication between muscles and the central nervous system. This makes stiffness and spasms less likely. Doctors usually prescribe Baclofen to treat patients with medical conditions that cause these symptoms, such as multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injuries. While more medical proof is needed, one study  showed that baclofen can also help with alcohol addiction by reducing or even eliminating cravings.  People usually take it in tablet form, and medical professionals may sometimes administer it by injecting it into a patient’s spinal fluid. Patients may also apply it to the skin as a cream or liquid. Baclofen’s side effects are generally mild:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Headaches
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Nausea

Baclofen WithdrawalThere are no specific drugs that are prescribed with Baclofen, but there are several that should be avoided while taking it. Codeine, fentanyl, and morphine all have major interactions with Baclofen. Each of these drugs combined with Baclofen have similar side effects, the worst of which include trouble breathing, coma, and death. When combining baclofen with alcohol, someone may experience dizziness, drowsiness, or difficulty concentrating. Some people may even have trouble thinking or making clear-headed decisions. If you are taking baclofen, you should avoid operating machinery or driving until you know how it affects you, and do not combine it with other drugs without doctor supervision.

Is Baclofen Addictive?

Most people who abuse baclofen don’t do so intentionally at first. Someone may begin taking more than their directed dose thinking that more is better. People also sometimes mix it with other drugs without knowing the possible interactions and start down a dangerous path. Doctors commonly prescribe the use of Baclofen to treat withdrawal symptoms of other addictive substances, but Baclofen itself can become addictive. This means it can cause its own set of withdrawal symptoms. Some people abuse baclofen on its own (though this is rare), and abuse can develop into addiction. In one case, a user experienced feelings of well-being and pleasure for no apparent reason, as well as a craving for Baclofen. However, even a small decrease in dosage caused the patient to experience withdrawal symptoms.Baclofen Withdrawal

Baclofen Withdrawal

Baclofen withdrawal begins immediately after someone stops taking the drug, and the symptoms are sometimes severe. This usually happens when someone quits “cold turkey” – going from a full, regular dosage to nothing at all. However, withdrawal symptoms can also appear when a patient simply decreases their usual dose.  Since dependence is possible even in small doses, it is important to start and stop taking baclofen gradually.  Consult a medical professional if you think you should stop taking Baclofen or if it isn’t working for you. Some of the most common baclofen withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Agitation/Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion

However, quitting baclofen can also cause more serious symptoms:

  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Delusions
  • Psychosis

These are more likely to occur if someone has been abusing baclofen along with alcohol or other drugs. This is where medically-supervised detox can be important and even life-saving.Baclofen Withdrawal

Overcoming Baclofen Withdrawal

Baclofen withdrawal symptoms are serious, and can occur very quickly, sometimes appearing as soon as 48 hours after someone stops taking the medication. Depending on withdrawal severity, some people may need medical attention. Because many people often don’t realize withdrawal can occur while taking Baclofen, they may simply stop taking it altogether, and not realize the consequences. It’s important to remember the seriousness of baclofen withdrawal and speak to your doctor if you want or plan to stop taking baclofen. 

The Bottom Line

While baclofen can be extremely beneficial when treating muscle spasms or alcohol detox, no one should take it casually. Baclofen can be abused by itself or with other drugs, sometimes leading to dangerous side effects. Dependence to baclofen also develops relatively quickly, and can occur even even if someone is taking a small amount. Since withdrawal symptoms can be so severe, caution is key when deciding how to stop taking Baclofen. If you think you or a loved one is struggling with Baclofen abuse, or any addiction, reach out for help. Contact us and we can help you on your journey to sobriety.

Tired of Life


For many of us, stress and anxiety are part of life.  However, you should never ignore or brush them off. If left alone, these “everyday” feelings can develop into depression or a sense of dread and general exhaustion. Over time, mental health disorders can make you more susceptible to drug use, or even worsen addiction symptoms. Feeling tired of life is something to take seriously. However, this condition is far from hopeless. There are many effective, proven routes toward regaining your mental health, sobriety, and overall happiness. 

What is Depression?

Depression is a very misunderstood condition. Oftentimes, people associate depression with general feelings of sadness. They may also assume a depressed person should just be able to “snap out of it.” While everyone experiences sadness in life, clinical depression is a very different issue. 

Clinical depression (or major depression) is a disorder characterized by persistent depressive moods and behavior. Someone dealing with depression may lose interest in activities they once enjoyed and distance from friends and family. The disorder can also contribute to substance abuse problems. Depression can seriously affect sleep, appetite, energy levels, and day-to-day activities. Some people with high functioning depression can hide their sadness and loss of interest in life from those around them. However, this doesn’t mean their condition is any less serious or worthy of attention.

What Does it Mean to be Tired of Life?

Depression and existential dread often go hand in hand. In other words, life can begin to feel unenjoyable or even meaningless. When people say that they are tired of life, they generally mean they are tired of the routine they have fallen into and their lives lack excitement. However, feelings like this can turn into major depression. They can also factor into relapse for people with a substance abuse history.

Tired of Life

Addiction and Mental Health

Addiction and mental health are two very closely related issues. They can feed off each other, and one can cause or contribute to the other. In the medical world, examining both issues from a causation standpoint is known as Dual Diagnosis. Research showed that 60 percent of adolescents with a substance use disorder (SUD) also have some form of mental illness. 

So why are the two so connected? The U.S Library of Medicine found three possible answers to this question:

  1. There may be common risk factors between SUD and mental illness such as genetics or trauma. 
  2. Mental disorders can lead to SUD. For example, someone dealing with feelings of sadness or depression may choose to use drugs to artificially elevate their mood.
  3. SUD can lead to mental disorders. Drugs will change the chemistry in your brain to make it more susceptible to depression and other mental illnesses. Further, individuals who are abusing drugs may recognize their problem, but feel helpless in stopping it. This can seriously affect their emotional well-being. 

How do You Treat a Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis treatment is a holistic approach. Healthcare providers consider which condition started first and how it has impacted the other. For example, if a mental illness was already present when drug use started, it can be identified as the primary catalyst for the issue. Both issues must be addressed fully. Simply managing symptoms will not create a lasting solution. 

Integrated treatment is often the best option for someone with a dual diagnosis. It generally combines rehabilitation that can treat both drug abuse and mental health disorders. These steps will be different for each person. Professionals directly address someone’s individual problems and seek to treat the root cause or causes. 

Tired of Life

Treatment Types

Detoxification

The major first step in an integrated intervention is detoxing the body of any present substances. In a medically-supervised detox, this can involve giving the patient small doses of the drug over a certain period of days in order to taper them off and soften withdrawal symptoms. Going “cold turkey,” or quitting suddenly, often leads to incredibly painful withdrawals which can make sobriety seem impossible.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy revolves around cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This treatment type helps individuals identify negative thinking patterns in an effort to change those behaviors. 

Medications

The use of medications during an integrated intervention is carefully monitored so as to not create an additional dependency as a means of solving a previous one. However, medications can be genuinely helpful when treating mental health disorders.

Supportive Housing

Supportive housing, or a sober home, is a place where people with similar sobriety goals live together and hold each other accountable. They provide mutual support through their respective recovery journeys. Often, they attend meetings or other support groups together. 

Support Groups

Joining a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous is another step in the integrated intervention program. It allows patients to tell their stories and share their lives in a judgement-free zone. This is often an extremely beneficial outlet for people with mental health issues.

Tired of Life

Getting Help if You Feel Tired of Life

For someone struggling with mental health, substance abuse, or both, seeking professional treatment is the best route towards real, meaningful healing. If you or a loved one is experiencing addiction or depression symptoms, get help now. Contact us today so we can help you begin your journey to lifelong recovery. Or consider a partner facility for drug rehab in Prescott, Arizona.

Trazodone Withdrawal


One of the most difficult points in the journey to sobriety is going through withdrawal. Withdrawal is a side effect when quitting any addictive substance, and Trazodone, an prescription medication, can cause withdrawal symptoms. A trazodone withdrawal generally occurs when someone has been regularly abusing the drug, and the symptoms can be severe. Understanding the effects of a withdrawal can help you better manage symptoms and seek help. 

What is Trazodone?

Trazodone has relatively little perceived value for recreational purposes, but can still be addictive. It is a prescription medication given to patients suffering with depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Classified as a Serotonin Antagonist and Reuptake Inhibitor (SARI), it prevents serotonin from being reabsorbed into the neurons, thus creating an abundance in the brain. Colloquially known as the “happy chemical,” serotonin is speculated to improve your mood when it is released naturally. 

Trazodone WithdrawalHowever, trazodone cannot effectively make someone feel happy on its own. Antidepressants work to manage symptoms rather than treat the underlying mental health issues. One of the ways trazodone achieves this is by providing a sedative effect to the patient. Therefore, it is not surprising to find that some people use it to treat insomnia. The mixture of sedation and relief can make the drug somewhat addictive. It does not cause a euphoric high; rather, the effect is more akin to Xanax or other benzodiazepines.

What is Withdrawal?

Withdrawal is the adjustment period following the immediate cessation of drug use. The body can experience negative symptoms when adjusting to not having a certain chemical or drug in its system. In the case of trazodone, the body will need to adjust to the sudden decrease in the brain’s serotonin levels. Withdrawal can have an emotional and physical impact, and its severity depends on a person’s history of abuse with the drug as well as the type of drug itself.

Different drugs come with different withdrawal timelines. For example, heroin withdrawal can last anywhere from 8 hours to 10 days. It is not known exactly how long trazodone withdrawals last. However, symptoms can begin hours after stopping and can continue for days or even weeks. Some symptoms of a trazodone withdrawal include:

  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Lethargy
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Seizures 

Given that trazodone is mainly used to treat depression and insomnia, patients will likely experience those symptoms first.

Trazodone Withdrawal Management 

There are ways to lessen the negative experience of withdrawals. Some users may choose to go “cold turkey,” where they suddenly stop taking the drug. While this may seem like an effective method, it can actually make your withdrawal symptoms worse. Keep in mind that the body is very adaptive in nature. Part of having an addiction is the process of your brain and body developing a tolerance for a certain stimuli – where it essentially gets used to having that substance. Quitting can cause a shock to the body – like the feeling of going outside on a cold day after being indoors. 

Trazodone Withdrawal

One way to mitigate this shock is by gradually tapering your exposure to the stimulus. The same is true in reverse. Tapering your drug use will make the withdrawals less severe. For example, if you are used to taking 10mg of trazodone every day, it can help to take only 9mg the next day and so on. This is not necessarily a linear progression, and every body responds differently. 

This is why it can be so important to seek medical help. A professionally trained individual can help you create a plan which minimizes the effects of a withdrawal.

How Long Does Trazodone Stay in Your System?

Trazodone has a half life of 5-13 hours. A substance’s half life is an indication of how long it will take for the ingested dosage to effectively reduce to half of its original amount. For example, if you take 10mg of trazodone, it will take approximately 5-13 hours for that to effectively become 5mg. While this does provide some insight as to how fast the drug will leave your body, it does not represent how long it can be detected via drug testing. Trazodone drug tests are quite rare. However, trazodone can be flagged as a false positive for MDMA with EMIT urine tests.

Trazodone Withdrawal

Getting Help During a Trazodone Withdrawal 

Withdrawals can be a very painful process which can make reaching sobriety quite difficult. However, it is important to keep the long-term picture in mind. Initial withdrawal symptoms are usually confined to a few weeks at most (though you may eventually deal with longer-term withdrawal symptoms such as cravings). As we mentioned, it is best to get professional supervision when attempting to stop substance abuse of any kind. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact us today so that we can help you begin your journey to sobriety, together.

Hydrocodone and Alcohol


Combining any drug with alcohol can lead to an overdose and should be avoided. Some combinations, such as hydrocodone and alcohol, are especially dangerous. Generally speaking, drinking alcohol should always be avoided after taking any kind of medication. However, in order to understand why, it is important to know the risks of mixing drugs. 

What is Hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone is an opioid agonist which is used to treat moderate-to-severe pain. It is a moderately potent opioid containing acetaminophen. It works by binding to and activating the mu-opioid receptors in the central nervous system, which in return causes analgesia (inability to feel pain), euphoria, cough suppression, respiratory depression and physical dependence. Hydrocodone’s other side effects include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Dry mouth
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Back pain
  • Muscle tightness
  • Painful urination
  • Ringing ears
  • Insomnia
  • Swelling of extremities

Its ability to cause a sense of euphoria is common amongst all opioids. This euphoria is one of the primary reasons hydrocodone and opioids in general are considered to be highly addictive substances. However, hydrocodone is not commonly considered a powerful opioid, and some people mistakenly see it as a “safe” drug. 

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) categorizes drugs based on their potential for abuse and medical utility. For example, a Schedule I drug has no medical uses and has a very high potential for abuse. These include heroin, LSD, ecstacy and peyote. Hydrocodone is classified as a Schedule II drug, as it has some identified medical purposes but a high potential for abuse, addiction, and other health risks.

Hydrocodone is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. Depressants actively slow down critical nerve functions, such as breathing and cognitive ability. Alcohol is also a CNS depressant and has similar effects. Mixing the two increases the risk of experiencing an overdose.

Hydrocodone and Alcohol

What Happens During an Overdose?

An overdose is simply the body’s negative response to more of a drug or chemical than it can handle. It can occur when taking too much of a drug or when combining two or more drugs which have similar effects. CNS depressants cause critical nerve function to slow down – specifically, the risk lies mostly with the respiratory system (since opioids slow down breathing). If you consume too much of a depressant, an overdose can occur. Not all overdoses are fatal; however, they can cause long-term organ damage. Without a consistent oxygen supply, the brain can experience permanent damage. If breathing is severely or completely impaired for any length of time, a fatal overdose is very likely. 

Other signs of an overdose include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Chest pain
  • Gurgling sounds
  • Blue lips and fingers
  • High body temperature
  • Unresponsiveness 
  • Convulsions
  • Tremors
  • Unconsciousness
  • Vomiting

If you think someone has overdosed, call emergency services immediately. The ability to recognize an overdose in its early stages could be the difference between a fatal and non-fatal overdose.

Hydrocodone and Alcohol

What Happens When You Mix Hydrocodone and Alcohol?

Given that both drugs are CNS depressants, combining them makes overdose is more likely. The the body will suffer the combined effects of the opioid and alcohol, which may be too much for it to handle. Generally speaking, when combining two or more drugs, the drugs work to enhance each other’s negative side effects (without increasing any positive ones). This applies to hydrocodone and alcohol. However, even without the overdose risk, the combined influence of the two drugs can cause you to engage in dangerous behavior (such as driving) while under the influence, and increase the risk of accidents. 

Hydrocodone and Alcohol

How long does Hydrocodone stay in your system?

Hydrocodone has a half-life of 3-5 hours. This means it will take 3-5 hours for the ingested dose to effectively reduce to half of its original dose. If you take 10mg of hydrocodone, it will take 3-5 hours for that to reduce down to 5mg in your body. Even after the effects have worn off, drug tests can reveal the presence of hydrocodone in the body for days or weeks. Hydrocodone leaves the body faster than other opioids, but can still be detected in saliva 12-36 hours after last ingestion, in urine 2-4 days, and in hair for up to 90 days.

How quickly the body metabolizes hydrocodone differs from person to person. Various factors such as body fat percentage, age, history with the drug, and organ function all play a role in how effectively your body is able to process drugs and chemicals.

Hydrocodone and Alcohol: Getting help

Addiction is considered a chronic illness ,which means it has the same relapse rates as other chronic diseases. This can make lifelong sobriety very difficult. However, it does not make it impossible. The journey is different for everyone, and most people need professional assistance. A professional can help diagnose and treat the underlying causes behind the addiction, rather than just attempting to manage the symptoms. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact us today so that we can help begin your journey to sobriety.

Relapse Prevention Plan


If you or a loved one has gone through the recovery process, then relapse is an all too familiar term.  Unfortunately, relapse is a common occurrence for those struggling with substance abuse.  Too often, people will enter sobriety, work on themselves and their substance issues, only to relapse after days, weeks, months, or even years of sobriety.  This is where a relapse prevention plan comes in handy; by creating and utilizing a relapse prevention plan, individuals can highly increase their chances of not only staying sober, but getting back to healthy habits and sobriety if/when relapse does occur.

What is a Relapse Prevention Plan?

Typically, a relapse prevention plan is a guide to understanding your patterns, and then setting actionable goals around what to do if relapse does occur.  The plan is two-fold: if you can identify triggers, cravings, and potential pitfalls ahead of time, you are more likely to avoid relapse in the first place.  Secondly, you’ll want to have a predetermined plan around exactly what to do, who to call, and where to “restart” if relapse does occur.

Let’s look at the first portion of a relapse prevention plan first, i.e. self-awareness.  A standard relapse prevention plan will want to identify common triggers and cravings.

Relapse Prevention Plan

Triggers

So what exactly are triggers?  They can be essentially anything that causes cravings for a person struggling with substance abuse.  People, places, and things can catalyze powerful sensory recall. Oftentimes, addicts/alcoholics are unaware that these triggers exist until they are already dangerously close to a relapse.  However, because of the way our brains operate, each trigger is going to be highly personal.  Let’s look at some examples of how this might differ from person to person:

People

The most common “people” triggers are those that the individual used drugs/alcohol with.  Certain friend groups, or even family members, can trigger cravings almost immediately if there are memories of drug use associated with the person.  One individual might be triggered by their parents (especially if they are habitual drug/alcohol users). Someone else might find their parents to be the best people that help foster and support a sober lifestyle. 

Places

As far as triggering places go, it is frequent that individuals will experience strong cravings when returning to environments that they previously used drugs/alcohol in.  Households, old neighborhoods, concert venues, hiking trails, vehicles: they can all trigger sensory recall of a time when using substances was still fun, before the addiction took over. 

Cravings

Things

Are you seeing a common thread yet?  That’s right, any ’thing’ that a person has associated with their past drug use can be extremely triggering.  Paraphernalia can be especially triggering. However, even “positive” objects can bring someone back to old times very quickly, and often with negative effects.  Though counterintuitive, sometimes even an old photo of happier times with supportive people can cause a craving immediately.

Identifying people, places, and things that are associated with past substance use can be paramount to a person’s continued, long-term sobriety.  Often, for at least the first year of sobriety, persons will want to actively avoid these triggers to the best of their ability.  

As the old saying from Alcoholics Anonymous goes: “If you hang out in the barbershop long enough, you’re bound to get a haircut”.

Relapse Prevention and Cravings

What exactly are cravings?  By common definition, cravings are physical and mental urges to use drugs and/or alcohol.  Cravings can be extremely powerful, especially in the first year of sobriety.  Many cravings are brought on by triggers, as discussed above.  However, sometimes cravings can happen for no obvious reason, regardless of sensory recall or otherwise.  

There are some general timelines to be aware of, typically described as Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS).  Generally, the sobriety milestones of 30, 60, 90, and 180 days are prone to increased PAWS, and thus cravings.  This is because of the dopamine and serotonin disruption that substances cause to the brain, and those receptors will recover over time.  Thankfully, the physical symptoms of cravings only last approximately 10-20 minutes.  Thus, if you can utilize the coping skills you identify in your relapse prevention plan, there is opportunity for success every single time you experience physical cravings.

Relapse Prevention Plan

Mental cravings, however, are different than the physical.  While physical cravings are brief, the mental side can be carried on for hours.  Again, it is paramount that individuals suffering from substance abuse use their coping skills to relieve the mind of the need to use.  In early sobriety, limiting distractions of any sort can be of the utmost importance to getting through cravings.

Coping Skills

Coping skills tie into the second portion of relapse prevention plans. It is essential for someone in recovery to develop a set of actions they can engage in prior to or after a potential relapse.  Prior to relapse, coping skills can be utilized to disengage from triggering situations and intense cravings.  Some examples of these types of coping skills might include:

  • Going for a run
  • Calling a close friend or family member
  • Playing an instrument
  • Cooking a good meal
  • Swimming, biking, playing sports – any type of physical activity can help

If relapse does occur, then alternate coping skills should be put in place as quickly as possible in order to minimize the risk of prolonged drug/alcohol use.  Many people in sobriety use coping skills and plans of action such as:

  • Attending a community support group meeting (such as Alcoholics Anonymous)
  • Calling a sponsor, or other trusted confidant
  • Having an individual therapy session with a therapist

Sobriety and Your Relapse Prevention Plan

Relapse prevention plans will need to be created on an individual basis, as each individual’s struggles and needs are unique.  Developing an understanding of these three core concepts (triggers, cravings, and coping skills) will greatly increase a person’s chances of long-term recovery and sobriety.  Substance abuse is an extremely potent disease, from both physiological and mental perspectives. It is important to take every precaution necessary.

Relapse Prevention PlanIf you need help developing a relapse prevention plan, or need help addressing a loved one’s substance abuse issue, please contact us today.  Our highly-trained addiction specialists will be happy to aid you in the journey of recovery.

ETOH Abuse

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

What is ETOH?

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

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

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

ETOH Abuse

Why does alcohol make you drunk?

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

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

ETOH Abuse

 ETOH abuse

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

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

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

How long does alcohol stay in your system?

ETOH Abuse

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

Treatment

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

Recovery for Life

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

What are the stages of addiction?

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

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

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

Different Stages of Addiction

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

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

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

recovery for life

How does Reflections approach recovery?

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

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

substance use disorder

What is recovery for life?

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

recovery for life

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

Treatment

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

Nutrition in Recovery

Nutrients found in food are essential to life. They provide calories and energy that is needed so we can go throughout our days. It is possible though to consume food without much nutrition and feel like you’re able to go about your day with no problems. The connection between food and health might not always be so clear to everyone. What may or may not seem obvious, is that food impacts our health and how we deal with daily life. With processed foods, it begins to lose most if not all of the nutrition it may have had. This type of food can leave someone feeling sick, lethargic, and can greatly affect one’s mood. Processed food puts the body into a state of inflammation, which leaves people feeling depressed and anxious.

Naturally, your body adjusts to what you regularly consume. If you eat only junk food, that is what you crave and what triggers the reward center in your brain. With nutrient therapy, we want to show that it is possible to feel better by eating better. Addiction significantly deprives the body of nutrients. For a thorough recovery, it is essential that we work with patients to repair their health through nutrition.

Alcohol and Nutrition

The vagus nerve is a nerve that helps your gut and your mind communicate. The food you consume directly affects this nerve, and naturally so does consumption of alcohol. When something is permeable, it becomes more absorbent or more easily allows substances to pass through. Some permeability in the gut or intestines, for example, is okay, but when it increases it can become a problem. A study done in 2014 found that alcohol-dependent subjects may have higher gut permeability, which can affect behavioral changes and mood.

The authors also wrote, “Alcohol-dependent subjects frequently develop emotional symptoms that contribute to the persistence of alcohol drinking.”* Someone might drink to cope with other issues and then develop issues from drinking, which will then lead to continued heavy drinking. This can clearly create a negative cycle; it will damage the gut and can lead to anxiety and depression, which then may be self-medicated with alcohol.

Furthermore, alcohol impedes a body’s ability to break down nutrients into molecules that the body desperately needs. Excessive consumption of alcohol can deprive the body of vitamins and minerals. A deficiency in Vitamin K, for example, can cause delayed blood clotting and will result in excess bleeding. Furthermore, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “…eighty percent of bipolar sufferers have some vitamin B deficiencies (often accompanied by anemia).”* A vitamin B deficiency is not the sole cause, nor will everyone with a deficiency suffer from bipolar disorder. However, it is an important facet to consider and increasing vitamin B levels can help to alleviate some symptoms.

Other vitamin deficiencies can cause severe neurological damage. Mineral deficiencies can result in a number of health problems including calcium-related bone disease, zinc-related night blindness and skin lesions.* For clients seeking treatment for alcohol addiction, we will identify any malnutrition or micro-nutrient deficiencies. When we know what to address, we can form a plan with food, nutrition and other necessary medicine to restore balance.

Drugs and Nutrient Deprivation

Drugs also clearly deprive the body of essential nutrients and can lead to severe malnutrition. Opiates (including codeine, oxycodone, heroin, and morphine) can cause gastrointestinal problems which can include diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. This can result in a lack of nutrients and electrolytes, like sodium or potassium.* With stimulants, like meth, crack, or cocaine, appetite is reduced and this leads to weight loss and poor nutrition. Long-term use can result in permanent memory problems.* There are, of course, many other possible issues. Substance abuse is a disease that can drastically destroy the mind and body. However, with proper help and treatment there is hope.

When someone is in recovery, particularly after abusing stimulants, it is possible they might turn to overeating. At Reflections, we want to work with clients on a plan to return their health to a good place and to learn new, healthy habits. This can start with eating at regular times, eating food that is high in nutrition, and even learning to prepare healthy food for oneself. Nutrition is essential to having energy, maintaining body structure, and bodily function.

A better mood and mental state is a good defense against relapse in many ways. It can encourage someone to engage in other healthy behaviors. As good food makes the body and mind feel better, physical activity will be something clients feel they can engage in. Being active can be a significant help in recovery. Overall, we want our clients to develop good nutritional habits that will reach every other area of their lives.

Utilizing Nutrition in Recovery

At Reflections, each client will go through an initial evaluation. This allows us to take a comprehensive look at our client’s health. With laboratory testing, we can identify the vitamins and minerals where there is a deficiency. This helps us identify how their health is affected, physically or mentally, and how we can proceed with treatment. We can begin to introduce food and other healthy methods of restoring balance in the body. Our goal is that each client will feel better physically, which can lead to improved mental health. We also want clients to know that they can take control of their health and what they eat, and thus play a big part in their sobriety.

If we can teach our clients proper nutrition, we can allow them to take control. Learning about nutrition regarding food, drinks, and supplements is something clients can take with them after treatment. When clients are feeling better physically and mentally, they may feel more capable of engaging in physical activity. An active life in turn further benefits their physical and mental health, creating a positive cycle. At Reflections, we all truly want each client to walk away with the skills to continue a positive life and to maintain sobriety.

*Resources:
Intestinal Permeability – PNAS
Alcohol and Nutrition – National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Substance Use Recovery and Diet – MedlinePlus

Best Books on Addiction Recovery to Help You in Early Sobriety


Even in a primarily digital age, books still hold a lot of power. The power of books can help you to look deeply into yourself and recognize traits that are holding you back or can give you ideas on how and what to change about yourself to achieve desired results. During addiction recovery, books can be your best friend; comforting you when you need to be comforted, and giving you ideas on how to better yourself. Everyone’s recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is different, and recovery happens in different phases.

That being said, not all of these books will be a perfect fit for everyone, and some of the choices may offer more help in different phases of recovery, yet may be a trigger for others in other phases of recovery. These suggestions are merely suggestions, and you should find the book that speaks to you and where you are at in your recovery.

Books on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse: 

Pour Me: A Life by A. A. Gill 

Best Books on Addiction Recovery to Help You in Early SobrietyA raw and profound memoir, this book serves as an often humorous account of the life of A. A. Gill – a food critic who found that his fast life and career in his 20s had left him with serious problems with alcohol. The way Gill describes the symptoms of alcoholism can be quite brutal at times, and some readers may find the early parts of the book a trigger – reminding them of their own struggles with alcohol. By the end of the book, though, Gill shows how he personally faced his inner demons and found a new outlook on his life and his passions.

 

 

 

 

Living Sober by Alcoholics Anonymous 

Best Books on Addiction Recovery to Help You in Early SobrietyFor those that find AA and the 12 Step process helpful in early addiction recovery, Living Sober is a great companion book to the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous. This book lays out the steps of building a new life in sobriety, without drugs or alcohol. Early recovery can be difficult, and this book offers great ideas for creating a sober life while teaching you easy to use practices for dealing with stress and urges to drink or get high. For those looking for an easy read filled with tips that can be attributed to their personal lives and sobriety, this is a highly recommended read.

 

 24 Hours A Day by Richard Walker

Best Books on Addiction Recovery to Help You in Early SobrietyAn older book that was published in 1963, this book could be considered timeless to anyone who has known the struggles of addiction, particularly alcoholism. This book offers mediation, guidance, and prayers for sober life and living in sobriety. What makes this book so easy to use is that it is divided into 365 days, with each day offering motivational thoughts and lessons, as well as prayers and affirmations. This book is often considered to be a great companion book to the “Big Book” of AA and other complementary books in the Alcoholics Anonymous series.

 

 

 

 

Books on Drug Addiction and Treatment 

Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change by Nicole Kosanke, Stephanie Higgs, Carrie Wilkens, Geoffrey Foote 

What makes this a great book for some in recovery, is the fresh outlook and opinions if gives on addiction science and addiction treatment. If the older “classic” books about addiction feel outdated to you, or you are interested in new ideas and approaches to recovery and addiction treatment, this will be a good read for you. This book can also be helpful for parents of addicts and family members who are caring for a loved one struggling with addiction. This book will give families greater insight into what drugs and alcohol do to change a person, and puts the struggle that addicts endure into perspective.

The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison 

This book offers a recount of the authors own experiences with alcohol as well as her commentary on the struggles of many other contemporaries. This book is written in a prose style, rather than a guide like AA books or books dedicated to sober living and recovery. Jamison’s writing is incredible, and she touches upon the fact that sobriety is a place to either find, re-evaluate or lose your creativity. The book is hailed as a great commentary on substance abuse in popular culture, and even writer Stephen King has suggested that this book be required reading.

Other Good Books for Recovering Addicts: 

Food for Recovery: The Complete Nutritional Companion for Overcoming Alcoholism, Drug Addiction, and Eating Disorders by Joseph Beasley MD and Susan Knightly [H3]

Diet is one of the biggest factors in successfully recovering from substance abuse, alcohol, or drug addiction. When in recovery, it is essential to make good dietary choices and to rehabilitate body and mind with nutritional therapy.  Making good dietary and nutritional decisions in your sober life can be difficult, or feel overwhelming, but this book helps to make it easier. It includes recipes and great advice for getting over unhealthy eating habits and teaches you how to put nutrition first and avoid dietary dangers in recovery like sugar addiction.

 Books for Spiritual Recovery and Enlightenment: 

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron 

Based on the author’s Buddhist spiritual beliefs, this book is blunt and direct. It shows you how to deal with life’s harder moments from a spiritualist perspective, and offers great insights on spiritual growth. “Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth,” says Pema addressing the fears that we all have, but are especially prevalent in times of great change and growth. If you are a spiritualist and like to enjoy introspective reading, this is a great book that offers a wealth of wisdom. 

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle 

Best Books on Addiction Recovery to Help You in Early SobrietyHow to address negative thoughts and feelings about the past and future is just one of the intentions of Tolle’s powerful book on spiritual can be used as a daily guide for dealing with life’s stresses. Tolle begins by showing you that YOU are the source of enlightenment in your life, and you are also the source of pain – depending on how you think and act. “Start living NOW,” is the message throughout the book, and it gives you practical ways to get into that type of thinking. The spiritualism covered it is not heavily religious or tied to any specific spiritual beliefs, and the advice given can easily fit into YOUR life.

 

There are many great books that can help you in your first weeks of sobriety and in the first year of recovery from addiction. Not only are the above-referenced books great introductions to the various types of books for addiction recovery, but each can guide you along to finding other related books and topics that might fit with your personal recovery needs.

If you are not traditionally a “book person,” or a big reader, just remember to start slow. Take your time and enjoy the words and advice given in these and other recovery books. Learning how to stay sober and learning how to be comfortable in your sobriety will take time – spending your time with these and other books is a great way to start off.

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