Role of Environment in Addiction

Drug and alcohol addiction impacts 23.5 million Americans each year. The sad truth is, though, that only around 11.2 percent of those people seek professional treatment. There are numerous factors that can contribute to addiction—trauma, mental illness, peer pressure—but out of all of the possible causes, there is one that affects every single person: environment.

Environment and the Brain’s Reward System

A person’s social interactions with others and their personal circumstances impact the risk of developing an addiction. When someone lives in an environment that does not challenge their mind or that makes them feel bad due to rocky relationships with loved ones, they are not stimulating the reward system in their brain. That lack of stimulation means that they are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol in an effort to improve the way that they feel.

Poor social stimulation includes:

  • Poor relationships with family
  • A boring job situation
  • Poor interactions with co-workers
  • A lack of friends
  • Lack of respect at work or at home
  • Conflict in any relationship

Trauma or Abuse

Almost 50 percent of women and 60 percent of men experience traumatic situations at least once in their lifetime. That’s more than half of the country’s population. How do so many people cope with these stressful and painful memories? Many of them drink or do drugs. The reality is, though, that using only makes things worse. It might mask the pain for a moment, but it doesn’t resolve it. Instead, the symptoms compound into ugly globules of depression, anger and self-hatred. Soon they’ll have no choice but to feed their addiction, even though substance abuse is no longer covering up the pain.

Peer and Family Influences

A person’s quality of life, peer interactions and family influences greatly impact the way that they view the world—including their decisions regarding drugs or alcohol . If they work in a job that encourages alcohol consumption, then they are subconsciously influenced by the behavior of their peers and co-workers. Or if a loved one takes a prescription medication and leaves it in a location that they can access easily, they might be tempted by its presence and know where to turn if a conflict arises.

These influences make it almost impossible to stop using once a person becomes addicted. It’s time for them to take back control, and the first step is separating from anyone who pressures them into using or who uses around them.

Finding the Help They Need

It’s no secret that addiction is harmful to a person’s life, their relationships and their health. In order to find the help they need, it is important to look past what their peers are doing and look into themselves. They should make their own decisions. Many times those decisions include entering into a new, encouraging environment and surrounding themselves with others who will support them and help guide them back to sobriety.

Each person’s situation is unique. Their story is their own. Finding a treatment facility that fits a person perfectly can be a challenge, but it is vital to their success. A high-quality program will look into past traumas and living environments in order to pinpoint the root cause of their addiction. From there, they will finally be able to heal and grow into the person they want to be.

is addiction a disease or a choice

Is addiction a disease or a choice? That question has fueled countless debates over the years. Though there is solid evidence supporting both sides, the scientific and biological proof that drives the concept of addiction as a disease is paramount.

What causes a person to first pick up a bottle or take a few pills may be a choice, but the deeper issue of addiction is anything but. Like other diseases, addiction is the product of a series of environmental, psychological and biological factors baked together into a dangerous concoction.

What is the Disease Theory?

The disease theory of addiction essentially looks at addiction as a medical illness that can’t be controlled without ongoing treatment. Addiction has been classified as a physical disease due to the cycles of cravings and withdrawal symptoms it produces. It changes the way the brain functions, leading people to do things against their expressed will. This is where choice ends and chronic illness begins.

Addiction and the Brain

Drugs tap into the brain’s communication system and physically change the way the brain processes information. This causes the brain’s reward system to be flooded with feel-good chemicals, sending the user into a state of euphoria. The overstimulated reward system of the brain reinforces the behavior of drug use, leading to the desire to use again.

These pathological changes in the brain result in overpowering urges to use. Even if a person expresses a sincere desire to quit using, they’re drawn to take whatever steps are necessary to obtain their drug of choice. The disease completely overwhelms them—their thoughts, feelings and actions—until the only thing they’re able to focus on is using, as though their life depends on it.

Addiction and Survival Instincts

The survival instinct drives people to seek out resources that will trigger the brain’s reward sensors, i.e., when people eat, they feel full and satisfied. As time passes and behaviors are positively and consistently rewarded, a body begins to make the connection between the act and the feeling of pleasure it produces. Eventually, people start to crave the behavior more and more until it becomes an automated routine.

Addictive drugs evoke patterns of behavior similar to those prompted by natural rewards. As the user falls deeper into addiction, though, that single behavior starts to take precedence over all other instincts, including eating, sleeping, working or even caring for children. Addiction becomes their dominant survival instinct, which is one reason giving it up is so challenging. Their body yearns for it and feels the need to fulfill its instinctual goal.

Treating Addiction as a Disease

It is no secret that treatment can help people quit using, avoid relapse and successfully recover, but finding a treatment center that focuses on treating addiction as a disease may be the most effective option. It focuses on mental health as a whole, digging into a person’s past and exposing events that may have triggered them to start using in the first place . This allows people to heal from the inside out, removing the baggage that has held them down for so long.

Types of treatments used to heal mind and body include:

  • Individual therapy
  • Meditation
  • Art therapy
  • Yoga
  • Group therapy
add and alcohol

When we hear the term attention deficiency disorder (ADD) the first thing that usually comes to mind is a hyperactive 6-year-old boy struggling to focus on his schoolwork. ADD has been on the radar since the 1980s when formal diagnosis and the introduction of using drugs to help manage it. ADD diagnoses continue to rise, increasing by 43% since 2010.

What is not well known is that adult ADD is fairly commonplace. In fact, according to an article published by Cambridge University Press, about 50%-75% of children with ADD will carry the disorder into adulthood. As an adult struggles with the effects of this mental health condition, certain comorbidities can develop. In fact, there is a strong link between adult ADD and alcohol addiction. This dual diagnosis can be found among adults with undiagnosed and untreated ADD, where the individual is using the alcohol as a form of self-medication to help them relax.

For those with both ADD and alcohol addiction, a more challenging treatment picture results. Dual diagnosis treatment requires a specialized approach to assisting recovery, where both psychiatric expertise and addiction treatment team up to address both co-occurring disorders at the same time. With this customized protocol, individuals struggling with ADD and alcohol addiction can indeed overcome the challenges posed by the coexisting disorders and enjoy a productive and fulfilling life.

About ADD

In the U.S. ADD affects about 8 million adults, or 4% of the adult population. In adults, the hyperactivity that is so prevalent in childhood ADHD may not be the problems. Instead the disorder can lead to a series of symptoms that can disrupt daily functioning. Effects of adult ADD can range from declining job performance due to an inability to stay on task until completion, to disruptions in relationships, to impulsive behaviors.

While many adults with ADD may have also had the issue as kids, some have learned to compensate for the traits of ADD and never received treatment. Coping with ADD as an adult can include relying on making daily to-do lists to stay on task and to not forget important commitments, using reminders on the phone so meetings or appointments are not missed, to accessing apps that help with task management. For example, there are dictation apps that can help the adult with ADD to remember important information or to organize tasks.

The cause of ADD is still a mystery, although there are certain factors that may be involved. These include:

  • Genetics. Sometimes ADD will run in families. ADD is a risk if there is a family history of other mental health disorders as well, such as depression or anxiety disorder.
  • Toxin exposure. There is some evidence that points to the possibility that lead exposure, such as in pain or old pipes, during childhood may be a risk factor for ADD. Also, exposure to pesticides or PCBs may play a role. It is thought that these toxins may interfere with brain development.
  • Being born prematurely, or the mother had a difficult pregnancy.
  • If the mother drank alcohol, used drugs, or smoked during pregnancy
  • Developmental impairment with the central nervous system

Symptoms of ADD in Adults

Many of the adults who grapple with the symptoms of ADD in daily life are not even aware that they have this mental health disorder. They may feel overwhelmed in trying to manage the many demands in daily life, and wonder why they seem to be so ill-equipped compared to their peers. These individuals don’t know that they have a brain disorder that is basically scrambling their thoughts and interrupting concentration and cognitive functioning. All adults with ADD also had it as a child, although in many cases it was never clinically diagnosed. For this reason, some adults with ADD may assume it is a newly emerging problem.

Common symptoms of ADHD in adults:

  • Chronically late to work or for appointments. Being late to appointments, events, or meetings is a hallmark symptom of adult ADD.
  • Poor organizational skills. Individuals struggle to keep things in order, leading to increased stress and anxiety.
  • Trouble multitasking. Someone with ADD has difficulty focusing on or managing more than one task at a time. Given more tasks to juggle can lead to confusion and anxiety.
  • Mood swings. Mood swings, irritability, and temperamental behavior are common
  • Poor listening skills. Wandering thoughts and difficulty concentrating make paying attention difficult for the adult with ADD.
  • Chronic boredom. Job hopping due to boredom, jumping from relationship to relationship are typical in the need to seek constant gratification and excitement.
  • Forgetful. Someone with ADD may have a difficult time remembering data or information, which can make it difficult when training on the job, as it may come across as carelessness or lack of intelligence.
  • Difficulty controlling anger. Individuals with ADD can be prone to explosive angry outbursts, usually stemming from frustration.
  • Low tolerance for frustration. Become easily upset when something frustrates or annoys them.
  • Impulsive behaviors. This can manifest in a variety of ways, such as impulsive shopping habits, sexual impulsiveness, reckless driving, or any impulsive acts that have negative consequences. Difficulty delaying gratification.
  • Difficulty managing stress. The chaotic symptoms that accompany ADD can lead to stress overload, and the individual struggles to manage the stress.
  • Anxiety. Many with ADD experience anxiety as chronic worrying is common.
  • Depression. Depression is a common co-occurring mental health disorder with ADD, as the negative consequences
  • Disorganized. The person with ADD often feels overwhelmed with stimuli and then cannot stay focused enough to sort things out. This can cause difficulty completing tasks or projects at work, paying bills on time, or keeping up with family obligations.
  • Low motivation. The individual with ADD struggles between a desire to tackle multiple tasks at once and complete lack of motivation.
  • Trouble in relationships. Poor listening skills, trouble making or keep commitments, being bored with the relationship, and not attending to a relationship can lead to marital strife and relationship discord.
  • Substance abuse or addiction. Alcohol or drugs may be accessed as a means to improve sleep or relaxation, or they may be indicative of the impulsive nature of the person with ADD.

Adults with ADD may have trouble staying at a job for very long, resulting in job-hopping and lower income potential and career satisfaction. The inability to control impulsive behaviors can lead to alcohol abuse, accidents, unsafe sexual practices, and multiple marriages.

Co-occurring ADD and Alcohol Addiction 

A dual diagnosis exists when there is a mental health disorder, such as ADD, and a co-occurring substance use disorder. In many instances, the individual develops a substance use disorder in response to the mental health issue. They may begin to use alcohol as a means of reducing the effects of the ADD by its relaxant properties.

Unfortunately, some individuals may find their tolerance to alcohol increasing, leading to higher consumption of the substance in hopes of experiencing the initial calming effects. As consumption increases, the possibility for developing an alcohol use disorder increases as well.

Adults with ADD and alcohol addiction will find they have increased the suffering, as alcoholism has its own set of highly impairing features. The co-occurring disorders have the potential to cause serious disruption in daily functioning, and mounting consequences can result in the addition of an addition mental health disorder developing, such as depression or anxiety. For these reasons it is imperative that someone struggling with Add and alcohol addiction seek out the professional help that a dual diagnosis recovery program can provide.

Treatment for ADD and Alcohol Addiction Co-Occurring Disorders

Recovery will begin with a thorough evaluation of both the alcohol use disorder and the ADD, from which a customized treatment plan will emerge. Comprehensive dual diagnosis treatment involves combining several therapeutic elements that will address both disorders simultaneously. These include:

  • Medical detox. The first step in recovery is a medically supervised detox and withdrawal period. This will allow the individual to rid the body of the ethyl alcohol while under the close supervision of an expert detox team. Alcohol detox can be unpredictable, so for this reason detox and withdrawal should be monitored by a detox professional.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT can help modify irrational thinking that is common with individuals with ADD. These irrational thoughts may include may include black-or-white thinking, catastrophic thinking, personalization, and an over-emphasis on negative thoughts. By making adjustments in the cognitive thought process, the negative behaviors are reduced. CBT can also help the individual respond differently to triggers that formerly resulted in alcohol misuse.
  • Group therapy. Small group settings led by a therapist can help encourage participants to share their experiences and personal stories, which can engender mutual peer support while in treatment.
  • Medication. Pharmacotherapy is typically part of the treatment plan for managing symptoms of ADD.  The medications for adults with ADD may include Adderall, Vivanse, Focalin, Dexedrine, Concerta or Ritalin. Non-stimulant medications include Intuniv, Kapvay, and Strattera.
  • Addiction education. Learning about the impact of alcohol on brain chemistry and structure can be a deterrent to relapse, and includes guiding the individual with relapse prevention strategies and new coping skills.
  • Holistic therapies. Learning effective methods to enhance relaxation can benefit both of these disorders. These activities might include deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, and massage therapy.

Individuals with a dual diagnosis of ADD and alcoholism can learn to manage these conditions and improve the quality of life through targeted treatment at a high quality residential dual diagnosis program.

Elevation Behavioral Health Offers Residential Mental Health Treatment in Los Angeles

Elevation Behavioral Health provides comprehensive dual diagnosis treatment for individuals struggling with ADD and a co-occurring substance use disorder. Our luxury accommodations and stunning setting help to provide comfort and healing while engaging in the comprehensive treatment program. For more information about the program, please contact Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.


alcohol withdrawal and blood pressure

Alcohol dependency creeps in stealthily, like a thief in the night. What might have begun as an evening relaxation ritual slowly encroached into your daily life. As tolerance to the effects of the alcohol increased, higher consumption seemed to follow. Over time, what started out as a panacea for stress or emotional issues became its own serious problem.

When facing the prospect of getting treatment for an alcohol use disorder, the thought of going through the detox and withdrawal stage may seem daunting. This initial hurdle, one that is essential to recovery, may be so dreaded that it becomes a serious barrier to treatment. In this event it is important to take the long view, to envision detox as just a short-lived challenge to overcome in order to enjoy a life free from the grip of alcohol.

Alcohol detox and withdrawal, however, does come with some risks. Although alcohol withdrawal symptoms can vary significantly from one individual to another, ranging from mild to severe, because of the unpredictable nature of these symptoms it is always advisable to obtain a medically monitored detox. Alcohol withdrawal and blood pressure elevation, or any one of several other serious symptoms, can evolve quickly into a medical emergency.

About Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcoholism is a chronic relapsing disease that impacts brain chemistry and the central nervous system. Once the body has become accustomed to the daily consumption of alcohol it will react when alcohol is withheld, initiating withdrawal symptoms that send you right back to the alcohol for relief. The symptoms of alcohol addiction or chemical dependence include:

  • Unable to stop drinking once started, never feeling sated
  • Being able to drink increasing levels of alcohol
  • Blacking out, having no memory of actions, whereabouts, or conversations
  • Lying about your level of drinking
  • Hiding alcohol from family members
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home or work
  • Relationship problems caused by excessive drinking
  • Attempting to stop drinking but cannot
  • Withdrawal symptoms emerge when attempting to stop

Alcohol use disorder has the potential to cause a slew of significant disruptions and negative consequences in one’s life. These might include:

  • Loss of employment
  • Damage to professional reputation
  • Legal problems, such as getting a DUI
  • Interpersonal problems, divorce
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Financial problems
  • A co-occurring mental health disorder may develop

There are many reasons to take that first step toward sobriety. When facing down the detox and withdrawal phase of recovery, it is best to view it as a necessary first step to a new, healthy, and productive life.

The Importance of a Medically Monitored Detox

When someone with an alcohol use disorder decides to get sober there are some important things to consider. First, it is generally considered a bad idea to attempt to detox without a trained detox team supervising the process. The spectrum of withdrawal symptoms during alcohol detox is wide, from minor tremors and insomnia to the delirium tremens (DTs). Because of the potential for a serious medical emergency occurring during detox and withdrawal, it is usually recommended that the individual have a medically monitored detox.  This type of detox will provide the appropriate medical attention should alcohol withdrawal and blood pressure increases team up to cause a serious medical condition.

A medical detox provides the safest route to sobriety, where trained detox medical providers monitor the detox and withdrawal phase of early recovery. While supervising the process, the detox professional will utilize various medical and holistic interventions to help alleviate the painful withdrawal symptoms. Without this support, the difficulty experienced during detox can derail recovery right at the outset. The detox support team will provide medications, such as benzodiazepines, to assist with anxiety and insomnia, which can also help with alcohol withdrawal and blood pressure spikes, as these drugs are sedatives. In addition, they will access over-the-counter medications to help with fever and chills, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and other symptoms. The psychological support provided by a medical detox team is critical to helping the individual get through the challenging detox process and then safely transition to active treatment.

What to Expect During Alcohol Detox and Withdrawal

Upon entering the residential program a thorough intake interview will be conducted.  Health status, addiction history, and mental health history will be assessed in an effort for the provider to anticipate any potential risks during the detox process. The severity of symptoms is determined by various factors identified during the initial evaluation. These factors include:

  • The age of the individual
  • The general health status, if there are any medical conditions present
  • The length of history of the alcohol use disorder
  • The usual amount of alcohol consumed on a daily basis
  • The existence of another substance use disorder
  • The existence of a co-occurring mental health disorder

When an individual abruptly discontinues alcohol intake they will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms within 6-8 hours. Withdrawal symptoms are in response to the brain and central nervous system having made adjustments over time in response to the alcohol. Brain hyper-excitability ensues when the alcohol is withheld, leading to a range of highly uncomfortable symptoms.

Alcohol detox typically occurs in three stages. The first stage begins within 8 hours after the last alcoholic beverage and lasts about 24 hours. During this first stage, withdrawal symptoms include sweating, nausea, vomiting, hand tremors, irritability, and sleep difficulties. The second stage occurs on days 2-4 and involves the most intense symptoms, such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure and body temperature, mental confusion, mood swings, alcohol cravings, anxiety, and depression. The final stage, starting at day 4 and lasting 3-5 days, is the phase when symptoms begin to subside.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Shaky hands
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorientation
  • Seizures

In some cases, unpredictable withdrawals symptoms can suddenly emerge on days 3-4, called the delirium tremens (DTs). For this reason, having medical personnel available who can manage the DTs is essential during the first 3 or 4 days of detox.

What Are the Delirium Tremens (DTs)?

In a small percentage of individuals, or 3%-5%, a medical emergency called the DTs can present a serious medical condition. The DTs might catch the individual completely off guard, which is why the development is so dangerous. In 5%-15% the DTs can lead to death. Alcohol withdrawal and blood pressure that rises dangerously, in addition to these symptoms, requires immediate medical intervention:

  • Grand mal seizures or convulsions
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations
  • Hypertension
  • Very high fever
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Hyperthermia

Getting help with DTs may mean a hospital stay to help stabilize the individual and improve the outcome. Treatment will involve benzodiazepines and/or barbiturates or phenobarbital, often using IV infusion for quick relief until symptoms stabilized and begin to subside. Dosing is determined by the specific withdrawal signs observed, such as delirium, and will incrementally be reduced over a period of several days once the severe symptoms have stabilized.

How is Alcohol Use Disorder Treated?

Alcohol addiction treatment immediately follows detox and withdrawal, and may involve an extended recovery program. The residential treatment setting provides the highest level of care, with 24-hour support and monitoring and a full schedule of daily treatment elements designed to help the individual overcome the alcohol addiction.

Alcohol recovery elements include:

  • Psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is the cornerstone of alcohol recovery, as it helps the individual examine underlying emotional issues or past traumas so these can be worked through. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) provides a roadmap for making core changes in thought-behavior patterns that have kept a person trapped in addiction behaviors. The recovery skills learned in CBT help reframe disordered thinking into more positive, affirming thoughts.
  • Group sessions. Meeting with peers or family members to discuss topics related to recovery can help those in recovery learn how to communicate, and listen, more effectively.
  • Education. Learning about the impact of alcohol on brain chemistry and structure can be a deterrent to relapse, and includes guiding the individual with relapse prevention strategies and new coping skills.
  • Naltrexone. Naltrexone is a non-narcotic medication that can assist in reducing alcohol cravings and relapse for those who meet criteria for usage.
  • 12-step or similar programming. The meetings provide important peer support and the opportunity to share experiences, challenges, fears, and goals with others in recovery.
  • Adjunctive activities. Rounding out rehabilitation are several activities that augment the evidence-based therapies, including mindfulness training, yoga, massage, art therapy, acupuncture, recreational therapy, EMDR, equine therapy.

The Importance of Aftercare in Recovery

Consider addiction treatment and recovery as an ongoing continuum of care. The detox and withdrawal phase launches recovery, followed by therapy in a residential treatment program. But that is only the beginning of the therapeutic process. Aftercare, or continuing care, in addiction recovery involves ongoing interventions that can help to solidify and support recovery.

Through engagement in activities that reinforce sobriety, the chances of maintaining a sustained recovery are greatly improved. Individuals in early recovery are bound to encounter challenges to sobriety. These challenges may be emotionally overwhelming, possibly triggering a relapse. Aftercare options provide an added safety net where the individual will receive peer and professional support to help navigate these stressors as they occur. Aftercare efforts should include ongoing outpatient therapy, group therapy, and engagement in a recovery community.

Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Medical Detox for Alcohol Use Disorder

Elevation Behavioral Health is a Los Angeles-based residential recovery program that offers medical detox services and comprehensive addiction treatment for individuals with an alcohol use disorder. Our luxury accommodations and stunning setting help to provide comfort and healing while engaging in the comprehensive treatment program. For more information about the program, please contact Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.

addiction and natural disasters

Substance Abuse Increases After Natural Disasters

Right now the news is saturated with heart wrenching stories about the victims of hurricane Harvey. It seems everywhere we turn there is more bad news about the damage done, people who will be displaced for years to come, and even fatalities. In addition to the aftermath of the hurricane in Houston, there are over 8,000 acres of wildfires currently burning in California caused by a severe heat wave.

Unfortunately, these tragic circumstances are often accompanied by something that is insidious and not quite as obvious as demolished houses: substance abuse. Psychology studies suggest that people abuse drugs and alcohol more often after natural disaster. While we cannot know the exact reasons for every case, it seems substances are often used to sooth psychological distress.

The Risk for People with Mental Health Disorders

Research shows that people who already have a mental health disorder are more likely to abuse substances after a natural disaster. One study assessed survivors for substance abuse after the Oklahoma City bombing. Researchers found that 6% of people without another mental health disorder used substances to cope. However, a staggering 13% – 40% of people with a mental health disorder abused substances as a coping mechanism.

If you or someone you know has been affected by the hurricane or fires and they have a mental health diagnosis, you might want to be extra cautious about substance use. It is important to offer people with these diagnoses mental health resources following tragic events. If we do not provide such support conditions can get worse as substance abuse rates rise.

Poverty and Proximity

Two of the biggest risk factors for substance abuse related complications are poverty and proximity to the natural disaster. One study published on looked at how often people were hospitalized for substance abuse disorders following Hurricane Katrina. The study found that people were hospitalized more for substance abuse ofter the hurricane. However, they found that this increase was even more dramatic among certain people. Specifically, low-income individuals and people living closer to the flood zones had a dramatic increase in the number of hospitalizations following the storm

Here is what we can assume based on this research: people who have less money and face the most devastation are at a higher risk of substance abuse after natural disasters. So, what can we do in order to help? You can donate money that will help the victims, support first response organizations, and make recovery easy to find. This means trying to find places for recovery meetings following disasters or volunteering to lead phone meetings.

Mental health and disasters

Statistics About Substance Abuse Following Disasters

Numerous studies about different disaster all over the world show the same thing. When a disaster happens the rates of substance abuse and even addiction go up.

  • In New Orleans, hospitalizations for substance abuse increased 2.5% in the years following Hurricane Katrina
  • Following 9/11, alcohol consumption went up 24.6%, smoking went up 18%, and marijuana use went up 3% among New Yorkers
  • After the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the rate of substance addiction went up more than 4%


Heads Up

The Global Journal of Mental Health

Why Substance Abuse Increases

It is impossible to say with certainty what causes substances abuse to rise after disasters. However, one good explanation is that people use drugs and alcohol in order to self soothe. Most of the studies mentioned above found that people had all kinds of psychological distress after disasters. In some cases this manifested as an increase in PTSD, depression, or anxiety. In others, people just reported feeling worse after these traumatic events.

Alcohol and other depressants effect the brain in such a way that it often has a down-regulating effect. In other words, these types of drugs feel calming for the mind and the body. To learn more about how some of these kinds of drugs effect your brain you can click here. People sometimes use these types of substances because it helps them relax or feel better. When you consider people often feel stressed and agitated after disasters, it makes sense why they would turn toward these substances for help.

Another reason that substance abuse might increase is that there are less available mental health services or places for social support. If you were in treatment for a mental health disorder and now you are unable to see your care provider or get your medication, it might make you feel like turning to substances. Likewise, if you went to church every week and now you are unable to you might start to feel isolated and alone. This lack of social support might be one big reason that substance abuse increases after natural disasters.

Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress

We know that a lot of this post has focused on what can go wrong after a natural disaster. However, there are ways to cope with psychological stress that are much healthier than drugs or alcohol. Of course, one of the big issues is that people are often torn from there homes and have few resources. So, it is important to remember the coping mechanisms that require little or no money and are relatively easy to do.

You can try meditating. Even just a few minutes of meditation might help boost your mood and calm you down. You don’t need any special equipment or even a phone. You can just sit on your bed for 2-5 minutes and focus on relaxing the different places of tension in your body. You can try other breathing exercises like taking in a deep inhale and making a “s” sound as you exhale very slowly. Elongating your exhale will engage the parasympathetic nervous system and help calm you down. You might also try striking up a conversation with a stranger, focusing on something that feels positive, or taking a short walk. All of these things have been shown to improve mood and functioning.

We know that it is hard to find healthy ways to cope when things get tough. There is arguably nothing more difficult to get through than the aftermath of a natural disaster. However, we hope that you are able to remain vigilant about the increased risk of substance abuse and hopefully find another way to get through the hard times.

Percocet Withdrawal Symptoms

Percocet Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline, and Treatment

Prescription painkillers have been an increasingly popular recreational drug in the past few decades. As opioid use has been on the rise, much attention goes to heroin and not to it’s prescription cousins like Percocet®. SAMHSA’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that non-medical use of opioid painkillers is more common than many people realize.
Here are a few of their findings:

  • Almost two million Americans met criteria for prescription painkiller use disorder
  • About 1.4 million Americans tried painkillers recreationally for the first time in 2013
  • About 4.3 million Americans use prescription painkillers recreationally every month
  • The average age of first-time users was only 21.2 years

What is Percocet?

Percocet is the trade name for a mix of acetaminophen and oxycodone. Acetaminophen is a pain reliever and fever reducer best known by its trade name Tylenol®. Oxycodone is a semisynthetic opioid painkiller made from thebaine. It is commonly sold by itself under the trade name Oxycontin®. Together they make Percocet, a potent painkiller.

Percocet is most commonly taken orally as a pill, and may be prescribed for a number of different pains. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s 2016 Monitoring the Future survey, over 11% of eight graders reported that it would be “fairly easy” or “very easy” to get prescription painkillers. People acquire oxycodone for recreational use by purchasing it from drug dealers, getting it from a doctor, or stealing it from a medicine cabinet. Because there are so many prescriptions written, it has be come relatively easy to acquire.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Like many other drugs, removing Percocet from your system may result in severe withdrawal symptoms. Unlike alcohol withdrawal or klonopin withdrawal, oxycodone withdrawal will not directly kill a person. However, the symptoms of withdrawal may be dangerous and indirectly lethal. Because of the level of discomfort withdrawal symptoms drive many individuals to return to using opioids.

Physical symptoms of Percocet withdrawal may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea and irregular bowel movements
  • Fever and chills
  • Aching and sore muscles
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Heightened blood pressure
  • Irregular sleeping patterns, especially insomnia
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Changes in appetite and eating habits

The psychological symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety or panic
  • Intense cravings to use drugs
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Impaired memory
  • Fits of anger or rage
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Depression and lack of motivation
  • Agitation and irritability


Timeline of Withdrawal

Percocet’s timeline of withdrawal symptoms depends on many factors, including length of use, amount of use, age of individual, general health of individual, and outside factors such as mental health disorders or disabilities.

First Few Days

During the first few days after quitting Percocet, withdrawal symptoms will generally peak. Because oxycodone has a relatively short half-life of about four hours, the detox process usually begins withing the 24 hours after the last dose is taken. During this period, individuals are likely to experience physical discomfort and pain, intestinal problems, and intense cravings to use.

This is an incredibly vulnerable period in the detox process, and it’s important to be in a safe place during this time. Without proper care, the withdrawal symptoms can be overwhelming and drive the individual to seek out more opioids to cope with the pain.

Weeks One and Two

After the first few days, it’s common to experience muscle aching, difficulty sleeping, and fever and chills. Anxiety may grow and the individual may find themselves experiencing moments of agitation or anger. Again, this is an important period in the process, and professional care can help get one through these symptoms with minimal discomfort.

Weeks Three and Four

Even after the drugs have left the system, a person may continue to experience symptoms of withdrawal. As an opioid, Percocet can cause a lingering withdrawal, perhaps persisting for more than a month after quitting. People may experience depression, dopamine depletion, and heightened anxiety as they learn to cope with life without the drugs.

Percocet Addiction Treatment

There are many different ways to treat Percocet addiction. suggests social support, counseling, and reaching out for help. The first piece of the puzzle is detoxing off oxycodone safely. With the help of medical professionals at a detox facility, you can go through the detox process with the least amount of discomfort. Those that try to detox at home often find it too difficult and end up relapsing.

Detox isn’t the only phase of treatment. People who continue into residential treatment and outpatient programs have much higher rates of success in staying sober. Although removing the opioids from your body is a great first step, you also must learn to face life without drugs. In order to prevent relapse, it’s best to seek professional help to move on with your life!

Klonopin Withdrawal Symptoms

Klonopin® is the trade name of clonazepam, a benzodiazepine approved by the FDA to treat seizure disorders and anxiety disorders. Klonopin was patented in the 1960’s and became available in the US in 1975. Since then, it has become a commonly abused recreational drug for its relaxing effects.

How Does Clonazepam Work?

Clonazepam increases gamma amino-butyric acid in the brain, which is more commonly known as GABA. The neurotransmitter works by inhibiting the central nervous system, creating a sense of ease, comfort, and muscle relaxation. Because it acts on the GABA receptors, withdrawal and detox from clonazepam can be quite uncomfortable and physically dangerous.

Klonopin has a longer half-life than many other benzodiazepines. The half-life of a drug is how long it stays in your system, and clonazepam’s is over twice as long as the related drug alprazolam (Xanax®). This makes clonazepam better suited for longer term care of anxiety disorders, and alprazolam more effective in short-term interventions. However, the long half-life leads to a long withdrawal process as it can take weeks or months for the drug to leave the system completely.

Like all benzodiazepines, Klonopin has a very high risk for abuse and addiction. The body becomes increasingly resistant to its effects, which prompts the individual to ingest higher or more frequent doses of the drug to achieve the desired effects. Over time, the brain will adapt to the chemical response to the Klonopin, eventually causing the individual to become chemically dependent on the drug. Klonopin is both psychologically and physically addictive.

Klonopin Withdrawal

Klonopin withdrawal can be serious or fatal if not treated properly. As such, it is not advisable to stop taking clonazepam “cold turkey.” Generally, your doctor will wean you off the drug slowly over time in order to minimize discomfort and danger. It’s important to come off benzodiazepines correctly in order to maintain your health and comfort.

Klonopin Withdrawal Symptoms

The severity of symptoms in withdrawing from clonazepam depends largely on the individual. Factors in severity of withdrawal symptoms include amount of use, length of use, the individual’s health, and the presence of any co-occurring disorders.

Klonopin withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Hallucinations and/or nightmares
  • Memory loss/lapses
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Anxiety and panic
  • High blood pressure
  • Impaired motor control
  • Depression, fatigue, and lack of motivation
  • Seizures

Psychological Symptoms of Withdrawal

Like the withdrawal process from many substances, coming off Klonopin can cause intense psychological symptoms. An individual coming off this benzodiazepine may experience waking hallucinations, intense nightmares, pervasive sadness, heightened anxiety and panic, severe drug cravings, and bouts of anger or rage.

Those detoxing from Klonopin use are at a heightened risk of suicidal ideations. Along with the previously mentioned psychological symptoms that may arise, this makes Klonopin withdrawal a dangerous process to go through alone. With proper medical attention and therapeutic care, these psychological symptoms can be eased in order to help the person detox with minimal discomfort.

Physical Symptoms of Withdrawal

As clonazepam impacts the GABA receptors in the brain, the withdrawal process is physically dangerous as well. When suddenly ceasing Klonopin use, an individual may experience headaches, nausea, shaking, irregular sleep patterns, heightened blood pressure, dizziness, muscle tension and spasms, and irregular bowel movements.

In addition, more severe cases of Klonopin withdrawal can result in the individual having seizures or falling into a coma. It’s important to know that the detox process can be incredibly dangerous and fatal. The physical symptoms of withdrawal make it imperative that you seek professional medical help when coming off Klonopin.

Klonopin Withdrawal Timeline

Because Klonopin is a long-acting benzodiazepine, the withdrawal process takes time and patience. Generally, withdrawal symptoms begin arising 2 or 3 days after the last use, which is when it begins to leave your system. During this time, an individual is likely to experience anxiety, insomnia, heightened blood pressure, fatigue, and mental confusion or memory lapses. During this period, the cravings for more clonazepam are often strong.

After a couple weeks, the acute withdrawal symptoms generally begin to subside. However, an individual may experience continued physical and psychological discomfort for weeks or months after. The longer-term withdrawal symptoms are often more mild, but may include anxiety, irregular sleeping patterns, and increased sensitivity to stress.

The timeline of withdrawal depends on the nature of the use and the individual’s biology. The longer you used Klonopin, the more likely you are to experience a lengthy withdrawal process.

Klonopin Withdrawal Help

If you or somebody you know is coming off Klonopin, it is crucial to seek help. Without professional help, Klonopin withdrawal can be lethal. In addition to the physical dangers, the cravings from withdrawing can be overwhelming and lead the person to abruptly stop the detox process and revert to the Klonopin.

Unfortunately, Klonopin withdrawal needs to be monitored by professionals even if you’ve been taking it as prescribed. With a trained medical team, you can come off clonazepam and stay completely safe. At a quality treatment center or detox, you may be treated with medications, constant monitoring of vital signs, and therapy. This level of care helps ensure your safety and comfort throughout this difficult process.

Comprehensive Treatment for Klonopin Dependency

Some may be so happy to have successfully completed the Klonopin detox and withdrawal process that they make the mistake of thinking they do not need addiction treatment. While that is understandable, it would be a significant misstep in the goal to remain Klonopin-free. This is because the drug is psychologically addicting, and has resulted in a thought-behavior response that keeps the individual hostage to the addiction cycle.

Overcoming a Klonopin addiction relies heavily on changing those distorted thought and behavior patterns. This is only achieved through a structured rehab program using evidence-based therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and others. The individual in recovery must replace their response to triggers with new healthy responses, and this process takes time, practice, and patience. CBT, combined with several other treatment elements within a comprehensive program, provide the interventions needed to achieve a sustained recovery from Klonopin addiction.

An integrative rehab program will include the following:

Psychotherapy: The centerpiece of addiction treatment is evidence-based psychotherapy. These one-on-one talk therapy sessions are essential in helping patients examine the underlying factors that may be contributing to the substance abuse.

Group therapy: Peer support is an important aspect of establishing trust bonds that can foster a source of mutual support while in treatment. In group therapy, the members of the small group will be invited to openly share their personal feelings and experiences with the others, while under the guidance of a clinician.

Family therapy: Addiction can significantly impact the family dynamic, causing broken trust, financial troubles, and codependency. Family group therapy helps family members address any frustrations or ask questions about how best to support their loved one’s recovery.

Dual diagnosis treatment: Klonopin is often prescribed for patients with an anxiety disorder. When treating the individual for the Klonopin addiction it is important to also address the co-occurring anxiety disorder at the same time for the best recovery result.

Complimentary therapies: Treatment of a Klonopin dependency will be enhanced when complimentary therapies are added to the treatment protocol. Holistic and experiential therapies can help patients learn techniques to help regulate the stress response associated with benzodiazepine addiction. These activities are included in treatment to help reduce anxiety, which can in effect augment treatment results. After the patient has completed treatment, they are able to access these same therapies and incorporate them into their aftercare plan. The activities may include yoga, meditation, art or music therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, mindfulness exercises, equine therapy, journaling, and aromatherapy.

Continuing care planning: Completion of a comprehensive rehabilitation program is the first important step on the recovery journey, but just as important is the continuing care planning that will follow treatment. Recovery exists on a continuum, meaning that ongoing efforts will help ensure that recovery is sustained over time. These measures can include scheduling weekly therapy sessions, living in a sober living home during the early months of recovery, and participation in a recovery community.

What is a 12 Step Call

What is a 12 Step Call?

A 12 step call is an important part of the recovery process for many. Generally, an individual or group sits or speaks with somebody suffering from addiction in order to help them find recovery. It has become less popular as treatment has grown in availability, but it still is an important part of the process.

Interventions may be seen as a type of twelve step call, although they often cost money. Traditional twelve-step calls are free and done in the spirit of service. People may call into AA Central Office or reach out to a trusted friend or family member. A member of the twelve-step community volunteers to either speak to the struggling individual or meet with them in person.

What is the Twelfth Step?

The twelfth step of Alcoholics Anonymous reads: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. This is the step in which sober individuals begin helping those who are still struggling with addiction. This may come in the form of sponsoring other people, taking service commitments, or participating in things like twelve step calls.

Why do a Twelve Step Call?

The main purpose of a call is to offer the person struggling a friendly and nonjudgmental ear. The belief is that there is just nothing quite the same as one alcoholic talking to another. As such, the person who is struggling to stay sober can hopefully trust the person making the call.

Often, the ultimate goal of a 12 step call is to get the person to commit to a first step toward recovery. This may be something simple like coming to a meeting or seeing a therapist. As with cases like interventions, it may be to get the person to admit to detox or treatment. Recovery may look different for different individuals, but the intention remains the same: to help the person recover from the suffering caused by addiction.

Sometimes, those of us in recovery or surrounded by recovery forget that many individuals don’t know sober people or have sober friends. When people reach out to a Central Office or ask a friend for help, it’s a courageous and scary thing to do. The person who shows up or calls the individual has a really powerful opportunity to impact their life.

When to do a 12 Step Call

Sometimes we are asked to participate in a call, while other times we may do so out of care and worry for a friend or loved one. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to remember a few things about your choice of timing. First, it’s not advisable to do a twelve step call when somebody is still intoxicated. When somebody is high or drunk, they are not clear-minded. Furthermore, we tend to be less desperate when we are intoxicated and feeling alright. It generally is best to work with someone when they are sober.

If the person who needs help is sober, it’s best to make contact as soon as possible. If you have experienced addiction yourself, you know how fast the mind can change. One moment we are desperate for help, and the next we have succumbed and are getting high. If someone is reaching out for help, we can make a huge difference by responding in a timely manner.

You may show up for an individual even when they don’t necessarily reach out for help themselves. Sometimes, a family member or friend may reach out for help. There’s also the intervention-style method in which the person is surprised with the helping individuals. We must be careful about when we show up to intervene on somebody. It can be a fragile situation and we want to be mindful of their needs and health. We also need to know our limitations and when somebody needs professional help.

Twelve Step Call Tips

Jumping into a 12 step call is a big task, so we thought we’d offer a few tips we’ve found helpful in our personal and professional experience.

Be Present

First, do your best to really be present for the person suffering. If they call, try to answer. If you can’t make sure to call them back! They’re in a vulnerable state and you have a lot of power in your hands to make them feel welcome. Of course you’re not in charge of their recovery, but you do have the opportunity to help.

It can also be helpful to really be present and not distracted. When we’re struggling, simply having someone there to listen to us can make a world of difference. Practice compassionate listening and really make an effort to be present with the person as they share their struggles.

Get the Individual Alone

First, it must be mentioned that we have to be careful in making these calls. We don’t want to make anyone feel unsafe or activate any trauma. As such, we must be mindful of gender differences and the dangers associated with working one-on-one with an individual of another gender. It’s generally best on a 12 step call for the people to be of the same gender.

With that out of the way, it may be best to separate the person from any loved ones or family members. A person is generally more likely to be honest and open when speaking without these people around. If you’re doing a twelve step call and the person’s spouse is home, it may be best to try to speak with the person without the spouse present.

Be Aware of Needs

These calls are valuable methods of helping others get sober, but they can’t fix everything. Sometimes, we go on a twelve step call and see that the person needs immediate medical attention, psychiatric help, and/or emergency services. This may be because the person has taken a lot of drugs, is considering causing harm to themselves or another, or is physically hurt.

Although the twelve steps have helped millions of people get clean and sober, they can’t address absolute everything. Know your own limitations and be aware of the person’s needs. Keep in mind that the person may need more than you can offer. It doesn’t make you a bad twelve-stepper; it just means the person needs a different type of help in this moment!

Share Your Story

Although listening is one of the most important pieces of 12 stepping someone, it can also be helpful to share a bit of your story. By sharing your story honestly, you can let the person know they’re speaking with someone who understands and is not there to judge you. You can share as deeply as you’re comfortable with, showing the addict or alcoholic that they’re not alone in their experience.

When you share your story, make sure to include what it’s like today! Offer some hope to the person. By giving them a glimpse of your addiction and your recovery, you can offer them something to work toward. Maybe they don’t want their life to look exactly like yours, but the principle of hope will come through.

Leave Them with Options

This can make a huge difference. When you get off the phone or leave the individual, don’t just leave them hanging! You want to offer a next step, some way to take action, and/or an actual path toward recovery. This can come in many forms, and will vary depending on the situation. You can’t force the person to take the next right action, but you can do your best to make sure it’s accessible to them.

You may consider leaving a meeting directory, giving them some phone numbers for detox facilities, private treatment centers, or free drug rehabs, or making a plan to go to a meeting together. Use your best judgement and perhaps you can ask your own mentors or sponsors, but make sure you offer the person a way to move forward. In that moment of desperation, they may be willing to take action where they weren’t previously.

Don’t Judge Yourself too Harshly

Finally, remember that your job isn’t to cure or fix anyone. You’re only in charge of your own behavior. Show up, be honest and open, and don’t cling to any specific result. You may do the best 12 step call ever, but the person isn’t ready. You also may make many mistakes but the person still gets sober! Do what you can, be willing to learn new things, and remember that you cannot control the behavior of anyone else!

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