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Everything You Need to Know About LSD

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is sold on the street under names such as Blotter, Dots, Trips, and acid. The designs on the blotter paper also influence the name, such as Purple Dragon. LSD is an odorless, colorless, bitter tasting synthetic drug that has been around since the 1930s. It is a potent hallucinogen and is manufactured from lysergic acid found in ergot (a fungus) on rye and grains. LSD is diluted as a liquid for oral use or produced in a crystalline form that is mixed with excipients.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NHSDA) in 2010 estimated that more than 6 percent of surveyed adults ages 18 to 25 used LSD at some point of their lives. This number was down significantly from 16 percent in 2002, however. For youth, the rate of LSD use during the last month is less than 1 percent.

LSD Uses and Effects

LSD is usually taken as a recreational drug, entheogen, or for psychedelic therapy. It has been used by psychiatrists who value the therapeutic effects in the treatment of cluster headaches, alcoholism, to enhance creativity, and for spiritual purposes. Also, LSD can help a patient to “unblock” subconscious repressed memories, leading to benefits in psychotherapy.

LSD effects are unpredictable, and use is considered to be an experience or “trip.” When it’s not pleasant, it’s considered a “bad trip,” versus a “good trip” when all goes well. These “trips” can last for up to 12 hours, and the first effects of the drug are experienced approximately 30 to 60 minutes once it is used.

The user will have varying emotions, mood swings, extreme changes in mood, impaired depth and time perceptions, and distorted perception regarding movements, shapes, colors, sound, body image, and touch. If taken for an extended period of time, the drug produces hallucinations and delusions. LSD causes physical changes also, such as high body temperature, dilated pupils, sweating, nausea, increased blood sugar, elevated heart rate, high blood pressure, dry mouth, tremors, and sleeplessness.

LSD Health Hazards

LSD use makes a person lose the ability to make sound judgments and view danger. After using LSD, a person suffers depression and/or anxiety, and may also experience flashbacks, which are re-experiences of the “trip days or months after consuming the last dose. If a flashback suddenly occurs, it is often without warning, and the hallucinogens are more common in a chronic LSD user or those with an underlying personality disorder. Healthy individuals who occasionally use LSD also have flashbacks and bad trips. In addition, LSD produces tolerance, and users need to take larger and larger amounts to achieve a state of intoxication. This, however, is a dangerous way to use LSD, as it is an unpredictable drug.

LSD is not seriously addictive, as it does not lead to compulsive drug-seeking behavior. Addiction to hallucinogens is quite a rate but does occur. Because LSD produces a tolerance, some users report that they need to take higher doses each time. Also, LSD is illegal and possessing it leads to disciplinary consequences, fines, and heavy prison sentences.

Consequences of Heroin Addiction

Heroin is a powerful, illegal opioid drug that has serious side effects, produces major addiction, and results in many negative consequences for the user. According to the National Institutes of Health, heroin use is up in the United States, with around 20 million people admitting to using this deadly drug.heroin addiction

Your Brain on Heroin

Repeated use of heroin changes the physical structure of the brain, and it also affects the brain’s function and physiology. Long-term imbalances occur in the brain’s hormonal and neuronal systems that are not easily reversed. With heroin use, studies show that there is deterioration of the brain’s white matter. This affects the ability to regulate behavior, decision-making abilities, and responses to stressful situations.

Repeated heroin use almost always results in full-blown addiction. A chronic relapsing disease, addiction goes beyond physical dependence. It is characterized by psychological, uncontrollable drug-seeking behaviors that continue regardless of consequences.

Withdrawal Syndrome

Heroin produces profound degrees of tolerance, as well as physical dependence. Tolerance occurs when a user takes more and more of the drug each time. With physical dependence, the body grows adjusted to heroin and adapts to the presence of the drug in the bloodstream. Because the body gets dependent, withdrawal syndrome occurs after 4-8 hours since the last drug use episode.

Major withdrawal symptoms occur between 24-48 hours after the last dose of heroin. It takes 5-7 days for these symptoms to subside, but studies show they can persist for months. Symptoms of heroin withdrawal include:

  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Cold chills with goosebumps
  • Involuntary leg movements

Loss of Work

Drug use is associated with loss of employment, and heroin is no exception. People who use/abuse this powerful opiate have problems functioning on the job, either due to the effects of heroin or the withdrawal symptoms. Heroin use leads to being fired, laid off, or quitting jobs, simply due to the severity of its addiction potential.

Loss of Family and Friends

Heroin has serious social and family consequences for the user. Heroin addicts often steal from friends and family members to fund their habits, or they cannot contribute financially, and become a dependent person in the friendship or family unit. This leads to resentment, anger, and conflict among the user and his/her friends and relatives.

Health Problems

Heroin bought on the street often is mixed with other substances, some of which can be toxic to the body. Heroin users are at risk for lung, liver, kidney, and brain damage. These organs become permanently damaged from the substances mixed with the opioid drug. In addition, IV drug users and those who snort heroin are at risk of contracting hepatitis B or C or even acquiring the HIV disease.

Legal Problems and Incarceration

Because heroin is an illegal substance, being caught with it could lead to many legal problems and/or incarceration. A person using heroin could have a car accident, resulting in a vehicular assault or homicide charge. Because it changes thinking and behavior, users are at high risk for committing theft, assault, and/or homicide.

Heroin Overdose

Heroin users are in danger of fatal overdose, or many end up in the emergency room or hospital, barely surviving a respiratory depression. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 11 Americans die every day due to a heroin overdose. Because the drug is majorly intense, users cannot tell that there is a problem until it is too late. Heroin affects a person’s breathing, and this drug slows breathing until a person no longer takes breaths.

Resources
National Institute on Drug Abuse (2015). Nationwide trends: Heroin. Retrieved from: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/nationwide-trends

The Stages of Relapse

Relapse is associated with many feelings, attitudes, and behaviors. There are 10 stages involved with relapse that has been identified by experts.

Stage1: Unhealthy Emotions

When you stop using drugs and develop a recovery plan to stay clean, you initially do fine. However, at some point, you may come upon a problem and not be able to adequately cope emotionally. These unhealthy emotions are often called “stinking thinking” because you feel down and out but do not understand why.

 

RelapseStage 2:  Denial

Instead of recognizing that you are stressed and emotionally unable to cope with these feelings, you use denial to convince yourself everything will be alright. However, this mechanism is similar to what you use when you are dealing with addiction and confronted with uncomfortable feelings. Denial of emotional stress often leaves the recovering addict feeling overwhelmed. If you use recovery tools, you will know that sharing these feelings help you get over these emotions.

The worst thing a recovering addict can do in the denial stage is isolated him- or herself from support persons. You may overreact and focus on internal issues, causing you to relapse quicker. Don’t distance yourself from your support network during the denial stage. Learn how to recognize it and move forward. During recovery, you may feel like you are on a roller coaster of your emotions. This is the stage of relapse where you often feel anxious and have much sleeplessness and sadness. These ups and downs are part of the denial stage of relapse.

 

Stage 3:  Compulsive Behaviors

In the downward progression of drug use, a recovering addict first tries to cope with emotional stresses by engaging in certain compulsive behaviors rather than using appropriate recovery tools. During this stage of relapse, you will find your thinking going back to the old, insane ways associated with drug and/or alcohol use. You know you don’t want to get back on drugs again, but you are also not using the techniques to cope that you learned in rehab.

Emotional relapse is associated with compulsive behaviors. These are things we do to attempt to repair ourselves, slowly abandoning the recovery program and returning to drug use. During this stage of the relapse process, you make irrational choices, use poor judgment, and become argumentative and defensive. Signs of emotional relapse include sleeping more, ignoring personal hygiene, and having distorted thinking.

 

Stage 4:  Triggers

Triggers are things, places, and situations that remind you or prompt you to use drugs or drink alcohol. In a solid recovery program, you do not use the right techniques to avoid and ignore triggers. During this stage, you need to avoid places that remind you of your using days. Triggers snap you and set you off. During this stage, you should attend a meeting, contact a sponsor, or turn to a higher power to remove the obsession for using drugs or drinking.

 

Stage 5:  Interior Chaos

When a person is triggered to use drugs, their stress level goes up and erratic emotions control thinking. This leads to interior chaos, which is part of mental relapse. During this stage, thinking patterns are more distorted and insane, with the obsession to use drugs becoming stronger. The reality of your condition is obscured by fantasies of the good old days of drug use.

During stage 5, you need to remind yourself of why you wanted to get clean in the first place. You need to go back and remember how the disease rendered both your body and mind abnormal. Also, you need to stay focused on the program in hopes of maintaining recovery. It is crucial that you remember that it is not external issues that lead to drug use, but it’s your inability to cope with emotions and thoughts that drive you toward drugs.

 

Stage 6:  Exterior Turmoil

If you remain in a state of mental relapse, you may at some point realize that your frame of mind is not right. You know that you are slipping out of recovery and having feelings of shame, fear, or even pride. Eventually, your addictive thinking ways cause problems with your outside world. This is when you have fights with family members, get into arguments with co-workers, and feel bitter.

 

Stage 7: Loss of Control

If you try handling your problems without help, they may overwhelm you until you feel fed up. You may feel that you are getting out of control again. Life may become troublesome, and you are at crises. Once you recognize that you are out of control, you may have a chance at staying clean. This is a crucial point during relapse to identify the problems and refrain from drug use.

 

Stage 8:  Addictive Thinking

At this stage of your relapse, you use all your addict defense mechanisms. The disease convinces you that recovery is not working, and that you should just do what you want. You may feel miserable and fail to understand what is really going on. Deluded feelings convince you that recovery is too hard and not enjoyable. The disease makes you avoid support persons, skip meetings, and think about using more and more. To avoid responsibilities, you think about leaving your spouse, quitting your job, and using drugs.

 

Stage 9: High-Risk Situations

By this stage, your mental relapse is full-blown. Your emotions are in turmoil and your thinking is distorted. You believe it is alright to go back to visiting places where drugs are, and you get to be around the drug scene. You justify your behavior and put yourself in real high-risk situations.

 

Stage 10:  Relapse

When you actually relapse, you revert back to your old ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving. You find yourself abandoning your recovery skills and using drugs and/or alcohol again. The way you see it, you can use or commit suicide. Relapse is not a failure, however. Rather, this is just a minor setback. At this point, you need to go back into inpatient treatment, where you can work through your problems and get clean again.

Exams and Tests for Drug Abuse and Dependency

A high index of suspicion is required for patients who show signs and symptoms of drug abuse or dependency. A complete evaluation of the patient is necessary, including physical examination and laboratory investigations. The clinical diagnosis of the patient is facilitated by the presence of specific signs – for example, nasal ulceration in cocaine abuse. Nevertheless, it is common for patients to have non-specific complaints related to drug withdrawal. A wide range of signs and symptoms has been attributed to drug abuse, including constricted or dilated pupils, coarse voice, abnormal heart rate, enlarged liver and collapsed veins.

Drug Addiction Treatment San DiegoDiagnosis of drug abuse is largely dependent upon the identification of important clues from patient history. For example, these may include frequent road traffic accidents, workplace absences, episodes of domestic violence, chronic pain with no underlying cause and a recent onset of seizures. The CAGE questionnaire is helpful in the diagnosis of alcohol dependence, and ideally, should be used to ensure the documentation of important information regarding alcohol dependency in a patient. It is also used as a screening tool to identify alcohol abuse and dependency. In terms of drug abuse, the Conjoint screening test is the tool of choice.

Substance abuse, in general, can lead to neuromuscular symptoms such as tremors, seizures, and rigidity. Psychological symptoms include nervousness, anxiety, confusion, slurred speech, irritability, a staggering gait, and hallucinations. Psychological problems always arise with CNS-acting drug abuse and confuse the clinical picture. The inspection of body and clothes of patients can provide additional evidence regarding drug abuse, for example, an alcoholic odor in the person’s breath, needle marks on their arms, residual cocaine around the nares and clothes that are stained with alcohol.

Laboratory investigations should be suggested if a clinical suspicion arises. Laboratory tests do not have diagnostic accuracy in detecting drug abuse. A few tests can help in identifying patients with drug abuse and they can also give information about chronic intake of specific drugs. They are also of value for the detection of organ damage from chronic drug abuse. Blood samples can be taken to run drug toxicology screens and measure Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV). The toxicology screens identify the pharmacological class of drugs.

 Drug metabolites are accurately detected in saliva and urine, therefore urine samples are useful in measuring hourly drug clearance. Positive findings in toxicology screens emphasize the need for confirmatory tests. Enzyme-mediated Immunoassay Technique (EMIT) is also used to confirm the presence of drugs in the bloodstream. In most cases, only metabolites of a particular drug are detected in significant quantities; traces of parent drug or complete absence thereof can make interpretation difficult, as metabolites of two or more different drugs can be similar. False negatives are common and can be brought about by additional drugs taken for the sole purpose of elimination. These drugs act as a ‘mask’ for the original drug being tested.  Other tests, such as gamma glutamyl transpeptidase and carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT), have a role in identifying alcohol abuse.

Crystal Methamphetamine; How it Works?

Crystal methamphetamine, also called methylamphetamine or desoxyephedrine, is in the form of the chemical n-methyl-1-phenyl-propan-2-amine. On the street, it is simply known as “meth.” In the crystalline form, this drug is known as Ice, Tina, Glass, or Crystal. Typically, users smoke this drug in a glass pipe, but it is often dissolved in water and injected, snorted, or swallowed. Many women use crystal meth to lose weight, but the effects are usually short term. The body grows a tolerance to this drug, so the weight loss stops after six weeks of regular use.

According to a recent survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), over 12 million people in the U.S. have tried methamphetamine at least once, but over 1 million people used it on a regular basis the year prior to the 2012 survey. There are serious psychological, medical, and social consequences associated with methamphetamine abuse, as it can lead to memory loss, psychotic behavior, malnutrition, and serious dental problems. This drug also contributes to an increased risk of obtaining a blood-borne disease, such as hepatitis or HIV.

Methamphetamine AddictionYour Brain on Meth

Crystal methamphetamine increases dopamine, a powerful neurotransmitter, which is involved in motivation, reward, pleasure, and motor function. This drug has the ability to release the dopamine rapidly, so the brain produces a quick “flash” of reward. This leads the user to become addicted and experience chronic relapses and compulsive drug-seeking behavior.

Methamphetamine Effects

Many methamphetamine users enjoy this drug because it produces a long-lasting high and causes numerous neurotransmitters to be released in tissues of the brain, which leads to a sense of euphoria. That high often lasts up to 12 or more hours, depending on the person and how the drug was originally taken. As a popular stimulant drug, crystal meth improves energy, concentration, and alertness, but decreases appetite and fatigue. Many meth users report an increased enjoyment in sexual activity and libido.

There are several associated effects linked to pure methamphetamine use. Crystal meth is never pure, so the dangers associated with this drug go beyond regular side effects and known signs. Commonly reported immediate effects include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Euphoria
  • Increased alertness and energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Jaw clenching
  • Increased libido
  • Elevated heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and blood sugar levels

The effects of chronic use include tolerance, temporary weight loss, drug cravings, the rapid decay of teeth (“meth mouth”), and drug-related psychosis. When a person overdoses on crystal meth, they experience a sense of flesh crawling, paranoia, delusions, hallucinations, brain damage, muscle breakdown, cardiac arrest, stroke, and/or hyperthermia.

The Ingredients

Methamphetamine is available by prescription for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obesity, and narcolepsy. This street drug is made in illegal labs in homes, however. The making of crystal meth involves the use of pseudoephedrine or ephedrine, which is an allergy and cold medicines. The “red, white, and blue process” is where red phosphorus, white ephedrine, and blue iodine are used to make hydroiodic acid. This type of drug is highly dangers, as the phosphorus with sodium hydroxide produces a poisonous phosphine gas, which can autoignite or blow up in the home. In addition to these substances, makers often use ether, chloroform, acetone, ammonia, methylamine, hydrochloric acid, lithium, and/or mercury to make crystal meth.

Alcohol Abuse and Treatment

It isn’t what you plan, but sometimes, drinking causes you to cross the line from the occasional use or social use to problematic everyday drinking. This leads to alcoholism or alcohol abuse, which is related to genetics, social environment, and psychological issues. Certain ethnic groups are more at risk for alcohol abuse than others, such as Native Alaskans and Native American Indians. Alcoholism tends to run in families, too, and heavy drinkers suffer from numerous mental health issues, such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression.

Do I have a Drinking Problem?

Drinking is more acceptable in many cultures and the effects of alcohol use vary from person to person. When social drinking becomes problem drinking, then the alcohol is in control. You may suffer from alcohol abuse if you:

  • Lie to others or hide your drinking habits.
  • Feel ashamed or guilty regarding your drinking.
  • Need to drink for the purpose of relaxation.
  • Experience “blackouts” after drinking.
  • Have family members or friends who are concerned about your drinking.
  • Drink to excess on a regular basis.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse

Substance abuse physicians and counselors do not consider alcohol abuse to be the same as alcohol dependence, which is essentially alcoholism. Alcohol abusers do have the ability to limit their drinking, whereas alcoholics do not. However, excessive use of alcohol is dangerous and self-destructive either way. The common signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse include:

  • Continuing to drink regardless of problems in relationships, work, or other.
  • Repetitively neglecting responsibilities due to the drinking.
  • Using alcohol while driving or operating heavy machinery.
  • Having repeated legal problems due to the drinking.
  • Drinking to relax or reduce stress.

Alcohol AbuseWhen Alcohol Abuse turns into Alcoholism

Not all people who use or abuse alcohol develop full-blown alcoholism. However, frequent abuse of this substance is a major risk factor for alcoholism. Certain losses or tragedies often trigger binge drinking or other substance use issues. When a person becomes reliant on alcohol in order to function or feel physically well, then he or she is considered an alcoholic.

One of the first warning signs of alcoholism is tolerance. This is when you can drink considerable amounts without getting drunk or feeling “buzzed.” Tolerance is when a person requires more and more alcohol in order to feel the same effects. Another warning sign is withdrawal. This is when someone has certain symptoms when alcohol has not been in his or her system for a while, such as tremors, anxiety, or mood swings. In severe cases, withdrawal from alcohol causes hallucinations, seizures, nausea, vomiting, fever, and confusion.

Denial of Drinking Problems

Denial is the biggest obstacle when considering rehabilitation (rehab) for alcohol abuse or dependence. For many alcoholics, the desire to drink is so strong that it causes problems with rational thinking and the consequences are ignored. Denial also leads to serious problems with relationships, work, social life, and finances. A person who is dependent on alcohol will deny this by:

  • Downplaying the amount he or she drinks.
  • Avoiding accepting consequences that are related to drinking.
  • Complaining that friends and family members exaggerate regarding the problem.
  • Blaming the drinking on other people or things.

Illicit Drug Abuse

Illicit drug use and abuse often lead to severe consequences, as in jail time or a prison sentence. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 70 percent of prison entrants report using substances in the year prior to incarceration. Men are more likely than women to have used drugs before entering prison, also. Among young people aged 18 to 44, around 73 percent have used an illicit drug during the previous 12 months.

Illicit drug use and addiction is one of the worse types of addict problems. Illicit drugs are illegal to make, use, and/or sell, and include cocaine, methamphetamines, heroin, and various hallucinogens. Also, most of these substances are highly addictive and carry serious health consequences and risks, even when consumed in small or infrequent doses. While it begins as experimentation, illicit drug users often find themselves dealing with the mental and physical effects of the drug and withdrawal from the substance. A person can become addicted easily and endanger the safety and health of others. Researchers have found that addiction is a brain disease, which is characterized by chronic relapses and abnormalities in certain brain pathways.

Categories of Illicit Drugs

Illicit drug effects are dependent upon the substance. The main categories are opioids, stimulants, sedatives, and hallucinogens. These drugs are categorized based on their effects. These include:

  • Opioids – Painkillers and heroin that alter chemicals in the brain responsible for mood regulation, slow down the central nervous system, and decrease breathing effort.
  • Stimulants – Methamphetamines, and cocaine lead to increased heart rate, excessive brain activity, and a state of hyperactivity.
  • Sedatives – Drugs such as Xanax and Valium are sedatives, and these cause a slowing down effect, drowsiness, and confusion.
  • Hallucinogens – LSD, mushrooms, and marijuana can alter the perception of time, space, and reality.

The Signs of Illicit Drug Addiction

There are certain behaviors that indicate an addiction to an illicit drug. These include:

  • Aggressive behavior, violence, and/or mood swings
  • Unusual or sudden change of energy level
  • Preoccupation with obtaining and using a certain drug
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Chronic mental and physical health problems
  • Inability to attend work or social activities
  • Legal consequences, such as loss of job or an arrest
  • Behavior that violates values and/or morals for the purpose of getting a drug

Treatment Options

  • Inpatient rehab program – This is best for individuals who suffer from severe illicit drug addiction. Doctors, therapists, and counselors monitor the addict to provide safety and a healthy environment for recovery.
  • Outpatient rehab program – These facilities work for the addict who wishes to maintain his or her job or for those who have families. The person attends group activities and classes at the facility but returns to home and daily activities.
  • 12-Step program – NA and AA are both good 12-step programs that offer support to people with addictions. These programs use the 12-step concept in order to help a person manage obsessions and compulsions of addiction.
  • Psychotherapy – Drug addiction often coexists with emotional and or mental health issues. This can lead to self-destructive patterns without appropriate psychotherapy.
References
Narcotics Anonymous
Drug Addicts Anonymous
National Institute on Drug Abuse
DrugFree.org
American Council for Drug Education
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence 

Why should I choose an Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program?

Recovery from substance abuse is a step-by-step process. After medical detox, people go through different types of treatment – inpatient and outpatient. Read on to learn how an intensive outpatient treatment helps you recover allows you to choose a program that’s right for you.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program

While people undergoing treatment for drug abuse get clean and come back to normal lives, recovery is a lasting commitment. Addiction treatment begins with drug detox after which individuals enter an intensive drug addiction rehab program.

Some people can’t enter an inpatient program due to personal and professional commitments. For them, an outpatient treatment program is best. It allows people to continue with work, school or family obligations.

Benefits of Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program

Intensive Outpatient treatment brings the benefits of recovering while staying within one’s own family or community. Family members can offer them support to overcome addiction. In addition, career or educational responsibilities may help some people stay focused and successful during the recovery process.

After inpatient treatment, individuals may have to face the challenge of managing temptations and triggers, which were absent in the rehab but are there in the outside world. Losing the peer support might be a setback to some. Outpatient treatment does not present these challenges since the individual recovers at home and learns to manage triggers and cravings since the beginning of treatment.

Apart from this, intensive outpatient programs give you structure and support while allowing you to live at home. You undergo daily therapy sessions that gradually become less intensive. This helps you transition back into your home, life, and career while getting the necessary support.

Outpatient or Intensive Outpatient Rehab?

If you or a loved one is seeking addiction treatment, and ant to recover at home instead of checking into a rehab, it is important to understand the difference between outpatient program and intensive outpatient program.

Many drug rehab centers offer inpatient, outpatient and intensive outpatient programs. It is crucial to learn how these programs benefit patients to decide on the best level of treatment for your or your loved one’s specific needs.

Outpatient Treatment

As the name suggests, outpatient treatment is a part-time treatment program. During this program, the individual can stay at home and visit the rehab for specific therapy sessions. For example, you may attend counseling about four times a week with each session lasting two to four hours.

Outpatient rehab helps you recover with regular therapy and counseling sessions but you do not receive round-the-clock care, which may be required in some cases.

But some patients may require a structured treatment plan to recover and avoid relapse. In such cases, outpatient rehab alone might not be enough. It may be the person’s immediate environment, home, workplace or social activities that triggered substance abuse. If s/he can’t get out of that place, staying sober may prove to be a challenge.

Intensive Outpatient Program

An intensive outpatient program, or IOP, also doesn’t require living at a facility. But compared to an outpatient program, it requires more time commitment and attention. Intensive Outpatient Program can become the perfect bridge between inpatient rehab and outpatient therapy.

For people trying to establish careers, or those with busy lifestyles, don’t have to deviate from their demanding schedule to recover successfully.

An intensive outpatient program is appropriate for people who need a higher level of care but are still able to function at home. It’s also good for individuals moving from a more demanding treatment program, such as inpatient rehab, to a more flexible program.

Making a Choice between Outpatient and Intensive Outpatient Program

A person suffering from a severe addiction may benefit from an inpatient program. Undergoing detox and living at a rehab can reduce the chances of relapse. If an intensive outpatient program is added, it can maximize your chances of success.

The best way to determine the treatment option for your situation is an intake assessment. Qualified de-addiction specialists evaluate your condition and overall health to determine an addiction treatment program that would be best for your needs.

Techniques for Dealing with Mental Urges

Mental Urges - Heroin Drug RehabEvery person who is recovering from addiction will experience uncomfortable urges and cravings for his/her drug of choice. This is normal recovery behavior. Fortunately, these cravings usually pass with time. When you are first starting rehabilitation, these things are normal, so expect them. We offer some helpful techniques you can use to deal with mental urges.

Number 1:  Learn to Resist Cravings

For many individuals carvings and urges to use or drink will trigger automatic responses. These are unconscious thoughts and feelings. Learn to say no to these ingrained, intense desires. With the SMART Recovery Program, there is an easy to remember acronym DEADS. Each letter stands for one technique. These include:

D: Delay – Because mental activities associated with urges and cravings disappear over time, delay these thoughts and maintain your attention. With time, they will run their course and just go away. If you don’t feel they are gone in 15-30 minutes time, call someone in recovery or talk to a counselor. The best way to delay urges is to deny them and do something else.

E: Escape – Simply leave or go away from the urge or situation. Leave the bar, leave the market where wine is displayed, or turn off the television where you see something that triggers your urge to use again. Escaping the trigger gets your mind focused on something new. This, in turn, quickly lessens the urge to relapse.

A: Accept – You need to put your cravings and urges into perspective understanding they are normal with recovery, and will soon pass. When a recovering addict learns the process of addiction and accepts this discomfort, he/she can refrain from drug use. You understand that these feelings won’t kill you, and before you know it, they are gone.

D: Dispute – You now need to dispute these irrational mental urges. Keep telling yourself that you are in recovery and going to beat the addiction. Dispute these urges when they occur, and this will help them pass by more quickly.

S: Substitute – When you get a mental urge to use, substitute an activity or thought that is more fun or beneficial. This includes walking, hiking, and swimming, going to a movie, or taking a scenic drive. The possibilities for substitutions are endless, and these things lessen cravings. Before you know it, you won’t crave drugs at all.

Number 2:  Keep a Record of your Cravings and Urges

Many recovering addicts find it beneficial to write down the circumstances that led to the urges and cravings. Make a note of what you were doing when the urges hit, and what you were feeling and thinking. By documenting these things, you may see a pattern emerge. This way, in the future, you will know how to avoid this.  

Recording your cravings and urges may help you recognize the origins of your addiction, which is one of the first steps to identifying coping mechanisms. When an urge to drink alcohol or use drugs strikes, note the intensity of the urges and which coping behaviors helped you get over it. Before you know it, you will not only be able to bypass these cravings but will understand how to avoid them.

Number 3:  Make a Guideline to Use 

In a small notebook, use the following format to make a guideline for documenting your cravings and urges.

  • Date and time – While tedious and time-consuming, this will help you record any patterns that emerge.
  • Situation – Includes environment and situation. This way you have your feelings and thoughts associated with the actual situation.
  • Craving intensity – On a 1-10 scale, document how strong the cravings and urges were.
  • Coping behaviors – Note which strategies you used to help cope with the mental urges. If the strategy helps, note effectiveness.

Number 4:  Try Urge Surfing

Urge surfing is a technique many people in recovery use to cope with their mental urges. This involves gritting the teeth and letting the cravings pass. Some urges are overwhelmingly strong, particularly when you first go into your old using situation or environment. This technique is called urge surfing because the urges feel like ocean waves you must surf through.

Like ocean waves urges start small and then get larger, gathering momentum until they break or crash on the shore. With urge surfing, you simply tough it out and allow the cravings to pass by. The basis of this technique is similar to many martial arts techniques. You first overpower an opponent by going with the force of an attack. Then, you redirect your energy to your advantage.