Our psychological well-being is so critical to our all-round health, and yet all too often we don't give it the time and attention it needs. Physical health is, of course, important - for example, if we have the flu or a muscle strain, we must take steps to put this right - but psychological well-being is no less vital. This is why self soothing is a key skill - or set of skills - to learn.
But not everyone has embraced the concept of self soothing. Some of us remain resistant or skeptical towards the idea and towards its possible benefits. After all, if we are physically sick, we take medicine, and we get better, whereas the outcomes of self soothing are a little more subtle and require more effort if they are to be successful.
In this blog, we will examine precisely what self soothing is, take a closer look at its advantages, and help you to decide whether or not it will work for you.
What Is Self Soothing?
Self soothing is a skill which most of us pick up during our very early childhood but then forget as we grow older. To explain the concept in simple terms, consider the experience of a baby, exploring their environment for the first time.
This environment is confusing and unfamiliar to the baby, and therefore frightening, but even in this unfamiliar world, the baby must find the time to sleep and to 'recharge' the energy supplies they need as they grow. So, when the infant is placed in its crib, he or she must remain calm, bringing stress levels down naturally and comforting themselves until sleep is possible.
The same applies when the baby wakes itself up in the night. Now, the process starts again. But the learned skills are still there and the little one is able to bring his or herself back down to a restful condition, ready for sleep to take over once again.
Different infants learn these skills at different rates, but one thing is for certain; each and every one of us has the foundation of this knowledge within ourselves. Unfortunately, in most cases, we have forgotten them, preferring to ease our stress and our psychological strain in other ways; ways which may or may not be beneficial to our overall health.
Reconnecting with the skill of self soothing could bring with it a wide range of different benefits.
The Advantages of Self Soothing
To understand the advantages of self soothing, it is important to first understand the mechanics of the mind. While our psychology is intrinsic to what makes us us, it can often feel like we have no control over our own mindset.
We may feel sad for no reason, we may suddenly become disheartened our doubtful of ourselves after the slightest of negative stimulus, we may feel that the world is against us, even though we have no evidence for this; all of these are examples of the 'dark clouds' which sometimes come to rest on our consciousness. They demonstrate how, sometimes, our mental outlook can get the better of us.
But, the flipside of this psychological and emotional weakness is psychological and emotional strength. If we consider that these negative triggers come from inside of us, we must also recognize that the means we can use to combat these triggers come from within. In fact, the tools we need are already within us. Working on our self soothing abilities can help us to unlock these inherent tools.
In turn, this will bring about the following advantages;
A healthy connection to sleep, and all that comes with it
Sleep is vital to our health and well-being. Without high-quality sleep, we simply cannot function during the day, which places a great deal of strain on our professional and personal lives.
Mastering a skill like self soothing can help us to reconnect with sleep in a positive way, securing the levels of great quality sleep we really need.
At one point or another, many people experience sleeplessness or even chronic insomnia to some degree. This is often a miserable experience and one which can be severely detrimental to our psychological health. Through self soothing, we can learn to relax and calm our minds, laying the groundwork for a good night's sleep.
Respite from the stresses and rigors of daily life
Modern life can be tough. Pressure from work, social anxiety, and a range of other psychological triggers can make life feel relentless - like we have no place to hide from the litany of commitments and responsibilities which constitute our daily routine. The ultra-connected nature of modern society - driven by social media and round the clock news coverage - only add to this claustrophobic atmosphere.
Respite can be found in self soothing. By learning these techniques, it is possible to manage stress and to create a psychological barrier between the strains of everyday life and the sanctity of the self. In effect, we create our own safe space within ourselves, into which we can retreat and recharge at the end of each day or at any time we feel overwhelmed.
Cultivation of positive habits
There are many things that people turn to when they feel stressed or unhappy. Alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and other things detrimental to health are all frequently used to manage unhappiness or dissatisfaction. Self soothing is a more positive way of dealing with such psychological hardship and leads to the cultivation of positive habits within ourselves.
But this cultivation of positive habits does not always need to be so extreme. While an alternative to negative stimuli is certainly welcome, self soothing can bring about a wide range of other positive behavioral changes, including moves towards mindfulness and being present in the moment and forms of gentle meditation.
These are habits which strengthen our sense of well-being and positivity, and lay the groundwork for better approaches to living. Unlocking the benefits of self soothing may just be the beginning. It represents the first step on the track of continual psychological improvement.
Support for mind and body
Self soothing is considered to be a primarily psychological and emotional strategy, designed to bring about the changes in our state of mind that are necessary to feel good and positive about our situation. But this does not mean that there are not physical benefits to self soothing too.
By removing stressors and negative influences from our lives, or by managing our responses to such influences in the right way, we are providing support to the physical and psychological aspects of our health.
Stress has been linked to the following physical conditions;
•Headaches and jaw pain
•Dizziness and fainting feelings
•Reduced immunity to common illnesses, such as colds or infections
•High blood pressure
These represent only a handful of the conditions which can be caused by negative responses to stress and do not include conditions linked to alcohol dependency, over/under eating, or other harmful behaviors. By bringing self soothing techniques into our lives, we can lessen the severity of such conditions.
So what are the techniques which can be used to self sooth and to bring about these positive changes? We will discuss these in the next section.
Self Soothing Techniques
Is self soothing right for you? Well, to answer this question, you first need to know the techniques which will be used to foster these positive habits and to recognize how straightforward introducing them into your daily life can be.
Focusing on self soothing - and experiencing the benefits which come with this - is really not so difficult, or so time-consuming. There is a range of techniques which you can use to make this change in your own life. We have covered some of the most effective below.
Embracing the five senses
Humans are sensory beings. The knowledge that we gather about the world around us comes from our five senses. These sensory interactions have a marked impact on our psychology and our emotions.
However, increasingly, we are becoming visually oriented. Computer screens, smartphones, televisions; all of these things provide an endless stream of visual stimuli which we use to gather information or to distract ourselves from daily life. While these stimuli can certainly be beneficial to us, they are also a source of constant connection to the world outside of ourselves. This can be stressful in itself.
We should not ignore the visual sense but we should embrace all five senses when we seek to self soothe. Listening to gentle music or tranquil, ambient sounds, soaking ourselves in a warm bath, savoring the taste and smell of your favorite food, running your fingers across pleasant, tactile surfaces, feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin; these are ways in which the calming influence of the senses can be harnessed.
Concentrating on breathing
Controlled breathing is a tried and tested means of dealing with anxiety and panic attacks. Even if the symptoms of your stress are not so extreme as this, deep and measured breathing is necessary for laying the groundwork for self soothing.
Find an isolated place in which you won't be disturbed, such as a bedroom or a comfortable part of your home, and begin breathing deeply, counting the breaths as they come and as they go. Breathe down to your diaphragm, place your hand just above your stomach and feel the movement in and our. The physically calming and soothing effects of this will soon become apparent.
Decelerating the pace of life
Modern life moves quickly. It can feel stressful and pressurizing. In many instances - such as at work - this pace of life may feel necessary but this does not mean that you must submit to it all the time.
Whenever you have the chance, take the opportunity to decelerate. Clear your schedule and make time for yourself. By creating these moments of respite and shelter, you are giving yourself a window in which to soothe yourself and to repair your psychological and emotional state.
It may feel difficult to find this time at first but over time the positive habit will form.
Becoming present in the moment
Our life is filled with moments, many of which pass us by. When we try to make time to decelerate the pace of life, we should also consider these moments as they breeze past us and to try to become present in them.
Going for a walk and simply standing still for a moment, listening to the wind in the trees and the birdsong, is one way to accomplish this. Another way is to recognize the true joy which comes from special moments, perhaps with family, friends, or loved ones, and appreciating this for what it is - not what it has been or will be - but for what is right there and then.
Removing oneself from stressors and negativity
It is not always easy to detach yourself from the stress and negativity which weighs upon you, but as you practice the techniques listed above, forming this invisible barrier will become increasingly easy.
Get into the routine of allowing yourself the time and space required to self soothe. Continue to put the techniques you have learned into practice. Be prepared to put in the time, effort, and mindfulness required to make it work. Over time, the action of removing yourself from the sources of stress and negativity will become less of a chore and more of a natural progression that you take each day.
There simply isn't time to run and re-run all those negative thoughts through your head. No one has the energy to stay switched on, 24-7. Instead, practice taking a step away from the stress and strain.
Need help and assistance with fostering these positive habits in your own life? Want to learn more about self soothing and to decide whether or not it is a good fit for your situation? Get in touch with the Pemarro team today.
Learning to live a life that no longer involves drinking or getting high can leave you at a loss for coming up with things you can actually do. During the summer when the days are warmer and longer, you could become restless and unsure of how to keep yourself active with only sober activities to occupy yourself with.
But, you'd be amazed at how many things there really are that are fun and easy and don't involve alcohol or drugs. Keeping yourself occupied can even take your mind off using and enjoying another day of clean living. We've come up with a few ideas to help get you started.
Visit a coffee shop. Even the smallest towns have a coffee shop these days. Grab your laptop or tablet and take advantage of the free wifi that most have to offer. You can easily spend a couple of hours surfing the web while you're there. If web surfing is not your thing, take along a book or a magazine to read.
Ride a bike. Roads are becoming more bike-friendly with bicycle-only designated lanes. Look up nearby bike trails and take advantage of a pretty day. You'll get some fresh air and exercise at the same time.
Take a walk. Do a bit of research and find out if there are any nice walking trails nearby. If not, a daily walk around the block will get you more familiar with your neighborhood. You could even get to know your neighbors better and make new friends.
Go to the movies. Watching reruns on TV at home gets boring. Find out what's playing at the local theater and get out and enjoy a movie. The seats are very comfortable these days. Some are even better than your recliner at home!
Take up gardening. Planting seeds and watching them grow is fulfilling and rewarding. You could even lose a little weight as you work in your garden. At any rate, you'll eat a lot healthier with all of the fruits and vegetables you produce.
Listen to music. Depending on the kind of music you listen to, it can either help you relax or it can boost your mood. Spending some time listening to your favorite songs, whether they are oldies or the latest pop music, can be a fun way to spend an afternoon. You can use music to motivate you as you work out or do your housecleaning. Not only is it an enjoyable way to spend a few hours - the therapeutic rewards make it well worth it.
Dance. As you listen to your favorite music, it's only natural to want to get up and dance. If you're too shy to dance in public, you can even do this at home. You don't have to dance to impress anyone. It's a great way to burn energy. You work many different muscle groups with this activity, and it's an effective cardio exercise. Dancing is a key way to relieve stress and clear your mind.
Visit friends. You may have a few friends you haven't seen in a while that would be really happy if you paid them a visit. This could be someone in your neighborhood, or maybe you could plan a day trip to visit someone who lives a few hours away.
Volunteer. When you volunteer your time for a cause you believe in, you not only help others - you help yourself, as well. It gives you a sense of purpose and pride to know that you've contributed to something worthwhile. What's more, if you decide this work is your life's passion, your past volunteer work will look good on your resume.
Go swimming. Swimming is a great stress reliever and can help you regain muscle strength. In the water, you don't put weight on your bones, which allows you to move more freely. In turn, you build and strengthen your muscles.
Remodel or redecorate a room. Give yourself a change of scenery, right in your very own home. Rearrange your furniture or replace a few old pieces with newer ones. Add splashes of color with new decorations, or go for a completely new color scheme, using throw rugs or furniture covers. Repaint the walls or paint just one wall to pep up the room.
Draw or color.If you've enjoyed doodling on a scratch pad, why not try your skills on canvas? Draw your first original work of art. Add color to it with paint or your other favorite medium. If you don't trust your drawing skills, there are plenty of adult coloring books with great pictures that you can color as you wish.
Go shopping. Even if it's just a trip to the grocery store, it gets you out of the house. If there is a store close by, walk - don't drive, especially if it's just to pick up a few things. Alternately, take a trip to the mall and buy yourself something nice. You deserve it.
Get a manicure or a pedicure. It can be enjoyable and even relaxing to get your nails done. Plus, they will be much nicer to look at afterward.
Call a friend or relative. These days, people spend a lot of time chatting back and forth on their cell phones via text. This form of communication has become somewhat impersonal, and there's only so much you can convey in a text. By calling someone and speaking to them, you can hear and express emotions so much better. It takes the confusion out of the message. Plus, it's nice to hear someone's voice if you haven't talked to them in a while.
Get a dog. Dogs require love and attention. Plus, they need to be walked regularly. There are many designated dog parks in almost all cities and towns today, and you could meet people who are also enjoying a sunny summer walk with their pets. If you're not ready to take on the responsibility of pet ownership, you could walk with a friend who has one. More than likely, they will appreciate the company.
Try a new recipe. With all of the fresh fruits and vegetables available in the summer months, why not try out some new recipes? It could be something simple like a salad dressing to pour over fresh from the garden lettuce and tomatoes. If you're feeling more daring, plan a sober dinner party and prepare a few dishes for your friends.
Take up yoga. Yoga is not only good for toning your body - it also helps you learn to relax your mind. In turn, you may find it easier to meditate. Meditation could have positive effects on your conscious awareness and help you relax. Even if you don't meditate, yoga will help you get in tune with your own body. You'll become more aware of your breathing and sensory perceptions, and you'll discover things about your own body that you never imagined.
Crochet or knit. If you already know how to crochet or knit, that's great. If not, it might be a nice hobby to start. It's relaxing, yet motivating, once you've created a few pieces on your own. Summer is the perfect time to get started on scarves, caps, and mittens that you'll be sporting all winter. You could even come up with your own ornaments for holiday decorating.
Take summer classes. If you've been thinking about continuing your education, look for summer courses or classes you can take. These can be for college credits or to help you gain new skills for a potentially better job. The more education you have, the better it looks on your resume.
Read a book.Stay on top of the latest releases and go for the season's bestsellers. Or choose something educational. If you find a writer or series that you really like, pick up Book One and go through the entire collection. Once you get started, it can be hard to put a good book down.
Play a game. Games come in a variety of forms. There are console games, board games, card games and online games. You can choose to play a game of solitaire either with a deck of cards (the old-fashioned way), on your computer, or on your cell phone. There are also apps for puzzle or memory games that can be played alone. These days, you can even play interactive games with teams or against an online opponent. Games can be so much fun that you can easily spend a good part of the day playing them. Keep a clock nearby so you don't lose track of time while you're playing.
Get a new hairstyle. Summer is the perfect time for a new 'do. Look up a few do-it-yourself videos and spend some time practicing until you feel confident. If you don't think that's for you, you can spend some time at a hair salon. Go for the latest style or just get a couple of inches taken off so that you can keep cooler in hot weather.
Start a blog. If you're not one for journaling, then blogging could be another outlet. You can share your thoughts and experiences with the world, or keep them private for yourself. Doing so can help you to go back and see just how far you've come in your recovery. You may also have tips or vital information to share with others who are seeking help and insight.
Go sightseeing.You don't even have to go far. Often, there are places of interest right in our own neighborhood that we take for granted. Visit a local museum or art gallery. New items come in all the time, so even if you have been there in the past, there could be lots of interesting and one-of-a-kind items that you haven't seen.
Travel.Plan a trip to a place that you've never been. Learning about different cultures firsthand can be a memorable experience. You're sure to taste new foods and discover that people go about their daily lives in other ways than we do. It can add perspective to your own life and change the way you feel about the world.
Play an instrument.If you already know how to play an instrument, now could be a good time to perfect your skills. You may already know the effect that music has on your sensory skills. It can lift your mood and take your mind off your worries. Studies have shown that musicians are more likely to have increased brain function than non-musicians. If you don't already know how to play an instrument, it's never too late to learn. There are many free tutorials to be found online. Playing an instrument can be the ultimate stress reliever.
Plan a picnic. Map out a nice spot ahead of time, then pack a lunch and enjoy the day. Schedule a picnic with friends and have everyone bring a dish or a side. City parks make great spots to meet up. It's also a great place to spend a few hours if you or your friends have children.
Create a daily plan. When you map out your activities for the day ahead of time, it can help you stay on track and focused. By filling your day up with things that keep you busy, you're hardly likely to steer yourself off track. Just don't be too hard on yourself. There are really only so many things you can do in a day, so plan accordingly. Don't rush through things. Take your time and enjoy the moment.
Remember, detoxification is only the first step in your recovery. Maintaining a healthy, sober life afterward takes a conscious effort, but it can be done. By keeping yourself occupied, you can live a fulfilling life without drugs or alcohol. Summertime offers the best opportunity for outdoor sober activities, but there are plenty of things you can do indoors, as well.
Hopefully, these suggestions can help you to discover fun activities or rediscover old pastimes you had long forgotten about. Have a great time and don't forget the sunscreen! Should you have any questions or just need to speak to someone, we're here 24/7 to answer your call.
Many people who successfully complete a detox program are surprised when they continue to crave their addictive substance. Effective relapse prevention requires an understanding of the different types of cravings and why they happen. Taking the first step towards treating your substance use disorder can be scary and overwhelming. The more prepared you are for the obstacles that often lead to relapse; the more likely you’ll be to have a successful long-term recovery.
Two Phases of Withdrawal
Withdrawal, as it is related to drug or substance abuse, refers to the painful physical and psychological symptoms experienced after purging the substance from the body. The first phase of withdrawal is detox, or acute withdrawal. Once detox ends, the second phase kicks in. This phase is called post-acute withdrawal, or PAW.
The duration and intensity of PAW symptoms depend on the addictive substance, how frequently, and how long it was used. The severe symptoms of withdrawal occur during this phase. Even after the last traces of the substance are gone from the body, symptoms persist. These symptoms are especially prevalent in those who have a long-term history of opioid use.
Post-acute withdrawal symptoms usually come and go, interfering with the person’s ability to concentrate. They may have difficulty focusing on tasks, poor appetite, memory, and sleep problems. Their moods vary from feeling anxious and irritable to being unreasonably angry or depressed.
PAW isn’t something that some people in recovery go through; it is a necessary process that everyone who goes through recovery will experience. Addiction results from chemical changes to the brain. These changes make it more difficult for users to enjoy the same level of pleasure from other things without the chemical in their body. It takes more than getting the chemicals out of the brain and body to get back to life substance-free. The body and brain have to adjust to the changes detox puts them through.
Detox isn’t easy, and there are genuine risks associated with the process. That’s why no one should try to go through the process alone at home. Sometimes people fail to successfully get through detox and go back to using the addictive substance. There’s also the possibility that an emergency situation will arise. When it does, they are much better off to be in a facility that specializes in detox. A staff that understands the challenges and the dangers will help them have a safer, more successful recovery.
Every person and every addiction is different starting with the abusive substance. Every person has a unique story about their path to addiction. It isn’t surprising then that they also have different triggers and temptations. For some, engaging in their previous behaviors is a way to experience certain feelings. They are drawn to the effects they know the substance causes. For others, it’s a way to escape situations and emotions that cause them pain.
The Most Common Triggers That Cause Relapse
There are many triggers that result in relapse, but some are much more common than others. These include the settings and situations that led to addiction in the first place. They may have a positive or negative connotation, including:
1. Physical and Emotional Symptoms of Withdrawal Detox is the first step towards recovery. It causes many uncomfortable symptoms as the abusive substance is flushed from their body. Some people struggle with nausea, anxiety, or loss of energy they experience during this necessary phase of recovery. Some simply give in to the symptoms and return to the substance of choice to get relief from these painful or unpleasant symptoms. These include the symptoms of post-acute withdrawal as described above.
2. Inability to Cope With Self-Care Recovery is a time to change bad behaviors into good ones. That includes eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of rest, and dealing with stressful situations in different ways than through substance abuse. Failing to provide a high level of self-care can cause them to relapse.
3. Re-Entering the Abusive Environment Once they complete the recovery program, most return to the same environment where they used before. They are surrounded by the same people and the same triggers that caused them to use before. Sometimes the appeal to use is more than they can ignore.
4. Relationships & Sex These issues are emotional. When things don’t go wrong, the negative feelings and stress can lead them to abuse the substance again.
5. Isolation & Loneliness Leaving situations where they are in contact with the friends they used to use with can have a different impact. They have too much time to think about their situation and may medicate their loneliness with their substance of choice.
6. Overconfidence Some people refuse to acknowledge that they are an addict or think that their recovery puts their problem in the past. Failing to acknowledge the addiction is a sure way to trigger a relapse.
7. Experiencing Uncomfortable Emotions H.A.L.T. is a tool that some people use for relapse prevention. The acronym stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. When these basic needs aren’t met, relapse becomes more likely. HALT serves as a reminder to take a moment to consider whether they are taking care of themselves and are aware of any emotions that they should treat as a warning.
Hunger refers to a physical or emotional need. It isn’t enough to just eat out of convenience. It’s crucial that a recovering addict maintains a nutritious diet that keeps their body functioning and feeling well.
When the hunger is emotional, it can be for affection, compassion, or accomplishment. The person uses the HALT system to recognize these needs and find positive ways to meet them.
Anger is an emotion that we all feel sometimes. For the recovering addict, it’s important not only to recognize the emotion, but also to get to the cause. They need to analyze their reasons for feeling angry and identify the target. Then, they can figure out what to do to resolve the situation in a good way.
They don’t have to be alone to experience Loneliness. Even in a crowd, it’s possible for them to feel different, misunderstood, and alone. Using the HALT system reminds them to ask whether they have made an effort to reach out to other people. They can make an effort to reach out to a loved one or friend to get rid of feelings of loneliness. A little effort can change the feelings of loneliness into much happier emotions.
Anyone can experience Tiredness when they put an extra burden on their body or mind. It’s important for the recovering addict to take the time they need to get enough sleep and rejuvenate. Depending on their specific needs, they may need a short nap, a relaxing yoga class, or a relaxing massage.
Relapse: How It Happens
Relapse doesn’t happen all at once. It’s not a single event where the person slips back into their old behaviors. It occurs in stages that begin weeks or months earlier. That’s why understanding the triggers is such an essential part of relapse prevention. Knowing what to do during each stage of relapse also makes it easier to prevent relapse from occurring. The three stages include emotional, mental, and physical relapse and each has unique techniques for preventing relapse.
1. Emotional Relapse During emotional relapse, the person still remembers the last time they relapsed and they don’t want to repeat it. They don’t have the desire to use again but their emotions and behaviors are preparing them for a future relapse. They are in denial that they haven’t gotten past their addiction and that relapse is a possibility.
They experience a broad range of emotions including anxiety, anger, defensiveness, and intolerance. These emotions extend to their behaviors, causing them to isolate, failing to go to meetings, and having poor eating and sleeping habits.
This early stage of relapse is the easiest to pull back from. The first step is for the person to recognize the symptoms of emotional relapse and to acknowledge their changes in behavior. Practicing better self-care will provide the changes they need. It will also help them get the rest they need to prevent them from moving to the next stage of relapse.
2. Mental Relapse The next stage in the process is mental relapse. Now, the person is divided between wanting to use and not. If the battle in their mind continues, their resistance will wear down. The need to escape will grow stronger, and they will give in.
Mental relapse is marked by cravings for their abusive substance, thinking about the places and people associated with past use, and looking for opportunities to use. During this stage of relapse, the person begins to minimize the consequences, preferring to glamorize their past use. The plan for relapse begins to take shape.
The person has been down this road before. When they think the previous scenarios through, they know that the fantasies in their mind aren’t realistic. Every person who has undergone substance abuse recovery knows that the consequences are real. The best method of mental relapse prevention is to talk with someone about the urges. This is the best way to make those urges disappear.
Another technique is to start planning something else to distract them. When they get their mind focused on something else, it’s easier to keep the urges at bay.
Finally, they should wait thirty minutes before acting on the urges. Most urges last between fifteen and thirty minutes. Once they pass, it’s easier to move onto something else.
3. Physical Relapse Physical relapse refers to the actual physical use of the substance. What may begin as “just one drink” or “just one use” can easily turn into a loss of control. Often, the physical relapse comes about as a result of opportunity. The person takes advantage of a time when they think they won’t get caught.
At this point, relapse prevention is nearly impossible. Once the process of acquiring the substance and using it once, it isn’t likely to stop at that point. It’s important for the person to recognize the early signs of relapse so they can stop it before it ever reaches the physical stage.
Dealing with Cravings
The cravings that occur immediately after detox are normal. That doesn’t make it any easier for the person to deal with them. Ideally, they will focus on self-care and face the cravings for what they are: temptations that only they have the power to overcome.
The cravings are their strongest during detox, making it a prime time for relapse. Prevention takes effort and learned skills to deal with the temptations during each phase. The fact is that failing to take care of themselves physically and mentally during the post-acute period drives the risk of relapse to its highest level. The good news is that cravings usually last no more than 30 minutes and they aren’t always present. If they know the feeling will pass, they can often fend off the urge to act.
It takes time, but the good days become more common as the cravings diminish. It takes work, effort, and above all, self-awareness to get there. The more they understand about addiction and withdrawal, the easier it is to develop effective skills for effective relapse prevention at every stage.
Relapse can occur at any stage of the recovery process. Nothing is more important than having the support needed to deal with emotions, cravings, and worries every step of the way. No one ever has to go it alone, and they shouldn’t! Don’t wait to get into detox and get the support of people who understand exactly what you’re going through.
Contact Pemarro today and schedule a free and confidential consultation. Get the expert care you need from a team of highly educated, experienced, and caring individuals in the field of addiction. A number of our staff members have been in your shoes. We know what you’re going through and we will treat you with the kindness, compassion, and respect that you deserve.
You might have seen articles about mindfulness, and using it to help with everything from weight loss and work pressure to chronic pain management and addiction recovery. But even after reading those articles, you probably find yourself asking “what is mindfulness” exactly? Because it is more about a way of doing things than something you actually do, it is difficult to define.
In fact, a quick search of the internet brings up dozens of different definitions. The Google definition, which is based on the Oxford English Dictionary says it is:
“a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
Scott Bishop, a psychologist who studies the effects of mindfulness meditation on stress describes mindfulness as a:
“Non-elaborative, non-judgmental, present-centered awareness in which each thought, feeling, sensation that arises ... is acknowledged and accepted as it is.”
And if you read this article from the Positive Psychology Program site, you will find another 20 definitions collected from a variety of different sources. So as you can see, not even the experts can agree on a single answer to the “what is mindfulness?” question. However, there are three things that all of these definitions have in common.
Mindfulness means being consciously aware
Showering, driving, making coffee, breathing. These are all things we do every day. But we do them subconsciously, without really thinking about what we are doing. Instead we are thinking about a hundred other things. Like the argument you had with your partner last night. The meeting you’re headed to. The post you just saw on Facebook. The holiday you’re planning for Christmas.
If you’ve ever driven a car that isn’t yours and turned on the wipers instead of your flashers, you’ll know what we’re talking about. You’re on autopilot, and the autopilot says flashers are on the right. When you’re being mindful, you are consciously and deliberately focusing your attention on yourself, your surroundings and what you’re doing.
Mindfulness is about this moment right now
Whenever we aren’t fully focused on the task at hand, our mind wanders off on a little mission of its own. We might get caught up in replaying memories from the past, whether that past memory is from an hour ago or a decade ago. Or we’ll head into the future; daydreaming, planning, wondering, worrying, hoping about a multitude of things.
Although we are often told to live in the moment, we very rarely do. Being mindful means being completely engaged in the experience of the current moment. You don’t think about the past, you stop worrying about the future. You are here, in this moment – and all your thoughts are about what you are experiencing right now.
Mindfulness is non-judgmental
If you are angry right now, then say “I am angry”. It doesn’t matter if your anger is deserved or righteous or foolish. You are angry and that is okay. Being mindful does not mean that you should be controlling, suppressing or stopping your thoughts or feelings. It just means that you trying to pay attention to them as they occur – without attaching a label or judging them in any way.
Think of being mindful as standing to one side and watching yourself feeling, hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling or touching those things. Distancing yourself like this allows you to be consciously aware of those thoughts, emotions and sense perceptions without getting swept away by them. And that means you’re less likely to allow your autopilot to do whatever it usually does in a moment like this.
This might mean eating a little slower because you savor each bite a little more. It might mean not punching a wall, even though you’re spitting mad. It might mean calling a recovery center instead of satisfying that craving because you’re struggling to cope. Because you are consciously aware of what you are feeling right now, and you accept that those feelings exist. And this allows you to make a conscious decision about what you’re going to do next.
So where does mindfulness come from?
Although it is only in the last decade or so that mindfulness has become a popular practice, it has actually been around for thousands of years. Or let’s rather say that the original form of mindfulness has been practiced by Buddhists for thousands of years. Back in 1979 Jon Kabat-Zinn stripped away all religious overtones and developed his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
The initial aim of this eight week program was to help patients deal with chronic pain while avoiding addiction to painkillers. He realized that patients were trying to mentally escape or avoid the pain, which ultimately caused more mental distress and exhaustion. In other words, they were making their situation worse by trying to avoid the problem.
Because mindfulness as we know it today is not dependant on any belief system or ideology, anyone can try it. Whether you are Christian or Pagan, Muslim or Atheist, or follow any of the many religions out there – you can practice mindfulness. And although it was originally designed for pain management, mindfulness is beneficial in a wide variety of situations. Some prime examples include:
Does mindfulness really work?
Although mindfulness is not like full blown meditation, it is meditative. Combine that with the fact that it is derived from Buddhist traditions, and you might start thinking that it is far too “New Agey” or “woowoo spiritual” to really work as advertised. You would be wrong though, because there are literally dozens of studies and research papers about the effectiveness and benefits of mindfulness. These studies include the following:
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
Now that you know what mindfulness is, and that it is effective – you might be wondering what the benefits are. Well here are just a few of them, along with links to studies showing those benefits.
How to get started with practicing mindfulness
Take 3 mindful breaths
The first and easiest way to start being mindful is to take three mindful breaths, no matter where you are, what you’re doing or the time of day. You breathe all the time, without ever thinking about it. By focusing your attention on your breath you are able to still your mind, step into the present moment and give your system a “soft reboot”.
Perform a body scan
A body scan is a meditative process where you consciously think about and notice everything your body is feeling. From how your toes feel in your shoes, to the air moving against your face. It can be done sitting up or lying down, and a single body scan can last anywhere from 3 minutes to 45 minutes or more.
While evidence shows that people who practice body scans for longer reap more benefits, it doesn’t really matter how long you do it for. And if you’re not sure how to actually do a body scan, then just search for a guided body scan or script and choose the one that suits you best.
Do one routine activity mindfully
Whether it is washing your hands, drinking coffee or eating lunch – choose one thing that you are going to give your full attention to. In the beginning it may be best to do this somewhere that people won’t interrupt you, but in time you could do it during a meeting, at your desk or while friends and family are with you. Just remember that “single tasking” is not a good idea if you need to be focused on several things at once – such as while you’re driving!
Your mind will probably wander, but don’t beat yourself up because you lost focus. Just return to your breath, then carry on from the last point you remember.
A final note
By now, you should have a good idea of what mindfulness is and where it originated. You know that there is clinical research and numerous studies about how effective it is. You are aware of the benefits and you may have even read some of the articles and studies about those benefits. And although you might not be searching for a mindfulness course near you right now – you have some simple mindfulness exercises that you can start practicing on your own.
Just remember that while there are dozens of benefits to practicing mindfulness, sometimes it is better to set your mind free and let it wander. In fact, it has been reported that creativity and insight might depend on a little bit of unrestricted daydreaming. So take into consideration that Buddhism is about finding a middle way between spiritual and worldly concerns.
So learn to find the balance between letting your mind take a break and being aware of everything about yourself and your immediate environment. If you are interested in the use of mindfulness as part of a treatment program for substance misuse disorder or relapse prevention then contact the caring experts at Pemarro for more information and guidance.
When it comes to overcoming an addiction, such as drugs, detoxing is always a challenge despite your desire to get clean, and overcoming alcohol is no different. But trying to perform your alcohol detox at home makes the challenge even greater, and possibly even a danger to your health.
As an addict, one of the most rewarding feelings in your life will be the day you can finally proclaim that you are sober, whether it be from drugs, alcohol, or another addiction. However, quite often that vision of sobriety and success is not enough drive alone to carry an addict to sobriety through an alcohol detox at home.
Detoxing is not only difficult, but it poses both emotional and physical risks. So, by trying to detox at home, and furthermore on your own, you are only increasing those risks by that much more.
Think about it like this - have you ever tried to never eat chocolate again while sitting in front of your absolute favorite chocolate cake? The temptation is constant and chances are, you will give in faster than you even realize what is happening. When it comes to giving up something that has been a major aspect of your life for any extended period of time, it takes help. Just like it takes an army to raise a child, it takes an army to overcome addiction.
The Cold, Hard Facts
Alcoholism, by definition, describes someone who has a physical and/or psychological desire to consume alcohol beyond their capacity to control it, and they continue to make this choice despite the effects it has on their life. An alcoholic is someone who can watch this substance destroy their family, and still give in to the craving at the end of the day. But, they aren’t alone – millions of Americans are suffering from this same scenario.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 21.5 million American adults (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in 2014. And of those 21.5 million Americans suffering from a substance use disorder, almost 80 percent struggled with an alcohol use disorder.
However, thanks to the proper treatment, resources, and hard work, many Americans are able to successfully recover from their addiction. But when it comes time for you to start your journey to sobriety, don’t give in to the temptation to go it alone and do an alcohol detox at home because the following risks are just lying in wait for you.
A key factor in what separates alcoholics from just recreational drinkers is the fact that their body is now physically dependent on it. They are unable to function normally without it, meaning their body literally now needs the alcohol to be normal. As a result of this developed dependence on it, as alcoholics begin to stop drinking, they also begin to experience withdrawals.
A withdrawal is a natural process that removes the toxins from their system, however, it also causes extremely uncomfortable physical and emotional experiences. As the detox begins, the addict's body is now realizing that something is missing – the alcohol. While the body is working hard to return itself to normal, it is not used to functioning without the alcohol and therefore triggers these uncomfortable experiences.
Withdrawals are not only uncomfortable but could also become deadly if you are attempting to detox from alcohol at home and don't have immediate access to help in a time of emergency.
When people are alcoholics, they feel a sense of ease and relaxation when they drink, and then become addicted to this feeling. The primary neurotransmitter tied to the production of this feeling of relaxation and ease is gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). The excessive use of alcohol causes addicts to have a GABA imbalance, this imbalance is what results in negative withdrawal symptoms during detox, which can be both emotional and physical symptoms.
In addition to affecting the neurotransmitter GABA, alcohol abuse also negatively affects dopamine, the neurotransmitter linked to the body’s reward system. This reward system is housed in the pleasure center of your brain which regulates your energy, motivation, and enjoyment. This specific neurotransmitter is also responsible for other important aspects of a person’s life and mental well-being, such as sense of attention, cognition, and mood.
As an addict begins to detox from alcohol, they lack that dopamine that the alcohol was triggering, which triggered some of the happy feelings an addict craves. The more someone drinks, the more immune their body gets to the dopamine, therefore the more they require. As a result, when they suddenly stop drinking and the dopamine production comes to a halt, they can experience negative emotional consequences such as anxiety and depression.
During a sensitive time like recovery, the anxiety and depression are already triggered by such a sudden lifestyle change and often a loss of friends or other triggers and enablers. This depression and anxiety are then also increased by the physiological effects of an alcohol detox.
This emotional factor alone is one of the biggest risks of an alcohol detox at home – emotional support is so desperately needed at a time like this.
Being an alcoholic clearly takes a toll on your body – it negatively affects several neurotransmitters and damages your normal bodily functions, such as the normal processes of your liver. And just as this can cause several negative emotional responses, it can also cause just as many or more negative physical responses, including insomnia, headaches, tremors, and seizures.
While these symptoms are not necessarily avoidable, by doing your alcohol detox in a professional facility as opposed to at home, you can have access to the resources you need to help ease the symptoms. And unfortunately, sometimes these symptoms can cause medical emergencies, requiring medical professional intervention.
Being at home would not only isolate you from the resources to ease your symptoms, but it could also prevent you from getting the help you need should one of these symptoms turn potentially deadly.
Temptation is always around us – and the temptation to drink is no different. Alcohol is advertised from restaurant to restaurant, at the grocery store, on commercials and even on clothing. It just seems like the normal thing to do.
While these constant images of alcohol might not bother some, for a recovering alcoholic, it might just be the tip of a relapse iceberg. By focusing on your recovery at a professional facility, you can eliminate these temptations, as you will not be surrounded by alcohol ads and people drinking. You will be in a safe and inviting environment, with others who have similar experiences as you.
Temptations and triggers are similar – a temptation could just be someone drinking around you, which makes it tempting to drink. However, a trigger is something that has caused you to drink in the past – it is more like something you have an emotional attachment to. For example, if you always drank at one specific bar because that is where you and your girlfriend broke up, visiting that bar will likely cause you to drink.
Like temptations, triggers are also something you can most likely separate yourself from at a professional facility. Triggers are difficult to overcome, especially when they are something emotional, and you will need help to fight the urge.
The topic of availability is plain and simple – is it really that difficult to walk into a liquor store and buy alcohol? No. But, is it really that difficult to find alcohol readily available and to get drunk at a professional rehabilitation facility? Yes.
Common triggers include:
It is much easier to give into triggers and temptations when the only thing stopping you is you opening the door of the liquor store. By placing yourself in a safe space where alcohol is not readily advertised or available, it makes giving in that much more work. And when it comes to recovery, you are that much less likely to give into the temptations and triggers if you really have to work for it. But if getting the alcohol is easy, it might be a whole different story.
Just like we mentioned temptation earlier, peer pressure falls right next to that. When you are surrounded by temptation, you might also find yourself feeling peer pressured into drinking as those around you are. It could be a result of them offering it to you, encouraging it, or just not being cautious of the fact that being around it could tempt you.
Peer pressure causes a lot of people to do a lot of things and it is just another risk that you expose yourself to if you decide to try and do an alcohol detox at home.
Lack of Support
Your support system during recovery is one of the most important keys to success. While you might have family at home, you also need a team of experienced professionals who can provide you support around the clock. Additionally, it is important to be surrounded by others who have gone or are going through the same thing and can directly relate to how you feel physically and emotionally.
There is no denying that trying to do your alcohol detox at home will not include the amount of support you will have at an actual facility. This can leave you feeling alone, which can often lead to negative choices and outcomes.
Benefits of a Professional Facility
As you can see, detoxing from alcohol is challenging - mentally and physically. It takes great strength, several various resources, and a lot of support.
A professional facility can offer you access to all of the things you need to succeed. And by doing your research and locating the best facility for you, you can also find a place that has a program designed for you and one that you feel will help you be the most successful.
Having that extra support and the correct tools can really make all the difference when it comes to detoxing from alcohol. Make the decision today to recover in a professional facility and make the decision today to become a part of one of the many Americans who do recover.
The Road to Success
When it comes to detoxing from alcohol, you should be familiar with the acronym, HALT. HALT is something that will follow you through your detox and recovery.
H – Hungry
A – Angry
L – Lonely
T – Tired
These four items are things you should avoid – they are considered high-risk situations for those who are in recovery. Trying to do your alcohol detox at home could continuously subject you to at least one, if not all four of these dangerous situations and emotions. The risk is all around you and it is just waiting for you to fail. However, it does not have to be that way.
The road to sobriety from alcohol begins with making the decision that it is time to detox from alcohol, get clean, and take back control of your life. However, the real road to recovery begins with making the decision of where and how you will detox from alcohol. Choosing the facility and the program that will best fit you is one of the most reliable ways to succeed in your journey to sobriety.
Attempting to pursue your alcohol detox journey at home poses many risks and might lead you to finding yourself as bad or worse off than you already were. Do the benefits really overrule the risks?
If you are ready to begin your journey to a new life, we encourage you to contact our treatment facility. We offer a safe haven where you will be equipped with the tools and support you need as you detox from alcohol. We want to ensure that you start your journey off on the right foot and feel enabled to succeed from the beginning.
Contact us today to find out more about our facility, treatment philosophy, and what our team can do for you or your loved one who is suffering from a crippling alcohol addiction.
Benzodiazepines can be useful for treating different conditions; however, withdrawal can be very serious. It's important to understand how they work, what conditions they're used to treat, the different signs of addiction, what benzodiazepines withdrawal is like and how treatment programs are structured.
What are benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines are drugs that slow down the nervous system.
They're often used to treat severe anxiety, feelings of depression, agitation, anxiety attacks, muscle spasms, seizures, lack of sleep, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, premenstrual syndrome, and a serious brain disorder called status epilepticus. This disorder causes seizures to occur one after another. They can also be used to sedate people during surgery.
Common effects of short-term benzodiazepine use include:
Common side effects of benzodiazepine use include:
Less common side effects include:
Anyone experiencing less common side effects should consult their doctor. They may be taking too much or may need to switch medications.
How do they work?
Benzodiazepines work by enhancing the effects of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA reduces nerve activity in the brain. Benzodiazepine medications help it work better by forcing it to reduce brain activity even more.
What are some common benzodiazepines and what do they treat?
Common benzodiazepines include:
All of these medications are available in tablet form. People who have problems swallowing tablets can take alprazolam, clobazam, diazepam, and lorazepam in liquid form. Diazepam is also available as a rectal gel.
How do people get addicted to benzodiazepines?
When doctors prescribe benzodiazepines to treat one of the previously-mentioned conditions, the patient's body may adjust prescribed dosage, and they may need more medication to treat the condition. They may also discover they get a "high" from the drug and start abusing it.
What are the long-term effects of benzodiazepine use?
Other than the risk of becoming addicted to benzodiazepines, long-term use can have lasting effects on the brain and body. These include depression, suicidal thoughts, irritability, and problems with memory.
How is benzodiazepine addiction treated?
Many treatment centers start the recovery process by gradually reducing the amount of medication the patient is taking until they're completely off of it to minimize the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms. After the drug is out of their system, the patient receives counseling. They may also participate in group therapy and 12 Step Programs to deal with the issues that caused them to become addicted to benzodiazepines. Once they've dealt with these issues, they'll be able to commit to developing behaviors that will help them stay away from benzodiazepines for the rest of their life.
Some treatment centers also provide nutrition plans, fitness plans, and adventure therapy to help patients overcome their benzodiazepine addiction.
Choosing a Treatment Center
When choosing a center for benzodiazepine treatment, it's important to examine different factors. The most important factor to consider is the experience of the staff. Doctors and staff should know how to treat patients with benzodiazepine addiction. When looking at different treatment centers, be sure to contact them to find out more about their staff. It can also be helpful to read the information on their website.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient treatment
Patients with benzodiazepine addiction can be treated as inpatients or outpatients.
Outpatient treatment may be more appropriate for people who don't have severe addictions to benzodiazepines. It allows them to stay in the same setting and be around supportive people in a familiar setting. Outpatient treatment can also be detrimental, however, because patients are still around people and situations that caused them to become addicted to benzodiazepines in the first place. That's why many people end up going to inpatient treatment centers for benzodiazepine treatment.
Being in a remote setting keeps patients away from people and triggers that may have contributed to their benzodiazepine addiction. Doctors and staff still make sure that patients get any other medication they need.
What is withdrawal like?
Withdrawal symptoms are different for each person Here are a few snippets from one story about Madelon, who took benzodiazepines to deal with anxiety, then started to experience adverse symptoms from them and had to come off of them. She experienced severe symptoms several times, but still continued to try and detox, and now no longer has to rely on them:
I was violently ill for the whole time in there, and it did not look like it was going to ease up, something that puzzled the staff. I was also the only one coming off a prescribed pill, so it was very difficult for me to relate to the other women, particular since they were doing fine. I did not see others with the same symptoms at all.
As time went on, my days were filled behind the computer and telephone, neglecting my family and household till I realized I had to find a balance somewhere. I was a sponge for information and researched anything I could find on these drugs.
I joined women's groups, I spoke out about the dangers and my own experience with these drugs, and slowly people started to know me and several invitations came for lectures at Rehabs for women, University groups, addiction specialists, etc.
My body and brain were at war it seems. I burned all over, my eyes felt like they had fallen out of their sockets, my vision it seemed had to be dragged all the way from the back of my head, I could not see nor hear, I was full of fear and panic, paranoia which made me climb walls, I could not eat or drink, my scalp felt like it was being burned by sizzling coals and I wanted to die. Soon, rage would get the better of me and everything that was not attached to a wall or floor would fly across the room without warning. This behavior concerned my family and it scared me too and so Paris was called for a consultation.
I had to learn to "accept" what had happened, to learn to live with the left over symptoms and to slowly build up and put back together the pieces of my life again. The benzo experience has forced me to grow up in a hurry, to change some of my thinking and to take one day at a time, to enjoy each moment and to stay in the moment. I can't think too much about the future yet as this is too much for my brain to deal with, and so, while at first I couldn't think further than one minute to the next, this over the years has reached as far as several months.
I struggled with long and short-term memory loss, concentration and focusing and severe eyesight problems. I had difficulties performing several things at once, difficulties being in groups or social gatherings and following conversations, not to mention having to take part in the conversations.
Many times I felt I had complete amnesia and this would put me in a desperate state of depression and fear. My husband urged me to start reading the daily newspaper, to start writing, and to use the computer to find others in the world who had experienced this. And I did.......many...... and my gratitude goes out in particular Dr. Reg Peart who was there every time I called him and who patiently explained what had happened to me and so many others before me. He dragged me through the first year, while repeating and repeating it was still early days till I finally could stand on my own two feet.
As time went on, my days were filled behind the computer and telephone, neglecting my family and household till I realized I had to find a balance somewhere. I was a sponge for information and researched anything I could find on these drugs.
I joined women's groups, I spoke out about the dangers and my own experience with these drugs and slowly people started to know me and several invitations came for lectures at Rehabs for women, University groups, addiction specialists, etc.
My husband and two daughters, now in their twenties, have been my rocks while going through this traumatic experience and without them I know I wouldn't be here today.
A concentration and memory test, done last year, came back with flying colours - better then the average person who had never been on benzos, so this was good news. My brain specialist has played a big role as well in my recovery. His compassion, his warmth, his huge knowledge about the brain, his patience towards a patient with a mind of her own and not willing to do everything he said, his humor as well as his putting up with my shit several times........without him, again, I wouldn't have made it this far.
Am I a success story?? I'll let you decide.........I think personally we all are a success story once we have gotten off no matter how long it took us and no matter how we did it.
What other things can patients do to cope with benzodiazepine withdrawal while in therapy?
There are other tips that can help patients cope with benzodiazepine withdrawal, such as:
Affirmations and positive self-talk - Using affirmations and positive self-talk are great ways to cope with worrying thoughts that may come up while going through benzodiazepine withdrawal. Affirmations patients can use include "Every day in every way, I'm getting better and better." Patients can also tell themselves to "stop" when they feel a negative emotion coming on and switch to a positive affirmation.
Breathing - Deep breathing is another effective way to cope with worrying thoughts. As you breathe in and out, focus on the rhythm. There are many effective breathing techniques you can use. The key is to find one that works for you and stick to it.
Exercise - Exercise is another excellent method of dealing with withdrawal symptoms. Patients should be careful when exercising during withdrawal; it can sometimes worsen symptoms - the key is to know what your body can handle. If it can only handle a short walk, don't try to do a vigorous workout.
Sleep - Sleep will be difficult in the beginning, but it's important to start establishing a normal sleep pattern. The best thing patients can do to start establishing a normal sleep pattern is eliminating caffeine, alcohol, TV, late news, mental stimulation, loud noises, and bright lights. They can try using sleep CDs and deep breathing techniques to relax and fall asleep. However, they may find that nothing works when they first start going through withdrawal. Eventually, they will start sleeping for a few hours at a time and then start having a deep, restful night's sleep again.
Acceptance - The best thing patients can do when going through benzodiazepine withdrawal is accept that they'll have to experience the withdrawal symptoms. If they acknowledge that the symptoms are temporary, and that they're a necessary step to recovery, they may be less inclined to fight them.
Benzodiazepine addiction can be very serious, but it is treatable. Once a patient acknowledges that they're addicted to benzodiazepines, they've taken the first step towards recovery. The next step is to look at their needs and choose a treatment program that it's best for them. Before choosing a treatment program, look at the information in this article so you'll be better prepared for the experience, and contact us if you have any questions.
As a parent, of course you want the best for your children, and it can be heartbreaking to see them putting themselves at risk. Fortunately, there are several common signs of drug use in teens that you can watch out for. It is important to note that these indicators are not guarantees that your teen is doing drugs, nor is the absence of them a guarantee that your child is drug-free.
If you do notice any of these warning signs, though, there is a good chance that there is something going on in your child's life that may require greater attention from you. Read on to learn some of the most common signs that your teen is experimenting with drugs or alcohol.
When your teen comes home after a night out with friends, take a few minutes to have a conversation face to face. If your teen has been drinking, you'll be able to smell the alcohol on their breath. Similarly, you'll be able to smell cigarette or marijuana smoke on their clothes or in their hair. With the smoke odors, you don't necessarily need to jump to the conclusion that your teen is smoking; it could be that they were just around others who smoke. Keep an eye out for other warning signs to verify your concerns.
Changes to the Eyes
When your teen is under the influence, you may notice changes to their eyes. The whites of the eyes could become bloodshot or the pupils could become dilated or constricted. Your teen's eyelids may look a bit droopy and they could have difficulty staying awake in a manner that is inappropriate for the time of day. Finally, your teen might have trouble focusing or they might make a point of avoiding eye contact.
Evidence of Reckless Driving
If your teen has his or her own car or drives yours from time to time, watch out for any new dents or scratches that you cannot explain, as this could be a sign that your teen is driving unsafely. If your vehicle has a teen driving monitoring feature, watch for sudden changes to the way your teen drives, like speeding where they usually drive normally, heavy braking or rapid acceleration. Of course, it could just be that your teen is feeling more comfortable behind the wheel with more experience and, thus, is willing to take more risks while driving, but if these behaviors seem to happen after a certain point in the day or after hanging out with certain friends, drugs or alcohol could be the culprit.
Sudden Change in Grades
If your teen was once a straight-A student and is suddenly bringing home Cs, it could be that drugs or alcohol are taking them away from their studies. This could be true if their grades have suddenly gone up as well. Prescription medications for attention deficit disorders have become popular among students seeking more energy and focus to help them study. Be sure to check in with your teen to ensure they aren't pushing themselves too hard with classes that are more challenging than they can handle. If the difficulty level of their classes has remained constant, a sudden change in their grades could indicate drug or alcohol use.
If your teen is using, you may notice that their moods fluctuate from one extreme to another, like laughing hysterically, seemingly at nothing, or suddenly breaking down in tears for no apparent reason. In many cases, these mood swings may seem to be completely unrelated to what is going on at the time. Of course, teens are notorious for being moody and irritable, even when they are not on drugs, so watch for other signs to corroborate your suspicions.
If your normally chatty teen suddenly becomes reserved and withdrawn, it is possible they may be hiding something from you. If every question you ask is met with complaints that it's "none of your business," you may need to probe more deeply. As a parent, your child's behavior IS your business, no matter what your teen believes.
Watch for discrepancies between what your teen tells you and what you see on their social media feeds as well. Other possible warning signs could include hanging up the phone or closing a laptop the moment you walk into a room, covering their phone screen whenever you walk by or showing increased concern for personal privacy.
Overuse of Scented Products
Perhaps your teen just discovered perfume or cologne and hasn't yet learned that less is more when it comes to fragrance. In this case, all your teen may need is a simple lesson from you as to how to properly apply these types of products. However, it is also possible that your teen is using scented products, like incense or air freshener, to mask the smell of smoke or alcohol. Take note of whether this overuse of scents is a constant issue or if it only happens at certain times of the day or after your teen returns from being out with friends.
Presence of Drug Paraphernalia
This is one of the easiest ways to identify that your teen may be using drugs. Depending on your parenting style and relationship with your teen, you may or may not feel comfortable searching their bedroom. However, you don't necessarily need to conduct a full-on search. Pay attention to any unusual smells when you are putting their laundry away, and listen for sounds of scrambling when you knock on the door. This could be a sign that your teen is trying to hide something before you enter. When checking prescription bottles for expiration dates, watch for anything unexpected, anything not in your child's name or for different types of pills in the same bottle.
It is not just the drugs themselves that you need to be on the lookout for; look for drug-related paraphernalia as well, like rolling papers, short straws or rolled up dollar bills, burnt teaspoons, syringes and other items. People who don't use drugs typically do not have these types of items, so the presence of them is a strong indicator that your teen is using.
Change in Circle of Friends
The high school years are some of the most formative in a teenager's life, so it is common for teens to make new friends and lose touch with old ones as they forge their own identities. These changes typically do not happen overnight, but rather, gradually over the years. However, if your teen is suddenly running with a completely different crowd and has zero interest in spending time with friends from their younger years, it could be that those old friends don't approve of the way your teen has changed, possibly due to drugs or alcohol.
If your teen once had friends over frequently and now never brings anyone around, this is another possible warning sign that these new friends may not have the best influence on your teen. Your child likely knows that you wouldn't approve of their new crew and so wants to keep you separated from their friends.
When under the influence, many people find that they have less control over their bodies than they usually do, resulting in stumbling, walking into things, and even falling. If your teen is coming home with unexplained injuries, it could be that they injured themselves while taking drugs or alcohol. Of course, it is also possible that your child is being bullied at school or purposefully harming themselves, so don't ignore these possibilities as well.
When asking your teen about their injuries, make sure they know that you are coming from a point of compassion, not accusation. Let them know that you just want to make sure they aren't in any danger at school, at a friend's home or in other locations they frequent.
Unless your teen has a steady job, which is unlikely if they are using drugs or alcohol on a regular basis, he or she will need an ongoing supply of money to pay for their habit. Although it is common for teens to ask you for money fairly frequently, take note if you find money missing from your wallet. While it is not uncommon for teens to sneak a bit of money here and there, you need to be aware of how much and how often. Frequent theft could signal that your teen needs more and more money to fund a burgeoning addiction.
Drastic Weight Changes
If your teen is using drugs or alcohol, they may skip meals in favor of doing drugs, and many drugs, especially those in the "upper" category, diminish appetite. This could cause your teen to lose a lot of weight in a short period of time. At the other end of the spectrum, marijuana often gives people "the munchies," making them more likely to gorge on snacks, most commonly the unhealthy ones, possibly causing your teen to gain weight.
Weight changes in the teenage years are common, as your teen is growing into their adult body, so weight change alone is not necessarily an indicator of drug use. However, if the weight change was drastic and sudden, drugs could be playing a role. Of course, check with your teen's doctor first to ensure that the weight change isn't the result of a medical condition.
Start by Talking to Them
If you have suspicions that your teen is using drugs or alcohol, your first recourse should be to sit down and have an open, honest conversation with your teen. Do your best to remain calm and not to yell, as you want your teen to feel as comfortable as possible opening up to you. If you have used drugs or alcohol in the past, you may wish to share a bit of your own experience to show your teen that you are not as out-of-touch as they might think. Use your experiences to educate them about the dangers of using drugs and offer to help them get clean if they wish to.
Don't worry if your teen doesn't open up to you right away. Your teen may feel more comfortable discussing sensitive topics with a school counselor or therapist than with a parent, so don't be shy about utilizing these options. Also, don't be surprised if your teen denies using drugs until faced with incontrovertible evidence that they are, in fact, using. It may take several attempts before you get positive results, if at all.
Get Your Teen the Help They Deserve
If you have tried to help your teen quit using drugs to no avail, it may be time to take more drastic measures. Here at Pemarro Recovery Center, we offer inpatient rehabilitation services for individuals of all ages, including teens. Our compassionate rehab programs focus not just on helping your teen get clean, but also on addressing any problems in their life that may have led them to drugs or alcohol in the first place.
From the moment your teen arrives at our facility, they'll be treated in a manner that is caring, compassionate and understanding. We recognize that no two cases of addiction or drug use are alike, just as no two users are alike. Although we do conduct group therapy sessions, we also work with each patient on an individualized basis as well, helping to get to the root of their unique needs.
We welcome you to get in touch with us to learn more about our rehabilitation programs. Our associates will take the time to answer your questions about our facility and treatment philosophy, and we'll take you on a tour of our facility. We want you to have all the information you need to make an informed decision about choosing us for your teen's care. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help your teen beat addiction and live a drug-free life.
When most people think of addiction, they conjure up images of people using drugs or drinking alcohol to excess. However, there are many other types of addiction besides substance addiction. Addictions fall into two primary categories: chemical and behavioral. Each class of addiction requires a different approach to treatment. Here's what you need to know.
This category encompasses addictions to a variety of substances, including illegal drugs like cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin and more. It also includes legal drugs like prescription medications, whether prescribed or purchased illegally. Alcohol and tobacco also fall into this category. Chemical addictions even include common substances that are popular for everyday use, like caffeine.
When a person is suffering from a chemical addiction and they take the substance, their body undergoes physical changes, including things like feelings of euphoria, reduction in pain and other enjoyable effects. However, once the substance has left the body, the person typically experiences physical cravings for the substance. In some cases, the aftereffects are so strong, as with heroin use, that it seems like the only recourse is to get high once more.
This vicious cycle of getting high, feeling worse afterwards and getting high again to counteract the negative side effects plays a major role in what makes certain substances so addictive. In the most extreme cases, withdrawal symptoms can even be deadly. Of course, ingesting these substances can sometimes be fatal as well so it is important to seek treatment as quickly as possible when you are in the throes of a chemical addiction.
Many believe that a genetic component comes into play in chemical addictions, meaning that if someone else in your family suffered from substance addiction, you are more likely to fall into a similar pattern of behavior. This is not to say that everyone who has a history of chemical addiction in their family will become an addict, but rather that certain individuals may be more at risk than others. Those who have no history of addiction in their families can become addicted to drugs or alcohol just as easily as those who come from a family of addicts.
Treatment for Chemical Addictions
The treatment for most chemical addictions typically starts with a period of detoxifying the body, ridding it of any foreign substance that remains. For many, this is the most challenging part of the treatment process as the body goes through withdrawal symptoms. As previously mentioned, withdrawal can sometimes lead to a person's death, so it is crucial to go through this process under the watchful care of a professional, like a doctor or addiction specialist.
Once the substance has left the body, the focus of treatment shifts to the mind. In this phase, the patient typically goes through some form of therapy, either in a group or individual setting, often both. The goal of this process is to identify the underlying triggers that drive a person to use in the first place. Individual therapy is great for getting down to the root of the problem, while group sessions are helpful in learning how to communicate effectively with others. Hearing the personal stories of others can help the patients to reevaluate their own behaviors and learn from their past mistakes.
After the trigger points have been identified, the patient can then move on to learning more constructive ways to deal with stress, pain, loneliness, boredom and other common triggers. By replacing negative actions, like substance abuse, with more positive alternatives, like exercise, spending time with loved ones and learning new skills, the patient learns how to manage their emotions and urges in a healthy way.
Following treatment, the patient may continue to attend therapy sessions to help maintain their progress or they may join a support group to keep them on track. Many options follow the 12-step program pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous. Throughout the program, participants are asked to evaluate their lives, make amends to those they have wronged in the past and shift their focus to their spirituality. Although these types of programs don't necessarily work for every addict, many individuals have found great success with them.
Behavioral addictions encompass those activities that people can grow to perform compulsively. Typically, these actions generate some form of pleasure for the practitioner, either mentally or physically. In many cases, the feelings that people get when they engage in their addictive behavior closely resemble those of substance addiction, including feelings of euphoria and excitement.
Many of the behaviors that can become addictions are not harmful in and of themselves, like exercise, eating, sex and shopping. It is when these behaviors are taken to such an extreme that they become disruptive to a person's life that they warrant the classification of behavioral addiction. When a person is suffering from a behavioral addiction, they will continue to engage in a certain behavior, even if it is causing problems in their career, health, personal relationships and other areas of their life.
This type of addiction is psychological, rather than physical, so you won't see the physical withdrawal symptoms that you would with substance addictions. You can, however, notice psychological signs of withdrawal, including irritability and stress when unable to perform a particular action or behavior.
In many cases, behavioral addictions coincide with other mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety. In some cases, the addiction triggers the mental health issues, while in other cases, the effect is reversed. In still other cases, the two are not directly related, but instead, combine to create a person who is incapable of escaping their dysfunction without help.
Treatment for Behavioral Addictions
Because there is minimal risk for health complications during the "withdrawal" period, treatment for behavioral addictions focuses on the mental aspects of recovery. As with chemical addiction treatment, much of the treatment for behavioral addictions concentrates on identifying trigger points for the behavior and replacing unhealthy actions with healthier alternatives.
Treatment for behavioral addiction can be done in both inpatient and outpatient settings, and, like treatment for chemical addiction, can incorporate both individual and group therapy. Support groups are common in this type of treatment as well, including 12-step programs and other similar methods.
Because behavioral addictions often go hand in hand with mental health disorders, many treatment programs incorporate psychology or psychiatry as well in an effort to combat other conditions that may be exacerbating the problem. If you, like many others, suffer from multiple conditions, you would do well to look for a treatment facility that can accommodate your needs.
Many patients prefer to start with an inpatient treatment program before moving on to an outpatient program. A key benefit of going this route is that inpatient treatment takes you out of your normal environment, helping you to avoid many of the triggers that contribute to your addiction. This way, you'll be able to focus on your recovery in a controlled environment that prevents you from going back to your addictive behaviors.
By the time you make the transition to outpatient treatment, you'll be armed with a variety of tools and techniques to help you stay the course on your own. Of course, with outpatient treatment, you'll still have to attend therapy sessions or support groups, but the focus will have shifted from eliminating the addictive behavior to maintaining your adherence to your new lifestyle.
Choosing the Right Treatment Facility
Each addict's needs are different, so the best treatment facility for one person may not be suitable for another. In choosing a treatment facility, whether inpatient or outpatient, it is important to find the one in which you feel most comfortable. Each treatment facility has its own philosophy as to how to treat various addictions, so you need to find the one that makes the most sense for you.
For example, if you are the type of person who thrives under adversity, you would likely do well with a boot camp-style treatment program. If, on the other hand, you tend to be more sensitive, a compassionate treatment program would likely be better for you. However, you may also find that a program that forces you to get out of your comfort zone may be more effective. Think about your personality and preferences to decide which style of treatment is right for you.
You'll also want to take the location of the facility into consideration. You may wish to get as far away from your usual environment as possible or you may prefer to stay close to home. Also, some treatment programs allow family to visit during the course of treatment so you'll need to take that into consideration as well. If you don't wish to see your family during treatment in order to allow you to focus on your recovery with minimal distractions, be sure to communicate your wishes to them in advance. However, seeing your family may help motivate you to work even harder to conquer your addiction.
Finally, you'll need to evaluate the specific addictions that a facility specializes in treating. Some rehabilitation centers take a general approach that can be applied to many different addictions, while others offer a more narrow focus, treating only addictions to specific substances or behaviors, for example. In a general setting, you'll learn techniques and strategies that can be applied to any addiction, while in a more specialized facility, you'll be surrounded by others in similar situations to your own.
If you suffer from mental health conditions alongside your addiction, be sure to choose a facility that offers mental health care services as well. With multiple conditions, you'll need more specialized treatment. Make sure that the facility you choose can accommodate these needs.
Before you check yourself into a treatment facility, take the time to meet with the care providers to get a better sense of how they approach treatment. During this time, you'll also have the opportunity to tour the facility and get a better sense of what your life will be like for the duration of your treatment period. Pay attention to how you feel while at the facility; you'll be spending a fair bit of time there and you won't be able to fall back on your addiction if you are feeling less than comfortable. Take your time in evaluating your options to find the best fit.
Get the Treatment You Need
Here at Pemarro Recovery Center, we have helped countless individuals on their quests to recover from their addictions, and we can help you too. Our caregivers are highly trained in helping patients get through the difficult early stages of substance withdrawal. This prepares them to transition to an inpatient or outpatient treatment program later on.
In addition to providing the medical care needed during withdrawal, we also provide individual and group counseling to get our patients started on the path to recovery. Our caregivers are compassionate and work with each patient on an individualized basis, creating a personalized plan for their ongoing treatment and recovery.
We welcome you to get in touch with us to learn more about our facility and the care that we provide. Our caregivers will be happy to answer your questions and take you on a tour of our recovery center. Reach out to us today to schedule an appointment for a tour.
Experts have learned a lot about the impact alcohol, tobacco, and drug use during pregnancy has on the unborn fetus. While most of us might think that tobacco and alcohol use poses the biggest threat today, drug use during pregnancy is a serious problem that is increasing. More than half of all pregnant women either take prescription or nonprescription drugs or use social or illicit drugs at some point of their pregnancy.
Many women will require some kind of medication during their pregnancy. It is up to the woman and her doctor to weigh the benefits against the potential risks to determine what she should take. Not all drugs enter the body through the same channels. While some are capable of crossing the placenta and reaching the fetus, others do not. Those that do can affect the baby directly, leading to birth defects, health conditions, and even fetal or maternal death.
Doctors must determine the advantages and disadvantages of all kinds of drugs. Even seemingly harmless medications like over-the-counter medicine can present some risk to the well-being of the woman and the fetus depending on what is in them. The obstetrician caring for the mother-to-be has in-depth knowledge about these medications and when to use them in any situation.
Why Drug Use During Pregnancy Is So Dangerous
It isn’t just the mother who is at risk from drugs. Many of the most popular illicit drugs cross the placenta and impact the health of the growing fetus. During pregnancy, the placenta contains little hairlike projections called ‘villi’ which extend into the wall of the uterus. The villi contain some of the fetus’s blood vessels. The placental membrane provides a thin barrier between the mother’s blood and the fetus’s blood contained in the villi. When a drug is in her bloodstream, it crosses the membrane and enters these blood vessels before passing through the umbilical cord and into the fetus.
The effects of the drug on the fetus depend on what the drug is, how strong it is, the fetus’s stage of development, and how much of the drug is passed from the mother to the fetus. The latter depends on the mother’s genetic makeup and how her body processes the drug.
When it comes to the use of illicit drugs due to addiction or misuse for recreational purposes, the risks become much greater. Some examples of drugs that pose a risk in pregnancy today include:
While tobacco and alcohol are not considered “illegal or illicit” drugs, some experts consider them to be more dangerous than many of those that are. They are also addictive substances that cause well-known problems when used to any degree during pregnancy. We already know that tobacco increases your risk of different types of cancer and other health conditions; but it is even more dangerous when used during pregnancy.
Another concern with the use of tobacco is that someone who smokes cigarettes is more likely to become addicted to drugs if they try them. Nicotine causes changes in the brain that make it easier to become addicted to other substances.
Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of premature birth, birth defects, and is associated with a higher incidence of infant death. It increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, which occurs after birth. These problems occur because the carbon monoxide and nicotine in the smoke reduce the amount of oxygen that gets to the baby by narrowing the blood vessels.
Like tobacco, alcohol reaches the fetus through the umbilical cord. Although the risks of drinking small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy aren’t known; experts recommend eliminating its use during pregnancy altogether. Drinking alcohol results in a higher incidence of miscarriage and stillbirths.
Drinking any amount of alcohol during pregnancy can lead to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. FASD includes a number of behavioral, physical, and intellectual disabilities that last throughout the child’s life. The condition can include physical symptoms, such as small head size and abnormal facial features as well health issues such as hearing and vision problems or conditions involving the heart, kidneys, or bones.
The legal use of marijuana in some states has softened the drug’s reputation in recent years. Even so, there is still plenty to worry about when it comes to using the drug during pregnancy. Like other addictive drugs, marijuana crosses the placenta to the fetus. The smoke from smoking it contains toxins that interfere with the delivery of oxygen to the baby.
What is known is that marijuana increases carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide levels in the blood, reducing the volume of oxygen in the blood. What isn’t as well known is exactly how much of a risk the drug poses. The reason that research has been less conclusive is that many women who smoke pot also use alcohol and tobacco. The decrease in oxygen is likely to cause the same problems including an increased risk of miscarriage, premature births, developmental delays, low birth weight, and learning problems later on.
When a pregnant woman uses cocaine, the drug crosses the placenta to enter the fetus’s circulation. Fetuses eliminate the drug slower than adults do, meaning that it is present in the fetus’s body for a longer period of time. Cocaine causes a number of problems, depending on the stage of pregnancy during which the woman uses the drug. Early on, it may result in miscarriage. Later, it can cause placental abruption, resulting in severe bleeding, early birth, and death of the fetus.
Experts believe there is a greater risk of birth defects when women use cocaine frequently throughout their pregnancy. Frequent use is also linked to smaller head size and general growth restriction. When cocaine use occurs during the later stages of pregnancy, babies may be born with a dependency to the drug. They can suffer from withdrawal symptoms including muscle spasms, tremors, and feeding difficulties. Drug use during pregnancy also leads to defects of the organs and learning difficulties later on.
Heroin is highly addictive and it crosses the placenta to the fetus when used during pregnancy. As a result, the baby can be born addicted to the drug. In addition to causing potential premature birth and low birth weight like other drugs already discussed here, heroin can also cause breathing difficulties, bleeding in the brain, low blood sugar, and infant death.
Babies born addicted to the drug often suffer withdrawal symptoms including convulsions, diarrhea, irritability, joint stiffness, and problems with sleeping. Pregnant women who inject heroin are also at a greater risk of contracting HIV and potentially passing it to the fetus.
Treatment for heroin addiction in pregnant women is especially challenging. Often, healthcare providers use methadone treatment to reduce the impact of the detox process. In spite of the challenges in treating heroin addiction during pregnancy, it is always a better option than waiting until after the delivery of the baby.
Some common street names of methamphetamine include meth, crank, speed, and glass. By any name, methamphetamine causes many of the same problems that occur with cocaine. It reduces the amount of oxygen delivered to the baby, leads to low birth weight, premature labor, miscarriage, and placental abruption.
Babies are sometimes addicted to meth at birth and suffer the symptoms of withdrawal. Experts believe that taking meth during pregnancy leads to learning disabilities later on.
Why Pregnancy Often Accompanies Addiction
Under normal circumstances, pregnant women make choices that they feel will be best for their growing babies. There are two situations that usually lead to drug use during pregnancy:
Research has not proven the effects of most drugs when used once during the first trimester of pregnancy. Certainly, the greatest risk comes from repeated use throughout the pregnancy. If you used a drug once before learning you were pregnant, the risks of side effects are much lower.
The second situation is the one that causes the greatest risk to the fetus. As you can tell from the descriptions of potential effects from the drugs listed here, the fetus can pay for the drug use for the rest of their life or with their life!
Of course, the best course of action is to get treatment for addiction before getting pregnant. However, many women engage in risky behavior because of their addiction, resulting in unplanned pregnancy.
The only alternative is to go through detox to flush the drug from your system as soon as you realize you are pregnant. It is imperative that you find an experienced treatment center to oversee the detox process for the comfort and safety of you and your baby.
What To Do if You're Pregnant and Have an Addiction
Pregnancy is an exciting time in any woman’s life. For the addict, it is often more emotional and worrisome than normal. You have more choices to make, each of which could have a serious impact on you and your baby. You need to be your healthiest in order to ensure the health of your baby now and long after birth.
Although overcoming tobacco addiction is difficult, your physician can help you determine the tools that are safe and effective to help you stop. Every cigarette you smoke while pregnant puts your baby at a greater risk of the effects of nicotine and carbon monoxide.
Alcohol, opioid, and narcotic dependence require professional treatment starting with detox. Don’t let the potential risks of the detox process keep you from seeking help to quit your addiction. Medical supervision reduces the risk to you and your baby. At the same time, failing to get help and continuing with drug use is much more likely to lead to complications or side effects.
Your healthcare provider will discuss your options with you and recommend the safest course of treatment. Make sure you tell your doctor that you are pregnant and be honest about the extent of your drug use. The best treatment plan is one that an experienced medical provider designs specifically for you and your needs.
Finding a Treatment Center
Detox is the first step in treating substance abuse and addiction. The idea of going through detox and the symptoms of withdrawal is scary under any circumstances. The fear is only stronger when you face the prospect of detox during pregnancy. The treatment center you choose should offer flexibility in the types of support and treatment they provide.
Who do you want to help you with the process? Do you want to rely on yourself for the outcome of your treatment? Is there a friend or family member that you rely on for support? The emotional support you receive is just as important as the education and experience of each staff member.
Making the decision to get treatment is probably one of the hardest ones you will make during your lifetime. Every detail matters from the setting to the attitudes of the staff members. You want a facility that treats your addiction as an illness and a team that treats you with respect and compassion.
Going through detox is the right decision for you and your baby. Professional, medically supervised detox is the only choice to ensure the well-being of you and your baby. Any addiction has potential risks. Don’t let your addiction lead to problems for your baby or for you.
Pemarro Recovery Center is a medically managed detoxification center located in a natural, peaceful setting. We provide the initial stage of physical healing from addiction in preparation for your continued treatment. Detoxification is the first step in the treatment of addiction disorders. We provide evidence-based treatment methods and expert medical supervision for safe detox and stabilization.
If you are pregnant and have an addiction to drugs or alcohol, contact Pemarro today. Every day that you spend with your addiction puts you and your baby at a greater risk. We understand what you’re going through. You can count on our team to treat you with compassion, kindness, and respect throughout your time with us. Drug use during pregnancy is never the right choice.
We often hear of methadone clinics opening to help treat drug addiction, but many people wonder: “What is methadone and why is it used?” The simple answer is that methadone is a drug that helps people get over their addiction from other drugs. The method by which it works requires a more complex answer.
What is Methadone?
Methadone belongs to the group of drugs known as “opioids.” This group also includes heroin, oxycodone, codeine, and morphine. The drug is used in powder, liquid, and tablet form. All opioids interact with receptors on the nerve cells in a person’s body and brain.
Doctors prescribe opioids to relieve acute pain. In addition to being effective painkillers, the drugs also produce a sense of euphoria. This quality is what often leads to misuse and addiction. The fact that methadone, an opioid drug, is used to treat addiction to other opioid drugs such as heroin or prescription painkillers makes it an even more confusing drug to many people. Many have very real concerns that the process is simply substituting one addiction for another.
While methadone produces a similar effect to other opioids like heroin, it causes a milder effect. This prevents the addict from going through withdrawal during the addiction treatment. Sometimes methadone treatment is referred to as “replacement therapy.” The methadone replaces stronger drugs with a milder one that helps control their symptoms.
Some common side-effects of short-term use include:
Methadone is commonly used with a treatment program to help patients addicted to heroin and other opioids through the detox phase. When the addiction is to methadone, methadone may be tapered off gradually, or a different opioid may be used.
Withdrawal from opioid drugs often causes excessive tear formation, runny nose, aching muscles, muscle and abdominal cramps, nausea, and malaise. These symptoms can progress to much more dangerous and life-threatening ones. Drug cravings are often prominent even after the physical symptoms of withdrawal subside.
Once they become stable, they may be permitted to take the drug at home between program visits. Depending on the cause of the addiction, a person may require months to years of treatment. Once treatment is complete, the doctor reduces the drug gradually to prevent symptoms of withdrawal.
People are often concerned when a “drug clinic” moves into their neighborhood. Failing to understand “what is methadone?” and why the clinic is providing it to patients makes them feel they are at risk.
Many medical professionals are more concerned about meeting the needs of the patient. Methadone is not a cure for addiction. It is merely a tool that helps patients manage their symptoms better during recovery. It provides the comfort and stability needed during long-term treatment.
A key factor in the successful use of methadone treatment is medical supervision. The potential for addiction to the drug and for dangerous side-effects makes it imperative that the patient uses the drug according to the prescriber’s instructions.
Detox: The First Step
Detoxification is always the first step in addiction treatment and recovery. This is the process of getting the addictive substance out of their body and reaching physical stability. During the initial step of addiction treatment, the person no longer takes the substance of use. The toxins are flushed from the body, resulting in the accumulation of symptoms known as “withdrawal syndrome.”
Opioid addiction is an epidemic in the United States today. The highly addictive nature of these drugs, combined with the euphoric sensations they produce, has led to extensive drug misuse. Some addictions result from drug misuse while others begin with prescription drugs for pain treatment.
In either case, the addiction occurs with repeated use that causes changes in the behavior of neurons in the brain. Once addicted, their brain can only function normally when the drug is present. Once the drug is taken away, the brain must adjust to a sudden change in levels of biochemicals it produces. This is what causes the symptoms associated with withdrawal syndrome.
Every addiction treatment plan begins with detox. It isn’t until the person has the drug flushed from their bodies that they can begin to work through the physical and mental issues that caused the addiction in the first place.
The detox phase is the one that presents the greatest physical danger to the patient. This is when medical supervision is the most important. An experienced and devoted medical team will work to keep the patient safe and as comfortable as possible throughout the detox process. Methadone can help make withdrawal a more comfortable process for the individual.
Residential vs Outpatient Treatment
The setting makes a world of difference to the person trying to overcome addiction. The recovery begins with detoxification during which time their safety is at risk. Depending on the substance, the person may have any of a broad range of symptoms including everything from appetite changes to strong drug cravings to seizure or coma.
Recovering from addiction is not just a matter of willpower. It’s the process of taking something away from your body that it has come to depend on. Before you can live your life without drug cravings, all of the substance must be eliminated from your body. It’s always best to have supervision during detox in case any complications arise.
In addition, during outpatient treatment, the person remains in the same setting and with the same people who were part of their addictive lifestyle. Sending the person home with methadone only adds to the potential complications. It puts the responsibility of taking the right dosage at the right time into the hands of the person who may not realize the dangers involved. Some tips recommended for home use of methadone include:
It is easy to see that the responsibility of taking methadone on your own is a huge undertaking. Although outpatient treatment is the only option available to some patients, residential treatment offers a number of advantages.
In residential treatment, trained caregivers provide the appropriate dosage of methadone and any other drugs used in your treatment program. Experienced medical personnel will oversee your treatment and be available in case of complications.
Every drug causes different effects and each person responds differently to methadone treatment. Symptoms are often mild. If you develop rare symptoms that are life-threatening, you want to know someone is there to get your back.
More people have a successful recovery when they receive treatment in a residential facility. It places them in a peaceful setting among others in the same situation as them. If self-help is the only option for you, then you need a treatment facility that works with you and provides support.
What Is Methadone Used For? Misuse vs Addiction
Methadone is one of the opioids being misused in this country, sometimes by children as young as twelve years of age. Some users misuse the drug for purposes other than those prescribed. People often buy synthetic methadone for use as a recreational drug in order to achieve the euphoric feeling it produces.
Misuse simply means using the drug differently than prescribed. Methadone use or misuse might include taking prescription methadone in a larger dosage or more frequently than prescribed. The person might want to increase the pleasant feeling they get from the drug. The signs of methadone abuse are the same as those experienced with its use during detox including nausea and vomiting, constipation, and increased pain.
Addiction occurs with repeated use of the drug that leads to changes in the brain. Potentially, unsupervised use of methadone during detox can result in misuse of the drug. Signs of methadone addiction include using the drug in higher quantities and/or more frequently. People often seek out multiple doctors to get more prescriptions for the drug.
Sometimes methadone addicts “stockpile” their doses and take them together in a single dose later on. Those who become addicted through prescription use will look for alternate sources, including other people who use methadone or other opioids. Methadone addiction often causes the person to give top priority to their drug use while neglecting every other aspect of their lives.
What Are Methadone Treatment’s Known Risks?
Methadone treatment is often an effective method of making patients more comfortable during the detoxification process. Even so, it is not right for everyone. Those with the following conditions may not be good candidates for methadone treatment. Tell your doctor if you have:
You should also tell your doctor if you take sedatives or any drug that makes you sleepy or slows breathing. Methadone can also react with drugs used to change serotonin levels such as antidepressants or other narcotics. In order to use the methadone safely and effectively, tell your doctor everything that could make the use of methadone dangerous for you.
Choosing an Addiction Treatment Center
As explained here, methadone treatment is primarily used for additional safety and comfort during the detox process. The first step in opioid addiction recovery is always detoxification of the addictive substance from the body.
The most important factor in choosing a detox center is experience. The doctor and the entire staff need to have training and hands-on experience treating people with the same issues as you. Often, a treatment center’s website provides a great deal of information. You can learn about the staff, the services offered, and the general attitude of the facility.
Many people choose outpatient treatment because they don’t feel they can afford a residential program. Talk with the facility of choice about the types of insurance they accept. Many insurance policies cover the cost of addiction treatment today.
If you make the choice to enter into residential treatment, make the setting of the facility a part of your decision. A peaceful setting away from the noise and responsibilities of everyday life can make the detox process an easier one for your needs.
If you go to a facility that deals primarily in detoxification, ask what they offer as support throughout the rest of the recovery process. Once you make the decision to overcome your addiction, you need a clear plan to help you get to the end of your personal road to recovery.
Contact Pemarro Recovery Center for experienced detox services in a peaceful country setting. Our facility is located in the tranquil foothills of Ramona, California. Our clients benefit from the expert supervision of one of the foremost addiction treatment specialists in the country. Our competent, qualified team offers compassionate care to make your detox experience as comfortable, safe, and pleasurable as possible.