Why High Lumen Lights Help Fight Relapse During Winter
Being in recovery from a substance abuse disorder can often be hard enough, especially in the first year of sobriety. Unfortunately, relapse rates for those who are new to recovery can sometimes be as high as 85%. Recent statistics taken from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) indicate 19.7 million people suffered from a substance abuse disorder of some kind in our country. Further research shows that just in 2019, 9.2 million people aged 18-25 were diagnosed with at least one other co-occurring mental health disorder alongside having a substance abuse disorder. Additionally, at least 50 percent of people with mental health disorders will also suffer from an addiction as well. With the winter season in full swing, we thought we would talk about the use of high lumen lights during the winter to help reduce the likelihood of a relapse.
Co-occurring mental health disorders and dual diagnosis
There has long been a strong link between mental health and rates of addiction. Suffering from a co-occurring mental health disorder or dual diagnosis, while also trying to lead a new, healthy life of sobriety can sometimes present its own set of challenges. With each seasonal change, different weather patterns affect our bodies and mind. The most difficult seasonal change seems to occur during the winter months where long, cold days affect over half of America. The colder temperatures and less exposure to sunlight have a massive, direct impact on the serotonin and melatonin production in our brains and our bodies.
Melatonin and Serotonin are both neurotransmitters that play a role in many aspects of our lives. For example, melatonin helps you get to sleep while serotonin helps you get up and feel awake the next day. Sometimes referred to as the “winter blues”, some common symptoms people may experience during cold, winter days are:
Not getting enough sleep
While many people will experience some symptoms during cold weather, for others, the seasonal changes affect them more dramatically.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and addiction
It is estimated that roughly 10% of the population in our country will suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, while at least 20% of people who suffer from SAD also have a substance abuse disorder. SAD is a form of major depression that affects people during seasonal changes, affecting some people nearly half the year, but most commonly it occurs during the winter months. Many people who struggle with this often do not seek treatment, attempting to self-medicate instead. Some common signs that someone may be struggling with SAD, or major depression with seasonal pattern, include:
Feeling hopeless or worthless
Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
Lethargy and increased fatigue
Problems sleeping, getting too much or too little sleep
Changes in appetite, or significant changes in weight
Suicidal thoughts, tendencies, or actions
These are just a few of the symptoms someone may experience with major depression or SAD. Oftentimes, the symptoms associated with the winter blues or SAD are overlooked because people do not understand what the person is going through. Seasonal depression and other mental health issues need to be taken seriously as they can severely impact the state of someone's sobriety and recovery from an addiction.
As you can see, there are many reasons why someone may relapse during the winter months. Fortunately, there are many ways to relieve the symptoms associated with the biochemical changes that occur to our brains and bodies during the changing of seasons. Even with the joys of the holiday season, this most commonly occurs due to less sunlight, colder temperatures, and shorter days.
Therapeutic benefits of high lumen lights
One of the best ways to help combat these symptoms is by using high lumen light therapy, and seeking treatment from a medical health professional if needed of course!
Lumens are a measure of how bright a light is, so it would make sense that lamps with high lumen are some of the best for light therapy for treating symptoms associated with the winter blues or SAD, helping to fight relapse among those in recovery. High lumen lights used for the treatment of SAD are specialized lights that are very bright and they essentially mimic the effects of the sun. This makes high lumen light therapy a great natural option that helps restore the biochemical balance of our brain and bodies which in turn helps to alleviate the symptoms associated with not getting enough sunlight. In a way, it helps to trick our bodies into thinking the days are longer again.
Before trying high lumen lights as a form of therapy, patients are recommended to get a checkup from your eye doctor before trying treatment. One of the best things about light therapy is that it can practically be done from anywhere, as long as you have enough time set aside to reap the full benefits. Here are some tips to get the most out of light therapy:
Make sure the lightbox has enough lumens and lux, anything above 10,000 should be enough. If you can't find one with enough lumens or lux, then you may have to use the lamp for longer periods of time to get the full effect.
The lightbox should give the full spectrum of bright white light but cancel out any UV rays as they are damaging to the body
Try to position the lightbox at or above eye level as this should mimic the effects of the sun more accurately
Make sure the box is at least two feet away from your eyes, if you have a weaker box you may need to sit closer to it
Avoid letting the light hit directly in your eyes, instead position the box at a 45 degree angle on either side
It is best to use the box in the morning for 20-60 minutes depending on your individual need. Start with 20-30 minutes every morning to see if you feel a difference, then increasingly add time until you feel the effects. Remember, you can always multitask while using your lightbox, you can drink your coffee, read the news, check your email, or hang out with family.
Consistency is important, so use the box daily
These are just a few tips that can help increase the impact of light therapy. Keep in mind it may take around 30 days to notice any effects from using the lightbox. If you are experiencing severe symptoms of SAD then please reach out to a medical health professional right away. The staff and family at More Than Rehab are more than happy to help those who are struggling with a co-occurring disorder and feel as though they are at risk of relapse because of the symptoms of SAD or the winter time blues. Please give us a call today.
Marijuana goes by many names, such as weed, cannabis, and herb. It also has a long history of use within the United States. Many political and racial factors led to it being outlawed in the United States, though the stigma surrounding weed has slowly changed across America as more and more states vote to legalize its use for recreational and medicinal purposes. With all this talk in the media recently about the legalization of marijuana, it is easy to understand how one could become confused by all the different terms associated with the drug or substance. Even though marijuana is legal in some states, that does not mean that someone couldn’t develop a chemical or physical dependency on the drug. It is best to take care when using any sort of illicit substance and abide by any state and local laws if it is illegal in your state. Here is a list of the many forms of weed to help dispense any sort of ambiguity you might have regarding the drug.
The Many Different Forms of Weed:
Perhaps the most recognizable form of cannabis is a term regular users call flower. Flower refers to the part of the marijuana plant that blooms into buds. Sometimes this can also include the trimmed leaves from a plant as well as the stems. The cannabis plant itself is a flowering species that has several different subtypes.
Cannabis Sativa- The first subtype is known as Cannabis Sativa. Of the three different subspecies, cannabis sativa is the most commonly known. These plants are also the largest by height, sometimes reaching over 15 feet. Users say sativa blends produce a more energizing high compared to their counterparts.
Cannabis Indica- The second subspecies in the cannabis family of plants is Cannabis Indica. Cannabis Indica is quite different in both appearance and effect compared to its relative Sativa. These plants tend to only grow around 6 feet tall and appear chunkier in size than the Sativa plant. Users say Indica blends promote a relaxing and more calming sensation.
Cannabis Ruderalis- The last species in this subtype is Cannabis Ruderalis and it is not often talked about. The Cannabis ruderalis plant only grows to about 24 inches tall and often has a much denser foliage. This subspecies of Cannabis typically does not have any psychoactive effect but its genes are often used for different purposes in the production process.
Flower is typically smoked or vaporized in a variety of different ways, from joints, pipes, bongs or highly technical vaporizing machines. The dried "herb" has long been the most popular way to consume the cannabis plant.
Another common form of weed is a substance known as hashish. Marijuana plants secrete a sticky resin much like trees secrete sap through their bark. This resin is collected, then dried, and compressed into many forms like cakes or blocks. This pressed resin is also known as hash or hashish and is very potent in THC. It contains little to no plant material such as cellulose like standard cannabis leaves or flower. Like regular marijuana flower, however, hashish can be smoked in a variety of different ways.
Since the legalization of marijuana, there has been a major influx in a category of marijuana products known as concentrates. Marijuana concentrates are products made from the cannabis plant that have been extracted through a variety of different technological processes, leaving behind any unwanted plant material and other impurities. Marijuana concentrates are typically smoked in dab rigs through a process known as dabbing. As with the marijuana plant, there are several different types of THC concentrates. Here are two of the most common:
Shatter- This concentrate is very popular among users as it has one of the highest potencies available. Shatter may look like a colored piece of glass or candy. The texture of shatter can also range from toffee-like to snappy and brittle. In order to extract the THC from the marijuana plant, producers typically use a hydrocarbon such as butane or CO2 in order to pull it from the source material.
Wax- Wax, also known as butter or frosting, is another common concentrate in the medical cannabis industry. Wax has a much softer consistency than shatter and its texture can range anywhere between soft icing, to smooth butter, or melted candle wax. Wax is typically extracted in much the same process as shatter but it is whipped, sometimes for hours, in the final drying stages in order to give it that smooth composition.
Though they have been around since before marijuana was legalized, edibles are another of the popular forms of weed that do not have to be smoked. The term edible refers to food that has any form of THC, the chemical found in marijuana, cooked or combined in it. THC can be infused into many things, like chocolates, gummy and hard candies. The psychoactive components are combined with the food, usually through some sort of cooking process. Unlike smoking marijuana or dabbing concentrates, the effects of consuming an edible can take around 30 minutes to start to kick in.
Topicals are a category of medical marijuana that are not meant for human consumption. While these typically still contain THC, that are often used to help manage pain or treat skin conditions of some kind. This can include balms, creams, lotions, and sprays. These are most effective in treating things like arthritis, muscle aches, and spasms.
These are just a few of the most common different forms of weed. There are also many different methods for the consumption of a weed. For instance, a joint is a hand-rolled marijuana cigarette with no tobacco while a blunt is commonly made from a cigar wrapper. A spliff refers to anything with marijuana and tobacco rolled in it. With its legalization in many areas of the United States, many different marijuana-related products have popped up in stores and online shops. Some of these products are related to the consumption, delivery or storage of marijuana.
While more people are using one, or more of the many forms of weed for different reasons, marijuana addiction is a very real problem. While the effects of a marijuana dependence may be far less severe than an addiction to heroin, cocaine or even alcohol, heavy use of cannabis may become a major problem.
If you believe a loved one is struggling with an addiction to marijuana, then please do not hesitate to reach out to us for help. There is a difference between recreation and overconsumption. Just because something may be legal where you live, does not mean that it is not dangerous or addictive. We are here to help with any and all concerns you may have about any sort of substance abuse problem, or drug and alcohol addiction. We know what a tough year it has been and we will help get you back on the right track!