Healthy Foods to Help With Drug Cravings

Proper nutrition is essential for everyone, but it plays an especially important role in recovering from alcohol and drug addiction. The physical and mental stress of addiction can take a toll on the body, depleting nutrients and damaging cells. The resulting deficiencies can contribute to mental illness and issues like fatigue, anxiety, and depression. This is where healthy foods come in.

Eating a nutritious diet helps replenish the lost nutrients during addiction and provides the energy needed to participate in treatment and rebuild a sober life. It can also help to restore the body's natural rhythms, improve mood, and reduce cravings. As a result, an individualized nutrition plan is an essential part of comprehensive treatment programs.

The specific nutrients that a patient needs will vary depending on the type of addiction, the severity, and the individual's unique physiology. However, the foods that help with addiction and substance use disorders have one thing in common: they focus on whole, unprocessed foods. They often include plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, and whole grains. A detox diet can speed up the detoxification process and promote healing from the damaging effects of substance abuse.

Why Diet Matters During and After a Drug Detox

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Substance use disorders often promote poor eating choices. Besides, many drugs limit the uptake of nutrients from foods. This is why detox with diet is critical to full recovery. However, detoxing from drugs or alcohol can be difficult and dangerous, especially when considering issues like drug or alcohol withdrawal.

You'll need a combination of diet and medication-assisted detox programs to overcome addiction and gain long-term sobriety. These programs provide medical supervision and support throughout the detox process, helping to ensure that you're safe and comfortable.

Inpatient detox programs can also be very helpful for those who have tried to quit cold turkey but have been unsuccessful. It can also help manage withdrawal symptoms. By providing a structured and supportive environment, these programs can increase the chances of success for those seeking to overcome addiction.

Unhealthy Eating Trap after Addiction Treatment

When people think about addiction, they often imagine someone hooked on drugs or alcohol. However, it's important to remember that addiction can take many different forms. The unhealthy eating trap after addiction treatment can be just as difficult to overcome for some people.

It's not uncommon for people to switch their dependence from drugs or alcohol to food after treatment. This is because the same areas of the brain affected by substance abuse are also involved in regulating eating habits. As a result, people who are struggling with addiction may turn to food to cope with their feelings of anxiety and stress.

Unfortunately, this can quickly lead to unhealthy eating habits and even full-blown food addiction. But the good news is there are healthy foods that can help prevent cravings and potential eating disorders.

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Nutrition to Help Your With Drug Cravings

Cravings for foods can be just as intense as drugs or alcohol. Some foods can help you combat cravings that could lead to addiction on your journey to recovery. Here are some examples to get you started:

Eat Plenty of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Fresh fruits and vegetables are a good place to start. These foods are nutritious and can also help regulate blood sugar levels. Stabilizing blood sugar can help reduce cravings, mood swings, and irritability, which are often triggers for relapse. In addition, fruits and vegetables are packed with fiber, which helps to keep you feeling full and satisfied.

By including these fruits and vegetables in your diet, you will be helping your body to heal and recover from addiction.

Eat Healthy Foods to Help your Body Feel Good

Addiction recovery can be a challenging time. It is important to eat foods that will support your body and help you feel your best during this period. Foods like tofu, fish, poultry, and yogurt are all excellent sources of protein and nutrients, which can help to boost energy levels and promote healing.

In addition, all of these foods are low in sugar and unhealthy fats, making them a good choice for people trying to avoid addiction triggers. By including these healthy foods in your diet, you can help to set yourself up for success in recovery.

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Drink Plenty of Water

Drinking lots of water can help to flush impurities from the body and reduce inflammation. As a result, it keeps you healthy and hydrated, which can help reduce cravings. Water also helps curb appetite and can be used as a distraction from cravings.

Avoid processed foods and sugary drinks

Part of recovering from addiction is learning to make healthy choices regarding food. Eating processed foods and sugary drinks can contribute to cravings and trigger a relapse, so it's important to avoid them when healing from addiction.

Instead, focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods rich in nutrients. Fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains are good options. In addition, staying hydrated is important for recovery, so make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Once you've completed substance abuse treatment, it's important to do everything you can to prevent relapse. Most rehab centers offer ongoing support, but you might benefit more by joining support groups.

Let More Than Rehab Help You Deal With Drug Cravings

If you're struggling to overcome addiction, it may be helpful to consider making some changes to your diet and getting regular exercise. Eating healthy foods can help reduce cravings for drugs and other unhealthy substances.

There are plenty of resources to help you get started on a healthy diet, so don't hesitate to reach out for support. We are available 24/7. With time and effort, you can overcome addiction and create healthier habits that will benefit you physically and mentally.

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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.

Digestive Health Issues From Drug Use

Drug use can have both short-term and long-term effects on your digestive health. And while some of these effects can resolve on their own or through treatment, some linger on for years. In some cases, drug-induced complications on the digestive system could cause severe health complications and even death.

You probably know that drugs affect judgment, decision-making, moods, feelings, memory, and even learning. However, drugs use can also cause or worsen digestive problems. Some of these effects happen after prolonged drug use, while others happen just after a single use.

The effects of drug abuse on the digestive system

Many common drugs, including prescription drugs that treat digestive problems, diabetes, and depression, can affect gut health. The gut system is home to about 100 trillion bacteria and other organisms like fungi and viruses. All these make up the microbiome or microbiota. A healthy gut contains good bacteria and healthy immune cells that ward off infections.

It also communicates with the brain through hormones and nerves, maintaining intestinal health. A proper balance of good bacteria can result in many health benefits. Drug use affects the balance of bacteria in the gut microbiota, predisposing people to gastrointestinal tract infections and other health issues.

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Additionally, drugs damage the mucous membrane lining that runs through the mouth, stomach, small intestines, large intestines, and esophagus. The mucous membrane helps with peristalsis, which is the process of breaking down food. Damage to the lining exposes the GI tract to damage and more severe health issues. Here are some common digestive health concerns from drug use.

Intestine constipation

Opiates like heroin, Vicodin, morphine, and OxyContin cause constipation. Under normal circumstances, adults have bowel movements ranging from three times a day to three times a week. But after opiate intake, they may have infrequent bowel movements or find it hard to pass bowel movements.

It’s important to note that the severity of constipation depends on factors like dosage and duration of use. Long-term use may cause bowel damage and produce a narcotic bowel syndrome where bowel functions slow down. And unlike other opiates, side effects like nausea, constipation doesn’t resolve over time with continued use. The reason is that the GI system doesn’t seem to adapt to the presence of opioids like other body parts.

But the main reason opiates cause constipation is that opiates heavily impact the GI neurons. Muscles around the intestine push stool through the body. Opioid intake slows or stops the squeezing movements of these muscles because of how it affects the messages sent to the nerves in the spine and intestines. Besides, opioids can also cause gastroparesis, a condition where food stays in the GI tract for much longer. So, the intestine ends up absorbing more water causing the formation of hard and dry stools.

Opiate-related constipation affects opioid receptions across the body and brain functionality. So, taking supplements or fiber-rich foods won’t solve the problem.

Cancers

Tobacco use can cause many cancers, including throat, esophagus, mouth, stomach, bladder, rectum, liver, kidney, and cervix. That’s because tobacco products have many chemicals that destroy DNA. There isn’t a safe level of tobacco use.

Ulcers and perforations in the stomach

Drugs like cocaine reduce appetite and cause bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Continual use may cause these uncomfortable symptoms to develop into more severe GI issues like stomach ulcers, abdominal bleeding, perforation of the intestines, bowel tissue decay or rupture, perforation of the small blood vessels in the abdomen, and reduced blood flow to the gastrointestinal system.

Cocaine misuse can cause gangrene and mesenteric ischemia, which leads to small and large bowel perforation and intraperitoneal hemorrhage. Clinical presentation of mesenteric ischemia includes abdominal pain and possibly vomiting, nausea, and cocaine diarrhea. High concentrations of cocaine may cause blood clots which block the blood supply, predisposing one to ulceration due to prolonged exposure to acid.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

People who drink often tend to experience irritable bowel syndrome, an intestinal condition that doesn’t appear to cause actual physical damage to the intestines. It is characterized by persistent pain, discomfort, and regular episodes of constipation and diarrhea. IBS patients also experience a range of issues regarding the types of activities they can indulge in or food they can eat.

However, drug-induced GI disorders can mimic conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Knowing this can prevent unnecessary investigations and treatment.

Esophagus and stomach irritation

Some people have a hard time swallowing prescription and OTC drugs in capsule or tablet form. When capsules or tablets stick in the esophagus, they may release chemicals that irritate the esophagus lining. The irritation may result in bleeding, ulcers, strictures, and perforation. The risk goes higher in people with conditions like achalasia, scleroderma, strictures, and stroke.

Other drugs may also cause stomach lining irritation. These drugs weaken the ability of the lining to resist acid produced in the stomach. In some cases, the irritation may cause inflammation of the stomach lining, bloody vomits, ulcers, severe indigestion and heartburn, perforation, severe stomach cramps, and burning in the back or stomach.

Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS)

CHS is a condition characterized by repeated and severe bouts of vomiting and nausea. THC, which is the psychoactive part of cannabis, binds digestive track molecules, impacting the things like the time it takes the stomach to empty. Other CHS symptoms include belly pain, dehydration, and decreased food intake.

Drugs that can affect the gastrointestinal system

These drugs include:

Drug abuse can affect many different organs in your body, including the gastrointestinal tract. If you are experiencing any of these digestive health issues, it’s best to seek medical help. Your doctor will run some tests and provide the best possible care. But be sure to inform them about your drug use problem, as that will help with the diagnosis and treatment. In some cases, your doctor may recommend detox and rehabilitation to help address the root cause of the GI problems.

If you or someone close to you has digestive health issues from drug use, we can help. We provide holistic drug use treatment to help you get off of drugs. This, in turn, will prevent the GI issues from escalating, allowing your immune system to bounce back. Contact us today for additional information.

Should I Be Afraid of Rehab?

Addiction affects almost every part of your life. Admitting that you have an addiction problem is the first step toward recovery. Denial is a large part of addiction, and breaking through self-deception is very difficult. So, if you’ve reached a point where you accept that drugs and alcohol are a serious problem in your life, then you’ve probably dealt with the hardest part. Rehabilitation is only a small part of it, yet many can be afraid of rehab. It's a huge life-changer and it can be difficult, but that shouldn't discourage you.

Addiction is a chronic disease that changes the way the brain functions. You may no longer have control of how you feel or act. But you should know that this isn’t about willpower or morals – it’s about acknowledging that you need help and accepting it.

It’s normal to have fears about rehab. Millions of others also fear joining rehabs for various reasons. So much so that only 10% of 20.4 million people with substance use disorders sought out addiction treatment in 2019. But fears only get in the way of sober living. Joining an addiction treatment center is going to be your best shot at addiction recovery.

But still, no one wants to join drug addiction treatment programs – at least not at first. Rehab is a scary thought for many families and people who struggle with addiction. The word itself comes with a huge stigma, and the idea of joining a facility for residential treatment can be equally overwhelming.

Also, joining rehab means letting go of substances, leaving the comforts of your home, and starting a new life. It means giving up control and embracing change. But as they say, change is as good as rest.

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Common fears about rehab

Fear of detox and withdrawal

The thought of detox or withdrawal symptoms can be intimidating, especially if you’ve experienced them before or have heard stories. While withdrawal isn’t going to be your cup of tea, there are many ways to make it comfortable and tolerable. Treatment programs offer full-time help and access to medications and therapies to ensure you are pain-free. You’ll also be monitored by trained medical staff throughout your entire detox process.

Fear of leaving behind your life

Walking away from your comfort zone – your family, home, job, friends, or even substances can be scary. After all, you are leaving behind your life as you’ve known it and heading towards the unknown. But while this thought can be overwhelming, treatment is way less damaging than staying and continuing with your using habits. If the people you’re scared to leave behind care about you, they will be happy to see you get help.

Just ensure that everything is in order so that your only concern is to sober up. Arrange care for your elderly parents, children, or pets. Apply for the 12 weeks of family and medical leave to protect your work and sign up for automatic bill payments. The goal is to leave bills, jobs, and drama outside so you can focus more on getting better.

Fear of missing out (FOMO)

FOMO is one of the most common fears many people who struggle with addiction deal with before going to rehab. The illusion that drugs and alcohol go hand in hand with fun can make you skeptical about getting help. You may feel as though you’ll miss out on weekends, or after work, and so on. There’s also the aspect of friends; how they’ll hang out without you and how boring your life will get without them.

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All these can be overwhelming, making you afraid of rehab and what happens afterwards. But substance abuse only leads to addiction, legal issues, financial troubles, broken relationships, etc. Unless you break free, you really won’t have a clear perspective of what fun means. Once you go through rehab, you’ll make new friends, learn new things, take up a hobby, travel, and even spend more time with loved ones. You’ll also identify fun activities that aren’t harmful to your health and relations.

Fear of not knowing how to cope with anxiety and stress

If you fall into the 50% category of those who experience substance use disorder due to mental health issues, you may fear that you won’t know how to cope once you stop using. But the good news is that treatment facilities often offer 12-step programs to help you resolve most of the underlying issues. They also offer holistic treatments to address mind, body, and soul. On top of that, they point you to support groups to serve as your sounding board, so there's no need to be afraid of rehab.  

Fear of dealing with past trauma, neglect, or abuse

Many aspects – including childhood neglect, abuse, and trauma – might have contributed to your substance use disorder. Perhaps you’ve been suppressing the difficult past, but now you’re dealing with the prospect of facing it as part of the healing process.

It is scary to face the ghost of the past, but you won’t do it alone. Treatment centers have counselors who will hold your hand throughout the process. You’ll also have access to group therapy and other treatment options to help you process thoughts, emotions, and beliefs linked to the past trauma. In the end, the past won’t have a grasp on you.

Fear of starting a new life

Without drugs or alcohol, you may have no idea what you are, and that’s a scary place to be. But this is only temporary. During treatment and early recovery, you’ll be able to step out of your comfort zone and try new stuff. You’ll also hang out with sober friends and family and create new experiences. This might be a great time to try out new hobbies and interests.

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Fear of failure

One of the main reasons most people are afraid of rehab is the fear of failure. The thought of going through a treatment plan but ending up with a relapse is devastating. But failing to try because you fear failing is denying yourself an opportunity to lead a clean life. In fact, you may be shocked by how well you respond to treatment.

And even if you relapse, it is still a step in the right direction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that 40-60% of people with addiction relapse after treatment. Should you relapse, it’s vital to point out the triggers and find a way to avoid placing yourself in similar situations again.

Fear of success

Perhaps you’ve done things in the past that you aren’t proud of and feel like you have to punish yourself or be unhappy forever. Or maybe you suffered in the hands of someone who said you didn’t deserve happiness or that you wouldn’t amount to anything, and you believed them. So you’re always self-sabotaging to avoid success.

But everyone deserves a shot at happiness. Embrace your fears and not run away from them. Treatment centers have experts who will reinforce positive mental health and help you overcome any trauma that may have affected you. There is no need to be afraid of rehab. Depending on the rehab, the treatment plan may also include a faith-based approach to help you connect with your higher power to overcome addiction.

Alcoholism is Getting Bad Thanks to the Pandemic

Alcohol slows down the central nervous system, creating feelings of relaxation. It also lowers inhibitions, memory, and judgment. Because of these qualities, many people turn to alcohol to distance themselves from the challenges or stressors they’re facing due to COVID-19. The pandemic is associated with negative economic and health impacts, loss, grief, isolation, prolonged uncertainty and stress.

Recent studies show that people are binge drinking to cope with the negative impacts COVID-19 pandemic. One study found that American adults have sharply increased their alcohol consumption, drinking on more days per week.

The study released by RAND Corporation compared the drinking habits of adults between spring 2019 and spring 2020. Reviewing over 1500 adults across America, participants were asked about their change in alcohol use between 2019 and 2020 during the first peak of the virus.

The study found a 14% increase in alcohol use among adults, compared to the same time last year. This was a 19% increase among all adults ages 30-59. Women, in particular, showed a 41% increase in alcohol use.

Experts warn that the pandemic’s stress could be could be prodding some people to drink alcohol. In the previous years, surges in alcohol use were noted following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, 2003 SARS, and September 11th terrorist attacks. Such traumatic events and their resulting stressors tend to lead to increased post-disaster alcohol use and abuse.

Why are people drinking during the pandemic?

People are consuming alcohol as a way to manage emotional stress. The pandemic has created collective grief and loss of security and safety with incredible uncertainty. Before the pandemic, alcohol use was already a significant public health concern. The pandemic seems to be fueling this even further with its vast effects, like:

Before the outbreak of the coronavirus, people would go out and blow off some steam. They’d go to the gym for a workout or the movies to calm down. But with the lockdown and less social contact rules, that’s not an option anymore. People can’t hang out with their friends and loved ones as they used to. They can no longer engage in activities that help them reduce stress and enhance well-being. But they can access alcohol because liquor stores were deemed essential businesses and stayed open.

When you combine anxiety and stress with the ability to order alcohol through an app and have it delivered to your doorstep within an hour, you get a perfect pathway towards excessive drinking and abuse.

The effects of alcohol on the body

These studies show that many people could be turning to alcohol to cope with pressures created by COVID-19. Drinking alcohol to cope with life situations like boredom or stress can become a habit that leads to substance abuse disorder. When a person self-medicates with alcohol to cope with stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues, they can develop co-occurring substance use disorder.

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Alcohol is a depressant and sedative that affects the central nervous system. At first, drinking alcohol can reduce fears and take the mind of troubles. It can help an individual feel less anxious, boost mood and make them generally relaxed.

In fact, the effects of alcohol can be the same as those of anti-anxiety medications. That’s because alcohol slows activity in the amygdala, a brain part that prepares the body’s “fight or flight” response to stress.

Repeated use decreases the amygdala’s dampening effect. It also causes tolerance and dependence. So a person has to drink more alcohol to achieve a similar level of high. At this point, they can’t stop drinking because of withdrawal symptoms, like tremors, nausea, anxiety, headache, confusion, and insomnia.

Mild alcohol withdrawal can be treated at home. But severe cases need supervised care in a hospital setting to avoid potentially dangerous complications like seizures.

Who is more vulnerable to increased alcohol use during the COVID-19 outbreak?

The measures to curb the spread of coronavirus have been hard on everyone. So, everyone is susceptible and may end up with problems with alcohol. However, studies show that some groups are more vulnerable than others.

Younger people

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), alcohol use has led to at least four deaths on college campuses since spring 2021. Young adults face unprecedented stressors: loss of income, the uncertainty of the future, and social isolation, resulting in conditions like loneliness, depression, and anxiety which can increase the risk of heavy drinking.

Women

The psychological stress associated with the pandemic was also linked to greater drinking for women. A study by RAND Corporation and supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Use and Alcoholism shows that heavy drinking among women has soared. In the survey, 1 in 5 women had heavily consumed alcohol at least one additional day per month compared with the previous year.

Physicians

A survey of 12,000 physicians found that over 40% of physicians experienced burnout, which was amplified mainly by COVID-19. Of these physicians, more than a quarter were drinking to cope with the burnout and resulting stress.

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More studies point to the increase in alcohol use thanks to the pandemic

BlueCross BlueShield survey dubbed “Behavioral health by the numbers: a closer look at the impact of COVID-19” reveals a 23% increase in alcohol consumption since the outbreak began.

Another survey on 1,000 American adults 18 years and older by The Recovery Village found that 55% of the participant had an increase in past-month alcohol consumption, with 18% reporting a significant increase.

How to cope with the negative impacts of COVID-19 without alcohol

Healthy coping involves taking part in activities that directly reduce stress or improve wellbeing. This includes exercising, getting enough sleep, following creative pursuits, eating nutritious food, and staying hydrated. It is also a good idea for people to reach out for help and get support to make healthier life choices.

Those recovering from alcohol can take part in online Alcoholic Anonymous meetings. Such support groups can serve as a pillar to help avoid relapse.

How Alcoholism Can Make Your Blood Pressure Worse

Scientists are still learning how alcoholism affects heart health and blood pressure. According to a few John Hopkins University studies, moderate alcohol drinking may lead to a lower risk of dying from heart disease. Also, modest amounts of alcohol might help to slightly raise the levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol as per some studies. Does that mean, however, that alcohol consumption is a great habit and has no repercussions on your health? Not at all. Let us look at the ways alcoholism can make your blood pressure worse.

The association between moderate alcohol drinking and heart health is still debatable, with both supporters and naysayers offering evidence; the focus keyword, however, remains “moderate”. Excessive alcohol drinking, on the other hand, has no positive side to it.

Too Much of a Good Thing

While short-term repetitive drinking can lead to temporary spikes in blood pressure and heart rate, long-term alcohol abuse and alcoholism may lead to chronic hypertension/high blood pressure and even cause heart disease. Addiction to alcohol is a very serious problem.

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How Alcohol Affects My Blood Pressure?

Although the impact of alcohol consumption on the body depends a lot on age and risk factors, excessive drinking is never recommended for anyone. This is because alcohol abuse can lead to a myriad of direct and indirect impacts on the body and mind, which are detrimental not just to the individual but also to those who surround them.

Direct effects

Alcohol abuse and alcoholism can have pronounced direct effects in the short- and long-term, chief among them being a temporary increase in blood pressure, which may turn into long-term excess due to repetitiveness.

Indirect effects

There are several ways in which alcohol is known to affect blood pressure indirectly. Alcohol is known to affect the nervous system, which controls blood pressure. Also, it causes changes in pressure receptors that sense blood pressure levels, making blood pressure higher. Alcohol consumption increases cortisol levels – the stress hormone that increases blood pressure – and the level of calcium that lines arteries, making them more constricted, elevating blood pressure.

Scientists have also found that alcoholism affects the number of other vasoconstrictor hormones (artery-constricting hormones), impacts the retention of fluids filtered in the kidneys and leads to weight gain in the long-term, all of which contribute to increases blood pressure numbers.

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How Much Is Too Much with Alcohol?

The American Heart Association has outlined the definitions of excessive drinking, which one can revise to keep their consumption in check:

According to AHA, one drink is equivalent to 12 oz of beer, 4 oz of wine, 1.5 oz of 80-proof alcohol and 1 oz of 100-proof alcohol. At the end of the day, however, it does not matter what is the beverage you pick – what matters is the amount.

Why is High Blood Pressure Bad for You?

There are two kinds of blood pressure numbers we are familiar with. The higher number denotes high blood pressure, which occurs when the heart is contracting and forcing blood into the arteries. The lower number stands for low blood pressure which occurs when the heart is in the relaxed phase.

Consistent and abnormally high blood pressure or hypertension is detrimental to our body because it damages the lining of arteries, causing them to harden (arteriosclerosis), ultimately leading to arterial blocking. The blockage of arteries subsequently leads to a blocked flow of blood to the heart (causing heart attack), brain (causing stroke) as well as other essential organs, leading to multiple-organ failure.

On the other hand, low blood pressure is not a long-term condition, though it also leads to poor health outcomes such as dizziness and pale skin. However, low blood pressure is easier to reverse and quicker to recover from.

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Alcoholism and Serious Diseases

Heavy drinking is directly associated with several poor bodily outcomes, including heart conditions such as cardiomyopathy which affects the heart’s muscles. Excessive alcoholism may even lead to heart failure and stroke, apart from the most common complication - heart attack. The long list of problems associated with alcohol abuse also includes liver diseases, obesity and poor mental health.

Compared with people who did not binge drink, people who drank alcohol at twice the gender-specific binge drinking thresholds were 70 times more likely to have an alcohol-related emergency department (ED) visit, and those who consumed alcohol at 3 times the gender-specific binge thresholds were 93 times more likely to have an alcohol-related ED visit, says the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Alcohol intake can also specifically affect those who are on blood pressure medications. These medications usually come with side effects associated with low pressure – dizziness, loss of balance control and so on. Excessive alcoholism also impairs our sense of balance, which is why this combination can prove detrimental. Alpha- and Beta-blockers as well as Nitrates can interact dangerously with alcohol and should be avoided.

Reversing the Ill-Effects of Alcohol on Heart Health and Blood Pressure

The good news is that the ill-effects of alcohol abuse can be reversed if you take action at the right time. Studies show heavy drinkers who reduce their consumption to moderate can lower the upper blood pressure readings or systolic blood pressure by about 5.5 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg) and their lower readings or diastolic blood pressure by about 4 mm Hg.

That being said, one rule does not fit everyone when it comes to getting rid of alcoholism. Recovering from alcohol is as much a personal process as it is a medical one. It can lead to withdrawal symptoms, impact your mental health and cause visible changes to your body. However, with the combination of the right approach and evidence-based treatments from specialists, one can stop drinking and de-addict themselves effectively and holistically.

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How Does More Than Rehab Help?

At More Than Rehab, we aim to provide quality care to those in need of all-inclusive and therapeutic modalities, helping individuals identify what is best for their recovery. Our team of a skilled and compassionate team of counsellors, psychiatric specialists and physicians who coordinate a comprehensive and individualistic plan for the recovery of individuals in need. Coupling our approach with cognitive behavioral therapy, More Than Rehab caters to the full spectrum of a person’s addiction.

Alcoholism is one of the leading mental and physical issues affecting the United States today. However, it can be gotten rid of, and its impacts treated or reversed. It is upon you to make the best out of the opportunity to, for you might get only a chance at it. You can start your life afresh – we are just a click away.

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How Much Does Alcohol Rehab Cost?

It is never a good feeling when you, or a loved one, are considering whether or not professional treatment is necessary for an alcohol use disorder or an alcohol addiction.

However, the simple fact that there is even a question is a strong indicator that there is possibly a problem and that professional help may be necessary. This is especially true if there have been negative consequences associated with the alcohol use, such as getting a DUI, getting fired from work, relationship difficulties, getting in trouble with the law, or other negative consequences of drug or alcohol abuse.

According to the National Institute on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, around 17.6 million people struggle with an alcohol abuse or dependence issue every year in the United States. So, just know that if you or a loved one are suffering, you are certainly not alone. In the year since the pandemic began, alcohol use has seen a sharp increase in the United States.

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One of the biggest steps that people can take when they are suffering from an alcohol use disorder or addiction is to admit that they have a problem, and then get the help necessary to recover.

Once you have decided that help may be necessary for whoever is struggling, you may begin to wonder if your family can afford it.

Exactly how much does alcohol rehab cost?

Well, the answer to this question can depend on many factors. No two people are alike, and the same can be said about their addictions. The cost will typically depend on the level of treatment required for that individual to begin the road to a successful recovery.

The level of treatment someone needs depends on a variety of issues such as how long they’ve been using alcohol or drugs, whether they abuse alcohol in combination with other drugs or substances, and how often they abuse their drug of choice. Depending on the severity of the symptoms and the addiction, a more intensive treatment may be necessary.

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What is an alcohol rehab program like?

Typically, when a person is looking to get treatment for alcohol abuse, they do an intake assessment to determine what level of care is appropriate. When it comes to alcohol rehab, there are several different levels of treatment, each with their own general cost. Here are some of the most common.

*These prices are based off out-of-pocket expenses without insurance coverage. However, many insurance companies will pay for all or a portion of alcohol rehab treatment costs.

Aside from the different levels of treatment that may affect the overall cost of alcohol rehab, there are several other factors to consider when it comes to the price. One of those factors is the length of the program. Along with the intake assessment, many treatment centers will also specify an amount of time they believe necessary for effective treatment. Depending on the individual's specific needs, this time frame typically ranges between 30 to 90 days.

The location and amenities of the treatment center can also play a significant role in the overall cost. If you decide to go to an alcohol rehab center located on the beach, it’s likely to cost more than the one nestled in the heart of a small inland city.

The amenities the rehab center offers will also add some major dollar signs to the total cost. Some luxury rehabs offer acupuncture, private tennis courts, and swimming pools. Keep in mind that you don't have to stay at the Ritz in order to get quality treatment but choosing a treatment center with just the right number of amenities may go a long way in making the stay much more enjoyable and beneficial in the long run.

At our beautiful Texas rehab centers, known collectively as More Than Rehab, we combine the right balance of affordability, while still providing luxuries that encourage you to get involved with your recovery process. If you feel as though the cost of alcohol rehab may be too much, keep in mind that most insurance plans will cover all, or a portion of the cost for your alcohol addiction or substance abuse treatment.

At More Than Rehab we offer a wide range of care levels and work with most major insurance companies. We pride ourselves on remaining affordable while providing the highest quality of care--all while staying at a beautiful and serene location surrounded by the most wonderful natural surroundings that Texas has to offer.

There is absolutely no shame in getting help when you need it. So please reach out to us today at More Than Rehab and let our highly trained staff help you or your loved one. As always, we are available 24/7. Give us a call today!

888-249-2191

5 Ways to Conquer Drug Cravings

When you have a substance use disorder or an addiction, one of the hardest things to do in life is quit using drugs and alcohol. One of the main reasons for this is that you will begin craving the drugs or alcohol, almost immediately after you decide to quit. So, what are some good ways to conquer drug cravings, while you’re in recovery from your addiction? To start, understanding your addiction and the reasons why people begin using drugs and alcohol is a great start.

Unfortunately, millions of Americans struggle with addiction to drugs or alcohol. It is estimated that more than 21 million people in our country suffer from an addiction or substance abuse problem every year. To make matters even worse, out of those 21 million people, only about 10 percent of them will ever receive any help or treatment for their disorder. Furthermore, nearly 1 in 8 adults in the United States is considered an alcoholic.

Additionally, drug and alcohol addiction may be of even more concern today than it has been in the past  because of the Coronavirus. The Coronavirus has not only caused issues like the forced shutdown of many major businesses, closures of public school, and mask mandates, but also an increase in things like alcohol sales, recreational drug use and even relapse rates. This was particularly an issue when the pandemic first hit because those in addiction recovery were left without a lot of their support system when AA meetings and NA meetings stopped, and counseling services shut down, along with being laid off or sent home from work.

Hopefully though, now that we are all a bit more used to what daily life looks like while living during a pandemic, we are able to better adjust. Today, there are things like online virtual counseling sessions and social distancing that allow us to still get access to the fundamental building blocks of a support system. All of these things are extremely crucial to a successful recovery from addiction. Even without the Coronavirus, relapse among those with a drug or alcohol problem is very common, with around a 40-60% relapse rate. This is in part due to the drug cravings, relapse triggers and withdrawal symptoms that are often experienced while recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction.

To help with this, we have put together this list of 5 ways to help conquer your drug cravings, so that you are at a lower risk of relapse.

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1. Understand What Cravings Are

First, it is important to understand that your cravings are an entirely normal experience. Just about everyone in drug and alcohol recovery will get them at least one time or another throughout their sobriety. Cravings are classified as an intense urge to use drugs or alcohol. While they are a completely normal experience, (especially in the early stages of recovery), it does not mean they will last forever. Not only will they eventually go away with enough time in sobriety, but the typical craving will likely only last around 10-15 minutes. In the event that you have delayed the craving for some time and you’re still feeling it, then it is likely you are still around the stimulus that triggered the craving. Relapse triggers are identified as the stimulus (person, place, thing, feeling, etc) that triggered the craving in the first place. Cravings and triggers are a result of altered brain functioning and chemistry that occurred because of the drug or alcohol addiction. Over time, your brain will learn to stop associating these triggers with drugs or alcohol making your recovery and sobriety much easier.

2. Identify What Your Triggers Are

As mentioned earlier, a trigger is a stimulus that causes a craving for drugs or alcohol. So, being able to identify exactly what it is in the first place that made you crave drugs or alcohol will be extremely helpful. While a trigger can be anything for anyone, they usually fall into a few different categories. Pattern triggers are places or things that you associate with past drug or alcohol abuse, such as your favorite bar or even something seemingly innocent, like seeing a spoon. Social triggers are people or even groups of people that bring back memories of past substance abuse issues. There are also emotional triggers, such as a cause for celebration or the pain of losing a loved one. Withdrawal can even be considered a type of trigger, as this process usually results in the body feeling like it needs these substances in order to survive.

3. Avoid Relapse Triggers, or Find Ways to Deal With Them

Once you have identified your triggers, it is best to come up with a plan to try and avoid them. If you feel triggered every time you drive by the street your old hangout used to be, then simply try taking a different route instead. Stop hanging out with friends that you used to do drugs or drink with, especially if they aren’t supportive of your recovery. Of course, not all triggers can be avoided, like spoons. When it comes to triggers that you have no way of avoiding, come up with an action plan that you can easily use to help fight off the craving, remember they only last around 10-15 minutes once you have gotten away from the stimulus.

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4. Take a Walk or Exercise

If you do feel that you are about to get a craving, try going out for a breath of fresh air and taking a light walk. Almost any form of exercise will help you fight the craving, but many agree that walking takes the cake when it comes to beating drug cravings. Getting out in the fresh air and taking in the world without a real sense of where you are going can be a huge relief for people experiencing drug cravings. Just remember to try and avoid any places that might trigger you even further. If you are unable to exercise or walk, just getting out in the sun and breathing some fresh air can definitely help.

5. Reach Out To Others

Part of a successful recovery is having a strong support system. Trying attending an AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) support group and reach out to some peers who know a lot about how you are feeling. Chances are they know exactly what you are going through and will offer advice that can help. If you have a sponsor or a counselor from a treatment group, then reach out to them. There is almost nothing worse than trying to go through life on your own, especially when you are learning to do it without the use of drugs or alcohol.

If you or a loved one are struggling with relapse, drug cravings, or need help getting sober, please reach out to our family of highly trained addiction specialists at More Than Rehab. You are certainly not alone, and we are here to help 24/7.

(888) 249-2191

What Happens to Your Brain When You Get Blackout Drunk?

If there is one thing that we can all agree on, it is that 2020 has been a stressful year. Along with the nation battling the surge of cases in the COVID-19 pandemic, is the increased rates of alcohol consumption sweeping across the country. No one could argue against ending a long stressful day with a relaxing alcoholic beverage, but there is such a thing as drinking too much. Even in the face of adversity, if you are getting “blackout drunk,” there might be a problem.

Most experts agree that drinking moderation is perfectly fine, and while that may look different depending on the individual, in general, consuming more than four alcoholic drinks per day for men and three alcoholic drinks for women is considered to be too much.

Another important thing to consider if you are beginning to wonder if you or a loved one are consuming too much alcohol is whether or not memory lapses have been experienced after a night of drinking. Drinking too much alcohol in a short amount of time, especially on an empty stomach, can lead to what is known as an alcohol-related blackout. If you have ever experienced a time when you got blackout drunk, you might have had that “uh-oh” feeling the next day as you begin texting your friends, trying to piece together what happened the night before. Unfortunately, though commonly experienced, blackouts are a tell-tale sign that way too much alcohol has been consumed.

What is it like to get blackout drunk?

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For those who have ever experienced a blackout, it can often be a scary experience. Not only are you left wondering what happened the night before, you may also begin to wonder what exactly happens to your brain when you get blackout drunk? Why does it make it impossible to remember what happened, say, after the fourth shot of tequila? Well, even though we can’t exactly tell you whether or not you really danced on the pool table in front of your boss, we can try to help explain why drinking too much may cause memory lapses or blackouts.

What happens to your brain when you get blackout drunk?

When you hear the term blacking out, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is unconscious. In fact, it may even be hard to tell that a person is experiencing a blackout when they have had too much to drink within a short amount of time. Blackouts typically occur when a person's BAC (blood alcohol content) reaches twice the legal limit, that is around .15%. Also commonly referred to as alcohol-induced amnesia, blackouts happen when enough alcohol has been consumed that it inhibits the brain's ability to process and store short-term memories into long term memories. Interestingly, it's also not so much about how much you drink but how quickly you drink. Someone who slams three drinks in a row is much more likely to experience a blackout when compared to someone who elevates their blood alcohol content over twice the legal limit, slowly over a longer span of time.

When you rapidly consume a large amount of alcohol, a roadblock essentially goes up between the immediate and short term memory, affecting the brain's ability to store memories and recall them later. The main ingredient behind alcohol’s potent effects is a substance known as ethanol. When consumed, ethanol has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. This can then allow the ethanol, or alcohol, to target receptors located in the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for controlling functions like emotions, memory, and recollection. During a blackout, you may be able to recall things in between the 30, 60, and 90 second time-span but anything beyond that is all but forgotten.

Additionally, depending on how much alcohol is consumed, and how many of these receptors are targeted, a blackout can either be partial or complete. A partial blackout is commonly referred to scientifically as “fragmentary”, and they are sometimes referred to as “brown-outs”. Partial blackouts are where bits or pieces of information may be easily recalled, but there are still gaps in time where nothing can be remembered. Visual or verbal cues may be helpful in putting together what may have happened the night before. Or, these cues could help someone recall more bits of information if a partial blackout is the kind experienced.

Drinking too much alcohol can cause temporary amnesia.

Complete blackouts, however, are when the person experiences complete and total amnesia up until a certain point in time where they ultimately consumed too much alcohol. Complete blackouts are sometimes referred to scientifically as “en bloc” or as “that never happened”. It is also highly possible that even though you may have experienced a complete black out, you weren’t a total mess. Sometimes the blackout is triggered before enough alcohol has been consumed to affect your cognitive abilities and motor functions. This sometimes happens when someone was consuming too much alcohol on an empty stomach. This can make it difficult to detect, as there may not be any signs beyond normal slurring of speech and the appearance of minimal impairment.

If you have a friend or loved one who has a tendency to go a little overboard while at the bar, it might be helpful to ask them if they remember what happened 15 minutes ago. If they do not, it is highly likely they have had too much to drink and are experiencing a blackout. If you’re a good friend, then you should maybe at least try to keep them from making poor decisions they might regret later. Although one isolated incident of drinking to the point where you experience a blackout may not initially be a sign that an alcohol abuse problem is present, if it is something that continues to happen on a regular basis that is a huge sign that there is an alcohol problem. It may be a great enough problem that it might require some professional help from a reputable addiction treatment program.

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If you believe you, a friend, or another loved one may be experiencing an alcohol addiction or substance abuse problem of any kind, then we are here to help. At More Than Rehab, we are a team of trained professionals who are also a family, not just with the staff but with our clients as well. We understand what it takes to live a life of sobriety and we would love the opportunity to share the tools we have learned with you. Reach out to us today and join the family at More Than Rehab. We’re here for you 24/7:

888-249-2191

Alcoholism is on the Rise During COVID-19

I’m sure the year of 2020 hasn’t turned out quite the way any of us had envisioned it would have in the beginning of the year. Since the arrival of COVID-19 in our country, we have all faced many challenging obstacles. Temporary closures of businesses deemed non-essential, self-isolation, quarantine, and other dramatic changes of how we live on a daily basis have all led to some seriously negative consequences that experts suggest we will be dealing with for years. While many of the effects of this global pandemic have remained relatively unmeasured, there are still several issues that have substance abuse treatment specialists rightfully worried throughout the United States.

Alcoholism is on the rise during COVID-19 across the US.

Along with increased rates of overdose and relapse, alcoholism has also been on a steep rise since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent data shows that the purchase of alcohol and the rates of alcohol abuse have rapidly been growing since the beginning of the year.

For example, alcohol sales increased by 54% for the week ending March 21 of this year, right around the same time that the quarantine and major government shut-down began; online sales have also reportedly increased by over 260% since 2019. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also released several statements regarding this issue. Not only are they concerned with riskier behavior that is associated with the consumption of alcohol, but alcohol also increases the likelihood of contracting the virus and can make the symptoms of the coronavirus much more severe.

Social isolation in quarantine can contribute to increased drug and alcohol consumption.

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Many are having to adapt to conditions such as working from home with distractions that they aren't ordinarily used to putting up with, managing personal relationships with their partner or spouse while living and working in the same proximity, or having to juggle helping their kids stay at home and learn in the virtual classroom. All of this makes it very easy to understand the desire to pour a glass of wine or grab yourself a beer after a long stressful day to help take the edge off, especially when one considers the amount of changes we are all going through on a daily basis.

According to a recent self-reporting survey, more than 55% of adults reported an increase in their drinking since the beginning of the pandemic, with nearly 20% reporting a significant increase. An issue that may be more of a concern for certain members of the population, as another self-reporting study showed that excessive drinking has increased by over 41% for women. Though a large number of the population admittedly seem to be enjoying a drink more often because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is still such a thing as “too much” - and one may begin to wonder, what exactly is that limit?

How much alcohol consumption is “too much”?

Though the amount of alcohol recommended for daily consumption varies slightly depending on the source, all major health organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) agree that drinking in moderation is the safest way to consume alcohol in order to most effectively avoid any negative health effects associated with drinking. Moderate drinking is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as up to 4 alcoholic drinks per day for men and 3 alcohol drinks per day for women. Though, this can differ depending on many things such as weight, height, and family history.

One concern of drinking above moderation is that it can lead to changes in tolerance and dependence. Not only that, but researchers are concerned that less people will seek medical attention due to the pandemic for fear of overburdening the system or catching the virus. This can lead to those in help not seeking the medical treatment that they need.

So, if you are concerned that you or a loved one may be struggling with an alcohol addiction or other substance abuse disorder, then More Than Rehab is still here to help! Do not worry, we are also taking extra precautions during this time to ensure that our clients are safe while on their road to recovery.

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Signs that you, or a loved one may be struggling with alcoholism:

If you are still unsure if you or loved one have gone from recreational drinking to what may be an alcohol abuse disorder, then here are some common signs or symptoms that there might be a bigger problem:

There are other many alcohol related symptoms that one may want to look out for if you are concerned that there may be a problem. Alcohol is an easy substance to become addicted to and is the leading reason people seek substance abuse treatment in the United States.

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The first step to getting help for alcoholism is admitting that you have a problem.

We know that daily life has become especially difficult for people living in our world today. If you are a loved one have developed a problem, or have been struggling with an addiction for a long time and need help recovering again, we can help to get your life back on track. At More Than Rehab, we also help teach you healthy coping skills, so that you no longer need to rely on alcohol to help relieve the stress of today’s world. Many of us here at More Than Rehab have been where you are before, so we know what it takes to lead a healthy life without drugs or alcohol. Please let our family help yours today!

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Call anytime, we are available 24/7.