The Benefit Of Honesty In Recovery
The old proverb “The truth shall set you free” couldn’t ring more true regarding honesty in recovery. That’s because complete honesty is the foundation for success in every aspect of life, whether it be relationships or sobriety. Thus, open communication is the key to gaining complete freedom from your strongholds.
At Luna Recovery Services in Houston, Texas, honesty in recovery is something that we believe has a tremendous impact on your sobriety goals and in all walks of life. Read on to learn more.
What Is Honesty?
The definition of honesty has been so jaded by modern society that it’s important to clearly define it. Honesty is speaking the whole truth, without withholding any details. According to this definition, partial truth or concealment of any truth, even if a direct lie is not vocally expressed, is no less dishonest. It takes a thorough understanding of this definition and dedication to the fulfillment of honesty in recovery to open endless possibilities on your road to sobriety.
What Are The Dangers Of Dishonesty in Recovery?
While honesty is the key to a successful recovery, dishonesty exacerbates your preexisting condition. Dishonesty is perhaps even as equally damaging as the substance you struggle with. Remember, it’s never too late to begin a track record of honesty that will help your doctor conduct a successful road to recovery. Consequently, here are all the dangers and hindrances caused by dishonesty.
The more lies you tell yourself and others, the more impulsive dishonesty becomes. So much so that you could even convince yourself of your dishonesty. Furthermore, these deceptions impede your therapist’s ability to treat the true state of your addiction or mental health struggles. This is the main culprit in preventing people from achieving full recovery and sobriety. You can prevent yourself from becoming a victim of your struggles with honesty in recovery by reaching out today.
As alluded to in the previous point, dishonesty is what keeps many from achieving sobriety. Doctors map your recovery path based on what you share in therapy. Therefore, each bit of false information you provide only means doctors aren’t able to give you the proper treatment. It can even exacerbate your addiction or mental health struggles. It is vital to understand that the truth does set you free when it comes to honesty in recovery.
When doctors or loved ones see a track record of dishonesty it becomes more difficult for both to know which is the truth. This forces them to second-guess everything you say, making it confusing for doctors to chart an efficient recovery path. If you began your recovery dishonesty, it’s not too late to turn the tables. You can start an honest track record that will become apparent to all parties, who can then effectively aid in your recovery.
Dishonesty towards your doctors and loved ones in recovery often causes you to return to the very habits you’re seeking to abolish. This can become a dangerous cycle of deception that deepens addiction to the brink of fatal consequences. You can break the cycle of addiction and dishonesty simply by opening up truthfully about the extent of your struggle.
Untruthfulness is even more of a poison than truth is an antidote. Dishonesty puts unneeded strain and barriers between even the greatest of friendship and family bonds. This can make family members feel helpless in their attempts to aid your recovery. So much so that they will feel as if they cannot help you until you decide to be openly honest. You can begin the recovery process now by opening up truthfully with your loved ones and seeking professional help today.
What Are The Benefits of Honesty in Recovery?
The unmatchable benefits of open-ended honesty and transparency are pretty much the exact opposite of the dangers of dishonesty. Your real treatment begins the moment you adopt this open line of communication. Without further ado, here are some of the many benefits honesty in recovery affords you.
Substance dependency can be a mental contributing factor to dishonesty. This is due to the neuronic alterations that take place as a result of drug addiction. This alteration can be so severe that you even believe the lies you speak.
That’s why forcing yourself to speak truthfully can be the starting point to help cure the addictive personality and mentality. Your assigned therapist can help you reverse these natural impulses of dishonesty. It takes an accountability partner to help you train new habits to take the place of your former dishonest habits. In turn, that initial step of truth-telling can go a long way by being your main asset toward sobriety.
When you begin to open up truthfully to your doctors and loved ones, it begins to mend relationship bonds. This includes mending friendships and family bonds that may have otherwise been destroyed by dishonesty before recovery. The more truthful you are, the more you restore your relationships and the closer you get to making sobriety a reality.
The more honest you are with your therapist and loved ones, the more efficient your recovery will be. Expressing the complete truth allows your physician to hone in on the root causes, triggers, and nature of your addiction. In turn, they can map the most efficiently individualized treatment. Bear in mind, dishonesty only makes your rehabilitation longer and more difficult for yourself.
Relapse is frequent among those who are dishonest throughout the recovery process while honesty helps prevent relapse incidents. Even if relapse occurs, open-ended honesty ensures you get right back on track. Remember, a doctor can’t help you if you aren’t open about your struggles with substance abuse.
What Are Common Signs of Dishonesty in Recovery?
The good news is dishonesty, though concealable, often reveals itself in recovery. You can help you help yourself or a loved one by taking notice of the signs of dishonesty in an individual struggling with addiction. Act immediately if you notice the following indicators of dishonesty in recovery.
Failure to take ownership of your addiction struggles or placing the blame on others is an indication of deeper honesty issues. Furthermore, this shows the substance abuser is in denial about the true state of their struggle. This level of denial is a sign that ought not to be ignored.
Taking ownership of your condition and the extent of your struggle is the first and most important step in recovery. Coming to terms with the problem is the only way you can accept the help you need. Reach out to our dedicated team of therapists to take that all-important first step of honesty in your recovery journey.
Many people who struggle with substance abuse also exhibit complete denial about their addiction. Such denial means the substance user is being dishonest with themselves. In correlation, anybody being dishonest with themselves are more likely to be even more dishonest with others.
It is important not to approach the individual in an accusatory manner as this could push the individual farther away. Instead, approach them in a loving manner of concern. Help them get the help they need by extending a caring and friendly hand in the right spirit.
If you continually manipulate others to feed your addiction, it’s vital to seek help immediately. For example, one who feeds their addiction habit may lie about needing money for important life amenities to fuel their substance abuse. If you find yourself manipulating the kindness of others to feed your addiction, it’s never too late to mend those relationships. The truth does set you free from your strongholds and the strain that dishonesty has on your relationships.
How To Improve Honesty In Rehab
The good news is you can improve honesty in recovery by taking action today. The following honesty methods are made possible with a caring doctor in your corner to help you maintain accountability.
Admit Your Dishonesty
Improving honesty simply starts by admitting you have a problem with telling the truth. There’s no shame in admitting you need help being honest. Admitting you have a problem with honesty is the strongest and most admirable thing you could do. This enables family members and doctors to help you break the habit of dishonesty one step at a time.
Be Honest with Yourself
Many people who struggle with addiction are dishonest with others mainly because they are dishonest with themselves. Being honest with yourself often alleviates a burden from your shoulders that enables you to be more open with your therapist and loved ones.
Come to Terms with the State of Your Addiction
Perhaps the main reason for your dishonesty in recovery is that it’s hard to come to terms with the fact you have a problem. However, it’s impossible to get the treatment you need until you accept the issue at hand. Doing so opens up endless possibilities for a happier life in sobriety.
Luna Recovery Can be the Answer To Your Addiction and Relationship Struggles
Luna Recovery understands how difficult it is to face substance struggles alone. The loving support from our compassionate team of therapists will show you you don’t have to be alone in your struggle. We’ll teach you how honesty in conjunction with your loved ones and a caring therapist can be your key to a successful recovery. Speak to a specialist today to take that first honest step of accepting you need professional assistance with your struggle.
Addict Mentality: How People with Substance Use Disorders Think Differently
Have you ever wondered why people with substance use disorders (SUDs) make decisions that, to many of us, seem irrational and incomprehensible? In this article, we’re inviting you to take a deeper look into an addict’s mind. We will look at how addiction can impact the brain as well as the mental state, how this can lead to an "addict mentality," and what can be done to prevent or manage it.
This is an important topic—one that often gets overlooked when talking about the addict mentality. Luna Recovery Services in Houston, Texas provides recovery resources and treatment programs to help people with various types of addictions learn how to manage their conditions effectively and recover.
What is Addiction and What is an Addict Mentality?
You may have heard the term "addiction" before and wondered what it meant. Addiction, in a mental health context, is a persistent behavior issue or pattern of behavior that continues despite negative consequences. It could be related to drugs or alcohol, but it can also be related to other things like gambling and certain activities. But addiction doesn’t just happen overnight; this disease has its roots.
When it comes to substance use, an addict's mentality is often distinguished by a distorted way of thinking. This type of thinking frequently prioritizes short-term benefits over long-term effects. It creates a kind of "instant gratification" mentality that convinces users to believe that the benefits of their addiction are always greater than any potential long-term consequences.
Such ways of thinking include engaging in risky behavior despite being aware of the risks, feeling helpless to quit despite being aware of the consequences, and being unable or unwilling to recognize or accept help from supportive family and friends attempting to help them break their addiction cycle.
How an Addict's Brain Differs from a Normal Brain
In terms of structure and function, the brain of a person with a substance use disorder is very similar to the normal brain. Yet, there are internal changes that occur in a person’s brain when they get addicted to substances.
Neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin play a role in regulating pleasure and emotions. In the addict’s brain, these neurotransmitters become altered due to repeated exposure to drugs or alcohol. This can lead to abnormal pleasure-seeking behaviors as well as increased reward-seeking behaviors.
The structure of an addict’s brain changes due to the continued use of drugs or alcohol. The connections between neurons in the frontal lobe become weakened due to drug use. This leads to impaired judgment and decision-making skills.
Drug or alcohol abuse can also lead to changes in how memories are formed and recalled in the addict's brain. These changes can lead to difficulty concentrating on tasks, difficulty retrieving memories, and an overall decline in cognitive functioning.
Understanding these biochemical changes taking place inside your brain can help you effectively address challenges on your journey toward recovery.
The Daily Routine and Struggle Faced by Addicts
A drug addict's daily routine can vary depending on the individual's circumstances and drug of choice. Some common elements of a drug addict's daily routine include getting the money for drugs, buying the drugs, using the drugs, and then repeating the process. Any interruptions to the cycle, such as those caused by work or family duties, are annoying and likely to irritate them.
While an addict keeps abusing the substances, their tolerance (or greater demand) for higher dosages increases, along with their cravings, despite knowing the risks. Addicts get more desperate to keep simulating highs. As a result, their mental health suffers, and they end up making bad choices about their behaviors and safety. In most cases, they also become dangerous to those around them. Other common struggles that an addict faces include the following:
People suffering from addiction often can't accurately identify what rewards they should expect from their behavior or understand the consequences of their actions. This leads to more risk-taking behavior as well as an inability to effectively learn from their mistakes.
This mental issue often goes hand-in-hand with difficulty determining rewards and punishments. People with addiction have difficulty figuring out which decisions will be more beneficial in the present or future. This is due to their simplistic way of thinking, which involves instantly assessing every circumstance in terms of how it will benefit them right away.
It's no secret that addicts often act without considering consequences first; this is because they lack impulse control, which causes them to act without thinking. Addicts may also have trouble exercising self-control when making choices that could compromise their long-term health or safety.
Drug use can harm one's physical well-being and cause ailments including liver damage, lung disease, or heart disease. It can also worsen or result in serious mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Unfortunately, social stigma and discrimination are common experiences for people with addiction. Addiction is still often seen as a moral failing or a lack of willpower, rather than a complex health condition. This can lead to negative attitudes and beliefs about people with addiction, which can cause stigma and discrimination.
Relationship Dynamics and Addicts' Behavior Habits
Addiction can cause dramatic changes in an individual’s relationship dynamics and behaviors, including
- Black-or-white thinking
- Prioritizing addiction over other important things in life such as work, family time, social events, etc,
- Experiencing strong cravings and urges,
- Repeating thoughts and actions and developing manipulative or secretive tendencies.
- Lying or making excuses to cover up their use
- Keeping a distance from their loved ones so they won't interfere with their use
- Manipulating people or situations to get what they want
- Engaging in risky behaviors or dangerous activities that may cause a harmful effect
An addict may also feel guilt, shame, and denial about what they're doing at the same time, which, in reality, only keeps them trapped in the addiction cycle longer. They would attempt to convince themselves that the situation was not serious or that it was not the real problem.
Treatment Programs for Addiction and the Road to Recovery
When it comes to treatment for addiction and addict mentality, there are multiple paths to choose from. The most effective approach may vary depending on the individual's specific needs and circumstances. However, it is important to note that addiction differs significantly from other problems: it's a chronic condition. Addiction can’t be cured, but it can be managed, and the symptoms can be controlled.
With proper treatment and a committed effort, recovery is still possible. Here are the best seven treatment options to consider:
- Medical Detoxification: This is the first step in treating drug addiction, and it involves removing the drug from the person's system. Detoxification can be done in a hospital or a specialized facility. It is usually medically supervised to manage withdrawal symptoms.
- Counseling. Talking to a counselor or therapist can help you explore new behaviors, work on your emotional issues, and healthily release your stress. The key is to talk about the underlying causes of your drug use. It is also ideal to explore new coping skills in recognizing the triggers of substance abuse. Your counselor or therapist can help you build an individualized plan for sustainable recovery.
- Behavioral Therapies: These therapies help individuals change their attitudes and behaviors related to drug use. Examples of behavioral therapies include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing (MI), and contingency management.
- Medications: There are medications available that can help reduce cravings while working through treatments like counseling. This is especially important if withdrawal symptoms have become an issue due to heavy drug abuse. Medications can also be used to treat co-occurring mental health disorders that may contribute to drug addiction.
- Support Groups: Support groups provide invaluable resources for recovering addicts by creating a safe space for them to share their experiences and learn from each other as part of their healing process. Some popular support groups include 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous and SMART Recovery meetings, which promote evidence-based approaches to treating addiction.
- Residential Treatment: This involves living in a residential facility for some time to receive intensive treatment and support.
- Outpatient Treatment: This involves attending treatment sessions on an outpatient basis, typically for a few hours a week. Outpatient treatment can be a good option for people who have completed residential treatment or have a less severe addiction.
No matter what path you take in recovery from substance use disorders, it will take a lot of effort and commitment. With the right combination of treatments—whether that includes one or all of the options mentioned above—long-lasting sobriety can be achieved with time, patience, and self-care.
Receive Help from Luna Recovery Services
Helping someone with a substance use disorder or addict mentality is incredibly difficult, especially for family members. It's essential to understand that the person you're trying to assist is dealing with a mental health issue.
They would need your full compassion, support, and understanding. Addicts shouldn't be stigmatized or shamed because addiction is not a choice. If you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction, seeking professional help is highly recommended.
Beat addiction with Luna Recovery! Our team of addiction treatment professionals is experienced and compassionate. We provide the best quality of care to help individuals heal and get better. Contact us today to learn how you can achieve long-term recovery!
Avoidant Personality Disorder vs Social Anxiety: What’s the Difference?
There are some common features when you compare avoidant personality disorder vs. social anxiety, but they are different mental health conditions. People often mistake the two because they appear so similar. However, treating avoidant personality disorder differs from treatment for social anxiety.
Avoidant personality disorder involves using avoidance to cope with feeling inadequate. Around 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent of Americans struggle with this disorder. Social anxiety is when a person has a heightened fear of interacting in a social setting due to feeling inadequate. Almost seven percent of Americans are affected by this type of anxiety disorder.
Are you questioning whether you have social anxiety or avoidant personality disorder? Keep reading to learn the difference between avoidant personality disorder vs. social anxiety and how to treat both at Luna Recovery Services in Houston, Texas.
What is Avoidant Personality Disorder?
Avoidant personality disorder, or AVPD, is a personality disorder. It is characterized by the extensive avoidance of social interactions due to feeling inadequate and fearing rejection.
Someone with AVPD expects people to reject them and believe it is because they are inferior. They are also very sensitive to criticism. To cope, those with AVPD avoid social interactions at all costs.
However, this unhealthy pattern of behavior makes it challenging for someone with AVPD to form and maintain relationships. AVPD can also interfere with employment and other aspects of life. If you are exhibiting any symptoms of AVPD, it is important to seek help.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Avoidant Personality Disorder?
AVPD has three hallmark characteristics:
- Social inhibition
- Feeling inadequate
- Highly sensitive to rejection and criticism
But, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), a person must have the above characteristics and at least four of the following symptoms.
- Avoiding activities that involve significant amounts of interpersonal contact due to fears of rejection, criticism, and disapproval
- An unwillingness to interact or get involved with people unless acceptance is certain
- Holding back in intimate relationships due to a fear of shame or ridicule
- Excessively worrying about rejection and being criticized in social situations
- Feeling inhibited in new interpersonal situations due to feeling inadequate
- Considers oneself inferior to others, personally unappealing, or socially inept
- Extremely reluctant to take risks or engage in activities out of fear of embarrassment
The above symptoms can range from mild to extreme.
While typically not diagnosed before age 18, symptoms of AVPD are often present in childhood and adolescence.
What is Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety disorder (SAD), also called social phobia, is a constant and irrational fear of social situations due to the possibility of being judged by others. Sometimes this worry can start weeks before the event. Additionally, the anxiety from SAD often interferes with school, work, and relationships, including friendships.
Common situations that cause significant distress and anxiety in people with social anxiety include:
- Eating around people
- Speaking in public
- Talking on the phone
- Talking to strangers
- Making eye contact
- Using a public restroom
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Social Anxiety?
Signs and symptoms of SAD include:
- Physical symptoms include blushing, sweating, trembling, nausea, and a rapid heart rate
- Makes very little eye contact, has a rigid body posture, and/or speaks with an extremely soft voice
- Feeling anxious, worried, or uncomfortable being around and talking to others
- Feeling self-conscious, awkward, and embarrassed in front of other people
- Fear of being judged by others
- Avoiding places where other people are and interacting socially
What do Avoidant Personality Disorder and Social Anxiety Have in Common?
Being embarrassed or judged in a social situation is a common fear of both AVPD and SAD. Someone might describe a person with a disorder as awkward, fearful, shy, or timid.
Fear due to these disorders can present in various ways, including:
- Avoiding social situations
- Avoiding talking to strangers
- Low self-esteem
- Being shy around others
- Isolating or completely withdrawing socially
Genetic factors can contribute to the development of both conditions. Avoidance can be a learned behavior. For example, someone may start avoiding social situations after having a negative experience. Being shy as a child can increase the risk of developing AVPD or SAD, but it doesn’t mean they will.
Negative childhood events such as bullying, abuse, or trauma can increase a person’s risk of developing social anxiety and avoidant personality disorder. But physical neglect, in particular, is a significant risk factor for developing an avoidant personality disorder.
In 2015, a study comparing the two disorders found feeling rejected by caregivers, having disinterested caregivers, or not receiving enough affection in childhood was more common in those with an avoidant personality disorder.
An often misunderstood fact about AVPD and SAD is that while people with these disorders actively avoid interacting with people, they desire to be close to others. Their avoidance comes from the anxiety of potentially being judged or from feeling inadequate and not from a lack of desire.
Avoidant Personality Disorder vs. Social Anxiety
There are many similarities when comparing avoidant personality disorder vs. social anxiety. However, there are also several differences between the disorders.
AVPD is a personality disorder. Personality disorders are behavior patterns and inner experiences which are greatly different than what is expected in a person’s culture. These patterns are not occasional or fleeting; they are consistent and long-lasting.
SAD is an anxiety disorder. People with anxiety disorders respond to certain things and situations with intense fear and worry. It is so disproportionate that it interferes with daily functioning or causes significant distress.
People with social anxiety are typically somewhat aware that their fears of being judged are irrational and out of their control.
Someone with AVPD may genuinely believe they are inferior to others. They also think that the perceived criticisms are justified.
Childhood abuse and neglect increase the risk of developing AVPD and SAD. However, this risk is more prominent in avoidant personality disorder.
Negatively comparing yourself to others is the root of AVPD. People with AVPD are highly critical of themselves and have poor self-images. They project these beliefs onto others while assuming people view them in the same light.
Performance anxiety is the root of SAD. People with SAD have a fear of saying or doing something embarrassing or of being scrutinized.
The level of avoidance in AVPD affects all areas of life. A person with AVPD tries to protect themself by suppressing their emotions.
Typically they suppress anger and sadness. But, some people do not show joy or amusement even when expected. They are not just this way with new people but also in close relationships.
In comparison, a person with SAD typically avoids specific events and situations, such as public speaking and meeting new people.
Can You Have Avoidant Personality Disorder and Social Anxiety?
Lower self-esteem in someone with AVPD may explain why they have a higher risk of developing depression, eating disorders, and addiction. They are also more likely than someone with SAD to have suicidal thoughts and attempts. But the most common co-occurring disorder with an avoidant personality disorder is a social anxiety disorder.
Almost one in three people with AVPD have co-occurring SAD. However, a person with social anxiety is more likely to develop other types of anxiety disorders, such as panic disorders or phobias like fear of public places. Unlike people with just AVPD, people with SAD may have anxiety in non-social situations.
People with co-occurring disorders have a dual diagnosis. Because co-occurring disorders typically feed off each other, it is crucial to seek dual diagnosis treatment to reduce the risk of relapse.
Treatment for Avoidant Personality Disorder and Social Anxiety
Many studies have been done on the treatment for SAD. However, there is very little research done on treating AVPD, especially with co-occurring SAD. Most treatments recommended for AVPD are extensions of treatments for SAD with some changes.
Therapy for Avoidant Personality Disorder vs. Social Anxiety Disorder
Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is a first-line treatment method for both AVPD and SAD. According to a study in 2019, combining group therapy and individual therapy is beneficial for people with SAD, whether they have co-occurring AVPD or not. Someone struggling with SAD only benefits more from group therapy.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), is a common therapy for both AVPD and SAD. It involves identifying problems with the thinking processes and behaviors while changing them to healthy ones.
Medications for Avoidant Personality Disorder vs. Social Anxiety Disorder
While medication is not a primary treatment for AVPD, it may be used to treat specific symptoms, such as antidepressants for depression. But, medications are used in the treatment of SAD.
- Antidepressants - typically take a few weeks to begin working, safe for long-term use
- Anti-anxiety medications - work immediately, safe for short-term use
- Beta-blockers - help block physical anxiety symptoms
Both AVPD and SAD are associated with various other comorbid mental health conditions. But, a person with AVPD is at a higher risk of suicidal thoughts and actions.
If you are experiencing symptoms of AVPD or SAD, it’s essential to seek treatment. With treatment, these disorders can improve, but without help, they will not go away.
Seek Mental Health Support at Luna Recovery Services
Are you experiencing regular anxiety in, or avoidance of, social situations? Are the symptoms keeping you from building meaningful relationships? At Luna Recovery in Houston, Texas, our goal is to provide each person with individualized treatment to offer them the best chance at a healthy and productive life. Contact us to find out more.
Signs of an Overdose: Recognizing the Dangers of Fentanyl
Synthetic opioids such as fentanyl are one of, if not the most dangerous type of drug available today. While fentanyl does have some limited medical use, it is much more commonly used and abused recreationally.
Synthetic opioids as a whole are the most common drugs involved in drug overdose deaths in the United States today. In 2017 alone, over half of all opioid-related deaths involved fentanyl.
While fentanyl overdose deaths are on the rise, they are preventable if caught fast enough. That’s why it is so important to know the signs of an overdose and act accordingly.
Keep reading to learn more about Luna Recovery Services in Houston, Texas can help you recognize the signs of an overdose, fentanyl, and its effects, and how to avoid fentanyl-related overdoses from occurring.
What is Fentanyl?
As we touched on in the introduction, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid. However, fentanyl is not just any synthetic opioid, it is incredibly powerful and dangerous. While it is medically prescribed to treat severe to chronic pain like other opioids, it is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, which is one of the stronger prescription opioids available.
Because of its potency, easy access, and propensity to be abused, fentanyl is considered a Schedule II drug. This means that while it does have legitimate medical uses, it is also often used and abused for recreational purposes.
Prescription names for fentanyl include:
Why Is Fentanyl So Dangerous?
Over the years, fentanyl has become an incredibly popular drug to mass produce, often outside the United States, and smuggle in. This type of fentanyl often comes to the U.S. in the form of counterfeit pills made to look like prescription drugs.
Since these pills are not regulated, they often contain deadly amounts of fentanyl. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reports that about two in every five counterfeit pills have a lethal dose of fentanyl.
While fentanyl has grown in popularity on its own, it has also become more popular as a “cutting” agent for other drugs such as cocaine, meth, and heroin. Lacing or “cutting” these other substances with fentanyl, makes the other substances cheaper to produce, which in turn results in a higher profit for those making and selling the drug.
Unfortunately, many people taking substances that have been laced or cut with fentanyl aren’t aware that there is fentanyl in the drug they are taking. This greatly increases the risk of an overdose.
Even if a lethal dose isn’t ingested, fentanyl can be highly addictive. Those suffering from fentanyl dependency or addiction can experience extreme side effects and symptoms including:
- Stomach pain
- Dry mouth
- Vision changes
- Changes in sleeping and eating habits
- Strange dreams
- Back or chest pain
- Uncontrollable shaking
- Reddening or flushing of the skin
- Having trouble urinating
- Swelling of the hands or feet
- Hives or rashes
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms as a result of their fentanyl use, especially for a prolonged period of time it is important to seek medical attention immediately before symptoms continue to worsen.
Fentanyl Addiction and Overdose Statistics
According to a study by the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS), 5% of all urine specimens in clinics dealing in primary care, substance abuse, and pain management tested positive for fentanyl.
Below are some addiction and overdose statistics about fentanyl and opioid addiction:
- Over 2 million Americans 12 and older suffer from an opioid use disorder
- Over 20% of all people with a substance abuse issue have an opioid addiction
- Opioid abuse was one of the leading causes of overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2020
- In two years from 2020 to 2021, overdose deaths involving fentanyl and other synthetic opioids rose by over 50%
- From May 2019 to May 2020, there were over 40,000 fentanyl-related overdose deaths
- Fentanyl overdoses outnumber prescription opioid overdoses by over 500%
- Over 50% of all overdose deaths are fentanyl-related
- Asphyxiation is the leading cause of death in fentanyl overdoses
- From 2012 to 2018, fentanyl overdose death rates increased by over 1,000%
Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Overdose
As is the case with any substance of abuse, a fentanyl overdose has the risk of becoming deadly if not addressed quickly and properly. Knowing how to properly identify a possible fentanyl overdose can allow you or a loved one to spring into action and prevent possible death.
Below are some of the signs and symptoms of a possible fentanyl overdose:
- Slow, shallowed breathing
- Stopped breathing
- Extreme drowsiness
- Difficulty breathing
- Unable to respond or wake up
- Shrunken pupils
- Chest pain
- Blue lips
What To Do In the Case of a Fentanyl Overdose
If you or someone you know is experiencing a fentanyl overdose, you should call 911 immediately. If you have naloxone on hand you can administer that while you wait for paramedics to arrive. Naloxone is an opioid antidote that can be used to reverse the effects of an overdose. Naloxone can be obtained at most pharmacies, typically via a doctor’s prescription.
How Can I Prevent a Fentanyl Overdose?
While the easiest way to prevent a fentanyl overdose is to not take the drug in the first place, we know that can be easier said than done. If you or a loved one is suffering from fentanyl dependence or addiction, there are measures that you can take to make sure that you are not ingesting a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl.
While it might seem odd since fentanyl is largely an illicit substance and so are the substances that it is often laced or cut with, there are safe and legal ways that you can test for fentanyl. Fentanyl test strips can be used to test other illicit substances that might have been laced with or cut with fentanyl.
Should your fentanyl test come back positive, you will want to discard the substance so that you don’t run the risk of overdosing. It is also important to remember that a negative test result does that mean that there is no fentanyl present. All it means is that there is not enough fentanyl present to be lethal.
If you or someone in your house is taking an opioid of any kind, whether legally or illegally, you should make sure to have naloxone on hand either on your person or somewhere in your house that is easily accessible.
Naloxone is an opioid antidote that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and prevent a possible overdose-related death. Naloxone is available in the form of a nasal spray and injection and can be administered without any medical training. Many pharmacies offer naloxone and the pharmacist can go over how to administer it should you have any questions.
When using and abusing illicit substances it is fairly common for the person using and abusing drugs to do so alone. They might do so to hide from others that they have a problem. Using and abusing illicit substances alone can increase the risk of an overdose-related death because if you suffer from an overdose there is nobody around to help you.
Since fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, even the smallest amount can prove to be deadly. If you are taking fentanyl, whether medically or recreationally, or taking something you think might have fentanyl in it, take very small amounts.
Taking small amounts and waiting an extended period of time between dosages can help decrease the risk of a potential overdose while also limiting the potential for extreme side effects such as the ones we talked about earlier.
Avoid the Signs of an Overdose Entirely By Getting Help At Luna Recovery
The simplest way to prevent a drug-related overdose is to not take illicit substances in the first place. The second easiest way to prevent a drug-related overdose is to get professional help for your fentanyl abuse or addiction.
At Luna Recovery, we understand the dangers of all types of opioids, including fentanyl. We also know that while opioid-related overdoses are the most common, it is possible to overdose on any substance of abuse. That’s why we offer treatment for not just opioids but other substances of abuse including:
If you or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse or addiction, it is important to get them help before it is too late. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment programs and how we can get you on the road to recovery so that you can live a happy, healthy, and sober life.
Self-Esteem During Recovery: How to Build it Up
Self-esteem is an imperative aspect of anybody’s character; it influences how we communicate, responds to events, and even sets the trajectory for our future. In the context of addiction recovery, it has the power to set the stage for success.
The Relationship Between Self-Esteem and Addiction
Self-esteem is one of the most important factors in addiction. People with low self-esteem are more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with their negative feelings. They may also be more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as using drugs or driving while intoxicated. People with high self-esteem, on the other hand, are more likely to abstain from drugs and alcohol. They may also be more likely to seek help for their addiction. Self-esteem is also a major factor in relapse.
People who have low self-esteem are more likely to relapse after treatment than those with high self-esteem. This is because they may feel that they are not worthy of recovery. They may also feel that they cannot handle sobriety on their own. People with high self-esteem, on the other hand, are more likely to believe in their ability to stay sober. They may also be more likely to have a support system in place, which can help them stay sober.
What is Self-Esteem?
Self-esteem is a term used in psychology to describe a person's overall sense of self-worth or personal value. It is a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward oneself. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs (for example, "I am competent" and "I am worthy") and emotions such as triumph, despair, pride, and shame.
People with high self-esteem have better mental and physical health, more successful relationships, and greater work productivity. They are also less likely to experience anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems. On the other hand, people with low self-esteem are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as substance abuse, eating disorders, and self-harm.
Self-esteem is not static; it can change over time. It is also relative, meaning that people can have high or low self-esteem in different areas of their lives. For example, someone might have high self-esteem in their personal life but low self-esteem in their professional life.
There are several ways to improve self-esteem, such as therapy, journaling, and positive affirmations. However, it is important to remember that self-esteem is not an all-or-nothing trait; everyone has some areas in which they feel good about themselves and others in which they could use some improvement.
Why Does Self-Esteem Matter?
Self-esteem is important for many reasons. First, people with high self-esteem generally feel good about themselves and are happier than those with low self-esteem. Second, people with high self-esteem are more likely to take care of themselves and make healthy choices. Finally, people with high self-esteem tend to be more successful in life.
Low self-esteem can lead to negative consequences in our lives. It can make us feel unworthy, unlovable, and undeserving of good things. We may believe that we are not good enough and that we will never be good enough. This can lead to a feeling of hopelessness and a belief that we are powerless to change our lives. Low self-esteem can also lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
It can make us more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as substance abuse, eating disorders, and self-harm. And it can make it difficult for us to form healthy relationships. Ultimately, low self-esteem is bad for our mental and physical health.
Self-esteem is something that we all struggle with at times. It is normal to feel bad about ourselves occasionally. But when low self-esteem becomes a constant problem, it can be damaging to our well-being. If you think you might have low self-esteem, there are things you can do to improve the way you feel about yourself.
Signs of Good Self-Esteem
Some signs of good self-esteem are feeling confident in your abilities, setting healthy boundaries, and being able to accept compliments. People with good self-esteem tend to be more resilient and can better handle stress and setbacks. They're also more likely to take risks and pursue their goals.
Signs of Low Self-Esteem
Low self-esteem can manifest in several ways, including feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and inferiority. Individuals with low self-esteem often doubt their abilities and feel that they are not good enough. They may also compare themselves unfavorably to others and have difficulty accepting compliments.
How Does Low Self-Esteem Cause Addiction?
Low self-esteem can be a major contributing factor to addiction. People who feel bad about themselves are more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to escape their negative feelings. Additionally, people with low self-esteem often have trouble following through on treatment for addiction, as they may feel that they don't deserve to get better. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and low self-esteem, it's important to seek help from a professional who can address both issues.
What Happens to Self-Esteem When Using Drugs?
The use of drugs can have different effects on self-esteem. For some people, using drugs may make them feel more confident and increase their self-esteem. However, for others, using drugs may lead to feelings of insecurity and low self-worth. Additionally, some people may find that their use of drugs leads to negative consequences in their lives, such as losing friends or family members, which can further damage their self-esteem. Ultimately, the effect that drugs have on self-esteem will vary depending on the individual and the specific drug being used.
Addiction Risk Factors
There are risk factors that can contribute to addiction. Some of these include the following:
- A family history of addiction or substance abuse
- Exposure to drugs or alcohol at an early age
- Mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD
- Trauma or stressful life events
- Peer pressure
- Easy access to drugs or alcohol
- A lack of support system
- Poor coping skills
Many risk factors can contribute to the development of addiction. Some of these include family history, mental health issues, trauma, and stress. Each of these factors can increase a person's vulnerability to developing an addiction.
Family history is one of the strongest predictors of addiction. If someone has a parent or close relative who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, they are more likely to develop an addiction themselves. This is because addiction is partly genetic.
Mental health issues can also increase the risk of addiction. People who suffer from depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders are more likely to turn to substances as a way of self-medicating. This can lead to a dangerous cycle in which the person becomes increasingly dependent on substances to cope with their mental health issues.
Trauma and stress can also make people more vulnerable to addiction. People who have experienced traumatic events, such as abuse or violence, are more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of numbing their pain. This can lead to a spiral of addiction and further trauma.
Mental Health and Addiction
Mental health and addiction are both very serious issues that can have a major impact on an individual’s life. But what many people don't realize is just how big of an impact these conditions can have. Mental health disorders can lead to problems with work, school, and personal relationships. They can make it difficult to keep a job or get an education. And they can put a strain on the people who are closest to you.
Addiction, meanwhile, can ruin your health, your finances, and your personal life. It can cause problems at work and home. And it can lead to criminal activity. Addiction is an all-encompassing disease that is even more dangerous when another disorder exists at the same time. This is referred to as a co-occurring disorder.
What is a Co-Occurring Disorder?
Co-occurring disorders, also known as dual diagnosis or comorbidity, are the simultaneous presence of two or more psychiatric disorders. These disorders can interact and exacerbate each other, making it difficult to treat one without addressing the other. Commonly occurring pairs of disorders include depression and anxiety, substance abuse and mental illness, eating disorders and depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse.
Importance of Self-Esteem During Recovery
It is essential to maintain a healthy sense of self-esteem in recovery. A high level of self-esteem can help protect against relapse as well as provide the motivation needed to stay on track with treatment and goals. A low level of self-esteem, on the other hand, can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair, which can make it difficult to stick with a treatment plan. Additionally, individuals with low self-esteem are more likely to believe that they are not worthy of recovery, which can further hinder progress.
LUNA Can Help Improve Your Self-Esteem During Recovery
Self-esteem is imperative to the recovery process. Not only does maintaining positive self-esteem increase the chances of recovery success, but it also lessens the likelihood of relapse. At LUNA Recovery, we offer addiction treatment programs that can help. If you or a loved one are interested in how LUNA Recovery can help you, you can contact us here.
Teen Alcohol Poisoning: The Scary Truth
As kids transition from adolescence to becoming young adults, they begin experiencing many physical, emotional, and social changes that can feel dramatic and overwhelming. Teenagers also start to receive more independence from their parents. This combination of new stress and increased freedom can often lead to teens experimenting with alcohol.
There are many risks associated with drinking at such a young age. Research shows that the brain does not fully develop until the age of 25. Teenagers who drink, specifically those who drink heavily or binge drink, can damage their developing brains. This can lead to problems with learning and memory, impulsiveness, poor decision-making, anxiety, and depression. An adolescent addiction treatment program can help teens overcome alcohol abuse and eliminate the risk of alcohol poisoning.
Why Do Teens Start Experimenting With Alcohol?
Developmental changes like puberty will often play a role in this. Other life changes contribute to the reasons why teens begin trying alcohol. Overall inexperience with anything that could be harmful may make teens feel like there is no harm in trying. In many ways, growing up is ultimately what makes teens want to experiment with alcohol.
- Teens may view drinking alcohol as a pleasurable experience as it's been depicted in television shows or movies. If a teen perceives it to be a fun experience, they are more likely to try it.
- Teens are also more sensitive to the positive effects of alcohol which includes feeling more relaxed during social gatherings. Also, teens have typically not experienced any negatives like hangovers and therefore may not worry about those.
- If a teen is suffering from a mental health condition or personality condition they are more likely to engage in alcohol consumption at an early age.
- Hereditary factors can also influence if a teen is likely to engage in alcohol consumption. If the teen has parents or other family members that have issues with alcohol, they will be at a higher risk for developing alcohol addiction.
- Like hereditary factors, living in a household where people are continuously drinking sets up an environment where alcohol consumption is encouraged. Or, if the teen has friends that drink they are more likely to try alcohol.
Alcohol poisoning occurs once there is so much alcohol in the bloodstream that it starts to interfere with the basic functions of the body. This includes processes like breathing, regulating heart rate, and temperature control. With the overwhelming circulation of alcohol in the body, these vital systems begin to shut down.
Alcohol poisoning can lead to many devastating effects, including:
- Permanent brain damage can impact long-term thinking and memory
- Liver damage
- Unhealthy weight gain
- Disruption in puberty, specifically the growth of the reproductive system
Alcohol poisoning is a very real and serious threat to teen health. Every year, alcohol poisoning kills thousands of people, many of them young people. Alcohol poisoning occurs when someone drinks too much alcohol in a short period of time. This can happen by drinking too much at one time or by drinking heavily for a few days. Either way, it is a dangerous and potentially deadly situation.
Alcohol Poisoning Statistics
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol poisoning kills six people every day in the United States. Of those six, four are young adults between the ages of 18 and 34. In addition, nearly half of all alcohol poisoning deaths are of people under the age of 21. These statistics make teen alcohol poisoning a very real and serious threat.
Alcohol abuse is a problem for many teens. However, over the past 20 years, alcohol use has decreased exponentially. During 2021, estimations showed that about 30% of students in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades had used alcohol in the past year. This is a drastic difference from 1991 when the prevalence of alcohol use in those same age groups was 67%.
Alcohol abuse becomes more and more likely the younger a teen is when they are first introduced to alcohol. The younger a teen is when they are first introduced to alcohol, the more likely alcohol abuse becomes. A survey conducted in Texas from 2011 to 2015 showed that 9.5% of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 used alcohol for the first time in the past year. First-time alcohol use was more than double that of marijuana and cigarettes, making alcohol the most prevalent gateway substance.
The most common cause of alcohol poisoning is binge drinking. This happens because it takes your body time to digest alcohol, so you could have ingested a lethal dose of alcohol long before you realize it. Alcohol moves from your stomach into your intestines and then into your bloodstream. As this occurs, your blood alcohol level continues to rise, and this is what ultimately leads to alcohol poisoning.
You can also get alcohol poisoning from other forms of alcohol (isopropyl alcohol), like what's found in rubbing alcohol or some household cleaning products. Ingesting isopropyl alcohol can be fatal by swallowing as little as eight ounces.
What Qualifies as Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking is defined as drinking five or more drinks on one occasion if you're male. For women, binge drinking means consuming four or more beverages. Binge drinking is most common among young adults in their 20s, and typically, Caucasians and Hispanics engage in this form of alcohol abuse more than other ethnicities. In 2019, nearly 19% of the population in the United States binge drank in the past 30 days.
These statistics are also accurate in representing teen binge drinking. In 2019, only about 6.2% of African American teens reported engaging in binge drinking, whereas 17.3% of white teens did. Also interesting, 15.6% of LGBTQ teens stated they engaged in binge drinking, whereas 13.4% of heterosexual teens did.
What's the Difference Between Tipsy and Drunk?
The word "drunk" is used to describe someone who's impaired by alcohol. When you're drunk, your brain is affected, and you can no longer think straight. You may slur your words, stagger when you walk and have trouble standing up. You might also throw up.
The word "tipsy" is often used to describe someone who's had too much to drink but isn't quite drunk yet. When you're tipsy, you might feel a little uncoordinated or dizzy. You might also have trouble with your vision.
What are the Symptoms of Being Drunk?
Many symptoms come along with being drunk. Some of these include:
- Slurred speech
- Lack of coordination
- Increased relaxation or sleepiness
- Impaired attention
- Lowered inhibitions
If you or someone you know is displaying these symptoms, make sure they stop consuming alcohol immediately. In most cases, someone who is drunk will likely not end up with alcohol poisoning. But it is important to make sure they stop drinking so it doesn't lead to alcohol poisoning. Make sure they are not in an environment that will lead to them driving or engaging in other risky behavior.
If the drunken symptoms displayed appear to be more severe (slurred speech that leads to incoherent speech or inability to stand up, vomiting), then it might be time to seek medical help.
Risk Factors for Teen Alcohol Poisoning
Certain things will put you at a higher risk for alcohol poisoning. They include:
- Binge drinking: as previously discussed, this is defined as 4 or more drinks for women and 5 or more drinks for men. When someone drinks this much, it can cause the blood alcohol level to rise quickly and lead to alcohol poisoning.
- Young age: Alcohol affects teens differently than it does adults. Their bodies are not used to processing alcohol the same way and they are more likely to binge drink.
- Weight: Someone who weighs less is going to be affected by alcohol more because there is a higher concentration of it in their body.
- Medical conditions: Some medical conditions might make someone more susceptible to alcohol poisoning.
- Alcohol tolerance: If someone is a heavy drinker, they might have built up a tolerance to alcohol and be able to drink more without getting drunk. However, this also means that they are more at risk for alcohol poisoning because they might not realize how much they are drinking.
- Medications: if someone is taking prescription medications or even over-the-counter medications like antihistamines, it can intensify the effects of alcohol and cause the person to get intoxicated faster.
- Food: If food is in your stomach while you're drinking, it will slow down alcohol absorption into the body. If someone is drinking on an empty stomach alcohol absorption will occur much faster. Both situations need to be considered when drinking.
- Gender: Typically men have more body mass than women and can therefore handle larger doses of alcohol. Men also have a larger quantity of enzyme dehydrogenase. This allows them to process alcohol faster than women.
Any or a combination of these factors can lead to teen alcohol poisoning. Also, teens are typically not educated enough about alcohol and the risks involved with consumption to make smarter choices surrounding drinking, which leads to risky consumption.
The Symptoms of Teen Alcohol Poisoning Include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Slow breathing
- Pale skin
- Clammy skin
If you believe a teen is suffering from alcohol poisoning, it is important to seek medical help immediately. If they are vomiting, keep them on their side so they do not choke on their vomit. If they are unresponsive, call 911. Treatment for teen alcohol poisoning will be provided by medical professionals and will typically involve pumping the stomach, giving IV fluids, and close monitoring.
Treatment for Alcohol Abuse in Teens
The best way to prevent teen alcohol poisoning is to address any underlying issues of alcohol abuse. If your teen is drinking excessively, it is important to get them help. At Luna Recovery, we offer a comprehensive addiction treatment program that includes individual therapy, family therapy, and group therapy. We also offer educational groups and 12-step support groups. Our goal is to help your teen recover from alcohol abuse and live a happy, healthy life.
LUNA Recovery Can Help You Overcome Alcohol Abuse!
If your teen is struggling with alcohol abuse, we can help. LUNA Recovery offers comprehensive treatment to help teens understand what caused them to use alcohol and how to overcome addiction. We also offer evaluation services to determine if your teen is suffering from a mental health condition that may be contributing to their alcohol use.
Our goal is to help your teen recover from alcohol abuse and live a happy, healthy life. Contact us today to learn more about our adolescent treatment program.
Grieving the Addiction
Grief has a major role to play in addiction recovery. Yes, many folks step into recovery having experienced loss and trauma, often many losses and several traumatic events, and unresolved grief can certainly compound other challenges encountered in early recovery. Grief’s role extends beyond these past events, however. While it’s true that the grief process is usually associated with the loss of a loved one, important possessions, or important jobs and relationships, it is also the process that we move through when we leave behind a long-time way of living or a way of seeing ourselves.
The grief process is often stimulated by big changes. The step into recovery from a life of active addiction is about as big as it gets. It’s important to understand the role of grief, specifically in this regard, in the recovery process. That understanding can significantly ease the passage. Before we explore the grief process itself, it might be helpful to name some of the losses people experience when they begin the process of becoming sober.
The Addiction and All the Things that Go With It
No matter how long people live in their addictions, there are certain features that become part of their lives. The substance, the patterns associated with obtaining, using, and recovering from that substance, and the people and places they encounter are all woven into the addict’s life.
Another feature of addiction is often a certain sense of freedom. This may sound strange since for many, by the time they reach the point where recovery is either necessary, desirable, or both, addiction can feel like bondage. Freedom may not feel like the right word. It might be more apt to say that a certain lack of responsibility is intertwined in addiction for many folks. During active addiction, things like the groceries, a regular job, child-care, and relationship maintenance fall to the wayside. In early recovery, these things become important again, and the shift can be challenging.
Even when sobriety is recognized as a positive and even desirable choice, leaving these things behind can stimulate the grief process. The reason is actually fairly simple. The human brain essentially attaches to the things that receive its attention. The more attention, the more attachment. The more attachment, the more challenging it is to release and change. Grief is the process of releasing and changing.
The 5 Stages of Grief in Early Recovery
Though there are several stage models of grief, the most enduring is Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s 5 Stages model. Kubler-Ross first described the 5 stages of grief in 1969, and it has been used to explain and explore the grief process since then. Let’s look at the stages of grief as they relate to early recovery.
Denial is a form of shock that allows us to keep going when things are very painful rather than succumbing to overwhelming emotions. For an addict, denial protects them from the reality of their circumstances. They use denial to avoid responsibility for their actions and also to deter questions and concerns others may present about their behaviors. It isn’t uncommon for an addict to say something like, “I just have a few cocktails with dinner. I’m not an alcoholic,” or “I wouldn’t have gotten that DUI if that cop had been taking care of neighborhood crime rather than sitting there trying to meet their quota for the night.” In this first stage, the addict is unable or unwilling to manage the emotions they might experience by taking responsibility for their behaviors and clearly seeing the seriousness of their addiction.
Anger is a powerful emotion that can help us avoid the truth of loss, or in the case of addiction, anger can help us continue to avoid looking at the true nature of our addiction and our behaviors. In some ways, anger signals the step into the new reality, but the new reality isn’t desirable. When people experience the death of a loved one, it’s common for them to rail at the dead person, God, or doctors, etc. It’s also not uncommon for them to act out with anger and irritability toward others. For the addict, anger is often pushed out in the form of blame. The addict might blame friends, family members, spouses, children, employers and others for their substance use as well as other irresponsible behaviors. They might even deliberately or unconsciously pick fights or create other situations that allow them to justify their use.
Bargaining signifies another step toward the new reality, whether that’s acceptance after the loss of a loved one or a job, or an addict’s ongoing process of recovery. In this stage, the addict has begun to understand the seriousness of their addiction, but in order to maintain some level of control, they may try to negotiate terms. Bargaining represents that last ditch effort to prevent real change from happening. It isn’t uncommon to hear addicts in the bargaining stage say things like, “I know I was drinking too much. I’ve decided to limit myself to beer on Friday nights,” or, “please give me one more chance, I won’t let myself go that far again.”
In the fourth stage of grief, it becomes readily apparent that change is happening - the loved one has died, the job has ended, the divorce is real. This new reality feels bad, and sadness and even fear are not uncommon as we come to understand the loss but can’t see beyond it. This stage marks the real beginning of surrender for the addict, as they face the history of their addiction and the destruction that their behaviors may have caused. They may struggle with anxiety, confusion, and shame, and they may find it difficult to conceive of a life without their addiction.
In the final stage of grief, it’s as if our hands, knotted in fists until now, begin to open. Acceptance doesn’t necessarily mean that we like the new reality. We didn’t want to lose our loved one, our job, or our marriage, but we can see a life beyond the loss. Acceptance for the addict is similar. They may not always like the idea of sobriety, but they are able to see a life ahead, and they begin to understand that others have walked the recovery path and live sober, healthy lives. In this stage, the addict can see other possibilities. This stage is inevitable provided the addict stays on a recovery path.
The Truth of the Matter
The truth is that choosing sobriety and stepping into recovery doesn’t mean that everything is suddenly perfect, beautiful, and easy. In fact, early recovery can be really challenging. Difficult emotions, hard habit changes, relationship issues, and other tough circumstances are part of the recovery process. So is grief, and grief is inherently uncomfortable a lot of the time. There are some normal symptoms that come along with grief. Generally, the worst of these may persist for several weeks with gradual reduction over the next 2 to 3 months after the loss.
- Feeling overwhelmed or less capable than usual
- Feeling confused or having some short-term memory challenges
- Difficulty sleeping or feeling fatigued
- Loss of interest in normally enjoyable things
- Tearfulness or feelings of loss or longing
- Dreams or fantasies about using
- Anger, self-pity, or self-blame
- Over- or under-eating
If these symptoms persist, feel unmanageable, or cause significant dysfunction, it’s important to reach out for help. There’s no reason to try to push through alone, and help is available.
If you or someone you care about is struggling with substance use, you can use SAMHSA's helpline at 1-800-662-4357 or use their Treatment Locator. We are also available to assist you here at Luna Recovery Services. You can reach us by calling 1-713-714-1761 or chatting with us live on our Contact Page.
Explaining the Cycle of Addiction
Addiction doesn’t just happen overnight. It also doesn’t automatically happen just because you had a drink or two that one time or tried an illicit substance once. Addiction is a chronic brain disease that is a result of a chemical imbalance and develops over time.
There are several different stages when it comes to the addiction cycle. Keep reading to learn more about the cycle of addiction and how you or a loved one can recover before it’s too late.
What Is Addiction?
Before explaining the cycle of addiction and its different stages, it’s important to have a better understanding of the concept of addiction.
As we mentioned in the introduction, addiction is a chronic brain disease. That means that nobody chooses to suffer from addiction. Just like other diseases, certain factors can cause a person to develop an addiction to drugs and alcohol over time.
In the case of drug and alcohol addiction, the substance or substances of abuse affect the part of the brain that controls motivation, pleasure, memory, and reward. Over time, the brain begins to realize that these substances produce feelings that it likes.
As a result, it begins to crave these substances until a point is reached where it thinks that it needs these substances to function. It is at this point that the brain and body are suffering from addiction.
What is the Cycle of Addiction?
The cycle of addiction is a term used to describe the various stages of the development of an addiction. Each stage has its own set of thoughts, actions, and emotional triggers that lead the person struggling to the next stage. The cycle will often continue in an endless loop until the person suffering makes an active effort to get help for their addiction through treatment.
Even once treatment has been completed, temptations and triggers can pop up that might tempt someone to enter back into the cycle of addiction. That’s why recovery is a lifelong journey and something that you have to work on every day.
What Are the Stages of Addiction?
As we mentioned, addiction takes time to develop. Someone who has one drink won’t immediately become an alcoholic. In fact, completing the full addiction cycle can take months or even years depending on a variety of factors including genetics, environment, and pre-existing mental health conditions.
There are 5 general stages of addiction, all of which together complete the cycle of addiction. The stages are:
- Initial Use/Experimentation
Experimenting with drugs and alcohol and trying them for the first time is often considered a right of passage in our society. Whether the first time you have a drink or try an illicit substance happens in high school, college, or at another time it often occurs in a social setting where you feel like it’s something you have to do. This sense of peer pressure can either be perceived or it can be real.
While most people’s first time using a substance is in a social setting or for recreational purposes, that isn’t always the case. The first time you have prescribed medication, whether it be a painkiller, an antidepressant, or any other prescription drug that can be abused, that also technically falls under the “initial use” stage.
Initial use does not automatically mean that an addiction will develop. Many people can use illicit substances and never experience any of the effects of dependency or addiction. However, for someone that does develop a substance abuse problem initial use is the first stage.
As we mentioned, many people never get past the initial use stage. They can enjoy a drink or the occasion illicit substance without any major negative consequences. However, the next stage in the addiction cycle is abuse.
Abuse occurs when someone improperly uses a substance or substances. This can mean that they drink too much alcohol or they take a drug in a manner other than medically directed.
If the substance is legal then abuse is defined as using it in an improper way such as drinking or taking too much or taking a drug for a reason other than its intended medical use. If a substance has no real medical use or isn’t typically medically prescribed, such as heroin, then it can be considered abuse the first time it is taken.
Once someone has used and abused a substance or substances for a long enough period of time, they begin to build up a tolerance for said substance or substances. This means that they need more of the substance to reach their desired effects.
Tolerance occurs as a result of a change in the chemical makeup of the brain. As a result, the amount of alcohol or the dosage of the drug is no longer enough to produce the effect that the brain is used to for that substance. When this happens the brain needs more of the substance to feel its effects.
This change in chemical makeup, as well as how the brain reacts to the substance, is a sign that dependence is starting. Once the dependence stage occurs, the brain is so hooked on the substance that it thinks that it needs it to function properly. The brain might no longer be able to experience certain feelings or emotions without that substance being in your system.
It’s important to remember that just because you are dependent on a substance doesn’t mean you are addicted to it. People often become dependent on a substance for medical reasons. While they do need the drug to function properly, they are still able to go about their life in a fairly normal matter.
When someone becomes dependent on a substance for a non-medical reason though, that can lead to addiction. For substance use or abuse to be considered an addiction, the following criteria have to be met:
- Using the substance in ways other than medically directed
- Being unable to stop using the substance
- Experiencing cravings for the substance
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when the substance isn’t in the body
- Dealing with relationship issues as a result of the substance use
- Losing interest in activities
- Dealing with negative impacts in your daily life such as struggling at work or school as a result of your substance use
- Continuing to use and abuse the substance despite the negative effects it’s causing
- Using substances in dangerous situations (ie drinking and driving)
The number of symptoms listed above that you suffer from determines the severity of the addiction.
- 1-3 symptoms - mild disorder
- 4-5 symptoms - moderate disorder
- 6+ - severe addiction
How Can I Break the Cycle of Addiction?
It’s not uncommon for someone stuck in the addiction cycle to try and break it on their own. They might try and stop using the substance of abuse on their own before eventually succumbing to their cravings and ending up back in the cycle again.
The safest, and most successful way to break the cycle of addiction is to seek professional help and enter into an addiction treatment program.
The first step in the treatment process is to undergo detox. Detoxing is done to rid the body of all the harmful substances that are in it so that the body can begin to heal.
Due to the nature of detoxing and the withdrawal symptoms associated with it, detox treatment should be done under the care and supervision of trained medical professionals at either a local medical facility, a dedicated detox center, or a treatment center that also offers detox treatment like ours at LUNA Recovery.
Attempting to self-detox can be dangerous and even life-threatening.
Once detox has been completed, the next step is to enter into a treatment program. Depending on the severity of your addiction as well as what works best for your needs, our medical professionals will recommend and create a custom treatment plan for you.
At LUNA Recovery we offer a variety of treatment options for many different substances of abuse including:
- Inpatient Treatment
- Outpatient Treatment (OP)
- Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP)
- Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
- Adolescent Treatment
Regardless of the treatment plan you and your treatment professional choose, treatment will be largely focused on various types of therapies and therapy sessions. Therapy is designed to help better understand how your addiction developed as well as learn new, healthier ways to deal with triggers and cravings when they arise moving forward.
Do You Want To Break the Addiction Cycle?
Whether you have tried to break the cycle of addiction on your own and it hasn’t worked or you are new to the addiction cycle, it is never too late to get help. For more information about how we can help you break the cycle of addiction, contact us today.
Marijuana: It’s More Dangerous Than You Might Think
Marijuana has long been the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States and many other Western countries. The hep cats of the 1930s smoked it outside jazz bars, cool kids in the 1940s called it muggles or Mary Warner, the beatniks used it to write poetry in the 1950s, and it was a key ingredient in the Flower Power of the 1960s. The magazine, High Times, was published in 1974 carrying advertisements for things like the BuzzBee, a frisbee that allowed players to take a puff and then pass it along, and horror movies from the 1980s and early 1990s were incomplete without at least one “let’s get high” scene. For the majority of those 7 decades, while its popularity was high in counter-cultural movements, the general population remained at least a little nervous about marijuana.
That began to change in the 1990s.
While the possibility of legalization had come up before in the U.S., the idea didn’t gain a foothold until the 90s. In 1996 California legalized medical marijuana, and 39 states and the District of Columbia followed suit. More recently, while marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, 19 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized it for recreational use. Paralleling legalization, there’s been an increase in use and a shift in public opinion. Whereas marijuana used to be seen by non-users as a dangerous gateway drug, more people now report seeing it as relatively harmless.
That makes sense, right? It’s legal, after all, and it’s medicine to boot.
Yes. It’s legal in several states, and it’s prescribed to treat symptoms associated with many diseases - Alzheimer's, cancer, and ALS among them. Legality doesn’t make a drug safe. Both cigarettes and alcohol are also legal, and both are correlated with any number of dangerous outcomes. Medicinal doesn’t necessarily mean safe for general consumption. Many medicines are toxic when used incorrectly. Beyond all that, here’s an important fact: the marijuana that kids are smoking today is not the same marijuana kids were smoking 20 years ago. It’s significantly more potent, and that increased potency makes it anything but harmless.
Here’s what we mean when we talk about potency.
Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the chemical that’s responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects. That hasn’t changed. What has changed is the amount of THC that folks are ingesting when they use marijuana. Back in the 60s when the flower children were toking up, the marijuana they were smoking was a hodgepodge of the stems, flowers, and leaves of the cannabis plant, and the amount of THC was relatively low, rarely exceeding 5%. By 2008, the average THC content was 9%, and by 2017 it was 17%. The marijuana strains sold legally in dispensaries today might reach as high as 22% or even 45% depending on strand and method of ingestion.
Potency is a problem. Researchers have begun to make connections between increasing potency and an increased risk of marijuana (cannabis) use disorder. Marijuana (cannabis) use disorder is characterized by*:
- Taking more of the drug or using it over a longer period than was intended.
- Persistently desiring the drug or making unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control marijuana use.
- Spending a great deal of time obtaining, using, or recovering from marijuana use.
- Craving marijuana.
- Failing to fulfill work, school, or home life obligations due to recurrent use of marijuana.
- Continuing to use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems that are caused or exacerbated by the effects of the drug.
- Giving up or reducing important activities because of marijuana use.
- Recurrent use of marijuana in physically hazardous situations.
- Continuing to use marijuana despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by marijuana.
- Tolerance, as defined by either of the following:
- A need for markedly increased amounts of marijuana to achieve the same effect.
- A markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of marijuana.
- Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following:
- The characteristic withdrawal syndrome of marijuana (includes increased anger, irritability, depression, restlessness, headache, loss of appetite, insomnia, and severe cravings for marijuana
- Marijuana (or a closely related substance) is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
In addition to the risk of developing a substance use disorder, marijuana use can negatively impact:
- Mental health. Research has connected marijuana use to depression, anxiety, suicide planning, and psychotic episodes, though causation hasn’t been established. Recent research has found correlations between higher potency THC and an increased risk of psychotic disorders like schizophrenia.
- Brain health. Marijuana use can cause permanent IQ loss when people start using at a young age. These IQ points are irretrievable; quitting does not bring them back.
- Fetal health and development. Marijuana use during pregnancy may cause fetal growth restriction, problems with brain development that can be long-lasting, premature birth, and stillbirth. THC can also be passed from mother to baby through breast milk which has implications for the child’s ongoing development.
Though marijuana has been in use for several decades, and it has never been without risk, the increased potency, which has, at least recently paralleled the legalization movement, has increased the dangers associated with its use. As the trend toward legalization continues both nationally and globally, it is important to provide education to the general public about the dangers of marijuana use and the symptoms of a substance use disorder, as well as provide detailed information about the potency of available strains offered in dispensaries.
*If you or someone you care about is struggling with marijuana use, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help. You can speak to someone at SAMHSA by calling 1-800-662-HELP or visit their Treatment Locator at https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ to find a treatment center near you. We are also available to assist you. You can reach us at 713-714-1761 or by visiting our Contact Page.
What Happens When You Overdose?
An overdose occurs when you take more of a drug than your body can safely process. Overdoses can be accidental or intentional, and they can be life-threatening. There are several symptoms that arise when a person is experiencing an overdose. It is important to understand what happens when you overdose (or someone else) and what to do next.
If you or someone you are with is experiencing signs of an overdose, call 9-11 immediately and get medical attention. Also, be sure to check out our drug addiction resources to learn more about treatment options and how to avoid relapse and overdose. LUNA Recovery is here to help.
What is An Overdose?
You may be wondering, what happens in an overdose? An overdose occurs when a person takes too much of a drug or is exposed to too high of a dose of a substance. When this happens, the person may start to experience serious medical problems, including organ damage, coma, and even death. If you think someone has overdosed, it is important to seek medical help immediately.
There are a variety of different drugs that people can overdose on, including prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, and illegal substances (cocaine, heroin, etc.) In some instances, an overdose can occur without a person even realizing it. Unintentional overdoses can occur for anyone that has become dependent on a drug or is unfamiliar with the consequences of hard drugs.
Overdoses are common for the following substances:
- Opioids (heroin, painkillers, fentanyl, etc.)
- Stimulants (cocaine, meth, etc.)
What Are the Symptoms Of An Overdose?
The symptoms of an overdose may vary depending on the type of substance that was overdosed on. These can range in severity and come about fairly quickly if a person is not careful. However, some common symptoms of an overdose include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Agitation or confusion
Understanding what an overdose feels like and looks like is crucial, for you and those around you. If you think someone has overdosed, it is important to seek medical help immediately. An overdose is a medical emergency and can be fatal if not treated promptly.
Overdose Symptoms - Based On Substances
Let’s break down some of the different symptoms depending on the substances since each can be slightly different from the next. Regardless of the substance, overdose is just as equally as dangerous.
An alcohol overdose can occur if a person drinks too much in a single sitting.
- Unresponsiveness, or being unable to be woken up
- Trouble staying conscious (or being unconscious).
- Pale or blue-tinged skin (also clammy)
- Slowed or irregular breathing.
- Lowered body temperature
- Mental confusion
- Vomiting (dangerous due to possible diminished gag reflex).
- Slowed or stopped heart rate
- Slurred speech
- Impaired mental state
- Slowed breathing
- Respiratory arrest
Opioids can be incredibly dangerous when it comes to overdose symptoms, particularly addictive drugs like heroin and certain painkillers. Heroin overdose, specifically, continues to be a dangerous consequence of frequent substance abuse. Opioid overdose symptoms include:
- Constricted pupils.
- Breathing problems (slowed, and/or irregular breathing).
- Respiratory arrest
- Choking or gurgling
- Blue or purple lips
- Being unresponsive to auditory queues
Like opioids, stimulants can be associated with overdoses, specifically cocaine and methamphetamine. These drugs can be dangerous and even fatal in some cases. Stimulant overdose symptoms include:
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
- Dangerously increased body temperature
- High blood pressure
- Rapid breathing (hyperventilating)
- Stroke, heart attack, circulatory compromise, or other heart-related events
- Seizures and convulsions
- Panic or paranoia (psychosis)
- Vivid hallucinations
- Aggressive behavior
What Causes An Overdose?
An overdose can happen for a variety of reasons. It could be intentional (someone takes too much of a drug on purpose) or accidental (they take more than the recommended dose by mistake). Sometimes people will deliberately overdose in an attempt to harm themselves.
Overdoses can also occur when people mix drugs, which is called polydrug use. This can be especially dangerous because it increases the risk of experiencing negative interactions between substances. Under no circumstance, should a person ever combine more than one drug, especially if it is highly potent such as cocaine or methamphetamine.
People who abuse drugs are also at a higher risk for overdosing because they often build up a tolerance to the substances they use. This means that they need to take increasingly larger doses to get the same effect. Taking large amounts of any drug carries a risk of overdose.
The risk and effects of an overdose can be exasperated by health issues like cardiovascular problems and other medical conditions. This can make an overdose all the more dangerous and fatal. Likewise, those with poor immune systems and health, in general, are at risk.
Using drugs in solitude can be dangerous since there is no one to address the symptoms or facilitate the situation. It is also very dangerous if an overdose does occur. Abusing drugs, in general, should not be done alone or with people, due to its dangerous and negative consequences. If you or a loved one is suffering from drug addiction, it’s best to turn to experts like our team at LUNA Recovery.
One of the biggest risk factors associated with drug overdose can come from the unknown. Street drugs can sometimes be laced or cut with other drugs to create a more potent and intense effect. Some people may not be aware of these combinations and thus take more than intended.
Preventing an overdose is always the best course of action. If you or someone you know is struggling with drug abuse, please get help. There are many resources available to those who need assistance.
What to Do if Someone is Overdosing
If you think someone has overdosed on a drug, it is important to seek medical help immediately. Do not try to handle the situation on your own. Call 911 or your local emergency number right away. When responders arrive, they will assess the situation and provide care as needed. This may include giving the person oxygen, administering fluids or medication, or performing CPR if necessary. The goal is to stabilize the person and prevent any further harm.
After the immediate crisis has passed, the person will likely be taken to the hospital for further treatment. This may include monitoring, IV fluids, and medications to help with withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, people may need to be admitted to the intensive care unit for close monitoring.
Further Help for Drug Abuse and Addiction
Addiction can cause several problems and dangers in a person’s life, including overdose. If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to drugs, there is help available. Drug addiction treatment can provide you with the tools you need to overcome your addiction and get your life back on track. With the right treatment, you can achieve lasting sobriety and build a foundation for a healthy and happy future.
Preventing overdose starts with getting the proper addiction treatment. At LUNA Recovery, we provide many different options for drug addiction treatment with your loved ones in mind. Drug addiction and dependence can be extremely painful for everyone involved, and if not treated, can end up causing permanent damage.
Treatment for an overdose includes:
- Medication-assisted detox (MAT)
- Residential treatment
- Outpatient treatment program
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
- Quality therapy options
These are just some of the quality programs we provide for you and your family. Don’t wait and risk the negative effects of drug addiction, especially overdose. Contact our passionate team and we’ll help you get started on your journey toward a better, cleaner life.