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.
Myths About Addiction Recovery Debunked
Humans are creatures of habit, and with that comes opinions and assumptions. This can be quite damaging because instead of having the facts, the truth is misunderstood and twisted, making people sucked into believing whatever it is they want to hear.
This scenario applies greatly to addiction and the myths that exist surrounding the disease. They’re almost as many unfounded opinions about substance abuse as the people who suffer from it.
Truth is, some myths about addiction are far more damaging than other topics of discussion, in that it creates fallacies about people’s conditions. These myths only make things more difficult for those who suffer from this deadly disease.
People need to understand that addiction is a treatable disease that affects millions of people worldwide, and does not need further speculation. Some common myths of addiction that need to be debunked include:
Many people will insist that getting hooked on substances is a choice, and to a certain extent it is, but that is not always the case. Many people developed a substance abuse disorder due to certain circumstances, in which the option of choice might have been present for only a fleeting moment.
Some examples of this are the people who got hooked on painkillers. It might sound like an excuse to many but people who go through chronic pain everyday life every constant agony. There are instances where they endure blinding pain, and any relief from it is nothing short of heavenly.
This relief, of course, comes in the form of painkillers. While it is wrong, it is no surprise that people in pain tend to take more than the prescribed amount of painkillers just to stave off the torment they feel. Add to this the fact that people often build a tolerance quickly, and tend to up their dosage themselves rather than consult with a doctor first.
There is an immensely brief moment where people teetering on the edge of addiction could conceivably stop what they were doing, but for many, that moment is simply too brief and too fleeting.
In other cases, stopping the use of the substance is just inconceivable, as it could mean that after the detox phase, it’s back to pain, seizures, or performing less than one's best, as is the case of those who take stimulants.
To say that someone with a substance abuse disorder could stop if they wanted to is like saying that someone with a debilitating condition could simply "walk it off". Addiction requires treatment and therapy, sometimes for a long time.
Many might not believe it, but being in the grip of a substance abuse disorder is like being caught between a rock and a hard place. On one side, the person would like to recover and not get the urge to use any substance ever again. On the other side is the fear of stopping the usage for a host of reasons, not the least of which is the withdrawal symptoms.
Many with substance dependencies, however, don't even think as far as the point where they get to the withdrawal symptoms, as they could be so out of it from using for so long that they could barely think of what they would do a few minutes later. Cognizance is also largely affected by substance abuse, and this thoroughly affects logical thought, comprehension, and any sense of time.
The misunderstanding surrounding substance abuse is largely held to be the reason why most think people suffering from addiction are bad. It would probably be a huge surprise to many to learn that a large number of people with substance abuse disorders are victims themselves.
It could range from an incurred injury forcing a person to take pain pills, to a person who needed a little boost to help them along the way, to someone who just needed some help in getting sleep. These reasons might seem mundane or unimportant to others, but more than enough to put a person into a position requiring the use of substances.
There are many states in the US where the illegal use of regulated substances is prohibited. For the most part, this is the only criminal act that is largely associated with people who have substance abuse disorders.
Other users are known to commit felonies due to their need to secure their preferred substances, such as alcohol or opioids, while others have been known to become violent on occasion as an effect of whatever it is they are taking. Some had the misfortune of taking substances that should not be mixed, causing them to commit criminal acts.
For the most part, people with substance abuse disorders stay isolated and away from people. They know that their actions are associated with criminal acts, which is why they keep to themselves. This isolation is essential to some already in the rehab phase, which is why many make use of the alone time, but in this case, to heal and recover.
To say that people with substance abuse issues lack the willpower to recover is oversimplifying the problem. Those who have not gone through the ordeal know nothing of the horrors of withdrawal symptoms, let alone the overpowering urge and craving to use substances.
In most cases, the fear of suffering withdrawal, and the possibility of being held accountable for their actions, are more than enough for people with substance abuse issues to avoid seeking help for their condition. It is not so much a matter of a lack of willpower as it is a realization of what could happen if they do reach out.
There are several good reasons why there are many treatment options available for those going through rehab. There is no single silver bullet that will address any type of addiction. As different people take different substances, and they have different behavioral patterns and ways of thinking about it, it must be understood that unless the appropriate form of treatment is used, there is always a chance of failure or relapse.
To equate a relapse with failure is like assuming taking an antibiotic will fix any disease a person may have. Certain treatments target specific behavioral patterns, modes of thinking, and perceptions relevant to substance abuse. Unless the right one is used in treatment, the chance of failure or relapse is always there.
Many believe the "Spartan way" or giving tough love will solve any personal issue a person might have. While it is true that certain people are in no condition anymore to decide for themselves, which is why others need to make it for them, there is always a better way to relate with and treat people going through addiction.
A huge number of people with substance abuse issues, upon assessment, were found to have gone through some form of trauma or another, and it is this trauma that caused them to resort to using substances. Giving tough love and not addressing the trauma will not only result in treatment failure but could also be seen as an act of cruelty. There is a need to address the origin of the problem, and not just punish the person going through the ordeal for not being strong enough to resist the urge or find another solution.
Undergoing rehabilitation after the detoxification process is the most widely accepted path towards recovery, as it is during rehab that the person is aided in building the skills, mentality, and behavior needed to ensure they do not fall back to bad habits.
It is, however, not the only way, as research has shown that there are more methods, approaches, and practices that are being developed. These newer methods are taking into consideration the various circumstances and conditions that different people with substance abuse issues might have, to become more effective.
The important thing in this aspect is to have a thorough assessment of the person done to see which treatment could prove to be the most effective in helping them to a lasting recovery.
Let the Professionals At LUNA Recovery Help You Find the Best Treatment
There are so many institutions claiming they have the best and most effective treatments out there. At LUNA Recovery Services in Texas, we do not condone these myths surrounding addiction. Instead, we are focused on helping people and loved ones find which level of care would be best for their needs.
Our mission is to try our best to help debunk some common myths about addiction and provide access to care and recovery for people suffering from this deadly disease, through treatment programs, addiction counseling, and other resources. Let us help you find true recovery. Contact us today.
What Is An Intervention?
An intervention is an organized attempt to confront the individual with addiction about their drinking, drug use, or addiction-related behavior. Generally, a family drug intervention is needed to address how the person’s addiction has affected everyone surrounding them.
An intervention provides family, friends, employers, and colleagues an opportunity to tell the individual in their own words how the person’s drug or alcohol use has been an issue. The family drug intervention is a planned, spontaneous event that addresses an individual's substance abuse problem by focusing on destructive behaviors and negative effects.
In a family drug intervention, the following steps are recommended such as treatment, boundaries, and consequences if the plan presented isn’t followed. The planned attempt by the family and friends is used to persuade the addict to attend a treatment program.
One of the most important parts of a family drug intervention to remember is immediate results might not occur. Though it might seem irrational, it’s usually difficult for individuals struggling to be able to make a decision that is in their best interest.
Furthermore, addiction can wear an individual down. It’s not just about the person that is suffering but the entire family system is torn down. There are several different types of interventions.
How Do Interventions Work?
Interventions work through a professional and trained interventionist, the family and friends of an individual struggling with addiction, and the addict. Even though television shows typically showcase a family drug intervention as an ambush, it’s more of a loving invitation to change.
The advantage of an intervention is the family’s ability to learn more about the addiction.
Upon planning an intervention, it’s ideal to hire a trained and professional interventionist. A family drug intervention takes place in a controlled environment. Generally, it’s specifically selected to put the individual in more of a position where they are more prone to listen.
There are times when an intervention will come as a total surprise. There are newer techniques recommended that the members of the intervention team will tell the individual about it. During this discussion, the members of the intervention team will inform the individual about the drug and drinking use days before the actual intervention.
The intervention process might be led and guided by a skilled interventionist hired by the group. An interventionist should be a certified mental health professional with experience and training in addiction treatment. There are several examples of behavioral and substance addictions:
- Prescription drug misuse
- Compulsive gambling
- Compulsive eating
- Illicit drug use
- Alcohol use
How Does Addiction Affects Family Relationships?
Addiction affects the family relationship in several ways, including financially, emotionally, legally, and medically. For this specific reason, several treatment professionals engage in stress healing for the whole family unit.
It’s possible for children, spouses, and parents to all be impacted by the way that addiction affects the entire family. Peaceful and loving homes can end up being divided by the drug and alcohol abuse strain.
According to Psychology Today, about 1 in 5 children grow up in a home where the parent abused alcohol or drugs. When a child has to witness the parent struggling with addiction at a young age, there are long-term effects on the child.
Likewise, when a child grows up around a parent engaging in drugs or alcohol, they are more likely to develop a SUD. Furthermore, they are three times more likely to be neglected or sexually and/or physically abused.
When a child sees their parent on drugs, distressing emotions are often invoked. This creates development and learning delays but it can also lead to prolonged emotional and mental disorders.
Children might be exposed to violent and aggressive behavior due to a parent’s drinking. In addition to children, teenagers are exposed to parental substance abuse and are more likely to abuse substances in adulthood. When one member of the family is addicted, the entire family is negatively impacted.
Changing Family Dynamics: Everyone Plays a Role
It’s important that every family member examines their role in the family dysfunction and forge new relationships with the addicted loved one. It’s crucial for family members can take a look at how they engage with the person, through truth and boldness.
During this step, it’s vital to ask yourself if you’re paying the addicted individual’s bills, or if you’re overlooking any inappropriate behaviors. Furthermore, it’s important to ensure that walking on eggshells isn’t occurring.
During a family drug intervention, the strengths of every member will be discussed. Aside from that, family history will be touched because the role ancestors played in family dynamics is paramount. During the intervention, an experienced interventionist is trained to identify the nonverbal signs of every member.
A professional interventionist is also skilled in using specific techniques to calm an explosive meeting or overcome manipulation surrounding that. Everyone must be respectful during the intervention. Interventions can be life-changing, even if the addict refuses help.
What Is Family Therapy?
Family therapy focuses on the relationships surrounding the addict and the family members. The goal of family therapy is to bring clarity to all relationships. Furthermore, it aims to foster repair and closeness. Several family therapists believe that the problems exist between people, and not within them.
During family therapy, the therapist will explore with the family how substance use is embedded in interaction within the family dynamics. In addition, family therapists can provide education on substance abuse for the entire family. This assists with reducing any unhelpful behaviors and increasing any effective behaviors.
Family therapists assist with identifying new skills. From that step, they coach the family members in practicing new skills. Family therapists can also put substance abuse in a different context by addressing other challenges and highlighting resilience.
Intervention Tips for Families
Overcome Your Fear
A bold step might be needed to save lives and overcome addiction. Most often, family members struggle with the idea of if they do something differently, they will emotionally lose the person.
Enlist Professional and Moral Help
It’s ideal to not embark on this journey alone, but alongside a professional interventionist.
Take Time to Plan Carefully
This step is critical, especially since a poorly planned intervention rarely motivates a loved one to recover.
Be Prepared for Rejection and Anger
An intervention is known to release a roller coaster of emotions, as the addicted individual faces the family. Be prepared to detach with love, so you can avoid enabling addiction. Therefore, creating a healthier relationship with your loved one.
LUNA Can Help Through Family Intervention Services
Here at LUNA Recovery Services, we are a family-focused treatment center. We utilize a family-centric approach to dealing with addiction, such as family therapy. Intervention is a form of family support, and there is hope to strengthen family dynamics. Contact us.
It is commonly said that the mind and body are connected. Because of that connection, this can mean that the body often will mirror a person's state of mind. Consequently, when a person's mental health is suffering, many physical symptoms will present themselves.
The opposite is also true. A healthy diet, full of nutrient-rich food can improve an individual's overall mental health. This is why the relationship between nutrition and addiction is so meaningful. At Luna Recovery, we want you to be empowered to take care of your whole self—body, and mind. Therefore, we would like to share some information about nutrition and addiction recovery.
What is Nutrition?
Nutrition is defined as, "the sum of the processes that lead to the intake and utilization of food substances by an organism." In other words, nutrition is everything that has to do with the food we eat and how our bodies use it.
Put simply, nutrition is the science of how food and drink impact the health of a person. This includes everything from the vitamins and minerals in food to how those nutrients are used by the body.
Why is Nutrition Important in Addiction Recovery?
Good nutrition is important for everyone. It gives our bodies the tools we need to function at our best. When we are eating a balanced diet, we have more energy and feel better overall. This is especially important for people in recovery from addiction. Addiction takes a toll on the body, and good nutrition can help the body heal.
Often, when someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol, those substances take priority over things like nutrition. For example, someone who is addicted to alcohol may not eat regularly, or may not eat a balanced diet. This can lead to malnutrition, which can make recovery more difficult. Other ways that addiction impacts nutrition includes the following:
- Poor food choices: when an individual is focused on abusing substances, their food choices may lack sustenance.
- Organ damage: substance abuse can damage important organs such as the liver, stomach lining, pancreas, and intestines which all have to do with nutrient absorption.
- Eating disorders: substance abuse can lead to or be comorbid with eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder.
- Overeating: certain substances can increase appetite and lead to an individual consuming too much food.
- Damage to the immune system: some substances, such as alcohol and opiates, can damage the immune system which makes individuals more likely to get sick or experience illness.
- Gastrointestinal disorders: some substances can cause gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhea, constipation, or nausea.
During recovery, it is not enough to only stop using substances. It is also important to focus on healing the body. This means eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise. By focusing on these aspects of physical health, healing from addiction can become easier to manage.
How Alcohol Abuse Affects Nutrition
Many substances have a short and long-term impact on health and nutrition. One substance that greatly affects nutrition is alcohol. When someone is abusing alcohol, they are more likely to make poor food choices and not eat enough of the right foods.
Alcohol also interferes with the absorption of nutrients in the body. This means that even if someone who is abusing alcohol does eat a nutritious meal, their body may not be able to properly use those nutrients. It is common to see nutritional deficiencies in people with alcohol use disorder regarding folic acid, vitamin b6, and vitamin B1 (also known as Thiamine.)
The impact of alcohol abuse on nutrition can lead to several health problems, including anemia and neurological issues. Alcohol also harms the pancreas and liver which can cause imbalances in electrolytes, proteins, calories, and fluids. This can lead to malnutrition, which is defined as "a condition that results when the diet does not provide enough calories or nutrients, or when the body cannot properly absorb them." Malnutrition can weaken the immune system, making someone more susceptible to infections and disease.
How Drug Abuse Affects Nutrition
Nutrition and addiction also share a relationship when it comes to drug abuse. For example, opioids such as heroin, codeine, and morphine, can cause constipation. This is because opioids slow down the digestive system and reduce the intestine's ability to absorb water.
Chronic constipation can lead to bowel blockages, which can be painful and require medical intervention. Further, these drugs can also lead to vomiting and diarrhea which depletes the body of nutrients and causes dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
Other drugs such as methamphetamine and cocaine can also have an impact on nutrition. Methamphetamine, for example, suppresses appetite. This can lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and an overall inattention to nutrition.
How Nutrition Assists With Recovery
Proper nutrition helps the brain and body heal from the effects of substance abuse. Good nutrition supports the immune system, helps with detoxification, and can help reduce cravings. Moreover, a healthy, balanced diet will produce the following effects:
- Repair of damaged organs and tissues
- Improved immune function and defense
- Increased energy and improved mood
- A reduction in relapse risk due to fatigue or depressed mood
Sometimes, when recovering, people may indulge in junk food. However, it is important to resist these cravings and instead eat foods that will help the body heal.
How Diet and Food Affect the Brain and Body
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) points out that addiction is a chronic disease of the brain. Like other chronic diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes, addiction is managed but not cured. And, similar to other chronic diseases, nutrition plays an important role in addiction recovery.
Good nutrition is important for the body and the mind. It can help reduce stress, improve mood, and increase energy levels. According to the American Psychological Association, up to 95% of the body's serotonin is produced by gut bacteria. This greatly influences a person's mood and gastrointestinal activity.
Nutrition and Addiction Recovery
When we are struggling with addiction, taking care of our nutrition can be difficult. We may not have the money or the time to eat well. We may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with stress or other emotions. Or we may simply not be able to stomach healthy food because of withdrawal symptoms.
What is Nutritional Therapy?
Nutritional therapy is one way to help people in recovery improve their nutrition. Nutritional therapists work with clients to create a plan that meets their individual needs. This may involve making changes to the diet, such as eating more fruits and vegetables. It may also involve supplements to improve nutrition.
There are many benefits of nutritional therapy. It can help reduce cravings, improve mood, and increase energy levels. It can also help the body heal from the damage caused by addiction. Nutritional therapy is an important part of recovery and should be part of any comprehensive treatment plan.
How to Improve Your Nutrition for Addiction Recovery
If you are in recovery, there are many ways to improve your nutrition. When taking care of your physical health and eating a healthy range of foods, recovery will often become easier and more sustainable.
It is important to eat a balanced diet that includes all the major food groups: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. It is also important to drink plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are rich in essential vitamins and minerals and can lower the risk of many different diseases such as heart disease.
- Get enough protein: protein is important for the repair of cells within the body as every cell contains protein.
- Drink plenty of water: water is essential for the body to function properly. It helps to flush toxins out of the body, carries nutrients to cells, and moistens mucous membranes.
- Avoid sugary drinks: sugary drinks can cause weight gain and contribute to diabetes and other chronic diseases.
- Take supplements if possible: taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement can help to ensure that you are getting all of the nutrients you need, especially if you are not able to eat a balanced diet.
By taking these steps to improve your nutritional health, you will be on your way to a healthier mind and body. Improved nutrition and addiction recovery are possible.
Recovering with Luna Recovery Center
While nutrition is of high importance, addiction requires comprehensive treatment. Substance abuse treatment not only enables sobriety but also treats the underlying causes of addiction. When a person leaves rehab, they are empowered to live a sober and happy life.
At Luna Recovery Services, we understand the challenges that come with addiction, including the connection between nutrition and addiction. We offer a variety of services to help our clients on their journey to recovery, including various types of therapy.
If you or someone you know is struggling with nutrition and addiction, please reach out to us today. We are here to help.
The difference between anxiety attacks and panic attacks is revealed in their symptoms. While one can certainly lead to the other, having anxiety by no means is a sign of a panic attack. There are, however, telltale precedents that can indicate a panic attack is coming.
Knowing the difference between panic attacks and anxiety attacks can do more than put your mind at ease. It can help you combat and neutralize panic attack episodes before they occur while helping you manage anxiety levels.
The details below clearly outline the difference between panic and anxiety. After observing two types of attacks, you’ll be readily equipped to combat the correct condition head-on. Here is everything you need to know about the difference between anxiety attacks and panic attacks.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a common emotion that affects almost 20% of individuals 18 and older. Anxiety is specifically identified as intense thoughts or emotions of excessive fear. Anxiety can trickle down into other serious health defects even without episodes. If left unchecked or untreated, anxiety can cause uncontrollable episodes defined by your emotional state.
What Happens During An Anxiety Attack?
Anxiety attacks can leave the sufferer feeling helpless and unable to control their emotions. Anxiety attacks are almost always a result of a stressful trigger that instigates the episode. The worst part is people who experience anxiety attacks may not even realize precursors. The only thing they’re aware of is the overwhelming inability to control the situation.
Equipping yourself with the knowledge below will help you identify the warning signs of an anxiety attack. Identifying the warning signs in turn help you take the necessary actions to prevent or suppress them.
What Are the Symptoms of An Anxiety Attack?
Knowing the precedent of an anxiety attack can help you manage the buildup to better prevent n attack. If you experience any of the symptoms to be named, be mindful of your circumstance and situation. The right therapist can teach you to manage these symptoms or progress of these symptoms with relative ease.
Though often overlooked, stomach discomfort can be a sign of anxiety. Experiencing mental distress takes a toll n your body, including your digestive processes. If you feel queasy or have any sign of discomfort, it’s best to speak to a doctor to accurately assess the underlying cause.
Any abnormal heart “fluttering” or skipped beats is a sure indication that your anxiety levels have reached a peak. This is especially concerning because excessive heart palpitations can lead to heart defects up to and including cardiac arrest. Treatment from a loving therapist can equip you with the tools to overcome the prospect of an attack. Through medically-trained methods or prescriptions, you can manage your symptoms and condition.
Uncharacteristic irritability indicates elevated anxiety levels and can be a precedent to an anxiety attack. Managing your anger can in turn help you suppress and manage anxiety attacks from occurring. Anger management courses can prove to be the most therapeutic method for managing anxiety attacks.
An overload of anxiety or fear can induce uncomfortable headaches. These headaches can even be the gateway to acquiring other symptoms on this list up to and including a panic attack itself. Prescriptions and/or medically-aided anxiety training can reduce or even eliminate migraines and other stress-related symptoms.
Uncontrollable shakes can be a difficult and scary byproduct of anxiety. It can also induce an anxiety attack. If your tremors are stress-related, don’t delay in seeking medical attention. If they’re not, it’s important to see a doctor determine the cause of your shakes.
What Are Panic Attacks?
Panic attacks bring upon an immediate strong onset of excessive fear and physical impulses. This overwhelming physical manifestation of dread often comes without warning as it is often mild, non-threatening circumstances that can trigger panic attacks. Knowing the immediate symptoms of a panic attack and understanding the bodily reactions can help you learn how to counteract it by medically-trained methods.
What Are the Symptoms of a Panic Attack
You’ll see similarities with panic and anxiety attacks, but with a very slight twist that makes them very unique. It is vital if you notice any of these indicators that you separate yourself from the situation and get into a circumstance that you feel comfortable in.
When a panic attack is about to occur, it’s common to feel an uncontrollable elevation in heart rate. With these symptoms comes the potential for heart damage if your body is persistently exposed to such episodes. You can turn the tide on these uncomfortable, health-threatening conditions by reaching out today.
Difficulty breathing is a sure sign of a panic attack. This can be a dangerous symptom if left to yourself or not possessing the medically-trained tools to reverse the circumstance. Difficulty breathing can even escalate the degree of your panic attack in turn.
Losing your mental equilibrium is one of the most common symptoms of a panic attack. If you’re having an unexplained dizzy spell, find a place to sit down and try to regain your focus. The more you panic, the worse your attack will be. Try to acknowledge the situation and remind yourself that there is no imminent danger.
What is the Difference Between Anxiety Attacks and Panic Attacks?
Though there are many similarities between the two, the difference between anxiety attacks and panic attacks is very specific. They do share many of the same symptoms, however, anxiety attacks are a direct result of a stress-inducing event or circumstance while panic attacks can occur out of the blue, without reason.
Many people may use the terms “anxiety” and “panic” attacks as interchangeable terms as if they are synonymous. That couldn’t be farther from the truth for the reasons mentioned. You can often see an anxiety attack coming. A panic attack, however, is much harder to catch before the incident. That’s why it’s important to contrast the difference between panic and anxiety.
That’s where having the right doctor and therapy program for you comes into play. One of the most common reasons people struggle with their conditions is because they are treating the wrong stress-related condition. Understanding the difference between anxiety attacks and panic attacks will alter your approach to successfully combat these separate conditions.
How to Deal With Anxiety Attacks and Panic Attacks
Since the difference between anxiety attacks and panic attacks is slight, many of the same natural remedies have cross-condition efficacy. Few things are in your control when confronted with a sudden attack of anxiety or panic. Utilizing these simple foundational principles could make all the difference in the world to managing your symptoms.
Accepting the situation means acknowledging you are having a panic attack. As simple as it may sound, most people don’t acknowledge what’s happening to them, as symptoms of various conditions, especially anxiety and panic attacks can be so similar to each other. Not knowing, can cause a person to excessively worry, exacerbating the panic attack or anxiety attack. Accepting the situation then helps you deal with the situation at hand with greater clarity of thought. Not acknowledging what’s happening allows the situation to control you rather than controlling the situation.
One of the greatest ways to naturally relax your body is the application of slow breathing exercises. Especially in the case of hyperventilation, focusing on your breathing, specifically counting 3 or 4 seconds between breaths, will help you regain your breathing regularity. Many times, this exercise alone can reverse panic and/or anxiety attacks.
Because panic and anxiety attacks attack your muscles and central nervous system, your body needs to feel relaxed. That’s why oftentimes the best home remedy is a simple soak in a warm bath to relax those muscles and nerves affected by such attacks. A soak in the tub could be exactly what the doctor ordered to suppress or prevent an episode from occurring.
Therapy Options for Anxiety Attacks and Panic Attacks
Medically prescribed OTC drugs can help stabilize your episodes almost immediately. Some more severe forms of anxiety and panic-related conditions may require prescription medications prescribed by your medical professional to help cope with your conditions short-term and long-term. Everyone and their needs are different, so treatment methods will vary.
A therapist can train you how to deal with panic and anxiety-related struggles, including teaching you what to do amid an episode. Being equipped with a knowledgeable physician makes all the difference in the world before, during, and after an episode.
For those experiencing panic attacks and anxiety attacks, group therapy is often implemented into a person’s treatment plan. This type of therapy gives people a place to go with like-minded people, giving them a sense of belonging and community. Having individuals to talk to who are going through similar situations helps look at things from a different perspective and can help recovery feel more comfortable and possible.
Addiction and mental illness don’t just affect one person, it also affects the family. Panic attacks and anxiety attacks can hinder communication, relationships, and family dynamics. Therefore, family therapy is often implemented into a person’s treatment plan to help families improve communication, and relationships, and create a unit surrounding the issues at hand. This will allow the person experiencing these conditions to feel supported and more motivated during recovery.
Alternative Support Groups
There are various therapies, alternative support groups, and recovery meetings available for people suffering the effects of anxiety and panic attacks. Know you are not alone in your struggles.
Personal Prevention Tools
The right therapists equip you with numerous tips and methods to help you stay a step ahead of an oncoming attack. By doing so, you can significantly diminish occurrences and even reverse them when having an episode. Helping you help yourself is the greatest tool you can have to have control over your attacks.
Take Control Today
Feeling helpless when experiencing stress or panic-related conditions can be the most lonely place to be. Thanks, to LUNA Recovery Services in Texas, you don’t have to. Knowing the difference between panic attacks and anxiety attacks can help you or a loved one learn to take control of your symptoms and conditions. Today, it starts with reaching out to our professional team of physicians to get a correct diagnosis of your stress-related condition.
The difference between anxiety attacks and panic attacks can be so minuscule, that you may be treating the wrong condition. Our rehab facility has all the individualized attention and expert physicians to guide you in the right direction.
The first step of taking control of your symptoms. At LUNA Recovery, we strive to find the right treatment regimen for those suffering from paralyzing anxiety attacks and panic attacks. Access to help is available and you’re not alone! Start your journey to an improved life, contact us today!
Defining Binge Drinking
Today we’re talking about the consequences of binge drinking, so to begin, let’s get a working definition. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to .08% or higher.
Generally speaking, that’s about four 80z drinks for women and five for men (size, physical makeup, and age play into this as well). The question is, why do people drink in general, and how can that lead to binge drinking and addiction?
Most folks understand that drinking large amounts of alcohol daily is a problem, but what about the occasional party splurge? Unfortunately, that’s not safe either. First, there are the physical consequences associated with ingesting a toxic substance. Additionally, recent research suggests that binging may be related to deeper problems with alcohol and may predict future problems too. (Holohan, Holohan, & Moos, 2022).
The Prevalence of Alcohol
High school and college parties, promotion celebrations, weddings, holiday and birthday parties, and various other festivities include alcoholic beverages and often an unwritten invitation to overindulge. For some generally “in control” folks, these get-togethers are opportunities to let it all hang out. Often, that means drinking more alcohol than they might at, say, a family dinner or an office luncheon.
You might be asking two questions. The first might be, “everybody overindulges like that now and then, right?” The second is probably, “so, what’s the harm in that?” Here’s the answer to both questions in one sentence: No, not everybody overindulges in alcohol like that, and there could be a lot of harm.
While it might be tempting to think that everybody overindulges in alcohol now and then, the truth is they don’t. Some people never pick up a drink at all (approximately 14.4% of people over the age of 18 in the United States as of 2019)*, others drink very little and rarely.
Others are moderate drinkers, consuming an average of 1 or 2 drinks per day. Only 25.8% of adults over the age of 18 reports binging on alcohol (according to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health). Research suggests that while not all people who drink moderately also binge, they are more likely to do so than others, even regular heavy drinkers (Holohan, Holohan, & Moos, 2022).
Now that the “everybody does it” myth has been dislodged, let’s jump to the question of harm. There are at least 2 ways of looking at “harm” here. There are the physical consequences of ingesting too much alcohol, and there is an increased risk of alcohol-related problems over time.
The Effects of Alcohol On The Brain and Body
Alcohol is a toxic substance that changes the chemistry of the brain and greatly affects a person’s body when consumed in large quantities over time. However, some levels of drinking, depending on a person’s age, gender, and physical makeup, have been judged as relatively safe.
Generally speaking, that’s an average of one 8oz beverage for women per day and two 8oz beverages for men per day. Binge drinking is considered drinking more than 4 (women) or more than 5 (men) 8oz drinks in a sitting. You can read a detailed account of alcohol’s impact on the body in this blog but we’ll summarize it here.
First of all, alcohol, ETOH is not digested when you consume it. It goes straight to the bloodstream. From there, it impacts virtually every tissue in the body. It can cause:
- Vision problems
- Respiratory issues
- Increased blood pressure
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Dehydration, and decreased muscle coordination
Increasing blood alcohol concentration (BAC) means increasing danger:
- .2 - .249 - inability to walk without assistance, mental confusion, dysphoria (uneasiness or dissatisfaction with life), nausea and vomiting, and blackouts
- .25 - .399 - alcohol poisoning and unconsciousness (.35 is the level of surgical anesthesia)
- .4 and higher - coma and possible death due to respiratory failure
The physical consequences aren’t the only problems associated with binge drinking. Holohan and colleagues discovered that people who reported binge drinking were also more likely to report other alcohol-related problems, and binge drinking predicted more alcohol-related problems in the future (the researchers reengaged with the original subjects 9 years after the first survey). These problems include:
- Cravings for alcohol
- Emotional and psychological issues related to alcohol
- Intoxication while engaging in activities that could result in injury
- Increased tolerance
- Inability to control the amount of alcohol consumed
- Spending a great deal of time using alcohol
- Drinking alcohol at work, school, or during childcare
When this writer, a proud Gen Xer, was an adolescent, parents hosted parties in basements and living rooms. Keys were taken at the door, and the general assumption was that the kids were being kept safe. Back then, the physical dangers of a binge were never discussed outside the admonishment to never get behind the wheel of a car.
The connections between binge drinking and developing alcohol-related problems in the future weren’t even on the radar. If only we’d known then what we’re just learning now. Binge drinking is dangerous. A one-time binge can be deadly, and a pattern of it can be a predictor of deeper, longer-lasting problems with alcohol. Binge drinking has never been benign.
LUNA Recovery Services Can Help You Recover From Alcoholism
Binge drinking is very dangerous, and can cause a variety of short-term and long-term health complications. If you or a loved one is struggling with binge drinking or an addiction to alcohol, professional treatment at a rehab facility is recommended.
At LUNA Recovery Services in Texas, we provide treatment programs and resources to help break the cycle of addiction. Contact us today to get started on the journey to recovery.
Holohan, C. J., Holohan, C. K., & Moos, R. H., (2022). Binge drinking and alcohol problems among moderate, average level drinkers. American Journal of Preventive Medicine (online). Retrieved from https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(22)00178-7/fulltext on June 30, 2022.
National Institute of Alcohol and Abuse and Alcoholism, (n.d.). Understanding binge drinking. Retrieved from https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/binge-drinking on June 30, 2022.
National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, (n.d.). Alcohol facts and statistics. Retrieved from https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics on June 30, 2022.
*Estimate taken by subtracting 85.6 (the number of adults reporting alcohol use) from 100.