Tag Archives: Recovery

What Is A Functional Alcoholic?

The terms “high-functioning” or “functional alcoholic” describe individuals who suffer from an alcohol use disorder (AUD), but do not exhibit many of the common life-disrupting effects associated with alcohol abuse.

An alcohol use disorder is a treatable chronic medical disorder that causes long-term changes in the brain that impair one’s ability to control drinking despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.

In spite of internally grappling with an addiction to alcohol, they seem able to continue maintaining jobs, relationships, and general responsibilities.

Though these types of individuals might not appear to have a problem, the health complications that accompany functional alcoholism can have devastating effects over time.

In fact, the toll that substance abuse takes on a high-functioning alcoholic can be worse than it is for someone who shows telltale signs of an addiction. This is because, without external consequences to drive one to seek help, functional alcoholism continues unaddressed for much longer.

Distinguishing someone who suffers from an AUD from someone who simply has a high alcohol tolerance can be tough.

Heavy drinking is certainly one sign of an AUD–but individuals who drink heavily may not necessarily be suffering from an addiction.

Heavy alcohol consumption and addiction are closely linked, however. Prolonged heavy consumption of any substance encourages dependence upon it, and dependence is a known early step in the addiction process.

So what makes the condition of a functional alcoholic so dangerous and what are the risks?

Risks of Alcoholism

Alcohol is one of the most commonly abused substances in the country–second only to nicotine.

Individuals who suffer from alcohol addiction are at the greatest risk for experiencing long-term impacts of alcohol use. Untreated, alcohol addiction can last for years, resulting in a piling up of health complications.

According to data gathered in 2013, alcohol is one of the most commonly abused substances in the country

One of the most dangerous potential impacts of long-term alcohol use is cancer.

Multiple areas of the body develop a higher risk for cancer when alcohol is abused over long periods of time. Specifically, the:

  • mouth
  • throat
  • larynx
  • colon, and
  • liver

are some of the first to fall victim to alcohol’s effects, as these tissues interact with alcohol directly.

Cancer is not the only disease that can result from long-term alcohol use. Alcohol abuse can also wreak havoc on the body by significantly increasing one’s chances of heart disease, pneumonia, stroke, epilepsy, depression, and liver failure.

How Functional Alcoholism Develops

Habitual alcohol use is the most common way individuals develop an addiction. There are, however, some less recognizable known factors that can increase an individual’s risk of suffering from alcohol abuse.

Trauma

Research continues to show that both genetics and distressing life experiences play a significant role in a person’s vulnerability to alcohol dependence.

While the presence of trauma or alcohol abuse in the family does not mean that they will experience addiction, they are at greater risk than those who do not have these factors present.

Chronic Stress

Stress, anxiety, and mental health disorders are also factors that can influence someone to adopt high-functioning alcoholic behaviors.

Anxiety disorders and the brain's ability to deal with stress can both contribute to a higher risk of suffering from alcohol abuse

Continuous exposure to significant stress is believed to alter brain function over time. This makes the brain more vulnerable to developing disorders like anxiety. These stress-induced changes, in turn, increase the likelihood of alcohol consumption.

Family History

Another factor that can put individuals at a greater risk of addiction is their family history. Studies have shown that persons with a family history of addiction have a higher chance of developing an addiction themselves.

Extensive research has found slight differences in brain structure between those who have a family history of substance abuse versus those who do not. At a biological level, these individuals have a slightly different process for experiencing reward processes. Thus, an individual with a family history of addiction is more vulnerable to similar addictive substances.

In the case of a functioning alcoholic, knowing how to recognize the underlying signs of an alcohol addiction are crucial for deciding when to take action.

Recognizing a High-Functioning Alcoholic

Below are some key indicators that a loved one may observe about someone they suspect is living as a functional alcoholic:

How high-functioning alcoholism might think:

  • Obsessing over when they can attain the next drink
  • Craving or having strong urges to drink
  • Feeling guilt or shame about behavior while under the influence of alcohol
  • Using social events and/or access “top-shelf quality” alcohol as an excuse to drink in excess

What a high-functioning alcoholic can sound like:

  • Justifying drinking by making comparisons to people who have experienced worse problems with drinking, or severe consequences
  • They dismiss critical input or feedback about their drinking patterns.
  • Misrepresenting how often, how much, and how strong your drinks are.
  • Denying a drinking problem due to lack of external consequences (e.g. missing days at work or school)

What a functional alcoholic lifestyle may look like:

  • They are able to handle responsibilities well at home, school, and work in spite of drinking
  • Drinking is often done in a concealed or “sneaky” manner (e.g. drinking before or after an event, sneaking alcohol when at an event where it isn’t served, drinking alone, or hiding alcohol around the house)
  • Excelling in certain areas of life despite excessive alcohol use
  • They drink until they pass out/black out from alcohol consumption.
  • Drinking at socially inappropriate (e.g. lunchtime at work) or dangerous (e.g. before driving) times
  • They can drink a large amount of alcohol without appearing intoxicated.
  • Using alcohol as a reward (e.g. for not drinking for a time) or coping mechanism in stressful situations
  • Continuing to drink even if it has caused or worsened physical or mental health problems.
  • Projecting a well-groomed appearance that defies the conventional image of a drunk

How to Seek Help for a Functional Alcoholic

An AUD is one of the most common types of disorders in the country. Both short-term and long-term alcohol abuse can be severely detrimental.

Problems like drunk driving, alcohol poisoning, and violence can result from high-volume alcohol use short term.

Additionally, individuals who abuse alcohol for long periods of time are at greater risk for several kinds of cancer, as well as multiple health complications in the heart, lungs, and pancreas.

A functional alcoholic is more likely to be exposed to the risks of both short- and long-term alcohol abuse. This is why it is so important to take steps to prevent discomfort–and even death–before functional alcoholism takes its toll.

There are some factors that may contribute to an individual’s vulnerability to alcohol abuse, but the truth is that anyone can develop a substance abuse disorder. However it may develop, getting help as soon as possible is crucial.

A “high-functioning alcoholic” may not appear to have a problem, but if you think a loved one is suffering from an alcohol use disorder, contact us today.

Lyrica Withdrawal

Lyrica, or pregabalin, is a prescription drug for neuropathic pain and seizures. However, it is also known to be addictive. It is possible for it contribute to destructive habits, serious depression, and suicidal thoughts. With long-term misuse or abuse, withdrawal is a real possibility. Lyrica withdrawal can be dangerous and uncomfortable if done alone. It is always best to stop use under medical supervision or to seek treatment for help in dealing with withdrawal.

What is Lyrica?

Pregabalin works by binding to the alpha 2 delta site in the central nervous system (CNS). This calms down nerves and creates pain relief for those suffering neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain is caused by damaged nerve endings, which can be caused by other diseases such as diabetes, shingles, or fibromyalgia. Lyrica can also be a useful medication for stopping or preventing focal seizures. While it is a useful drug in some situations, Lyrica potentially includes a host of different side effects such as: 

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Weight gain
  • Blurred vision
  • Unusual bruising
  • Unsteadiness
  • Confusion
  • Muscle pain 
  • Swelling extremities 
  • Kidney issues 
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts 
  • Anxiety

lyrica side effects

Lyrica Addiction

Lyrica addiction is uncommon, but it is possible for it to occur. Its negative effects have become more prevalent in recent years as prescriptions for it become more frequent. In the United States alone, over 64 million prescriptions were written for Lyrica (or some form of pregabalin) in 2016 alone. Given the high frequency of prescriptions, it is no wonder that the deaths associated with it have risen as well. 

It is possible to experience addiction when it is taken in high enough doses. Misusing it can provide a euphoric feeling and can even create feelings of dissociation in some individuals. Any drug or substance that creates feelings of euphoria has the potential for dependence and addiction. It is the ‘high’ most drugs offer which keep individuals coming back. This is especially true for people with pre-existing mental health conditions, since they may seek out experiences which can help them escape negative thoughts and feelings. 

Lyrica and depression

There are links between Lyrica, depression, and suicide. According to a study conducted by the University of Oxford looked at nearly 200,000 cases of individuals who used pregabalin between the years of 2006 to 2013 and found that 5.2% (over 10,000 people) were treated for suicidal behavior or died from suicide. A further 8.9% experienced overdoses and 6.3% were involved in serious car accidents. The study found that those using pregabalin were 26% more likely to experience suicidal behavior and 24% were likely to experience an overdose. 

lyrica side effects

The recent increase in pregabalin-related deaths and injuries became so severe that the United Kingdom reclassified the drug as a Class C Drug. This made it illegal to own or possess any amount of the drug, sell the drug, or to import it. The United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) considers the drug to be a Schedule 5 controlled substance. This means it is recognized as a drug with a lower potential for abuse but can still cause harm.

Lyrica Withdrawal

Abruptly stopping Lyrica is potentially dangerous to your health. With addiction or even dependence, care is necessary in order to avoid painful withdrawal symptoms. What is a withdrawal? Simply put, it is your body’s reaction to learning to cope without a constant supply of a stimulus. If you have been taking Lyrica for a number of years and suddenly stop, your body may struggle while learning how to survive without it. 

Withdrawals are often incredibly painful and in some cases cause death or require hospitalization. The withdrawal symptoms for Lyrica are similar to that of alcohol and benzodiazepines. However, the severity depends on length of drug usage, the dosage, and the user’s history of abuse with other drugs.

Lyrica withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Sweating
  • Rapid heart beats
  • Seizures
  • Insomnia
  • Cravings 
  • Mood swings
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

lyrica withdrawal symptoms

It is possible for these symptoms to occur individually, or all at once. They typically begin 1-2 days after someone stops using Lyrica. The most at-risk patients are those who depend on the drug for anti-seizure medication. This danger is why supervision from medical and mental health professionals is always necessary for quitting Lyrica.

withdrawal is your body's reaction to learning to cope without a constant supply of a stimulus

How long does Lyrica stay in your system?

It is rare for employers or medical providers to test for Lyrica. However, it is still detectable in the body. How long it will stay in your system depends on various factors. Age, gender, genetic, metabolism, body-fat composition, and weight all play a role in determining how long the drug stays in someone’s system. 

Via urine test, it is possible to detect Lyrica  up to 6 days after ingestion, 2 days with a blood and saliva test and up to 6 months with a hair follicle test. Lyrica’s half-life is approximately 6 hours. A substance’s half-life indicates how long it takes for the ingested amount to reduce to half of its original size. In other words, if you ingest 10mg of Lyrica, it takes 6 hours for the drug to reduce to 5mg.

Getting help 

Deciding to seek help is a crucial step on the road to full recovery. Getting clean takes more than “willpower” –  it requires long-term effort and most of all, real support. Since addiction is so complex, it’s important to reach out for meaningful help. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, please contact us today to begin your journey to sobriety.

Signs of Cocaine Use

First and Foremost: What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is classified as a stimulant, and is one of the few non-synthetic drugs still widely abused in the US. Manufacturers refine the chemical cocaine hydrochloride found in the coca plant to create cocaine. In its “pure” form, cocaine looks like a fine, white powder. It can be smoked, snorted, injected, or taken orally. While the drug maintains a notorious status as an illegal substance, doctors sometimes prescribe cocaine for local anesthesia in surgeries. The drug can cause a wide variety of  short and long-term physical and mental effects. However, if you think someone you know may be abusing it, there are several signs of cocaine use to look out for.

 

How Does Cocaine Affect People?

A euphoric rush is the driving factor that usually leads people to abuse cocaine. Inside the body, cocaine stops the brain from absorbing dopamine, causing a surplus. This surplus causes the euphoric “high” attributed to cocaine. Physical manifestations of cocaine include an increased heart rate, increased breathing due to a higher demand for oxygen, and cool/clammy skin. Blood clotting, a rise in body temperature, tremors, and the inability to sweat can also occur. Less obvious, and sometimes psychological effects of cocaine can also present themselves. These include:

  • Intense thirst
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Paranoia, vertigo
  • Various forms of psychosis

Signs of Cocaine UseLong-term use of cocaine can also have devastating effects on both body and mind, from damaged nasal tissue from snorting, to an increase in heart complications. Smoking crack cocaine can lead to similar complications for the lungs, such as cancer or a weaker immune system. Psychological complications can also develop. The brains of regular cocaine users brains eventually learn to expect the drug, and they develop a dependence on it. As an individual becomes addicted to cocaine, they need more of the drug to sustain the same feeling, and their focus fades from anything besides getting more of the drug. This can cause every part of their physical, personal, and work life to gradually deteriorate. It also increases the chances of a fatal overdose. 

 

What Are the Signs of Cocaine Use and Abuse?

As cocaine users become more and more dependent on the drug, it follows that their relationships can deteriorate.  Problems with their work life and finances may also manifest. When a person becomes so addicted to cocaine that a main goal in life is obtaining more of the drug, it leaves little time for anything else, whether that be a marriage, a relationship, or a job. Everyone around a person suffering from addiction also experiences repercussions of that person’s addiction.

Signs of Cocaine UseSometimes that effect can be severe. The children of someone with a cocaine use disorder, for instance, can be seriously negatively affected on a number of fronts. Developing embryos in a pregnant mother can be dangerously affected by cocaine use, including premature birth, spontaneous miscarriage, high blood pressure, or difficult delivery. Surprisingly, even a father’s cocaine use can negatively impact a developing fetus. A study found that male offspring of rats whose fathers had been given cocaine exhibited severe memory loss issues as well as learning disabilities. Granted, this study was conducted on rats, but the genetic makeup of rats and effects of cocaine on rats is strikingly similar to that of humans. With that in mind, there is a significant chance that the same effects can manifest in humans.

The impact of a cocaine addiction affects more than just children and family life, though. Employers are less likely to hire an individual who has a record of addiction, making it difficult to maintain a steady income. One article explores how people who suffer from addiction often have a lack of interpersonal skills, pointing out how an addiction damages one’s social potential. These factors can all put strain on a person suffering from addiction, as well as strain on the people around them.

 

How Can I Tell If A Loved One Is Using Cocaine?

Cocaine abuse hurts more than just the person using it. Not only can it destroy someone’s health and relationships, it can take a toll on everyone in their life. If you notice signs of cocaine use in someone you know, it is important to try to help them find a path to recovery. Here are some of the most prominent clues that a person may be abusing cocaine:

Cocaine Side Effects

Bipolarity

Extreme mood swings manifest when a person’s cocaine high disappears. effect of cocaine will have an individual expressing positive, high energy movements and communication. Then, as the drug wears off, those characteristics will abruptly stop or even reverse.

 

Financial problems

These stem as a result of a severe addiction. When a person becomes so invested in cocaine that nothing else matters, they can quickly begin struggling to properly manage their money.

 

Anxiety, Paranoia, or Psychosis

Mental health problems all stem directly from cocaine’s effect on the brain. Since the drug interferes with the user’s psychology, mental health problems like paranoia, anxiety, or other types of psychosis can develop.

 

Exhibiting Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

Symptoms can manifest very quickly, especially in a person who has developed a strong dependence on the drug. Physical symptoms of a cocaine withdrawal may not be obvious. However, fatigue, muscle spasms, lack of pleasure, irritability, and sleepiness are all common psychological symptoms.

Cocaine Withdrawal

What Should I Do if I Notice Signs of Cocaine Use?

If you see clues that someone in your life may be abusing cocaine, it makes sense to be concerned. The repercussions of a cocaine addiction are serious, and have a large sphere of influence. Getting help is the first step back to sobriety. Overcoming addiction is difficult, and getting back on track is tough, but doesn’t need to be faced alone. If you or a loved one is suffering from an addiction, contact us today so our professional and compassionate team can help you heal and recover – for life.

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.

Addiction Severity Index


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

addiction severity index

What is the Addiction Severity Index?

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

The ASI can help assess:

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

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

What Kinds of Questions Does the ASI Ask?

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

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

When Do People Take the ASI?

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

Why Does the Addiction Severity Index Matter?

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

addiction severity index

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