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7 Tools to Beat Addiction

Substance abuse is a serious mental issue. Addiction can be of various types and can get extremely challenging to get rid of. Let’s review some of the most useful tools that can be used to overcome addiction.

 

  • Socialize (with non-addicts)
    Interacting with people without a habit that you’re trying to beat is a very basic yet effective way to overcome it. It works by providing a perspective of how people behave in normal settings and shows that it is possible and easier to normalize than perceived in your head. It also provides motivation and encouragement. In ideal cases, the company provides support and anchorage when it seems that succumbing to your addiction is the only way to survive.

 

  • Read

Reading books is a very engaging experience. It keeps your mind from staying in the vicious circle of thinking about your “fix” and you may have a better chance of not succumbing to your craving. Books can serve as wonderful reminders to stay on course.

 

  • Being Accountable
    Find a friend (or work with your counselor) to whom you can honestly account your feelings, cravings and indeed, slip-ups. Having such a person to confess to and get feedback from helps us to stay the course and focus on facing the reality and not lie to ourselves as addiction tends to make people do.

Anybody can fight addiction for a better future

  • Work on your weak spots
    Contemplate on what triggers your craving psychologically or if there are certain cues that you in the state of mind – an event, occurrence, place, environment, person, feeling, memory, etc. Then see if you create a situation where you are least confronted with those stimuli – especially places and people.

 

  • Distract Yourself
    You can have a list of “distractions,” activities that can take her mind off of your addiction. It can be anything like crossword puzzles, novels, Sudoku, walking the dog, card games, movies, etc. Like reading, it helps to keep you engaged and from succumbing to your craving.

 

  • Exercise
    This is extremely helpful. It helps your mental health tremendously to perform light, regular exercises. It is obviously good for your physical health but it also gives you a sense of purpose, motivation, goals, engaging sessions and a brighter perspective. If done at a gym, it can lead to socializing with healthy people who are likely to motivate you to have a healthier lifestyle and approach to things. The release of endorphins is also thought to help you fight addiction and feel happiness.

 

  • Keep a Record
    Record your thoughts, your feelings. Jot down accounts of how you faced your craving, how you resisted or reacted to it -especially your small but important successes overcoming it. If you look back and read your journal entries about your down times, it will give you perspective as to how you’ve fought and how far you’ve come. It will provide an opportunity to build up on that and do even better.

All these tools can help you fight what seems to be an undefeatable enemy within. With some support and persistence, using these tools go a long way in giving you strength in this fight.

Opioid Use Disorder

Opioid Use Disorder is a new diagnosis introduced in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). It is a combination of two previous diagnoses – Opioid Dependence and Opioid Abuse.

There are a variety of different opioid drugs, including street drugs such as heroin, and those used in healthcare settings such as methadone, morphine, codeine, oxycontin, etc. The most notorious type of opioid use disorder is of Heroin (10% of people aged 12-17 years old in the United States with opioid use disorder take heroin). The most common one is that of analgesic opioids.

 

The diagnosis of opioid use disorder is made when someone has been using opioid drugs and has at least two of the following symptoms within a 12 month period:

  • Abuse – Taking more than intended/prescribed.
  • Dependence – Wanting to control use without success.
  • Seeking – Spending a lot of time obtaining, taking, or recovering from the effects of opioid drugs.
  • Craving – Having a strong urge towards it.
  • Dysfunction – Failing to carry out important roles at home, work or school because of opioid use.
  • Neglect – Continuing to use opioids, despite the use of the drug causing relationship or social problems.
  • Preference – Giving up or reducing other activities because of opioid use.
  • Lack of concern – Using opioids even when it is physically and psychologically harmful.
  • Tolerance – Needing a higher dose for the same effect
  • Withdrawal – when opioids are not taken.

Chronic users can develop normal physical responses to prolonged drug exposure

Addictive disorders are primarily psychological in nature. Chronic users can develop normal physical responses to prolonged drug exposure, but that alone does not constitute an opioid use disorder if they have no cravings for the drug, no difficulty using appropriate dosages, and no lifestyle problems as a result of taking the drug. Using an illicit opioid drug such as heroin does not mean that the individual has an opioid use disorder unless they manifest signs of addiction. It is possible for heroin users to control their drug use, and show no psychological, physical or social signs of addiction. They do not qualify for this diagnosis as they are able to regulate their drug use, use safer methods of taking the drug, can stop when they need to, and keep their drug use from hurting their social life. These users who are able to control and manage their use tend to be more psychologically healthy and socially well-adjusted. Conversely, those who develop heroin use disorder often have very significant psychological problems, to begin with.

The most common way to screen substance abuse disorder is the CAGE questionnaire. If someone answers yes to any of these questions, they would undergo a more comprehensive assessment.

C – “cut down” – “Have you tried to cut down on your drinking or drug use, but couldn’t?”

A -“annoyed” – “Are family and friends annoyed about your drinking or drug use?”

G -“guilty” –  “Do you ever feel guilty about your drinking or drug use?”

E -“eye opener” – “Do you have a drink or use drugs as an ‘eye-opener” in the morning?

There are other more sophisticated tools, such as Opioid Risk Tool, which calculates the factors that place individuals at greater risk of having a substance use disorder, such as the past family and personal history of substance use, a history of childhood sexual abuse, age, and history of past or present psychological disorders, etc.

Systematic Withdrawal

Medical detoxification is a systematic process that involves safe withdrawal from drugs or alcohol for individuals who have an addiction. It is also known as Systematic withdrawal.

 

Abuse of harmful substances makes an individual physically dependent on them, which leads to withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to stop abruptly or unplanned. Detoxification systematically removes these toxins while addressing and treating the effects of withdrawal, and it is ideally carried out in a structured environment under a physician’s supervision.

Depending on the substance abused and the setting care, there are different types of Detox methods:

  • Alcohol detoxification
  • Inpatient detoxification
  • Opiate detoxification
  • Outpatient detoxification
  • Psychological withdrawal detoxification

 

Detoxification includes psychotherapeutic treatments to better address the underlying mental health issues that might have predisposed the patient to substance abuse and study the effects of it on the brain. Detox comprises of a structured rehabilitation program that is specific to the substance abused. Patients enroll in life skills classes to learn how to maintain responsibilities and function in a healthy manner as they recover. They participate in family and personal therapy sessions. Routine visits are scheduled for medical care to prevent self-medicating. An action plan is also created for relapse prevention.

Withdrawal syndrome is a collection of signs and symptoms that occur once the use of a drug is reduced or stopped

Withdrawal syndrome is a collection of signs and symptoms that occur once the use of a drug is reduced or stopped. The nature, severity, duration, and variety of withdrawal symptoms vary with the type of drug.

Heroin withdrawal presents with restlessness, musculoskeletal pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, etc.

Mental symptoms include irrational mood swings, anger, hallucinations. Physical symptoms usually disappear by the time detoxification process is complete, but the mental symptoms may last longer.

Medical supervision is recommended for the majority of addicts as they undergo systematic withdrawal, primarily to ensure adherence and prevent a relapse. Very few will succeed at detoxification without any type of supervision, and these are typically patients who were abusing for a very short time. Detox can be life-threatening in case of a hard drug addiction causing severe withdrawal symptoms. Some patients will experience liver failure, heart palpitations, or even brain aneurysms. Therefore, it is critical for a trained and experienced medical professional to carefully monitor your withdrawal and manage it meticulously.

It is highly recommended that you enter treatment immediately after detoxing is complete. There are resources available to help you transition to treatment facilities. Many times, inpatient drug and alcohol treatment centers incorporate an initial period of structured detox into their program, so there is a more seamless transition from detox to follow-up treatment.
Some of these treatment options include inpatient residential treatment, outpatient treatment, individual counseling, group counseling, support groups, and especially for those recovering from alcoholism, 12-Step programs, and sober living houses. Medical detox is a comprehensive program for the effective treatment of patients suffering from various kinds of substance abuse and chances of a full recovery and return to normalcy are high if carefully managed.

Common Signs of Relapse

If a loved one has just recovered from drug or alcohol abuse or addiction, it is important for you to be able to identify any signs of relapse so that you can help the person take corrective action right away.

Here are the common relapse triggers to watch out for – Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, Tiredness.

Hunger, here, refers to the inability to nurture self, have adequate diet for right nutrition and live a healthy lifestyle.

Anger refers to the inability to regulate own mood. Anger may arise from an inability to accept life the way it is or from having unrealistic expectations. If the newly recovered addict is angry and they can’t get to a place where they can talk about their sadness or pain, anger can become a big relapse trigger.

Loneliness is also a big red flag and a warning sign of a relapse behavior. Feeling disconnected from others, especially loved ones and living in isolation can be a real problem. Recovery is all about connection and isolation and loneliness can push the person back towards addiction.

Tiredness of feeling lethargic all the time is a sign the person is not taking care of self. Exhaustion can be a sign of an inability to regulate feelings or overdoing it. A balanced lifestyle is important for relapse prevention and complete recovery.

If you find your recovering loved one hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, it is time to ask for help.

The Stages of Alcoholism

Alcoholism or alcohol use disorder is a disease that develops gradually and progresses over time. Slowly, it takes over the person’s life – from their health to their finances, relationships, and mental health.

While the progression of alcoholism may not be easily visible, some clear warning signs can be identified at each stage.

Stage #1: Denial

The first stage of alcoholism is often characterized by a denial of the problem along with the following symptoms –

  • an occasional drink to relieve stress or other problems
  • slowly a rise in drinking frequency and tolerance
  • thoughts start getting focused on alcohol consumption
  • rationalization of alcohol abuse
  • most people around the person are not aware of the drinking problem

An early warning sign of alcoholism is using alcohol to cope with stressors like relationship issues, daily stress etc.

Stage #2: Loss of Control

The next stage of alcoholism is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • intense desire to drink
  • alcohol-induced blackouts
  • severe withdrawal symptoms if the person doesn’t drink
  • loss of control over drinking
  • people around the individual can see his/her drinking problem
  • hiding drinking and its evidence from others
  • increase in relationship issues
  • social isolation

During this stage, the person starts becoming more accustomed to drinking larger amounts of alcohol without many effects showing. S/he can still function well despite heavy drinking. They become more focused on obtaining the next drink. Soon it is all they can think about.

Blackouts due to alcohol consumption become common and may even result in significant time loss, up to an entire day. During the blackout, the person may fail to remember where s/he went, what they did, or who they were with. This can result in hazardous physical and mental consequences.

Stage #3: Physical and Emotional Deterioration

The final stage of alcoholism is the most severe and consists of –

  • drinking obsession
  • can’t function without alcohol
  • Loss of interests in anything else
  • Depression, anxiety, insomnia
  • financial, legal, and relationship issues become worse
  • serious health problems

In this stage, the person now has a full-blown alcohol addiction. The person has become completely obsessed with drinking and thinking about the next drink.

To ensure complete recovery, a long-term alcohol treatment program is essential. Leading rehabs offer individualized treatment programs so that the individual can learn to overcome psychological, behavioral and emotional issues.

If you or a loved one is going through one of these three stages of alcoholism, don’t delay getting treatment.

Drug Dependence vs Drug Addiction – How Our Alternative Approach Prevents These

There is a difference between drug addiction and dependence that is important to understand. Although some use these words interchangeably, the preferred term is now “Substance use disorder”.

Drug dependence often alludes to the physical dependence on a substance and is characterized by the symptoms of tolerance and withdrawal. It typically precedes addiction.

Addiction is characterized by a change in behavior caused by the biochemical changes in the brain after substance abuse has continued over a period of time. The addict develops full dependence on the substance and craves for it and seeks it at all costs, with no regard to the harm it causes to themselves or others. It is highlighted by irrational drug-seeking behavior.

Mental dependence is when a person desires a substance in response to an event or feeling, which are known as “triggers.” Triggers can be set off by another person, events, experiences, etc.

Drug abuse is considered to be the early stage of drug dependence

Addiction becomes evident when both, mental and physical dependence is present.

Drug abuse is considered to be the early stage of drug dependence. When the abuse becomes more frequent, the likelihood of developing a dependence disorder gets greater.

 

It is important to differentiate between addiction and substance dependence. Dependence may be present without addiction, but it frequently leads to addiction.

 

We employ an alternative approach to pain management with a goal in mid to keep patients away from drugs that they can develop dependence for. Opioids, antianxiety meds, and stimulants all have addiction potential. They develop tolerance towards it, which means that when people use it, they need more of it to have the same desired effect. This leads to higher or more frequent dosing (abuse). That eventually leads to dependence and then addiction.

 

In order to prevent this cascade of events, we try to employ alternative methods for pain relief – such as herbal supplements, nonsedating meds with no addiction potential, and nonpharmacologic activities, including acupuncture, meditation, yoga, etc. While they may be less strong pain-relieving methods as compared to opioids, they can be extremely effective. For severe, uncontrolled pain, you would require strong painkillers but a wide range of patients can achieve effective and lasting pain relief from these options. The key benefit of these is the fact that they have no addiction potential, and in most cases, promote a healthy lifestyle.

 

It is important to remember that the key tenet of medicine is – first do no harm. While necessary in some cases, opioids and other anxiolytics and sedatives have a high risk of dependence leading to addiction, which can even be life-threatening. We explore all healthy alternatives to them as much as possible to avoid these problems and heal the patients at the same time. We deeply care about the wellbeing of our patients and strive to improve their life experience as much as possible.

Prescription Drug Abuse Facts – Know the Truth!

Prescription drug abuse is defined as the use of a prescription medication in a way not intended by the prescribing doctor. This type of substance abuse may become ongoing and compulsive, despite the patient facing its negative effects in life.

Prescription drug abuse can affect any age group but it’s more common in young people. It is critical to detect prescription drug abuse early in order to control it through early intervention and to prevent it from turning into addiction.

The most commonly abused drugs include opioid painkillers, sedatives, anti-anxiety medications, and stimulants.

  • Opioids – cause constipation, nausea, euphoria, slow breathing rate, drowsiness, poor coordination.
  • Anti-anxiety medications and sedatives – cause drowsiness, confusion, unsteady gait, slurred speech, dizziness, etc.
  • Stimulants (methylphenidate, dextroamphetamine, amphetamine, dextroamphetamine) – cause reduced appetite, agitation, high body temperature, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, anxiety, etc.

Many people abuse prescription drugs in order to feel good, get high, relax or relieve tension
People who abuse these drugs are more likely to steal or forge prescriptions and take higher doses than prescribed. They may also seek prescriptions from more than one doctor

People abuse prescription drugs in order to feel good, get high, relax or relieve tension, to reduce appetite or increase alertness, or to maintain an addiction and prevent withdrawal.

 

People may become addicted to medications prescribed for medical conditions, such as painkillers. Past or present addictions to other substances, such as alcohol and tobacco play a role. Family history of substance abuse problems is also a risk factor. Younger age is another risk factor, although prescription drug abuse in older adults is also on the rise. Mental health issues also predispose patients to drug abuse.

 

At our center, we understand the seriousness of prescription drug abuse – how it starts, what triggers it, how it affects lives and cause devastating and sometimes fatal consequences. This is why we focus on managing pain with non-opioid methods as much as possible.

 

We pay special attention to the existing condition of the patient so that we can best address the current complaint. We take a detailed history and do proper medication reconciliation to identify red flags.

 

There are many situations where alternative methods for pain relief that have less potential for addiction are possible. Once prescribed or recommended, we follow up with our patients to ensure compliance, relief from pain and tolerance issues if any.

 

It is important to provide adequate pain relief, and we understand that alternative pain relief methods, such as non-opioid medication, meditation, yoga, exercise, herbal supplements, aren’t always as effective. We identify those patients who need serious pain relief and refer them accordingly. But in many cases, patients do find relief from these methods. These patients then, don’t get exposed to opioids that they may have side effects from, or develop dependence for and potentially abuse.

 

We also counsel the patient on their pain management and how they can choose alternative methods that are much safer. This leads to better understanding and compliance and in many cases, lead to desired results.

Are you living with a Functional Addict?

Addicts are commonly seen as people who have hit rock-bottom, maybe from poor income dysfunctional households or school dropouts. We tend to think that we would quickly recognize an addict when we see one. This is not always true. There are many people who are addicted to drugs but manage to live a normal life, or so they say.

What is a High-Functioning Addict?

A high-functioning addict can be a successful professional or the busy supermom. S/he may seem to be living a happy life with a loving family, a great job, and hobbies that help him/her de-stress. However, the reality may be that s/he secretly abuses a drug or alcohol to go through the day!

High-functioning addicts are often able to keep their addiction a secret and manage their daily life without substance abuse getting in the way. They may even believe they do not have a problem and they can handle their addiction.

So, if you are living with a high-functioning addict, you may not know. However, there are ways to check.

Denial is one of the key signs of addiction. High-functioning addicts do not necessarily use drugs daily. They seem to effortlessly manage their personal and professional lives. Even their friends and family may fail to recognize the addiction.

However, no matter how well functional addicts carry on with their lives, there will always be consequences. You may notice subtle changes in their behavior like a tendency to isolate themselves, refusing to interact socially, lack of focus at work and missing deadlines. High-functioning addicts are good at making excuses for unusual behavior.

Here are some telltale signs that you are living with an addict.

  • S/he can’t seem to limit drinks or recreational drugs.
  • S/he claims that s/he needs to drink or take drugs to feel nice.
  • You notice something unusual with his/her behavior about which s/he attempts to lie and cover up.
  • After a tasking work is done, your partner rewards him/herself by binging on alcohol or drugs.

As family or friend, it is important that you understand that the person has an addiction problem and help the person get the right treatment.

Stress and Alcohol Dependence – A Vicious Cycle?

Stress and drinking are a toxic combination that has somehow gained social acceptance. People who claim to experience high levels of stress admit that they drink more frequently than others. The same is true of people with anxiety and depression.

Does Stress cause Alcoholism?

While people have different reasons for drinking – from celebrating to dealing with pressures. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines stress as ‘subjective feeling of pressure or tension’. This is often accompanied by heightened feelings of anxiety, anger, fear, excitement, or sadness.

People who drink regularly to cope with stress initially report temporary comfort but using alcohol as a coping mechanism can lead to catastrophic consequences. For example, those who drink to cope with pressure or stress are more likely to develop a substance abuse disorder.

Drinking Alcohol Increase Stress Levels

The fact is, rather than helping you cope with stress, drinking can actually increase stress levels. Alcohol abuse would negatively impact your work or school performance, personal relationships and finances, all of which would intensify your stress.

Alcohol also stresses the body and the mind. As the body gets rid of the alcohol from the night before, blood sugar levels may fall, adding symptoms of anxiety to the existing stress.

Alcohol leads to an increased level of cortisol, a hormone the body was naturally generating as a response to stressful events. High levels of cortisol can cause inflammation, blood sugar spikes and high blood pressure. Persistent cortisol in your body can damage your central nervous system and other organs.

So, the alcohol that you have been drinking to cope with stress is actually adding to your stress levels. Seek professional help if you experience withdrawal when you try to stop drinking. A reputed alcohol and drug rehab center can help you learn ways to cope with stress in a healthy way without any dependence on alcohol or any other substance.

What Type of Anti-Craving Medications are used for Alcohol Addiction?

Why would anyone want to tiptoe through life, as if it’s a full-fledged cocktail blur?  Getting drunk daily, probably doesn’t sound so appealing to those of us that are not alcoholics. Neither does waking up craving the next liquid courage binge or nightly sweats due to our shallow veins that need to seep with alcohol.

According to the National Council on Drug and Alcohol Abuse, alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States: 17.6 million people, or one in every twelve adults, suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence along with several million more who engage in risky, binge drinking patterns that could lead to alcohol problems.

The brains of alcoholics are wired differently, forcing them to have a chemical imbalance, where they crave dependence.  The pleasure can be corrected with certain anti-craving medications but would have to be taken over extended periods of time.

For any specific, powerful solutions in subsiding the desire for alcohol, you MUST admit you have a problem and need help.  Step One is recognizing unhealthy patterns and verbally expressing, you know there is dependence and you are powerless over alcohol and life has become unmanageable.

What can we do about the cravings, to cease taking the first drink?

The FDA has approved pharmaceuticals such as Naltrexone, Antabuse, Acamprosate, and antidepressants (SSRIs) tend to be the most effective.   

Naltrexone – stops you from your dependence on opiate drugs and alcohol.  It has been designed to block the feeling of being “high” that you get when you drink.  This should be combined with rehab and a certified counselor that will help maintain sobriety.

Antabuse – one of the oldest and most commonly used remedies that intercept with alcohol metabolism, thus producing negative side effects when alcohol is consumed, such as vomiting and painful nausea.  The problem occurs when individuals stop taking the medication because they want to drink instead of getting better.

SSRIs – are used for treating depression and balancing serotonin levels.  Alcohol is a depressant, many isolate while abusing alcohol and become hermits, putting them in a state of hibernation.  Who wouldn’t feel depressed while in this state?

Acamprosate – used in the treatment of alcohol dependence, to maintain self-restraint. It has a good success rate for subsiding cravings.

There are all-natural remedies like acupuncture that has been shown to be a highly effective form of treatment (traditionally used in Chinese medicine).

Milk thistle is richly made up of a concentrated antioxidant silymarin that aids in restoring liver functioning and further damage to your liver.

Alcohol depletes our vitamins, nutrients, and minerals – which means we should increase our B Vitamins for energy production. Glutathione becomes depleted in the body from excessive alcohol use and drinking suppresses our appetites – therefore, we consume fewer food products and our bodies lack necessary nutrients.

It is imperative to eat a diet full of antioxidants and take a glutathione supplement to stabilize levels in your body.

We want you to give up alcohol permanently and stop your cravings before they start.  This requires you to recognize what is triggering you reaching for a drink in the first place.

Visit us here https://www.pacificbayrecovery.com/ for additional information on how we can help.

Take the first step with us today and learn how to live alcohol-free and vibrant.