Switching to Heroin

Why Are so Many People Switching to Heroin?

Heroin use is spreading rapidly and affecting large numbers of upper-income people in addition to more women and non-Hispanic whites. Many experts attribute the growth in heroin use to widespread opiate painkiller abuse. To understand why people are switching to heroin, we have to look at prescription painkiller abuse.

Part of the problem began when the government cracked down on non-medical use of prescription medications. The pharmaceutical companies had to alter the medications to make them harder to crush, and as a result, the drugs became more expensive. Someone who is already addicted to the pills has to find cheaper alternatives. Heroin is the first choice because it produces the same euphoric effects as painkillers, but it is much less expensive.

The image of heroin use is changing. A drug that was once associated mostly with poor inner cities has found its way into the upper-income suburbs and exclusive neighborhoods. In some areas, drug dealers make personal deliveries to their high-class clients and even run specials to attract more customers.

Dangers of Switching to Heroin

More and more people are choosing heroin as a drug of choice due to the stricter rules and prescription drug crackdowns. The new prescription drugs like Oxycontin are priced from $30 to $80 a pill. Heroin can be found for about $10 a bag on the streets. But, this money-saving benefit comes with some deadly repercussions.

When people switch to heroin, they don’t know anything about the purity of the drug and aren’t familiar with the dosages. Each batch of heroin is different from the last. This lack of knowledge has caused thousands of overdose deaths. In fact, heroin was involved in more than 213,119 ER visits in one year alone. Deaths from heroin overdose reached frightening proportions with more than 115 Americans dying each day after switching to heroin and overdosing on the drug.

What is Being Done to Combat Heroin Use?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is taking an aggressive approach to combating the heroin and opioid crisis in America. At the National RX Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in April 2018, they launched the HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Initiative. This initiative will seek innovative, effective solutions to the opioid problem. NIH has also increased funding for research on opioid abuse and addiction from $600 million to $1.1 billion for the fiscal year 2018.

The goals of HEAL include the following:

  • Discover more effective, non-addictive methods for managing chronic pain;
  • Improve treatment methods for opioid addiction;
  • Bring evidence-based changes to our healthcare system;
  • Advance understanding of the genetic and social factors that contribute to drug abuse.

Of course, HEAL is only one of many initiatives that are dedicated to preventing opioid and heroin addictions and deaths. Each state is playing a role in efforts to combat addiction in our nation. Some of the things they are doing include:

  • Addressing the heroin risk factors for addiction such as prescription opioids;
  • Providing more access to opioid addiction treatment services such as MAT;
  • Expanding training for administering naloxone to reduce overdose deaths;
  • Improving access to prevention services such as sterile injection equipment.

The heroin epidemic in America is the result of a decades-long increase in painkiller abuse and addiction.  Heroin was once considered an urban drug, but it has found its way into small towns, suburbs, and high society. With the increased heroin abuse comes an increase in drug-related crime. Even if you aren’t a drug user, you may find yourself affected by it in some abstract way. Addicts will do just about anything to get their next fix, and they don’t care who they steal from or harm in their drug-seeking.

If you would like more information about people switching to heroin, contact us at our toll-free number today. If you or someone you love needs help for opioid addiction, we can help. Call today.

alcohol delivery services

Alcohol Delivery: Do We Need to Be Worried About It?

Consumers today have to put forth very little effort to obtain the things they want or need. With just a few keystrokes we can order our groceries, clothing, books, gifts, flowers, and more. So, it’s no surprise that we can now have alcoholic beverages delivered to our door. Restaurants, grocery stores, and alcohol delivery services are taking part in making it easy for us to get our favorite beverages.

Alcohol delivery can be a good thing in some respects, but in many ways, it can cause problems for people who have trouble controlling their alcohol intake. Just because there’s an app for it,k doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of this new fad.

Who Uses Alcohol Delivery Services?

In the last few years, app entrepreneurs have turned their attention to creating innovative apps that will satisfy the increasing demand for alcohol delivery services. Some of those include Klink, Drizly, Minibar, Saucey, Swill, and Thirstie. Although this seems like a great idea as a convenient service, some concerns arise.

Who would want alcohol delivered to their home? Perhaps it’s someone hosting a party or cookout dinner in their home and they run out of beer or wine for the guests. Using one of the apps prevents having to leave the party to make a beer run and risk driving under the influence.

Or, maybe someone who has been drinking doesn’t want to drive to get more booze. An alcohol delivery service could be doing a public service by keeping this person from getting behind the wheel. On the other hand, we have to wonder if some people would drink way more than they should simply because it’s easy to obtain.

Is Alcohol Delivery Legal in Most States?

Home delivery of alcoholic beverages could be a convenient way for underage drinkers to obtain alcohol. For that reason, most states require the customer to show a valid from of identification to the delivery person. Also, drivers who are delivering alcohol must be 21 years old and pass a criminal background check. Some states allow up to one gallon of alcohol per customer per delivery.

Additionally, most states require that the delivery service’s gross sales come from food delivery. They also require that the company and its drivers obtain a state license to deliver alcohol. These efforts are in place to prevent or curtail minors taking advantage of the service. High prices are another measure that might make the service less attractive to young people or college students.

In California, legislation is moving forward that will curb access of home-delivered alcohol to minors. It requires that an alcohol delivery service submit it’s identification system to the ABC for review and approval. The system must include the following elements:

  • Methods for verifying that the recipient of alcohol is 21 years of age or over.
  • Provides person-to-person delivery.
  • Drivers must be 21 years of age or older.
  • No delivery to college or university grounds.

Of course, in today’s world, every rule and law on the books has been broken at one time or another. Making laws doesn’t necessarily ensure that everything is under control. But, it is a step in the right direction and can make a difference in keeping alcohol delivery services from getting alcohol into the hands of minors.

By-Passing Social Stigma Associated with Purchasing Alcohol

For those individuals who don’t like everyone seeing how much alcohol they purchase or consume, a delivery service is an ideal situation. But, they put themselves at risk of drinking more than they should and drinking more often. Also, the drinks a person makes at home tend to be stronger than the drinks they would have gotten in a bar or restaurant. The only benefit is that it keeps a drinking person from driving to get more alcohol and putting himself or others in danger.

If you would like more information about whether alcohol delivery services are contributing to increased alcohol problems today, give us a call. We will be happy to answer your questions or help you arrange treatment for yourself or a loved one who has alcohol abuse problems.

going to rehab

5 Things You Need to Ask Before Going to Rehab

Going to rehab once is hard enough.  You don’t want to have to repeat the process because the program didn’t work for you.  Also, being an addict once is more than enough. You don’t want to go through rehab and then relapse and become an addict again.  So, when you’re ready to choose a rehab, you’ll want to ask five specific questions about rehab that will help you make an informed choice to get the right program that will work the first time.

What You Need to Know Before Going to Rehab

How do you know you’re choosing the right program that will provide the tools you need to remain drug-free for good?  The best way to choose a rehab is to do some research before making a decision. Knowing what to expect can help you understand your role in the recovery process and will make the experience more productive.

The Internet has an abundance of information about rehab, and you’ll feel overwhelmed by all the options. Hundreds of facilities are all claiming to be the best.  But, don’t be tempted to settle for the first one at the top of the list. Take a deep breath and use this list to help you sort through the choices.

Five of the most important questions to ask about rehab include:

  1. How many licensed, full-time employees do they have?
  2. What is their stance on medication-assisted recovery?
  3. How many people attend a group therapy session?
  4. How often will you meet with a therapist alone?
  5. Do they offer private rooms or will you have to bunk with others?

The answers to these questions will give you an idea of whether you’re going to feel like you’re lost in the crowd.

Your Needs and Preferences are Important

Going to rehab today is a much better experience than ever before.  The programs are structured in a way to allow for individualized plans that are suited specifically to each patient.  You can choose from traditional programs, faith-based, holistic, and many more.

Also, options such as residential, intensive outpatient (IOP), and partial hospitalization (PHP) are available.  The severity of your addiction and the substance involved will play a role in determining which type of treatment is best for you.  

Some other things you’ll want to know about a facility:

  • Do they offer a specialized program or do they claim to be experts at everything?  If they claim to be experts at everything, they probably aren’t great at anything.
  • Are they a for-profit or non-profit facility?  For-profit facilities often offer extra types of therapies and amenities.  But, non-profit facilities also offer good options and they’re not likely to be concerned with seeking money.
  • Does everything sound too good to be true?  Trust your instincts on this.  Many facilities make claims that are often completely false.  
  • What is the length of the program?  Is it open-ended or will you be forced to leave in 30 days whether or not you feel ready to be on your own yet?  Remember, you don’t want a quick-fix. You want a program that allows you time to heal emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
  • Do they offer detox on-site?  On-site detox is ideal because you won’t be tempted to leave detox and just go back home.  Detox isn’t a cure for your addiction. It just the first step in the overall treatment process that includes rehabilitation and aftercare.

You’ll also need to decide whether you want a facility that is close to home or further away.  The good thing about choosing one close to home is that your family will be able to visit. Also, if it’s close by, you can actually visit the facility before making your choice.  

If you need more information about going to rehab and what to expect, please contact us today.  

 

abusing drugs or alcohol

The Destruction that Results from Abusing Drugs or Alcohol

Substance abusers don’t seem to realize the destruction they are doing to their bodies when they are abusing drugs or alcohol. And it is not only the physical destruction caused by substance abuse, if you are abusing drugs or alcohol, you are also causing destruction in every facet of your life.  Many times substance abuse continues until it has caused irreparable damage to individuals’ lives.

Alcohol Abuse and Addiction

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), “1 in 12 American adults is an alcohol abuser or alcoholic.” Young adults between the ages of 18 to 29 are most likely to have alcohol-related problems. Alcohol abuse is defined as a drinking pattern that results in significant and reoccurring consequences. Alcohol abusers likely have major problems at school, work, or home.

When you drink alcohol, it first goes to your stomach and then the small intestines. There, it is absorbed into the bloodstream and circulated through the entire body. It reaches many organs and most importantly, the brain. Once there, alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways. This affects how the brain works and can change mood and behavior. It also makes it more difficult to think clearly and move with coordination. In addition to affecting the brain, over-consumption of alcohol causes heart, liver, pancreas and immune system problems.

Researchers at the University of Missouri recently published a report showing that alcohol turns off the “alarm” in your brain that normally goes off when you make a mistake. Bruce Bartholow, the lead psychology professor who ran the study, commented that “our study shows that alcohol doesn’t reduce your awareness of mistakes — it reduces how much you care about making those mistakes.”

The study involved measuring the brain activity of almost 70 volunteers that completed challenging computer tasks designed to elicit some errors. The brain’s “alarm signal” in response to the computer errors was significantly reduced for those who drank alcohol compared with the others. Professor Bartholow concluded that “having a strong brain response to mistakes promotes better self-control and helps people avoid making further mistakes in the future.” Therefore, alcohol decreases the ability to react to mistakes. This is the foundation of poor decisions and reacting poorly when mistakes are made.

Drug Abuse and Addiction

Below are some chilling facts that should scare any drug user straight:

  • All research points to drug use having direct negative effects on memory, cognition, and learning.
  • Brain scans of cocaine addicts show almost no brain function. Normal brain functioning only returns after months of abstinence.
  • Drug use floods the brain with dopamine, which causes an increase in pleasure. However, brain cells that are constantly exposed to excessive dopamine will become damaged or die.
  • According to the National Institute of Health, “drugs can alter important brain areas that are necessary for life-sustaining functions and can drive the compulsive drug abuse that marks addiction.” That is, drugs directly negatively affect the brain stem (controls basic life functions), the cerebral cortex (thinking and senses) and the limbic system (emotions).

Help is Available if You are Abusing Drugs or Alcohol

Don’t continue ruining your health and well-being by abusing drugs or alcohol. You can get help from many different alcohol and drug addiction treatment facilities. They are located all over the United States today. Inpatient treatment is one of the safest and most effective ways to beat drug or alcohol addiction. The benefits include:

  • Structure
  • Tools and resources
  • Different therapy options
  • 24/7 professional support
  • Clinical medical supervision
  • Zero access to drugs or alcohol
  • Reduced social negative influences

Conclusion

Abusing drugs or alcohol can be harmful to you in many different ways. It will disrupt your work and school. It will diminish your quality of health and life. It will weaken and destroy your relationships. Changing your life is only a phone call away. Don’t wait any longer. Get professional rehab help today!

vitamins and nutrition

Rehab Programs Helping Addicts Replenish Vitamin Deficiencies in Recovery

Drug and alcohol abuse is prevalent in America today and contributes to a host of problems. Addiction costs the country more than $740 billion annually due to losses in productivity, health care costs, and crime. Addiction takes a toll on the personal lives of addicts and their families, causing personal pain, damaged relationships, and broken families. And addiction certainly exacts a cost on the health of the user: addiction can lead to death, infectious disease, or chronic health problems, even after recovery. One less commonly noted impact of addiction on health is a vitamin deficiency.  Read more to learn about the importance of vitamins and nutrition in recovery from addiction.

Addiction-Related Vitamin Deficiency

Malnutrition is fairly common among people suffering from addiction; one study shows that 70% of addicts suffer from vitamin D deficiency and low levels of vitamin C, and another study shows that 50% of addicts in detox are deficient in either iron or vitamins, especially vitamins A, C, and E. These deficiencies stem from two causes: primary and secondary malnutrition. In primary malnutrition, addicts fail to eat a nourishing diet, choosing to abuse drugs or alcohol instead of eating. They consume too few calories overall, and the foods that they choose to eat may fail to provide proper nutrition. This can be because some drugs specifically impact appetite; for example, stimulant drugs, such as methamphetamine, can suppress appetite and disrupt hormonal regulation, interfering with calorie consumption and nutrient processing. With secondary malnutrition, the addict consumes sufficient calories but the substance abuse causes improper nutrient metabolism, absorption, utilization, or excretion.

Importance of Vitamins and Nutrition in Recovery

Whether the cause is an overall lack of calories or failure to properly digest and absorb calories, the fact is that many addicts enter addiction treatment in a malnourished state that can interfere with recovery. Poor nutrition causes low levels of neurotransmitters, brain chemicals that pass messages from one part of the brain to another. Low neurotransmitter levels can cause depression, agitation, and dysregulation during the early phases of recovery. Specifically, low levels of serotonin cause sleep problems, irritability, and depression. Low dopamine levels can cause aggression and drug cravings.

How can nutrition help during recovery? Are there specific drug detox vitamins? The answer is yes. By supplementing the addict in recovery with the building blocks of these neurotransmitters, they can rebuild their neurotransmitter levels to help overcome mental health problems during recovery. Vitamins and supplements that can help include:

  • Amino acids: critical for the building of neurotransmitters
  • Folic acid and Vitamins B6 and B12 for serotonin production
  • Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to improve neurotransmitter function and help with depression
  • Iron to help with fatigue, depression, and attention
  • Vitamin D to improve immune function

As addicts transition to life in recovery, they often experience drug cravings, irritability, anxiety, and depression. Addressing the vitamin deficiencies can help to ease those symptoms.

If we look at methamphetamine use, in particular, there are specific health concerns for people recovering from meth addiction. Methamphetamine users often struggle with dental problems, including dental disease and missing teeth. These dental problems can impact what recovering meth addicts can eat, and these dietary constraints must be taken into consideration during recovery. It may be useful to consult a nutritionist for help in finding foods of the right consistency that will still provide sufficient vitamins and nutrition in recovery.

A Healthy Approach to Recovery

Addressing the nutritional needs of the recovering addict is part of a healthy approach to recovery, viewing the addict as a whole person instead of looking only at the drug addiction.  In fact, studies show that a healthy body fosters and healthy mind.  When the mind and body are in optimal health, the person is less likely to experiment with addictive substances.  This is why vitamins and nutrition in recovery are essential to restoring a person to an improved state of health and vitality.

If you or someone you love is looking for drug treatment, we can help. Call our toll-free number today.

faith-based rehab

How Faith-Based Rehab Centers Work

Many people who are suffering from drug abuse and addiction turn to a higher power for support and reliance. That is why faith-based rehab centers are effective for individuals who are trying to achieve long-term sobriety.

Faith-Based Rehab Centers

Faith-based rehab centers work to combat addiction from a spiritual perspective. Patients are taught how to use a higher being to overcome their substance abuse problem. Faith-based rehab centers work to provide their patients with a strong foundation of spirituality so they can handle life’s difficult circumstances with ease.

Drug addictions and abuse usually form by individuals using substances to fill their emptiness. By replacing substances with spirituality, their void is filled in a healthy way for their mind and body. Spirituality gives the person something positive to give their attention to while also teaching them a variety of other things about life.

Do You Need to Have a Certain Belief System?

Faith-based rehab programs vary in the spirituality they teach. For instance, Christian rehab centers approach addiction treatment from the Christian belief system, and there are plenty of others that you can choose from that are compatible with your views.

For those who do not know what they believe, programs that practice a more generic approach to spirituality may be a good fit for them. This gives individuals who are unsure of their religion a chance to explore the different spiritual connections out there.

Are Faith-Based Rehab Centers Right for You?

Faith-based rehab centers are a great way to reconnect with your spirituality. It’s important to note that faith-based doesn’t necessarily involve worshiping a specific deity.  But, by believing in a higher power of their choosing, individuals will learn how to:

  • Seek clarity in overwhelming situations
  • Make peace with their pasts
  • Deal with anxiety and depression
  • Become more aware of the bigger picture
  • Improve their mood and emotional well-being
  • Discourage selfishness and promote selflessness
  • Cope with stressful situations
  • Be a part of something bigger than oneself
  • Create a sense of calmness
  • Learn healthy and unhealthy ways of living
  • Practice mindfulness, relaxation, and simplicity
  • Use spirituality instead of substances to fill the void in their life!

Faith-based rehab centers allow people to become healthier, mentally and physically. Patients will be surrounded by like-minded individuals to aid in their treatment and rehabilitative process. The support they receive from their peer’s stems from practicing spirituality and all patients work towards a common objective together: free from drug abuse and addiction.

What Should I Look for in a Faith-Based Rehab Center?

All drug rehab centers should focus on giving their patients a holistic approach to recovery, meaning they want to improve the person’s entire well-being (mind, body, and spirit). By remembering that a person’s mind and spirit are also a crucial part of the addiction recovery process and not just focusing on taking the body off of the substances, there will be less of a chance for a relapse to occur. Individuals need to learn how to cope with stressful situations so that they don’t turn to drugs in the future, and this goes hand-in-hand with looking towards a higher power.

Founder and CEO of Behavioral Rehabilitation Services, Per Wickstrom, believes that this approach to recovery is vital for an individual to achieve long-term sobriety. He made sure that his rehabilitation center works to enhance the entire well-being of each patient.

When looking for a drug rehabilitation center, faith-based rehab centers are one to consider. These rehab programs are a productive and successful way to combat a person’s addiction. By believing in a higher power, a person can handle life’s obstacles more positively and healthily.

addicted and codependent

Addicted and Codependent: Can Your Marriage be Saved?

Codependency is defined as being a relationship in which someone begins to rely on the needs of his or her partner. Mostly, this happens in a relationship that involves an addict or someone with a pathological issue. This person can exert control or manipulate the other until he or she begins to rely on the manipulation or control. The cycle is then perpetuated when the person being manipulated enables the addict by providing for him or her. This can be difficult to separate from the love, care, and commitment needed to foster a healthy relationship. When we get married, we do promise to love our partner ‘in sickness and in health’, right? Where do we draw the line between love and enabling?  So, how does this relate to being addicted and codependent?  

A common, lighthearted example of codependence is the classic argument over where to eat. Most couples can recall a time in which a dispute was had over where the date was supposed to take place. Maybe you have said something like, “I don’t care, sweetie, you choose”. While seemingly kind, the whole idea was to get the discussion out of the way and to avoid having to think about it, right? Or maybe you are on the other side. Maybe you have complained until that control was finally relinquished to you. If this is becoming a pattern, it may be classified as being codependency. While choosing where to eat may not be a big deal, or signify unhealthy in a relationship, addicted and codependent can be detrimental to a marriage.

Overcoming Codependency

A lot of times, a codependent person will seek someone that needs help or who ‘can be fixed’. Therefore, addiction is common among partners of codependent people. It is important to check in with yourself about your motives. If you love someone because you pity that person, feel responsible for others’ moods, seek approval from others, or often wish that others could make choices for you, you may be codependent. Be sure to do things for the sake of your own enjoyment. Time away from your partner is not always bad. Also, keep in mind that just because someone you love may not be happy, does not mean that you should also be unhappy. Let joy (and sorrow) be your very own.

You have probably heard someone say, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”. This is true in overcoming codependency, too. Having two people unhappy certainly does not solve anything. Instead, try to think of positivity as a healthy opposition to your partner’s negativity. Be the force of change. This is true help. Honesty can be a keystone. If you are addicted and codependent, be honest about your feelings or desires. It may seem better to give in or enable all the time, but resentment will build and so will the addiction in your partner. Be truthful about how you feel and stand up for yourself. If this seems difficult or overwhelming, sometimes a ‘mediator’ is a good idea. There is a lot of success had by those who seek counseling together. Counseling can facilitate communication and progress while providing someone to help keep conversation calm and on track.

Where to Start When You are Addicted and Codependent

The best thing you can do, if you tend to be codependent, or are in a codependent relationship, is to remember that being selfish is not always a bad thing. In fact, being selfish can, sometimes, be the best way to foster your altruism. Don’t be afraid to take time to do the things that you feel need to be done. Also, let your partner’s joy or happiness be his or her own journey. You have chosen and promised to conquer the journey of life together, but this does not mean that you are obligated to experience all of the same emotions along the way. Lastly, don’t be afraid to break the cycle. Maybe seek counseling or decide that it is time to talk about the way you feel with your partner. There are many more aspects of addiction and codependency. For additional helpful information on addiction and codependent behaviors and how to break codependent them, contact us today

mindful meditation

How Mindful Meditation Can Reduce Alcohol Cravings

If you are in recovery from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you know that being clean and sober is an ongoing process and that getting help for an addiction disorder is only half of the battle. After completing substance abuse treatment, the challenge becomes dealing with alcohol cravings without relapsing or falling back into old, unhealthy patterns of alcohol use. If you believe you may be at risk for alcohol relapse, the addiction recovery experts at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services can help you determine the best course of action for your situation.

What are Alcohol Cravings?

An alcohol craving is a strong urge or consuming desire to drink. When an individual begins to develop cravings for alcohol, it typically means a physiological or psychological dependence has developed, and these cravings can be extremely difficult to resist. Alcohol cravings can be prompted by physical, emotional or psychological “triggers,” or stimuli that result in drug-seeking behavior, and cravings are typically at their strongest during the first 30 days of recovery, when the addict is still getting used to being sober in the real world. It is especially challenging for a recovering addict to return to the environment that triggered the initial substance abuse, but by having a realistic plan in place for recovery, addicts can significantly improve their chances of long-term sobriety.

For recovering alcoholics, drinking is an old, unhealthy habit or behavior, and the trick to breaking free from addiction once and for all is replacing this old habit with new, healthy ones, which is where mindful meditation comes in. Mindfulness is defined as a non-judgmental form of observation that involves deliberately focusing your attention on the present situation and gently bringing your focus back to the present any time your thoughts begin to wander. Mindfulness can improve self-awareness and self-acceptance, while reducing feelings of stress and anxiety, ultimately allowing recovering addicts to acknowledge alcohol cravings and other unpleasant feelings or emotions and experience them safely. Training in mindfulness strategies can aid in the treatment of alcohol disorders, and according to research published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology in 2017, a brief 11 minutes of mindfulness practice may be enough to make even heavy drinkers cut back on alcohol use.

How to Reduce Alcohol Cravings

Perhaps the hardest thing about replacing old, unhealthy behaviors with new ones is retraining yourself to make the new behavior stick, and research has shown that practicing mindful meditation can be a useful supplementary technique in reducing alcohol cravings and avoiding relapse. In one randomized controlled trial conducted by Dr. Aleksandra Zgierska, assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and a practicing physician with a special interest in addiction medicine, researchers reported that “meditation could teach people new skills to cope with life challenges and create an emotional and intellectual ‘platform’ to tackle not just drinking by itself, but also other problems that may increase relapse risk,” like anxiety, depression, stress and other potential triggers for a return to substance use.

Knowing how to reduce alcohol cravings is key to lasting recovery, and for many people, mindful meditation is a helpful tool in avoiding an alcohol relapse. One effective mindful meditation technique called “urge surfing” teaches alcoholics healthy, mindfulness-based coping mechanisms that can take the place of their old, unhealthy coping mechanism, which was drinking. While meditating, the person visualizes a craving or urge to drink as an ocean wave that begins small but gradually builds, and, using the awareness of their breath, imagines “surfing” the urge by allowing it to rise and then fall without giving in to it and being “wiped out.” Successfully “surfing the urge” enhances healthy coping skills, Zgierska says, and, over time, weakens addictive conditioning, thereby reducing the risk of relapse.

How to Stop Drinking

It is common for recovering alcoholics experiencing strong cravings to return to drinking as a means of comfort, but there are ways to develop healthy coping mechanisms that serve the same purpose, both physically and emotionally, without the need for alcohol. As a supplement to traditional models of addiction recovery and relapse prevention, mindful meditation can help alcohol-dependent individuals become abstinent and reduce their risk of relapse, by teaching them how to be present in the moment and be conscious of what triggers their cravings to use, and then how to deal with these cravings in a healthy way, without automatically reacting to them by turning to alcohol.

7 Signs of an Impending Relapse

The circumstances of an alcohol relapse can vary depending on the individual, and it may not always be easy to see a relapse coming. The following are seven warning signs that you or a loved one may be heading toward a relapse:

  • You start romanticizing the days when you were drinking
  • You stop doing what you need to do to stay sober (going to therapy or getting treatment for a mental health disorder)
  • You start thinking that just one drink wouldn’t hurt
  • You start acting the way you did when you were drinking, even though you aren’t
  • You seek out old friends from your substance-using days
  • You become defensive when anyone brings up the changes in your attitude and behavior
  • You begin removing the elements from your life that keep you balanced and anchored

If you are recovering from an addiction to alcohol, and you do relapse, it doesn’t mean your recovery is over. Learning to embrace your relapses as mile markers on the road to lasting sobriety is the key to a successful recovery.

Contact BRS Rehab Today for Help

While it can feel like an utter failure, relapse is a normal part of the recovery process. Statistics show that roughly 47% of recovering addicts relapse during the first year after rehab, and 61% of those who relapse do so more than once. Learning how to quit drinking isn’t easy, especially for those who have developed a dependence on alcohol, but getting professional help at a substance abuse rehab facility can help tremendously. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol cravings in recovery, contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today at (877) 476-8320 to speak to a certified addiction recovery counselor about the benefits of mindful meditation.

5 Ways Being Sober Improves Your Personal Life

Addiction is a life-altering disorder, and there are countless benefits to getting sober, from looking better and feeling healthier to finally addressing debilitating mental health disorders, and in addition to physical and psychological benefits, being sober can also improve your personal life, repairing your relationship with yourself and with others adversely affected by your alcoholism or drug abuse. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol and wants help getting sober, call Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today at (877) 474-7028 to speak to a professional addiction recovery counselor about the benefits of substance abuse treatment.

Benefits of Getting Treatment for Addiction

Seeking treatment for an addiction disorder is much more than just quitting alcohol or drug use; being sober allows you to be clear-headed and rational, and encourages you to begin taking a good look at negative patterns of behavior in your life, which can have a direct impact on your personal relationships. The following are five ways being sober can improve your personal life:

  1. It can help you let go of unrealistic expectations. Addicts often have a hard time understanding that people are human and are doing the best they can with what they have, and they tend to expect too much of themselves and those around them. Unrealistic expectations can lead to anger and frustration when they aren’t met, and this can be a driving force behind addiction.
  2. It can help you understand the role you play in drama. Relationships with alcoholics tend to be fueled by drama, typically because addicts often have a short temper and are quick to react to perceived slights or insults without thinking it through. Once you’re sober, you can take an honest look at your romantic relationships and friendships, and see how your own behavior contributed to this drama.
  3. It can help you examine the give and take in relationships. Addiction is all about extremes, and it’s often difficult for addicts to understand that relationships are meant to be healthy partnerships where both people give and take, not one person doing all the giving or all the taking. In sobriety, addicts learn how to set boundaries for relationships and friendships to avoid being taken advantage of or taking advantage of someone else.
  4. It can help you understand the type of treatment you are willing to accept. Addicts often find themselves in toxic relationships and friendships, and are unable to see that the treatment they are receiving is the type of treatment they believe they deserve. Getting sober can help you break free from the cycle of toxicity that addiction brings and allow you to develop healthy relationships with people who treat you with love and respect.
  5. It can help you let go of jealousy and other types of manipulative behavior. There are certain manipulative behavioral patterns that tend to accompany addiction, and jealousy is one of them. Through sobriety, you can begin to understand that many of these manipulative behavioral patterns are spurred by your own insecurities, and learn how to believe in yourself and trust your friends and partners.

How to Celebrate Sobriety

Addicts in recovery know that there are myriad advantages to being sober, one of the most important being the ability to take part in healthy relationships with friends and romantic partners. The sad truth about addiction is that it’s a lonely disorder. Addicts often isolate themselves to protect and prolong their substance abuse, and it’s difficult for other people to cultivate genuine, meaningful relationships with people who use. Recovering from an addiction disorder is no easy task, but the good thing about getting sober is that removing drugs and alcohol from the equation automatically improves your chances of being successful in personal relationships, and has a direct impact on the quality of your personal life, and that alone is something worth celebrating.

Learning how to celebrate sobriety in a healthy way is an important part of the recovery process, allowing recovering addicts to hold themselves accountable and reflect on how far they have come on the road to lasting sobriety. For some, celebrating recovery milestones is a validation of how hard they have worked to get sober, serving as a marker of their progress, and for others, celebrating small victories reinforces the importance of their larger goal. Some people choose to celebrate their sobriety privately, either by reflecting on their recovery process or setting new goals to stay motivated, but if you prefer to include friends and loved ones in the celebration, there are plenty of sober activities that promote ongoing recovery, including the following:

  • Celebrate National Recovery Month in September
  • Start a recovery milestone tradition, such as organizing an annual run or walk with friends and loved ones
  • Give back by volunteering in the recovery community, becoming a sponsor for another recovering addict, or simply sharing your recovery story with others in group therapy
  • Participate in a local or national recovery event
  • Plan a weekend away with sober activities
  • Gather a few friends and go out to a nice dinner
  • Create new memories that aren’t tied to addiction, such as attending a baseball game and catching up with old friends who support your recovery goals
  • Host a private dinner with your family or closest friends
  • Plan a day trip to a theme park

Contact BRS Rehab for Help

Addiction is a lifelong battle, and it takes a lot of work for recovering addicts to continue working on their sobriety, especially when personal relationships have suffered as a result of alcohol or drug abuse. Even sober, you will continue to make mistakes, but without addiction holding you back, you can learn from your mistakes and evolve as an adult, as a friend or romantic partner, and as a productive member of your community. For more information about getting sober, ideas about what to do sober, or how to celebrate sobriety anniversaries in a healthy way, contact the substance abuse counselors at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today. With the help of a professional rehab facility, you can break free from the restraints of your addiction and get a fresh start in life.

Lone Wolf Entrepreneurs: Are You at Risk for Developing Addiction?

Addiction is a lonely disorder, and as people fall deeper and deeper into alcoholism or substance abuse, the more likely they are to isolate themselves from the people around them. This is especially true for the lone wolf entrepreneur, whose introverted nature may make him more susceptible to alcoholism, and which may, in turn, make him more withdrawn and isolated. These individuals are at risk of becoming functioning alcoholics.  If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today at (877) 474-7029 to speak with a knowledgeable substance abuse counselor about your options. With the help of a professional rehab facility, you can get the treatment you need, develop a reliable support system, and overcome your addiction for good.

Why Do Alcoholics Isolate Themselves?

For most people, drinking alcohol is a social activity. Whether we are on a romantic date for two or surrounded by hundreds of people at a wedding or another big event, we find pleasure in drinking in the company of other people. Alcoholics, on the other hand, often like to drink alone, either to avoid being judged or because they feel like isolation and secretive use is imperative to protecting and prolonging their addiction. As their substance abuse progresses, they may become increasingly isolated and withdrawn, which is a huge red flag for addiction. Even if they continue to drink with friends and family members on certain occasions, alcoholics still tend to feel like they are separate from everyone else, or like they are somehow cut off from the rest of the world. This is when substance abuse can do the most damage – when the alcoholic feels like he has to face his addiction alone – and that is the main reason recovering alcoholics are encouraged to attend group therapy so that they can benefit from the connections made with like-minded people dealing with similar difficulties and challenges.

Signs of a Functioning Alcoholic

When an alcoholic manages to keep his drinking a secret while convincing the rest of the world that he is a happy, healthy and productive member of society, this is considered high functioning alcoholism. A functioning alcoholic is someone who does not fit the typical stereotype of an alcoholic, which we think of as someone who can’t hold down a job or support himself financially. A functioning alcoholic engages in secretive use, often to a devastating degree, while maintaining what appears to be a “normal” home, work and social life, with a happy family, loyal friends and a successful career. Despite the fact that everything may seem okay in this situation, a functioning alcoholic is still putting his health in danger, perhaps even more so, because this particular type of substance abuse is more difficult to spot. Some common signs of a functioning alcoholic include:

  • Isolating from friends and family
  • Being in denial about their drinking
  • Setting strict drinking limits for themselves
  • Asking friends or loved ones to help them cover up the consequences of their drinking
  • Consuming alcohol to cope with their problems
  • Drinking alone and in secret
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they don’t drink

Functioning alcoholics can go years without being confronted with their problem or without being discovered, even by friends and loved ones. However, as time goes on, the risk of suffering the consequences of high functioning alcoholism increases dramatically, and the façade the alcoholic has worked so hard to build up will begin to crumble. A functioning alcoholic may, for example, be arrested for drinking and driving, or may suffer a failed marriage or some other tragedy before it becomes apparent that he or she needs help.

Entrepreneurs and Alcoholism

An entrepreneur is someone who creates and operates a business or businesses, and while this type of person often seems successful and powerful to the rest of us, many entrepreneurs subscribe to the idea of “fake it till you make it.” Entrepreneurs often have to juggle many different roles in their businesses and may face countless setbacks before becoming successful, including staffing problems, lost customers, increased competition, decreased revenue and disputes with partners, all the while eating poorly, sleeping too little and neglecting their health. This takes a significant physical, and emotional toll on the body and drinking becomes a way for them to keep themselves going. After all, running a business is risky and stressful, and a common coping mechanism for people who are stressed out is to drink.

Successful, high-powered entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk achieve a sort of hero status in our culture, but what many of these entrepreneurs don’t show the world is the silent struggle they are experiencing on the inside. They want the people around them to think they are successful and have it all together, but in reality, many entrepreneurs continually find themselves on the brink of a breakdown. Recent research has drawn a strong link between entrepreneurship and certain mood disorders, like depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts, indicating that many successful business owners who are very visible and charismatic are harboring secret demons that they feel they must hide from the outside world. Rather than show their vulnerability and risk their professional reputation, they keep it bottled up and turn to alcohol to cope.

Contact BRS Rehab for Help

Statistics suggest that roughly half of all alcoholics meet the criteria for high functioning alcoholism, which means they can maintain a career, support their family and have a strong social network, all while drinking to excess in secret. Furthermore, research shows that entrepreneurs experience more anxiety and stress than other workers, which puts them at a higher risk for mood disorders and substance abuse. It may be more than just a stressful job that puts entrepreneurs at risk for developing addiction though. Researchers have found that many entrepreneurs share certain character traits, like high energy, motivation, and creativity, that predispose them to mood swings, strong emotional states and possibly even addiction. If you recognize the signs of a functioning alcoholic in a loved one, contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today to find out how you can help. With the help of an individualized treatment plan and an experienced addiction recovery counselor, your loved one can finally overcome his or her addiction and get a fresh start in life.

Are Support Groups the Key to Fighting Addiction Isolation?

It’s very common for people facing an addiction disorder to isolate themselves from friends and family and spend a significant amount of time alone; in fact, isolating behavior is one of the top red flags to keep an eye out for if you suspect a loved one is abusing drugs or alcohol. Because their brains liken obtaining and consuming drugs or alcohol to survival, addicts and alcoholics are content to spend their time wasting away in a prison of their own creation, as long as they can get their next fix. However, when it comes to substance abuse, the danger lies in the willingness of an addict to live in isolation, and the key to fighting an addiction disorder is breaking free from that isolation and relying on a strong support system to get clean. For more information about fighting addiction isolation and achieving lasting recovery, contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today at (877) 474-7112 to speak to a qualified addiction recovery counselor.

Why do Addicts Isolate Themselves?

Addiction is a lonely disorder; no one wants to be around someone who is using, and someone who is using doesn’t want other people around either. There is a stigma associated with addiction, and most addicts find isolation and secretive use is imperative to protecting and prolonging their addiction. The isolation indicative of addiction can present itself in another way too, though. A high-functioning alcoholic, for example, still engages in secretive use, but at the same time has everyone around him convinced that he’s got it all together. This type of addict appears to be happy, healthy and successful, even while he is abusing alcohol, sometimes to a devastating degree. Such is functional alcoholism.

Unfortunately, the isolation that naturally comes with addiction and functional alcoholism is also what allows it to continue, and the only way to achieve lasting recovery and break free from the destructive cycle of addiction is to reach out and ask for help, either from friends and loved ones who want nothing more than to see you succeed, or from a support group with like-minded individuals who have been through similar trials and can offer first-hand advice on how to get through it. Even functional alcoholics eventually suffer the physical and psychological consequences of their alcohol abuse and may begin to isolate, too ashamed and afraid to let their friends and family members see who they really are. As their substance of choice takes on a more significant role in their lives, it’s only a matter of time before the cracks in the façade begin to show.

The Dangers of Addiction Isolation

For most people, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be alone sometimes, but for addicts, the time they spend alone is the time they find themselves most overcome by euphoric recall, cravings to use and other urges common in addiction recovery, and the more time alone they have to obsess over drug and alcohol use, the more likely they are to give into their desires and relapse. The key here is the brain. Research has shown that prolonged alcohol or drug abuse can change the way the brain functions, and once the brain becomes accustomed to the presence of drugs or alcohol in the body over a period of time, it begins to crave the substance just to function normally, which is the beginning of addiction. Even after an addict makes the decision to quit drinking or using drugs and get sober, the changes the substance use imposes on the brain can make relapse all the more likely.

How to Fight Addiction Isolation

Addiction and alcoholism cannot be overcome alone, and as an addict, the best way to fight isolating behavior is to attend a support group, where addicts are encouraged to communicate with one another to work towards the common goal of recovery. Support groups come in all shapes and sizes, and whether you choose to attend a religious-based support group or 12-Step meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, the fact that you are communicating with other people and sharing your experiences with fellow addicts who also want to get sober is healing in and of itself. The very nature of a support group is to bring people in similar situations together to share common experiences and help one another while also helping themselves, and you’ll find that when you’re in the company of other people, even people who are struggling just like you, you are no longer alone with your thoughts.

Even if you don’t have access to an organized support group or recovery program, or you don’t feel comfortable sharing your experiences with a group of strangers, you can fight addiction isolation by simply picking up the phone and having a conversation with someone who cares about your well-being. The simple act of talking to another person can be therapeutic, even if that person isn’t in recovery and even if you choose not to divulge exactly how you are feeling at that moment. The conversation will refocus your attention on something other than drinking or using drugs, and learning how to harness this ability to refocus your mind is the first step on the path to long-term sobriety. If you recognize signs of addiction isolation in a loved one, there are some things you should and shouldn’t do to help, including the following:

  • Be compassionate – Tell the person that you love them and are there for them, no matter what.
  • Be proactive – If the person’s isolation is becoming severe, get help immediately.
  • Share your experience – If you want to help the person find an addiction recovery program, share how your own program helped you.
  • Remind the person of better times – If they were able to stop using in the past, remind them of what it was like to be sober.
  • Don’t shame them – Don’t resort to threats or shame to try to convince the person to get help. It will only make the situation worse.
  • Don’t be passive-aggressive – Being passive-aggressive will only make the person feel abandoned and alone.
  • Don’t nag – The more times you say the same thing, the less the person will listen.
  • Don’t be overly enthusiastic – Being overly enthusiastic and acting like everything is perfectly fine will be seen as a sham. You have to be real when dealing with addiction.

Call BRS Rehab Today for Help

Whether the addiction or the isolation comes first, many people with substance use disorders keep to themselves, and this can spur a vicious cycle of isolation and abuse. The key to lasting recovery is to build a social network of people who are clean and sober and who are motivated to help you stay clean and sober as well. If you surround yourself with people who abuse drugs or alcohol, or if you insist on isolating yourself from others, it’s only a matter of time before you will start using again too. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction isolation, or if you are looking for an effective recovery program to treat your addiction, contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today to discuss your treatment options with an experienced substance abuse counselor. BRS Rehab offers individualized programs for a variety of addiction disorders, and will work with you to find the treatment path that works best for you.

Childhood Trauma: How Often Does it Lead to Addiction

Childhood trauma, including neglect and physical and sexual abuse, is a serious problem in the United States, and it is known that early exposure to trauma significantly increases the risk of psychiatric disorders in adulthood, as well as the risk of substance use disorders and addiction. A child’s physical and emotional experiences play a large role in shaping who he or she becomes later in life, particularly experiences as devastating as abuse or neglect, and understanding the role childhood trauma plays in an individual’s addiction disorder can help improve his or her chances of a successful recovery. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol possibly caused by exposure to childhood trauma, contact our substance abuse counselors at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services by calling (877) 479-7580 today.

What is Trauma?

Traumatic events in early life can have any number of long-lasting, adverse consequences, sometimes leading to debilitating mental health disorders or substance use disorders. There are a number of experiences that can constitute trauma in childhood, including physical abuse, sexual assault, serious accidents, the death of a loved one, physical or emotional neglect, separation from a parent or caregiver, domestic violence, a dysfunctional household, or any other event that overwhelms the individual’s ability to cope or changes how he or she perceives his or her place in the world. The reason why understanding and acknowledging that trauma occurred is important, is because numerous studies have reported that trauma in childhood can activate survival-oriented behaviors that lead to substance abuse and addiction. The most common reasons people begin abusing drugs or alcohol after suffering trauma include the following:

  • To escape memories
  • To soothe pain
  • To stay safe
  • To feel in control
  • To redefine who they are
  • To treat themselves the way they feel they deserve
  • To create a world they can tolerate

Abusing drugs or alcohol essentially becomes a coping mechanism for those who suffer childhood trauma, allowing them to lie to themselves and others in an effort to avoid facing the painful truth. And while experiencing childhood trauma doesn’t automatically guarantee that someone will develop a substance use disorder, trauma is a major underlying source of addiction-related behavior, including drug addiction, alcoholism and eating disorders.

Why Are Some People Prone to Addiction?

There is extensive research highlighting the myriad lasting effects of childhood trauma, and as one study states, “exposure to traumatic experiences, especially those occurring in childhood, has been linked to substance use disorders (SUDs), including abuse and dependence.” In one report involving more than 500 participants from Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, researchers found high rates of lifetime dependence on various substances among the highly-traumatized population. The researchers also found a strong connection between the level of substance abuse, particularly cocaine, and levels of childhood physical, sexual and emotional abuse, as well as current post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.

It’s not only young children who are prone to addiction later in life because of trauma. In a national survey of adolescents from 2003, teens who had suffered physical or sexual abuse were three times more likely to report past or current substance abuse than those without a history of trauma, and in surveys of adolescents receiving treatment for substance use disorders, more than 70% had a history of trauma. Additionally, evidence has shown that the link between trauma and substance abuse is particularly strong among adolescents with PTSD, indicating that up to 59% of young people with PTSD develop substance abuse problems.

The Grady Memorial Hospital study also found evidence suggesting that gender may play a role in the connection between trauma and substance abuse. In women, there was a significant connection between sexual abuse and lifetime cocaine and marijuana exposure, and physical abuse in men was strongly linked to current cocaine and lifetime/current heroin use, while in women, it was linked to lifetime marijuana and cocaine use. Emotional abuse in men, on the other hand, was associated with current heroin exposure, while in women, it was tied to heavier lifetime cocaine use.

Profile of an Addict

There are many reasons why there is such a strong correlation between childhood trauma and substance abuse, and the best way to understand this correlation is to understand how heavily certain experiences, positive and negative, influence the development of the brain. For example, there is ample evidence suggesting that childhood trauma compromises neural function and structure, which increases the risk of cognitive defects and mental health disorders later in life, including major depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse. Studies have also shown that maltreatment in childhood can cause extremely high levels of stress that impede the normal development of the brain, and suggested that prolonged exposure to such stress may initiate certain physiological responses that can cause disruptions in the brain that make childhood trauma victims particularly prone to addiction.

In addition to changes in the structure and function of the brain, there are other ways childhood trauma can lead to addiction in adulthood. One possibility is that children and adolescents become addicted to drugs or alcohol because of attempts to self-medicate or to relieve anxiety and any residual effects of being victimized at a young age. Children also have a more limited ability to process traumatic experiences than adults, which makes the effect of trauma more likely to linger, eventually turning into a substance use disorder later in life. Additionally, if the adult to whom a child looks for advice and guidance is the source of the abuse or neglect, the lack of family support may cause the child to turn to drugs or alcohol, as may the substance abuse of another family member the child looks up to or considers a role model.

How Treatment Can Help

In light of the strong connection between childhood trauma and substance abuse, knowing when an individual has suffered physical, emotional or psychological abuse is imperative, so treatment can be tailored to the unique needs of the individual, especially in instances where there are no other indicators of addiction. Substance abuse and other post-trauma related behaviors are often driven by fear, and effective addiction treatment is centered around resolving that sense of fear, which means treating not just the addiction itself, but the underlying causes of the addiction. Substance abuse treatment is essentially geared towards helping recovering addicts replace their unhealthy coping mechanisms (alcoholism, drug abuse) with healthy coping mechanisms (meditation, exercise, talking it out) to improve their chances of lasting recovery. At Behavioral Rehabilitation Services, addiction treatment is multifaceted for this exact reason; our comprehensive treatment programs are designed to treat the client as a whole.

Contact BRS Today for Help

According to national statistics, approximately two-thirds of all addicts have previously suffered some type of physical or sexual trauma in childhood. Sadly, substance abuse isn’t a cure for the effects of childhood trauma, and anyone who finds themselves dependent on drugs or alcohol because of something that happened in their past should seek treatment immediately from a professional rehabilitation facility. If you or a loved one is facing an addiction disorder, contact our addiction recovery experts at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today. With the help of a professional rehab facility, you can overcome your addiction, identify and address the consequences of your childhood trauma, and start fresh as a happy and healthy member of society.

Cocaine and Cancer: The Deadly Connection You Don’t Know About

Despite cancer death rates declining over the last couple of decades, the wide group of diseases continues to be among the leading causes of death worldwide. 14 million new cases of cancer were discovered in 2012 and there were 8.2 million cancer-related deaths that same year. The number of new cancer cases that will arise in the next 20 years will increase to 22 million.

  • The most common cancers of 2016 were breast cancer, lung and bronchus cancer, prostate, colon, and rectal cancers, bladder cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, melanoma of the skin, thyroid cancer, endometrial cancer, kidney and renal pelvis cancer, leukemia, and pancreatic cancer.
  • Cancer mortality is higher among men than women with 207.9 per 100,000 men and 145.4 per 100,000 women.
  • Roughly 39.6 percent of men and women, at some point during their lifetimes, will be diagnosed with cancer (based on data from 2010-2012).
  • In the United States, national spending for cancer care totaled almost $125 billion in 2010 and has the potential of reaching $156 billion by 2020.

There are many contributing factors that increase one’s chances of developing cancer. Things like diet and nutrition, hormonal changes, sun exposure and genetic history are all risk factors. Many don’t realize that substance abuse is also a major contributor to cancer and one that is preventable.

Can cocaine give you cancer?

The threat of cancer is hardly the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the dangers and negative consequences of drug abuse, but it is a huge risk when it comes to many different substances of abuse.

Cocaine is the illicit substance that is currently being found to link directly to cancer and is a very powerful and addictive stimulant drug that is made from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America. One reason for this is that it is a common practice among cocaine dealers to mix in or add other substances to the drug in order to increase the amount of product being made and distributed while increasing their own profits. Sometimes the substance that is being added to cut the cocaine is in fact carcinogenic. Carcinogens are substances capable of causing cancer in the living tissues of the body.

Phenacetin, a carcinogenic substance, was found in a certain line of cocaine being sold in the United Kingdom. Being exposed to that particular substance has shown to increase the risk of kidney problems and cancer.

You may also be wondering “Does crack cause cancer?” Whether you are snorting coke or smoking crack, both can be laced with cancer-causing carcinogens. Smoking crack can have serious long-term side effects such as cancer of the lungs, throat, or mouth and cause respiratory diseases that are most commonly related to the inhaling of smoke. Smoking crack pipes can also cause blisters and burns on the user’s mouth, lips, and fingers which can lead to permanent damage like dermal marks and scarring. It also leads to permanent lung damage by restricting the movement of oxygen to the lungs which can cause scarring, a chronic cough, trouble breathing, and pain.

Cancer / Cocaine Study

Recently, a study was done at the University of Southern California (USC) School of Medicine. The researchers who were conducting the study found that men who use cocaine are twice as likely to develop intermediate- or high-grade non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), than that of individuals who abstain from using the drug. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is cancer that starts in the white blood cells called lymphocyte, which is part of the body’s immune system.

Rebecca Nelson, a doctoral student at USC School of Medicine, recently said in an article published by the British Journal of Cancer, that for those individuals who use cocaine more frequently, which means they have used it on at least nine or more occasions, the risk for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma more than triples that of nonusers.

Nelson worked on the study with co-authors, who are USC School of Medicine faculty members, Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D., professor of preventive medicine; Alexandra Levine, MD, professor and chief of hematology; and Gary Marks, MD, associated professor of preventive medicine.

The researchers examined 378 Los Angeles citizens who were diagnosed with NHL. The patients, who were between the ages of 18 and 75, were paired with healthy controls of the same age, ethnicity, sex and social background. Researchers questioned the controls and patients about their use of alcohol, tobacco, and 10 recreational drugs which included cocaine, marijuana, heroin, amphetamines, magic mushrooms, barbiturates, quaaludes, LSD, PCP and “poppers” such as amyl nitrate and butyl nitrate.

Professor of preventative medicine Leslie Bernstein said, “In general, the patients used more drugs than controls, but less alcohol.” Researchers also discovered that men reported using drugs on a much more frequent basis than the women did. After considering other factors, such as medical history, the researchers were able to find a link between cocaine and cancer.

Nelson went on to say, “We saw a similar increased risk for the cancer in women using cocaine, but there were so few female drug-takers in the study that it’s impossible to draw any conclusions.”

For the first time in medical history, a direct link has been found between cocaine and cancer, said Bernstein. The authors of the study theorize that cocaine may trigger white blood cell activity and growth, as a result speeding up the propagation of possible genetic errors that can lead to cancer. Bernstein notes that the study will need to be repeated before any scientists can say with certainty if it is cocaine itself that is prompting the disease or if some other factors, still unknown, are also playing a role.

Cocaine damages many physical and mental aspects of the user such as damage to the inside of the nose, runny nose, nosebleeds, increased heartbeat, constricted blood vessels, heart attacks, and can cause behavioral changes like:

  • Unusual excitement.
  • Aggression.
  • Paranoia.
  • Poor judgment.
  • Delusions and hallucinations.
  • Depression and/ or apathy.
  • Unusual sleep patterns.
  • Agitation and irritability.
  • Exhaustion.
  • Lack of concentration and/or focus.

Cocaine can cause dental damage from users grinding their teeth and clenching their jaws. Their teeth can also become so weak that they chip and break and may even fall out. Permanent sores and scars are also a potential as addicts tend to pick and scratch at their skin, whether from a hallucination or general itchiness as a side effect of taking the drug.

Prolonged use of cocaine also causes a significant amount of damage to the brain over time as cocaine triggers a large release of dopamine in the brains neuro-receptors that control pleasure and movement. Normally the brain controls the release of dopamine in response to something that may be a potential reward or pleasure, such as the smell of good food. And if it were operating normally, it would then recycle back into the cell that originally released it, shutting off the signal in the central nervous system. Cocaine inhibits dopamine from recycling which causes an immoderate amount to build up between nerve cells. This overabundance of dopamine disturbs the brains communication signals and causes what is most commonly referred to as a “high”.

Common Relapse Rates: Are Some Drugs Harder to Quit?

Recovering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol is never easy, and one of the most significant challenges in fighting drug addiction is the risk of relapse, or a return to drug abuse following an attempt to quit. A relapse can occur with any type of addiction, and is typically spurred by one or more emotional, mental or physical “triggers,” or stimuli that result in drug-seeking behavior, which can be difficult to manage without the proper skills and support. Drug addiction relapse is a common occurrence, and as devastating as it may seem, it’s important to remember that a relapse is a setback, not a failure. Learning how to avoid relapses, and how to respond if you do relapse, are vital components of your substance abuse treatment program. For more information about drug addiction treatment and common reasons for relapse, call (877) 476-8320 today to speak to a qualified substance abuse recovery counselor at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services.

Common Reasons for Relapse

Recovery from drug addiction is an ongoing process, and the unfortunate truth is that a large percentage of recovering addicts relapse after treatment, particularly during the first 30 days of recovery, when an addict is still learning how to deal with cravings and triggers. In fact, relapse is considered a normal part of the recovery process, though it can become a serious issue if the right steps aren’t taken to get the addict back on track. The reasons why addicts relapse vary based on the person, the substance they are abusing, and the circumstances surrounding their addiction, but there are common relapse triggers that affect a large percentage of recovering addicts, including the following:

  • Negative emotions
  • Social pressure
  • Being in the presence of drugs or alcohol
  • Pain
  • Boredom
  • Stress
  • Family history of addiction
  • Mental health issues
  • Failure to seek aftercare
  • Self-pity

Opioid Painkiller Relapse Rates

There are a number of factors that may play into a recovering addict’s risk of relapse, including emotional, physical and environmental triggers, and there is also evidence that suggests certain drugs may be more difficult to quit, thereby increasing the risk of relapse for individuals recovering from an addiction to these substances. According to studies, hallucinogens like ketamine and LSD have a relapse rate of 46%, as do inhalants like aerosol sprays and gases, which is rather low, compared to opioid painkillers like morphine and hydrocodone, which have a relapse rate of 97%. Opiates are typically prescribed to treat chronic pain, but they only mask the problem, they don’t cure it. As a result, users often find themselves taking higher and higher doses of drugs like hydrocodone and oxycodone, until they eventually become addicted and are unable to get through the day without them.

How Opioid Painkillers Affect the Body

Opioid painkillers available legally by prescription work by attaching to and activating opioid receptor proteins on nerve cells in the body and brain, thereby inhibiting the transmission of pain signals. When taken for a short period of time under medical supervision, opioids can be safe and effective in the treatment of chronic pain. However, because the drugs produce euphoria in addition to pain relief, they carry a high risk of abuse and addiction. Even when used appropriately, opioid painkillers can result in dependency, and when misused, the drugs can lead to overdose, respiratory depression, and death. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, among the more than 64,000 drug overdose deaths estimated in 2016, the most dramatic increase occurred among deaths related to synthetic opioids, with over 20,000 overdose deaths.

The Jump from Opioid Drugs to Heroin

Opioid painkillers are dangerous enough on their own, and the risk of an opioid relapse is among the highest in the country. Sadly, because of the chemical similarities between opioids and heroin, people who abuse morphine and other prescription painkillers often graduate to heroin, a highly addictive, illegal drug made from morphine that is most often injected into the bloodstream to achieve a sensation of euphoria. According to data tracking heroin use in the United States, nearly 80% of heroin users reported using prescription opioids prior to heroin. The intense, pleasurable feeling from injecting heroin happens almost immediately, but wears off rather quickly, which typically results in repeated use and a physical dependence on the drug. Individuals who become dependent on heroin may experience symptoms of withdrawal, which can include:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Muscle weakness
  • Sweating
  • Moodiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure

Withdrawal is the uncomfortable stage that occurs after drug removal, and avoidance of these intensely unpleasant symptoms is a common reason for a relapse on drugs. In addition to opioid painkillers and heroin, some other drugs with high relapse rates include alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, and crack.

How to Avoid a Relapse on Drugs

One of the most important skills an addict learns in treatment is how to deal with relapse triggers – events, relationships or interactions that cause an addict to justify using again. These triggers are often associated with old memories or routines, so they vary from person to person, but the strategies for dealing with them remain the same. The following are some ways to avoid a relapse on drugs:

  • Know your triggers
  • Avoid people and places that make you think about using
  • Avoid exposure to alcohol and drugs
  • Have a strong support system
  • Attend therapy or support groups after treatment
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle
  • Remember your treatment program
  • Consider a sober living home
  • Take your medication regularly
  • Foster positive, healthy relationships with friends and family members

Signs of a Potential Relapse

While relapse is a common occurrence, it’s not typically something that happens spontaneously, without warning. There are specific signs to watch out for in yourself or another recovering addict that might signal a possible drug relapse, including the following:

  • Reconnecting with old drinking or drug-using buddies
  • Longing for the old days of substance abuse
  • Feeling like you can use again without becoming addicted
  • Feeling depressed, anxious or lonely
  • Ruining healthy and supportive relationships
  • Feeling resentment towards the people who are trying to help
  • Experiencing a sudden reappearance of withdrawal symptoms
  • Experiencing intense feelings of stress or tension
  • Losing faith in your recovery program

Call Behavioral Rehabilitation Services Today

Drug addiction affects people of all ages and walks of life, and relapse, too, crosses all demographic borders. According to statistics, 47% of addicts relapse during the first year after substance abuse treatment, and 61% of those who relapse will do so more than once. The best way to avoid an addiction relapse is by being prepared and having a plan in place, and discussing your relapse triggers with your therapist or support group can help ensure that you are aware of your triggers and how best to handle them should a potential relapse situation arise. If a relapse does occur, it’s likely you will experience feelings of guilt, anger, shame or regret, which may lead to further drug use if no one steps in to help. If you or someone you know is at risk for a drug relapse, contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today at (877) 476-8320 to discuss the best way to move forward.

addiction

Are Addictive Tendencies Fueling America’s Super Successful Leaders?

Addiction is a problem that affects millions of people around the world, and many of us know at least one person struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Still, the majority of people in this country don’t truly understand what drives a person’s addiction, and how even the most successful leaders in the business world can fall victim to substance abuse and addiction. In fact, the impulsive and compulsive tendencies and traits that compel an addict to continue using drugs or alcohol despite negative consequences may be the very same traits that fuel some of our most successful leaders in the United States, simultaneously driving their success and making them prone to addiction. If you know a successful individual who may be at risk for addiction, contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today to speak with a qualified addiction recovery counselor.

What is an Addictive Personality?

As a whole, our society tends to file drug addicts and alcoholics away in a convenient, albeit inaccurate, category. Addicts are weak-willed individuals with no discipline, self-control, or drive to succeed in life. They lack the morals and willpower to control their impulses, and that’s why they fall victim to their addiction time and time again. Successful people, on the other hand, are driven, determined and resilient, and these traits are the key to their success. The problem with this common perspective lies in the fact that successful people possess many of the same personality traits as addicts, and while these traits may make them more prone to addiction, they also help them succeed in the professional arena. In fact, some of the most revered figures in history – Alexander the Great, Sigmund Freud, Aldous Huxley and Winston Churchill, for example – had addictive personalities, defined as a specific set of personality traits that predispose an individual to developing an addiction. Some of the traits that factor into an addictive personality include:

  • Impulsivity
  • Heightened stress and lack of coping skills
  • A sense of social alienation and a tolerance for deviance
  • Valuing nonconformity
  • A weak commitment to socially valued goals for achievement
  • Experiencing other mental health disorders
  • Being disconnected and cautious
  • Apathy
  • A desire to take risks
  • Being obsessive and compulsive
  • The inability to self-regulate
  • Being adventurous

In regards to successful leaders, the impulsivity trait that spurs their desire to take risks and experiment with new, potentially dangerous activities is likely the main contributing factor to their addictive personality, and a 2010 study published by Reuters ties this hyper-impulsive behavior to the levels of dopamine in the brain and the individual’s sensitivity to the neurotransmitter. According to the study, “People with high levels of the hormone dopamine in the brain, and low sensitivity to it tend to be greater risk takers and may be more prone to addictive behavior drug abuse and gambling.” A person suffering from an addictive personality tends to spend excessive time on a behavior or activity, which could be anything from gambling to exercising to having sex to working, and an addiction occurs when the person’s engagement in the activity or experience begins to affect his quality of life. Many people with addictive personalities isolate themselves from others in order to hide their addiction and to keep up the appearance of a successful and happy life, which is the definition of a high-functioning addict.

Why are Certain People Prone to Addiction?

Decades of research has identified pleasure as the driving force behind addiction – the reason addicts continue to use drugs or alcohol despite negative consequences – and studies suggest that the irresistible pleasure high-powered business leaders derive from professional success is borne of the same brain reward pathways that make addicts a slave to their substance of choice. The most important reward pathway in the brain is the mesolimbic dopamine system, which is responsible for producing feelings of pleasure in response to natural behaviors, like consuming food, drinking water or engaging in social interactions. However, the brain’s reward center can also be artificially activated by certain drugs, like cocaine, nicotine, alcohol or heroin, which carry a high risk for addiction.

When a person becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol, their addiction “hijacks” the reward center, and the brain is essentially rewired to release pleasure chemicals for actions that are harmful. With repeated use, the drugs begin to mimic these pleasure chemicals, or cause an overproduction of them in the brain, flooding neuroreceptors with the neurotransmitter dopamine and causing the “high” that is associated with drug abuse. Over time, the brain becomes unable to produce normal levels of the pleasure chemicals on its own, and, as a result, craves the drugs that will restore dopamine levels to normal, which is the very nature of drug addiction.

How do Addictive Tendencies Affect Successful Leaders?

Drugs and alcohol aren’t the only things that can activate the brain’s pleasure circuits. Any action or behavior that triggers a pleasure buzz can become addictive, so to speak, and successful executives who find a compulsive pleasure in high-risk, high-reward business ventures may possess the same risk-taking personality traits often found in addicts. While these personality traits may serve them well in the business world, they also make them more prone to addiction. A person with an addiction-prone personality is more likely to act on impulses and has a hard time dealing with delayed gratification, much like the successful business leaders we admire for their tenacity, creativity, hunger for innovation, willingness to take risks and refusal to settle for less than the very best. Unfortunately, this type of person also tends to suffer from some sort of depression or low self-esteem and typically has a low tolerance for stress, and abusing drugs or alcohol often becomes a coping mechanism for dealing with these issues.

How to Spot an Addiction Disorder

For successful business leaders, hiding their addiction from others may be the only way they can continue to use without someone stepping in to stop them, and this often makes it incredibly difficult for family members to spot an addiction disorder in their loved one. The following are some physical, behavioral and emotional signs to watch out for if you believe your loved one may be addicted to drugs or alcohol:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Change in eating habits
  • Appearing pale or undernourished
  • Excessive sniffing and runny nose
  • Being overactive or underactive
  • Repetitive speech patterns
  • Missing school or work
  • Legal or financial problems
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Irritability
  • Inability to deal with stress
  • Confused easily
  • Loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities
  • Isolating or being secretive about activities
  • Borrowing or stealing money
  • Being argumentative

Contact BRS Rehab Today for Help

Most of us would agree that super successful business leaders are wired differently than most other people, but what many of us don’t realize is that the personality traits that we admire in super successful leaders and that make them high achievers in the professional world – namely compulsive risk-taking and novelty-seeking behavior – are also central to the personality of an addict. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, call Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today at (877) 474-7112. Our substance abuse counselors understand the importance of discretion in drug addiction treatment, especially for successful business leaders, and are trained to develop personalized treatment plans based on the unique recovery needs of each individual client.

cocaine abuse

Behavior and Addiction: The Relationship Between Cocaine Abuse and Impulsivity

One of the most commonly-abused illicit stimulant drugs, cocaine is highly addictive and abusing it in any form can have devastating effects on the body and brain, possibly causing long-term physical complications and unexpected behavioral changes. Cocaine drug abuse is a serious issue that at the very least can lead to serious health problems, and at the worst can lead to addiction, overdose or death.

If you recognize the signs of cocaine abuse in a loved one, such as irritability, fatigue, dilated pupils or unusual impulsive behavior, contact the substance abuse recovery counselors at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today by calling (877) 474-7029. With the experts at BRS Rehab on your side, you can help your loved one achieve lasting recovery from cocaine abuse or addiction.

Cocaine Drug Abuse

Cocaine is a powerful illicit drug derived from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cocaine is a highly addictive drug that disrupts normal brain communication and causes a euphoric high that keeps users coming back for more. There are a variety of ways people can use cocaine, the most common being snorting cocaine powder through the nose or rubbing it into their gums, dissolving the powder in water and injecting it into the bloodstream, and smoking cocaine that has been processed to make a rock crystal. Regardless of the route of administration though, cocaine rapidly increases the supply of a neurotransmitter called dopamine in the brain, and people who use the drug often take it repeatedly within a short time period, at increasingly higher doses, to maintain their high. The result is a host of behavioral effects, including:

  • Extreme happiness
  • Increased energy
  • Mental alertness
  • Hypersensitivity to sight, touch, and sound
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Panic attacks
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness and increased movement

What to Know about Cocaine

The reason cocaine is so addictive is because the drug acts on the pleasure center of the brain, and with repeated use, cocaine can actually cause lasting changes to the brain’s normal functioning. Cocaine acts as a central nervous system stimulant, and the way the drug alters the brain’s functioning is by increasing levels of a natural chemical messenger called dopamine. Dopamine plays a key role in a portion of the brain called the limbic system, which produces pleasurable sensations in response to certain behaviors and actions, such as sex and food consumption.

While these types of activities produce relatively modest boosts in dopamine levels, cocaine use triggers extreme pleasure boosts by preventing dopamine from being recycled back into the cell that released it, which causes excessive amounts of the chemical to build up between nerve cells. When dopamine levels are significantly increased in this way, the associated feelings of pleasure and euphoria also increase dramatically, and this rewarding feedback loop only reinforces the likelihood of future cocaine use.

Cocaine Dependence and Withdrawal

Over time, the brain’s reward system becomes accustomed to the surplus dopamine triggered by cocaine use and no longer produces the same amount of pleasure as it did when the drug use first began. In turn, users may begin taking more and more cocaine over time to achieve the same pleasurable effects as before, which only further affects the brain’s production of dopamine. When dopamine levels fall below this “new normal,” i.e. when the individual stops using cocaine or uses it less frequently or at lower doses, withdrawal symptoms kick in. Some common withdrawal symptoms associated with cocaine use include:

  • Depression
  • Slowed thinking
  • Fatigue
  • Increased appetite
  • Unpleasant dreams and insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Restlessness
  • A general feeling of discomfort

Unfortunately, the severity of cocaine withdrawal symptoms only gives the user a stronger incentive for continued use, and it’s when this incentive becomes compulsive, meaning cocaine use becomes the focal point of the individual’s daily existence, that the risk of cocaine dependence and addiction is highest. Cocaine-dependent users face a higher risk for other substance use disorders, as well as personality disorders, depressive disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder, which gives you an idea of the scope of the adverse effect cocaine abuse has on the brain and body.

The Role of Impulsivity in Cocaine Abuse

The very nature of drug addiction is the inability or diminished ability to control impulses to use, and cocaine addiction is often characterized by risk-taking or sensation-seeking behavior, as well as poor decision-making. Among the adverse effects associated with cocaine abuse is an unusually high level of the trait known as impulsivity, or a tendency to act quickly and without adequate thought or planning in response to internal or external stimuli. High levels of impulsivity result in addicts preferring smaller, short-term benefits over larger, delayed gratification.

According to one 2012 study published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, cocaine use can increase an individual’s tendency towards impulsivity by altering the brain’s normal functioning, thereby decreasing their ability to delay reward. There is also research suggesting that people who already have unusually strong tendencies towards impulsivity may be predisposed to cocaine use and addiction.

Cocaine Abuse Facts

In 2014, an estimated 1.5 million Americans aged 12 and older were reported to be current (past-month) cocaine users, and that same year, more than 5,400 people died from a cocaine overdose. Sadly, because cocaine triggers feelings of euphoria and pleasure during use, many people continue taking the drug despite serious negative consequences, such as financial problems, difficulties with personal relationships, adverse physical side effects, or trouble at work. Cocaine is so powerfully addictive and has such as a strong effect on the body and brain, that even former users can suffer the effects of cocaine abuse. For instance, research shows that during periods of abstinence, when cocaine is not being used, the memory of using cocaine or exposure to certain cues associated with past drug use can trigger strong cravings, which increases the risk of a cocaine relapse.

Cocaine’s powerful and short-lived stimulant effects are the main reasons the drug has such a high potential for abuse. The effects of cocaine typically appear almost immediately and dissipate within a few minutes to an hour. However, taking large amounts of cocaine at once or using the drug over a long period of time can intensify its effects, possibly resulting in bizarre, unpredictable and even violent behavior, coupled with an increased risk of adverse psychological or physiological effects. Some possible long-term effects of cocaine abuse include:

  • Heart failure
  • Respiratory failure
  • Stroke
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Seizures
  • Cerebral hemorrhage
  • Auditory and tactile hallucinations
  • Delirium or psychosis
  • Organ damage
  • Significant weight loss
  • Movement disorders
  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Brain damage
  • Severe depression

Due to the stimulant effects of cocaine, use of the drug triggers a number of sensations and physiologic changes in the body, which can spiral out of control when a person uses too much of the drug, possibly leading to an overdose. A cocaine overdose can be intentional or unintentional and occurs when an individual’s drug use causes a toxic reaction that can lead to serious adverse effects or death, even for first-time users.

Contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services Today

Cocaine is such a powerful drug that tolerance and addiction can occur after just one use, and the changes in the brain brought on by cocaine abuse can be long-lasting. Fortunately, there are treatment options for cocaine addiction that can help addicts understand and change their compulsive drug-seeking behaviors and achieve long-term recovery. At Behavioral Rehabilitation Services, cocaine addiction treatment centers around the recovery needs of the client, with personalized programs designed to treat not just the addiction itself, but the underlying causes of the addiction as well. If you or a loved one is struggling with the effects of cocaine drug abuse, get professional help at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services by calling (877) 474-7029 today.

enabler and addiction recovery

An Examination of the Role an Enabler Plays in the Addiction Recovery Process

In talking about substance abuse and addiction recovery, we often come across terms like “enabler” or “codependent,” and these types of relationships occur more often than you might think in the addiction recovery process. To enable someone is to give that person the means or authority to act or behave in a certain way, and in terms of addiction recovery, to enable a substance abuser is to take away the natural consequences of the addictive behavior, thereby allowing the substance abuse to continue, unimpeded. There is a significant difference between supporting a loved one in recovery and acting as a codependent partner, and it often takes a conscious decision on the part of the caretaker to play a role in a loved one’s recovery, rather than a role in their addiction. If you believe you may be an enabler or codependent partner to an addict, don’t hesitate to get the help you both need to achieve long-term recovery. Contact the substance abuse experts at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today to find out how you can break the destructive cycle of addiction-related codependency.

Supporting a Loved One in Recovery

Friends and family members may not realize how influential their behavior is to someone in recovery, but the truth is, their words and actions can have a significant impact on an addict’s behavior. Well-intentioned family members supporting a loved one in recovery may not have an addiction problem themselves, but by allowing their legitimate concern to transform into obsessive worry, a caretaker may just as easily feed into the addict’s substance abuse, allowing it to continue, or begin again, without consequence. Such is the close relationship between addiction and codependency. One example of a codependent relationship is a wife who knows her husband is abusing drugs, but makes excuses for his behavior and continues providing emotional and financial support, which allows the husband’s addictive behaviors to continue, uninterrupted and consequence-free.

The connection between addiction and codependency is often one of opportunity. Addicts typically experience a number of problems stemming from their substance abuse, including problems at work, financial difficulties, and issues in their personal and professional relationships, but when an addict’s close friend or family member continuously steps in to protect the addict, offering support, lending money or covering up mistakes, the relationship between the addict and the caretaker may become one of codependence. Even after an addict seeks treatment and begins the recovery process, codependent relationships are a concern, as they may make it easier for the addict to relapse, or fall back into old addictive behaviors. The following are some key signs you may be in an addiction-related codependent relationship:

  • You feel responsible for solving the other person’s problems
  • You find it impossible to say no and end up giving more to the relationship than the other person
  • You become upset when you feel as though your efforts aren’t being recognized
  • You need to feel in control all the time and avoid conflict at any cost
  • You have a hard time trusting yourself to meet the other person’s needs
  • You feel as though your only value in the relationship comes from being able to “fix” the other person or clean up their messes
  • You would do anything to hold onto the relationship, even if it compromises your beliefs or morals
  • You’re unwilling to speak up, set boundaries or assert your own wants or needs in the relationship
  • You’re willing to put your own health or safety at risk to “save” the other person
  • You have a hard time identifying your own feelings, separate from the other person’s
  • You only feel important or valued when the other person needs you

It is natural for a friend or loved one to want to protect an addict from the harmful consequences of his or her addictive behaviors, but there is a fine line between helping an addict navigate the challenging road to recovery, and becoming an enabler. In fact, concerned friends or family members can play a direct role in allowing an addict’s substance abuse to continue, by putting their energy into offsetting the potential damage of the addiction, which may lessen the addict’s motivation to seek rehabilitation. This type of addiction-related codependency can easily lead to feelings of resentment, guilt, self-pity, and anger on the part of the caretaker, and by suppressing or overcompensating for these feelings, the caretaker only reinforces the addict’s destructive habits.

How to Break Codependent Behavior

In the most general terms, codependency is the need to be needed. Sometimes referred to as a “relationship addiction,” codependency occurs when an individual develops an excessive, or obsessive, dependence on a friend or loved one, to the point where that person relies on the other to meet nearly all their emotional needs. Over time, the codependent individual becomes so used to putting the other person’s wants and needs before their own that they eventually lose sight of their own goals and have a hard time identifying their own feelings apart from the other person’s. With addiction-related codependency, one destructive behavior reinforces the other, to the point where the caretaker begins making significant life decisions for the addict, thereby hindering the addict’s ability to act independently, and making it easier for him or her to maintain the unhealthy addictive behavior. It’s important to learn how to break codependent behavior, for the good of the addict and the caretaker alike. The following are some steps to overcome codependency and stop enabling an addict:

  • The caretaker deliberately removes him or herself from the relationship, allowing the addict to suffer the consequences of his or her own mistakes.
  • The caretaker sets healthy boundaries and makes it clear that the addict will be responsible for problems concerning work, family, finances, and other personal issues.
  • The caretaker takes part in activities and outings that do not involve the addict, to cultivate a healthier, more balanced lifestyle for everyone involved.
  • The caretaker learns to make decisions based on his or her own enjoyment, rather than constantly catering to the addict’s wants and needs.
  • The addict and caretaker seek professional help to learn how to deal with the emotional stress that comes with substance abuse and addiction.

Identifying Enablers in Addiction Recovery

After going through the process of alcohol or drug abuse rehabilitation, it’s imperative that recovering addicts take stock of their relationships with friends and family members, to determine which ones may have an enabling effect on them. Identifying enablers or codependent relationships and decreasing their role in an addict’s life can help reduce the chances of relapse, as can building and fostering healthy relationships that offer meaningful support and promote lasting recovery. While identifying enablers isn’t about finding someone to blame for an addict’s substance abuse or relapse, it is a step in the right direction in terms of long-term addiction recovery.

Contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services for Help

Supporting a loved one in recovery can be extremely difficult and emotionally trying, and it’s easy for a caretaker’s concern for an addicted loved one to transform into something more harmful than helpful, like a codependent relationship. The caretaker may try to pass this off as an effort to help the addict get sober, but this type of codependency only reinforces the addictive behavior, preventing the addict from ever having to address the destructive substance abuse. Getting over codependency is the key to helping an addict recover from his or her substance abuse, and can help both the caretaker and the addict begin to heal and make meaningful changes in their lives. If you feel you or someone you know may be an enabler or codependent to an addict, contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today at (877) 476-8320 to find out how to get the help you need.

substance abuse

Graduation: What is the Link Between Education and Substance Abuse?

Inaccurate stereotypes of any kind are harmful, and those that perpetuate the negative stigma of addiction only further damage efforts to reduce substance abuse rates in this country and improve access to effective treatment for individuals of all ages and walks of life. For instance, it is a commonly-held belief that individuals addicted to drugs or alcohol, as a whole, are poor, homeless, unemployed and uneducated, and many people are of the opinion that addiction is an affliction of the lazy or weak-willed. Instead, research shows that, while substance abuse is, in fact, more common among individuals of lower economic status, or those living in poverty, the two aren’t directly linked, nor do they prove a cause and effect relationship. Rather, substance abuse is merely a byproduct of the lifestyle led by people of limited financial means. That being said, in most cases, a person’s propensity towards drug abuse and addiction is multifaceted, influenced by other factors, like education, genetics, and parental substance abuse. Below you’ll find more information about the link between education and substance abuse, and how to get professional help for someone struggling with a substance abuse disorder.

What Makes Someone an Addict?

There are a great number of factors that influence an individual’s propensity towards addiction, including, but not limited to, genetics, mental health, parental substance abuse, a history of abuse or neglect, socioeconomic status and level of education, and the latter two are perhaps the most hotly debated of these influences. It can be said that the risk factors that predispose certain people to substance abuse are less prevalent in higher-income families and among individuals with a higher level of education. However, that isn’t to say that wealthy people are immune to substance abuse and addiction – they most certainly are not – only that these issues are less likely to occur in households that aren’t living at or below the poverty level. Whatever factors that influence their addiction, what makes someone an addict is their compulsive desire to use drugs or alcohol despite negative consequences caused by the substance abuse, such as job loss, financial difficulties or strained relationships with friends and loved ones.

Warning Signs of Substance Abuse

It can be difficult to recognize the signs of substance abuse in a loved one, especially if that person has become practiced at hiding his or her addiction from friends and family members, which is often the case regardless of a person’s income or level of education. The following are some common physical and behavioral signs of substance abuse to watch out for:

Physical:

  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Involuntary shaking
  • Chills and sweating
  • Dilated pupils
  • Decreased coordination
  • Anxiety
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Slowed reaction time

Behavioral:

  • Lack of interest in clothing or grooming
  • Sudden requests for money without a reasonable explanation
  • Unexpected weight loss or gain
  • Frequently missing work or school
  • A sudden drop in grades or work performance
  • Being secretive about where he or she is going
  • Stealing or borrowing money from loved ones
  • Drastic changes in relationships with family and friends
  • Lack of energy or motivation

Link Between Education Level and Substance Abuse

The link between education level and substance abuse is an uncertain one. According to one survey comparing high school seniors from 1981 and 1986, seniors of all economic backgrounds in 1986 were using drugs less than seniors in 1981. What was most notable about the survey though, was that the most significant decline (13%) was among students whose parents had some graduate education, while the least significant decline (2.7%) was among students whose parents did not attend high school. In another study involving more than 30,000 men and women between the ages of 20 and 93, researchers measured education level, alcohol use, obesity and smoking, and found that those with the lowest level of education were most frequently heavy drinkers, heavy smokers, obese, and physically inactive.

As a general rule, education helps people develop accurate perceptions of risk and learn the skills necessary to keep themselves safe and out of serious trouble. High school students, for example, are taught basic information about their health and well-being that helps them recognize the serious health implications of abusing alcohol and drugs. An individual with a higher education may also have access to early intervention and prevention resources that allow them to avoid problem drinking or drug use. In one study published in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers found that “Individuals who had dropped out of high school were 6.34 times more likely to develop alcohol abuse or dependence than were individuals with a college degree.” On the other side of the same coin, researchers have also found a strong association between early substance abuse and lower levels of educational attainment, meaning that teens and young adults who become dependent on alcohol or drugs are less likely to finish college than those who don’t use alcohol or drugs until later in life and never become dependent.

Substance Abuse Among Business Executives

It should also be noted that there is opposing research suggesting that individuals with a higher education are actually the ones who are more prone to addiction, and statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse seem to support that finding, reporting that, by the time individuals reach their senior year of high school, almost 70% will have tried alcohol, 50% will have abused an illicit drug, nearly 40% will have smoked a cigarette, and 20% will have used a prescription drug recreationally, and this behavior only continues into college. In this line of thinking, the higher an individual’s education, the more likely they are to abuse drugs or alcohol, either because they make more money and have the disposable income to support this type of habit, or because they are under a great deal of stress at work and drugs or alcohol become their escape. In fact, according to a 2015 Gallup poll, “upper-income and highly educated Americans are more likely than other Americans to say they drink alcohol,” and individuals earning more than $75,000 per year drink more alcohol than any other economic group. Another study conducted by a neuroscience professor at Johns Hopkins’ School of Medicine in 2013, even went so far as to suggest that the very personality traits that make business executives so successful – their determination, drive and risk-taking and novelty-seeking behavior – are the same personality traits of an addict.

Seeking Treatment for Substance Abuse

It’s possible that individuals who drop out of high school and those who enter college but fail to earn a degree may be at increased risk for a substance use disorder. Still, it’s important to understand that a low education level is not a definite indicator of substance abuse. The majority of people who are not highly-educated do not go on to abuse drugs and alcohol. However, it’s possible that a lack of education, in combination with any number of other contributing factors, may predispose certain individuals to substance abuse and addiction. Whatever factors play a role in an individual’s addiction disorder, seeking treatment at a professional rehab facility can significantly improve the chances of lasting recovery. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, call (877) 474-7113 today to speak to the substance abuse recovery counselors at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services about your treatment options.

lawyers and addiction

Lawyers and Addiction: An Exploration of Drug Abuse in the Industry

The legal profession is characterized by risky business ventures, big paychecks and long hours at the office, and with that lavish lifestyle and competitive work environment comes a greater risk of substance abuse and addiction, which appears to be prevalent among successful lawyers and other high-powered executives. In one tragic story of a successful Silicon Valley lawyer and drug addict who died from a systemic bacterial infection common among intravenous drug users, his ex-wife, who looked back at the months leading up to his death, remarked, “The further I probed, the more apparent it became that drug abuse among America’s lawyers is on the rise and deeply hidden.” Unfortunately, this leaves the issue of substance abuse among lawyers unaddressed, and the functional alcoholics in the legal profession without the help they need. If you think someone you know may be a high-functioning alcoholic or drug addict, contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today at (877) 479-7580 for help.

What is a Functional Alcoholic?

The issue of addiction among high-powered executives has been explored to some extent, but research on the prevalence of substance abuse and drug addiction among lawyers, in particular, is limited, and many in the legal profession seem content to leave it that way. One study, published last year in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, involved 12,825 licensed, practicing attorneys, and found that 19% struggled with anxiety, 21% qualified as problem drinkers, and 28% experienced mild or more serious depression. Only 3,419 of the lawyers responded to questions about drug use, a fact that Patrick Krill, the study’s lead author, and a lawyer himself, found telling. “It’s left to speculation what motivated 75% of attorneys to skip over the section on drug use as if it wasn’t there.” Of those that did answer, 5.6% used opioids, 5.6% used cocaine, crack and stimulant drugs, 10.2% used marijuana and hash, and nearly 16% used sedatives.

In the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health report on substance abuse by industry, released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), professional services, including the legal profession, ranked ninth out of 19 industries in terms of illicit drug use. In the 2014 Comprehensive Survey of Lawyer Assistance Programs, the American Bar Association named alcohol the number one substance abuse-related problem among lawyers, with prescription drugs being the second. Sadly, in spite of this research highlighting the issue of drinking and drug use among lawyers, the problem persists. “There are a lot of theories about what is going on in the legal profession,” says J. Kim Wright, author of Lawyers as Peacemakers: Practicing Holistic, Problem-Solving Law and Lawyers as Changemakers: The Global Integrative Law Movement, and a lawyer herself. “Something is broken. Lawyers often believe they are the broken piece of the system, rather than the culture is dysfunctional, the entire legal system is broken. Other lawyers think – or even say – ‘I’m doing fine, and if you aren’t doing fine, it is your fault.’ We’re left to our own devices to find a way to fix ourselves.”

Causes of Substance Abuse Among Lawyers

Work-related stress is a major contributing factor to the trend of drug abuse among high-powered executives, especially lawyers, who face immense pressure on a daily basis to meet certain professional expectations and stay a step ahead of everyone else in a fiercely competitive industry, where, as Wil Miller, a family law attorney in Washington state, puts it, “you are financially rewarded for being hostile.” Depression, too, plays a role. In a 1990 Johns Hopkins University study of more than 100 professions, researchers found that lawyers are 3.6 times more likely to suffer from depression, compared with other professions, and a 2014 survey of Yale Law School students reported that 70% of students struggled with mental health issues during their time in law school. In fact, lawyers being particularly vulnerable to alcoholism, depression, and addiction is an effect that appears to be initiated in law school, an environment that, as Dr. Link Christin, adjunct professor of law at William Mitchell College of Law in Minnesota, puts it, “is very confidential, secretive, competitive, and adversarial. It tends to be very intellectual rather than feeling, [and] it encourages you to isolate and not share because you don’t want to be seen as weak and vulnerable.”

Lawyers and Addiction:  A Secret Problem

A common misconception about alcoholism is that an alcoholic is someone who drinks too much too often and whose life is falling apart because of their drinking, but not all problem drinking fits into that neat little mold. Some alcoholics manage to keep their problem drinking from interfering with their personal, professional and social relationships and may be in denial about their alcoholism. These people are called high-functioning alcoholics or functional alcoholics, and they are able to cover up the external signs of their alcoholism, making their problem drinking more difficult for others to spot. It’s important to remember that a person can still be an alcoholic even though he appears to have a great personal and professional life, with a loving family, a job that pays well and a large circle of friends.

For lawyers struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction, their problem drinking or drug use is easier to hide from friends and loved ones because, on the outside, they appear to be successful, happy and well-liked. They also work long hours at the office, during which they can use, and are expected to nab prospective clients, which may involve drinking or drug use, and perform well in a highly-competitive industry, which may prompt the abuse of stimulants like Adderall, cocaine or amphetamine, or painkillers like Vicodin or OxyContin to stay on top of their game. Unfortunately, it’s a short jump from opioid painkillers to heroin, which is typically cheaper and easier to obtain than prescription drugs. Says Dr. Indra Cidambi, medical director at an ambulatory detox facility in New Jersey, “These aren’t the majority of lawyers. But there are quite a number abusing drugs, and once they get to heroin, it’s very hard to break it.”

How to Tell if Someone is a Functioning Alcoholic

For all the ways we expect alcoholics and drug addicts to act, it’s not always easy to tell if someone is a functional alcoholic, especially when they make an effort to hide their problem drinking from friends, family members, and co-workers, and that is the nature of a high-functioning alcoholic. They somehow manage to keep up appearances while relying on alcohol to function on a daily basis. Some functional alcoholic signs to watch out for include a person:

  • Planning their day around drinking
  • Having three drinks to everyone else’s one drink
  • Exhibiting physical signs of overindulgence (shakiness in the morning, insomnia, stomach problems)
  • Binging or getting so drunk they black out
  • Going through periods of abstinence where they make it a point not to drink, and then going back to drinking often and heavily

Treating Drug Addiction in the Legal Profession

Despite the growing trend of drug abuse and addiction in the legal profession, law-firm leadership is still slow to discuss substance abuse with their lawyers, often because they don’t know what signs to look for, and are simply too busy themselves to notice when these signs arise. So deeply rooted is the culture of privacy in the legal profession, and so devoted to clocking billable hours are law firms, that many lawyers who are functioning alcoholics don’t feel as though they can ask for help, or simply don’t have the time to. It’s this so-called “dysfunctional culture” that makes lawyers so susceptible to the effects of drug abuse and addiction. If someone you know is struggling with an addiction and doesn’t have the ability to ask for help, call today to speak to one of the addiction recovery experts at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services.

Nature Walks in Addiction Recovery

Benefits of Nature Walks in Addiction Recovery

Walking can provide ‘low-impact’ exercise for those who enjoy leisure and need physical activity. Any exercise can help increase the production of endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in the brain. Nature walks in addiction recovery can help to provide pleasure and a sense of well-being for those who are starting new lives without substance abuse. Any natural way that your body can produce those chemicals without the introduction of outside substances can help your brain to re-learn the appropriate ways to ‘experience’ joy or pleasure, which can ease the symptoms of withdrawal for someone overcoming an addiction. The BRS website has more information on rehabilitation, and a great facility if you are seeking recovery for yourself or a loved one.

Some of the Benefits of Nature Walks in Addiction Recovery

Aside from the direct benefits of exercise, being in nature can be very therapeutic as well. When in nature, a person tends to experience stress relief and relaxation. Furthermore, someone who gets outside often may have less risk for depression, or an easier time dealing with an existing problem with depression. The outdoors also gives the mind plenty to think about while enjoying overall stillness or serenity. It is not often that the brain is still for an addict. For this reason, the individual may experience a sense of boredom when he or she decides to seek help and stop using. Nature walks in addiction recovery can combat that boredom with the inherent stillness associated with being outside while also giving the mind ‘space’ to think and beautiful things to look at which can promote healthy mental patterns.

Another significant benefit that being in nature provides for someone in recovery is the sense of humility or ‘smallness,’ and the aloneness required for healthy introspection and reflection. A lot of addicts tend to seek a feeling of control or power when using. The truth is, not a single person has total control over his or her own life. To realize this can be a very freeing experience. Yes, we must make choices and undergo the consequences attached to them; however, nature can be a good reminder that the world is much bigger than ‘self.’  In these moments during which someone can see further than his or her problems, having space and quietness to think is essential. These moments help, also, to repattern the brain into more selfless thought. To spend excessive amounts of time thinking about yourself or your own problems can be exhausting and counterproductive to treatment and recovery. Most people who walk in nature on a routine basis also experience an increased attention span because they are forced to pay attention to the many small aspects of the world around them. Lower blood pressure, fewer worries, and reduction of stress are also all attributed to walking in nature.

Nature Reminds Us of More to Life Than ‘Self’

There is also something to be said about becoming aware that life is all around you. Reminders of this may be trees and plants or the many animals that share the outdoors with us. To see other life being played out innocently around us can be a reminder of the positivity associated with life in general. The seasons and their changing may also provide perspective. To see that with or without us, the world will change incessantly. Knowing this can be another freeing experience for those in recovery.  

Any time that can be filled with positivity or health is essential in that it can help to replace time that would, otherwise, have been spent indulging in unhealthy practices. Any replacement for using, or for the unhealthy lifestyle associated with addiction is time well spent. Sometimes all that an individual may need is a sense of belonging or activity that is new, and resides outside of the patterns that were habitually repeated through addiction. It is imperative to ‘throw away’ any patterns or habits that were prevalent during the active drug use that could be associated with the drug or alcohol of choice. This can leave someone with a lot of spare time with which to deal.

Health and Mental Benefits of Being Outside

Health benefits of exercise and being outside, especially in combination with the mental benefits of nature, can be one of the most gratifying ‘time replacement’ schemes. Spirituality can also be visited while in nature. It is very easy to reflect on core beliefs or even to contemplate (maybe for the first time) what you believe when you are out in nature. Spirituality can be a great mental exercise and can provide a sense of connectedness.

It is, of course, essential to consider any limitations posed by your body before you venture out. If walking is difficult for you, or if you have special requirements, maybe choose a pathway or sidewalk that can accommodate your needs. Lastly, occasionally, it might be beneficial to bring a healthy friend or family member with you. After all, we are all here to invest in one another. Whatever your pace, whatever your style, nature walks in addiction recovery provide valuable space from the negativity, and can give a glimpse into success and the beauty that surrounds us.