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Category contains 2 blog entries contributed to teamblogs

Posted by on in Drug Addiction

In addiction treatment, inhalant abuse and addiction is largely overlooked in lieu of the more prevalent drugs such as alcohol, opiates, meth, etc. While inhalant abuse may not be as common as some other substances, the effects and devastation brought on by inhalant abuse can be equal, if not more severe than other drugs. In Orlando the death of a prominent attorney  due to inhalant abuse has compelled me to write about the dark world of inhalant abuse. With inhalant abuse, as with all substance abuses, awareness is the greatest tool in preventing abuse and getting people help. In this post, I will explain exactly what is inhalant abuse as well as the signs and symptoms of someone abusing inhalants.

What is Inhalant Abuse?

Inhalant abuse, in street slang, is usually called ‘huffing’ or ‘sniffing’. National Inhalant Prevention Coalition (NIPC) defines inhalant abuse as “the intentional misuse, via inhalation, of common household, school and workplace products and chemicals to “get high.” The most commonly abused inhalants are all legal household products; such as computer duster, paint thinners, aerosol cleaners, butane liquid, and gasoline. Other inhalants can be purchased at smoke shops or head shops and include whipped cream aerosols, ‘whippets’, and nitrites, or the slang term ‘poppers’. Different forms of inhalants contain various chemicals and solvents that produce the high people experience when abusing them. The action brought about by these chemicals are all very similar, they deprive the brain of oxygen and blood flow. When the brain experiences a lack of blood or oxygen, similar to the feeling of being light headed, the person experiences a feeling of dissociation that can result in dizziness, unconsciousness, and even death.  Aerosols and dusters also have the danger of freezing the users lungs, instantly causing death. The pressurized air could drop below freezing temperatures and damage or actually freeze the lungs. Almost a 1/3rdof deaths from inhalants happen during the users first experience, but could happen to even seasoned inhalant abusers. When the brain undergoes a sudden lack of oxygen, the person experiences a sense of euphoria. What the inhalant abuser does not realize is the euphoria is a result of a near death experience, the brain being deprived of oxygen is releasing neurotransmitters in response. This high is fast-acting and addictive. The cost and accessibility of inhalants make it an attractive drug for young adults and even children.  The NIPC reported over 300 inhalant related deaths alone in 2014.

Signs & Symptoms of Abuse

The signs of someone who is abusing inhalants is almost as wide-ranging as the types of inhalants available. Here is a simple list of common signs…

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Sponsorship, as recommended in AA and NA, is a vital component of a 12-step program. The benefits of a good sponsor are crucial to someone new in recovery. While a sponsor is not required for sobriety, experience has proven that people who find a sponsor and follow suggestions have a greater chance of staying sober. Sponsors can help guide their sponsees  navigate the turbulent waters of early recovery. Here are ten benefits that having a dedicated sponsor can bring to your life.

 

  1. Share Experience

In early recovery, many people are still uncertain about if they are truly an alcoholic or addict. A sponsor is key because their job is to ‘qualify’ you. While this sounds strange, qualifying is all about looking through your past and reviewing your drinking or using. A sponsor will help you see how addiction has impacted your life and help you see your powerlessness over substances.  Often times a sponsor will share some of their own past experience with addiction in order to help you relate and feel like you are not alone.

  1. Share Strength & Hope

Sometimes we get depressed or down on ourselves, we feel weak or like failures. Sponsors are people who have been through the same types of feelings and can help you out of these moods. The sponsor has overcome his addiction and can provide hope that things will improve if we just don’t drink or use.

  1. Lend a Sympathetic Ear

When things head south, the sponsor is there to hear our stories. Perhaps they comfort us or maybe they tell us to stop pitying ourselves. Sponsors can be a confidant, someone you can tell you deepest thoughts and feelings to without fear of judgement.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

In today’s recovery community relapse is no longer a rare occurrence. The truth is that relapse is now a common step in many people’s path to long-term sobriety. Relapse is a part of my story, although it certainly does not need to be a part of your story. The types of relapses and duration of the relapse vary among people. Being involved in a 12-step program and interning at an outpatient addiction recovery center I have seen dozens of strangers, friends, and patients relapse. With this and my own relapse as the core of my background, I cover the top ten most common warning signs of a relapse. These are behaviors or actions that often precede a relapse and should be red flags in sobriety.

1.       1. Isolation - People who suffer a relapse often tend to isolate themselves from their support groups and family. This can show as a reduction in recovery meetings, failure to reach out to friends, and anti-social tendencies.

2.       2. Dishonesty – A common sign of a possible relapse is a slip back into dishonest behaviors. This could be lying about your feelings or what you are doing. In my opinion, dishonesty is a sign of internal conflict and can signal a return to addictive behaviors and relapse.

3.       3. Question if You’re Really an Alcoholic/Addict – One of the most important steps in getting sober is admitting that you are powerless over substances. It is dangerous when a person begins to wonder if possibly they made a mistake. If they start to believe they can control their drinking or using, then a relapse will follow.

4.       4. Romanticize a Drink or Drug – Another warning sign is when a person begins to glorify a drink or drug. They have forgotten the pain and misery that their addiction caused. They start to think a drink or drug will make them feel better. It is important to realize that there is not a problem or situation that drinking or using will make any better.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Twenty or thirty years ago doctors and therapists suspected that alcohol and drug addiction seemed to be a genetic disease. Using observation, psychologists were able to see a strong link between addicted parents and their children. To put it simply, if a person’s parents were alcoholics or addicts then they had a greater chance of being addicted themselves. However, it is certainly not a guarantee. Plenty of addicted parents have perfectly addiction-free children. The medical profession puzzled over just how much of addiction was genetic. Did things like childhood trauma or emotional neglect have any role in addiction? Are certain families plagued with a predisposition to addiction? In recent decades, technology and medical advancements have allowed researchers to find solid evidence for the genetic role of addiction in families.

Genetic Evidence

Recent discoveries in DNA testing and gene profiling has given us new insights into how addiction runs in families. Using gene markers has allowed scientists to identify at least three gene qualities that are predictive of drug and alcohol problems. These include genes involved in alcohol metabolism as well as in the transmission of nerve cell signals and intensity of nerve cell activity. The research reveals that there is also more to addiction than just our genes. People born with these ‘addiction genes’ do not always become addicts. People born without these ‘addiction genes’ can become addicts. So how much of addiction is based on our family? For both alcohol dependence and drug dependence, considerable evidence suggests that genetic factors influence the risk of these disorders, with heritability estimates of 50 percent and higher (D. Dick 2008). So our genes make up about half of our chances of becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol. Where do the other 50 percent come from then?

Other Influences

Research and case-studies have found that dozens of other factors can contribute to the likelihood of forming an addiction. One of the greatest factors is the age at which the person takes his first drink or drug. Evidence shows that people who begin drinking or smoking before the age of 15 have a significantly larger chance of forming an addiction later in life. Another important factor in developing addiction is our personality. Certain personality traits are very high in the addicted population. Some of these traits include anti-social behaviors, lack of empathy, and low inhibitions. Children who exhibit these qualities at a young age could potentially be at risk for addiction. Lastly, events like trauma and abuse can lead to addiction. Perhaps the best example of this is in groups of soldiers suffering PTSD. Soldiers with this stress disorder appear almost 4 times more likely to acquire an addiction than those who do not have PTSD.

Originally Posted @ Recovery Blog

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Originally Posted @ NewBridge Recovery Blog

Stopping using drugs and alcohol is a life changing event. Working at an outpatient treatment center I have the benefit of talking to people who call and want to get sober. Many of them do not know about detox and others think it unnecessary. Another portion of patients are eager to find relief from the pains of withdrawals that detox can offer. Some patients don’t really require a medical detox. However, the reality is that most incoming patients need a medically assisted detox, whether they agree or not. Depending on the type of drug, withdrawals can be miserable, dangerous, and even fatal. Discover what type of drug/alcohol abuse demands a medical detox, like the services offered here at NewBridge.

The Dangers of Withdrawals

The level of danger of going through unassisted withdrawals varies with drug type. The symptoms of withdrawals and the negative effects produced also differ. Although typically not life-threating, one of the most painful and excruciating withdrawals is from opiates. Heroin and opiate users who stop using these drugs will experience a massive absence of dopamine, resulting in both physical and mental side-effects. Withdrawals from opiates has been described as flu-like symptoms, with vomiting, fever, shakes, and sweating.
The opiate user will also experience hopelessness, numbness, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. Drugs like cocaine and meth have less obvious withdrawal effects. Users often report feelings of fatigue and apathy, although it goes away quickly. The danger with withdrawal from stimulants is minimal. The more dangerous drugs to withdrawal from are benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and alcohol. These drugs can even result in seizures and death if stopped without medical detox. These class of drugs,
depressants, all work to slow down the central nervous system and GABA activity. This is why these drugs cause feelings of relaxation and drowsiness. When these drugs are stopped, the brain responds by rapidly increasing the activity in the central nervous system. Due to the deficiency of activity from abuse of depressants, the brain overstimulates without these drugs. The effects are shakes, anxiety, and more. The real risk of withdrawals from these type of drugs is the danger of having a seizure. By increasing activity in the brain to dangerous levels, the person is at risk of having a seizure and death. Getting medical detox for these drugs is of high importance. The quantity of substance abused and the frequency of use is an important consideration, but with depressants it is better to play it safe. Many alcoholics do not feel they need detox. However, if they have been daily drinkers for even a month, then their body will be at serious risk of seizures quitting alcohol. Binge drinkers are not at as much of a risk for seizures, but caution should be used.

 

Benefits of Detox

Detox programs, like those at NewBridge Recovery, offer the person quitting drugs and alcohol a wide range of benefits. First, detox offers the person the relief of physical withdrawal effects. By offering medical assistance and tapering from the drugs, the person is relieved of the awful side-effects of quitting drugs/alcohol. Also the mental stress, such as anxiety, depression, apathy, are lessened when detoxed medically. At NewBridge we give our patients medication to reduce anxiety and mental stress of withdrawals. Our patients are monitored and treated if any physical or mental problem arise during the crucial detox period. The chance of giving up and returning to using drugs or alcohol is very high without detox. The physical and mental pain becomes too great and the person seeks relief in drugs/alcohol. At NewBridge we seek to reduce relapse during detox by making our patients as pain-free and comfortable as possible. Results show that people who undergo a medical detox have a greater start on getting sober. Perhaps the most important benefit is the reduction of risk and fatality provided by medical detox. With a full-time nurse and two resident doctors, NewBridge is available to assist our patients in the case of medical emergency and also to prevent such a crisis from occurring. If you are considering stopping drugs or alcohol, please consult with NewBridge or another detox center before going ‘cold-turkey’. Outpatient service offer other benefits to someone trying to someone struggling with addiction.

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