When you have a substance use disorder or an addiction, one of the hardest things to do in life is quit using drugs and alcohol. One of the main reasons for this is that you will begin craving the drugs or alcohol, almost immediately after you decide to quit. So, what are some good ways to conquer drug cravings, while you’re in recovery from your addiction? To start, understanding your addiction and the reasons why people begin using drugs and alcohol is a great start.
Unfortunately, millions of Americans struggle with addiction to drugs or alcohol. It is estimated that more than 21 million people in our country suffer from an addiction or substance abuse problem every year. To make matters even worse, out of those 21 million people, only about 10 percent of them will ever receive any help or treatment for their disorder. Furthermore, nearly 1 in 8 adults in the United States is considered an alcoholic.
Additionally, drug and alcohol addiction may be of even more concern today than it has been in the past because of the Coronavirus. The Coronavirus has not only caused issues like the forced shutdown of many major businesses, closures of public school, and mask mandates, but also an increase in things like alcohol sales, recreational drug use and even relapse rates. This was particularly an issue when the pandemic first hit because those in addiction recovery were left without a lot of their support system when AA meetings and NA meetings stopped, and counseling services shut down, along with being laid off or sent home from work.
Hopefully though, now that we are all a bit more used to what daily life looks like while living during a pandemic, we are able to better adjust. Today, there are things like online virtual counseling sessions and social distancing that allow us to still get access to the fundamental building blocks of a support system. All of these things are extremely crucial to a successful recovery from addiction. Even without the Coronavirus, relapse among those with a drug or alcohol problem is very common, with around a 40-60% relapse rate. This is in part due to the drug cravings, relapse triggers and withdrawal symptoms that are often experienced while recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction.
To help with this, we have put together this list of 5 ways to help conquer your drug cravings, so that you are at a lower risk of relapse.
1. Understand What Cravings Are
First, it is important to understand that your cravings are an entirely normal experience. Just about everyone in drug and alcohol recovery will get them at least one time or another throughout their sobriety. Cravings are classified as an intense urge to use drugs or alcohol. While they are a completely normal experience, (especially in the early stages of recovery), it does not mean they will last forever. Not only will they eventually go away with enough time in sobriety, but the typical craving will likely only last around 10-15 minutes. In the event that you have delayed the craving for some time and you’re still feeling it, then it is likely you are still around the stimulus that triggered the craving. Relapse triggers are identified as the stimulus (person, place, thing, feeling, etc) that triggered the craving in the first place. Cravings and triggers are a result of altered brain functioning and chemistry that occurred because of the drug or alcohol addiction. Over time, your brain will learn to stop associating these triggers with drugs or alcohol making your recovery and sobriety much easier.
2. Identify What Your Triggers Are
As mentioned earlier, a trigger is a stimulus that causes a craving for drugs or alcohol. So, being able to identify exactly what it is in the first place that made you crave drugs or alcohol will be extremely helpful. While a trigger can be anything for anyone, they usually fall into a few different categories. Pattern triggers are places or things that you associate with past drug or alcohol abuse, such as your favorite bar or even something seemingly innocent, like seeing a spoon. Social triggers are people or even groups of people that bring back memories of past substance abuse issues. There are also emotional triggers, such as a cause for celebration or the pain of losing a loved one. Withdrawal can even be considered a type of trigger, as this process usually results in the body feeling like it needs these substances in order to survive.
3. Avoid Relapse Triggers, or Find Ways to Deal With Them
Once you have identified your triggers, it is best to come up with a plan to try and avoid them. If you feel triggered every time you drive by the street your old hangout used to be, then simply try taking a different route instead. Stop hanging out with friends that you used to do drugs or drink with, especially if they aren’t supportive of your recovery. Of course, not all triggers can be avoided, like spoons. When it comes to triggers that you have no way of avoiding, come up with an action plan that you can easily use to help fight off the craving, remember they only last around 10-15 minutes once you have gotten away from the stimulus.
4. Take a Walk or Exercise
If you do feel that you are about to get a craving, try going out for a breath of fresh air and taking a light walk. Almost any form of exercise will help you fight the craving, but many agree that walking takes the cake when it comes to beating drug cravings. Getting out in the fresh air and taking in the world without a real sense of where you are going can be a huge relief for people experiencing drug cravings. Just remember to try and avoid any places that might trigger you even further. If you are unable to exercise or walk, just getting out in the sun and breathing some fresh air can definitely help.
5. Reach Out To Others
Part of a successful recovery is having a strong support system. Trying attending an AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) support group and reach out to some peers who know a lot about how you are feeling. Chances are they know exactly what you are going through and will offer advice that can help. If you have a sponsor or a counselor from a treatment group, then reach out to them. There is almost nothing worse than trying to go through life on your own, especially when you are learning to do it without the use of drugs or alcohol.
If you or a loved one are struggling with relapse, drug cravings, or need help getting sober, please reach out to our family of highly trained addiction specialists at More Than Rehab. You are certainly not alone, and we are here to help 24/7.
Quaaludes--perhaps you’ve heard of them or maybe you have even tried them yourself? Quaaludes are often talked about with a sense of nostalgia, usually being referenced in movies by someone’s grandma who has a secret stash of them left over from the 70’s when the drug was at its height in popularity. More recently however, the drug has hit media headlines, as accusations of alleged sexual assault against Bill Cosby resurfaced. The disgraced, former TV star later admitted to giving Quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with. It comes as no surprise that the drug was eventually outlawed in 1983 when authorities caught on to the large amount of people who were either abusing the drug recreationally or using it as a date rape drug. So exactly are Quaaludes and why were they popular?
The brief history of Quaaludes
Before the drug was marketed under the brand name of Quaaludes (as well as Sopor) by pharmaceutical companies, the generic name for it was methaqualone. Quaaludes were first synthesized in India during 1951 by Indra Kishore Kacker and Syed Husain Zaheer. Originally, methaqualone was synthesized as a new treatment for malaria when they found that it also had some highly sedative properties aside from what they had created it for. The first two markets it hit were Germany and Japan, where it racked up quite the extensive record of addiction and recreational abuse. Eventually, by 1955 it was being prescribed in Britain under the name of Mandrax, a name still used to this day.
The drug slowly made its way over to the United States in the 1960’s, where it became widely popular in the “hippie” era. In the United States, methaqualone was mainly manufactured by a pharmaceutical company in Pennsylvania who gave the drug its iconic name. The word Quaalude combines the word “quiet” with “interlude”. During this time, doctors were essentially giving Quaaludes out like candy. People could buy “Ludes” in semi-legal stress clinics without ever having to visit with an actual doctor. By 1972, it was the sixth best-selling sedative in America. They were also widely prescribed for the treatment of insomnia and anxiety.
However, it did not take very long for the recreational abuse and addiction to follow methaqualone overseas where it was now sold in America under the brand name of Quaaludes.
How Quaaludes became so popular in the drug culture of the United States
In part due to the easy access of obtaining Quaaludes, it became very popular in night clubs and disco scenes. This earned the drug yet another popular pop culture name known as “disco-biscuits”. Due to its popularity in night clubs and disco scenes, non-alcoholic clubs known as “juice bars” were established. These clubs catered to people who wanted to dance while high on Quaaludes, or for short, “Ludes”. Moreover, in 1981 the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) declared Quaaludes the second most abused drug in America. So, by 1983 Quaaludes were outlawed in the United States for reasons including: widespread rates of addiction, recreational abuse and because it could potentially be used as a “date rape drug”.
With the popularity of the drug during the time it was legal in the United States, one has to wonder why so many people abused the drug. Considering how long it has remained in pop culture references during the 1960’s, up until it was banned in 1983, “Ludes” remained somewhat of an urban legend. One of the main reasons for its popularity is that Quaaludes are a very powerful barbiturate. These types of drugs act as a central nervous system depressant. Quaaludes are also highly addictive.
Some of the more noticeable side effects of Quaaludes include:
An intense and euphoric high
Tingling sensations in the arms and legs
Nausea, upset stomach, abdominal cramps, and vomiting
Depression, increased anxiety, and mood disorders
Itching, sweating, and rashes on the skin
Slowed breathing, respiratory distress, or respiratory arrest
Cardiovascular dysfunction or irregular heartbeat
Kidney or liver damage
These are just a few of the side effects that come with taking Quaaludes or methaqualone. Part of the increased risk of abusing Quaaludes is that it was often consumed with other substances such as alcohol, which severely increased the risk of these negative side effects occurring.
The real danger of Quaaludes
At its peak, it was also associated with a large number of suicides, overdoses, injuries, and other dangerous incidents, like car accidents. In prescribed doses, methaqualone was known to produce relaxation, sleepiness, and a slight feeling of euphoria. But the often deadly trio of easy access, peer popularity, and consumption of alcohol lead to many overdoses and comas. The reason being that a lethal dosage of methaqualone is much smaller when combined with other substances, such as alcohol, crystal meth, or other drugs with a potential for abuse. Many people also reported using the substance because of its euphoric high and sleepy drunk effect.
Addictive drugs often become popular in the United States
Part of the popularity of the drug was also due to its highly addictive properties. When people begin using drugs, it chemically and physically alters the functioning of the brain and its production of dopamine. Much like any other substance, with repeated use people eventually will develop tolerance to the drug. This leads them to consume more and more of the drug, in order to achieve the same desired effects. Over time, the chemicals that get released in the brain will eventually trick your brain into believing that it needs that certain substance in order to survive. This makes quitting the drug much more difficult, as the brain begins to associate different places, people, or things with the drug use.
Thankfully, psychological and medical research on addiction has come a very long way since Quaaludes were outlawed in 1983. Since then, they are nearly impossible to come by on the street, but that doesn't mean they have completely vanished. If you or a loved one may be struggling with an addiction to Quaaludes, or any other substance, then please allow our wonderfully trained staff here at More Than Rehab to help. There is absolutely no shame in asking for help when you need it! You do not have to go through your addiction alone. We understand what it takes to lead a healthy and fulfilling life without the use of drugs or alcohol, so give us a call today:
What is the Difference Between Norco, Heroin, and Fentanyl?
Drug and alcohol addiction is a very serious problem in our country today, even more so with the current pandemic that has struck the world. It is estimated that nearly 21 million Americans struggle with a substance abuse problem of some kind. The current Covid-19 pandemic has recently caused a lot of issues with substance use, including devastating impacts to sobriety and recovery for many people. However, what many may not know is that there is an epidemic that has been hitting our country pretty hard for several years and that is the opioid crisis. The opioid crisis, also known as the opioid epidemic, is in part to the overprescribing of addictive painkillers, like Norco that eventually lead to people buying drugs on the street, such as heroin, fentanyl, or even other prescription drugs. This is especially true if they are no longer able to obtain them through legal channels, like a prescription from their doctor.
Opioids are a class of drugs that are naturally found in the opium poppy plant and target the opioid receptors in the brain to produce effects very similar to morphine. Many opioid medications work by blocking pain signals to the brain. Even though there are many different opioids, Norcos, heroin, and fentanyl are some of the most popular substances that are commonly abused by people who suffer from an addiction or substance abuse problem. With so many different opioid drugs on the market, it is easy to be confused about the differences between them, so here is a brief explanation of Norcos, heroin, and fentanyl.
Norco prescription painkillers are very addictive
Norco is a prescription painkiller used to treat moderate to severe pain but can also become very addictive. Norcos are made with a combination of acetaminophen (over the counter pain reliever) and hydrocodone (a synthetic opioid). Like many opioid painkillers, this drug works by altering the perception of pain by targeting certain opioid receptors in the brain. Norcos are also very similar to another prescription painkiller known as Vicodin, the only difference between them is the ratio of acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Both of these prescription painkillers are regulated by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and are considered a Schedule II drug.
The danger with Norco or Vicodin is the potential to become addictive if there is chronic or persistent pain involved. Over time, people are likely to develop a tolerance and physical dependence to the drug, needing to take more and more each time to feel the same effects. A lot of time this leads people to trying “harder” drugs in order to achieve the desired effects, or even to avoid the painful withdrawal symptoms. Some common side effects of Norco are:
Lethargy or drowsiness
Nausea and vomiting
Skin rash or itching
Heroin addiction can result from a dependence on prescription painkillers
Heroin is a highly dangerous and illicit substance. It is derived from morphine, which is made from the naturally occurring opioid poppy plant. Heroin can come in many different forms, the most common are in the form of white powder, brown powder, or a sticky black substance known as black tar heroin. The danger with heroin is that it is made illegally with no real way to test the strength of the product, unlike Norcos which come highly regulated. This has the potential to cause a lot more overdoses and a higher chance of addiction as most of the time the substance is a lot stronger than prescription painkillers.
Some people eventually turn to abusing heroin after their dependence to painkillers has grown strong enough to the point where they need something else in order to feel the desired effect. Heroin is also classified as a schedule I drug, meaning that there is no valid medical purpose for the substance. A lot of times this drug is cut or mixed with other dangerous and cheaper chemicals in order to maximize profits and cut costs for the dealer. Some common side effects of heroin include:
Fentanyl is a powerful, dangerous, and highly addictive opioid painkiller. It is very similar to morphine but is estimated to be anywhere around 50-100 times stronger, making this one of the most powerful opioid substances on the market. The effects of fentanyl are activated at a much lower level than other opioids, making this an extreme danger to those who are not aware of its strength. When people use this drug nonmedically, they are at a very high risk of overdose because it can be anywhere from 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.
Unfortunately, many dealers dilute their heroin with fentanyl in order to increase their drug’s potency and their own profits. This is because it takes very little to produce the same effects as other drugs. The problem with that is unsuspecting users may ingest more fentanyl than intended because they are not expecting to ingest this dangerous chemical. Dealers have even been known to use fentanyl in MDMA, cocaine, and methamphetamine, causing a lot of unfortunate and unintended overdoses that would not have happened if it weren't for fentanyl unknowingly being there. Some common side effects of this dangerous chemical are:
Uncontrollable shaking in parts of the body
All of these drugs listed above are very dangerous and addictive. They can all destroy your life if you let it. We know that there are times when you need to take painkillers, but that doesn't mean you have to end up addicted to the high for the rest of your life.
If you or a loved one are struggling with any sort of opioid addiction, or an addiction to any other drugs or alcohol, then we are here to help! We know how difficult that getting off of drugs can be, but your comfort is our main concern. We are medically-equipped to take care of all of your needs during and after detox. We want to help show you the way to a happy, healthy life without drugs or alcohol.
Call us today at More Than Rehab so we can start a personalized plan just for you:
If you have ever struggled with quitting alcohol and drugs, then you know how difficult it can be, especially around the holidays. Overcoming an addiction and staying sober are essential to leading a healthy and fulfilling life. For those who do not know, addiction is considered to be a disease of the brain that can permanently alter the brain's circuitry patterns and affects how the brain functions on a daily basis. It is often characterized by the inability to stop using drugs or alcohol despite the user having experienced severe and negative consequences throughout their lives. While any addiction is hard to overcome, there are some that are more difficult than others.
What can make a substance more difficult to quit is how addictive it is. Alcohol or drug addiction is formed when the brain begins to depend on the excess release of certain chemicals, like dopamine, due to the use of drugs or alcohol. These chemicals send signals back and forth between neurons, helping to establish good habits that are normally dependent on survival, such as eating or having sex. When a person takes drugs or alcohol, they are releasing the same chemicals inside the brain that give us feelings of pleasure, essentially tricking our brain into believing that we need drugs or alcohol in order to survive. The repeated release of these chemicals without a natural reward is what eventually causes a person to become addicted, although, sometimes all it takes is just one time for someone to develop a substance abuse problem.
Alcohol and Factors for Addiction
It can be difficult to determine how addictive a drug is to any one person, but in the United States alone, alcohol is the most commonly used and addictive substance. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, over 14 million people in the United States over the age of 18 suffered from an alcohol addiction in the year of 2017. That translates to 1 in 8 Americans experiencing an addiction to alcohol. Furthermore, 1.8 percent of youth aged 12-17 also suffered from a problem with alcohol abuse that year. With so many other harmful substances out there, why is it that alcohol seems to remain the biggest problem for addiction in America? Research and science has shown that there are 5 common factors for addictiveness when it comes to drugs and alcohol.
Dependence- Dependence rates on alcohol are very high. As mentioned earlier, Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in America. This can partially be attributed to the fact that alcohol is the most socially acceptable drug and it is also one of the most highly marketed substances since it is legal in all 50 states. Alcohol can be seen at most social gatherings and is also widely available as it is sold at gas stations, restaurants, grocery markets, and liquor stores. Not many people would bat an eye if you had a drink at dinner, so it can make someone with an alcohol dependence that much harder to spot.
Withdrawal- Research suggests that nicotine withdrawal is worse than the symptoms for recovering heroin addicts or people who use crystal meth. However, withdrawal symptoms for alcohol are even worse as it is one of the very few addictions where fatal symptoms can occur during the withdrawal process, killing the person going through them. Symptoms from alcohol withdrawal can include;
If you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms of any kind from alcohol, it is always suggested you seek professional care as any number of complications can arise. Delirium Tremens are the most severe form of alcohol withdrawal and, out of those who experience them, 5-25% of people will die without medical treatment.
Tolerance- While increased tolerance is a big concern for any drug, most people will tell you that they can drink more now than they could when the first began drinking, even if they don't have what is considered to be an alcohol problem. Again, thanks to the social acceptability of alcohol, it is common to go out drinking on the weekends with your friends or to have a few drinks with family on special occasions like Christmas, New Year's Eve, or the 4th of July. What makes alcohol even more dangerous is that its effectiveness can depend on many factors like how much a person ate that day.
Reinforcement- Reinforcement as a factor for addiction refers to how likely a person is to seek out the same substance again after using it. Alcohol has a high reinforcement rate as it is a common substance used in social experimentation. It also creates feelings of increased self confidence and “liquid courage”. It is a common drug for peer pressure early on in life and, unfortunately, can cause an unexpected addiction at a young age. Research suggests that the younger a person is when they are exposed to an addictive substance, the more likely they are to develop an addiction.
Intoxication- How high a person gets on a drug is also a factor for how addictive it can be. When it comes to alcohol, how high a person gets on the substance can greatly vary. However, people who consume alcohol can become very intoxicated before reaching the point of overdose. Due to the consequences of heavy drinking, when compared to other substances, most people believe that binge drinking is not an issue. Sadly, this is not the case, as an estimated 88,000 people die annually from alcohol related causes, making it the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States alone, behind tobacco and poor diet.
With all these factors combined, it is not difficult to understand why alcohol is one of the hardest drugs to quit. Not only is it commonly accepted but it is widely available and has many common misconceptions about its use. Even many members of the US military and their families are prone to alcohol abuse. No one deserves to struggle with an addiction by themselves, if you or someone you know are having a difficult time quitting drugs or alcohol, then we are here to help. A new life begins with making one simple step and there is life without drugs or alcohol.
What is the Difference Between Cocaine and Crack Cocaine?
While cocaine first became popular in pop culture around the 1970’s, it is one of the oldest drugs in the world, as the leaves from the coca plant have been chewed for thousands of years. Originating in South America, the Erythroxylon coca plant was used as a stimulating medicinal product; elevating mood, aiding in digestion and suppressing appetite. The production of these plants were restricted mainly to areas where it was naturally grown, places like Columbia, Peru, and Bolivia, until the mid 19th century when American pharmaceutical companies began exploring the region. At first considered safe, the destructive and addictive qualities of the coca plant became apparent within 30 years of its introduction as a pharmaceutical product.
Cocaine is a central nervous system drug that is extremely addictive. Today, It is considered to be one of the top five most addictive drugs in the United States. According to a survey conducted in 2014 by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there were an estimated 1.5 million Americans who had used cocaine within the last month. Furthermore, roughly around 913,000 people in the United States had met enough criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders for dependence or abuse of cocaine in any form.
When talking about cocaine, there are a couple of terms that may be thrown around regarding the drug, such as cocaine and crack cocaine. While it is easy to lump the two together since they are almost molecularly identical, there are still a few differences that keep them from being the same.
Molecular Differences Between Crack and Cocaine
In its natural form, when it is extracted from the coca plant, cocaine is a hydrochloride salt. At first, the substance is refined into a paste and eventually pressed into a white powder. This substance is the powdered form of cocaine and is often snorted, mixed with a liquid then injected, or smoked. Crack cocaine, otherwise known as crack, is essentially the same substance but in a different form. The process of making crack cocaine involves mixing the white powder with a base, usually baking soda, and then boiling it with water. The baking soda is removed, along with the hydrochloride, during this process making the substance more concentrated as the psychoactive chemical of cocaine is the only thing left behind. Crack gets its name from the crackling noise it makes while being smoked. Cocaine and crack cocaine are both extremely dangerous as often times pure cocaine can be cut with other harmful substances, like laundry detergent or laxatives, in order to increase profits or to create the substance known as crack.
Other Differences Between Cocaine and Crack Cocaine
Aside from the slight change in their molecular structures, there are still a few key differences between cocaine and crack cocaine.
Cost- Crack generally sells for less money as it's easier to produce than cocaine and is often cut with harmful chemicals.
Popularity- Although crack is cheaper to buy and produce, more people report using cocaine in its powdered form. Of the 1.5 million people who reported using cocaine in the last month, only around 25 percent of them reported using crack.
Age- As mentioned earlier, the use of cocaine dates back thousands of years whereas crack only became popular around the 1980’s.
Socioeconomic Impact- During the Reagan Era of the 1980’s, republicans and democrats joined forces for the war on drugs, implementing mandatory sentencing laws. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act was passed by congress, stating that anyone possessing over 5 grams of crack was to be sentenced to 5 years in prison. Until President Barack Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act in 2010, someone would have had to possess 500 grams of cocaine in order to receive the same sentence. Despite his efforts, there is still a huge sentencing disparity between them as now someone would have to possess 90 grams of powder cocaine in order to receive the same sentence. Research shows that more African Americans are likely to be convicted of crack cocaine possession whereas white Americans are more likely to be convicted of powder cocaine possession.
Effect Time- Crack is typically faster acting than cocaine as the smoke is being inhaled, having an almost immediate impact to the user. Cocaine is said to take around 3-5 minutes to take effect when snorted or 15 to 30 minutes when injected.
Addiction and Danger- Crack is said to be more addictive as the effects take less time to kick in. The increased potency and lower cost draw addicts in as their addiction progresses. Crack can also be more harmful as many of the chemicals used to produce it are dangerous and unknown.
Both cocaine and crack cocaine increase the amount of dopamine released in the brain, causing a rush of euphoria when abused. However, since crack is more potent, their side effects can differ from one another.
Since crack cocaine is more potent, there is an increased risk of overdose but both drugs can kill you when taking too much. Long term use of both substances can lead to life threatening conditions such as respiratory failure, infectious disease, fatal overdose, strokes, hallucinations, and addiction.
Anyone can become addicted to either of these substances, even after just one use. Cocaine use has long been glorified in movies and sold as the “rich man's drug”, making it appealing to any age, race, or demographic. Withdrawal symptoms can become severe when discontinuing use of any of these substances. If you, a loved one, or someone you know is a cocaine user and is unsure about whether or not they are addicted, or are becoming dependent, that is usually a good sign that some level of help is necessary. There is always a chance for recovery and you do not have to struggle alone. Reach out to us for help today to begin your journey on the road to a healthier and happier life.
Addiction is a disease of the brain marked by the inability to stop using drugs or alcohol despite the user having experienced severe negative consequences throughout their lives. Many addicts who are still struggling with an active addiction will stop at nothing to continue getting high and consequences like losing their job, problems with relationships, homelessness or extreme poverty are directly related to their substance abuse disorders. There are many reasons why addiction is considered a disease, one of them being that the habitual use of drugs and alcohol chemically alters the structure of the brain. Drugs and alcohol can change the way people handle stressful situations and it can impact the decision making process of a person suffering from this affliction.
Drugs and alcohol work on the same part of the brain known as the reward center, causing an increase in the release of chemicals like dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for pleasurable feelings that can occur after naturally rewarding experiences like eating a good meal or having sex. Drugs and alcohol can induce these same pleasurable feelings but without the use of a natural reward. The repeated use of drugs and alcohol begins to create new pathways in the brain, causing the user to associate the response as a pleasurable experience, making the brain depend on the extra release of these chemicals. Once the addiction has taken hold, the users tolerance starts to increase as the body forms a chemical dependency, needing more and more of the same substance in order to achieve the same feeling.
When an addict is unable to maintain the same level of usage or tries to quit using drugs or alcohol altogether, they may begin to suffer from what are known as withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms occur when a person who routinely abuses drugs or alcohol suddenly stops. Since drugs and alcohol suppress some of the chemicals naturally produced in the brain while increasing the release of others, there is often a surge of emotions and physical symptoms when the body is no longer receiving the chemical that has now altered its structure. The first stage of withdrawal is known as the acute stage where most of the physical symptoms occur, usually lasting around a few weeks. The second stage of withdrawal is known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), since the brain's structure is slowly returning to normal, this is where most of the emotional and psychological dependence symptoms occur.
Due to the dependency on these chemicals, withdrawal symptoms can become very severe, and a medical detox is often required. Most drugs have some withdrawal symptoms associated with them once the user has become addicted but some are more dangerous than others.
Alcohol has a depressive effect on the system, slowing down brain function and changing the way nerves send messages back and forth. When a body becomes adjusted to having alcohol in its system, it has to fight even harder in order to maintain a wakened state. When the user stops drinking alcohol, the body remains in this heightened state, therefore creating the withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include;
Nausea and vomiting
High blood pressure
Delirium tremens (DT) are more severe withdrawal symptoms that will affect about 5% of people when withdrawing from alcohol, these include delusions and hallucinations. The worst of these symptoms will occur around 12 hours after taking the last drink while seizures can last for around 2 days. Some of these medical conditions can even cause death while attempting to detox from alcohol.
Heroin is a highly addictive opiod that is converted to morphine in the body when used. Heroin, or other opioids like fentanyl or oxycodone, are difficult drugs to quit as the withdrawal symptoms often cause the user to become violently ill, most addicts continue getting high in order to avoid getting sick. Some of the symptoms associated with heroin withdrawal include;
Nausea and vomiting
Severe muscle aches and pains
Extreme pain in muscles and bones
Symptoms from heroin withdrawal can begin anywhere from 6-12 hours of quitting and can last for about a week. Death has been known to occur during detox from heroin or other opioids when other medical issues are present.
Methamphetamines, meth, or crystal meth is a drug with powerful stimulating effects. The effects of meth wear off quickly, causing the user to need more in order to stay high. With increased tolerance, comes withdrawal symptoms, as the body begins to depend on these substances. Symptoms of withdrawal from meth can include;
When a person stops using meth, there is often a “crash” associated with coming down. This can begin around 1-2 days after the person has stopped using and typically reaches its peak around 5 days. Depression is also a trademark of methamphetamine withdrawal.
Quitting “cold turkey” (quitting drugs or alcohol suddenly with no medical or professional help) can be very dangerous. The addiction to drugs or alcohol has chemically altered the way the brain operates and can have very serious side effects when a person suddenly stops using them. Since addiction is a disease with many symptoms, affecting each person in a unique way, it is always suggested that anyone who has formed a chemical dependency to drugs or alcohol seek professional help in order to determine whether a medical detox is necessary.
An addiction treatment center with a medical detox program will allow the user to safely manage and alleviate the heavy detox symptoms that may be experienced when first quitting drugs or alcohol. Many who have tried quitting “cold turkey” on their own have had little to no success as they are improperly managing their symptoms. The purpose of a medical detox is to get the person safely through the acute withdrawal stage, where most of the physical symptoms occur. Maintaining sobriety long term in the post-acute withdrawal stage will require ongoing effort as the psychological symptoms, like depression and learning how to cope without the use of drugs or alcohol, begin to surface. Many inpatient and outpatient drug rehabilitation programs offer the essential tools and education needed in order to lead a life of sobriety.
If you or someone you know are struggling with managing their drug cravings and the withdrawal symptoms associated with the addiction, we are here for you. Even if you or your loved one are just looking for a place to start, then we are here to help steer you down the right path! Give us a call anytime. We are here for you 24/7:
Dual diagnosis is the treatment of addiction with another co-occurring disorder.
In the field of addiction treatment, when someone has a substance use disorder, coupled with another form of mental health issue, we call this a co-occurring disorder or a dual diagnosis. Sometimes addiction treatment alone is not enough. We have helped many people in the Houston, Texas area by identifying a co-occurring mental health issue that was adding to their substance abuse problem. In a dual diagnosis treatment program, your treatment plan is customized to meet your specific individual needs. A personalized addiction treatment plan is the best chance for a successful recovery in these cases.
For someone who has silently struggled with a mental health issue for years, often the only solace they find is to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs. Many patients say this helps quiet the voice in their head telling them that everything is wrong. People with depression may experience a boost of confidence when they use, even if it is only temporary. For someone dealing with and trying to hide their own troublesome internal thoughts, an addiction can develop quickly. If they receive treatment for their substance use disorder, but not for their mental health issue, they will be more likely to drop out of treatment, or even relapse into abusing drugs and alcohol.
Since mental health issues can lead to someone abusing substances, it is often hard to tell which one caused the other. Withdrawal symptoms can sometimes look like a mental or behavioral disorder to the untrained eye. Feelings of lethargy, depression, hopelessness and sudden weight gain are common signs of clinical depression. These same mental and physical symptoms can come from the early acute withdrawal symptoms from alcoholism. In most cases, it is not entirely clear if the mental health of the patient led them to abuse drugs and alcohol or if the abuse of substances created the mental problems they are experiencing.
Detox from drugs or alcohol is the first step in diagnosing an underlying mental health issue.
Cognitive impairment from long term drug and alcohol abuse can often interfere with the proper diagnosis of a mental illness. Once a patient undergoes a full medical detox, cleansing the chemicals from the body and mind, clinicians can start to assess the patient’s underlying mental health. This is a crucial part of addiction recovery, as many patients might not even realize they have been living with a mental health disorder. Some people have been using drugs or alcohol on a daily basis, filling up most of their daily life with intoxication. This can go on for years and years, without them ever realizing they have an underlying struggle with mental health.
When a patient finally experiences sobriety for the first time in a long while, the emotional stress can be very difficult to overcome. Stress, anxiety, sadness and guilt are all commonly experienced when someone first enters addiction recovery services. This is why it is important for someone who struggles with drugs or alcohol to seek rehab from a professional treatment facility. These facilities should offer detox and recovery services for addiction treatment while a dual diagnosis drug rehab will offer help with emotional recovery, medication management, stress reduction and other crucial mental health services. With the support of the right program it is entirely possible to transform your life and rebuild yourself from the ground up.
How mental health and substance abuse can develop together.
The US Department of Health and Human Services notes that, mental health and substance use disorders may share similar, underlying causes for their development. These include changes in brain chemistry, genetic vulnerabilities and childhood exposure to extreme stress or trauma. These problems are further compounded when the person begins using drugs or alcohol to hide their symptoms. Studies have shown that people who struggle with anxiety or mood disorders are almost twice as likely to struggle with addiction than the average person is.
The four most common mental health issues where substance abuse is more prevalent are:
These types of disorders, when complicated with drug or alcohol abuse are often very difficult to treat. They may require months or even years for someone to fully recover towards a high-functioning state of well-being.
How is a dual diagnosis treated?
Treatment for co-occurring disorders at a drug rehabilitation facility will commonly include a variety of physical, mental and behavioral therapies. These are designed to work together on an individual basis, to help the patient with their mental health and to overcome their addiction. These will typically be conducted through a combination of individual and group therapy sessions.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an individual therapy session that helps the patient identify and change negative behaviors and thought patterns.
Integrated Group Therapy (IGT) is specifically for patients who experience bipolar disorder and substance abuse.
Therapeutic Communities (TCs) are focused on the reintegration of the individual into society. They integrate broad-based community programs and help the patient learn how to socialize and function outside of an institutional setting.
Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) will emphasize the treatment of severe mental disorders with outreach to patients in small, community-oriented group settings.
Your treatment providers will work with you during your stay at rehab to formulate an aftercare plan that will help you stay focused on your recovery after you leave their direct care. Outpatient programs, 12-step support groups and relapse prevention strategies will help you during the crucial, early phase of your recovery.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, consider seeking treatment right away. The pain experienced through a mental illness can have devastating consequences when left untreated. We employ a social model of addiction recovery in the Houston, Texas area. More Than Rehab is available 24/7, so we can get you the help you need, right away. Please call us: