Is the Fentanyl Vaccine Real? How Do I Get One?

At a time when drug overdose is quickly becoming an epidemic in the United States, researchers at the University of Houston are hard at work on a solution that could save countless lives. They're developing a vaccine for fentanyl, an opioid linked to numerous fatal overdoses. This fentanyl vaccine could be a major game changer in the deadly drug overdose epidemic that has been sweeping the nation.

This groundbreaking research seeks to create antibodies that will bind to the drug and block its ability to produce feelings of euphoria and cause an overdose. If this vaccine is successful, it will offer a powerful solution for people suffering from addiction and those at risk of accidental overdose.

But is this vaccine real, and how does one get it? In this article, we'll explore the progress of the research at the University of Houston and answer those questions. We'll also discuss how this new approach to overdose prevention differs from treatments such as Naloxone or Buprenorphine and why a publicly available vaccine may not be available for many years.

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Understanding the Fentanyl Vaccine

The University of Houston is leading the way in research on a fentanyl vaccine that could potentially save lives. The vaccine would work by creating antibodies that will bind to the dangerous synthetic drug and prevent it from entering the brain, drastically reducing its ability to produce feelings of euphoria.

The research published on Pharmaceutics found that the vaccine was effective in lab rats and didn't cause adverse side effects. In the study, both male and female rats that got immunized produced high levels of anti-fentanyl antibodies that neutralized fentanyl-induced effects. The vaccine also reduced the levels of fentanyl in the brain after drug administration and prevented the drop in measures like heart rate and oxygen saturation. 

According to one researcher, these findings could have a significant impact on the opioid crisis that has been crippling the country for years. The vaccine could provide an effective, sustainable and long-lasting solution to the opioid epidemic.

It prevents the most desired effects of the drug (getting high) and allows the drug to be eliminated from the body through the kidneys. And seeing there were no adverse side effects in the immunized rats in the studies, the research team plans on producing a clinical-grade vaccine in the future, with clinical trials on humans ensuing after. 

A Timely Help for the Fentanyl Crisis in the US

The potential for a fentanyl vaccine to save lives is immense. As the opioid crisis continues to widen, more and more people are becoming addicted to this powerful synthetic drug. A vaccine would offer an effective solution for people suffering from substance use disorders, those at risk of accidental overdose, and those in recovery.

In 2021, the Centers for Diseases Control reported 107,622 overdose deaths in the United States, with opioids accounting for over 75% of these fatalities. According to the CDC, opioid overdose cases increased from 70,029 in 2020 to 80,816 in 2021.

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Synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, were responsible for most of these fatalities. Fentanyl is a potent painkiller similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more powerful. It has been linked to numerous overdose deaths and is increasingly becoming one of the most dangerous drugs in the country.

How is the Fentanyl Vaccine Different from Naloxone or Buprenorphine?

The fentanyl vaccine is different from maintenance treatments like naloxone or buprenorphine because it works by creating antibodies in the body that will bind to the dangerous synthetic drug, blocking its ability to produce feelings of euphoria and cause an overdose. Naloxone and buprenorphine, on the other hand, work by blocking or partially blocking opioid receptors. As a result, they are often used to reduce cravings and withdrawals in patients in recovery.

How Buprenorphine Works

Buprenorphine is an opioid agonist that stimulates the same receptors as opioids, such as heroin or fentanyl. This medication binds to the same receptors as opioids, producing similar effects but with much lower potency. This means that buprenorphine can block or partially block the feelings of intense euphoria caused by opioids while also reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

How Naloxone Works

Naloxone is an opioid receptor antagonist that binds to the same receptors as opioids but with much higher potency. This means that it can completely block the effects of opioids, making it an essential medication for reversing opioid overdose. When administered on time, naloxone can rapidly reverse the effects of opioids, restoring normal respiration.

Unlike naloxone and buprenorphine, the fentanyl vaccine does not work by blocking the opioid receptors in the body. Instead, it stimulates the body's immune response to produce antibodies that bind to fentanyl molecules and block their effects. This means that those who get the vaccine won't feel high while using fentanyl and might therefore stop using the drug altogether.

It's important to note that the vaccine is still in its early stages of development and will take years before it's available on the market. Addiction treatment is currently the best way to prevent an overdose. Besides, some experts have pointed out that while the scientific breakthrough discovery is incredible and innovative, it is not a silver bullet to address the drug addiction crisis. That is to say, the vaccine mainly focuses on fentanyl's impact on the brain, yet environmental and social pressures also contribute to addiction.

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Addiction Treatment

Addiction treatment is the best way to prevent an overdose, manage withdrawal symptoms and treat substance abuse. It typically involves a combination of medications, behavioral therapies, and support groups. In many cases, family members are also included in addiction treatment plans and may help provide support and accountability.

At More Than Rehab, we understand that addiction is a complex issue and requires comprehensive treatment. We offer a range of treatments, including individual and group counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy relapse prevention, medication-assisted treatment, and 12-step programs. We also provide comprehensive aftercare services to ensure a successful recovery.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, please contact us today to learn more about our services. We are here to help.

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Fighting Fentanyl: The Crisis in Texas Border Communities

The opioid crisis has become an increasingly pressing issue in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 91 people die every day in the country from opioid overdose. Heroin, prescription painkillers, and fentanyl are among the most commonly used drugs in this deadly epidemic. Combining opioids with other drugs, like benzodiazepines, alcohol, cocaine, etc., can significantly increase the risk of overdose and death.

According to the CDC, the states that were hardest hit by the drug overdose epidemic in 2015 were West Virginia, Kentucky, Delaware, Ohio, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Louisiana. But the epidemic is now spreading to Texas as well. The latest provisional data from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) shows that there were 883 opioid-related overdoses in Texas in 2020. In 2021 the number increased to 1,672. 

Synthetic opioids (largely illicitly made fentanyl) are the major contributors to these rising opioid-related overdoses. Fentanyl is an opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin, and even a small amount can cause an overdose or death. It is commonly mixed with other illegal drugs like heroin, cocaine, meth, and counterfeit pills, which makes them even more powerful. As a result, it has become one of the most dangerous substances on the streets today.

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Fentanyl Flow to the United States

Mexico has replaced China as the dominant source of fentanyl and other synthetic drugs flowing into the US. According to a report from Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking, most pure fentanyl that was seized by the authorities between 2014 and 2019 came from China. But since then, the leading source of fentanyl has shifted from China to Mexico. The report also noted that Mexican drug cartels had established manufacturing capabilities in Mexico, allowing them to produce the drug in large quantities.

The cartels use the US-Mexico border to smuggle fentanyl through ports of entry and illegal border crossings. However, reports by CBP, ICE, and DHS intelligence indicate that fentanyl is primarily smuggled through legal ports of entry and not illegal entry routes. Surprisingly, 91% of drug seizures at checkpoints are from US citizens. Fentanyl producers mostly hire US citizens because it is easier for them to cross the border than noncitizens.

According to the DEA, the drug cartels use major highway routes to transport illicit drugs. They use passenger cars with hidden compartments or intermingled with legitimate goods on tractor-trailers. 

Reports show that more than 90% of fentanyl border seizures happen at legal border crossings and interior vehicle checkpoints. Drug trafficking organizations use official crossing points because it's easier to hide drugs on legal goods than it is to hide a person crossing the border illegally. 

Fentanyl is an incredibly potent drug. This makes it hard to interdict, considering that even a small physical amount can satisfy US demand. Even more troubling is the fact that Mexican drug cartels produce fentanyl in counterfeit tablets with pain management drugs like Xanax and Adderall. This means that some people may unknowingly take fentanyl without realizing it.

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The Impacts of Drug Trafficking on Texas Border Communities

The influx of illicit drugs has put immense pressure on the border communities in San Diego, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. These drugs are affecting public health by increasing overdose deaths and hospitalizations, spreading infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, increasing crime rates in these areas, and fueling substance abuse among youth.

Furthermore, drug trafficking organizations like the famous Sinaloa cartel use violence to maintain control of their smuggling routes and to counter law enforcement. This has increased homicides and other violent crimes in border towns.

The proliferation of illicit drugs has also led to increased corruption as drug traffickers offer bribes to law enforcement and public officials. This has eroded trust in law enforcement officers, undermining their ability to protect the public. Other impacts include strain on healthcare resources, economic losses due to drug-related crimes, and increased addiction.

Texas Department of Health and Human Services Efforts to Fight the Fentanyl Epidemic

The Texas Health and Human Services (HHSC) have recently launched a campaign to help fight the fentanyl crisis in Texas, particularly on its southern border. The campaign, Texas Targeted Opioid Response  (TTOR), uses many forms of traditional media and social media to reach as many people as possible. The campaign focuses on educating people about preventing drug overdose and promoting treatment options for those battling addiction.

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TTOR is a public health initiative operated by HHSC through federal funding from SAMHSA. It aims to reduce overdose deaths, improve access to treatment, and prevent the misuse of opioids. The program also:

Fentanyl is one of the most dangerous drugs on the streets today, and it is smuggled into the US through Mexico's border with Texas. This drug influx negatively affects public health, increases crime rates, and fuels substance abuse. The more the general public can learn about the dangers of fentanyl and how fentanyl is smuggled into the country, the more we can help law enforcement battle this problem. 

Those struggling with addiction should seek help from professional providers like More Than Rehab. More Than Rehab offers comprehensive treatment plans and access to medication-assisted therapy and counseling, which can help individuals overcome their addiction and recover. With the right help and support, those struggling with addiction can have a chance at leading a life of sobriety.

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Can You Get Treatment For A Xanax Addiction?

Xanax is a medication that belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. These drugs are some of the most commonly abused substances in the world. They're also responsible for a high number of emergency rooms visit across the United States. Benzodiazepines slow down the nervous system and have a calming effect on the user. Xanax is typically prescribed to treat medical conditions like anxiety and panic disorders, but it is also commonly abused for its calming and relaxation effects.

Warning Signs of Xanax Abuse

Many people use Xanax as directed by their doctor to treat anxiety or panic disorders. However, some people misuse or abuse Xanax, which can lead to serious consequences. Warning signs of Xanax addiction:

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People who abuse prescription drugs like Xanax may crush and snort the pills or mix them with alcohol or other drugs. Mixing Xanax with other drugs can be dangerous as it increases the risk of overdose and other serious side effects.

Side Effects of Xanax Abuse

Xanax abuse can lead to physical, mental, and behavioral health problems. Some of the most common side effects of Xanax abuse include:

Xanax can also cause severe or rare side effects like:

 

How Addiction to Xanax Happens

People who abuse Xanax may start taking the drug as prescribed by their doctor. However, over time they may begin to take more of the drug than prescribed, or take it more often. They may continue to use the drug even when it is no longer needed. This can lead to addiction.

Xanax binds to the brain's GABA receptors and increases the level of the neurotransmitter GABA. This results in feelings of calm and relaxation. However, when people take Xanax regularly, they build up a tolerance for the drug. This means they need to take larger and larger doses to achieve the same effect.

As their tolerance builds, so does their dependence on the drug. And as their dependence grows, so does their risk of developing an addiction. Withdrawal symptoms can occur when someone dependent on Xanax stops taking the medication cold turkey.

These symptoms can include anxiety, irritability, insomnia, sweating, shaking, and seizures. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to Xanax, help is available.

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Xanax Addiction Treatment Options

For those seeking treatment there are different Xanax addiction treatment options available. These treatments can be tailored to the individual's needs. Some of the most common options include:

Therapy and Group Support

Therapy provides a safe space for people to process their feelings and work through any underlying mental health issues contributing to their addiction. There are different types of therapies available, such as:

Other Medications

Many other medications can be used for the treatment of Xanax addiction. These include antipsychotics, antidepressants, and mood stabilizers. Each of these medications can help to ease the symptoms of Xanax addiction and allow the person to better cope with withdrawal.

Antipsychotics can help to reduce paranoia and delusions, while antidepressants can help to ease depression and anxiety. Mood stabilizers can help to even out mood swings and reduce irritability. These medications can be used with therapy and counseling to provide the most effective treatment for Xanax addiction.

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Medication Tapering

Medication tapering is a process whereby the dosage of a medication is slowly reduced over time, helping to minimize withdrawal symptoms. This approach can be used for Xanax addiction and has been shown to be effective in helping people overcome their dependence on the drug. The first step is to work with a doctor or other professional to create a tapering schedule.

This schedule will start with a high dose of Xanax and gradually reduce the amount over time. The goal is to eventually reach a point where the person is no longer taking any Xanax at all. The process can be difficult, but it is often successful in helping people break free from their addiction.

Get Help for your Xanax Addiction

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to Xanax, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. Many treatment options are available, and the sooner you seek help, the better. Don't wait to get help. Start your journey to recovery from addiction today.

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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 Is the Best Therapy for Drug Addiction Treatment?

Your addiction treatment will vary based on a range of factors, including the level of care you need, the substance you are addicted to, your mental health, and what you can afford.

There are several treatment options available for addiction recovery. If you are unfamiliar with them, this article is for you. We will discuss the various therapies for addiction treatment to help you decide which one suits you or your loved one best.

 

Detoxification

Detoxification can either be part of a more extensive treatment program or a stand-alone service that various treatment facilities offer. It is an essential step for people who actively use drugs and alcohol.

Medical detox helps you get rid of addictive substances from your body. During detoxification, you will not use the drugs you are addicted to until the chemical substances leave your body.

Detox must occur in a professionally monitored environment because you are likely to experience painful or severe withdrawal symptoms. In addition, in some circumstances, withdrawal may have psychological effects.

Most drug abusers tend to revert to drug use when they experience withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, there is a need to have professional help to ensure you stay on course.

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In addition to ensuring you are safe during the withdrawal period, professionals will help ease discomfort during the withdrawal period. For example, specific medications can reduce the physical symptoms of withdrawal.

Note that detoxification does not address the underlying behavioral causes of addiction. For this reason, it is best to combine it with other therapies.

 

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) 

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)  is a therapy that helps you realistically manage your behavior, emotions, and thoughts. The main goal is to help you recognize and change negative thinking patterns. This helps to overcome the mental distress and psychological patterns that can result in addiction.

 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has proved efficient in treating alcohol and drug addiction. CBT focuses on behavioral health. It helps you recognize your unhealthy behavioral patterns and how to deal with them better. Additionally, CBT enables you to identify your triggers and develop coping skills for them.

Often, CBT is combined with other therapies to treat drug addiction.

 

Twelve-step facilitation therapy

Twelve-step facilitation therapy, also called 12-step programs, can effectively treat alcohol and substance abuse. This group therapy recognizes that addiction has negative physical, emotional, social, and spiritual consequences.

These 12 step programs begin with acceptance, surrender to a higher power, and finally involvement in regularly scheduled group meetings. Most support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous use the twelve-step facilitation therapy.

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Contingency Management

Contingency management treats various addictions, including tobacco, narcotics, and alcohol addiction. Its primary focus is reinforcing positive behavior, e.g., staying sober by giving you tangible rewards.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, research has demonstrated that contingency management successfully prevents relapse in recovering addicts.

 

Treatment with Medication

Medication plays a vital role in addiction recovery. However, it is combined with behavioral therapies for it to be effective.

Some medications suppress cravings, reduce addictive behaviors, and improve your mood. A good example is lofexidine, an FDA-approved medication for addiction treatment. Lofexidine eases withdrawal symptoms and reduces cravings in patients recovering from opioid addiction. 

 

Treatment Programs

Most addiction treatment facilities offer three treatment programs:

The treatment program ideal for you significantly depends on your level of addiction and personal preference.

Residential Addiction Treatment Programs

Residential treatment programs offer intensive and comprehensive inpatient treatment. They can be for a short time (30 days), but some may extend for one year.

The advantage of this treatment program is that it incorporates a holistic approach to changing your relationship with drugs or alcohol. Often, you will undergo counseling, extensive education, and behavioral therapy to ensure you don’t revert to drug use.

Generally, residential addiction treatment programs have a multi-angled treatment approach. Most programs require you to start with detox before proceeding to other aspects of the program, including peer support and self-help programs.

Residential programs are beneficial to those who have abused drugs for an extended time and people with substance use disorders. If you got a dual diagnosis on your initial consultation, you should consider opting for residential programs.

 

Outpatient Addiction Treatment Programs

Outpatient treatment programs offer two services; one-time appointments and repeated appointments. Unlike residential treatment programs, you don’t have to stay at the treatment facility.

Most outpatient treatment programs focus on opioid or heroin addiction. That is because medical providers use medications like buprenorphine and methadone to control cravings and minimize the effects of opioids. You will have to visit the clinic regularly to get the medicine. Treatment facilities often require you to pass a drug test to remain in the program.

Not only does addiction affect the individual, but also family members, friends, and other people they interact with. For this reason, there is a need for counseling. Most outpatient addiction treatment programs also offer individual and family therapy in the form of counseling.

Counseling addresses underlying causes of addiction, including past trauma, depression, anger, and many others. It also mends relationships by helping family members understand the reasons for compulsive behavior.

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Peer Support and Self-Help Programs

Several support groups connect people struggling with addiction, the most common ones being Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. The main aim of support groups is to help you remain accountable for your recovery.

By sharing your experience with other people who have undergone similar experiences, you remain more encouraged on your recovery journey. Support groups have proved to be an essential tool for long-term recovery.

 

Choose The Type of Addiction Treatment That Suits You Best

Since you are now more familiar with the various types of addiction treatment programs, you can decide which one suits you best. We highly recommend going for a professional addiction assessment before deciding on treatment.

More Than Rehab offers high-quality, individualized addiction treatment services throughout the recovery process. Our treatment models are founded on successful national models. Contact us today to start your recovery journey.

The Link Between Risky Sexual Behaviors & Drug Use

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alcohol

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

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

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

Cocaine

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

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

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

Methamphetamine

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

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

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

Cannabis

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

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

Opioids

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

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

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

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

Texas Overdose Trend Remains At All-Time High For 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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How to prevent drug overdose deaths

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

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

What you can do

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

To prevent overdose deaths in your community, you can:

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Ways to talk loved ones into getting treatment

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

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

Be non-judgemental

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

Research the effects of the drug

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

You can get information on various drugs on our website.

Seek professional help

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

Choose a convenient place and time to talk to them

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

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

Listen to them

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

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Bring up treatment options

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

Be supportive    

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

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

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

What if they don’t want to get treatment?

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

Get help today

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

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

How To Be Grateful Even When Times Are Tough

Gratitude is an essential tool for those in the recovery process. It is known to significantly reduce relapse rates, especially during the holidays.

If you feel grateful to be on the road to recovery, the chances are that you won’t relapse. A thankful attitude allows you to face any challenges that come your way and focus on your recovery goal.

Grateful people generally have a positive outlook on life. This outlook influences their behavior and promotes a sustainable recovery-oriented life.

Most people who abuse drugs or alcohol tend to be self-centered, caring only about themselves. If you are in recovery, expressing gratitude makes you less selfish and more aware of the needs of others. Additionally, you will be more in control of your life, more optimistic, and less stressed.

Practicing gratitude influences the behaviors and thoughts of those recovering from addiction and co-occurring disorders. It also helps them appreciate the present and improve interactions with other people.

This article will discuss how to be grateful, even when things are tough. Additionally, we will talk about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), its symptoms, and how to fight it.

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Gratitude

Here are a few tips on being grateful during the holidays to avert experiencing a relapse.

1.     Have a gratitude journal.

Have a journal where you list at least three things you are grateful for every day. Journaling daily will change your mindset and make you a grateful person overall.

2.    Focus on the essential things.

It would be best to focus on important things, including your relationships with your friends and family, instead of worrying about the unknown. You will realize just how lucky you are to have the people you have in your life at the moment. Interact with your friends and family often. Remember, isolation can lead to addiction.

3.    Change your perspective.

If you’re having a hard time coming up with things you are grateful for, take a moment to think about other people whose misfortunes are more than yours. Changing your perspective will make you realize just how much you should be grateful for.

4.    Savor the good experiences/moments.

During your day-to-day, pay attention to the moments you genuinely feel happy and savor them. Pay attention to how your body feels, and try to relive the moments when you don’t feel grateful.

5.    Appreciate yourself for the small milestones you make.

Most people tend to overlook what they do for themselves, mainly when they cultivate healthy habits during their recovery journey. Remember to always appreciate yourself for the small milestones you make.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that arises due to change in seasons. It is a co-occurring disorder that starts during fall, worsens during winter, and ends during spring. On rare occasions, people get a rare SAD type called summer depression.

SAD is a severe condition that harms your day-to-day life, including how you think and feel. It may cause major depression.

The mild version of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is commonly referred to as the winter blues. Unlike SAD, winter blues simply make you feel down since you are mostly stuck indoors.

Who is likely to get SAD?

SAD tends to affect women  and young people more. Additionally, people with mood disorders, e.g., bipolar disorder and mental health conditions, are more likely to get SAD. People who live further north of the equator in high latitudes or cloudy regions are also more likely to get SAD.

People suffering from SAD may suffer from other mental health conditions, including but not limited to eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and panic disorders.

Symptoms of SAD

Here are a few symptoms of SAD patients are likely to experience:

Those who suffer from summer SAD are likely to experience:

How to fight SAD

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Here are a few tips on fighting seasonal depression.

  1. Work out.

Most times, people’s physical activity decreases during the colder months. Working out is a great way to combat seasonal depression since you fight your body’s urge to be sluggish.

2.    Consider light therapy.

Research has shown that light therapy is a first-line treatment for SAD since it keeps the patient’s circadian rhythm on track.

3.    Participate in social activities.

Most people tend to avoid participating in social activities during the colder months. As discussed above, isolating yourself is a risk factor for SAD. Try as much as possible to participate in social activities and interact with your family and friends.

4.    Have a schedule and stick to it. 

People with SAD often either sleep a lot or have trouble sleeping. Try maintaining a regular schedule to improve your sleeping patterns. This will help reduce the symptoms of seasonal depression.

5.    Ensure you get enough vitamin D.

The  National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) states that insufficient vitamin D may cause depressive symptoms, including SAD.

It is unclear whether taking vitamin D supplements may relieve SAD symptoms, but experts say getting enough vitamin D from sunlight and your diet could go a long way in preventing SAD.

6.   Go on vacation.

If you get SAD during the colder months, you can take a winter vacation to countries with warm climates at the time. Being in a warm place can relieve SAD symptoms.

7.    Be grateful.

As discussed above, gratitude is an essential part of recovery. Purpose to stay grateful and appreciate what and who is in your life.

Conclusion

Being grateful goes a long way in promoting sobriety. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, most addicts relapse when they can no longer deal with the pressure of their day-to-day lives.

Most addicts can avert a relapse on drugs by cultivating gratitude during recovery, especially during the fall and winter months, when SAD tends to kick in.

Check out our blog for more information on relapse prevention and drug rehabilitation. At More Than Rehab, we offer quality service to everyone struggling with addiction. Contact us today to start your recovery journey.

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Holidays 2021: A Guide to Avoiding Relapse Triggers

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

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

Some common holiday triggers are:

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

Wake up every morning with the decision to stay sober

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

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Eat healthily

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

Avoid high-risk situations

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

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

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

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

Carry your own drinks to parties

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

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

Bring a sober friend along

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

Have a schedule

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

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

Learn to say "no" (politely)

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

Volunteer

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

Don’t isolate yourself

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

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

Have a support system

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

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

When the craving kicks in, move past it

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

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

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

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

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

Isolation can Lead to Addiction

Addiction is a complex condition that can rarely be attributed to a single cause. One’s environment, genetics, mental health, and past experiences all influence the development of addiction. Studies also point out isolation as a vulnerability to drug addiction.  

Social isolation isn’t necessarily bad: we all crave some alone time, at least occasionally. Being alone can be rejuvenating, meditative, and relaxing. But when the solitude is unwanted or unhealthy, it can become problematic. Isolation has become a growing concern for the health care system.

People who are socially isolated may lack friends, family, or close workmates. So, they tend to feel lonely and depressed. As a result, they may suffer from anxiety, low self-esteem, and other mental health issues, as you’ll notice in this article.

What is social isolation?

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put it, social isolation is the lack of social connections that can lead to loneliness in some people. Those in unhealthy isolation are likely to:

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In some cases, the isolation can include emotional isolation where one is unwilling or unable to share their feelings with others. When this happens, the person can become emotionally numb.

What causes social isolation?

Isolation can be a result of many factors, including:

The effects of isolation

Many studies have shown a connection between isolation and physical health issues. Isolation is a risk factor for issues like heart disease, increased inflammation and stress hormones, diabetes 2, and even disability. An analysis of 70 studies and 3.4 million people pointed out that isolated individuals had a 30% higher risk of dying in the next seven years.

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But the effects of isolation aren’t just physical. They can be mental as well. In fact, numerous studies show a close link between isolation and mental disorders like low self-esteem, depression, social anxiety, dementia, or other mental health concern.

Again, isolation and mental issues tend to feed off of each other. Meaning, an individual might develop anxiety because of isolation, then feel more isolated because of their anxiety, and vice versa.

How isolation leads to addiction

Connecting with other people is an important part of well-being. Humans are social creatures, and not getting enough social interaction can impact health. Isolation can increase the amount of stress hormone cortisol in the body, causing a range of physical health concerns.

Prolonged isolation can lead to mental health issues or worsen the existing ones. When feelings of loneliness go unresolved, it could lead to a range of mental illnesses.

Many studies show a strong connection between mental health disorders and substance use disorders. In fact, as the National Institute on Drug Use puts it, many people who develop mental illnesses are also diagnosed with substance use disorder. Data show high rates of SUD and mental disorders like anxiety, depression, PTSD, and antisocial personality disorders, all of which are common among those who self-isolate. NIDA also points out that people with personality, substance use, and mental disorders were more likely to use non-medical prescription opioids

Isolation may also cause loneliness. When a person is lonely, they may turn to drugs to pass the time or shut down the critical inner voices that tend to multiply in isolation. Speaking of voices, too much isolation leads to fluctuations in thinking, causing one to perceive the world around them negatively. In some cases, the loneliness can make them a little vulnerable, causing them to start looking for reasons people aren’t hanging out with them.

At this point, self-disgust sets in to offer a handy scapegoat. When one fixates on these beliefs and thoughts, they might act in ways to reinforce their actions. They may also abuse substances to cope with their situation or avoid reality. Prolonged use might lead to addiction, driving one further into isolation.

Note that both drugs and social interaction can stimulate one’s dopamine response. Emotional and physical connectedness triggers the production of good feelings, and when that system doesn’t change, one may seek to self-medicate. So they’ll turn to illegal drugs, prescription drugs, or alcohol. For those struggling with addiction, this can make for a deadly mix under the wrong circumstances.

Unfortunately, at this point, any attempt to stop using ends in withdrawal symptoms. So, one is likely to struggle alone, with no end in sight.

How to overcome isolation

Going out more and making new friends might seem like an obvious thing to do in this case. However, isolation can have an underlying cause that needs to be addressed to build more fulfilling connections. Treatment programs exist to help individuals gain control of their lives. But one can also try out the following:

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How to prevent relapse in isolation

Those who go through substance abuse treatment need physical, emotional, and financial support from their loved ones to regain full control of their lives. Otherwise, they risk relapsing. Finding support in groups like Alcoholic Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous can help prevent relapse.

Getting help for social isolation and addiction

The risks of drug addiction are higher among those suffering from isolation. But the good news is that there are facilities that provide medically-reviewed addiction treatment and therapies to help one reopen communication lines and feel less isolated.