What is Drug Relapse

Drug relapse, or any kind of relapse, is a process that usually starts when an individual slips back into old behavior patterns. Defined in the dictionary as, “a deterioration in someone’s state of health after a temporary improvement,” relapse can be devastating.  Some people think that relapse begins when someone first uses drugs after being sober or quitting for a time.  However,  we know that relapse occurs much sooner than this — it just might not manifest in drug use at first.

Some tell-tale signs of relapse include: Poor sleep habits

  • Thinking about people, places, and things they used drugs with
  • Glamorizing their past use
  • Lying
  • Hanging out with previous drug using friends
  • Fantasizing about using drugs
  • Thinking about relapsing
  • Planning their relapse around other people’s schedules
  • Making poor choices
  • Anxiety
  • Intolerance
  • Anger
  • Defensiveness
  • Mood swings
  • Isolation
  • Not asking for help
  • Not going to meetings or appointments
  • Poor eating habits

After examination of the previous list, it is clear that relapse occurs in the mind before the body takes over and actually relapses to drug use.

Some factors that seem to lead to drug relapse or make it harder to fight back against the urge to do drugs  and relapse faster than an individual otherwise might include:

  1. Being bored
  2. Being around people using drugs or alcohol, places where the individual used drugs or purchased them, or being around the drug or alcohol itself
  3. Feeling that using drugs or alcohol to celebrate something is appropriate
  4. Feeling physical pain
  5. Dwelling on getting high
  6. Having a lot of cash
  7. Using prescription drugs
  8. Thinking that one no longer has to worry (complacent) about relapse or that they are past being tempted

When someone makes the choice to stop abusing drugs, they have taken the first step in drug addiction recovery. This step is the beginning of an important change in their life.They may expect that all their problems will go away once they have made the decision to quit. Unfortunately, their problems often remain with them throughout their recovery process, and sometimes things even seem harder.  Because of the difficulties associated with recovery, relapse often occurs. But thinking ahead and devising ways to handle pressures that might lead back to drug use and/or drinking can help people stay in recovery and avoid relapse.

Anxiety

The high stressed, overworked, perfectionistic lifestyle many of us are attempting to live is causing our US society a lot of anxiety.  There are many anxiety symptoms but despite their different forms, all anxiety disorders share one major symptom: persistent or severe fear or worry in situations where most people wouldn’t feel threatened.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America give the following statistics about anxiety disorders in the US on their website:

  • “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.
  • Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.
  • People with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from anxiety disorders.
  • Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.”

Another interesting point about anxiety is the role it plays in conjunction with depression.  Many people with anxiety disorders also suffer from depression at some point. Anxiety and depression are believed to stem from the same biological vulnerability, which may explain why they so often go hand-in-hand. Since depression often creates anxiety symptoms (and vice versa), it’s important to seek treatment for both conditions. In fact, nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

Seeking help, treatment, and support can lessen anxiety along with finding techniques to avoid or prevent anxiety before it becomes problematic in one’s life.

Drug Abuse & Pregnancy

Abusing drugs anytime is risky, but when pregnancy is in the cards, abusing drugs not only impacts you but also your unborn child.  Drug abuse during pregnancy can result in deformities, low birth weight, miscarriage, premature labor, placental abruption, and even infant or maternal death.

Different drugs impact the pregnancy in different ways.  Below are some common side effects for various drugs during pregnancy:

Heroin: Heroin crosses the placenta to the baby.  It is highly addictive and the baby can become dependent upon the drug.  Using heroin during pregnancy can increase the chances of the following occurring: premature birth, low birth weight, breathing difficulties, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), bleeding within the brain (intracranial hemorrhage), and infant death.

Cocaine: Cocaine crosses the placenta and enters the baby’s circulatory system.  Cocaine remains in a fetus’s body longer than in an adult’s body. Using during pregnancy can increase the chances of the following occurring: birth defects, placental abruption, and learning difficulties may result as the child gets older. Defects of the genitals, kidneys, and brain are also possible.

Meth: Meth causes both the mother and the fetus’s heart rate to increase.  Using meth during pregnancy can increase the chances of low birth weight, the likelihood of premature labor, miscarriage, and placental abruption and some experts believe that learning difficulties may result as the child gets older.

Marijuana: Marijuana crosses the placenta to the baby.  Like cigarette smoke, marijuana contains toxins that can inhibit the baby from getting proper oxygen supply to grow and develop. Using marijuana during pregnancy can reduce the oxygen supply to the baby, increase the chance of miscarriage, low birth weight, premature births, developmental delays, and behavioral and learning problems.

Many women who suffer from drug addiction and abuse want to know the effects of their drug abuse before they knew they were pregnant.  Talking to a doctor about these concerns is very important and staying free from drug abuse for the remainder of the pregnancy is crucial.

Moms and Drug Abus

Ten years ago, it was reported that at least 18 million women aged 26 and older take prescription medications for unintended purposes.  Today, that number is even higher, and many of those abusing drugs include women who are moms.  Some are surprised to find out how many moms deal with drug abuse, but it must be remember that no one is immune to addiction and drug abuse.  Moms are just as vulnerable to drug abuse as anyone else and may turn to drugs to avoid guilt, stress, boredom, or any number of other things.  Today, an increasing number of moms are becoming addicted to pain medications.

The most commonly abused prescription drugs by moms include: sedatives, muscle relaxants, and opioid painkillers. Just like so many others, most moms started out their drug use legitimately—that is, they received a prescription from their doctor for a valid health issue.  However, some moms continue to use and abuse the drug they were safely prescribed after their treatment for the health issue is resolved.

Further, other drug addictions that seem to be rising with moms include alcohol addiction and abuse, and marijuana use.  Becoming aware of triggers that may turn moms toward drug abuse can stop the addictions before they start.  These triggers increase vulnerability and include: past trauma (such as being abused as a child), a family history of drug abuse problems, a history of drug or alcohol addiction, and the presence of mental health conditions (such as depression).

Also noteworthy is that many moms experience depression and stress after giving birth and these heightened reactions to the hormonal changes and lifestyle changes that occur can increase a mom’s vulnerability to addiction. In fact, any period of heightened stress increases the risk of using and depending on prescription drugs to feel better.

A main reason for the rise in prescription drug abuse by moms is the same as for everyone else: prescription drugs can be obtained and purchased relatively easy.  Moms may lie or or buy from less legitimate pharmacies online in order to maintain their drug habits.  These factors have directly impacted the rise in prescription drug abuse among all groups of people.  Some people simply think that if a doctor prescribes medicine it will not cause any harm.  Understanding side effects and addiction tendencies, and drugs that build tolerance, can also prevent further drug abuse issues. It is important to remember that no on is immune to addiction, even moms.

source: workingmother.com

Diet Pills

Diet pills are popular because they aid in helping users control or maintain their weight.  But how safe are they?  What are the dangers associated with diet pills?  This post addresses these questions.

Diet pills are both prescription and over-the-counter supplements which inhibit body processes that affect weight by increasing metabolism, suppressing appetite or preventing fat absorption.

In fact, many prescription diet pills are Schedule III or IV drugs which helps to prevent abuse and helps to keep diet pills being prescribed to individuals who truly need and benefit from them. Regardless of these regulations and rules, diet pills are abused at a disturbing rate.

So many individuals in the U.S. are constantly setting goals and making promises to lose weight so it’s not shocking knowledge that diet pills are common and available in several forms. Some of the most commonly abused diet pills as identify by addictioncenter.com include:

“Benzphetamine (Didrex)
An anorectic closely related to amphetamines. Benzphetamine is most commonly sold under the prescription name Didrex, and its main function is to reduce appetite in obese individuals.

Diethylpropion
(Tenuate, Tepanil) Prescribed on a short term basis to suppress appetite.

Mazindol
(Mazanor, Sanorex) (Currently only approved for use in the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, mazindol prescriptions may be abused for their appetite suppressive properties)

Phentermine
(Adipex, Ionamin) Reduces appetite. (Used short term to reduce weight in overweight individuals)”

Last, diet pills were designed to take the place of amphetamines as appetite suppressants and as such, they have a potential for addiction and dependence.  Further, diet pills may cause heightened energy and feelings of euphoria, making the likelihood of addiction more prevalent.  Also from addictioncenter.com, “common side effects of diet pill abuse might include:

Insomnia

Dizziness

Hallucinations

Chest pain

Rash and itching

Swelling of legs and ankles

Vomiting

Yellowing of skin or eyes

Dark urine or light-colored stool”

source: addictioncenter.com

Hashish

Some haven’t heard of the drug hashish but they wonder if its the same things as marijuana. In fact, hashish comes mainly from the flowers (as well as leaves and stems) of the cannabis plant. And further, the active ingredient in hashish is the same as in marijuana, THC. Wikipedia defines hashish as, “Hashish, or hash, is a drug made from cannabis. While herbal cannabis is referred to as marijuana, hashish is cannabis resin. It is consumed by smoking a small piece, typically in a pipe, bong, vaporizer or joint, or via oral ingestion.”

One of the main differences between marijuana and hashish is that the concentration of THC in hashish is much higher than that of marijuana.  For example, the concentration of THC in most marijuana is around 1-5%.  In hashish, the concentration of THC is closer to 5-15%.  Further, hashish oils, have an even higher concentrated from of hashish is closer to 20% THC.

The effects of hashish on the brain and marijuana are similar.  THC impacts cognition in the brain with facilitates memory and concentration, motor coordination and  even includes memory.  Also, THC binds to receptors in the brain which create feeling of well-bing, sedation, and euphoria in the user. Some wonder if hashish (and marijuana) are dangerous because of the recent legalization of marijuana.  While there are many known positive medical uses of the drug, the American Psychiatric Association has identified hashish and marijuana as drugs that develop a condition known as cannabis disorder.

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hashish

Gambling: Fun or Addiction?

Gambling is a fun way to blow off  steam or even get lucky and make a few bucks..right?  For most people, this is true.  However, some people struggle to stop gambling and the games go from fun to addicting.  Gambling addiction (sometimes called problem gambling) can be hard to detect and even those struggling with the addiction may not realize it.  Often, by the time the addiction is uncovered, there are devastating financial consequences.

Some signs of a gambling addiction may include: excessive, unaccounted for time away, up and down mood swings, disappearing items of value or constantly thinking of how to obtain more money (to gamble), and secrets-like hiding tax documents or lottery tickets, or lying about whereabouts or income, etc.

Often, those caught in a gambling addiction will use excuses such as, “it’s been a long day (or week, or whatever) and I just needed to unwind a little.” Gam-Anon is a “12 Step self-help fellowship of men and women who have been affected by the gambling problem of another.”  Their website (gam-anon.org) has a very helpful list of 20 questions that you can ask of yourself or your loved one if you are concerned about a gambling addiction. These are listed below:

1      Do you find yourself constantly bothered by bill collectors?

2      Is the person in question often away from home for long unexplained periods of time?

3      Does this person ever lose time from work due to gambling?

4      Do you feel that this person cannot be trusted with money?

5      Does this person promise that he or she will stop gambling, yet gambles again and again?

6      Does this person ever gamble longer than he or she intended?

7      Does this person immediately return to gambling to try to recover losses or to win more?

8      Does this person ever gamble to get money to solve financial difficulties?

9      Does this person borrow money to gamble with or to pay gambling debts?

10    Has this person’s reputation ever suffered due to gambling?

11    Have you come to the point of hiding money needed for living expenses?

12    Do you search this person’s clothing, go through his or her wallet, or check on his or her activities?

13    Do you hide his or her money?

14    Have you noticed personality changes in him or her?

15    Does this person consistently lie to cover up or deny his or her gambling activities?

16    Does this person use guilt induction as a method of shifting responsibility for his or her gambling onto you?

17    Do you attempt to anticipate this person’s moods to try to control his or her life?

18    Does this person ever suffer from remorse or depression due to gambling sometimes to the point of self-destruction?

19    Have you ever threatened to break up the family because of the gambling?

20    Do you feel that your life together is a nightmare?

If you or your loved one is suffering from a gambling addiction, it is vital that help is sought for the addict as well as involved loved ones as a gambling addiction can severely impact more than just the addict.

Ritalin Addiction

With all of the media focus on opioid addiction and prescription painkiller regulating, other drugs that are addicting get overlooked, like Ritalin.  Ritalin is often prescribed for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  It helps with focus and attention.  Recently, Ritalin abuse has been seen on college campuses where students are taking the drug (and often becoming addicted to it’s effects) in order to study longer and more effectively or to test better due to improved focus.  However, many do not realize the addictive nature of Ritalin and the risks associated with taking it when it’s not necessary.

For instance, when individuals who have not been prescribed the drug continue to take Ritalin in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms, when they can’t meet their obligations without Ritalin use, and/or feel intense urges to take Ritalin they are definitely experiencing signs of addiction.  Further, if individuals find themselves increasing their Ritalin dose over time to maintain the same effect, take Ritalin in situations where it may not be safe to do so, or are spending a lot of time obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of Ritalin, those symptoms are also red flags of addiction as well.

Treatment for Ritalin addiction is similar to other drug addiction treatment.  Detox needs to occur in a safe medically monitored supervised setting.  Following up with therapy and counseling can then strengthen the individual against returning to Ritalin abuse and addiction.

Could a Natural Nasal Spray Replace Addictive Opioids

Could a nasal spray actually help people avoid opioid addiction?  Researchers at the University College London say “yes” and they are moving toward testing their theory on human subjects.

When individuals need medicine for pain they are often given opioids to combat their intense pain and help them resume feeling normal.  However, as evidenced in the recently growing opioid epidemic, more and more individuals are becoming dangerously addicted to opioids and more and more overdoses are occurring.  The nasal spray tested by the researchers is a natural opioid  compound and lessens the pain while having no addictive side effects.  This is exciting news because it means that if valid, then individuals treated for pain will not become overly euphoric, tolerant, and addicted to the opioid drugs they may be given for their pain.

In the study, the researchers tested the pain-relieving  opioid nasal spray on mice and found no signs of tolerance or any signs of craving, such as reward-seeking behavior.  “If people don’t develop tolerance, you don’t have them always having to up the dose. And if they don’t have to up the dose, they won’t get closer and closer to overdose,” Ijeoma Uchegbu, a professor of pharmaceutical nanoscience who is leading the research through Nanomerics, a UCL startup, told The Guardian, in an article entitled, “Natural painkiller nasal spray could replace addictive opioids.”

The researchers have now moved to raising money for clinical trials involving humans to test their theory.  The results form their previous studies involving mice seem very hopeful and the researchers are definitely striving to find an alternative to opioid drugs such as fentanyl and oxycontin to aid in the management of pain in the future.

source:https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/01/natural-painkiller-nasal-spray-could-replace-addictive-opioids-trial-indicates

Suicide Rates on Rise in U.S.

In a new report by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) they indicate that suicide rates are on the rise in the United States and have been increasing in number since the year 2000.

In fact, from 1999 to 2015, approximately 600,000 U.S. residents died by suicide, with 2015 being the deadliest year. Interestingly, the groups that are ranked highest are not those from the big cities, instead they are from the rural areas.  Further, the ethnic groups dealing with the increase in suicides the most is the Native Americans and those who are white.

Of note is that the report shows a steady climb with a spike around the year 2008.  In speculating why this spike occurred, one thought is that it may have been due to the pressures of the financial recession that occurred in our country at that same time.  Many individuals felt hopeless and stressed in their financial predicaments when businesses were closing their doors and the stock market plummeted.  In more detail is the fact that the rural communities suffered more in the recession due to poverty and social isolation along with less mental health treatment facilities and that may explain why the rates of suicide there are higher.

Further, since the year 2000, the CDC points out that men are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than women and the rate worsened in almost all categories assessed after 2008.

The findings of the CDC indicate that more mental health institutions need to be available in rural areas to help those struggling with suicidal thoughts.  The opioid crisis doesn’t help either along with other drug issues and the rural communities have been especially hard hit by that as well.  Finding solutions and having more preventative help in place for these ethnic groups, and in rural locations would be helpful in combating the increasing rate of suicides in the United States.

source: vocavtiv.com

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