Can Creativity Be Harmed By Drugs?

The idea that drugs and alcohol are necessary for the creative process is popular, but it is also controversial. On the one hand, many notable figures in history were heavy drinkers or drug users and produced great works of art while under the influence. Also, there is no real evidence to suggest that drugs and alcohol improve creativity. 

Many people find that they are less creative when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. So while it may be true that some great artists have used drugs or alcohol, it is also true that many great artists have not. 

There is no clear answer to whether drugs and alcohol are necessary for the creative process. However, what is certain is that drug and alcohol abuse can harm creativity and prevent you from reaching your full potential as an artist.

This article will explore the myth about creativity and drug use and show that you don't need to use drugs to be creative.

Are Drugs and Alcohol Necessary for Creativity?

To explore this topic, let's look at some of history's most famous creative minds. Did they use drugs to get their great ideas?

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Take, for example, the writer Oscar Wilde. He was known for his heavy use of absinthe. But was it absinthe that helped him create his masterpieces? Or did it simply provide him with an escape from the banality of everyday life? We may never know for sure. 

Another notable figure is the painter Vincent van Gogh. Many have speculated about whether he may have used drugs to enhance his creativity or not. Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer, as van Gogh's letters offer conflicting accounts. In some instances, he appears to be quite critical of those who use drugs, while in others, he seems to experiment with them himself. 

While some cases might be unclear, the reality is that drugs and alcohol do little or nothing to boost creativity. In fact, they can have a negative impact as they make it hard to focus or may lead to impulsive decisions that can ruin a work of art. Drugs can also cause mood swings that make it hard to maintain the consistency necessary for a successful creative project. 

Scientists have been able to objectively assess the effects of drugs on measures of creativity, and here are some results.

LSD

Researchers from Okinawa Institute used functional neuroimaging methods to assess the effects of LSD on creativity. The findings revealed that LSD: 

·     Reduces the capability to appreciate cause and effect  

·     Induces decreased restraint in the brain

·     Inhibits the ability to categorize, organize and tell apart the components of conscious experience

According to the findings, brain activity may trigger novel perceptions, but the capacity to apply these perceptions to come up with new concepts is impaired.

Cannabis

Researchers from Leiden University assessed the effects of cannabis on creativity. They administered 22mg of THC to participants and tested creativity by applying convergent (Remote Associate Task) and divergent (Alternate Uses Task) tests to the volunteers. They noted that the placebo and lower dose groups didn't experience any effect on their divergent thinking or creativity. On the other hand, the high-dose groups experienced a decrease in divergent thinking.

Alcohol

study in Sweden found that the consumption of alcohol lowered the fluency of idea generation when matched to that of a control group. Another study indicated that creative writers had less idea flexibility but increased the number of non-obvious original ideas. Yet another study showed that alcohol had no clear effect on divergent thinking. However, the study participants said their performance was more creative when they believed they had received alcohol.

Why do Creatives Resort to Drugs and Alcohol?

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The constant pressure to churn out new ideas can place high stress on artists and lead to burnout. There's an ever-growing need for fresh content, and creative minds are working extra hard to keep up with the demand. 

In most cases, they feel overwhelmed and turn to drugs to improve their creative output. They do so to try to curb symptoms of burnout like:

·       Fatigue

·       Bad mood

·       Physical and mental exhaustion 

·       Losing interest in creative work

·       Confusion and overwhelm

·       Mind fog

The problem is that drugs can hurt creativity. Long-term use can lead to health complications too. For example, one may develop a tolerance, drug dependence, or even substance use disorders. Attempts to quit may end with withdrawal symptoms, etc. Higher doses may also cause life-threatening symptoms or even death. 

How Drugs Can Harm Creativity - Research Findings

Drugs and alcohol can have a profound effect on your creativity. Substance abuse can:

·       Cause mental health problems like anxiety and depression, which can, in turn, make it difficult to be creative. In some cases, mental health issues can drive creatives to abuse substances.

·       Hamper creativity by impairing cognitive function and disrupting normal brain activity. They affect the parts of the brain that are responsible for creativity, making it more difficult to come up with new ideas. 

·       Make it difficult to focus and concentrate, both of which are essential for being creative. 

·       Cause tolerance and dependence, which can lead to life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

·       Lead to addiction, which can destroy relationships, damage careers, and lead to financial ruin. 

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Drug abuse is a dangerous habit that can have devastating consequences for creative people. So if you're looking to tap into your creative side, it's important to be mindful of how drugs and alcohol might be affecting you.

How to Maintain Your Creativity without Resorting To Drugs

To maintain your creativity without resorting to drugs, you need to find a healthy outlet for your ideas and impulses. 

1.    A good place to start is by journaling. Taking the time to write down your thoughts can help you sort through them and figure out which ones are worth pursuing. 

2.    You can also try brainstorming with friends or colleagues. Brainstorming can help you get feedback on your ideas, and it can also give you a chance to explore new ideas. 

3.    Additionally, it's important to make time for creative activities that you enjoy, such as painting, photography, or writing. Doing things that you love will help to keep your creative juices flowing. 

4.    Finally, don't be afraid to take risks with your ideas. Trying new things can take your imagination to a whole new level.

While it might be true that drugs and alcohol temporarily boost creativity, the long-term effects are often disastrous. In fact, many studies have shown that drug abuse harms creativity more than it helps. If you're struggling with drug addiction and want to maintain your creative output, please reach out for help. MoreThanRehab can plug you into the right addiction treatment so you can get the care you need and start rebuilding your life.

Overdoses Are at an All-Time High: 100,000 Deaths Last Year

Drug overdose deaths have reached epidemic proportions in the United States. In fact, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdoses killed more than 100,000 people in just one year. This is the first time drug overdose deaths have surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in America. Most of these overdose deaths were caused by opioids, including prescription painkillers and synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

The State of Drug Abuse in the US

The drug crisis in America is showing no signs of slowing down, and states all over the country are feeling the effects. While some states have been hit harder than others, there seems to be a general trend of rising overdose deaths in almost every state. West Virginia, for instance, had a 52.8% overdose death rate in 2019 and 81.4% in 2020. Ohio had 38.4% in 2019 and 47.2% in 2020.

The states that have been most affected by the drug crisis have been hit hardest by the opioid epidemic. In addition to West Virginia and Ohio, which had a significant rise in overdose deaths cases, other states like Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania also had high death rates in 2020.

And while these numbers are alarming enough on their own, they only tell part of the story. Because illicit drugs are becoming more potent and more available than ever before, the drug crisis is only getting worse. To combat this growing problem, we need to invest in education and drug treatment programs that can help people get off of drugs.

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What's Driving Drug Overdoses in the US?

There are many reasons why drug overdoses have become so common. One of the biggest factors is the availability of drugs. With the rise of the internet, it's easier than ever to get your hands on illegal drugs.

Another factor is the potency of these drugs. Drug dealers are constantly trying to one-up each other by selling more potent drugs. This means that even first-time users are at risk of overdosing.

Synthetic opioids like fentanyl are largely to blame for this increase in fatalities

Illegal drug users are at an increased risk of overdose because of the rise in synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Fentanyl is a powerful opioid that is much more potent than other opioids, such as heroin. This increased potency makes fentanyl more dangerous and likely to cause overdose fatalities.

It can also be easily laced into other illegal drugs without the user's knowledge. As a result, drug users may unwittingly take a lethal dose, increasing drug-related fatalities. 

In addition, synthetic opioids are often cheaper and more readily available than traditional drugs, making them more attractive to illegal drug users. The increase in the availability of these drugs is likely to continue to fuel the current epidemic of drug overdoses.

In recent years, there has been a sharp increase in deaths caused by synthetic opioids like fentanyl. New data shows that opioid-related deaths increased from 56,064 in April 2020 to 75,673 in April 2021. Most of these deaths were accidental overdoses, which highlights the dangers of using illegal drugs like fentanyl.

Addiction to prescription painkillers after receiving them from a doctor for a legitimate injury or illness

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Overdose deaths in the United States are at an all-time high, and prescription painkillers are a major contributor to this trend. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 16,416 people died from drug overdoses in 2020. Painkillers like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and codeine are highly addictive, and it is easy for users to develop a tolerance and require ever-increasing doses to achieve the same effect.

As users become increasingly dependent on these drugs, they are more likely to turn to illegal narcotics like heroin when their prescriptions run out. This is a dangerous cycle that often leads to overdose and death. In addition, many users accidentally overdose on prescription painkillers because they are not aware of how powerful these drugs can be. As the opioid epidemic continues to claim lives, it is clear that something needs to be done to address this problem.

It's important to raise awareness about the dangers of opioid overdoses and how they can ruin lives

It's no secret that opioids are a serious problem in the United States. Each year, overdose deaths involving opioids claim the lives of tens of thousands of Americans. In addition to the human toll, the economic cost of the opioid epidemic is estimated to be over $500 billion. Despite these alarming statistics, many people remain unaware of the dangers of opioids and how easily they can ruin lives.

This lack of awareness is one of the biggest challenges in addressing the opioid epidemic. Raising awareness about the dangers of opioids is essential to saving lives and reducing the economic cost of this devastating problem. Only by increasing public understanding of the risks can we hope to make progress in tackling this pressing issue.

Get Help for Your Addiction

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Overdose deaths are at an all-time high in the United States. Every day, more than 130 people die from opioid overdose. If you're struggling with addiction, it's important to reach out for help. There are many effective treatments available, including rehab and medication-assisted treatment programs.

These programs can help you overcome addiction and achieve long-term sobriety. If you're unsure where to start, you can reach out to your doctor or a local addiction treatment center. They can connect you with the resources you need to get started on the road to recovery.

Contact More Than Rehab

When it comes to addiction, getting timely help could help save lives. MoreThanRehab provides information and resources on addiction treatment and a safe space for those who are struggling with addiction.

We also offer a range of treatment options, including detox, rehabilitation and therapies to those struggling with addiction who don’t know where to turn. If you or a loved one needs help, call us immediately. Don't hesitate.

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Tremors & DIMD (Drug-Induced Movement Disorders)

Drug use harms the health of drug users. One common symptom reported or seen in drug addicts is tremors, also called Drug-Induced Movement Disorders (DIMD). The tremors may or may not be apparent to the drug users. The severity generally depends on the extent of addiction.

Drug abuse is currently at an all-time high. According to National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, 12.9 million Americans aged 12 years and above have abused illicit drugs at some point in their lives. A report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse revealed that in 2020, approximately 92,000 U.S citizens died from a drug-related overdose of both illegal drugs and prescription opioids.

There is a bidirectional relationship between substance abuse and movement disorders. Some movement disorders develop due to acute use of alcohol or drugs, while others result from withdrawal from drugs.

Common illegal drugs that cause Drug-Induced Movement Disorders (DIMD) are cocaine, opioids, amphetamine, and heroin.

Symptoms of drug-induced tremors interfere with the performance of day-to-day motor tasks, interpersonal communication, and social functioning. Additionally, Drug-Induced Movement Disorders will interfere with your quality of life.

 

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Movement Disorders

There are two broad categories of movement disorders:

Hyperkinetic disorders are characterized by excess movement. They include dystonia, tremor, myoclonus, akathisia, tics, and chorea. Hyperkinetic disorders interfere with your day-to-day activities, and you may find it challenging to perform easy tasks. In addition, drug use can result in hyperkinetic disorders.

On the other hand, hypokinetic disorders are characterized by lack or absence of movement due to weakness.

Most movement disorders will develop due to neurological disorders. Some instances of these can manifest in people addicted to drugs or those who are experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they stop using drugs. A drug-induced movement disorder is a substance use disorder.

 

Drugs That Cause Tremors Or DMID

As mentioned above, drugs can cause tremors or DIMD. The drugs that tend to cause tremors or Drug-Induced Movement Disorders (DIMD) after acute use or during withdrawal are:

Here is how the various drugs will affect you.

Cocaine

Cocaine abuse has numerous adverse side effects on the body, such as involuntary tremors.

Cocaine blocks the dopamine transporter. Consequently, it prevents the reuptake of dopamine, increasing extracellular dopamine levels.

Your body’s dopaminergic system affects various processes, including movement control and cognition. Therefore, when cocaine increases your extracellular dopamine levels, your dopamine levels significantly decrease, affecting your motor function.

The involuntary movements in cocaine addicts or recovering addicts are due to locomotor sensitization. This can occur when you repeatedly, or even intermittently abuse cocaine.

The most visually dramatic movement disorder caused by cocaine is transient chorea, also called crack dancing and buccolingual dyskinesias.

Crack dancing is characterized by involuntary limb movements that last for several days at a time. If you are an addict, the spontaneous movements may not seem apparent to you.

Cocaine abuse may also cause subtle parkinsonian symptoms like tremors at rest. The said symptoms may persist during withdrawal.

 

Opioids

Like most commonly abused drugs, opioids raise dopamine levels by blocking the inhibitory gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Dopamine abuse may result in restless leg syndrome (RLS) and tremors.

Opioid abuse may also cause quick, involuntary muscle jerks, also known as myoclonus. Again, it would be best to seek medical attention if you experience these symptoms.

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Alcohol

Alcohol abuse may result in alcohol shakes, also called jitters or tremors. Often, the tremors occur when a person dependent on alcohol stops taking alcohol.

Alcohol tremors primarily affect the hands, but they affect the legs and arms in some circumstances. The tremors manifest approximately 8 hours after you stop drinking and peak about 30 hours after your last drink.

When you abstain from alcohol, you may experience a tremor similar to an essential tremor. However, alcohol tremors have a higher frequency, mainly involving the hands. 

These tremors can effectively be treated with propranolol.

Alcohol abuse may also cause bilateral flapping tremors, characterized by arrhythmic interruptions of sustained voluntary muscle contraction.

Unfortunately, the tremors may also indicate a more serious underlying issue. Alcohol tremors are a symptom of  Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, a medical condition that can easily result in death.

Tremors may also result in other symptoms like depression and anxiety, which may have severe consequences.

There are different treatment options for alcohol tremors. It is crucial to seek professional help to settle for a treatment plan that best suits your needs. Common medications used to treat alcohol tremors are Thiamine, Benzodiazepines, and Propranolol.

 

 

Amphetamine

Amphetamines bind and reverse the dopamine transporter (DAT) function. Consequently, they inhibit reuptake, releasing dopamine at the mesocorticolimbic dopaminergic nerve terminals. This stimulation may cause tremors, ataxia, and agitation. In extreme cases, it may also induce intracranial hemorrhages, comas, or seizures.

Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), better known as ecstasy, is also known to cause movement disorders in addicts.

 

Heroin

Heroin is an addictive opioid that causes severe withdrawal symptoms. One of the most common symptoms in heroin addicts is tremors.

Luckily, heroin addiction is treatable. Several treatment options are available for those struggling with heroin addiction, including pharmacological treatment and behavioral therapy. You may have to undergo both pharmacological treatment and behavioral therapy to make a full recovery. The treatments clear the tremors with time.

 

Get Your Life Back On Track

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Tremors or Drug-Induced Movement Disorders (DIMD) may harm your quality of life and general well-being. You may find it challenging to perform easy tasks, which may, in turn, affect your social functioning and interpersonal communication. You may also lose your independence as you’d need help performing easy tasks.

If you believe you or your loved one’s movement disorder results from drug use, it is best to seek professional help. A professional drug rehabilitation program will help by offering advice, diagnosis, or discussing treatment options.  

More Than Rehab offers high-quality, individualized treatment to anyone struggling with addiction. Additionally, we treat any co-occurring disorders to improve your quality of life.

We have both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, so you are free to select a program that suits you best.

Our experts will offer support and walk you through the challenging recovery process. Contact us anytime, during the day or night, to talk to us and start your recovery journey. Our friendly staff is always ready and willing to listen to you and answer any questions you may have.

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Why Do I Keep Relapsing On Drugs?

If you wonder why you or your loved one keeps relapsing on drugs, you are not alone. Relapse is common among people seeking recovery. Statistics show that approximately 85% of recovering addicts relapse within a year following treatment. For this reason, there is a need for a long-term drug relapse prevention plan.

Although society deems recovering addicts who relapse as not having enough willpower, you mustn’t lose hope. The National Institute on Drug Abuse acknowledges that addiction treatment involves altering deeply rooted behaviors. Therefore, relapse on drugs or alcohol does not mean that the treatment failed. 

The first thing you should do after relapse is to forgive yourself or your loved one. This way, you will have a more positive attitude that will, in turn, help you in your addiction recovery journey. The next step would be to get treatment for the substance abuse. After that, start a drug relapse prevention program. 

Most treatment programs offer relapse prevention programs to address the issue of relapse by teaching you techniques to prevent and manage its reoccurrence. This way, you can successfully achieve long-term sobriety.

Common Reasons Why Addicts Relapse

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Addiction recovery differs from individual to individual. When you’re addicted to illegal drugs, they take control of your life. Consequently, you may not make healthy and logical choices.

Addiction treatment requires time and effort. Being in a treatment program doesn’t mean you will no longer crave drugs. However, you will actively find ways to avoid substance use and address underlying issues. You will also receive treatment for health problems you acquire when addicted to drugs.

Although the causes of relapse differ from person to person, there are a few commonalities. Here are some common reasons why addicts relapse:

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Signs That You Are On The Verge of Relapse

Below are signs that you are on the verge of experiencing a relapse:

  1. You stop making an effort to maintain sobriety. Recovery is an ongoing journey. For this reason, you need to go out of your way to ensure you stay sober. If you no longer do, you are likely to relapse.
  2. You romanticize your addiction days. If you think of your substance abuse days as good days, you may relapse soon.
  3. You try to reconnect with friends from your addiction days. Reconnecting with friends from your substance abuse days will likely lead to relapse.
  4. You now consider drugs or alcohol harmless. This is a dangerous sign of relapse.
  5. You become selfish and moody. Behavior changes are a substantial danger sign of relapse.
  6. You embrace an unhealthy self-righteous attitude.

Dangers of Relapse

Most recovering addicts assume they can quickly achieve abstinence after relapse. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The more you relapse, the harder it will become for you to get sober.

Often, your relapse lasts longer than your recovery. Relapse may also become permanent.

Relapse is dangerous for several reasons. Here are a few of them:

 

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What To Do During Recovery To Prevent Relapse

To prevent relapse during recovery, you should:

 

Get Help Today

If you feel yourself slipping into a relapse, you should seek professional help. Relapse shouldn’t make you give up on your journey to recovery.

If you feel close to relapsing on drugs or need someone to talk to, contact More Than Rehab for help. We have highly qualified experts that will do all it takes to get you back on track and in control of your life.

You can live a happy, healthy, drug-free life with the proper support and treatment.

888-249-2191

Teens In Texas Are Abusing ADHD Medications To Get Ahead

Doctors prescribe stimulant medications like Adderall and Ritalin to approximately 2.5 million Americans every year to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). These ADHD medications can help some patients, but they can also be easily abused.

When used as a treatment for ADHD, Adderall and Ritalin reduce symptoms, making it easier for patients to concentrate and control impulsive behaviors. Unfortunately, most people, especially teens, use ADHD medications to get ahead. Most don’t have prescriptions, so they will buy them from friends who have prescriptions.

A Monitoring the Future survey revealed that prescription drug abuse is rising among teens. Approximately 7.5% of 12th graders admitted using Adderall as a study aid.

Most teens downplay the danger of Adderall, while some are simply unaware. By virtue of it being a prescription drug, they assume that Adderall is not dangerous, yet it has harmful side effects, including addiction and substance use disorders.

This article discusses what Adderall is, the Adderall high, its relationship with academic performance, side effects, effects on mental health, and signs of addiction.

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What is Adderall?

Adderall is a drug that contains two stimulants: dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. It comes in two forms, Adderall and Adderall XR.

Medical practitioners designed the drug to improve the attention span and focus of ADHD patients. Sometimes, they prescribe it to patients who need to suppress daytime sleepiness.

Adderall also tends to suppress appetite. Consequently, some people abuse it in the hope of losing weight.

Adderall is classified as a Schedule II drug. This means that its potential for dependence and abuse is extremely high.

The Adderall high

As mentioned above, teen pill abuse is on the rise in Texas, and Adderall happens to be one of the pills teens abuse most. So how exactly does Adderall make you feel?

Adderall increases dopamine levels, giving you a feeling of euphoria. It also stimulates the brain by activating the body’s fight-or-flight responses.

Most teens use Adderall to get high. They often mix it with other drugs and alcohol, which is extremely dangerous and life-threatening.

Since Adderall makes teens feel alert, they are more alcohol-tolerant since they can’t tell how drunk they are. Consequently, it increases the risk of alcohol poisoning.

Why do teens in Texas abuse Adderall? 

Most Texan teens abuse Adderall because they believe it; gives them the necessary energy to focus and get high grades in school, improves their mental focus, enables them to complete their homework on time, and makes studying much more effortless.

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It is noteworthy that most teens often feel overwhelmed and find it hard to balance out their academic work, social activities, and securing internships.

The relationship between Adderall and academic performance

Most high school and college students believe that Adderall is a harmless study aid since it improves attention and alertness. They use it to think clearly and focus, especially when writing papers or studying for exams.

Contrary to their belief, research shows Ritalin and Adderall don’t improve thinking or learning ability in people who aren’t diagnosed with ADHD. There is no evidence that Adderall can help teens improve their academic performance.

Students who abuse Adderall in the hope that it will improve their academic performance may:

Adderall side effects

Adderall use has several short-term and long-term side effects. They are divided into two types: physiological effects and psychological effects.

Physiological effects

They include:

Psychological effects

They include:

How Adderall affects your mental health

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Since Adderall affects dopamine production, you will experience depressive episodes when you don’t use the drug. Additionally, it will be difficult for you to experience pleasure without it.

An NCBI study revealed that using Adderall for a long time may also result in psychosis. You will have schizophrenia-like symptoms, including hallucinations, delusions, and mood disturbances. Additionally, you may experience panic attacks and anxiety.

The effects of Adderall are reportedly worse in individuals with underlying mental health conditions or a history of mental illness.

Adderall and heart problems

Adderall strains the heart and cardiovascular system. Even when you use it short-term, you may experience cardiac problems, including high blood pressure, palpitations, irregular heartbeat, and heart failure.

When you use it long-term, you are at risk of cardiac arrhythmias and a pounding heartbeat.

Adderall is just one type of ADHD medications that is also known to cause sudden death in teens. The risk with these is higher in those who have heart problems or heart defects.

Signs of addiction

If you repeatedly use Adderall without a prescription, medical monitoring, or care, you may get addicted. Signs of Adderall addiction include:

Withdrawal symptoms

When you abuse Adderall for some time but stop, you will experience withdrawal symptoms. The most prevalent withdrawal symptoms are:

Withdrawal symptoms for Adderall addiction may be dangerous and overwhelming. Therefore, it would be best to have the assistance of medical practitioners and recovery professionals when you decide to stop using the drug.

Get help today

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According to scientific studies, Adderall addiction and mental health disorders go hand in hand. Most Texans teens who abuse Adderall try to commit suicide. Therefore, treatment programs need to address mental health issues in treatment for Adderall addiction.

More Than Rehab offers an evidence-based, scientific treatment approach to ADHD medication addiction treatment. We also treat underlying mental health conditions like depression to give you the best chance at recovery.

We offer individual programs based on your needs. We have inpatient programs, outpatient programs, and partial in and outpatient programs. Our experts will guide and support you during the withdrawal process and teach you to focus and be productive without Adderall.

Contact us today to start your recovery journey and take control of your life. We are open 24/7. We are here to help.

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The Link Between Risky Sexual Behaviors & Drug Use

For ages, human beings have intentionally used different substances for sexual pleasure. For example, Egyptians used extracts from the blue lotus flower to facilitate and enhance sexual desire. 

Today is no different. People use alcohol and illicit drugs for sexual pleasure. The trend is prevalent among teenagers and young adults in the United States. While substance misuse happens at any age, young adult years are critical at-risk periods. 

Studies have identified strong associations between substance use disorders and risky sexual behaviors and experiences. A review published on JAMA Network suggests that illegal drug use, and alcohol, increases the chances of risky sexual behavior and STIs by interfering with rational decision-making and cognitive functioning. 

The review further indicates that sexual impulses may be linked to subsequent drug use by alienating the teen from a more conventional context. This promotes attachment to rogue peers, and fosters exposure to drugs or alcohol. It also suggests that sex & drugs may have a common aspect that underlies and precedes both manifestations like personality (rebelliousness) or family factor (like mother-child relationship) etc.

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People who meet the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual criteria for substance abuse disorders are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors, including unsafe sex and having multiple partners. According to the national institute on drug abuse, the following are some of the risky sexual behaviors associated with alcohol and drug abuse 

Using the Global Drug Survey data, a 2019 study found the below as the most common drugs used with sex.

Let's discuss the sexual functioning associated with each drug in detail.

Alcohol

Alcohol is a popular drug that most people use to relax before engaging in sexual activity. In addition, it is used as an aphrodisiac to increase sexual desire and enhance performance. When taken in smaller doses, it enhances sexual arousal in men and increases subjective stimulation and pleasure in women.

However, when taken in higher quantities, alcohol impairs erectile function in men due to neuropathy or cardiovascular complications. In women, chronic users experience decreased vaginal lubrication and delayed orgasm.

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Alcohol abuse has been associated with risky sexual behavior due to impaired judgment. In addition, under the influence of alcohol, individuals are likely to be inconsistent with condoms and have multiple sexual partners whose health status is unknown. This results in increased cases of sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy. 

Cocaine

Cocaine is known to stimulate the central nervous system. As a result, it increases sexual urges due to activating systems responsible for sexual behavior such as oxytocin, dopamine, and melanocortin. This leads to sexual arousal in women and erectile function in men. However, long-term use can cause reduced sexual desire and delayed ejaculation/orgasm.

Cocaine use with an intimate partner is more frequent as compared to heroin. This is because cocaine is known to improve sexual performance, intensify sensation and increase libido. On the other hand, heroin is believed to send blood away from sexual organs and reduce testosterone production. This diminishes sexual desire, difficulty maintaining an erection, and delayed ejaculation/orgasm.

In addition, cocaine use has been predominantly linked with the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases compared to alcohol and other illegal drugs. This is highly attributed to increased sexual urges, impaired judgment, and sharing needles amongst users when injecting the drug. Diagnostic criteria show chronic users of cocaine exhibit violent and erratic behavior leading to anxiety, depression, and loss of interest in sex.

Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine is recognized to be a potent aphrodisiac better known in the streets as "speed" or "crack." Like cocaine but at a higher degree, methamphetamine improves sexual performance by lowering inhibitors, increasing sex drive, and delaying ejaculation/orgasm. In addition, the sexual urges last longer in methamphetamine users than cocaine users making it more popular to people seeking extended and extremely stimulating sexual experiences.

However, chronic users of meth may experience difficulty in attaining a full erection. In this case, they experience a strong sexual drive coupled with inadequate penile erection. This condition is known as "crystal dick."

Methamphetamine has contributed to the high rates of sexually transmitted diseases such as hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS. Increased sexual urges lead to unsafe and risky sexual behaviors such as vigorous unprotected anal or vaginal sex with strangers and casual sex partners. In addition, users who inject the drug share needles, putting them at a higher risk of contracting these diseases.  

Cannabis

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Cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug. Consumption in small doses leads to subjective satisfaction and enhanced sexual pleasure in both men and women. Cannabis has resulted in teenage sex and increased cases of sexual addictions because the drug is cheap and easily accessible. 

However, chronic use of cannabis has been known to reduce testosterone, leading to erectile dysfunction in men. It is also associated with an increased risk of abuse and mental health conditions such as depression, extreme anxiety, and hallucination. 

Opioids

In the initial stages, opioids cause enhanced vaginismus in women and delayed ejaculation in men. This gives the user a false perception of improved sexual function. However, the use of opioids such as heroin and morphine for an extended period inhibits the release of luteinizing hormone.

This leads to erectile dysfunction, infertility, reduced sexual desire, and mental illness. The same effects are associated with opioid substitution therapy, such as buprenorphine and methadone.

Despite certain drugs showing a positive relationship to improved sexual performance and pleasure when used in small quantities, there is a need to create awareness of the potentially harmful health consequences that they can cause. In search of a few minutes of extreme pleasure, you can expose yourself to STDs, infertility, unplanned pregnancies, sexual addiction, and mental illnesses. 

If you or someone close to you relies on alcohol and drugs for sexual performance, or you notice more risky sexual behaviors, it is essential to seek immediate help. Healthcare providers, educators, and social workers will provide the counseling and professional treatment that is needed to help you/them gain control of your/their sexual life again.

Texas Overdose Trend Remains At All-Time High For 2022

Substance abuse harms individuals’ physical, mental, and behavioral health. It also affects their families and communities at large. In some instances, it may result in overdose deaths.

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that over 4,000 people in Texas died due to drug overdose in 2020 alone. The same report revealed that overdoses claimed a total of 93,000 lives in the United States in 2020.

Experts connected the rise in drug addiction deaths with the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Robert Redfield, the CDC director, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly affected individuals with substance use disorders. The need to isolate left them bored and lonely, thus they used drugs and alcohol for solace.

report by DSHS revealed that opioid use is one of the leading causes of overdose deaths in Texas. Other drugs reported causing overdose deaths are cocaine and methamphetamine.

Director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Deb Houry, said that the significant increase in overdose deaths is worrying.

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How to prevent drug overdose deaths

Until recently, there was no state-wide system to collect overdose data. Researchers at the University of Texas have created a digital reporting and surveillance system to track this data. The system, commonly known as Project CONNECT. Its purpose is to give stakeholders a clear picture of the Texas overdose crisis and influence future interventions.

The CDC also made the following recommendations in a bid to reduce the number of overdose deaths:

What you can do

Everyone has a role to play in preventing overdose deaths. There is a high chance that someone you know or someone from your community may overdose at some point, but not all overdoses should end in death.

To prevent overdose deaths in your community, you can:

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Ways to talk loved ones into getting treatment

When a loved one is struggling with an addiction, you may be at a loss on what to do to help them. You wouldn’t want to risk losing anyone due to a drug overdose.

Addiction treatment is a personal choice, so you can’t force your loved one to get treatment. The best you can do is be there for them every step of the way. However, you can do a few things to convince your loved one to get substance abuse treatment. Here are some of the most important ones.

Be non-judgemental

If your loved one admits that they are struggling with drug addiction, try to react as calmly as possible. Talk to them in a non-judgemental manner and offer to help them. If your loved one doesn’t confide in you, but you notice they are addicted to drugs or alcohol, you may have to approach them with the issue. Try to be as non-judgemental as possible.

Research the effects of the drug

When your loved one is an addict, it would be best to research the short-term and long-term effects of the drug they are addicted to. When you are well informed, it is unlikely that they will misinform you on the seriousness of the problem. Additionally, they will more likely listen to you when you sound like an expert.

You can get information on various drugs on our website.

Seek professional help

Drug addiction is a chronic illness. Therefore, it needs professional intervention. Reach out to rehab facilities, doctors, or counselors to get relevant information.

Choose a convenient place and time to talk to them

When you decide to approach your loved one to air your concerns, choose a place and time when you would both be comfortable. Do not exhibit aggressive behavior as they may be defensive as a result. Instead, remain calm, maintain an even tone, and focus on the issue at hand.

It would be best to try talking to them when they are as sober as possible. This way, it will be easier to reason with them.

Listen to them

If your loved one is willing to talk about their addiction, listen to them. Give them a chance to air their side of the story, but don’t let them sway you into believing their problem is not serious. Additionally, it would be best to be mindful of how you react or respond.

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Bring up treatment options

From your initial research, you will notice several treatment options available depending on the drug your loved one is addicted to. Some treatment facilities offer both inpatient and outpatient programs. Let your loved ones know their options and help them select the one that suits them best.

Be supportive    

Your loved one will need a lot of your support throughout the treatment and recovery process.

Most treatment programs have medical detox as the first step of treatment. It is arguably the most challenging part of treatment, and most patients feel like they want  to give up. Be there for your loved one and offer emotional support to better their chances of recovery.

You may also have to accompany them to support groups which play a significant role in ensuring recovering addicts maintain sobriety.

What if they don’t want to get treatment?

Sometimes, addicts may refuse to voluntarily get treatment, posing a danger to themselves and those around them. When this happens, you may have to opt for interventionist court-ordered Rehab. You can petition the court for the order if you can prove your loved one’s addiction endangers them and others.

Get help today

If you are searching for trusted and proven drug treatment, Texas has one of the finest. More Than Rehab provides high-quality addiction treatment for Texas residents. We offer unique, individualized treatment programs based on successful national models.

Our experts will take care of your loved one throughout the recovery process, including medical detox, inpatient rehabilitation, and our comprehensive outpatient program. We also provide additional support for Texas overdose victims through sober living arrangements.

Pupil Dilation & Drug Use - What Drugs Cause It?

There are many different signs of drug abuse, some more common than others. Pupil dilation is one of the most common signs of drug abuse. 

This article will discuss the various drugs that cause pupil dilation and what to look out for if you’re worried that your loved one is abusing or addicted to drugs.

What are pupils?

Pupils are black circles found at the center of each eye. Usually, they constrict (become smaller) or dilate (become more prominent) when the light levels in your surroundings vary. The pupils’ primary function is to direct light to the optic nerve at the back of your eyes (retina), thus allowing you to see.

Eye muscles located in the iris are responsible for pupil dilation. They manipulate pupils and make them adjust depending on the amount of light.

Pupils measure 2-4 millimeters when constricted and about 4-8 millimeters when dilated. Therefore, your pupil size can vary depending on the circumstances.

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What is pupil dilation, and why does it occur?

Pupil dilation after drug abuse occurs when the drugs activate your body’s flight or fight adrenaline response by engaging adrenergic receptors in the brain and serotonin. This results in a chemical reaction that leads to muscle relaxation (mydriasis), making the pupils expand to allow more light in.

Drugs that can cause pupil dilation

Several drugs can alter pupil size since most drug interactions in the body affect neurotransmitters which are your body’s chemical messengers.

Most drugs contain chemicals. Therefore, they cause chemical reactions in your body, affecting neurotransmitters. Since neurotransmitters determine your pupil size, they may dilate after drug use.

There are specific drugs that can cause eye dilation. Most of them are psychotropic substances and stimulants.  

Some common drugs that cause pupils to dilate are:

·       LSD

·       Cocaine

·       Ecstasy

·       Mescaline

·       Amphetamines

·       MDMA

·       Psilocybin

·       SSRI antidepressants

Xanax, a benzodiazepine drug, can also make pupils dilate since it affects the activity of neurotransmitter GABA that relaxes the muscles. Additionally, the stimulant medication used in ADHD treatment, i.e., Adderall and Ritalin, can also cause pupil dilation.

Other drugs, specifically opioids, can cause pinpoint pupils. Pinpoint pupils refer to pupils constricting and failing to respond to light. Sometimes, pinpoint pupils are an overdose symptom. If you notice a heroin user has pinpoint pupils, it would be best to call 911 immediately.

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Marijuana, alcohol, and cocaine cause bloodshot eyes when they expand the blood vessels around the pupils.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has more information on the drugs mentioned above, including the effects of LSD. 

How is pupil dilation determined?

When there is suspicion of drug abuse, there is a unique tool that officers or medical practitioners can use to determine pupil dilation and the most likely cause.

First responders use the Drug Recognition Card to determine whether or not an individual is sober. The International Association of Chiefs of Police invented the chart to quickly determine the pupil size difference between sober people and those high on drugs

The Drug Recognition Card can also help first responders determine which drug is responsible for the dilation. It has a list of various drugs and a pupil dilation scale which helps officers gauge the extent of pupil dilation.

Other possible causes of pupil dilation

Besides light and drug use, pupils can dilate for the following reasons:

·       Pupils can dilate if you focus on objects far away from you.

·       If you get a concussion, one of your pupils may dilate. One of them will appear more prominent.

·       Emotions. How you feel can make your pupils dilate. Most times, pupil dilation is a sign of endorphin release. If you’re happy, your pupils will appear more prominent.

·       Anisocoria. Anisocoria refers to a medical condition where one pupil is bigger than the other.

·       Iritis. Iritis is an eye condition caused by inflammation of the iris.

·       Prescription medication. Some prescription medicines can cause pupil dilation. They include antihistamines, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, anticholinergics, decongestants, mydriatics, benzodiazepines, dopamine precursors, and stimulants.

Are there long-term effects of pupil dilation?

If your pupils dilate due to drug abuse, you may wonder whether they would remain that way for good.

The pupils often go back to their original size when the drug side effects fade. However, there are a few instances when the pupils become dilated during the withdrawal period. This is common in individuals who abuse opioids.

Currently, there aren’t enough studies to conclude whether or not drug use can result in permanent pupil dilation.

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How to deal with pupil dilation

When your pupils dilate due to drug use or for any other reason, it can be uncomfortable since the pupils let in more light. Everything may appear overwhelmingly bright, and you may be sensitive to most if not all sources of light.

You may need to wear protective eye gear to shield yourself from light. This way, you will be more comfortable walking around and doing day-to-day tasks. Photochromic lenses and sunglasses will come in handy. Sunglasses protect your eyes from the sun’s rays, while photochromic lenses automatically adjust your light  levels.

If you’re worried about pupil dilation, you can contact an eye specialist who will examine you and advise you on eye health.

Other signs of drug use

Although pupil dilation can be a sign of drug abuse, you cannot conclude that individuals have abused drugs by simply looking at their pupil size.

You may need to look out for other symptoms of drug abuse. The most common ones include; restlessness, unexplained mood changes, loss of appetite, increased heart rate, tremors, high blood pressure, heavy sweating, and change in sleep patterns. The individual’s performance at work or school may also be affected.

If you notice your loved one has any symptoms of drug abuse, it may be time to seek professional help.

Seek professional help

At More Than Rehab, we acknowledge that abusing alcohol or drugs can have many side effects. Drug abuse affects your life and that of your loved ones. You are also likely to develop a substance use disorder.

To start your healing journey, contact us today. Other than addiction, we deal with co-occurring disorders like depression, self-harm, bipolar disorder, and ADHD. We will walk with you every step of the way and help you turn your life

Holidays 2021: A Guide to Avoiding Relapse Triggers

The holidays are a time when most people reunite with friends and family to celebrate. It is considered a time to drink, eat, and be merry.

Unfortunately, the holidays can also be stressful for people in recovery, and the chances of addiction relapse are relatively high. Emotional relapse may make any recovering addict turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism.

Some common holiday triggers are:

Holiday triggers can easily make anyone in recovery return to drug or alcohol abuse. Luckily, we have a few tips that go a long way in preventing relapse during the holidays. These tips will help you stay sober during the holiday season.

Wake up every morning with the decision to stay sober

Every morning, make a conscious decision to stay sober. Plan how to avoid any triggers you may encounter that day and what you’ll do if you get any cravings.

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Eat healthily

Ensure you eat healthy during the holidays. Staying hungry may result in low blood sugar, which may, in turn, make you more irritable. When you are irritable, you become impulsive and may end up relapsing. Be sure to have a snack with you when on the move and snack every few hours.

Avoid high-risk situations

Evaluate every situation and decide whether they are high-risk or low risk. 

If you are in early recovery, it would be best to avoid high-risk situations. If you must, try to leave early.

It would also help to know your triggers for you to avoid them. Some of the most common triggers are anger, loneliness, fatigue, and hunger.

Make a point of taking care of yourself both physically, mentally, and emotionally. Not doing so may lead to physical relapse or mental relapse, which may in turn, lead to alcohol or drug use.

Carry your own drinks to parties

Most office and family parties have non-alcoholic beverages. However, it wouldn’t hurt to bring your own non-alcoholic beverages. If the party you’re going to will serve champagne, you can carry flavored sparkling water to sip on as other people drink their champagne. Other alternatives are juices or sparkling cider.

Carrying your drinks helps you avoid the temptation of indulging in the alcoholic drinks that are often served at holiday and Christmas parties.

Bring a sober friend along

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If you’re lucky enough to have a friend staying sober during the holidays, keep them close. A sober friend can keep you in check. If you feel the need to drink or get high, your friend will talk you out of it. Additionally, you’re less likely to feel the pressure to indulge when both of you are drinking non-alcoholic beverages.

Have a schedule

You may notice that over the holidays, most therapists cancel their sessions during the holidays since they either want to go on vacation or be with their friends and family. When this happens, you may not have sessions as often as you are used to. 

Try making a schedule of fun things you can do in your free time to keep yourself busy.

Learn to say "no" (politely)

Sometimes, you may not be ready to share details of your recovery journey with friends or family. Therefore, you need to learn how to politely decline their offers without giving out too many details. Practice your responses in advance so that you’re ready when they question you. For instance, if someone offers you drinks, you can decline by saying that you are the designated driver.

Volunteer

Volunteering during the holidays is an excellent pastime for people in recovery. You can choose to volunteer at a local shelter, food bank, or senior living community. Other than keeping you busy, volunteering can help remind you of how lucky you are.

Don’t isolate yourself

Although avoiding holiday parties and people seems like a good idea, it isn’t necessarily. Don’t isolate yourself by staying indoors. Spending too much time in isolation may lead to a relapse.

Try to choose events you can comfortably attend and make time for your friends and family. Show up for office parties and family events, but ensure you don’t relapse.

Have a support system

As mentioned earlier, the holiday celebrations and stressors can be relapse triggers. Having a strong support system can keep you busy and accountable throughout the holiday season. Support system can be your loved ones or peers in groups like Alcoholic Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, these groups complement and extend the effects of professional treatment. If you don’t have a support group or if you have travelled to a different city or state for the holidays, check this site for organizations and support groups in your area.

When the craving kicks in, move past it

Cravings will likely kick in during the holidays. The trick is to stay strong and not give in since the urge will pass after a few minutes. Talk yourself out of it, move to a different venue, meditate, or even just take deep breaths. Do whatever you have to do to move past your cravings. You’ll realize that the more you beat your cravings, the easier it becomes in the long run.

Approximately 21 million Americans struggle with substance use disorders, and during the holidays it could be especially tempting. Due to holiday triggers, the relapse rate for people in recovery is typically much higher.

If you’re having a hard time staying sober during the holidays, know that you are not alone. It would help to reach out for extra support during this season. Try booking extra therapy sessions, going for extra meetings, or even starting a new course of therapy. This way, instead of relapsing, you’ll end the year on a sober note.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with substance abuse or experiencing a relapse, contact us for safe and secure addiction treatment. You can also call us at: 1-888-249-2191. We are open 24/7 and have several treatment programs approved by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to help you get back on your feet. Our supportive and caring staff will walk with you, every step of the way.

You can also look at resources on the American Society of Addiction Medicine website.

Stuck In A Loop: When Hallucinogens Cause Cyclical Behavior or HPPD

There are instances when individuals who abuse hallucinogenic drugs like MDMA (ecstasy), psilocybin (also called magic mushroom), and LSD experience the effects several weeks, months, and even years after abusing the drug. These effects are commonly referred to as flashbacks and are prevalent in people suffering from HPPD (Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder).

This article will discuss HPPD in detail. We will look at what HPPD is, its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

What is HPPD?

Simply put, HPPD refers to the visual disturbances that hallucinogenic drug users experience long after using the drugs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, visual disturbances range from bright circles and size distortion to blurry patterns.

People suffering from HPPD only experience flashbacks. They do not re-experience any other feeling of being high on the drugs they consumed before.

HPPD flashbacks are annoying, especially if they happen frequently. Although the flashbacks aren’t necessarily full hallucinations, they may result in mental health problems like anxiety.

Scientists argue that HPPD hallucinations are pseudo hallucinations, and those who experience them can differentiate what is real from what isn’t.

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What do flashbacks feel like?

People who experience flashbacks feel like they are reliving something they experienced in the past. Some flashbacks happen after drug use, while others happen after one undergoes a traumatic experience, i.e., post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  

Both people with HPPD and PTSD experience moments when their sensory information tells them they are experiencing moments they experienced in the past, even though they aren’t.

With PTSD, the flashbacks are more vivid. On the other hand, flashbacks of those with HPPD are not in-depth. HPPD victims only experience visual snows.

If you suffer from HPPD, you will be aware of the flashbacks but won’t experience the high that the drugs you used before gave you. Note that these flashbacks may become frequent over time and can overwhelm you.

Symptoms

The 2016 review revealed that there are two types of HPPD; type one and type 2. Those who suffer from type 1 HPPD only experience brief flashbacks, while those that suffer from type 2 HPPD experience more intense flashbacks.

If you suffer from unwanted hallucinations or cyclical behaviors, you are likely to experience any of the following visual disturbance symptoms of HPPD.

  1. Color flashes- you may notice random flashes of color at random times.
  2. Intense colors- the colors of objects around you seem brighter.
  3. Color confusion- you may be unable to tell the difference between similar colors. For instance, you wouldn’t be able to tell maroon and red apart.
  4. When you stare at objects, you see a glowing halo around them.
  5. Objects may appear bigger or smaller than they are.
  6. You may notice patterns on various objects when in reality, the object does not have any patterns on it.
  7. Items or objects may appear to leave a trail behind them as they move.
  8. You may have a difficult time reading since words on screens or pages appear to be in motion.
  9. You may feel uneasy every time you have an episode since you know that what you are experiencing is not real.

Currently, there is no scientific explanation of when these symptoms manifest. Therefore they can happen to you at any time.

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People experiencing HPPD may also experience mental health issues, including anxiety, panic disorders whose common symptom is increased heart rate and heavy breathing, suicidal thoughts, and symptoms of depersonalization. Despite most people suffering from the disorder acknowledging that they experience these symptoms, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not acknowledge them as possible symptoms. The diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders only acknowledges the visual disturbances symptoms we discussed above because it is still unclear whether HPPD directly causes mental health issues.

HPPD causes

Scientists believe that individuals who consume hallucinogenic drugs recreationally are at a high risk of suffering from HPPD. However, they are yet to conclude on the frequency of drug use that causes HPPD.

A recent study revealed that HPPD is common in people who consume more than one dose of LSD. It is also prevalent in people who use other hallucinogens on one occasion or more.

Contrary to common belief, HPPD is not a result of mental disorders or brain damage. It is also not a result of a “bad trip.” This is caused by hallucinogenic drugs and is more often than not, one of the many effects of LSD abuse.

HPPD management and treatment

If you experience any of the symptoms we discussed above, you should visit your doctor. They will ask you several questions before giving you a full diagnosis.

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After being diagnosed with Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder, you need to learn how to manage and treat it. Currently, two drugs have proved to be effective in HPPD treatment: lamotrigine and clonazepam.

Lamotrigine

Lamotrigine is a mood-stabilizing medication that is effective in relieving individuals of HPPD symptoms. A case study showed that lamotrigine is effective in the treatment of HPPD. Unlike other medications like antipsychotics, it did not make any symptoms worse.

Clonazepam

Like lamotrigine, clonazepam is effective in treating this disorder. It makes the symptoms less severe and more manageable.

To manage these symptoms, doctors also advise individuals to avoid stressful situations and illicit drugs. Additionally, doctors may give patients a few techniques to cope with the symptoms. For example, your doctor may advise you to use calming breathing exercises every time you have an episode. They may also prescribe rest and talk therapy.

Note that there is no single treatment for HPPD. You will undergo drug therapy. Drug therapy varies with individuals depending on the difference in visual disturbances symptoms.

Most times, drug therapy is successful, and individuals lead everyday lives after that.

Conclusion

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder is a serious condition. Anyone who uses hallucinogens can eventually develop this disease.

If you experience any of these symptoms, they may eventually fade away. However, there are instances when the symptoms will persist for an extended time.

It would be best to seek professional help if you notice any of the symptoms above. Your doctor may prescribe drug therapy to treat the condition and other techniques to manage the symptoms and make them more bearable.