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 Chronic Pain Can Lead to Drug Abuse

Pain is a normal part of life. It is our body’s reaction to illness or injury – a warning that something is wrong. Usually, pain lessens as soon as the body recovers. The hurting stops and things go back to normal. But this doesn’t happen all the time. Not when it’s chronic pain.

Chronic pain is a persistent pain that’s ongoing and lasts longer than three months. It lingers on even after the illness or injury has gone away. Chronic pain can limit mobility and reduce strength, endurance, and flexibility. This may make it hard to get through daily activities and tasks.

Chronic pain may last for months or even years. It may feel dull or sharp, causing an aching or burning sensation in affected areas. The pain may be intermittent, steady, or on and off. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 20.4% of adults in the US had chronic pain in 2019.

Currently, it’s the leading cause of long-term disability in the country, affecting about 100 million Americans. Studies show 1 in 4 people with chronic pain will develop chronic pain syndrome (CPS). This occurs when they experience mental health issues like anxiety and depression, on top of the pain.

Chronic pain symptoms

Chronic pain, like other long-term health issues, leads to complications beyond the physical symptoms. It causes depression, feelings of guilt, poor sleep, loss of interest in sex, suicidal thoughts, exhaustion, stress, and anxiety. The consistent pain makes it hard for one to manage tasks, keep up with work or attend a social gathering. This leads to problems with relationships and work. Some studies suggest that the severity of these issues is directly proportional to the pain.

How chronic pain leads to addiction:

Chronic pain intensifies mental health issues that cause addiction

Many studies show a strong link between chronic pain and mental health issues. In one of these studies 10-87% of chronic patients had depressive and anxiety symptoms. Personality disorders are also common among these types of patients. Chronic pain and mental health disorders are linked because they both share neural pathways, making it hard for the brain to distinguish them.

In addition, chronic pain has some profound social and behavioral effects that feed into a mental health condition. Prolonged chronic pain causes social isolation that intensifies issues like anxiety and depression. That’s where addiction comes in.

Experts are learning more and more about the strong link between mental health issues and addiction. According to NIDA, people who develop mental disorders are also diagnosed with substance use disorders. Another report by the National Bureau of Economic Research says that mental issues are responsible for the consumption of the following: 40% of cigarettes, 44% of cocaine, and 38% of alcohol.

Self-medication is by far the most common culprit behind most dual diagnoses. For example, a chronic pain patient with low energy takes crystal meth to increase their drive to get things done. Meth addiction can happen the first time it’s used. To make things worse, the drug can cause horrible side effects on the body. Meth mouth is one of the most common physical side effects of meth use.

Treatment involves prescription opioids that can be highly addictive

Prescription opioids are one of the common drugs that doctors prescribe for chronic pain issues. Since the early 1990s, doctors have been prescribing opioid painkillers like morphine, hydrocodone, codeine, and oxycodone for pain problems. These medicines manage pain well and can improve quality of life when used correctly. But unfortunately, anyone who uses opioids is at risk of developing an addiction.

Short-term use of opioid pain relievers rarely causes addiction. However, when a patient takes them for a long time (or incorrectly), they are likely to abuse the drug, develop tolerance and end up with addiction.

Opioids are highly addictive. They make the body and brain believe that the drug is necessary for survival. So the chronic pain patient will want to keep taking the medication. But as they develop a tolerance to the prescribed dose, they may find that they need even more medication to relieve the pain. This may lead to dependence.

This is why patients have to adhere to their doctor’s recommendations at all times. Opioids are not only addictive but also potentially life-threatening. On average, opioid overdoses account for 90 deaths in America every day.  According to WHO, 70% of drug use deaths are opioid-related – with over 30% of these deaths arising from an overdose.

Withdrawal symptoms cause patients to continue using drugs

Many chronic pain patients become dependent on prescription opioids to avoid pain. But when one takes the medication for a long time, they become tolerant. Over time, the body needs more drugs to achieve the same effect. Extended use alters the way neural pathways work in the brain. And these neurons start depending on the drug to function.

As a result, the patient becomes physically sick when they stop using opioid medication. So, they use more drugs to avoid pain and withdrawal symptoms.

Patients try out alternative drugs to relieve pain

Prescription opioids are hard to obtain. Some patients may opt for alternative drugs that are cheaper and easily accessible – like morphine and heroin. Research suggests that misuse of opioid pain medicines like Vicodin and OxyContin may open the door for heroin use.

According to NIH, about 4-6% of those who misuse opioid medicines switch to heroin. But a staggering 80% of those who use heroin, begin by misusing prescription opioids.

Managing chronic pain

Prescription opioids are often the last resort for chronic pain management among non-cancer patients. Most patients benefit from psychological treatments, exercises, physical therapy, lifestyle changes, and NSAIDs. But in cases where opioid medications have to be prescribed, it is crucial that they work closely with their doctor to prevent it leading to drug abuse.

Patients who end up with drug use issues will benefit from addiction treatment. Treatment centers have qualified health care professionals who help address behavioral addictions.  The best ones adhere to the guidance of the American Society of Addiction Medicine when treating co-occurring addiction and chronic pain issues.

How Can Relapse Be a Part of Drug Recovery?

There’s a lot to feel good about when your loved one goes through an arduous recovery journey and then comes out clean and sober. Sadly, even after rehab though, your loved one may relapse at some point. Relapse doesn’t happen to everyone in recovery, but it does happen to many people. That’s why newer schools of thought on addiction feel that the painful occurrence of relapse is actually a very important part of the sobriety journey. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40-60% of those recovering from substance use disorders will relapse during their path to recovery. This should help put the struggle of your loved one doing illegal drugs into perspective, that they aren’t alone.

Addiction is a chronic disease or mental illness whose nature is a barrier to sobriety. Your loved one, like other patients, faces a consistently high risk of relapse because addiction alters the brain’s function and structure. Alcohol and drug use trigger dopamine production in the brain’s reward pathway. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that regulates the brain’s pleasure and reward centers and emotional responses. These changes influence the way the brain prioritizes what’s important.

The brain of a patient who has developed an addiction recognizes substance use as important – even more than survival. That’s partly why those struggling with addiction take risks to continue abusing substances. Addiction also affects the prefrontal cortex – a part of the brain that identifies issues and plans solutions. So when a person relapses, it’s not because they are weak or lack morals, but because of something that’s way beyond their control. And even after treatment, some of these changes might persist.

What is relapse? 

Relapse is when someone goes back to using drugs or alcohol after a period of sobriety. The person may “slip up” and have a drink (or use a drug) and then stop again. Slips are hardly seen as relapses, but they can trigger stronger cravings for harder drug use or more alcohol. On the other hand, full relapse is when the person in recovery intentionally seeks drugs or alcohol and no longer cares for their treatment.

Is addiction an incurable disease?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse in the United States indicates that people in addiction recovery have a 40 to 60% chance of relapse. This puts addiction relapse at the same level as other chronic conditions like hypertension and asthma, which have a 50 to 70% relapse rate.

According to NIDA, addiction has no cure. But it can be managed successfully. Like other chronic illnesses, there’s medication to address the problem. However, the patient may need to go through lifestyle changes, routine maintenance, and checkups to prevent relapse. They also have to learn new ways of thinking. All in all, relapse is not failure. It only shows that it’s time to reinstate, adjust or try out a new treatment.

Relapse as part of the recovery process

Addiction is a chronic brain disease with biological, behavioral, emotional, physical, and social aspects. It is characterized by an inability to control drug or alcohol use. The chronic nature of addiction makes relapse part of the healing process as opposed to failure. As mentioned earlier, drug addiction disrupts brain circuitry and causes dependency. At this point, one is bound to experience side effects like drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms when they stop using. Unless they use their substance of choice, they may not feel “normal.” Relapse may seem like an excellent way to get back to “normalcy,” combat intense cravings, and relieve withdrawal symptoms. That’s why relapse can be a form of self-medication.

Drug relapse is a common part of the recovery process. When it happens and is handled correctly, it can strengthen one’s commitment to long-term sobriety. Recovery is the journey of maintaining long-term sobriety, reaching new goals, and facing life with new, healthier strategies. A hitch on the road doesn’t mean that all is lost. Yes, it might feel overwhelming – but with the right help, your loved one can get back on the right track.

Strategies to avoid relapse or mitigate its effects

More than half of the people in recovery relapse. But the fact that it is common doesn’t mean that you should not try to prevent it. An addiction relapse not only undoes the hard work, but it’s also potentially life-threatening. Relapsing can result in binging that can even lead to overdose. Here are some strategies to help prevent relapse or mitigate its effects.

Reaching out for help

People in recovery often feel humiliated and devastated when they slip or relapse. So, the last thing you want to do is reprimand them or come out as judgmental. You also don’t want to leave them to their own fate. Instead, try to encourage them to go back to their support network or treatment. It doesn’t matter how many times one relapses. In fact, experts agree that one is likely to have a successful long-term addiction recovery when there is more repetition of positive reinforcing habits.

Attending long-term treatment programs

Recovery from alcohol and drug addiction is not a quick fix. A single medication or a month of therapy may not guarantee a clean life. Often, one may need to engage in intensive long-term treatment, accompanied by continual support for a better outcome. A study with 1000+ addiction patients discovered that relapse rates reduced for every nine weeks a person spent in treatment. Sustained recovery also increased in the study for participants who had ongoing treatment with aftercare.

Identifying and managing triggers

Treatment programs integrate therapies that teach patients how to cope with internal and external stressors that may trigger a relapse. Mental health issues like anxiety, stress, depression, and mood changes tend to co-occur with substance abuse. When someone in recovery gets anxious or stressed, they may crave, think about, and eventually use substances. Triggers can be specific – like certain places or people, or very general – like hanging around people who are using. Evidence-based therapies help those in recovery recognize their personal relapse triggers and even train them to cope.

Lifestyle changes

Managing triggers is a great relapse prevention strategy. But you also want to encourage your loved one to make positive changes over the long term to build a healthier life. They can learn and use healthy coping mechanisms for negative emotions: recognize and manage mental issues: and develop positive activities like meditation, exercise, or art.

More Than Rehab is here to help. We have decades of experience in treating addiction, from the root-causes, to the after effects people experience once they become sober. If you, or a loved one needs help with their addiction, please don’t hesitate to call us! We are available 24/7.

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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 behavioural 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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What Is A Dual Diagnosis?

Unfortunately, addiction or substance use disorders are very common in our country. Nearly 21 million Americans struggle with this disease every day. Sadly, out of those 21 million people, only around 10% of them will ever receive treatment for their addiction or substance use disorder. For those who are able to receive treatment, they know that it can sometimes be a bumpy road to recovery. But ultimately, they know that recovery is also very rewarding, especially once they are able to get to a point where they can manage their addiction and achieve meaningful sobriety. This can be especially difficult in the case of a dual diagnosis, where an underlying mental health problem is compounding their own personal struggle with addiction.

What is a dual diagnosis, exactly?

For those who are new to recovery, or for those who have never received professional help for their addiction or substance abuse, they may be unaware of these underlying mental health problems that only serve to amplify their issues with their alcohol or drug addiction. This is commonly referred to as a dual-diagnosis. Many who are new to recovery often have this very same question, what exactly is a dual diagnosis? Put simply, a dual diagnosis is when someone has both a substance use disorder and an underlying mental health disorder at the same time.

The combination of a substance use disorder and mental illness can become a vicious cycle. Mental health issues, especially if a person is unaware that they are suffering from one, can often drive people to self-medicate, which leads them to abuse drugs or alcohol in order to cope with the symptoms of their mental health disorder. The same goes for people who abuse drugs and alcohol. Substance use disorders can lead to mental health issues even if they weren’t there before that person began using drugs or alcohol. If someone has been diagnosed as having a dual diagnosis, usually the best course of action is to treat them at the same time, as they often play into each other.

What is treatment for a dual diagnosis like?

If you have recently been told that you have a dual diagnosis, or if you have a loved one or family member who has recently been diagnosed with a mental health issue as well as a substance abuse disorder, then please know that you are not alone. A dual diagnosis is very common. A 2019 study found that among adults 18 and onlder, approximately 9.5 million people who had any mental illness (AMI), also suffered from a substance use disorder (SUD). Other studies show that nearly half of all people with a mental health issue will also have a substance use disorder as well. This is perhaps in part due to the related risk factors of both mental health issues and substance use disorders, such as things like genetics, stress, environment, and current or past trauma.

How can doctors tell if someone has a dual diagnosis?

Keep in mind that the majority of health professionals will only be able to accurately diagnose a mental health disorder once the person is clean and sober with no drugs left in their system. This is because many drugs are known to cause side effects that can manifest as mental health issues. However, there are many different mental health disorders that can lead a person down the slippery slope of addiction--many end up trying to self-medicate, either when they are unaware they have a problem, or if they simply are not getting the proper care. However, here are a few mental health disorders that are very common to those who also suffer from substance use disorders:

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Of course, there are many other mental health issues, such as schizophrenia, that if left untreated can cause someone to begin abusing drugs or alcohol.

As mentioned earlier, treatment planning for someone with a dual diagnosis works best when it is specialized to the individual.  While it may seem impossible, we can assure you that it is not. For the best dual diagnosis treatment possible in the Texas area, More Than Rehab can show you the ropes to a successful sobriety while also being able to manage your mental health problems at the same time. There is hope for recovery, and we understand that we could all use a little help, especially in times like these! Call us today. We are open 24/7.

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Do Drug Implants Like Naltrexone Really Work?

Drug and alcohol addiction has been around for centuries and it has increasingly become a major issue in the United States. At first, people who suffered from substance abuse problems were considered degenerates and were often blamed for not having enough self-control to get sober and stop abusing drugs or alcohol. Today, thanks to medical science and research, our understanding of substance abuse problems and drug addiction is much farther advanced. We have developed evidence based treatments for addiction such as drug implants, like Naltrexone and others that greatly increase the chances of a successful recovery.

The majority of respected health professionals agree that addiction is a disease that is often characterized by the inability to stop using drugs or alcohol despite having suffered negative consequences in the past. To those who do not know, there is more to addiction than originally meets the eye.

Addiction is a treatable disease

For decades, there are those who have understood that addiction is a disease. Eventually, this understanding is what led to the creation of 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). As more and more people gained knowledge about the disease of addiction, other more intense forms of treatment such as inpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs began to develop.

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While drug addiction and substance abuse problems have been around for quite some time now, there is a growing concern for the treatment of the current opioid epidemic in our country. For many diseases, there is no one-size fits all treatment, the same can be said with drug and alcohol addiction. What works for some, may not work for others. That is why they continue to develop new methods of treatment for this life-changing disease.

How drug implants like Naltrexone help people recover from addiction

It is estimated that nearly 128 people die each day from an opioid addiction and nearly 15 million adults suffer from alcoholism in the United States alone. For many, the chance to recover is slim. One example of how researchers and medical professionals are trying to provide more effective treatment for the addiction to opioid drugs such as morphine and heroin, as well as for the use of alcohol, are drug implants like the commonly used Naltrexone implant. Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that blocks the effects of opioids and alcohol at the receptor level, which helps to prevent abuse, curb relapse, and sustain recovery from an opioid addiction and alcoholism.

Over time, repeated use of addictive substances will change the structure and function of the brain. Most drugs target an area of the brain known as the reward center, releasing chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters that illicit a feel-good response. This is to help ensure that desired actions, usually necessary for survival, get repeated again, such as eating good food or having sex. After each use, the brain adapts. Eventually, the brain needs more and more of the substance in order to feel the same effects. Not only will they begin to need more and more of the same drug, but the excess release of these chemical messengers will essentially trick the brain into believing that it needs this substance in order to survive. It will also associate people, places, or things with this action that it believes is necessary for survival, which can trigger cravings for the drug, even months or years after they have gotten sober. All of these reasons combined is why it is extremely difficult for some people to get and stay sober.

For opioid related drugs specifically, they target and bind to pain receptors, blocking any sensation someone might feel from pain. Opioid antagonists, as mentioned earlier, block the effects of opioids at the receptor level. The effects of alcohol are also blocked at the opioid receptor sites, helping to reduce the liking and craving of both substances. There are several other treatment methods that are predecessors to Naltrexone implants. Those are drugs such as oral Naltrexone, or methadone, both of which are effective for the treatment of opioid addiction and alcoholism. However, part of the problem with oral opioid antagonists is maintaining consistency among users who need to take it every day, or as prescribed.

In 1984, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drugs like Naltrexone for the treatment of opioid addiction and later in 1994 for alcoholism. While proven to be extremely effective, for patients who are recovering from opioid addiction or alcoholism, taking their daily medication, medication adherence or compliance, is a real struggle and can be a huge setback to recovery. To help solve this problem, scientists and medical professionals have begun using and developing drug implants. For instance, there are several widely regarded studies that show the effectiveness of Naltrexone implants and thousands of treatment facilities have begun utilizing it as a treatment method.

What are Naltrexone implants? How do they work?

Naltrexone implants are typically small medication pellets that get planted beneath the skin, slowly releasing medication usually lasting anywhere between 2-6 months. Thus, eliminating the need to take a daily medication. This has significantly increased the effectiveness of daily medication treatment methods for opioid addiction and

alcoholism.  For instance, one study found that Naltrexone implants reduced the risk of opioid related death by nearly 50%. Additionally, when Naltrexone implant treatment is combined with other modes of treatment such as psychotherapy, it has been shown to be far more effective than just one mode of treatment alone.

The Naltrexone implant may be right for you if you have struggled with cravings, have had relapses in the past, or have had any difficulty with taking medication every day. Naltrexone has been proven to be an effective treatment for opioid addiction and alcoholism for many years, and the implant helps eliminate the need to take medication daily. This has saved many patients from having to remember to take their medication every day, or from having to find the time to get to the clinic every day in order to receive treatment.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to opioids or alcohol, let our family of staff at More Than Rehab help you get treatment today! We understand what it’s like to suffer from an addiction and we wish nothing more than to help show you the tools to lead a healthy and sober life! Please, reach out to us today.

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How Can Drug Court Help Addicts Recover & Avoid Jail?

Recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction is never easy, but for some it can require more intervention. The level of care necessary really depends on the individual and is affected by things like how long the person has been abusing alcohol or drugs, how heavily they have been using these substances, and whether or not they use more than one drug at a time. For anyone who has been there, getting and staying sober can be extremely difficult. It can also be hard to see a loved one struggle with a substance abuse disorder, especially if they have acquired some legal trouble along the way. This is where the option of a drug court can come into play in the recovery of an addict.

Many addicts will find themselves behind bars at one point or another in their lives, which often leads them to being surrounded by people who are living the same type of lifestyle and gives them the opportunity to make even more connections that will continue to enable their criminal behavior. Usually, after enough criminal activity, or depending on the severity of the charge, probation or parole are often the first steps, but many will still end up reoffending and get yet another new drug-related charge or conviction. This problem has led many states to create new methods of reform, or treatment, when an offender has substance abuse issues and also has drug or alcohol related charges.

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Drug Court is a relatively new attempt at solving the war on drugs for many jurisdictions across the United States.

Drug court is often a specialized branch in the judicial system that handles, oversees, monitors, and resides over special cases related to non-violent drug offenders. Today, there are approximately 3,000 drug court systems throughout the United States, each of them with the goal to recover addicts and keep them out of jail. Serving time behind bars has long been known to not work in place of an individual’s drug rehabilitation. This is meant to provide an alternative to jail for people with substance abuse problems. As the American justice system is gaining a better understanding of how to properly manage these cases, drug courts are being seen as a better alternative than jail.

Addiction is served better with treatment, than jail time.

Most drug courts are run by public servants who operate under the knowledge that addiction is a public health problem and not inherently a criminal one. It is likely that many would not have committed these crimes unless they were suffering from the disease of addiction.

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For the family and friends of those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, we may want to believe that jail will make them better. It logically seems as though they would flourish with the restrictive daily routine that jail imposes on them. Yet, drugs are readily available in jails and prisons across the United States. Since there are those who continue abusing substances while in jail, it is likely difficult for people to ever “get better” while behind bars. Either way, for the majority of addicts, a few weeks out of jail and they are back to their old ways.

Drug court systems have shown positive results on helping people recover from addiction to drugs and alcohol.

Drug court works by providing this intense supervision that many addicts need in order to effectively change their behavior, the people they hang out with, and the learned habits that come with being addicted to drugs or alcohol. This includes regular drug and alcohol testing, often multiple times per day while the person is new to the program.

Drug court participants have consistent reporting sent to case managers, they must participate in many different treatment programs and group counseling sessions, regular court dates to track progress and prompt intervention by drug court personnel, should there be a setback or relapse. The overall idea is to closely monitor participants and actively engage them in their own recovery in order to keep them focused and dedicated to actual change.

Drug courts can lower the recidivism rates of its participants.

While research and data varies some on this topic, many can agree that recidivism rates of people with substance abuse issues, who also completed a drug court program, are significantly lower than those who did participate in a drug court program. According to the National Institute of Justice, the felony re-arrest rate decreased from 40% all the way down to 12% after a two year follow up time period. Other reputable sources show that well-administered drug courts reduce criminal activity by up to 35%, a remarkable finding when compared to traditional case management or proceedings. Not to mention, the cost for treating these individuals is far lower than the cost of keeping them in jail, where they are also more likely to reoffend. This makes drug court a more effective method than the usual jail-time punishment, from the perspective of both the taxpayer and the person suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

There are many reasons why drug courts are more effective. Not only do they provide that crucial structure many addicts need while early in recovery, but they keep addicts out of jail and they also reunite them with their families. Drug courts provide services that allow addicted family members to kick their habit, stay out of jail, and shows them the tools necessary to live life while healthy and sober. Parents in these programs are twice as likely to attend and complete treatment, also decreasing the amount of time their children may have needed to spend out of the home, in places like foster care.

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Accountability is also very crucial to those in recovery, and drug courts supervision and comprehensive care prevents the vast majority of offenders from dropping out of the program early on. The connection they have with the judge they see usually on a weekly basis, the peers they spend time with in group counseling sessions, and other members of the drug court team all work together in keeping the person accountable for their recovery. Because of this participants in drug court are 6 times more likely to finish treatment.

If you are facing the decision of participating in drug court or staying in jail, the research doesn’t lie. By participating in drug court you are much more likely to succeed in sobriety, but you have to want to change. The same can be said for anyone who is looking to get help for the drug or alcohol addiction. If you are needing help and are unsure where to turn, please reach out and give us a call! Here at More Than Rehab, much like drug court systems, we know what it takes to make a lasting change to live a healthy life of sobriety.

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Why Being In-Network for Blue Cross Blue Shield Is Better For Drug and Alcohol Treatment

Thankfully, there are many options for insurance out there in the world today. However, If you happen to be a member of Blue Cross Blue Shield then there are a wide array of benefits that you get from purchasing any one of their numerous insurance options. It is estimated that nearly one out of every three people in America rely on services provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield. This is because of the extensive and vast coverage that they offer. Blue Cross Blue Shield members have access to thousands of medical assistance options, doctors and hospitals across the world all while providing safe, quality, and affordable healthcare. Additionally, Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance can cover a wide array of services, including dental care, prenatal, maternity, and newborn care to things like emergency services, hospitalization and preventative care. Another one of these services is coverage for mental health and rehabilitative services, such as rehab for drugs and alcohol.

Most insurance plans cover alcohol and drug addiction treatment services in Texas.

We hope that you never have to encounter a situation where you or a loved one may require rehab for drugs and/or alcohol, but we know that for many families this situation is all too common.

It is estimated that nearly 21 million people suffer from a substance abuse problem in our country nearly every day, not to mention people who live outside of the United States.

A substance abuse problem, otherwise known as an addiction, is very common. It is when a person is unable to stop using drugs or alcohol even if they have gone through negative experiences as a result. Things like homelessness and job loss are consequences of their addiction, something that has taken over the functioning of their brain.

Simply put, a person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol does not have the same brain as someone who is not addicted to drugs or alcohol, they are literally not able to stop doing them. That is why, in most cases, professional help from an addiction specialist is needed in order to help save their life from this debilitating disease.

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So, if you are one of those 21 million Americans who suffer from an addiction, or if you are a loved one of someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, and you also happen to have Blue Cross Blue Shield, then do not worry. Coverage for drugs and alcohol is something that they offer coverage for, in fact, it is now required by law that insurance companies must offer some type of addiction treatment coverage, even if there is a preexisting condition. This is because of the Affordable Care Act. So, even if you don't have Blue Cross Blue Shield be sure to check with your insurance provider to see what sort of coverage they offer. The same goes for those who carry Blue Cross Blue Shield, be sure to speak with your insurance agent to see what kind of coverage your specific plan has to offer, as all insurance plans may not already cover these costs. Most insurance plans including treatment for drugs and alcohol include things like:

 

What’s the difference between in-network and out-of-network providers?

Once you figure out what kind of coverage your specific plan has to offer for drug and alcohol treatment, then there are a few things to keep in mind when trying to find the rehabilitation program that is right for you. One of, perhaps the most important questions is whether or not that treatment program is considered an in-network provider or an out-of-network provider. In-network refers to providers or facilities that are in your insurance companies network, often they have negotiated prices and hefty discounts with certain providers.

Out-of-network simply means that the provider or facility does not have a contract with your insurance agency. So, even if they may be a good facility, you are surely going to end up spending more money, perhaps on a service that is of lesser quality.

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While some insurance plans may cover part of the cost of a rehabilitation program that is out-of-network, it won't be anywhere near the coverage offered for an approved facility and provider. The same can be said for members of Blue Cross Blue Shield, though they will cover some portion of the cost for an out-of-network facility (if it happens to be one you really want to go to), it will be nowhere near the amount of coverage if you chose a facility that is in-network. One of those reasons is because not only have they negotiated a deal with that facility or provider, but they have thoroughly vetted them to ensure that they are safe and that they offer quality, affordable care.

With Blue Cross Blue Shield, it is safe to say that the majority of your costs will be covered for a number of inpatient services, outpatient services, and hospitalization. Again, be sure to speak with an associate about your specific health care plan.

 

Located just outside of Houston, Texas, More Than Rehab now accepts Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance.

Not only are cheaper costs guaranteed, but so is the quality of the provider. Here at More Than Rehab, we accept Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance and only provide the highest quality of care. If you are looking for an excellent facility who accepts Blue Cross Blue Shield, then we are here to help! It is our passion and desire to help restore an addicted person's way of life to a place where they no longer need to rely on drugs or alcohol in order to feel normal. We treat the underlying issues that led to the addiction to begin with. We understand that addiction is a complicated disease and we offer any level of care that is necessary. We know how hard of a struggle achieving sobriety can be. We have helped many who have walked that lonely road before and we have brought them to a place of happiness. We proudly help United States military and their family members. It is never too late to ask for help, everyone deserves a second chance at life.

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Find out if we can help you today!
Call us at (888) 249-2191
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Colleges and Drugs: What are the Popular Drugs to Look Out for in 2020?

For those who have been lucky enough to attend college, they know that it can be a very exciting experience. For some, the experience is mainly focused around the academic aspect and the desire to further their education. For others, while academia may still be a factor, the experience is more about what college itself has to offer; individual freedom, and the chance to make decisions without constant parental guidance, the opportunity to expand one’s social circle, and it is often a setting where experimentation with drugs or alcohol is common for a variety of different reasons, either for fun, to celebrate, for social reasons, or perhaps even to deal with the stress. Whatever the reason may be, it is no secret that for the majority of college students, college experience tends to be a place for experimentation, especially when it comes to alcohol and drugs.

What kinds of drugs do college students typically use on Texas campuses?

A recent study found that nearly 23 percent of college students reported using an illicit drug sometime within the past 30 days and more than 75 percent say it is very easy to buy drugs on campus. While this has always been an issue, it may be of even more concern today. In the year of 2020, as the coronavirus, the pandemic  also commonly known as covid-19, has caused a shift in the way college campuses are currently being operated. With classes being shut down and having been moved to only online, students are finding themselves with more free time than ever. However, it is unclear how this may impact data as far as drug use among college students is concerned, but young adults will likely continue to seek-out and use drugs.

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Here are some of the most popular drugs on college campuses to look out for in the United States during the year of 2020:

Alcohol

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that alcohol is the substance that most people abuse in college, with 4 out of 5 college students drinking alcohol. To make matters worse, the majority of the college population are between the ages of 18 to 22, where 21 is the legal drinking age. More so, around half of the college students who drink also participate in binge drinking, which is where they consume four or more alcoholic beverages per hour.

Cocaine

Although the use of cocaine peaked around the mid 1980’s, it is still commonly found on college campuses. Cocaine is a highly addictive and illegal stimulant. College students reportedly use the drug at parties and clubs. While it is sometimes used by itself, the majority of college students say they combine it with other drugs like alcohol and marijuana at social gatherings. One study showed that 69 percent of users reported abusing the drug after entry into college.

Adderall and Ritalin

Adderall and Ritalin are both prescription medications often used for the treatment of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). They have become the “study drug” of choice as both are known to have stimulating properties. College students are twice as likely to abuse prescription stimulants due to related workload stress. According to the 2017 results from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, around 60% of young adults used prescription stimulants obtained from friends for non-medical purposes.

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Marijuana or Synthetic Marijuana

Some other commonly abused drugs by college students are marijuana and synthetic marijuana. Many students report using these substances in order to relieve the stress associated with college life. It is often abused at parties or other social events. It is estimated that nearly 38 percent of college students use marijuana, according to Monitoring the Future, a survey that is used to measure adolescent drug and alcohol activity. Synthetic marijuana is also a commonly used substance among college students who want to achieve the same effects as marijuana without the legal risk, as synthetic marijuana strains are made in order to circumvent detection from law enforcement agencies.

 

Xanax & Benzodiazepines

Xanax, also known as alprazolam, is a benzodiazepine commonly prescribed for the treatment of anxiety. Since it is widely prescribed and widely used, it has become easily obtainable through illicit channels. College students are more likely to abuse anti-anxiety medications to deal with stress from college life. It is also commonly combined with other substances such as alcohol, or barbiturates and has been known to cause blackouts, leading to its us as a date-rape drug on college campuses as well.

 

Psychedelics

Psychedelics, such as mushrooms, LSD, or acid, are another group of substances that are commonly abused by people attending college. Psychedelics are hallucinogens, and can cause extreme hallucinations, leading people to lose their sense of reality. The effects of psychedelics are often unpredictable, and can last anywhere from 2-48 hours. This combination can cause people to act erratically, resulting in things like paranoia and psychosis. Use among college students is popular as the report trying to escape from their everyday life, which can oftentimes be stressful.

 

Ecstasy

Along with the rise of raves and EDM culture, is the use of ecstasy, or “molly” among college kids. In part due to the increased popularity of the rave culture is the increased use of ecstasy, or other MDMA related drugs, among college students. Many report using the drug where alcohol is common, such as at parties, bars, festivals, and raves. The euphoric feeling often associated with the substance is what leads students to using it in social settings. However, it can result in things like paranoia, dehydration, and it can even turn fatal in certain situations.

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Drug use among college students is not a new problem.

These are just a few of the most commonly abused drugs by college students in Texas. Due to things like social experimentation, peer pressure, stress and childhood trauma, many college students turn to drugs or alcohol. If you or someone you know may be struggling with a substance use disorder, please do not hesitate to reach out for help! Many have been where you are before and they have gotten the help necessary to get back on track. College is a very rewarding experience, but we also know that it can be very stressful. There is no shame in asking for help! Call us anytime. We are here to help you.

(888) 241-2191

The Best Drug Ever Created?

It is no secret that our country is currently suffering from a widespread problem, that problem is better known as addiction. Current research suggests that more than 21  million Americans struggle with an active addiction to drugs or alcohol every single day. While there are a large number of illegal drugs currently being abused, the most addictive and commonly abused are listed as followed; alcohol, methamphetamine, heroin, opioids, cocaine, crack cocaine, and marijuana. You may ask yourself, what makes these drugs so dangerously addictive to those who decide to use them? Well, the answer to that question would be Dopamine, the best drug ever created.What exactly is Dopamine, then?

Dopamine is a chemical neurotransmitter that is naturally released inside the brain.

While Dopamine is often associated with drug and alcohol abuse, it doesn’t just stop there; it is linked to shopping addictions, gambling addictions, sex addictions, so on and so forth. Dopamine is meant to act as a positive reinforcement for things normally dependent on survival, such as the rewarding feeling you get after eating a delicious meal or the pleasure you feel after sex.

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Dopamine is often referred to as the “pleasure center” or “reward center” of the brain. Our brains are literally wired to increase the odds that we will repeat a pleasurable experience. When someone engages in a rewarding activity, the burst of dopamine is meant to signal to the individual that something important is happening and that it should take place again. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, this signal of dopamine causes changes in the neural connectivity of the brain making it easier to repeat these same actions over and over again without ever having to really think about it. This is what eventually leads to the formation of habits.

Drugs produce an overwhelming sense of euphoria and an intense burst of dopamine.

This powerfully reinforces the connection between using the drug, the resulting pleasure, and everything else that becomes associated with the experience like people, places, or things. In essence, this large surge of dopamine teaches the brain to seek and use drugs, even at the expense of other healthier goals or activities.

With the continued use, and the increased surges of dopamine, the external stimuli that get associated with a person's drug abuse are ultimately what become their triggers later on, and they are often very hard to overcome. This can result in a person having uncontrollable cravings when they encounter things that remind them of using their drug of choice, sometimes lasting even years into sobriety.

What many people do not know is that addiction is a disease of the brain. It is characterized by the inability to stop using drugs or alcohol despite having suffered extreme, severe, and negative consequences, like overdosing, losing their family, or ending up homeless. It is a chronic and often relapsing condition in which the only treatment or cure is to abstain completely from drugs or alcohol.

Drugs interfere with the way neurons send, receive and process information, causing physical differences in the actual structure of an addicted person’s brain. The three main areas that are most heavily affected by drug usage are the basal ganglia, the extended amygdala, and the prefrontal cortex.

The basal ganglia plays an important role in positive forms of motivation, including the pleasurable effects of healthy activities, otherwise known as the reward center. By overstimulating this circuit with a flood of dopamine, it diminishes the sensitivity and makes it hard to feel pleasure again without the use of drugs or alcohol.

The extended amygdala plays an essential role in stressful feelings, especially ones associated with withdrawal. Overtime, the increase of dopamine causes this area of the brain to become more sensitive, which is why it is difficult for those who are addicted to deal with stressful emotions without the use of drugs or alcohol.

The prefrontal cortex is responsible for the ability to think, plan, solve problems, make decisions, and exert control over one’s impulses. Overwhelming the brain’s circuit with the repeated influx of dopamine causes an individual with a substance use disorder to suffer from a lack of impulse control and diminished decision making skills.

Some of these changes to the brain can heal over time, but depending on how extreme the usage of drugs or alcohol was, and for how long they were being abused, some of these changes can be permanent. When someone suddenly stops using drugs or alcohol, the brain goes on high alert because it has been tricked into believing that it needs drugs or alcohol in order to feel good again or to even feel normal.

Some common symptoms of excessive dopamine and drug withdrawal include:

For this, the list could go on. If you believe you or someone you know may be suffering from a severe drug withdrawal, it is always recommended that you contact a medical health professional. There is no telling how your body will react when detoxing from a dangerous and addictive substance.

The research surrounding the problem of addiction is continually offering new insight in how to better deal and treat this life-long disease that affects so many people in our country alone. For so long, addiction was seen as the person lacking moral fiber, but now we know that it is a disease that chemically alters the structure of the brain. especially over time. Thankfully, scientists and doctors have been able to identify the link between addiction and dopamine. Hopefully, now that we may all have a better understanding about the role it plays in developing an addiction, we will be able to better manage it when it occurs, or stop it from happening entirely. If you need help and believe you are suffering from an addiction yourself, please do not hesitate to reach out to us for help! We have a team of professionals who are more than happy to help you begin your journey to healthy and happy life.

888-249-2191