Can Psychedelic Assisted Therapy Help Addiction Treatment?

Psychedelic-assisted therapy is currently drawing a lot of attention. There has been a resurgence of interest in the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin (found in magic mushrooms), LSD, and MDMA (commonly known as ecstasy) for the treatment of various mental health conditions. 

Re-emerging clinical research suggests that psychedelic-assisted therapy has the potential to serve as an alternative treatment for substance use disorder, depression, and anxiety. For example:

There are also numerous stories and testimonies from individuals who have undergone psychedelic-assisted therapy and reported significant improvements in their mental health.

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Many of these stories are shared publicly, in the media, or through personal channels, creating a positive and powerful narrative around the potential of psychedelic-assisted therapy. Patients have reported feeling more open, connected, and attuned to their emotions and thoughts and having a deeper understanding of themselves and their place in the world.

All this is very encouraging. However, it's worth noting that we've been here before with psychedelics. In the 1950s and 60s, numerous studies were happening across the United States to explore the potential of psychedelics in treating various mental health conditions.

Media outlets like CBSNews even covered the story of Arthur King, who received LSD as part of his treatment for alcoholism in 1966. After 6 months of treatment with LSD, Arthur King was able to curb his addiction and was still sober in the 27-year follow-up.

But as these drugs became synonymous with substance abuse, hedonism, and countercultural activities, they were made illegal. LSD was made illegal in 1966, followed by mushrooms in 1968, and most research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics ground to a halt. At the moment, the use of psychedelics for their therapeutic potential is still highly regulated and not yet widely available. But the renewed interest and investment have fueled further research, much of which is ongoing.

What is Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy? 

Psychedelic-assisted therapy is a therapeutic approach that uses psychedelic substances, such as psilocybin, Ketamine, and MDMA, to facilitate therapeutic experiences. These substances are administered in a controlled and supportive environment, usually with the guidance of a trained health professional, to help individuals achieve altered states of consciousness that may lead to increased self-awareness, insight, and emotional processing. 

The goal of psychedelic-assisted therapy is to provide individuals with a unique and profound experience that allows them to gain new perspectives on their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and to work through emotional and psychological challenges.

For example, cancer patients who took part in two different studies reported mystical experiences or spiritualistic experiences after taking psilocybin for their anxiety and depression. According to the studies, psilocybin reduced cancer-related anxiety, hopelessness, and dread immediately after the dose, and the improvements persisted for up to 6.5 months in about 80% of the patients.

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Psychedelic-Assisted Treatment and Addiction

A growing body of research suggests that psychedelic-assisted treatment may have promise in easing some of the symptoms of addiction. One way psychedelics may help with addiction is by reducing other mental health symptoms that often co-occur, such as depression and anxiety.

For many people struggling with alcohol and opioid addiction, these symptoms can be a significant barrier to recovery, as they can make it harder to stay motivated and engaged in treatment. By addressing these underlying mental health issues, psychedelics may make it easier for individuals to quit abusing substances.

Psychedelic-assisted treatment may also work by promoting changes in brain function and increasing self-awareness. For example, research suggests that psychedelics may help to "reset" the brain by fostering new neural connections and reducing negative thought patterns. By facilitating these changes in the brain, psychedelics may help individuals break free from patterns of addictive behavior and develop healthier coping mechanisms. 

Studies have shown that psychedelics reduce both alcohol use and smoking. The success rates are higher than what doctors see with other therapy or medication alone.   

How Does Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy Work?

While researchers do not fully understand how psychedelics work in the brain, several potential mechanisms have been proposed. 

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Risks of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy for Addiction Treatment

While psychedelic-assisted therapy for addiction treatment may hold promise, there are also potential risks associated with using these substances. They include: 

While psychedelics have shown promise as a therapeutic tool, they're not a panacea and don't work for everyone. Factors like dosage, setting, and individual differences in brain chemistry can all impact the effectiveness of psychedelic-assisted therapy. Also, trained professionals should always supervise these substances in a controlled environment, as they can be potentially dangerous if misused.

If you're considering using psychedelics outside of therapy for different reasons, you should seek the support of a Psychedelic harm reduction and integration therapist. A PHRI therapist will help you plan to minimize risks and increase the chances of positive therapeutic outcomes. 

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The Importance of Counseling & Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Addiction is a complex and debilitating condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It causes physical and psychological harm to the individual and affects their relationships and ability to function in society. While various treatment options are available, counseling and therapy are often considered essential components of an effective addiction treatment plan. These therapies can help individuals understand the underlying causes of their addiction, develop coping strategies, and rebuild their lives in a healthy and sustainable way.

This article will explore the importance of counseling and therapy in addiction treatment and discuss some of the key benefits and methods involved.

What is Addiction Therapy, and How Does it Help?

Addiction therapy is a multifaceted approach to treatment that helps individuals address the psychological, physical, and social factors that contribute to their addiction. It includes various techniques such as behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing (MI), and family therapy. All these aim to help the individual:

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Alcohol or drug use can interfere with how a person functions. It can change how they think, act, learn, remember, or even pay attention. Addiction counseling and therapy can help restore cognitive functioning and provide the individual with essential tools for managing their addiction.

In cases where one struggles with mental illness and addiction, therapy and counseling can help them manage both conditions. It can also educate them on the relationship between their mental health and substance use and strategies for managing both.

How Addiction Counseling and Therapy Works

Counseling is an integral part of the addiction treatment process. It's always used in conjunction with other treatments, such as detox and medication, and typically happens in a professional rehab center. Different types of rehab options exist, including:

Inpatient rehab: Where an individual stays at the facility for a while, usually between 30 days to 6 months.

Outpatient rehab: Where an individual receives treatment at the center regularly, such as daily or weekly, but does not stay overnight.

During therapy, you'll work with your counselor to understand the root causes of your addiction and develop strategies for managing it in day-to-day life. Therapy sessions may include individual, group, or family counseling, depending on the treatment plan.

But since addiction is a relapsing disease, likely, you will still have cravings that draw you back to abusing substances. Long after you rid your body of the drugs, the brain will still remember the pleasure it felt when you used drugs and will continue to send signals of wanting more. That's why ongoing therapy is so important in addiction recovery.

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Behavioral therapies

These therapies focus on helping individuals change the behaviors and thought patterns that lead to addiction. Examples of these types of treatment include:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)is an effective treatment for addiction and mental illness. It helps individuals to identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to addiction. CBT is based on the idea that an individual's thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are interconnected and that changing one aspect can lead to changes in others. 

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) was developed specifically for individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder, but it is effective in the treatment of addiction as well. DBT focuses on both acceptance and change, helping individuals to accept their current situation while also working towards positive change. It helps one understand the cycles between intense emotions and impulsive behavior, as well as how these can be effectively managed.

Motivational interviewing (MI)

Motivational interviewing helps individuals overcome ambivalence and develop strategies to cope with existing problems. It focuses on the individual's capacity for self-change, inviting them to consider the consequences of addiction, explore values, and negotiate goals leading to meaningful change. MI practitioners use active listening techniques and specific questions to support clients as they engage in an interactive conversation about their intrinsic motivation and potential roadblocks.

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Contingency Management

Contingency management uses positive reinforcement to encourage individuals to abstain from substance use. It rewards individuals who remain abstinent with tangible rewards, such as vouchers or other incentives, whenever they engage in desired behaviors, such as attending support groups or social activities. This can help individuals stay motivated while developing healthier habits and behaviors.

Family and Individual Therapy

Family therapy helps to repair and strengthen relationships between family members. It also often focuses on understanding how addiction has impacted the entire family, identifying needs, and developing strategies for communication and problem-solving. Individual therapy can help individuals process past traumas, build relationships and activities outside of substance use, and foster healthy coping skills for managing their addiction.

12-Step Programs

12-step programs provide a support system for peers in recovery and can help individuals recognize their powerlessness over the substance. These programs emphasize accountability, acceptance, and responsibility to foster self-improvement. The 12-step fellowship helps individuals to identify their addiction as a disease and provides them with a structure and support system to help them cope with the complex emotions that often accompany addiction. Depending on the substance of use, one can join Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous, etc.

Get Help Today

It's never too late to seek help for addiction. With the right combination of therapy and support, recovery is possible. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use disorder, contact us today.

You don't have to go through this alone – help is available now. Reach out today and take the first step on the road to recovery. We're here for you.

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Why Are Older Adults Abusing Drugs More Than Ever?

Substance abuse among older adults is a significant issue that can have severe consequences for the health and well-being of older adults and those around them. Despite this, drug abuse rates among older adults are increasing faster than any other age group. A 2018 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration survey found that approximately one million seniors above 65 (or 2% of the senior population) had a substance use disorder in the past year. Some 3% use marijuana, and 1 in 10 engage in binge drinking.

The pandemic didn't help either, as lockdowns disrupted routines, isolation, and fear spread. 2020 reports from the National Center for Health Statistics showed a shocking 53% increase in opioid-related deaths among the baby boomers over the previous year. Alcohol-related deaths, which had already been rising for a decade in this age group, rose by 18%.

All these numbers lead us to the question, why are more older adults in the United States abusing drugs than ever before? This article will explore potential causes of this trend, including loneliness, boredom, mental health problems, and lack of access to appropriate healthcare.

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Prescription Medication

One of the key factors behind increasing substance abuse among older adults is the use of prescription medications. Older adults may face an increased risk of chronic pain, heart disease, and other health conditions as they age.

As part of quality health care, prescription medications can help relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life. However, if the medication is misused, it could lead to abuse. Sadly, many senior citizens abuse prescription medications for reasons like:

Social Isolation

Social isolation, or the lack of social connections and relationships, can be a risk factor for substance abuse in adults of all ages. That's because it can lead to negative emotions such as loneliness, boredom, and stress.

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Older adults may be more vulnerable to social isolation due to retirement, losing a spouse or other loved ones, or limited mobility. They may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with these negative emotions. Social isolation can also increase the risk of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, which can increase the risk of substance abuse.

Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairments can increase the risk of substance abuse in older adults. These mental health issues may be due to various factors, including the natural aging process, physical health problems, social isolation, or other stressors.

Older adults with mental health issues may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with their emotions or self-medicate for their mental health problems. Substance abuse can temporarily relieve negative emotions but can also lead to addiction and other negative consequences. Substance abuse can also exacerbate mental health problems and create a cycle of substance abuse and mental health issues.

Other Common Causes of Drug Abuse Among the Elderly

Impacts of Drug Abuse Among Older Adults

Substance abuse among older adults can seriously impact physical and mental health and the overall quality of life. Some of the potential impacts of drug abuse among older adults include:

Challenges in Identifying Addiction in the Elderly

Age-related changes can make it difficult for caregivers and healthcare providers to recognize and diagnose substance abuse in older adults. These age-related changes include changes in metabolism, which can affect how quickly and effectively a person's body processes drugs. In addition, older adults may be less likely to report symptoms of substance abuse, as they may feel embarrassed or ashamed to admit that they are having a problem with drugs or alcohol.

These age-related changes can make it difficult for healthcare providers to identify addiction in an older adult accurately. For this reason, it is essential for caregivers and healthcare providers to be aware of the risk factors and warning signs of substance abuse among older adults.

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Some Warning Signs of Drug Abuse in Older Adults

Some common signs that may indicate an older adult is abusing drugs or alcohol include:

Treating Substance Abuse in Older Adults

Addiction treatment in older adults should be tailored to the individual's age and health status. Treatment options include medication-assisted treatment, behavioral health therapies, counseling, and support groups. In some cases, long-term residential care may be necessary to ensure the individual gets the treatment they need to successfully manage addiction and live a healthy life.

It is also important to remember that addiction in older adults can be caused by underlying medical or mental health conditions. Therefore, it is essential to address any underlying issues to ensure that the individual receives comprehensive care and support.

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How Does Addiction Affect Men and Women Differently?

Addiction is a severe mental health condition that can have devastating consequences for those affected by it. Men and women experience addiction differently, yet the impact on their lives can be equally profound. While addiction causes many similar effects in men and women, there are some key differences between the sexes regarding how they develop a dependency, their likelihood of seeking help, and what sort of medically assisted help they need.

This article will provide an overview of how addiction affects men and women differently. In addition, it will explore the unique challenges that each gender faces in seeking treatment, overcoming substance abuse issues, and finding a path to recovery. By understanding the differences between men and women, we can better empathize with those affected by addiction and work to ensure that all people have access to the resources they need to combat addiction and move forward with their lives.

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How Men and Women Become Addicted Differently

While anyone can develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol, certain factors may increase the risk of dependency. One of these factors is gender. Men and women typically develop addiction differently for various reasons, including biological differences, societal pressures, and other environmental factors.

According to the National Institute on Drugs Abuse, men are likely to use all kinds of illicit drugs, and these drugs can lead to ER visits or overdose deaths. Illegal drug use refers to using drugs like cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, marijuana, and prescription drugs illegally.

In addition, NIDA points out that men, in most age groups, have higher rates of use and dependence on alcohol and drugs than women. Studies have found that men are 2.2 times more likely to abuse substances and 1.9 times likelier to develop a drug dependence than women.

Historically, most substance use disorders (SUD) were seen in men. However, there's evidence that this has been shifting over the years. A study analyzed the rates of substance abuse by gender over many decades. It discovered that the gap between men and women was closing, as women and men are now developing SUD at near-equal rates.

Despite this, women may be more susceptible to craving substances and relapse, vital phases of the addiction cycle.

Notably, age significantly impacts addiction in both men and women. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that the use of illegal drugs was almost the same in youth ages 12 to 17 years.

The distinction between how men and women suffer from addiction stems from biological and sociological differences. Researchers believe this distinction is due to societal impact (like relationship dynamics, addiction stigma, childcare responsibilities, etc.). Men and women also have biological differences, primarily revolving around estrogen and testosterone production, along with body composition and size that can cause the drugs to affect the body differently.

Harvard notes that the main difference in addiction between the two genders revolves around susceptibility, recovery, and risk of relapse.

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Susceptibility

Men are more likely to become dependent on substances. They also tend to develop drug addiction due to stress or peer pressure. On the other hand, women are more likely to develop addiction due to underlying mental health issues such as depression, anxiety disorders, or trauma history. For example, a woman who experiences sexual assault is more likely to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to cope.

Women also experience accelerated progression from initial drug use to the onset of addiction and first admission to treatment. This phenomenon, called telescoping, has been observed in studies focusing on women addicted to alcohol or drugs like cannabis and opioids. It has been shown that women who enter addiction treatment often present with a more severe clinical profile than men despite having used fewer substances within a shorter timeframe than men. 

Recovery

Men tend to stabilize substance abuse at lower doses compared to women. They are also likely to experience more intense symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. On the other hand, women may experience more severe drug withdrawal symptoms, including liver damage and overdose. In addition, men may be more likely to experience heart problems due to drug use.

Risk of Relapse

Women have a much higher risk of experiencing intense cravings and relapse than men. This is due to various factors, including the biological differences mentioned earlier, but also due to societal pressures and other environmental factors.

Specific Substances

Alcohol

Women have less water in their bodies than men. This means they do not need as much alcohol to get drunk. Women also don't break down alcohol as fast because their body has lower levels of an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase. Besides, men and women abuse alcohol for different reasons.

Men tend to drink for social reasons or to enhance positive emotions, while women sometimes use alcohol to alleviate mental health problems like stress or anxiety. This explains why more women have co-occurring alcohol abuse and mental disorders. Sadly, women are less likely to seek treatment for their binge drinking issues than men.

Opioids

Some studies indicate that women may experience chronic pain more intensely than men. This may explain why women are more likely to use prescription and illicit opioids for chronic pain management and why they develop addiction faster. Women also tend to get heightened dopamine responses in the brain, accelerating the development of a dependence on drugs. Despite their heightened susceptibility, men are more likely to misuse opioids and fatally overdose.

Surveys have shown that women are more likely to overdose fatally in the first years of an opioid use disorder involving injection. This is partly because of polydrug use. But they tend to survive heroin abuse after a few years of use compared to men.

Most women who abuse opioids, especially heroin, are young and mostly do so because of pressure from sexual partners or social circles. But they mostly take smaller doses for a shorter time and don't inject.

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Stimulants

Women may be more likely to become addicted to stimulants, like drugs and alcohol, because their bodies are made differently. Women have hormones like estrogen, which can strengthen stimulants' effects. This means they need smaller amounts of drugs or alcohol to get drunk or high than men do.

Get Addiction Treatment for Both Men and Women

Men and women differ in their substance abuse behavior, how they experience addiction and its consequences, and how they respond to treatment. The differences between the genders should be considered when planning addiction treatment programs. Tailored interventions and gender-specific treatments are needed to help both men and women seek addiction treatment and successfully recover.

Group therapy, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), and other forms of behavioral health support are also crucial for a successful recovery. Family members must also play an essential part in treatment to help the individual cope with cravings and maintain abstinence. With proper support and treatment, both men and women have a good chance of achieving long-term recovery.

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Is it Possible to be Addicted to Marijuana?

Some people use marijuana as a recreational pastime. Others use it for medicinal purposes. Either way, many wonder if it's possible to become addicted to marijuana.

The answer is yes; it is possible to become addicted to marijuana just like any other drug or alcohol. According to studies, some people who use marijuana may develop marijuana use disorder meaning they have difficulty controlling their marijuana use.

Marijuana is a Schedule I drug and has a high potential for abuse. According to studies, marijuana is the most abused drug in the US. Both recreational and medical marijuana can cause dependence issues. 

What is Marijuana or Cannabis Use Disorder?

Marijuana or cannabis use disorder is having difficulty controlling your marijuana use. When you have marijuana use disorder, You may feel an intense desire to continue using despite adverse consequences, and you may experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit. The severity of marijuana use disorder is classified as mild, moderate, or severe.

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How Does Cannabis Use Disorder Happen?

Cannabis use disorder can happen when someone uses marijuana frequently or in large amounts. It can also be caused by physical, psychological, environmental, and genetic factors. The drug contains tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, a psychoactive ingredient that trigger's the brain's endocannabinoid receptors. Over time, you become less sensitive to the chemicals in marijuana and need more of it to feel the same effects.

Symptoms of Marijuana Dependence

The signs and symptoms of marijuana dependence can be physical or psychological.

Physical symptoms of marijuana use disorder include:

Psychological symptoms of marijuana use disorder include:

Legalization Efforts and the Impacts on Marijuana Use 

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In recent years, many states have legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes. This has led to marijuana becoming more accessible and accepted in today's society. As a result, there has been an increasing number of individuals using marijuana and a greater number of individuals becoming addicted to it.

The legalization efforts have also increased the availability and variety of marijuana products, such as edibles, waxes, and oils. Some of these products have higher concentrations of THC than the traditional plant-based form of marijuana and can lead to more severe and longer-lasting effects on the user.

And as marijuana use becomes more common, more people are exposed to its risks. It's essential for individuals, especially those in vulnerable populations, to be aware of the potential risks associated with using marijuana and the potential for addiction.

It's also essential for people to know that help is available if they are struggling with dependence and addiction. Seeking treatment from a qualified professional can help individuals overcome their addiction and reclaim control of their lives.

Long-Term Effects of Marijuana Addiction

Though marijuana is often considered a harmless drug, many dangers are associated with long-term use.

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Treatment Options for Marijuana Addiction

Fortunately, there is a range of treatment options available for people who are struggling with marijuana addiction.

At the moment, the FDA has not approved any medications specifically for the treatment of marijuana addiction. However, research is ongoing, and there are some promising results from trials with existing medications (like sleep and anti-epileptic drugs) that may be effective in treating marijuana use disorder.

Finally, professional rehab and support groups can be an essential part of recovery for people with marijuana addiction. These will provide peer-based support, public health care resources, mental health treatment, and life skills training that can help people rebuild their lives.

No matter what approach is taken, the most crucial step in overcoming marijuana addiction is a commitment to making positive changes in one's life. With the proper support and dedication, it's possible to break free from addiction and start living a healthier, more fulfilling life.

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What Does Long Term Drug Use Do To Your Body?

When it comes to drug abuse, the main concern is often the immediate health impacts of drug use. However, there are also several long-term effects of drug abuse on various systems in the body. For example, prolonged exposure to certain drugs can cause changes in vital organs like the heart, lungs, liver, and brain.

These changes can lead to serious health problems like liver disease, liver failure, brain damage, mental illness, heart disease, and in some cases, death. Chronic drug use can increase susceptibility to other diseases like cancer or infections due to suppressed immune function.

This article will take a closer look at some of the more common long-term effects of drug abuse on various systems in the body.

Different Classes of Drugs and Their Long-Term Implications on the Body

There are three types of drugs; depressants, stimulants, and hallucinogens. Each one has a different effect on the body.

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Depressants

Depressants like alcohol, cannabis, benzodiazepines, heroin and other opioids slow down the function of the central nervous system (CNS). Depressants may cause slower reflexes, dizziness, and poor coordination and balance when taken in small quantities.

Large doses may lead to nausea, drowsiness, and loss of consciousness. When taken over a long period, depressants may cause changes in brain structure, creating long-term imbalances in hormonal and neuronal systems that are not easily reversed. Other common effects include:

Stimulants

Stimulants like amphetamines, cocaine, and MDMA increase the activity of the central nervous system. In small doses, stimulants may increase heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure and cause reduced appetite, sleeplessness, and agitation. Large doses may lead to anxiety, paranoia, aggression, panic, stomach cramps, and seizures. Long-term use has been linked to the following:

Hallucinogens

Hallucinogens like LSD, ketamine, and magic mushrooms alter a person's perception of reality. They may cause visual and auditory hallucinations, confusion, paranoia, anxiety, and panic. Long-term use has been linked to the following:

Long-Term Effects of Drugs on the Heart and Circulatory System

One of the most common long-term effects of drug abuse is damage to the heart and circulatory system. Drugs particularly harmful to the heart include stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine, which can cause increased heart rate and blood pressure. This strains the heart and can lead to conditions like aneurysms, heart attacks, and death.

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Stimulant use can cause cardiomyopathies, myocardial infarctions, aortic dissection, and endocarditis. In other cases, they may exacerbate pre-existing heart conditions, speeding the heart damage. 

Other drugs like opioids and alcohol can slow heart rate and circulation to dangerous levels. Excessive alcohol intake can lead to high heart failure, blood pressure, or stroke. It can also cause cardiomyopathy, a disorder that affects the heart muscle. Alcohol has also been linked to obesity and the long list of health problems that can go along with it.

Long-Term Effects of Drugs on the Respiratory System

Another common long-term effect of drug abuse is damage to the lungs. This is particularly true for smoked drugs like marijuana, tobacco, and crack cocaine. Repeated exposure to toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke can cause inflammation and promote oxidative stress in the outer lining of the lungs. Over time, this leads to chronic inflammation and scarring, making it more difficult for oxygen to flow through the lungs and into other organs. 

Likewise, drugs like heroin can cause significant damage to lung tissue due to their direct impact on blood vessels. In particular, these substances constrict blood vessels and inhibit oxygen delivery to vital organs like the brain and heart. Drug use has been linked to different respiratory problems, including bronchitis, chronic cough, emphysema, and lung cancer. Inhalation of these drugs can also damage the airways and make breathing difficult.

Long-Term Effects of Drugs on the Brain

Drugs interfere with the normal functioning of neurotransmitters, which are responsible for transmitting signals from one neuron to another. In particular, drugs affect the release of dopamine and other key neurotransmitters that regulate mood, reward processing, decision-making, and movement.

As these chemicals are disrupted by drug use, users can experience various unpleasant side effects, including intense cravings, confusion, altered consciousness, and impaired motor control. Moreover, prolonged drug use can have lasting impacts on brain development, particularly in adolescents and young adults who are still experiencing significant neurological changes throughout their formative years.

Drugs affect the brain in different ways, including:

Long-Term Effects of Drugs on the Liver

The liver is responsible for filtering toxins out of the blood, so it's not surprising that drug abuse can significantly impact this vital organ. In particular, drugs like alcohol and heroin can cause liver damage by promoting inflammation and cell death.

Over time, this can lead to cirrhosis, a condition in which the liver cannot function properly. Other drugs, like methamphetamine, can also damage the liver by causing oxidative stress. These changes can lead to liver inflammation, fibrosis, and cirrhosis as your body gets older.

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Long-Term Effects of Drugs on the Kidneys

The kidneys are responsible for filtering waste and toxins out of the blood. Drug abuse can damage these organs and impair their ability to function properly. In particular, drugs like heroin, amphetamines, and cocaine can cause kidney failure or damage by causing inflammation and oxidative stress. These changes can lead to kidney disease, which can be fatal.

Long-Term Effects of Drugs on the Immune System

Chronic drug use can compromise the body's ability to fight off infections and disease, increasing an individual's susceptibility to illness. In addition, heavy drug use has been linked to conditions like HIV and hepatitis, especially among IV drug users. These conditions can compromise the immune system.

How to Quit Using Drugs

The best way to be healthy again is to quit using drugs. Your body and mind can return to normal when you stop using drugs. However, quitting is often the hardest part. Addiction changes the brain in ways that make it difficult to control cravings and resist the urge to use. 

Withdrawal symptoms also make quitting difficult, as they can be uncomfortable and dangerous. So quitting is often more than just a matter of willpower. It requires a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses the underlying causes of addiction as well as other possible health care issues.

That's why it's important to seek professional help when ready to quit. Addiction treatment centers like More Than Rehab provide the support you need to detox safely and overcome your addiction. With the right care, you can get your life back on track and restore your physical and mental health.

 

 

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Why Are Opiates Like Heroin So Addictive? 

Opiates are a class of drugs that include both illegal drugs such as heroin and prescription medications such as morphine and codeine. Made from the poppy plant, these powerful substances work by binding to receptors in the brain, triggering feelings of euphoria and reducing pain.

While opiates have long been used for their therapeutic properties, they are also widely abused for recreational use. In fact, opiates are some of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States, with heroin addiction rates skyrocketing in recent years.

According to the National Survey in Drug Use and Health 2019 report, 10.1 million people aged 12 or older misused opioids. 9.7 million misused prescription pain relievers, and 745,000 people used heroin. Sadly, overdose deaths involving opioids increased from about 70,029 in 2020 to 80,816 in 2021.

Most of these overdose deaths involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl, which is now often added to street heroin to increase its potency. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, making it extremely dangerous and highly addictive.

Chasing the Heroin High

The powerful effects of heroin are impossible to resist for many people. Once someone takes the drug for the first time, they quickly become hooked on its potent high and find themselves chasing that feeling over and over again. This process is fueled by different aspects of addiction, like withdrawal symptoms, tolerance, and cravings.

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Withdrawal symptoms set in when a person stops using heroin or reduces their dosage. These symptoms can be both mental and physical and vary in intensity. They can include everything from anxiety and irritability to nausea and diarrhea. In some cases, heroin withdrawal symptoms can be so severe that they lead people back to drug use to get rid of the uncomfortable feelings.

Tolerance occurs when a person needs increasingly larger doses of heroin to get the same effects. As tolerance builds, people start to experience withdrawal symptoms more often, even if they're still using the drug. This can create a never-ending cycle of addiction in which people are constantly chasing that initial high while also trying to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Cravings are another major factor in heroin addiction. These strong desires for the drug can be triggered by anything from seeing drug paraphernalia to hearing someone mention heroin use. Cravings are often so intense that they lead people to use heroin, even when trying to quit.

Ultimately, these factors leave little room for choice or willpower on the part of the person abusing heroin. Instead, they become driven by a compulsion to abuse this dangerous drug in an attempt to recreate that initial euphoric rush again and again.

Understanding Heroin Addiction and How it Happens

At the chemical level, heroin is very similar to opioids like morphine and codeine. Like these drugs, it works by activating opioid receptors in the brain and triggering the release of large amounts of dopamine. This flood of dopamine produces a potent sense of euphoria, which is why so many people are drawn to heroin in the first place.

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However, this intense pleasure also causes addiction to develop and flourish. In the long term, repeated heroin use causes changes in the brain that make it difficult to experience normal feelings of happiness or pleasure without using the drug. This drives people to continue abusing heroin even when they are fully aware of its harmful effects.

In addition, repeated exposure to heroin can lead to tolerance and dependence, both physical and psychological factors that severely complicate the recovery process. Heroin withdrawal issues are persistent and difficult to overcome.

Eventually, one develops an addiction and cannot live without the drug. This is when people start doing things they would never have done before to get their hands on heroin. They may steal from family or friends, lie, cheat, or engage in other illegal activities to get money to buy more drugs. Heroin addiction can happen in less than a week, depending on the frequency of use and purity.

Risk Factors for Heroin Addiction

When most people start abusing opioids like heroin, they assume they're in control and can handle it without getting addicted. But like other mental health issues, substance use disorder can take over a person's life without warning. Some people are more vulnerable to addiction than others, and certain risk factors can make someone more likely to develop a problem with heroin. These include: 

1.    Family history of addiction or mental illness

2.    Childhood trauma or abuse

3.    Previous substance abuse

4.    Mental health disorders like depression or anxiety

5.    A difficult or abusive home life

6.    Peer pressure or a desire to fit in

7.    Access to drugs

8.    Curiosity about drugs

Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Treatment is essential if you or someone you love is addicted to opioids like heroin. Opioid addiction is a serious condition that can lead to overdose and death, but there is hope. With the right treatment plan, people can recover from drug addiction and go on to lead happy, healthy, and productive lives.

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Heroin addiction treatment often consists of detox, followed by rehabilitation and therapy. Detox is the first step in treatment and involves getting rid of all traces of the drug from the body. This can be a difficult and uncomfortable process, but it is necessary on the road to recovery and long-term sobriety.

After detox, people usually enter a rehabilitation program. Rehabilitation programs can last for 30 days or more, and they typically involve group and individual therapy, support groups, and other activities designed to help people recover from addiction. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a common approach used in heroin addiction treatment, as it can help people change the thoughts and behaviors that lead to drug abuse. 

Patients with dual diagnosis, meaning they suffer from both addiction and another mental health disorder, may need to receive treatment for both conditions at the same time. This is because treating one condition without the other can often make relapse prevention difficult.

Heroin is an extremely addictive drug. If you or someone close is struggling with a heroin addiction, More Than Rehab is always there to help. Give us a call. We are available 24/7, 365 days a year.

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5 Signs Your Loved One is Using Illegal Drugs

Drug use is a growing problem in the United States. According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS), about 50% of Americans aged 12 and older have used illegal drugs at least once. With this shocking trend, it's no wonder many people are worried about their loved ones using illegal drugs.

If you're concerned that your loved one may be using drugs, it's important to identify the instance of abuse early, so you can intervene before it turns into a full-blown addiction. The longer your loved one abuses drugs, the harder it will be for them to quit without experiencing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Long-term drug or alcohol abuse can also lead to serious health problems, like liver damage, heart disease, and brain damage.

How to tell if someone is on drugs

It can be difficult to tell if your loved one is using illegal drugs. However, some warning signs may indicate drug use. If you notice any of the following signs, it's important to talk to your loved one and get them help:

A shift in mood and personality

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One of the most common signs is a dramatic change in mood or personality. This can manifest itself in various ways, from sudden outbursts of anger to withdrawing from social activities. For example, a person who is usually cheerful may become withdrawn and sullen. Or a person who is typically outgoing may become more introverted and subdued.

These changes in behavior may be accompanied by other signs, such as changes in sleep patterns, appetite, or energy level. Drug use can also cause a person to become more impulsive, irritable, or paranoid. If you notice any sudden or dramatic mood swings or changes in personality, it could be a sign that the person is using drugs, and you should take action accordingly.

Behavioral changes

Another common sign of drug use is a change in behavioral health. This can include neglecting responsibilities, engaging in risky behaviors, or exhibiting criminal behavior. For example, a person who suddenly starts skipping work or school, getting into fights, or breaking the law may be using drugs. They may also isolate themselves from friends and family, become withdrawn and outspoken, avoid eye contact, lock doors, borrow money, disappear for extended periods and chew gum to cover up.

Changes in hygiene and appearance

A change in physical appearance can also be a sign of drug use. The reason is that people abusing drugs don't care about their appearance much more than finding the next shot of drugs. They also may be unable to eat or sleep, leading to weight loss.

Besides, drug admission modes like injection can cause visible track marks and infections that can change a person's appearance. As a result, a person may look unkempt, have bloodshot eyes or red eyes, and dilated pupils. They may also look thin and tired; their skin can be pale or odd in color.

Changes in physical health

If someone is using drugs, it can sometimes cause them to have physical health problems. This might include weight loss, frequent sickness, mouth sores, runny nose, etc. That's because drug use can lead to a weakened immune system, making it harder for the body to fight infection.

Drug use can also lead to accidents or injuries that result in bruises and skin abrasions. But the most obvious physical sign of drug use is slurred speech, like when a person's words are jumbled or they have difficulty speaking. This happens because drugs can slow down the body's central nervous system.

Recognize paraphernalia

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Last but not least, if you see any drug paraphernalia, it's a sure sign that the person is using drugs. This includes pipes, syringes, rolling papers, lighters, and roach clips. Drug paraphernalia is often used to store, prepare, and consume drugs.

So, if you see any of these items lying around it's a good indicator that the person is using drugs. You can find paraphernalia in your loved one's room, car, or even on their body.

Tips when looking for signs of drug use

People who abuse drugs won't make it obvious that they're doing so. In fact, they will often try to hide their drug use from others. So it's important to be vigilant and look for the subtle signs of drug use. Here are some tips:

Talk face-to-face with a loved one

When your loved one comes home, take some time to talk with them face-to-face. This will give you a better opportunity to look for any signs of drug use, such as changes in appearance or dilated pupils. You might also catch some smell of drugs like marijuana, alcohol, or tobacco.

Observe their behavior

Are they more withdrawn than usual? Do they seem more tired or have less energy? Have they been skipping work or school? Are they engaging in risky behaviors? Do they have any mental health disorders? These are all potential signs of drug use.

Listen to what they say

Do they avoid eye contact when talking to you? Do they make excuses for their behavior? Do they seem paranoid or anxious? These could all be signs that they are using drugs.

Trust your gut

If something doesn't feel right, trust your gut instinct. If you think your loved one is using drugs, there's a good chance they are.

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Search their spaces

If you suspect your loved one is using drugs, it's important to search their personal spaces, such as their room, car, or locker. Check the drawers, wardrobe, inside prescription drugs containers, in a plant, under the bed or sofa, between books, inside containers, candy bags, etc. Most drug users hide drugs or paraphernalia in such places.

Check their phone

Nowadays, people use their phones for everything. So it's not surprising that drug users also use their phones to keep track of their drug supply and contact dealers. If you have access to your loved one's phone, check it for any suspicious texts or calls. You can also look for apps associated with drugs, such as those used to buy or sell drugs.

Drug use can be difficult to spot, but there are some warning signs to look out for. If you think your loved one is using illegal drugs, take action and talk to them about it. If they are unwilling to get help, you can reach out to a professional addiction treatment center for help.

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What Drugs Are Tranquilizers? How Are They Abused?

If you don’t mind the risk of having a panic attack, the new Netflix show "Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story" is a chilling account of the Milwaukee cannibal's crimes. It outlines his horrific behavior while revisiting the heinous crimes. Dahmer would lure his unsuspecting victims back to his home or hotel and drug them using tranquilizer drugs like Triazolam and temazepam. These drugs were an unusual but regular part of his killing routine. 

Dahmer would drug his victims first and kill them while they lay unconscious. He would then perform sexual acts with the corpse, eat some of their body parts and preserve others, like genitalia, head, skull, skeleton, etc. In total, Jeffrey Dahmer killed 17 victims between 1978 and 1991. A majority of them were young, gay men.

He Used Tranquilizers Like Triazolam to Drug His Victims

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In the first episode of the 10-episode Netflix series, Jeff takes Tracy Edwards home and hands him the spiked drink. He uses Halcion (Triazolam), a prescription drug that his doctor had prescribed to help with his sleeping issues, to sedate Tracy. A few moments later, Tracy gets groggy and compliant, making it easier for Dahmer to commit his gruesome crimes. But luckily, Tracy Edwards managed to escape and notify the authorities.

How do Sedatives and Tranquilizers Work?

Tranquilizers are a class of drugs that are typically used to treat a range of mental health issues like anxiety disorders, insomnia, etc. They are classified as:

Tranquilizers work by affecting the central nervous system, which helps to slow down the body's response to stress. When used properly, these drugs are generally safe and effective. However, they can cause side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, and impaired coordination.

Tranquilizers should only be used under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional. They should also never be combined with alcohol or other drugs, as this can create a dangerous reaction.

But like millions of other Americans, Dahmer misused his prescription sedatives - not on himself but on his victims. This ultimately led to the horrific murders for which he is now infamous. Larger doses of tranquilizers can lead to unconsciousness and even death.

Dahmer was later arrested and convicted of the 16 murders he committed. He was sentenced to 16 terms of life imprisonment but died on Nov 28, 1994, after being beaten to death by a fellow inmate at the Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wisconsin.

Prescription Sedatives and Tranquilizers

In addition to Triazolam, other types of sedatives and tranquilizers used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders include:

Benzodiazepines are the most commonly prescribed type of tranquilizer. They work by binding to GABA receptors in the brain, which helps to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. Examples of benzodiazepines include:

Barbiturates are sleep-inducing sedative drugs made from barbituric acid. They include drugs like:

Hypnotic drugs or sleeping pills are often prescribed to patients with sleep issues. They work differently on the brain compared to other drugs listed above. Examples of hypnotic drugs include:

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Side Effects of Tranquilizers

The side effects of tranquilizers can include:

Tranquilizer Abuse

According to SAMHSA, about 6.1 million people misused prescription tranquilizers in the past year, constituting 2.3% of the population aged 12+.

People abuse tranquilizers for a variety of reasons. For some, the sedative effects of the medication can provide a sense of relaxation or euphoria. Others may use tranquilizers to self-medicate underlying mental health conditions such as depression or PTSD.

Some people may also abuse tranquilizers in combination with other drugs or alcohol to magnify the effects. Xylazine is a good example of how people abuse tranquilizers.

People are adding a drug called Xylazine to street drugs, making them more deadly.

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Another recent news story has highlighted the dangers of mixing Xylazine with street drugs. According to reports, the tranquilizer drug is increasingly added to street drugs like cocaine and meth, making them more deadly.

Xylazine, or "Tranq" is a veterinary anesthetic that is also used as a sedative in humans. Like other tranquilizers, it slows down the central nervous system, causing drowsiness, dizziness, and loss of coordination. When combined with street drugs, the effects of Xylazine can be even more dangerous. The drug can cause respiratory depression, seizures, and even death.

The spike in Xylazine use was first reported in some parts of Puerto Rico, followed by Philadelphia, where it was found in 91% of opioid samples in 2021. Massachusetts Drug Supply Data Stream (MADDS) found the drug in 28% of tested drug samples. But some areas of Massachusetts had Xylazine in 50%-75% of samples.

Sadly, as the rate of Xylazine surge, so does overdose rates. A 2015 study of 10 states and cities only found Xylazine in 1% of overdose deaths. However, the percentage increased to 6.7% in 2020 when the country hit a new record for overdose deaths. A year later, in 2021, the record was broken with over 107,000 deaths.

Addiction Treatment at More Than Rehab

If you are struggling with addiction to tranquilizers, it is best to seek addiction treatment. Treatment centers like More Than Rehab offer comprehensive addiction treatment programs to help you recover from addiction and live a sober life.

At More Than Rehab, we offer a variety of treatment options, including inpatient, outpatient, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) programs. This makes it easy to find something that works for you. We also have a detox program to help you safely and comfortably detox from tranquilizers. Don't wait to get help, contact us today. We are available 24/7 to take your call.

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Why is Addiction So Hard to Overcome?

Most people don't understand why or how other people become addicted to drugs. They may mistakenly think that those who use drugs lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop their drug use simply by choosing to do so. In reality, addiction is a complex disease, and quitting usually takes more than good intentions or a strong will. 

People with an addiction may feel compulsively driven to seek and use drugs even though they know the substance is causing them damage. They may want to stop using but feel powerless to do so. Over time, continued substance abuse changes how the brain functions, which can drive an increased need for the drug. These brain changes can be long-lasting and lead to harmful behaviors seen in people with substance use disorders. 

Understanding Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is a chronic disease that affects the brain's decision-making center. It is characterized by compulsive drug seeking despite negative consequences. People with addiction often feel unable to control their drug use and continue using despite the harm it causes.

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People who become addicted to drugs often start using substances recreationally or to cope with underlying mental health issues. They may not understand the risks involved and how quickly addiction can develop. Tolerance to drugs builds up quickly, meaning that larger and larger doses are needed to get the same effect. As drug use escalates, so do the risks for negative consequences, including addiction.

Unfortunately, overcoming addiction is not as easy. One cannot just snap out of it; attempting to quit cold turkey could lead to unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. In fact, many addicts will go back to using because the withdrawal symptoms are too difficult to bear.

Why Do Some People Develop Drug Addictions?

Most experts agree that addiction is not caused by a single factor but is instead the result of a combination of genetic, biochemical, and environmental factors. Addiction can also be due to psychological reasons. This means that some people are more vulnerable to addiction than others, even if they're exposed to the same risk factors. 

But just because someone has one or more of these risk factors doesn't mean they will necessarily develop an addiction. Likewise, not having any risk factors doesn't mean someone won't become addicted. Still, the more risk factors a person has, the greater their chance of developing an addiction. 

Psychological Reasons for Addiction 

People with mental issues like anxiety, depression, ADHD, guilt, shame, or bipolar disorder are more likely to turn to drugs as a form of self-medication. Drugs tend to temporarily relieve the symptoms of these underlying mental disorders.

For example, people with anxiety may use marijuana to relax, while someone with depression may temporarily use stimulants to feel happier. However, using drugs in this way can lead to addiction and make the underlying mental disorder worse.

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Biochemical Reasons for Addiction

When someone uses drugs or drinks alcohol, it triggers a dopamine release in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical that is associated with pleasure and rewards, and it helps to reinforce certain behaviors. As a result, the person feels good when they use drugs or drink alcohol and is more likely to repeat the behavior.

Over time, the brain's reward system becomes less sensitive to dopamine, and the person needs to use more drugs or alcohol to achieve the same level of pleasure. This can lead to biochemical addiction, as the person cannot control their use despite negative consequences.

Environmental Reasons for Addiction

Exposure to alcohol and drugs at an early age can increase the risk of developing an addiction later in life. This is because the developing brain is more susceptible to the effects of drugs and alcohol.

In addition, stress and trauma can also lead to addiction. People who cannot cope with their problems may turn to drugs or alcohol to numb the pain. These environmental factors can greatly increase the risk of developing an addiction.

The Challenge of Beating a Drug Addiction

Addiction is a serious issue that affects millions of people around the world. It is a complex condition that can profoundly impact every aspect of an individual's life. Despite the challenges, it is important to remember that addiction is treatable and recovery is possible. Beating addiction is hard, but it is not impossible. 

There are several reasons why overcoming addiction is so difficult.

  1. First and foremost, addiction changes the way the brain functions. Repeated drug abuse alters the brain's circuitry, making it difficult to stop using even when an individual wants to.
  2. Additionally, addiction can lead to physical dependence, meaning that the body becomes accustomed to functioning with the drug and begins to experience withdrawal symptoms when it is not present. These withdrawal symptoms can be extremely unpleasant, making it difficult for someone to stay sober for any time.
  3. Finally, addiction often co-occurs with other mental health problems, which can complicate treatment and make a recovery all the more difficult. 

Despite the challenges, however, treatment is possible, and many people do go on to lead healthy, drug-free lives.

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How to Overcome Addiction

Overcoming addiction requires a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses the underlying causes of addiction, as well as the addict's individual needs. Treatment should be tailored to each person and may include detoxification, therapy, and relapse prevention.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating addiction, as each person’s experience is unique. However, certain principles are essential for all successful treatment programs. These principles include:

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, don't give up hope. Help is available, and there is light at the end of the tunnel. With treatment and support, it is possible to recover and lead healthy, drug-free lives.

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