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.
Autopilot: Energy Saver and Saboteur
Ethyl alcohol is the intoxicating substance found in beer, wine, and liquor. It is addictive and dangerous, but the truth is, not everyone who drinks alcoholic beverages ends up hitting devastating rock bottom. Some folks who drink alcohol regularly, as a part of their social or working lifestyle may never encounter any serious issues. Many of them could, if they chose, stop drinking today without any risk of dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Still, some of these people struggle to stop drinking even after they’ve decided that they’d be better off without it. Why?
Autopilot, a term used in mindfulness-based treatment modalities, is one culprit. It can sabotage some of the very best intentions.
Simply put, autopilot describes the state that we’re in when we do something without thinking about or focusing on what we’re doing.
That doesn’t sound too terrible, does it?
Autopilot is not terrible. It has a purpose. The state of autopilot is great for saving energy. You see, autopilot relies on procedural memory - that’s where our old, practiced behaviors live. Tying shoes, brushing teeth, eating with a spoon or a fork, and even driving to work using a particular route are part of procedural memory. Because these things have been practiced over and over again, they take very little of our brain’s precious energy. Our brains don’t have to work too hard to get these things done, so it leaves time and space for other things. For example, we can multitask!
Despite its positive traits, autopilot is not always our friend when we’re trying to make big changes. It can turn into quite the saboteur if we don’t keep an eye on it. To understand how this works, we need to wrap our heads around a few things:
It takes a lot of energy to build a new habit. Depending on how long we’ve been practicing the old habit and how much stuff is connected to it, we have to fight against our brains to do new things and to do them long enough that the brain gets used to them. If you don’t believe that, try this simple little act: For one full week start brushing your teeth on the right side of your mouth rather than the left (or vice versa). Notice how your hand will try to shift to the side that it’s used to, and notice how that’s especially true if you’re in a hurry.
Autopilot conserves energy. That’s not a bad thing. The trouble is that when we are depleted (exhausted, hungry, depressed) or when we’re elevated (excited, angry, jazzed up) we can fall automatically into an autopilot state. Remember, new behaviors take up lots of energy. Old habits don’t. Our smart, helpful brain knows when we need to conserve our energy, and if we’re not on our toes, it will slide us right into autopilot without asking for consent. For those of us that run around in a perpetual state of stress, autopilot is a balm for our overtaxed brain.
A lot of stuff goes into building and growing some of our habits, and the more stuff, the stickier the habit is to break. Alcohol consumption can be a very sticky habit. Take one aspect of drinking alcohol (just 1!) - Happy Hour. For some folks, Happy Hour is a weekly habit that they’ve been engaging in for many years. The Happy Hour habit is made up of both internal and external cues. It is more than walking out of the office and going down to the corner bar. The Happy Hour habit includes emotions and feelings like the excitement that the week is over, exhaustion after having put in a long day or week, and happiness about spending time with friends.
These internal cues combine with external cues like other employees talking about Happy Hour, the clock hitting 5 pm, the office emptying, and picking up our jackets and lunchboxes before heading out the door. When we’re in an autopilot state, all of these cues can be amplified. It’s a bit like the cues are there poking buttons, and before we know it we slide out the office door and down to the pub instead of home to our dinner and a warm bed.
This is not about weak willpower and has nothing to do with morals either. Old habits are hard to break. Autopilot has its benefits, but when it comes to choosing sobriety after years of practice drinking, getting some control over autopilot is critical. Fortunately for us, while doing so takes practice, it isn’t complicated. Here are two important things to cultivate that will help keep autopilot in check and out of the saboteur role:
Since our smart, helpful brains will happily slide into autopilot to conserve energy, one of the best things we can do is learn to understand and regulate our energy appropriately. There’s a reason that the acronym, HALT is popular in 12-step circles. Hunger, anger, loneliness, and exhaustion deplete our energy and set us up to operate on autopilot. The problem is, that many of us have spent years ignoring our feelings and the sensations in our bodies. The first step is to practice taking time throughout the day to check in with the body, heart, and mind.
This doesn’t have to be a complicated deal. Just closing the eyes for a moment and noticing any physical sensations is a good way to start. That little practice teaches us to recognize what our energy looks like at any given time. By learning and practicing good nutrition, sleep hygiene, healthy social skills, stress management, and emotional processing we can keep our energy nice and level more often.
The opposite of autopilot is focused awareness. While autopilot conserves energy, focused awareness feeds it. The trouble is that many of us have trained ourselves away from this kind of awareness to move more quickly and do more things at once. To cultivate focused awareness, we must slow down, and that’s something that is not necessarily encouraged in our society. The good news is that we can practice focused awareness while we’re practicing tuning into our bodies.
The more we practice, the easier it all becomes. Good level energy feeds our ability to have focused awareness and focused awareness helps to feed and regulate our energy. Together, they keep autopilot in check. The saboteur is no longer so quick to sabotage our efforts to change.
To sum up - not everyone who decides to stop drinking is chemically dependent, but that doesn’t mean that stopping is easy*. Autopilot can sabotage the best intentions for sobriety. By learning to understand and regulate our energy and by practicing focused awareness, we can start to control the autopilot. With the saboteur under control building a new habit, even one as big as sobriety, becomes easier.
LUNA Recovery Services Can Help You Break the Vicious Cycle
If you have tried to stop drinking or using other chemicals and have been unable to do so or have encountered significant problems, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Autopilot is only one piece of what may be a more complicated puzzle, and there is no need to struggle on your own. Please reach out to us today by calling (713) 714-1761 or by using the chat box at the bottom of any page on our website, lunarecovery.com.
Alcohol And Heart Palpitations: How Drinking Affects Your Heart’s Rhythm
Most alcoholic beverage advertisements always come with the "drink moderately" warning, as drinking copious amounts of alcohol is known to cause troubling physical and psychological health complications.
A new study done by the American College Of Cardiology on alcohol and heart palpitations, states that even moderate chronic alcohol consumption can cause irregular heart rate. The initial belief was that heart rate irregularities were often just limited to those who binge drink, resulting in what is commonly called holiday heart syndrome. It seems that atrial fibrillation, another term for irregular heartbeat, will also affect those who drink small amounts regularly. As such, the study answers the question “Does drinking alcohol increase heart rate?”
At LUNA Recovery Services in Texas, we provide addiction treatment programs and other resources for people suffering from alcoholism. Contact us today to learn how to jumpstart your journey to recovery.
Alcohol And Heart Palpitations: How Does Drinking Contribute to Cardiovascular Problems?
Many studies are being submitted to the American College of Cardiology on the effects of alcohol on cardiovascular health, and these studies largely have to do with alcohol's effects on relevant body functions that are held to contribute to developing an irregular heart rate.
How Does Drinking Alcohol Affect The Body?
These studies point to three general effects of alcohol on the human body that are likely to contribute to irregular heart rate, including:
Alcohol has been known to damage the various cells of the body, including the cells associated with the heart. The damage could cause the development of fibrous tissue inside the heart, and the development of the fibrous tissue is seen as a contributing factor to an irregular heart rate.
This particular study on the effect of alcohol on the cells of the heart has shown that binge drinkers who have also undergone catheter ablation, a treatment used to deal with irregular heartbeat, continue to have an irregular heart rate even after the procedure.
The heart beats through contractions triggered by electrical signals transmitted between the cells. Regular alcohol intake has been known to disrupt more than a few vital functions of the body, including the transmission of these electrical signals.
This disruption of the signals could interrupt the rhythm of the electrical transmission, and this interruption is translated into a heartbeat irregularity.
Alcohol is known to have a depressant effect on the central nervous system, which is why people who get drunk lose motor control, coordination, and balance. These external manifestations are reflections of the disrupted processes also happening inside the body.
The autonomic nervous system controls the bodily functions that occur automatically, such as breathing, digestion, and the beating of the heart. The disruption of the central nervous system also extends to the autonomic functions, which is why drunk people also lose bladder control, vomit while they sleep, and experience irregularities in breathing and their heart rate.
Is Alcohol A Risk Factor for Cardiovascular Disease?
Much like the central nervous system (CNS), the cardiovascular system is also largely affected by alcohol intake. The most recent studies indicate that even light to moderate regular alcohol intake is now seen as being a major contributor to heart conditions. This is why alcohol and heart palpitations are closely associated with each other.
In healthy people, alcohol induces a temporary increase in heart rate and blood pressure. This increase could be quite crucial in people with a history of heart disease, who is susceptible to heart failure for any reason, and those of advanced age.
As a cardiovascular disease contributor, the following effects of alcohol are of particular concern to cardiologists who treat patients with this disease:
Any chronic variation or disruption of the regular rhythm of the heart is a cause for concern because it could be a condition known as tachycardia, which is an increased heart rate due to problems with the electrical signals that cause the pumping action of the heart. Cardiologists say that tachycardia could lead to complications that could cause blood clots, which in turn inevitably leads to either a heart attack or a stroke.
Hypertension, the condition where blood pressure is abnormally high, is known to put people at risk of either a heart attack or a stroke. This is because high blood pressure could cause the arteries to harden and thicken. Even a single drink of alcohol could already cause a temporary elevation of blood pressure. This is why people feel their hearts racing after drinking.
This effect is magnified in those who engage in binge drinking and in those who have a regular habit of alcohol intake. The irony of this condition is that those who suffer from hypertension for many reasons need to rely on medication, exercise, and eating healthy just to get their blood pressure to within acceptable levels. Those who suffer hypertension primarily from alcohol abuse, on the other hand, merely need to abstain from their alcohol intake to bring their blood pressure to normal.
Damage to the heart muscle is called cardiomyopathy. If the muscle that causes the relaxation and contraction of the heart is damaged for any reason, blood flow in the body is compromised. This means that there might not be enough oxygenated blood getting to where it should be going to.
Heavy alcohol intake is known to cause cardiomyopathy, and thus far, there is no known cure for it. This means that if a person develops cardiomyopathy, it is irreversible.
Why Is An Irregular Heart Beat A Point Of Concern?
There is a reason why the heart beats with a regular rhythm. Anyone who has been to the doctor will know that the heart rate is the first thing to be checked by the physician, as this could be a determiner for whatever else might be wrong with the body. This rhythm is attuned to the body's need for oxygenated blood to circulate the body.
We tend to breathe harder and faster when we work hard, exert ourselves, or become more excited than usual. This action is reflected in the rate that the heart beats, circulating more oxygenated blood around the body. After some time, or when we get tired, the heart goes back to the regular rhythm.
A heart arrhythmia happens when the heart beats too fast, too slow, or in an irregular pattern. This is a disruption of the rhythm that the heart is supposed to beat with. This is a point of concern because it also affects how much-oxygenated blood gets circulated through the body.
Atrial fibrillation is a form of arrhythmia and is something that causes alarm in physicians because it is largely associated with increased chances of getting a stroke or heart disease. This is why doctors take no chances if they suspect that there might be an irregularity in a person's heart rate for whatever reason.
To put things in perspective, the heart is the only organ in the body that does not manifest any appreciable change even when we are sleeping. The brain shows signs of decreased activity when we sleep, and we tend to breathe slower and more lightly as well when we rest. The heart does not, and the only rest it gets is immediately after it contracts.
Any disruption in the pattern of rest and contraction in the heart could lead to a heart attack or a stroke. This is why heart rate irregularities are never taken lightly and should be treated as soon as it is diagnosed.
What Treatment Is Recommended for People With Alcohol And Heart Palpitations?
The only treatment known for alcohol-related heart rate irregularity is abstinence from alcohol. At LUNA Recovery, our inpatient or outpatient program mixed with addiction counseling can help people with alcoholism learn how to best cope with and manage their conditions.
As a result, this can also help to prevent any further damage to the heart and to any other essential parts of the body that might be susceptible to damage from heavy drinking.
To treat the heart rate irregularity itself, it would be best to consult with a cardiologist to know what the best options would be. The good news here is that those who did manage to kick their alcohol habit have experienced lessened cardiovascular issues.
We recommend a full assessment be done by a cardiologist, as well as, a routine psychological evaluation by our facility as soon as possible to determine what treatment programs would be best suited for your needs.
LUNA Recovery Can Help You Or A Loved One Recover From Alcoholism
The difficulty with alcohol abuse is that not too many think of it as bad as other addictions. As such, it is not properly addressed, and often not afforded the appropriate concern.
We here at LUNA Recovery know just how serious an alcohol dependency issue could be, and how difficult it is to quit it. Much work needs to be put into it, but we know how to help people through it, and we could do the same for you if you or a loved one needs it. Contact us today to start your journey to recovery.