Does Alcohol & Drug Use Make COVID Symptoms Worse?

Drug addiction is a serious medical condition that can profoundly impact every aspect of an individual's life. It can damage relationships, cause financial problems, and lead to various health care problems. Left untreated, addiction can be deadly. Amid the unprecedented global pandemic, drug addiction presents an even greater danger to public health as it can make COVID symptoms much worse than they already are.

People who use drugs are more likely to contract the virus and experience severe symptoms if they become infected. Additionally, those who are addicted to drugs are more likely to engage in risky behaviors that can spread the virus to others. For example, they may share injection needles or fail to observe the safety measures like wearing masks, washing hands, avoiding crowded areas, or coughing to the elbow, thereby increasing the risk of transmission.

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The Relationship between Addiction and Severe COVID-19 Symptoms

Recent studies suggest that alcohol and drug abuse may make COVID symptoms worse. This is a significant discovery, as it could mean that people already struggling with addiction may be at an increased risk of developing more severe symptoms if they contract the virus.

One cross-sectional study compared the hospitalization rate for COVID in 2020 in those diagnosed with substance use disorders vs. those without these disorders. The findings were that those with alcohol or drug use disorders had a greater chance of being hospitalized for COVID-19 infection than the general population. This suggests that they suffer worse conditions or physical symptoms than the non-using population. The study also noticed higher mortality rates among hospitalized SUD patients than in the general population.

The Centers for Disease Control also notes that people with underlying conditions like substance use disorders, chronic heart, liver or lung disease, etc., are likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. Severe illness from COVID-19 can also increase the sense of hopelessness that makes it so difficult for suicide prevention strategies. 

These studies underscore the importance of seeking addiction treatment. If you are worried about how COVID might impact your addiction, please consult your doctor or therapist for guidance.

Why Do Drugs Make COVID Symptoms Worse?

Drugs make COVID-19 worse by weakening your immune system, making you more likely to get other infections, interfering with treatment, and increasing risk factors where you are more likely to spread the disease to others.

·      Weakened immune system: Some drugs, such as steroids, can weaken your immune system, making it harder for your body to fight the virus. 

·      Making you more likely to get other infections: Drugs that suppress your immune system can also make you more likely to get infections and autoimmune diseases like HIV/AIDS. These infections can be serious and even life-threatening. 

·      Interfering with treatment: Some drugs can interfere with how your body responds to treatment for COVID-19. This can make the disease worse and increase the chances of death. 

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Besides, drugs also affect the body in a range of other ways. For example:

·      Opioids cause slow breathing, reduce oxygen in the blood, and result in brain damage or death. 

·      Stimulants like cocaine, meth, and amphetamine increase heart rate and blood pressure, making it harder for the heart to pump blood and can lead to a heart attack or stroke. These drugs can also cause acute respiratory failure.

·      Smoking or vaping crack cocaine, heroin, or marijuana can increase lung damage risk and make breathing harder. It can also worsen COPD, asthma, and other lung conditions.

·      The effects of alcohol on the immune system are also well-documented. Alcohol abuse can increase the risk of developing various infectious diseases, including pneumonia and tuberculosis.

Should I Get a COVID-19 Vaccine if I'm on Drugs?

Yes, you should get a COVID-19 vaccine if you're on drugs. The CDC recommends that everyone vaccinate against COVID-19, regardless of their drug use status. You don't even need to have health insurance to get the vaccine. When considering the adverse effects that COVID-19 has on addiction patients, vaccination can be your best line of defense. It might even save your life.

On the bright side, 12.46 billion doses have been administered globally today, and there haven't been any documented cases of a person having adverse health effects due to drug use.

However, people with certain medical conditions should talk to their doctor before getting the vaccine. These conditions include:

·      A history of severe allergic reaction to a vaccine or ingredient in the vaccine

·      A weakened immune system due to cancer, HIV/AIDS, steroid use, or other conditions

·      If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, you should also talk to your doctor before getting the vaccine.

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Do Addictive Drugs Affect the COVID-19 Vaccine?

There is currently no evidence that alcohol or drugs affect the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine. If you are taking medications to treat an addiction, it is important to speak to your doctor about whether or not the vaccine is right for you. You might also want to err on the side of caution and abstain from use before and after receiving the vaccine.

Harm Reduction Strategies for Those Unable to Stop Abusing Drugs or Alcohol

Among the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, those who struggle with substance abuse face unique risks. In addition to the dangers posed by the virus itself, the COVID restrictions made it difficult for many to access treatment and support services. As a result, harm reduction strategies have become even more important for those unable to stop using drugs or alcohol. These strategies include:

·      Create a safe space for drug use. This can be done by ensuring that all surfaces are clean and disinfected and that ventilation is adequate. Not sharing drug-use equipment like needles, vapes, cigars, bongs, etc. 

·      It is also important to have a supply of clean needles and other supplies on hand and a first-aid kit in case of accidental injuries.

·      Observe COVID-19 restrictions to curb the spread of the virus-like washing hands, avoiding crowded spaces, and social distancing. 

·      Additionally, it is crucial to know your limits and always use drugs under the supervision of someone who can assist if necessary.

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By following these harm reduction strategies, those unable to stop using drugs or alcohol can help protect themselves and others from the potentially deadly effects of COVID-19. In addition, these strategies can also help to reduce the spread of the virus among those who are most vulnerable.

Protect Your Health with Addiction Treatment

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, it's important to seek professional help. There are a variety of human resources and treatment options available, and the right one for you will depend on your individual needs.

If you're struggling with addiction, don't wait to get help. Treatment can help you to overcome addiction and achieve recovery. It can also provide vital support and resources during difficult times. Seek treatment today and begin your journey to a healthier, happier life.

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What is the Cost of Alcohol Rehab?

Approximately 21 Million people in the United States struggle with alcohol addiction in America every year. If you or a loved one is among them, you may wonder what the cost of alcohol rehab programs are.

The cost of alcohol rehab can range from free and low-cost programs to expensive inpatient treatment. This variation is due to aspects like the level of care, type of treatment, length of stay, and whether insurance will cover any or all of the costs.

Factors Affecting the Cost of Rehab

The cost of alcohol rehab can depend on several factors, including:

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Let's look at some of the different types of alcohol rehab and their average costs, as indicated by the National Drug Helpline.

Day Drug Detox Cost

If you struggle with mild to moderate alcohol addiction, you may only require a short detoxification period followed by outpatient treatment. If this is the case, the cost of alcohol rehab will be lower. The cost of a day of drug detox is about $250-$800.

3-Month Outpatient Care Cost

If you have a more severe addiction, you will likely require outpatient care for 3 months or more. The cost of outpatient alcohol rehab can range from $1,400 – $10,000.

30-Day Intensive Outpatient Program Cost

An intensive outpatient program (IOP) is a type of outpatient care that is more intense than traditional outpatient care. It typically requires 3-5 days of treatment per week for 4-6 hours each day. The cost of an intensive outpatient program can range from $3,000 – $10,000 for 30 days.

Residential Treatment Cost

If you require more intensive treatment than an outpatient program can offer, you may need to enter a residential treatment program. Residential treatment programs provide 24-hour care and supervision in a setting that is removed from triggers and temptations. The cost of residential treatment can range from $5,000 – $80,000 for 30 days.

Sober Living Cost

After you have completed a residential treatment program, you may choose to live in a sober living environment. Sober living homes provide a safe and structured environment for people in recovery. The cost of sober living can range from $500 – $5,000 per month.

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The Cost of Alcohol Addiction Treatment with Insurance

While many different treatment options are available, many people struggling with alcohol use disorder are deterred by the cost of rehab. Fortunately, most health insurance plans, including Medicaid, Medicare, military, and state-financed health insurance, now cover alcohol addiction treatment. Here is how it works:

Most insurance plans will cover some or all of the cost of detoxification, which is the first step in alcohol addiction treatment. Detoxification can be done in a hospital or outpatient setting and typically lasts a few days to a week. During this time, medical staff will monitor patients closely and give medications to help manage withdrawal symptoms.

After detoxification, patients will typically participate in an intensive outpatient or residential treatment program. These programs typically last 30 days and provide 24-hour support and supervision. Patients will participate in individual and group therapy sessions and activities designed to promote recovery. The cost of these programs varies depending on the level of care required; however, most insurance plans will cover at least a portion of the cost.

Alcohol addiction treatment can be expensive; however, insurance coverage can make it more affordable. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism, it is important to check with your insurance provider to see what coverage is available.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment without Insurance

If you do not have health insurance, or if your insurance does not cover alcohol addiction treatment, options are still available. Many treatment centers offer sliding-scale fees based on a person's ability to pay. Sliding scale fees allow people to pay what they can afford, making treatment more affordable.

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There are also many state-funded alcohol addiction treatment programs available. For example, the California Department of Health Services offers a variety of treatment options for people struggling with alcoholism. Other states do the same too.

These programs are typically free or low-cost and can be an excellent option for those without insurance. To find out what is available in your area, you can contact your local Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) chapter or the National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC).

Alternatively, you can apply for scholarships or grants to help offset the cost of treatment. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) offers a variety of scholarships and grants for people struggling with alcoholism. Some high-end rehabs also have scholarship beds for people who can’t afford them.

If you are struggling with alcohol addiction, there is help available. Many treatment options are available, regardless of your insurance coverage or financial situation.

Get Help for your Addiction

In conclusion, alcohol addiction treatment can be costly; however, many options are available to help make it more affordable. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcoholism, please reach out for help. Some people care and are ready to help you on your journey to recovery.

What Happens During A Full Medical Detox From Drugs?

The first and most important treatment step for those struggling with addiction is a medical detox. During detox, the body is cleansed of all traces of the addictive substance, and any withdrawal symptoms are monitored and managed by medical professionals.

Detox helps to break the physical dependence on a substance and provides a safe and supportive environment for those in early recovery. Detox can also help to identify any underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to the addiction.

After detox, patients can begin to focus on the psychological, social, and behavioral health issues surrounding addiction and develop healthy coping mechanisms. Without detox, it would be much harder for those struggling with addiction to get the help they need.

What is a Medical Detox?

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Medical detox is a process in which the body is cleansed of drugs or alcohol under the supervision of medical professionals. Medical detox aims to make the withdrawal process as comfortable and safe as possible. This is typically done through medication, close monitoring, and support from counselors and other professionals.

Medical detox can be an important first step in recovery, as it reduces the likelihood of immediate relapse and makes it easier for patients to focus on their recovery effort. However, it is not a substitute for comprehensive substance abuse treatment, rather it should be considered an important first step to recovery. Patients who undergo medically-managed detox programs should be transitioned to a rehab program or another form of treatment as soon as possible.

Why is Medical Detox Important?

Substance abuse changes the brain in many ways, altering its chemistry and making it increasingly difficult to control impulses. Continued use can cause addiction as the body craves those substances and starts to function more normally in the presence of the drug than without it.

At this point, any attempt to stop using can leave one feeling sick (also known as withdrawal symptoms). These symptoms can be severe or even life-threatening for some substances like alcohol or benzodiazepines. For example, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can cause delirium tremens (DTs), a deadly syndrome that, if left untreated, can cause impaired consciousness, hallucinations, profound confusion, high blood pressure, elevated heart rate, etc.

For other substances, the symptoms may be uncomfortable enough to cause relapse. Opioids, for example, trigger flu-like symptoms that are so severe and can push one back to using to feel better. 

Therefore, cold turkey is not the best option, and slowly tapering off the substance with the help of a medical professional is a better path. Drug detox provides a supervised setting where patients can safely detoxify from substances while receiving important medical care. It can also help manage the effects of withdrawal and make the process as safe and comfortable as possible.

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Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe and usually begin within 6-12 hours after your last drink. Common symptoms include:

More severe symptoms can include seizures, racing heart, hallucinations, and delusions. If you experience any of these side effects, it's important to seek medical help right away. Withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable and even dangerous, but with professional help you can safely detox from alcohol and begin your road to recovery.

What medications are provided?

Medications are often used during detox to help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings. The most common types of medications used include:

Medications can be an important part of detox, but they should be used under the supervision of a medical professional. Withdrawal and cravings can be difficult to manage on your own, but with the help of medication, you can safely detox from drugs or alcohol.

When is Medical Detox Necessary?

When it comes to substance abuse, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of when detoxification is necessary. The decision should be made based on some factors, including:

If you have experienced withdrawal symptoms in the past or if you are currently experiencing any physical health problems, detoxification may be necessary to stop drinking safely. In general, however, detoxification is not always necessary when discontinuing alcohol use. Speak with a healthcare professional to determine whether detox is right for you.

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What Happens After a Medical Detox?

Medical detox is just the first step in overcoming addiction. To achieve long-term sobriety, patients must receive treatment at a rehab facility or any other treatment program. Patients who undergo medical detox should transition to a rehab program, which can include inpatient or outpatient treatment.

Inpatient rehab requires patients to live at the facility while receiving around-the-clock care, while outpatient treatment allows them to continue living at home while attending regular therapy sessions. Both these treatments use an evidence-based approach to addiction that addresses specific aspects of drug addiction and its impacts on the individual, family, and society.

By receiving continuous care at a detox center, patients will likely stay sober in the long run. Rehab facilities also provide additional resources, such as support groups and 12-step programs, to help patients maintain their sobriety after leaving the facility.

Professional Medical Detox Program

A full medical detox from drugs can be an intense and scary process, but with the help of a professional detox program, it doesn't have to be. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, don't hesitate to seek help. MoreThanRehab offers comprehensive detox programs that will provide you or your loved one with the support and care needed to make a successful recovery. Don't wait any longer - call us today!

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How Do I Know When I Have A Drug Problem?

It can be difficult to know when you have a drug problem. Many people mistakenly believe that if they're not using drugs every day, they must not have a problem. But drug abuse is about how much you're using, not how often. If your drug use is causing problems in your life - like missing work or school, damaging relationships, or putting your health at risk - you likely have a drug addiction. 

Drug abuse is a global problem. In fact, statistics show that 53 million people in the United States have used illegal drugs or misused prescription medicines within the last year. According to the National Institutes of Health, the risk factors for drug abuse are poverty, substance abuse, lack of parental supervision, and drug availability. But it’s possible to still abuse drugs when all these factors are absent.

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If you’re unsure about whether you have a drug problem or not, it might be best to talk to a professional. They can help you assess the severity of your addiction and recommend the best course of action. In most cases, they will recommend a drug rehab program as part of your treatment for drug addiction. 

With that in mind, let’s explore the warning signs that may indicate you or someone else has a substance use disorder, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

Isolating yourself from loved ones

Isolating yourself from people who care about you is one of the first signs that something is wrong. In many cases, this isolation results from shame or embarrassment about your addiction and feeling like you are a burden. You may also start to lie and manipulate those around you to access drugs. These actions can lead to feelings of guilt and isolation that will put you at a higher risk.

You hang out with other drug users

A change in social circles can be a major red flag for addiction, as it often leads to further drug use and isolation from loved ones. This is usually because you want to continue using drugs or feel like you no longer fit in with non-drug users. You may begin to spend more time with other drug users, which can further isolate you from family and friends.

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Intense cravings

An evident sign of addiction is if you experience intense cravings for alcohol or drug, causing you to continue using even when it is harmful to you or others. Drug addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.

Life seems to have no meaning

Another huge sign that you have a drug problem is when you feel like your life has no meaning. Usually, drug addiction can lead to mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. When you suffer from depression, you may feel like there is no point in your life, so you turn to drugs to escape the feelings of emptiness and despair. Unfortunately, this only leads to a cycle of addiction and mental disorders.

Have financial problems and debts

Financial problems and debts often result from spending money on drugs instead of other essentials, such as food or rent. In some cases, you may also resort to criminal activity to get money for drugs. As a result, you may find yourself in a spiral of debt that is difficult to escape from.

Life begins to revolve around finding and using drugs

Your drug use starts being a problem when all you think about is drugs and how to find them. You may start lying, stealing, or engaging in other risky behaviors to get the drugs. You may neglect your work, home, and school responsibilities and even stop hanging out with friends and family members.

Increased tolerance

Another sign is finding that you need more and more of the drug to get the same effect. Whether it’s prescription drugs or illegal drugs like cocaine or heroin, you’ll notice you’re taking larger and larger doses because the smaller doses have little to no effect on your brain.

Take dangerous risks

You'll know you have a drug problem when you take dangerous risks, such as driving while under the influence of drugs. This is because addiction can lead to impaired judgment and decision-making and changes in mood and behavior. DUI puts you and other road users at risk and can land you into legal issues.

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Hiding or downplaying your drug use

When you're hooked on drugs, you'll often try to hide your use from family and friends. You may make excuses for why you need to take the drug or downplay the amount you're taking. This can signify that you're trying to hide your addiction from others.

Feelings of distress and loneliness when not taking the drug

If you feel like you can't function without drug use, it's a warning sign that you have a substance use disorder. This means that your body has become so dependent on the drug that you feel distressed and lonely if you don't take it.

Withdrawal symptoms with any attempt to quit

Withdrawal symptoms like nausea, sweating, and shaking are warning signs that you may have a drug problem. Your body will react negatively when it’s used to drugs, and you suddenly stop using it. You may experience a range of symptoms, from mild to severe, including headaches, nausea, sweating, and anxiety. In some cases, withdrawal can even be life-threatening.

Using more substances than you intend to

Using more of a substance than intended is often a sign that someone is struggling to control the use of the substance and that they may be at an increased risk of developing an addiction. This could be using more alcohol than intended or taking more pills than prescribed. It may also mean using a substance differently than intended, such as snorting pills instead of taking them orally.

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Unable to control your substance use

You may feel unable to control how you use the substance, even when you are aware of the negative consequences it is causing in your life. You may continue to use the substance even when it interferes with work, school, or relationships.

Self-blame and have low self-esteem, especially after trying unsuccessfully to quit.

Self-blaming and low self-esteem, especially after unsuccessfully trying to quit, are common among those with drug abuse problems. This can be extremely damaging to mental health and wellbeing. When you're constantly blaming yourself, you're more likely to develop mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Additionally, low self-esteem can lead to social isolation and further mental health decline.

Get help in the best addiction rehab center

If you’re worried that you or someone you know may have a drug addiction, it’s important to seek help. Many treatment programs exist to help you regain control of your life. Rehab centers offer comprehensive care and support so that you can get back on track. Don’t wait any longer – reach out for help today

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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.

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!

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Why Do People Get High?

In today’s crazy world it may seem like more and more people are reaching for drugs and alcohol to get high, in order to help them cope with the struggles of our "new normal". Thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic that our country is still facing, alcoholism and relapse rates are once again on the rise. Unfortunately, this is due to a multitude of different reasons like self-quarantine, isolation, boredom, change in routine and schedule, closures of local AA or NA support groups, and even having kids home full time, or being around your partner 24/7. All of these are stressful situations which could lead even the strongest willed person to have their long-lasting sobriety to come to an end.

Though COVID-19 has certainly caused a surge in relapse rates, alcoholism, and drug use, that certainly doesn’t mean that substance abuse problems weren’t a problem before 2020. In fact, it is estimated that every year, nearly 21 million Americans will suffer from a substance abuse problem of some kind. With so many people affected, it may be easy to wonder why do people get high in the first place? Well, for someone who has ever struggled with an addiction firsthand, they may know that sometimes the answer to that question is simple… But sometimes, the answer to that question is much more complicated. While we certainly cannot find one or two primary reasons people choose to get high, we can isolate some of the more common reasons people turn to drugs or alcohol.

Here are some of the most popular reasons why people, especially teens and young adults, get high:

Boredom

We are all pretty familiar with being bored, perhaps today even more so than ever before with practically everything moving online and becoming virtual. Sometimes, when a person is left to one’s own devices, it can be pretty easy to see the temptation in trying drugs or alcohol just for the sake of having something to do. That is why drugs and alcohol are so dangerous around young teens and adults because they are particularly susceptible to boredom.

Curiosity

We have all probably heard the saying, “Curiosity killed the cat” -- and while trying drugs and alcohol likely won't kill you the first time, it still most certainly could. With dangerous drugs like fentanyl being laced in some common street drugs, a drug overdose death is more likely now, than ever.

Beginning with something as simple as wanting to know what it feels like to be high or get drunk, can end up leading someone down that path of a lifetime of hurt caused by an addiction to drugs or alcohol. If curiosity ever strikes, it is best to remember that there is no way to tell who will become addicted to drugs or alcohol and that even one time could lead to an addiction.

The Desire to Belong

As humans, we all have an innate desire to fit in or belong. For teens and young adults, this is even more important. According to a recent survey, nearly 29% of teens said they had tried drugs or alcohol because their friends were also doing it. It seems that friends can play a huge role in determining whether or not a teen or young adult will eventually try drugs or alcohol for the first time. The same can be said for adults as well, something as simple as changing jobs and getting asked to go out for drinks with your new coworkers and agreeing, even though you have been sober for a year, could potentially be a huge relapse trigger for anyone.

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Peer Pressure in Social Situations

Along the same lines as the desire to belong is peer and social pressure. A lot of times people, especially teens and young adults, try drugs or alcohol for the first time because of pressure from their peers. Even though someone may initially say no to using drugs and alcohol, pressure from friends can eventually make them give in for fear of being ostracized or outcast. In turn, they may continue using drugs or alcohol even if they don't want to, simply out of the fear of rejection.

Trauma or Abuse

Any past or current trauma and/or abuse, such as a sexual assault, a car accident, childhood neglect, or emotional abuse, can lead anyone to trying drugs or alcohol. Traumatic events can imprint on the memory, making it very difficult to get past the experience. Oftentimes, people get high in an attempt to escape having to deal with the painful emotions associated with the experience.

Career Pressure

Teens and young adults are not the only age group that can fall victim to addiction from environmental pressures. For instance, career pressure can drive someone of any age to get high on drugs or alcohol. A lot of times, people tie their self-worth into their career and if they feel as though they are not living up to their potential or are struggling to meet demands they may turn to drugs and alcohol in order to make themselves feel better.

Dealing With Grief

Losing a loved one is a devastating feeling and grief is an especially painful experience. Living through a loved one’s death is an especially difficult time for people and no two people grieve the same. Unfortunately, many people who are undergoing grief may want to get high, in an attempt to forget about the loved one’s passing. However, while this is normally just a short term coping mechanism it can turn into a life-long problem for those who are not careful.

There are many other reasons why someone may want to get high from drugs or alcohol.

Usually, the reasons are psychological, mental, or physical. Some people use drugs or alcohol in an attempt to self-medicate some sort of mental illness like depression or insomnia. There is also no way to tell who will become addicted to drugs or alcohol, so it is best to try and steer clear of all illicit substances when possible.

If you, or a loved one, are having difficulty with a substance abuse disorder, then we are here to help. Reach out to us today and let our family at More Than Rehab help take care of you, or your loved one who is struggling. We have years of experience and knowledge when it comes to treating substance abuse disorders and many of our staff have been where you are before, so we know what it takes to lead a healthy and fulfilling life of sobriety! Call us anytime. We are available 24/7 and we hope to hear from you soon!

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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:

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