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Is Drinking Alone a Sign of Alcoholism?

Having a beer or a glass of wine by yourself, in front of the TV isn’t alarming. For many people, it is a usual way to unwind after a long week. But for others, drinking alone is a sign of something bigger. Alcohol addiction is a disease that flourishes on isolation and can rapidly take hold if drinking is your way to cope with uncomfortable emotions or mental trauma.

Is drinking alone a sign of being alcoholic?

Drinking alone does not make a person an alcoholic. However, combined with other warning signs, drinking alone or in secrecy could indicate alcoholism. These warning signs include –

  • Temporary black-outs
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Inability to quit drinking
  • Making excuses to continue or hide drinking
  • Drinking takes priority over your job or relationships
  • Increasing alcohol tolerance
  • Participating in risky behaviors
  • Feelings of withdrawal

Any combination of these symptoms in addition to drinking alone may indicate that your drinking is turning into an alcohol addiction.

There could be several reasons for a person drinking alone, such as –

  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Trauma
  • Loneliness
  • Sleep problems
  • Anger

Many people drink to avoid or numb such mental health issues. Without proper treatment, a drinking issue can quickly turn into alcoholism.

Is drinking alone dangerous?

Drinking alone results in a number of dangerous consequences. It can put drinkers in unsafe situations since alcohol consumption affects a person’s ability to reason and make decisions. Without anyone around to prevent the person from a risky behavior, the person may engage in drunk driving, and sexually aggressive or violent behaviors. These actions put ther person as well as those around him, in danger.

Drinking alone does not make you an alcoholic, but it could. If your solo drinking sessions have become more common lately, seek help.

 

 

Custom Addiction Treatment for Healthcare Professionals

Healthcare professionals often have demanding jobs and face great challenges at work. They are saving lives, after all. Most know when they need help with a substance abuse issue but often do not seek help. A common reason is lack of specific treatment programs for these professionals.

Here are 4 important reasons for customized substance abuse treatment programs for medical professionals.

Your license could be at risk

The state’s Licensing Board has total control over a healthcare professional’s ability to practice medicine. You may be in denial of your substance abuse problem but the Licensing Board will not see it that way. For them, the public’s best interest is important. You are at risk of losing your license.

Not seeking treatment is almost like throwing away your career, something you obviously don’t want.

Addiction specialists understand what you are going through

Specialists at a rehab program are trained and experienced in treating various types of substance abuse disorders – how the nature of each substance is different and how they affect the body differently. They also know how to wean the body off a substance and the individual withdrawal symptoms. Based on your specific condition and your overall health, they would customize a treatment plan, specifically for you.

Access to controlled substances is part of the job

Addiction treatment for healthcare professionals is unique because unlike others, who recover from substance abuse, they will have easy access to controlled substances, tempting them to start re-using. This makes the likelihood of relapse even higher than other individuals. The high degree of stress in the field of healthcare field and the easy access to medications can be a constant temptation.

For all these reasons, healthcare professionals dealing with substance abuse should find a treatment program that is customized to their needs. Seek help.

Odds of Dying from Opioid Overdose Surpasses Automobile Accidents

Death rate statistics in the United States now point to a startling turnaround with the likelihood of dying by opioid drug overdose surpassing the chances of dying in an automobile accident. Automobile accident deaths have long been the balancing point in conversations around the country. It is frequently said that a person has more chances of dying in an automobile than they do in an airplane. This is true.
You also hear that automobile deaths are the number one cause of preventable death. That is no longer the case, according to the Odds of Dying report put out by the National Safety Council (NSC). Opioids, their numbers say, are now the No. 1 preventable death threat in the United States.

The numbers are not only scary today, but the numbers have been on a rampage since 2011, coinciding with the arrival of street market fentanyl, which has proved to be as lethal as any illicit drug in the country. Put another way: The odds of dying by opioid overdose have probably not peaked yet. The problem, in part, is getting the message out to the public. “I can tell you without hesitancy, the general public does not like death rates,” Pain Medicine News quoted NSC statistics manager Ken Kolosh as saying. The aim of the NSC is, in fact, to put statistics in a manner in which the public can fully grasp their meaning. As such, the numbers are frightening, as they should be.

Opioids, their numbers say, are now the No. 1 preventable death threat in the United States

It breaks down this way: The U.S. population was approximately 326 million in 2017. The number of accidental opioid-related deaths came to 43,036 that year. Simply divide 326 million by 43,036 and you get one in 7,569, which are the odds of dying of an opioid-related overdose in the entire year. When you divide that by the average life expectancy, which is 78.6 years, you get one in 96. That’s the odds of dying of an opioid-related accident for someone born in the United States in 2019. Do the same numbers for other causes of death and you have heart disease, a one in six chance; cancer a one in seven chance, chronic respiratory disease one in 27, suicide one in 88. If born in 2019, the odds of dying in an automobile accident are one in 103.

Further, the odds of dying in an automobile accident have been improving over the last 10 years, while the odds of dying from overdose have been getting worse … and worse. According to the CDC, there were 47,600 opioid-related overdoses in 2017, which is 67. 8 percent of all drug overdoses. Are we done being scared? Absolutely not. But Pacific Bay Recovery is absolutely confident we have the team in place to turn your drug or alcohol addiction around.

Confidence and fear do not cancel each other out. We certainly know this is tough. We know this is difficult. We know you did not start out life seeking to be addicted to drugs or alcohol. We know how difficult this can be. We know this is scary, but we also know and abide by one absolute: Emotions can change. What if the source of your fear today – facing recovery – becomes a source of your proudest accomplishment in the future? We understand you are scared today, but how will you feel when you get back on your feet when you find you are no longer beholden to any mood altering substance or behavior?

Recovery is scary on day one. It’s scary on day two. It’s frightening for a while. We can help you get through those early fears and move on to a full, fruitful, healthy life in the future. What may seem scary, depressing and isolating today will look very different in the future. Recovery is about restoring hope. It’s about waking up every day with hope in your heart. Every day you have regained control of your life is a day of hope. You can win this struggle.

Don’t be a statistic. Call Pacific Bay Recovery, San Diego’s top drug and alcohol recovery program. Call 858-263-9700 today.

Is Marijuana addictive?

Marijuana or weed is one of the most intriguing and controversial psychoactive drugs. After the legalization of weed in many US states, the marijuana menace has increased, simply because it is legal and many people are curious to try it.

Marijuana is addictive and one of the most popular and commonly abused substance. While weed is an antidepressant, it also produces psychedelic effects in higher doses. There are two classified types of marijuana – one produces psychedelic effects and the other works as a depressant.

Despite its legal status and medical purposes, weed is addictive. For instance, it is one of the most commonly abused illicit drug among youth and adults.

So, if you wish to know whether weed is addictive, the answer clearly is “YES, it is!”

Marijuana users, especially chronic users, experience physical as well as mental health problems, including brain and memory malfunctions.

The short-term side effects of marijuana include –

• altered senses
• altered sense of time
• changes in mood
• impaired body movement
• difficulty with thinking and problem solving
• impaired memory
• psychosis, hallucinations, delusions (when taken in high doses)

Apart from the above-mentioned short-term side effects, marijuana can have profound effects on brain development, which makes it extremely harmful for children and adolescents. Pregnant women that use the drug give birth to babies with negative behavior and development issues.

MDMA Addiction Treatment

MDMA (3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is known by many names – Molly, ecstasy/XTC, etc. It is a synthetic drug that has a stimulant and hallucinogenic effect on humans. It was initially used in the treatment of a number of psychological issues, but given its potentially harmful effects, it is not utilized as medicine. It has the ability to lower inhibitions, enhance a sense of interconnectedness, and create psychedelic effects, which is popular among teenagers and young adults, especially in the party culture (“raves”).

MDMA effects start kicking in within an hour or so after taking a single dose and include feelings of mental stimulation, emotional warmth, a general sense of well being, decreased anxiety, as well as an enhanced sensory perception. MDMA dramatically alters an individual’s mood and perception, and its effects are similar to those experienced after taking amphetamine and hallucinogenic drugs. However, there are some users who report undesirable effects immediately, including anxiety, agitation, and recklessness. It can produce a variety of adverse effects, including nausea, chills, sweating, involuntary teeth clenching, muscle cramping, and blurred vision. MDMA overdose results in high blood pressure, faintness, panic attacks, and in severe cases, a loss of consciousness, and seizures.

We have a team of highly experienced professionals fully trained in the management of MDMA abuse disorder

It is typically consumed as a white powder form which can be applied on the gums, snorted or smoked. But more commonly, it is mixed with other substances and sold as a tablet. There is a common misconception that Ecstasy/MDMA does not lead to addiction or dependence; it is actually opposite to that – It is highly addictive and chronic use leads to serious long-term, overall poor health, wellbeing and quality of life. MDMA addiction may also lead to the development of alcohol addiction and other drug and behavioral addictions, as polysubstance abuse is quite common. Long-term users of Ecstasy/MDMA can lead to tolerance, which is a key factor in the development of addiction.

As devastating as it is, MDMA addiction is fully treatable. It takes will power and determination of the patient, and with the support of loved ones and experienced professionals, recovery from this abuse disorder is achievable. It takes a team of highly trained psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists and other mental health professionals who have a thorough understanding of this type of substance abuse disorder to comprehensively treat it. Each patient is unique – different background, medical history, psychiatric issues, social circumstances and physical profile, and the treatment needs to be bespoke, individually tailored with support for each individual. Treatment may include outpatient therapy, 12-Step support group, partial hospitalization or residential treatment, family therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), biofeedback/neurofeedback, hypnotherapy, recreation therapy, etc. We have a team of highly experienced professionals fully trained in the management of MDMA abuse disorder, providing the full gamut of treatment options customized for each patient so that they can have the best shot a full and lasting recovery.

Methadone Addiction

Methadone is a painkilling, opioid drug. Opioids can be natural or man-made, pain-relieving drugs, prescribed to relieve pain and discomfort.

Methadone produces effects, similar to morphine but the effects tend to be longer-lasting. It is commonly used as a substitute to opiate like heroin and morphine. While methadone does not produce intense effects, it can still produce feelings of euphoria and relaxation. However, methadone can still be abused, resulting in physical and psychological dependence, if not used properly.

Short-Term Effects
After an initial absorption, individuals experience drowsiness, which may make them feel lethargic. They also experience pain relief, euphoria and complete relaxation.

Continued use of methadone produces severe physical effects on the body, including –
• Sweating
• Nausea
• Constipation
• decreased heart rate
• pinpoint pupils

Behavioral changes include aggressive mood swings, increased anxiety and feelings of depression.

In the event of an overdose or dependence, users may experience –
• lowered blood pressure
• shallow breathing
• tremors
• itchy skin
• blue lips
• decreased heart rate
• extreme lethargy
• hard time recognizing whereabouts
• even a comatose state

Long-Term Effects
The long-term effects of methadone addiction worsen as the individual goes on using. Long-term use may produce effects, such as –
• severe respiratory issues
• cardiovascular problems
• memory loss and issues with learning
• poor judgement
• changes in personality or behavior
• poor physical hygiene
These issues begin to build-up with continuous injections and go on becoming severe.

Genetics and Addiction

Addictions or substance abuse disorders are a diverse set of common, complex diseases that affect millions of people worldwide. The environmental factors that predispose to substance abuse are well known, but the question is whether genetics play a role as well. It is becoming evident that there are shared genetic and environmental etiological factors at play. Genetic studies and other analyses are clarifying the origins of addiction and the role genes play in their development. This knowledge of genetic factors in etiology and treatment response can bolster the personalized treatment of these disorders and even prevent them.

Addictions are chronic and often relapsing psychiatric disorders with maladaptive and destructive outcomes that affect not only the individual, but also one’s family, community, and society. Just talking about alcohol alone, around 2 billion people consume alcoholic beverages and 76.3 million of these have an alcohol use disorder. The second most abused drug is tobacco, with 1.3 billion users worldwide. Approximately, up to 200 million people worldwide consume illicit drugs.

Studies reveal that an individual’s risk for substance abuse disorder tends to be proportional to the degree of genetic relationship to an addicted relative
Addiction is characterized by three phenomena, regardless of the type of agent of abuse: craving (preoccupation/anticipation), binge/intoxication, and withdrawal/negative effect. The initial stages are dominated by impulsivity and positive reinforcement that drive drug-seeking behavior. These are replaced by compulsivity and negative reinforcement in the later stages of the addiction cycle. Addictive drugs have been found to induce adaptive changes in gene expression in brain reward regions, leading to tolerance and habit formation. These processes are implicated in the development of relapse as well.

Genetics supposedly play an important role in determining which treatment modalities are effective in these patients. This can induce a paradigm shift in substance abuse disorder therapy as currently, the clinical options are untargeted and only partially effective. Inherited variation is thought to affect the initiation and maintenance of drug use, and new therapies and preventive strategies could be developed and better targeted to individuals.

Addictions have been found to be moderately to highly heritable. Family, adoption and twin studies reveal that an individual’s risk for substance abuse disorder tends to be proportional to the degree of genetic relationship to an addicted relative. These heritabilities are not the same across the board – it is 0.39 for hallucinogens, and 0.72 for cocaine. An important study (Virginia Twin Study) revealed that while familial and social factors play a stronger role in the initiation and use of nicotine, alcohol, and cannabis in adolescence, there is an increasingly greater role of genetics in the same as one grows older.

It must be noted that the underlying pathogenesis of these substance use disorders is complex, and while there has been some progress in unraveling the genetic factors that are linked to their development and to one’s response to therapy, there is still a lot that we don’t know about how genetic factors interact with environmental factors in the natural history of these conditions. But it is encouraging to see that this knowledge has the potential to guide prevention and management practice in this field.

Opioid Alternatives for Chronic Pain Relief

As we all know, we are in an opioid epidemic in this country. But the good news is that the numbers are beginning to go down. Having said that, the job is still not done. The main reason we still high opioid use (and eventually abuse) is that we still have a very high prevalence of chronic pain (almost 1 in 10). And opioids are still being overprescribed. Hence, there is a pressing need to use opioid alternatives for chronic pain relief.

Not only that opioids have a very high addiction potential  (15-fold greater risk for those who have been taking opioids for three or more months), but also they are not very effective in the management of chronic pain. There are a number of alternative strategies that have been found to be effective against chronic pain, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, acupuncture, medical massage, physical therapy, etc.

Chronic pain is defined as a pain condition that lasts for more than six months. Studies have shown that chronic pain involves the same areas of the brain as the emotional disturbance. Emotional pain is treated with alternative methods, so it is worth exploring if chronic pain can be effectively managed that way as well.
Opioid use has yet to be seen whether these efforts made any difference in preventing addiction
Many healthcare providers have made initiatives to minimize the chance of opioid addiction. Pain clinics assess people for risk of addiction, have them sign a medication contract, educate and counsel them on the risks of addiction and other side effects, perform urine drug testing, undertake pill counts, etc. But it has yet to be seen whether these efforts made any difference in preventing addiction.

The opioid alternatives that are being used for chronic pain management include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antidepressants and antiseizure medications. Nonpharmacologic options include cognitive behavioral therapy, exercise therapy, physical therapy, etc. There are also some interventional approaches such as nerve blocks, neuromodulation, etc. These methods have been found to be effective in chronic pain management.

There is now one-stop-shop type of pain clinics where the patient can see a physician, a physical therapist, a psychologist, a massage therapist, an acupuncturist, etc., for one’s pain complaint. However, these approaches can be expensive with limited or no insurance coverage.

 

It is being widely understood that opioids can only provide short term from severe acute pain and are ineffective for lasting relief from chronic pain. Instead, a better approach for the latter is to use a combination of alternative modalities mentioned above. But these methods take patience and effort because complying with them takes commitment and the results are not immediate. But when the patient sticks with them, the results are often very rewarding.

It is important to note that these alternative methods are much more effective once somebody is not on opioids. The reason may be psychological, at least in part, that the patients have gotten used to finding immediate relief that comes with taking opioids even if its temporary. But working closely with the therapists and with some encouragement and perseverance, patients are able to overcome chronic pain through these safe methods.

Methamphetamine Drug Rehabilitation

The abuse of illicit drugs is a serious health issue and it causes up to 200,000 lives every year. One of these dangerous drugs is Methamphetamine, which is a stimulant. It has several street names, such as speed, crank or meth. Other similar drugs in this class include levomethamphetamine and dextromethamphetamine (crystal meth).

This crystal meth is often made in illegal home-based labs. It is popular among partygoers and easily found on the streets and in the clubs. It is extremely addictive in nature and can cause dependency after just one use.

 

When a user takes crystal meth by way of snorting or swallowing, it causes a feeling of rush within 15 to 20 minutes. This effect is immediately following injection or smoking of the drug, causing extreme euphoria and a  sense of elation. This effect typically lasts for six to eight hours up to a full day. It may lead one to try more injectable drugs like heroin.

The most common cause of meth-related death is multiple organ failure
When a user is addicted to meth, it causes a withdrawal syndrome when you take away the drug. There is evidence of psychological addiction manifested by extreme shifts in mood, severe insomnia, intense paranoid and delusional behaviors. Physical symptoms include sickness, hunger, and even seizures. Addiction to meth also leads to anhedonia (inability to find joy in anything), which makes it extremely hard to stay abstinent as they seek that joy in abusing meth. It can take up to two years of abstinence to have restored mood and effect.

Prolonged use of crystal meth has devastating effects on one’s physical and mental health. It causes damage to the liver, kidneys, and lungs, leads to hypertension and vascular injury in the brain, increasing the likelihood of stroke and cardiac complications, which can be fatal.  The brain damage can be extensive and lead to stroke, epilepsy, and dementia. Smoking it can cause lung abscesses, snorting it damages nasal mucosa, and injecting it increases the risk of HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and infective endocarditis. Addicts of meth also suffer from tooth decay, psychosis, depressed mood, and weight loss as well.

 

There is now a resurgence of meth-related emergency room visits related to overdose and withdrawals. The most common cause of meth-related death is multiple organ failure. An overwhelming percentage of these patients (86%) have co-occurring HIV infection due to associated risky behavior.

The treatment for meth addiction is extensive and rigorous rehabilitation. While brief stints at a rehabilitation facility can provide short-term benefits, fully recovery warrants a much longer commitment. A treatment period of at least 90 days is recommended to ensure efficacy. The detox process is highly involved and requires close monitoring of experienced staff. The withdrawal process can be challenging and the patients can become violent, which is why a skilled rehab facility should be carefully chosen. With proper professional help, the chances of a successful recovery are fairly high.

Drug Rehabilitation with Pain management

There are many causes of chronic pain – injury, accident or illness. One of the biggest healthcare crisis of our times is the opioid abuse crisis. Opioids are typically prescribed for severe and/or chronic pain, to which the patient ultimately develops tolerance and becomes addicted. However, an integrated approach that includes pharmacotherapy, physical therapy, individual counseling, and group support, can be the right choice for patients suffering from chronic pain. Drug rehab with pain management includes this approach for the effective treatment of chronic pain.

According to a recently published study, patients who suffer from drug addiction and chronic pain tend to receive inadequate pain control compared to non-addicted patients. Doctors in rehab facilities may be hesitant to provide opioid pain medications given their predisposition to addiction. However, these patients deserve adequate relief is the pain is severe, the same way as any other patient. Drug rehabilitation for chronic pain is an approach that treats the patient’s substance abuse without compromising pain control.
Drug rehab with pain management focuses on not only the substance abuse and pain control components but also other facets of health
Chronic pain can debilitating — physically, emotionally and socially. The end results of under-treated pain can be isolation, depression, substance abuse or worse, suicide.

Chronic pain is actually underreported. Many patients suffer from it and assume it as a part of growing old.  Adequate pain control can dramatically improve their quality of life and functionality.

It is true as well that prescription painkillers can be abused. These patients are vulnerable to getting addicted as they develop tolerance to them. This is why it is extremely important to provide them with pain in a controlled setting with careful monitoring. Patients undergoing drug rehab are in a structured program under careful supervision and it is important to provide them with adequate pain relief and monitor them for warning signs of abuse.

 

Having said that, giving alternatives to opioids for pain relief is advisable in patients with a past or current history of substance abuse. Some of the non-opioid options for pain relief, with varying degree of strength and efficacy, include buprenorphine, psychological counseling and behavioral modification, massage, acupuncture, hydrotherapy and herbal therapy, physical therapy, etc.

Psychotherapy can help identify negative behaviors and thought patterns that contribute to addiction, but it is not an actual pain relief method. Drug rehab with pain management focuses on not only substance abuse and pain control components but also other facets of health, such as nutrition, exercise, etc. As drug addicts tend to ignore these, addressing them is likely to help them regain physical and mental health. Pain should not be ignored. It should be addressed by the right clinicians and a personalized plan for pain relief should be sketched out keeping in view the unique history and health status of each patient. A comprehensive approach is likely to yield successful results in the recovery process of the patients and improve their overall quality of life.