Alcohol Abuse in College: Greek Life and Alcohol Statistics

Alcohol abuse in college has quickly become a major issue, especially among fraternities and sororities. Studies shows that members of Greek life are more likely to binge drink than college students who are not in fraternities and sororities. A Harvard University study found that 4 out of 5 sorority and fraternity members are binge drinkers. This is compared to another finding that two out of five college students are binge drinkers, as well. There are many harmful consequences to binge drinking such as higher rates of accidents, emergency room visits, and deaths.

Greek Life Drinking Statistics

Alcohol abuse is high among members of Greek life. Members of fraternities and sororities are among the most at risk for binge drinking compared with peers who aren’t in Greek life. Men are also more likely than women to practice binge drinking in college. A 10-year study about Greek life alcohol usage found that 97% of a national fraternity consisting of 3,400 members drink regularly. 64% consisted of members who identified as binge drinkers. That same study found that 60% of fraternity members started drinking at age 16. Meanwhile, 50% of frat members have symptoms of alcohol addiction.

How Does Alcohol Abuse in College Develop?

In Greek life, alcohol abuse is prevalent. Though Greek life is used for academic advancement, it is also known as being a place for partying. Since Greek life contributes to party culture, it also means that excessive drinking is treated as the norm. Some risk factors for alcohol abuse in college include:

  • History of heavy drinking
  • Lack of supervision
  • Hazing
  • Peer pressure
  • Being financially well off

History of Heavy Drinking

Students can be at risk for alcohol abuse in college if they drank heavily in high school. The Recovery Village says that students who drank in high school are more likely to join a Greek organization and keep drinking.

Lack of Supervision

A main reason why students practice binge drinking in college is due to lack of supervision. When students live in dorms, they’re usually assigned a resident assistant who enforces rules and monitors the behaviors of students. Greek housing doesn’t have resident assistants or authority to enforce rules to help avoid or keep drinking levels down. Oftentimes, the students who are in charge of supervising will even encourage drinking excessively. According to the Addiction Center, campus officials may even turn the other cheek when it comes to these activities due to the positive economic benefit that some Greek sororities or fraternities have on the school.

Hazing

Binge drinking in college is often part of a common initiation ritual in Greek life called “hazing.” Hazing is a difficult and usually humiliating initiation into a new group or organization.  It involves a range of practices including physical, psychological, and sexual assault, as well as criminal activity and outright abuse. Many times, it also involves binge drinking. This can have the potential to become dangerous as it can lead to alcohol poisoning and even death. The Addiction Center says that many alcohol-related deaths within fraternities happen to college freshmen. In fact, 15 of the 24 fraternity-related freshmen deaths since 2005 happened during or after initiation and hazing rituals.

Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is also a cause of alcohol abuse in college, especially when drinks are readily available. Students are more likely to drink or do drugs if they are living on campus, and this is even more likely if a student is living in Greek housing. Members of a sorority or fraternity often live in the same housing, and friends and peers in Greek houses serve as a family away from home. This can lead to peer pressure and wanting to fit in with their friends.

Oftentimes, sororities and fraternities provide environments where drinking heavily is normalized. While peer pressure is high among college students, it tends to be even higher in Greek organizations. Members may feel the extra pressure to keep up with their brothers and sisters. New members may feel even more pressure.

Being Financially Well Off

Though the idea is that many members of Greek fraternities and sororities come from a higher economic background, it is common that most of the members are better off financially. Being able to afford the cost of alcohol, as well as having little to no supervision, can lead to members buying alcohol.

What Are The Long-Term Effects of Binge Drinking in College?

Binge drinking in college can often lead to harmful long-term effects. The Journal of Adolescent Health shows that fraternity members who lived in a fraternity house for at least one semester had symptoms of alcohol use disorder by the age of 35. Studies have also found that 45% of males who were fraternity members at the age of 35 reported that they developed two or more symptoms of alcoholism. This is compared to 30.4% of college students who were not involved in Greek life and 33.1% of their non-college peers.

Women who were involved with Greek life and were residential members were more likely to develop two or more symptoms of alcoholism at age 35 at 26.4% when compared to female college students not involved in sororities where the percentage of developing alcohol use disorder was 18%. These studies have shown that the link between Greek life and alcohol abuse is alarming.

What Are Treatment Options for Alcohol Abuse in Young Adults?

There are options to prevent these long-term effects, and that is by helping young adults combat this early. The Discovery Institute is committed to helping young adults with alcohol use disorder (AUD). We believe that our rehab is most successful when the client, family system and social support network is integrated. This system will be successful when it comes to the goal of having individuals to overcome alcohol use disorder. There is more than one approach to help young adults successfully overcome alcohol abuse in college.

Detox and Therapy

We have included different methods such as group and individual therapy, educational seminars, and active involvement of the Twelve Steps. Our treatment plan starts with a medical, psychological, and drug and alcohol assessment, which helps us set up a baseline. Treatment then begins immediately afterward.

With family counseling, the Discovery Institute is aware that this disorder does not just affect the individual but that it also impacts those close to the individual that is suffering. Our team includes experienced counselors and therapists to help families resolve relationships that might have become strained due to this disorder. The client and their loved ones will be given the opportunity to set boundaries, express their feelings and emotions, as well as process their experiences as a family unit.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

We also recognize that many patients who suffer from alcohol abuse also suffer from co-occurring mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety. We have a team of nurses, therapists, and doctors to help provide medication and therapy to treat mental health issues and alcohol use disorder. Our staff is also experienced in providing counseling for trauma. This can change the way the brain functions as well as lead individuals to develop unhealthy coping mechanisms. Our therapists will help clients process these traumatic experiences and guide them to form new and healthy coping mechanisms that will help aid in recovery long term.

Are There Other Programs Available?

The Discovery Institute also includes programs that help young adults adjust to a sober life. With these programs, we help to provide hope for recovery. Some of the specialized programs include Vocational Training and Resume Building, Life Skill Development, and help with legal problems. 

Vocational and Resume Building help young adults identify career goals and develop the skills that they would need to succeed in the real world outside of treatment. Life skill development teaches young adults basic life skills, such as cleaning, self-care, and cooking that will lead to them living a well-rounded, and adjusted life when they are done with treatment.

We also offer help with legal problems as many of our patients make choices that may lead to legal repercussions. Our staff is trained in verifying patients’ enrollment and preparing progress reports and documentation for patients under observation by the legal system. Our counselors are also trained in helping patients through processing their emotions when it comes to legal consequences.

Find Solace at Discovery Institute

Alcohol abuse can affect a young adult’s life, and put their future on pause. It is best to treat it early so that young adults can have the future that they deserve. At Discovery Institute, we guarantee that we can help young adults recover and lead fulfilling lives. With our treatment plan, we not only provide tools for long-term recovery. We also teach skills to help them achieve a bright future. Contact us today to learn more.

What Other Symptoms Accompany Alcohol Withdrawal Dreams?

Alcohol Withdrawal Dreams

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), one out of 12 American adults suffered from a substance use disorder. That totals to almost 19 million American adults. While substance use disorders can manifest in many ways, alcohol use disorder is particularly prominent. In fact, the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) found that in 2019 over 14 million adults suffered from an alcohol use disorder. 

Individuals with an alcohol use disorder may experience alcohol withdrawal dreams when they try to stop drinking. Those suffering from alcohol use disorder make up an overwhelming majority of people with an addiction to substances. Part of the reason why many Americans suffer from alcohol use disorder is because of the symptoms they experience when they try to stop drinking or reduce the amount that they drink. 

Delirium tremens is particularly one of the factors that may keep people drinking even when they want to stop. Getting help from an addiction detox and treatment center can help, though. 

Why Do Alcohol Withdrawal Dreams Happen? 

Individuals with an alcohol use disorder may find that they are both physically and mentally unable to stop drinking. This is because psychoactive substances like alcohol have the power to change overall brain chemistry. In terms of alcohol, it alters the brain as a central nervous system depressant (CNS). In other words, it slows down or impedes some of the normal processes within the body and brain. 

For instance, alcohol increases the amount of GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) available for the brain to use. GABA is a neurotransmitter that slows down messages between other neurotransmitters. It’s produced especially after a stress response. Thus, it can make people feel more relaxed and content. Yet, GABA suppresses other functions within the body, like regulating breathing and consciousness. It should come as no surprise, then, that an alcohol use disorder affects sleep overall. 

Alcohol Withdrawal Dreams 

Alcohol Withdrawal Dreams

People who have an alcoholic drink late at night might find that they’re able to fall asleep easier. The nightcap is a concept for a reason. As said before, alcohol works as a CNS depressant, so sleep is much easier to achieve–initially. As a psychoactive drug, alcohol causes our bodies to put in more effort to maintain its regular functionality. However, this may be unnoticeable until those with an alcohol use disorder try to cut down or quit. 

Everyone’s body maintains a regular state, which alcohol can disrupt. This is especially true for individuals suffering from an alcohol use disorder. After a time, the body and brain get used to the way alcohol affects them both. So, when individuals cut down or completely abstain from drinking after long periods of regular drinking, it can affect the sleep cycle. 

The Sleep Cycle and Alcohol Withdrawal Dreams 

According to the Sleep Foundation, there are four stages of sleep. Each cycle lasts different lengths of time and serves a different purpose. There are two types of sleep stages: non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM). They are as follows: 

  • 1st Stage – The first stage of the sleep cycle, or N1 (NREM type sleep), lasts only one to five minutes. This time may vary depending on the individual. 
  • 2nd Stage – N2 (NREM type sleep) is one of the longest sleep cycles. It can last anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes, depending upon the person. 
  • 3rd Stage – The third stage of sleep is a slow-wave sleep cycle. Delta wave sleep or deep sleep makes up this cycle. This important stage of sleep is NREM type sleep and is known as N3. It lasts about 20 to 40 minutes. 
  • 4th Stage – The fourth stage of sleep is REM sleep. It lasts approximately 10 minutes to one hour. REM sleep is crucial for brain function and makes up about 25% of the sleep cycle. Dreams commonly occur in REM, rather than most of the other stages. 

Alcohol can cause an irregular REM cycle, called REM rebound. This applies to those who drink regularly and to those who don’t. That said, it more deeply affects those who have an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol withdrawal dreams are one symptom of the body and brain reacting to the lack of alcohol. Those with an alcohol use disorder experiencing REM rebound will have vivid nightmares that are hard to separate from real life. 

How Long Do Vivid Dreams Last After Quitting Alcohol?

Treatment for Alcohol Withdrawal Dreams

Alcohol and alcohol cessation can make the brain go haywire. But luckily, this is only temporary. Typically sleep cycle imbalance will be resolved after 1-2 weeks of not drinking any more alcoholic beverages. However, those with an alcohol use disorder may experience up to 2-3 weeks of REM rebound before their sleep cycle gets back on track.

Most people occasionally have dreams that leave them feeling uneasy and stressed. Yet, when these nightmares are triggered by alcohol withdrawal symptoms, they can be very difficult to get through. It’s important not to give in and drink again because like the discomfort of a headache or anxiety from insomnia, this experience will soon pass with the right help.

What Other Symptoms Accompany Alcohol Withdrawal Dreams? 

Alcohol use disorder can cause a complicated series of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol withdrawal dreams being one of them. Along with alcohol withdrawal nightmares, individuals may experience other alcohol withdrawal symptoms that can affect sleep. For example, these can include sleep disruption, insomnia, and hyposomnia. 

Other alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include: 

Depression  Anxiety  Issues with concentration  Fatigue  Jumpiness  Mood swings  Increased irritability  Bodily aches and pains  Vomiting and nausea  Irregular heartbeat  Excessive sweating  Tremors  Change in eating habits 

Unlike other drugs, alcohol can cause both physical and psychological dependence. People struggling with an alcohol use disorder may experience some or all of these symptoms as their body acclimates to the lack of alcohol in their system. Thus this makes it even more difficult to stop drinking and easier to relapse after stopping. 

Delirium Tremens 

One of the reasons why alcohol detox is crucial is because sometimes individuals with an alcohol use disorder may experience extreme alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These extreme alcohol withdrawal symptoms are delirium tremens (DTs). A reputable alcohol detox and treatment center can help members overcome the worst of symptoms in a safe environment. 

Without medical supervision, those suffering from DTs may experience: 

  • Seizures 
  • Extremely vivid nightmares 
  • Hallucinations
  • Light sensitivity 

As DTs are dangerous, these symptoms could lead to an emergency room visit. Fortunately, facilities such as Discovery can help members avoid a trip to the ER room. Of course, individuals may still experience DTs during medical detox, but medical supervisors can make sure withdrawal is free of danger. 

Detox for Alcohol Withdrawal Dreams 

alcohol withdrawal dreams

Detox is a vital process before individuals can enter alcohol addiction treatment. The medical staff at detox and rehab centers for alcohol use disorder will help clients get rid of any substances left in their system. This helps members avoid withdrawal symptoms, manage health issues arising from substance abuse, and monitor health status as they detox. Withdrawal symptoms are not something anyone should experience unnecessarily due to the life-threatening nature that some people might face without medical supervision.  

Medical staff at an addiction treatment facility can help clients avoid withdrawal symptoms through medicine. During alcohol withdrawal, benzodiazepines may be prescribed to alleviate insomnia and anxiety while a member’s body adjusts from drinking heavily for weeks or months on end. This is often more effective than using over-the-counter sleep aids that aren’t designed specifically for the effects of alcohol withdrawal symptoms in mind; however, it should be noted that benzo use comes with its own associated risks like dependency so medical professionals will usually recommend avoiding them if possible.

Treatment for Alcohol Withdrawal Dreams 

Inpatient Care for Alcohol Use Disorder 

Inpatient treatment allows members to live at an addiction treatment facility as they overcome their addiction. This is beneficial, especially for those who don’t live in an environment that allows them to heal properly. There are two types of inpatient treatment: residential and standard inpatient. Standard inpatient care is almost like staying at a hospital, making it best for those with a severe alcohol use disorder. On the other hand, residential inpatient care still has members stay at the facility but allows for more holistic activities. Also, members of this kind of program will have more leisure time. 

Outpatient Care for Alcohol Use Disorder 

While inpatient forms of care arguably can offer the surest route to sobriety, that isn’t always an option for everyone. Hence, outpatient care might be the best option to overcome an alcohol use disorder. Outpatient programs allow individuals to receive treatment without the requirement of living at an addiction treatment facility for the duration of the program. There are several outpatient programs that may serve one individual more than another (partial hospitalization programs, intensive outpatient programs, and general outpatient programs). 

Let Discovery Institute Help You Overcome Addiction Today 

Alcohol withdrawal dreams can be a nightmare to overcome. Yet, the right facility can help you overcome symptoms such as these and addiction overall. Call Discovery Institute for more information on the safest way to detox and overcome alcohol withdrawal safely.

Pain Medication Addiction

10 Signs of Prescription Drug Addiction

Americans are taking more prescription drugs today than in the past. In 2020, 4.55 billion prescriptions were written in the United States. At the same time, prescription drug abuse rates continue to rise. 

In 2017, the National Institute of Health (NIDA) estimated 18 million Americans over 12 misused prescription drugs. So, knowing the prescription drugs’ side effects and the prescription drug addiction symptoms can save you or someone you love. 

If you suspect someone in your life is misusing Oxycontin, Percocet, Xanax, or other medications, look out for signs of prescription drug addiction symptoms. If you spot any signs of prescription drug addiction, get your loved ones’ help today. 

What Are the Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse?

Here are 10 of the most common signs of prescription drug addiction symptoms: 

1. Mood Swings

Effects of Abusing Prescription Drugs

People who are hooked on prescription drugs tend to experience a series of drastic mood swings throughout the course of a day.

When they’re under the influence of their drug of choice, they’ll often appear to be very happy and satisfied with life. But as the drug wears off, they’ll sometimes slip into a state of depression and not be friendly to others.

It’s not out of the ordinary for a person to have mood swings every now and then. But if you notice someone is having them almost every single day, it’s time to investigate it further.

2. Constant Irritability

Those who abuse prescription drugs spend a ton of time trying to get their hands on them to fuel their addiction. And they can get very agitated when prescription drugs aren’t available.

People who are struggling to get the drugs they need will often:

  • Lash out at those around them
  • Blame others for their bad mood
  • Exhibit hostility towards anyone who tries to calm them down

If it feels like someone you know is on edge all the time, try to get to the bottom of why that is. Prescription drug abuse could be to blame.

3. Irregular Sleep Patterns

Using prescription drugs that haven’t been prescribed to you can wreak havoc on a person’s sleep patterns. People will sometimes struggle to fall asleep at night and then sleep all day to make up for it.

Some people will completely skip sleeping on certain days when they use high doses of prescription drugs. The drugs will make it impossible for their bodies and minds to get the rest they need.

This often causes them to turn to other prescription drugs designed to help them fall asleep. It can lead to them getting stuck in a vicious cycle with no way out.

4. Dramatic Weight Gain or Weight Loss

Do you know someone who has gained a lot of weight overnight or dropped 20 pounds in a matter of just a few weeks?

There could be a logical explanation for it. For all you know, stress (and stress eating) could be to blame for their weight gain. A new diet or a juice cleanse could be the culprit behind their weight loss.

But dramatic weight gain or weight loss could also be one of the signs of prescription drug abuse.

5. Money Troubles

A prescription drug habit can take a toll on more than just a person’s physical and mental well-being. It can also cost them a fortune, especially if they need to take higher doses of drugs to achieve the same high.

If someone is struggling with prescription drug addiction, there’s a good chance that they’re going to have money troubles. Even if they’re able to hold down a job, they’re going to spend a good chunk of change every week on drugs.

Be wary if a friend or family member is consistently hitting you up and asking to borrow money. It could show that they’re battling some kind of addiction.

6. Stealing or Lying

Someone who is dealing with prescription drug addiction will do just about anything to get their next fix. That might include stealing prescription drugs from someone else or stealing things they can sell to get drug money.

It also might include lying about why they need to borrow money or denying that they’re using drugs. Keep your eyes (and ears!) out for these signs of prescription drug abuse.

Signs of Prescription Drug Addiction

7. Poor Decision-Making

Does it feel like a friend or family member has made a series of bad decisions in recent months?

They might just be going through a rough patch. But, their bad decisions could also be a direct result of prescription drug use.

When someone is hooked on drugs, they use so much brainpower to find medicines that they don’t always think clearly. They’ll make poor decisions in every area of their life without even realizing that they’re doing it.

8. Memory Issues

There are lots of different prescription drugs that can cause a person’s memory to fade. From anti-anxiety medications like Xanax to narcotics like Vicodin, these prescriptions will make some people more forgetful.

If you know someone who suffers from unexplained memory issues, it might mean that they’re more than just absent-minded. They could be fighting a losing battle with prescription drug abuse.

9. Increased Alcohol Use

Studies have shown that those who abuse alcohol are more likely to abuse prescription drugs. But the reverse also seems to be true as many prescription drug abusers rely on alcohol.

Alcohol abuse is a problem in and of itself. But it can turn into an even worse situation when someone starts mixing prescription drugs and alcohol.

10. Withdrawal Symptoms

When a person is addicted to prescription drugs, they won’t be able to function without them. They’ll experience withdrawal symptoms when they don’t have the drugs in their systems.

These withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Muscle pain
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Severe insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Tremors

Most people will require professional assistance to work their way through these symptoms. Checking them into a drug rehab facility will help them detox safely.

What are the Effects of Abusing Prescription Drugs?

Prescription Pain Medication

Misusing or abusing prescription drugs means taking medication in a way or amount other than prescribed. It is also an unhealthy pattern of substance use that causes significant impairment or distress. 

Furthermore, prescription drugs’ side effects can be both short-term and long-term. How prescription drugs affect a person depends on the type of prescription drug, the amount being misused, the length of addiction, and other factors. 

Short-Term Prescription Drugs’ Side Effects

Even when using medications as prescribed, a person can have short-term side effects. For example, opioids that help moderate-to-severe pain can have short-term side effects such as shallow breathing, drowsiness, and constipation. 

Other short-term signs of prescription drug addiction symptoms and side effects include:

  • Appetite changes
  • Insomnia or sleeplessness
  • Increase in heart rate
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of coordination
  • Cognitive changes
  • Sense of euphoria

Long-Term Side Effects of Prescription Drugs

A person who misuses prescription drugs over an extended period can have a variety of long-term side effects. Chronic drug abuse changes the brain, which can lead to lasting psychological effects, such as:

  • Anxiety 
  • Depression
  • Panic disorders
  • Increased aggression
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations

The long-term physical effects of prescription drug abuse can be devastating. The following chronic health conditions are associated with chronic prescription drug abuse. 

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Respiratory disease
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver disease
  • Overdose

In 2018, the CDC reported over 67,000 overdose deaths. Of these deaths, opioids were responsible for almost 70 percent. 

Why is Prescription Drug Addiction Such a Big Problem?

Most prescription drug addictions involve either opioids, stimulants, depressants, and tranquilizers. Opioids, for example, stimulate the brain’s reward system causing pleasant, care-free feelings. 

But, this feeling wears off and can leave people craving the feeling from opioids. With continued use, the body starts to need it to function correctly. At this point, tolerance and dependence have begun. 

Addiction creates problems in every aspect of a person’s life. From relationships to work and school and mental and physical health,  the side effects of prescription drugs can destroy it all. 

How Common Is Prescription Pain Medication Addiction?

Opioids are prescription pain medications such as oxycodone, morphine, and fentanyl. Opioids are also illicit drugs such as heroin. Besides fighting pain, opioids produce euphoria. As a result, they are commonly abused. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports, in 2018, over 10 million Americans 12 and over misused opioids. Specifically, prescription pain medication was misused by 9.7 million people. Furthermore, almost 800,000 people used heroin. 

What Are the Most Addictive Prescription Drugs?

Even today, many people believe if the doctor prescribes medication, it is safe. However, this is not always the case. For instance, a person who takes prescription pain drugs as prescribed can still become addicted. After two weeks of use, a person typically becomes addicted to opioids. 

Some prescription drugs are more addictive than others. But the following are the most addictive and need the most care when taking. 

Opioids

Common prescription opioids include:

  • Hydrocodone – Norco and Vicodin
  • Oxycodone – OxyContin and Percocet
  • Fentanyl
  • Codeine

Signs of prescription drug addiction to opioids include:

Lethargy Drowsiness Confusion Dizziness Vision changes Headache Seizures Breathing problems Nausea and vomiting Changes in behavior

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are part of the CNS depressant class of medications. Benzos are used in treating anxiety and sleep issues. Common benzos often misused include:

  • Clonazepam
  • Alprazolam
  • Diazepam

Prescription drug addiction symptoms to benzodiazepines include:

  • Weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Drowsiness
  • Poor judgment
  • Mood swings
  • Risk-taking behaviors
  • Slurred speech
  • Coma
  • Overdose

Central Nervous System Depressants

CNS depressants, often called tranquilizers, produce a calming effect. The most common CNS depressants include:

  • Alprazolam
  • Clonazepam
  • Diazepam

Prescription drug addiction symptoms to CNS depressants include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Memory issues
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Vision changes
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of coordination
  • Personality and behavior changes

Stimulants

Stimulants increase the brain’s activity. As a result, it boosts energy and alertness. Common stimulants that are misused include several types of amphetamines and Ritalin. The signs of prescription drug addiction to stimulants include:

  • Euphoria
  • Hostility
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Dilated pupils
  • Vision changes
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Behavioral changes

Which Drugs are Overly Prescribed?

According to a blog published by Harvard, opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone are overly prescribed in the U.S. The blog found emergency room visits by people ages 13 to 22 over 11 years were overprescribed opioids.

Almost one in every six or 15 percent received opioids for ankle sprains, hand fractures, and collarbone fractures. Dentists also have a hand in overprescribing opioids. In fact, 22 percent of prescriptions written by dentists in the U.S. are for opioids. 

While doctors know that opioids and other prescription drugs are addictive, they may not truly understand what addiction entails. And, until they do, people must understand and recognize the following:

  • Prescription drug addiction symptoms
  • Signs of prescription drug addiction
  • Prescription drugs side effects

Watch for Signs of Prescription Drug Addiction

Is a friend or family member exhibiting any of these signs of prescription drug abuse? Work up the courage to ask them if they might have a problem.

Or, if you find yourself demonstrating any of these signs, be honest with yourself about what you’re going through. You can get help with your problem and stop using prescription drugs.

Call us today to learn more about kicking a prescription drug habit once and for all.

risk factors for addiction

10 Risk Factors for Addiction

Addiction does not care what your beliefs are or how you were raised. Because it can affect anyone, answering is addiction genetic or environmental is not cut and dry. There are both biological aspects of addiction and environmental risk factors of addiction. 

In this article, we will answer common questions about addiction such as:

  • What are the risk factors for addiction?
  • Does addiction run in families?
  • Are the risk factors of addiction genetic or environmental?

But, first, let’s explain what risk factors are.

What are Risk Factors?

Risk factors are anything that leads you to develop a behavior, condition, or trait. For example, risk factors for addiction lead you to use drugs or alcohol or develop an addiction later. 

When you understand the risk factors of addiction, you can manage and prevent developing a substance use disorder. However, just because you have one or more of these risk factors of addiction, it’s not definite that you will struggle with addiction. 

People deal with life’s stressors differently. So, a risk factor for you may not be a risk factor for another person. However, knowing the biological aspects of addiction and the environmental influences of addiction can help you avoid addiction altogether. 

Genetic and Environmental Risk Factors of Addiction

While there are many risk factors of addiction, we will look at the most common risk factors. If you are already using drugs or alcohol and any of the following apply to you, Discovery Institute can help you achieve recovery and live a life free of drugs and alcohol.

1. Addiction runs in my family. Will I struggle with addiction?

Risk Factors

Does addiction run in families?  Yes, addiction is hereditary. This means that specific genes have been passed down to you that increase your risk of addiction. 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, genetics are almost half of the risk of addiction. For instance, if your family members struggle with addiction, you are likely to also struggle with addiction. 

However, it does not mean that you will have this overwhelming urge to drink or use drugs. But, it does mean that if you begin using drugs or alcohol, you have an increased risk of addiction. While you may not drink or use drugs by choice, you may become addicted to gambling or cigarettes. 

2. I first drank alcohol when I was 14. Will I struggle with alcohol use disorder as an adult?

Using drugs and drinking alcohol as a teen has been going on for decades. But, is it one of the risk factors of addiction? According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, besides the risk of brain damage, teens who drink alcohol will likely struggle with addiction as adults. 

Furthermore, they report teens age 15 and younger who begin using alcohol are four times more likely to develop substance use disorder than those who first drank at age 20 or older. Teens who have easy access to alcohol can further increase the risk of drinking at a young age.

3. I can’t afford to live in the best neighborhoods. Does that mean my children will struggle with addiction?

As much as every parent wants to give their child the best, it isn’t always financially easy. Some parents have to work two jobs just to put food on the table. As a result, many families live in low-income neighborhoods. 

But, does living in low-income housing increase the risk of addiction? Not exactly. However, the stress caused by financial struggles often leads to using drugs or alcohol. As a result, what money the family did have is spent on drugs. 

In addition, children growing up in low-income housing are often exposed to drugs and alcohol in the neighborhood. Watching drug dealers driving around in nice cars makes using drugs cool. As a result, teens may use drugs also to be cool.

4. I have PTSD from childhood trauma. Am I at risk for addiction?

Childhood trauma is one of the most significant risk factors of addiction. Furthermore, unresolved childhood trauma can lead to mental health disorders. As a result, of these mental health issues, people often self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. 

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), over a third of adolescents with childhood neglect or abuse struggle with addiction before age 18. Additionally, up to 60 percent of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) sufferers develop a substance dependency. 

5. Are males or females more likely to struggle with substance abuse?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, men are more likely to use illicit drugs. While men of all ages have a higher risk of addiction than women, they are just as likely to struggle with substance use disorder. Additionally, women are more likely to have cravings and experience relapse, which are characteristics of addiction.

Environmental Risk Factors of Addiction

6. My parents are never home. What are my risk factors for addiction?

When parents take an active role in their children’s lives, it dramatically reduces their chance of using drugs or alcohol. Children and teens need clear rules and consequences and regular monitoring of their activities. 

When parents are always working or away from home, the only influence kids have is the tv and their friends. As a result, they are 50 percent more likely to use drugs and alcohol than teens whose parents talked to them about drug and alcohol use. 

7. My parents leave their prescriptions out. Am I at risk of drug addiction?

Whether you as parents are present in your kid’s lives or you are away from home a lot, leaving your prescription drugs out can be tempting for your teens. Prescription drug misuse in teens is growing at alarming rates. 

In fact, prescription drugs have become more of a problem than cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamines. Data from SAMHSA shows 1.3 million adolescents 12 to 17 years old misused prescription drugs in 2016. Furthermore, almost 900,000 of them misused pain relievers such as opiates.

8. I take Xanax to cope with my divorce. Is this a risk factor for addiction?

If you are going through highly stressful times such as a divorce, a death in the family, or job loss, it can be easy to turn to alcohol or drugs to ease the pain. You may even get a prescription antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication. 

However, if you don’t treat the reasons for the stress, the medication will only be a temporary fix. Furthermore, these medications can be highly addictive, and people often misuse their drugs as an escape from their problems. 

9. My friends want me to do drugs with them. Will I become addicted?

Peer pressure is as common in teenagers as a bad attitude is. Peer pressure is often defined as causing someone to do something they typically wouldn’t do to fit in. While peer pressure can be positive, it is more often a risk factor for addiction. 

Negative peer pressure may include:

  • Being handed alcohol or cigarettes
  • Pressured into having unwanted sex
  • Being asked to shoplift
  • Being made fun of for not smoking marijuana

10. I have all A’s in school. Will I develop a substance use disorder as an adult?

Addiction

The 2015 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows adolescents with higher grades in school are less likely to use drugs such as marijuana, prescription drugs without a prescription, or use heroin. 

Data from the survey also shows:

  • 24% of U.S. high schoolers mainly making A’s used marijuana at least once. This compared to 66% of students mainly receiving D’s and F’s.
  • 3% of high school students with mostly A’s tried marijuana before age 13. This is compared to 25% of those with mostly D’s and F’s. 
  • 11% of high school students with mostly A’s took prescription drugs such as OxyContin, Adderall, Xanax, and Vicodin at least once without a prescription. This is compared to 34% of students with mostly D’s and F’s.
  • 1% of high school students with mostly A’s used heroin at least once. This is compared to 10% of those with mostly D’s and F’s.

Risk Factors of Addiction Are Reduced with Treatment

Substance use disorder is a complex mixture of risk factors. From the biological aspects of addiction to the environmental factors, you may feel like you are destined to struggle with addiction. 

However, if you relate to any of the risk factors for addiction, comprehensive treatment can help. Even if you haven’t used drugs or alcohol but meet many of the risk factors of addiction, therapy can reduce the risk. Substance use disorder treatment helps you understand your addiction, prevent relapse, and manages co-occurring mental health issues.

Discovery Institute Helps Manage Risk Factors of Addiction

If you are struggling with addiction, you may feel there is no way out. Maybe you can answer yes to does addiction run in families. Or, maybe your parents let you start drinking as a teenager, and you’re worried you have alcohol use disorder.

Discovery Institute offers a comprehensive treatment of addiction. Our programs help you build a positive self-image, heal past trauma, and prevent a recurrence of use. Contact us today and find out how we can help you. 

References:

https://easyread.drugabuse.gov/content/does-addiction-run-families

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/genetics-epigenetics-addiction

https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/substance-use/index.htm

https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa59.htm#:~:text=Adolescents%20also%20are%20vulnerable%20to,or%20dependence%20later%20in%20life.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3743691/

https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/cbhsq-reports/NSDUHDetailedTabs2017/NSDUHDetailedTabs2017.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/health_and_academics/pdf/DASHFactSheetDrugUse.pdf

Addiction Recovery

What are the 5 Stages of Addiction Recovery?

The 5 stages of addiction recovery are related to the 5 stages of change. 

  • Precontemplation
  • Contemplation
  • Preparation
  • Action
  • Maintenance

Almost no one can doubt the challenge of recovering from alcohol and drug addiction. A difficult and often a long hard road, the process requires courage and grit. However, knowing what lies ahead can help prepare you for 5 stages of addiction recovery. 

From experience, you already know that your situation cannot improve on its own. With guidance from skilled counselors, you can find a path through the stages of addiction recovery.

How do I prepare for the change process?

Action State

Research has shown five steps will help you in this process. 

While it may seem unfamiliar, the stages of recovery they suggest start with the Precontemplation Stage and the Contemplation Stage. Then they find that the next three stages of addiction recovery include Preparation, Action and Maintenance. 

These stages of change can also assist with other aspects of your life as well. 

What happens in the Precontemplation Stage?

In Stage One before you enter treatment, you do not agree that you have a problem. You may even defend your use of drugs or alcohol. Everything remains the same as usual when you have not started to think about changing your behavior. 

Everyday wisdom states that you cannot solve a problem until you admit that you have one. In the Precontemplation Stage, you think everyone else makes a mistake if they think you have an issue with alcohol or drugs.

As you defend against suggestions by your friends and family to get help, you may choose to ignore their concerns. When you do not focus your attention on quitting, you do not want to discuss it. Some people may say that your denial prevents you from seeing the situation as they do. If you try to help someone deal with a substance use disorder, you can see the difficulty of making a point. If you have suffered from addiction, your friends may feel that way too.

How does the Contemplation Stage work?

In Stage Two, you start to get a hint of what people mean when they express concerns for your welfare. You may begin to think about the effects on your body and the relationships that your substance use disorder can create.

Even though you do not want to do anything about it just yet, you may start thinking about it. Far from feeling the same way every day, you like the idea on some days and not others.

Stage Two gives you time to compare the pros of quitting to the cons. While you may think your bad habits need changing, you do not think the result justifies the effort. In the in-between that separates the pros from the cons, the thought of quitting does not appeal to you. Even the possibility of reducing use does not seem right on some days. It may take a couple of weeks to move through Stage Two. 

However, every time you learn something about your habit, it opens your mind to considering the stages of addiction recovery.

What benefits do I get from the Preparation Stage?

As you may imagine, Stage Three lets you move out of the undecided stages where you spent some time. When you figure out that the burden you carry does not deserve your time or attention, you accept the facts before you. 

Some ways of saying that you want to change may occur in conversations with your friends. If you say that you know you must do something, it shows a positive attitude about the stages of addiction recovery. 

You may even say it to yourself when no one else can hear you.

The small confessions that you make silently or aloud show signs of doubt about your habit. It proves that you have thoughts about stopping. A new urge to learn more about the stages of addiction recovery may lead you to call an addiction treatment center or look online for information. 

Stage Three can provide a more important step than you know. For sure, do not bypass it as many people do. A major change to your lifestyle requires careful decisions. When you do the research, it helps you accept what it takes to make a healthy change to the way you live.

What do I get out of the Action State?

Preparation Stage

In Stage Four, you begin to believe you can make a change that benefits you. As a huge step that moves you forward in a big way, you can enjoy making a great decision. You deserve the pride that comes with believing in yourself. It can boost your spirit and make you want to do more. During this stage, you may spend several months making efforts to depend on your willpower to pull you through.

However, other people can run through it quickly. As you make true attempts to quit or change things, you run the risk of relapse more than ever.

Different ways to handle behavior during the Action State depend on the influences that affect you. As you prepare to deal with the challenges you face, slips may occur no matter how hard you try.

The pressures that weigh on you make it hard to stay on your path. At this point in recovery, many people choose to get help from someone who knows how to do it.

What can I expect from the Maintenance Stage?

You reach Stage Five in the stages of addiction recovery when you succeed in avoiding temptations that put you back into your old habit. After achieving so much and working very hard, you deserve to enjoy your new status. It may help to think about the progress you made and what it took to get you here. Some people think of safeguards that can help prevent a relapse. When you can anticipate situations that make you want to return to your habit, you can plan a way around them.

Patience can help you know that your decision to quit gave you a better life. Letting go of old habits takes time, and it may take even more to form new ones. You can benefit from sticking with them until they suit you perfectly. Stage Five has challenges of its own, and you may not make it through the first time.

How do these stages relate to addiction recovery?

The stages track perfectly with the feelings that come with addiction recovery. As you review the defense of your habit as nothing to worry about, you may see that it makes no sense. However, you must go through it to get to the next stage. A complete denial turns into signs of acceptance that a problem may damage your health and hinder relationships.

As you slowly move from one stage to the next in the stages of addiction recovery, it moves you closer to achieving your goal. That does not mean that you can stop defending yourself against temptation. Everyone has an ebb and flow in achieving progress, and normal behavior produces it. However, you can find satisfaction in putting decisions into action. After that, you can maintain your newfound freedom.

How does the Transtheoretical Model help me?

As a path to achieving sobriety, the Model guides you through changes in behavior that can help you. Before you start, it can measure your willingness to find a different way to conduct your life.

When you find something that can predict success in anything, it probably deserves at least a try. Research shows that the Transtheoretical Model works for at-risk populations. The basis of the Model claims that stages of change that occur in a sequence help people make the transition.

With the time required to move through the 5 stages of addiction recovery, you get to avoid any harsh effects. Everyone knows that change takes time, and it requires prep work. Slowly, you become ready to make the progress that helps you recover.

What sort of treatment options give me the best chance to recover?

Contemplation

Treatment options that respect the hard task of recovering from addiction can make your life a lot easier. No longer do you face a struggle alone.

Residential Recovery Program

In a home-like atmosphere, you get to live in a residence with others who have issues like yours. The support you receive from them and your counselors can ease the burden you carry.

When you choose residential rehab, you can get 24/7 help with learning to live without drugs or alcohol. All of your treatment focuses on your safety, security and support around the clock. In a setting that you share with peers, you find that you do not stand alone.

A burden that someone else helps you carry can make it weigh half as much. However, inpatient care may take you out of a comfortable situation. When you do things differently, you may gain benefits greater than you expect.

Inpatient Care

You can receive many of the same options as an inpatient as in residential recovery. Still, it provides some important differences. In a hospital-like setting, the structure of inpatient care provides the support you may prefer. If you have faced the pain of relapse, you may benefit from inpatient care. Later, you can move to a drug treatment program as another option.

Outpatient Care

An option that may not work as well as residential or inpatient, outpatient care provides benefits too. It lets you stay at home with your family or go to work and meet the duties that you must.

Finding Help

At Discovery Institute, our specialists can help you achieve your stages of recovery goals. We understand the challenges you face, and we can help you through them. Contact us to get started on achieving a better life.

Covid Anxiety

What Is It? Covid Anxiety, Quarantine Depression, or A Mental Health Issue?

After a year of dealing with Covid, there is still no sense of normalcy. Many of us are still staying home, Zooming our workdays and kids’ school, and missing our families. We may even find ourselves struggling with fatigue and anxiety more often. 

But is this covid anxiety? Quarantine depression? Or, is it a mental health issue that requires therapy? How do you know the difference?

Why Am I Struggling With Fatigue and Anxiety?

Why do I feel so tired and anxious and my neighbor doesn’t? The saying goes, we are all in the same storm, but we all have different boats. 

For example, your neighbor may have a spouse, so someones physically there. But, you may live alone, which can lead to quarantine depression. While we are lucky to have video chats and phone calls, they don’t fill the same needs. 

Many parents have been forced to play a more active role in their child’s education. Children are home all day, parents trying to work from home, and manage a household, no wonder they are exhausted and feeling “blue.” 

Many people lost their jobs because of covid. While nearly two-thirds or 63 percent of Americans now live paycheck to paycheck. But for those who have not returned to work, the financial debt building up can cause anxiety and depression

But how do you know if it is covid anxiety, covid depression, or a mental health issue? 

Catherine Powers-James, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, states, “While it is normal to have frequent thoughts of Covid-19, be mindful of these thoughts become more frequent, or start to impact your daily life.”

Symptoms of Covid Anxiety and Covid Depression

Although symptoms may vary, there are common symptoms to be aware of. Generally, if you aren’t feeling like yourself, it’s probably the “blues” or quarantine depression. 

How Does Covid Affect Depression?

Common symptoms of Covid fatigue and anxiety include:

  • Feeling sad, tearful, empty, or hopeless
  • Feeling restless
  • Guilt
  • More angry or irritable than normal
  • Avoiding friends and family
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Change in appetite
  • Not doing things you enjoy

Although we have been restricted on what we can do for fun, adding self-imposed restrictions may signal something more serious. 

My Symptoms Come and Go

The “blues” or situational depression is a temporary issue. It will dissipate once the cause of the problem is handled. The “blues” are not a clinical condition and are not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 

While the symptoms of Covid depression are similar to clinical depression, the length of time they last are different. Covid depression symptoms are generally mild and short-term. They also typically do not interfere with day-to-day life. 

But, with support from friends and family and changes in your lifestyle, your Covid depression is manageable. Furthermore, as more people are vaccinated and life finds a new normal, we will be gathering with friends and family, and Covid depression will fade away. 

What If My Symptoms Stick Around?

What if my symptoms are lasting for weeks and are getting worse? This may be a sign it’s more than Covid anxiety and depression. Symptoms that are persistent and increase in severity are hallmark signs of clinical depression

Symptoms of Depression

Also called a major depressive disorder, depression causes persistent feelings of sadness and a lack of interest. It can lead to various emotional, mental, and physical issues because it affects your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. 

Symptoms of depression occur almost every day and last most of the day. These symptoms include:

  • Feeling sad, tearful, empty, or hopeless
  • Angry outbursts
  • Frustration and irritability
  • Loss of pleasure and interest in activities and hobbies
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Lack of energy and fatigue
  • Change in eating habits
  • Anxiety or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speaking, and movements
  • Feeling guilty or worthless
  • Trouble focusing and making decisions
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Unexplainable physical pain such as headaches and back pain

Those struggling with depression are generally unhappy and miserable but don’t know why. Furthermore, depression can severely affect your day-to-day activities, including work, school, relationships, and social activities. 

Covid is Increasing the Risk of Fatigue and Anxiety

Symptoms of Covid Anxiety and Covid Depression

When Covid hit, experts knew the risk of social distancing and isolation would affect people’s mental health. However, they only had past disasters and pandemics to base this on. Since then, various studies are proving this to be true. 

One CDC report surveyed American adults in late June 2020. It reports that 31 percent of those surveyed reported symptoms of anxiety and depression. While 26 percent reported stress-related symptoms, and 13 percent have started or increased their alcohol use. 

Covid Anxiety and Covid Depression Can Trick You

When you are struggling with fatigue and anxiety, daily life can be challenging. You wake up, and your mind and body are screaming; stay in bed. But don’t listen! 

Does your body say lay on the couch and watch tv? Yes? Then get up and go for a walk. Once you get out in the sun and the breeze, it’s actually kind of nice. 

What’s the old saying? Misery loves company. So if you don’t join your mind and body in the depression, it starts to fade away. So, do the opposite of what your body says!

How Does Covid Affect Depression?

Although places are opening up across the country, Covid is still a very significant health problem. The numbers of new infections change every day. Will life ever return to normal?

The loneliness of isolation fuels depression. We, as humans, are social beings. We need the love and close contact of friends and family. However, the ongoing isolation and social distancing are increasing the risk of depression. 

A troubled or abusive relationship is worse than loneliness. As humans, we need an average of 4 hugs a day to fulfill our soul. But, we are not all lucky enough to have that. Being in lockdown with an abusive partner is severely damaging to your wellbeing.

Covid anxiety can lead to covid depression. All the uncertainty over the last year has led to an increase in anxiety. Your worries can spin out of control, causing panic and fear. Furthermore, anxiety often leads to depression.

Unhealthy coping skills increase quarantine depression. The first week of lockdown was enjoyable for many of us. Stay in our pj’s, binge-watch tv, and nap when we wanted. However, the financial struggles and added stress of being home all the time often causes people to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.  

Combat Quarantine Depression, Fatigue and Anxiety

Symptoms of Depression

While depression can be challenging to overcome, combating covid anxiety and covid depression only takes a little motivation. Take the first step. You have more control than you think.

Change Your Focus

When you’re home with nothing to do, the negative thoughts can start spinning. You are out of work, away from friends and family, and the electric company still wants to be paid. But, when you recognize the negative thought pattern, there are ways to stop it, including:

  • Distract yourself by learning to cook, play the guitar, or take up hiking. Anything that keeps your mind and body busy will help fight off fatigue and anxiety.
  • Find the simple pleasures like the smell of a flower, taste a new Indian dish or the sound of a child’s laughter. 
  • Limit the amount of news you watch. While it’s important to be informed, not all information you hear or read is accurate. This can lead to Covid anxiety. 
  • Express your gratitude even on your worst days. When struggling with quarantine depression, life can seem hopeless. But, there is always one thing to be thankful for. Maybe it’s the voice of a friend calling to check on you. Or, perhaps it’s the sunset. Gratitude will boost your mood. 

Teletherapy for Covid Anxiety and Covid Depression

If you still can’t tell whether you have Covid depression or a mental health issue, you may want to seek help from a therapist or counselor. In the time of Covid, many traditional mood disorder therapies are done virtually. 

Teletherapy delivers healthcare through various technologies such as:

  • Video conferencing
  • Telephone calls
  • Text messages 
  • Mobile apps

Teletherapy is an affordable option as many Americans cannot afford healthcare. Simultaneously, teletherapy has given thousands without access to mental healthcare the ability to get the help they need. 

Treatment Options for Quarantine Depression at Discovery Institute

We offer various treatment programs to help you recover from Covid fatigue and anxiety. Maybe you tried teletherapy, but you need a more intense treatment program. At Discovery Institute, we have programs that fit your recovery and personal needs. 

  • Outpatient treatment allows individuals to attend therapy while still taking care of your family. 
  • Inpatient treatment provides around-the-clock care in a drug-free environment. Individuals can focus on their recovery without the stress of daily life while receiving support from therapists and others in recovery. 

Although each treatment program has a different intensity level, they all treat Covid anxiety and Covid Depression with individual, group, and family therapies. 

Contact Discovery Institute Today!

Whether you are struggling with fatigue and anxiety or quarantine depression, we are here to help. Don’t wait for your depression to get worse. Contact us today and find out how you can find joy and happiness again!

Does Alcohol Withdrawal Cause Vivid Dreams

10 Common Questions About Alcohol Detox

Alcohol detoxification (or detox) is the process that takes place in your body as it gets rid of the toxins that have built up due to prolonged alcohol abuse. There can be many side effects from the process of alcohol detox and these side effects can vary in severity. The staff here at Discovery Institute will guide you or your loved one through the stages of alcohol detox and on a path to sobriety.

Alcohol is a depressant and causes your brain to slow down. Your body becomes addicted to alcohol and craves it to avoid the side effects of withdrawal. The longer you drink alcohol and the amount of alcohol you drink during that time will determine the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. 

As you make the first steps and commit to the process of alcohol detox you will have many questions and concerns. Changes in your body and the way the detoxification process may affect your emotional well-being are possible. Common questions about alcohol detox are listed below.

1. What Is the Best Way to Treat Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal is treated in different ways depending on the severity of the addiction. In all circumstances, you need a safe, alcohol-free environment. A strong support system is also key to a successful detoxification process.

Making sure you have access to nutritious foods and lots of fluids is also important. It is also common for your doctor to prescribe withdrawal medications that will lessen the effects of alcohol withdrawal. It is important to be supervised by medical staff so that these medications and your withdrawal symptoms can be closely monitored.

2. What Happens In An Alcohol Detox?

Alcohol detox is not an easy process to go through. The detoxification process is different for each person. During the initial phase you will experience: 

  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Cravings for alcohol
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Physical tremors
  • Stomach pain or vomiting

After a few days pass you may experience these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorientation
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Agitation

3. Can Alcohol Withdrawal Lead to Fatality?

Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal can lead to life-altering and, in some cases, life-threatening results. It is highly recommended that you are under a doctor’s care while going through the stages of alcohol withdrawal. The withdrawal process will cause your body to work overtime. 

There are certain factors that may cause a person to die from alcohol withdrawal. If the alcohol addiction has taken place over a long period of time it’s possible that the body will not recover. If the health of the alcoholic isn’t good the withdrawal process may be too much and the person may die.

4. How To Know If I’m Experiencing Alcohol Withdrawal?

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Fever
  • Anxiety
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Seizures
  • Mood swings
  • Hallucinations
  • Shaky hands

5. How Long Do Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

The length of time that symptoms last from alcohol withdrawal will vary. The amount of time depends on the severity of the addiction to alcohol. The average time range that withdrawal symptoms may last is between 2-8 days.

6. How Do I Know If I Am An Alcoholic?

Will My Body Repair Itself If I Stop Drinking

A sign that alcohol has become a problem in your life occurs if you are unable to think about anything else other than when you’re going to have your next drink. It is this obsession with alcohol that indicates that you have a problem. If having the next drink of alcohol controls every aspect of your life then you have become an alcoholic.

Other indicators can include:

  • Memory loss from drinking
  • Drinking when you are alone
  • Suffering from stomach problems 
  • Hiding the amount of alcohol you have consumed
  • Feeling guilty about the amount of alcohol you consume
  • Experiencing “the alcohol shakes” when you’re not drinking

7. Will My Body Repair Itself If I Stop Drinking?

Alcohol affects the way your brain processes things. Alcohol also affects the central nervous system. Alcoholics have a greater chance of heart problems such as cardiomyopathy, stroke, arrhythmias, and high blood pressure.

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol will also damage and weaken the liver, the digestive system, the pancreas, and other organs. Alcohol will weaken your immune system. This weakened immune system will cause you to be more susceptible to illness and diseases.

The body can repair itself if the amount of alcohol that was consumed wasn’t in large quantities, and the length of time that alcohol was consumed was minimal. It has been found that alcoholics are at a higher risk to contract pneumonia or various diseases such as cancer and tuberculosis.

8. How Can I Naturally Remove Alcohol From My System?

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol deprives your body of many things. Due to being so focused on getting the next drink, you ignore any signs of stress and overall health problems. These warning signs should not be ignored.

There are many ways to flush your body of alcohol naturally. These tactics will also help minimize the symptoms from overindulging. Here are some strategies for ways to ease into detoxing your body of alcohol.

  • Sleep: Sleeping is a way to let your body rejuvenate. It will allow your body time to begin the process of flushing the alcohol out of your system.
  • Stay hydrated: Water is a great way to cleanse your body and flush out any toxins. Hydration is key in feeling healthier overall. Drinks that have electrolytes in them are also a good way to hydrate. The electrolytes will build and maintain the water levels in your body.
  • Eat: Do not gorge on a big, heavy meal; eat smaller and healthier meals instead. This will allow your body to regain energy. The toxins in alcohol may cause sugar levels to dip, and eating a small meal can correct those levels. Good food choices are eggs or crackers.
  • Get moving: Exercise may be the last thing you want to do, but it is a great way to flush the toxins left behind by alcohol. Physical activity gets the blood flowing which makes the toxins leave your body faster. Your liver is greatly affected when you drink, so exercise is a great way to detoxify.
  • Stay away from sugar and processed foods: Sugary foods like candy and soda are never considered a healthy option. If you are detoxifying alcohol from your body then it’s best to focus on eating healthy foods that will encourage the process.
  • Limit salty foods: Foods with a high level of salt will slow down your need to urinate. Toxins escape through urine, so it’s very important to eat foods that will not decrease the amount of urine you produce.

9. How Long Does it Take to Detox Your Body?

How Long Do Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Last

The process of detoxing your body and freeing it from the toxins in alcohol will vary for each person. The factors that come into play are how much you drink, how long you’ve been drinking, and if you have been through a prior detoxification process. On average the detoxification process takes about a week, but the withdrawal symptoms may last much longer.

Symptoms within the first 6 to 12 hours include anxiety, cravings, extreme sweating, headaches, nausea and vomiting, and the shakes. Anxiety occurs because your body is not feeling well at all and the urge to have a drink to feel more “in control” is intense. This intense urge is caused by cravings that are created due to alcohol being a highly addictive substance.

During the next 12 to 24 hours some of the original symptoms may increase. Additional symptoms may include hallucinations, dehydration, and an upset stomach. Dehydration is caused due to extreme sweating and the need to urinate frequently. Hallucinations may take place because there is a combination of your body producing extra dopamine as well as a decrease in your blood sugar levels.

The next stage occurs between hours 24 to 48 and is the most dangerous time period. Your body begins to go into full “fight mode” during this phase. Symptoms may include low blood sugar levels, alcohol seizures, irritability, and delirium tremens. Delirium tremens is also known as alcohol withdrawal delirium and can be fatal.

The last phase of alcohol detoxification happens in hours 48 to 168. This is the stage when the physical symptoms of alcohol detox begin to slow down or disappear altogether. At this stage, it is the mental symptoms that become prevalent. Such feelings as depression, anxiety, confusion, restlessness, and anger come to the forefront.

10. Does Alcohol Withdrawal Cause Vivid Dreams?

Drinking alcohol in excess decreases the function of your brain. When you are detoxifying your body of alcohol your brain begins to work overtime. This overtime causes a disrupted sleep pattern.

Because alcohol can alter the quality of sleep this then leads to a decrease in the quantity of sleep. Drinking any amount of alcohol lessens the chance that you will fall into a deep sleep. This deep sleep stage is known as REM sleep.

REM sleep is the stage of sleep when dreaming occurs. Because of the alcohol in your system, your body may bounce between REM sleep and non-REM sleep. This may then cause vivid dreams or “night terrors” to occur.

How Can Discovery Institute Help?

Detoxifying from alcohol can be a long, tough process. If you are looking for help for yourself or a loved one Discovery Institute is ready to talk to you. Contact us today for information about how our program can provide the fresh start that you need. We look forward to walking with you as you pursue freedom from alcohol use disorder!

ways to party without drugs

10 Ways to Party Without Alcohol or Drugs

Many individuals throughout the US choose not to drink or use drugs. Many of these people still have a great time even without alcohol or other substances. It’s not uncommon to believe that this couldn’t be farther from the truth. How could anybody have fun without using substances? After all, substances are the centerpiece of any party right?

It is more than possible to have fun at a party without alcohol; plenty of people do so regularly. Parties aren’t about how much of a substance you can use; they’re about the people you’re spending time with. Below are some tips on how to party without alcohol or drugs. 

Know Your Story

While it is admirable to be combating substance use disorder and brave to be disciplined enough not to succumb to substance use disorder, it may not be the conversation starter to lead with when someone offers you a drink. Sometimes it could turn people away. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be honest, but it does mean you don’t need to disclose your entire life story. 

Some ways to tell someone you’re not interested in a drink are as simple as saying, “I’m not drinking tonight. I’m trying to stay clean.”. If anyone is worth their salt then they will respect it. If they don’t, stand your ground. 

no drugs party

Peer pressure isn’t worth the chance of suffering from substance use disorder or relapsing back into substance use disorder. When you’re convicted of the fact that you are staying clean, it’ll become a lot more difficult for someone else to commit to trying to get you to partake. 

Capitalize on Your Recovery

When partying, it’s typical to see people around you plastered out of their minds. This could make it seem as though you are being a stick in the mud or not having a good time, but this is only true if you’re not having a good time. 

You don’t have to wait until the music is playing super loud to have a good time. Taking advantage of your effort to recover is a good way to have a fun time at a party. After all, the best nights are the ones we remember.

Get Creative

It’s easy during the day to order a coke with grenadine or ginger ale, but at night, things are different. Whether it’s been a long day, or it’s just a force of habit, it’s hard not to order a drink. Firstly there’s the pressure of being an adult. You’re ordering your beverage and everybody’s watching. Do they know you’re not ordering alcohol? Is it okay not to order alcohol? These are common and completely normal thoughts to have.

Sober party

The good news about all of this is that nobody is watching you. People don’t care as much as we think they do. That being said, if you are still bothered by everyone else having a drink in their hands it may be beneficial to order a virgin drink in a fancy glass with an umbrella.

Be Transparent 

It always seems like people want to get you into trouble when you’re trying so hard to do well with your life. The fact is there will be many individuals who are displeased with your responsible decisions, but this is your life; it’s not theirs. 

The best thing to do in a situation like this is to be completely transparent. When you’re able to own the person you are, or the person you want to be, being honest comes a lot more naturally, regardless of what anybody else thinks of you. 

Stay Positive

There are many difference-makers in the lives of those seeking new disciplines; one of those difference makers is positivity. Positivity is easy when everything is going right, but when life throws you curveballs, like substance use disorder, it becomes a lot more difficult to remain chipper. This is because our actions tend to be reflective of our current circumstances. 

It’s cause and effect, so how does someone remain positive when they’re going through what seems like the worst most awkward time of their life?

Some ways to deal with difficult situations include accepting your circumstances, focusing on some positive light to hold onto, or even just putting one foot in front of the other (metaphorically). When facing hard situations that are out of our control, it is easy to lose sight of what we can control. The only thing someone can hold onto for certain is the way that they respond to the situation.

Observe

Another way you can party without drinking is simply observing others. When you’re at a party, there’s no shortage of people watching. Observing how they interact with others while they’re inebriated may be a good way to put substance use disorder behavior into perspective. There are also other benefits to observing other people instead of partaking in substance use disorder. One of these benefits could include having a fun story to tell at the next party or gathering (not to make fun of someone, but to have fun with them; maybe to balance it out, come up with a story with the punchline being at your own expense). 

Play All of the Games

Playing games such as beer pong, corn-hole, flip cup, or never-have-I-ever are fun ways to spice up a party, but people usually want to play them when they’re drunk. While this may seem as though it’s impossible to have fun playing these games without alcohol, one must remember that drunkenness or being high impairs a person’s ability to play well. This means, if you’re not drinking, it will make it much easier for you to win. This way, you can make the games interesting and be the life of the party. Everybody will remember how good you are at drinking games. The only rule to doing this is simple: don’t drink. 

avoid drugs at parties

Become Someone Else

Being at a party and not being able to partake in alcohol or drugs may seem as though they have their drawbacks, but they also have their benefits. If you’re at a party where those attending aren’t familiar with you, or if you’re at a party where everybody is too drunk to care, make up an alternate personality. 

This sounds crazy, but as long as this is being done while you are aware that it’s crazy, then it probably isn’t that wild and you’re perfectly healthy mentally. Coming up with an alter-ego could be a fun way to either meet new people or have fun/silly conversations with those you already know and love. 

Come Up With a New Game

Parties have their fair share of games and fun, but when things get stale, it can be easy to slip into a pattern of behavior that elicits drunkenness. While aiming for a life of going clean, it is imperative to stay away from behaviors that will lead to a substance use disorder. When games get boring, the more impaired individuals will exercise their lack of judgment in ways that are a danger to both themselves and everyone around them. 

However, if they are introduced to new, more fun games (thought of beforehand or on the spot) it will take their attention away from the more dangerous activities thought up by their drunken selves. 

Accept Yourself

The most difficult part of dealing with substance use disorder is perhaps having to accept yourself for who you are. Being vulnerable is a difficult part of life, and being vulnerable with yourself, allowing yourself to be a mistake-ridden individual is a very difficult task to accomplish.

Everybody wants to be validated by others in some way or another. It is one of the biggest ways that we fall into situations such as addiction. However, once you accept yourself for the person you want to be, the healthy individual who is strong and brave, the decisions you make and the person you become much easier to accept. 

There Will Always be Opportunities to Say Yes; Practice Saying No

No matter where you go or what you do in life, there will always be someone there to offer you something that seems better or more socially acceptable. Holding these offers up to an objective light, however, is imperative to successful outcomes. Holding people’s offers accountable for the truth that is in them, or the impact it will have on your own life will allow you to make better choices, should you choose to say no. 

Discovery New Jersey is Here for You

At Discovery New Jersey, we know that it’s not easy to overcome substance use disorder. There are so many pressures that exist in our society that it’s becoming more and more difficult to say no. However, this doesn’t mean you’re alone. Just as some party without drugs and alcohol, there are also individuals who have a hard time saying no to partying with drugs and alcohol. If you or a loved one can relate and would like to find out more, you can contact us here.

alcoholics anonymous

How to Find an AA Sponsor and How to Be a Good AA Sponsor

Recovering from alcoholism is a lifelong journey that you’re going to need support to do well in. One person that can help give you the support that you need as a recovering alcoholic is an AA sponsor. In fact, it’s strongly advised that recovering alcoholics get AA sponsors to help them stay on track in their recovery. 

You should make sure that the AA sponsor that you choose is well-equipped to take on the AA sponsor responsibilities. It’s also important that AA sponsors are confident in their ability to be AA sponsors. Thus, if someone asks you to be an AA sponsor, make sure that you’re ready to take on the role. Otherwise, you should deny the request for you to be an AA sponsor. 

Being an AA sponsor is an important job. That’s why we’re giving you a guide right here on how to find an AA sponsor. Here, you will also learn how to be a good AA sponsor. 

What’s an AA Sponsor?

An AA sponsor, or alcoholics anonymous sponsor, is a person that guides you through the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program. An AA sponsor is also a recovering alcoholic. AA sponsors are just so far in their addiction recovery journeys that they are stable in their sobriety. AA sponsors also have a large amount of knowledge on the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 12-step program. 

Essentially, a good alcoholics anonymous sponsor acts as a personal AA mentor. Thus, recovering alcoholics that want AA sponsors are responsible for getting their sponsors on their own. 

How to Find an AA Sponsor

AA members are expected to find their own AA sponsors. To do this, AA members must simply go up and ask someone to be their AA sponsor. Just make sure that the person that you ask to be your AA sponsor is a recovering alcoholic that is stable in sobriety and much further along in his or her addiction recovery journey than you are. Below are more tips for how to find an AA sponsor.

Regularly Attend AA 12-step Meetings

The best tip for how to find an AA sponsor is to regularly attend AA 12-step meetings. That’s because AA 12-step meetings are the best places to meet other recovering alcoholics. 

AA 12-step program meetings are also great places to find an AA sponsor because they’re open to new and old recovering alcoholics. Thus, you can easily find someone that’s far along in his or her addiction recovery journey and has already gone through most, if not all, of the 12-steps at an AA 12-step meeting. 

Listen to What Others Say At Your AA 12-step Meetings

Another tip for how to find an AA sponsor is to listen to others during your AA 12-step meetings. Listening to what others say about themselves during 12-step AA meetings can help you find an AA sponsor that you’re confident is stable in sobriety and far along in his or her addiction recovery journey. 

Listening to others at AA 12-step meetings can also help you find a person that has similarities to you. You might want to find someone with some physical, mental, emotional, or experiential similarities to you to be your AA sponsor so that he or she can better understand you and your needs. Just make sure to not find someone that is too similar to you. That’s because having some physical, mental, emotional, and experiential differences between you and your AA sponsor can help your AA sponsor provide you with different perspectives about your addiction journey

Pray and Meditate on Your Choice of an AA Sponsor Prior to Picking One

A third tip for how to find an AA sponsor is to pray and meditate on your AA sponsor pick. While choosing an AA sponsor is important, choosing the wrong AA sponsor can negatively affect you long-term. Thus, it’s important to pray and meditate on your decision. Even if you’re not religious, praying and meditating on your decision can help you confidently choose the right AA sponsor. 

Just Do It

Choosing an AA Sponsor

Our fourth and final tip for how to find an AA sponsor is to just do it. By “do it,” we mean, go up and ask someone to be your AA sponsor. While asking someone to be your AA sponsor may seem awkward at first, once you do it, you’ll be relieved. As long as you’ve taken the time to listen and pick a fellow recovering alcoholic that is stable in sobriety, thoroughly understands the 12-step process, and is far along in his or her addiction recovery journey, then you have nothing to lose by asking that person to be your AA sponsor. 

What You Should Consider When Choosing an AA Sponsor

There are many things that you should consider prior to choosing an AA sponsor. Some of these things are described below. 

How Far Along in Addiction Recovery the Prospective AA Sponsor Is

You should always consider how stable your prospective AA sponsor is in his or her sobriety and how far along your AA sponsor is in his or her addiction recovery journey prior to making that person your AA sponsor. To know how to be a good AA sponsor to you, a recovering alcoholic should be very stable in his or her sobriety and much further along in his or her addiction recovery journey than you are. 

You should also make sure that your prospective AA sponsor is very knowledgeable about the AA 12-step program. Otherwise, that person won’t be able to guide you through it. 

The Availability of Your Prospective AA Sponsor

alcoholics anonymous sponsor

Another thing that you should consider when choosing an AA sponsor is how much time that person has available. This is an important factor because AA sponsors must be available to their sponsees in some way at all times. Therefore, make sure that your prospective AA sponsor doesn’t have a ton of AA sponsees already. 

Also, make sure that your prospective AA sponsor doesn’t have a busy life schedule. That way he or she can be your AA sponsor.

If The Person Wants to Be an AA Sponsor

It’s important to also consider if your prospective AA sponsor even wants to be an AA sponsor. Not everyone that’s far along in addiction recovery and the AA 12-steps like to mentor others. Thus, before choosing an official AA sponsor, make sure that being an AA sponsor is something that that person wants. 

Possible Romantic Attraction Between You and Your AA Sponsor

You should also make sure that you’re not sexually attracted to your prospective AA sponsor. This is important because a romantic relationship between an AA sponsor and an AA sponsee complicates things. 

The best AA sponsor and sponsee relationships are the ones where the biggest things that they have in common are AA and addiction recovery. That way AA and addiction recovery are always the focus of the conversation. 

Many people choose AA sponsors that are of the same sex as them. That way, they will not develop a sexual attraction to their AA sponsors. Alcoholics that are in the LGBT-Q community may want to choose AA sponsors that are a different sex to them. 

Similarities and Differences Between You and Your Prospective AA Sponsor

How to Find an AA Sponsor

You should also consider the level of similarities and differences that you have with your prospective AA sponsor. You should have enough similarities between your AA sponsor and you to make it easy for your AA sponsor to understand you. On the flip side, you should have enough differences between your AA sponsor and you so that your AA sponsor can provide you with different perspectives about your addiction. 

How Much You Trust Your Prospective AA Sponsor

Another thing that you should consider when choosing an AA sponsor is how much you can trust him or her. If your gut allows you to trust someone with all the other qualities of a good AA sponsor, then he or she is likely a good choice of an AA sponsor for you. 

How to Be a Good AA Sponsor

If someone is asking you to be his or her AA sponsor, before saying yes, you should make sure that you have what it takes to be a good AA sponsor. Below are some ways that you can be a good AA sponsor.

Be Even Tempered

To learn how to be a good AA sponsor, you must first learn how to be even-tempered. Being even-tempered is important as an AA sponsor because you will be the listening ears to a vulnerable recovering alcoholic. 

Have At Least One Year of Sobriety Under Your Belt

To be a good AA sponsor, you must be stable in your own sobriety. Thus, you should have at least one year of sobriety under your belt.

Really Know Your 12-Steps

Good AA sponsors have also been attending 12-step AA meetings for quite some time and fully understand the 12-step program. By having such extensive knowledge of the AA 12-step program, you will be able to guide someone else through the program. 

Have a Desire to Sponsor Someone

If you’re not somewhat passionate about something, you’re not going to dedicate the time and effort to be good at it. Thus, prior to learning how to be a good AA sponsor, you must have a genuine desire to do so.

Don’t Sponsor People That You’re Attracted To

AA sponsors should never enter romantic relationships with their sponsees. Thus, to avoid this from happening, good AA sponsors should not allow themselves to be AA sponsors to people that they’re sexually attracted to. 

Be Available

Good AA sponsors are always available to communicate with their sponsees. Therefore, if you don’t have much time on your hands, you shouldn’t be an AA sponsor.

Be a Good Listener

Much of what an AA sponsor does is listen to their sponsees. Thus, good AA sponsors are good listeners.

Push Your Sponsees

Good AA sponsors are invested in the progress that their sponsees are making in their addiction recovery. As a result, good AA sponsors often push their sponsees to gain more perspectives about their journeys with addiction so that they can better understand their triggers and learn more ways to manage their addiction. Some ways that good AA sponsors push their sponsees are by giving them AA literature to read or making them attend different AA group meetings. 

Do Not Impose Personal Views on Your Sponsees

While the AA 12-step program is based on some holistic spiritual values, good AA sponsors know not to take it any further and push their religious beliefs or personal views on life onto their sponsees. Therefore, if you want to learn how to be a good AA sponsor, don’t force your personal beliefs onto others.

Discovery Institute Is Here to Serve Your Addiction Treatment Needs

Here at Discovery Institute, we know the value of AA sponsors. That’s why we encourage the recovering alcoholics that attend our alcohol detox and addiction treatment programs to get one. We also encourage the recovering addicts of our other drug detox and addiction treatment programs to find a sponsor or someone that they can lean on for support while in recovery. 

Here at Discovery Institute, we provide the highest quality clinical care through evidence-based practices. Through such care, we help alcohol and drug addicts overcome their addictions. 

To learn more about Discovery Institute and the detox and addiction treatment programs that we offer, contact us today. Our compassionate treatment specialists are available 24 hours a day to take your call.  

Gabapentin Addiction

Is Gabapentin Addictive?

Gabapentin is a prescription medication with a checkered history. It’s helped many people overcome unbearable symptoms associated with health disorders. On the other hand, it’s hurt people at times. It’s led medical professionals and individuals suffering from health disorders to ask questions. Is Gabapentin addictive? Is Gabapentin a controlled substance? If so, should I avoid taking it? 

The answer varies. Gabapentin and tramadol can be dangerous. Gabapentin and alcohol can be deadly. Yet, it can save lives in certain scenarios. We explore the pros and cons below. 

What Is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is a prescription medication. It’s a painkiller that it’s in its own class of drugs called gabapentinoids. The unique chemical structure reduces pain and the symptoms of other health issues

This kind of medication helps:

  • Nerve pain associated with shingles
  • People suffering from epilepsy (it’s an anticonvulsant) 
  • Symptoms of hot flashes 
  • Symptoms of restless leg syndrome 
  • Alcohol and drug withdrawal symptoms 
  • Diabetes symptoms 
  • Fibromyalgia (reduces pain and tenderness) 
  • Soothe chronic nerve pain in general

Gabapentin can help those suffering from a substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder. During detox, medical professionals at an addiction recovery center may offer medication-assisted treatment. Doctors are careful when they prescribe medication. Prescription drugs are legal but can cause unpleasant side effects and complications. 

Yet, withdrawal symptoms can be more dangerous than the possible risk. In cases like this, they may prescribe Gabapentin to make detox bearable. Most painkillers are classified as opioids. Although Gabapentin is a different kind of drug, it helps people ween off opioid use. Doctors may prescribe it as medication to prevent the discomfort that comes with stopping “cold turkey.” Then, they will taper the dose over time.

Additionally, severe addictions can result in seizures and unbearable pain. Using Gabapentin under medical supervision can reduce the risk of both. Of course, it still raises the question: Is Gabapentin addictive? Do the benefits outweigh the costs?

Is Gabapentin Addictive? 

Yes, Gabapentin is addictive. Painkillers can be addictive, even if they’re not opioids. However, doctors may choose to prescribe it to people with a substance use disorder because it’s less addictive than opioids. That said, non-medical Gabapentin use happens and can cause just as much damage as other drugs. 

Is Gabapentin a Controlled Substance or Not?

So, is Gabapentin a controlled substance? The state of Kentucky decided it would be in 2017. A controlled substance is when a drug is tightly managed by the government because it could lead to non-medical use and substance use disorders.  Though, it’s classified as a Schedule V controlled substance, meaning it isn’t as addictive as other controlled substances. 

According to GoodRx, this state saw that Gabapentin products could be addictive. In 2015, they found that 57 million prescriptions were approved. Pharmacists understandably became worried as prescription levels rose. 

A journal within PubMed found that 9 in 10, or about 90%, of surveyed pharmacists felt that Gabapentin was a problem in their community. They specifically said that non-medical use was a problem. This included the fear behind how people were able to get a hold of it without a prescription. Over 1,600 community pharmacists responded.

What Is the Science Behind Gabapentin?  

Gabapentin mimics the neurotransmitter, GABA, also known as gamma-aminobutyric acid. Medications that mimic the structure of GABA are known as GABA analogs. GABA acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter. In short, it inhibits chemical messages. In turn, it slows down the nervous systems. When GABA binds to its receptor, it makes a person feel calm. 

Though, Gabapentin doesn’t bind to receptors as GABA would. The science behind how Gabapentin works is unclear. Research shows that it increases the amount of GABA for the brain to use. Although it doesn’t bind to receptors, the chemicals in Gabapentin produce the same effect overall. It reduces pain and can increase relaxation overall. 

Why Is Gabapentin Addictive?

Gabapentin is addictive because people can develop a chemical dependency on it. In most people, the body naturally produces the amino acid, GABA. It plays a role in stress and relaxation. Also, it helps make a person feel happy. Gabapentin makes individuals feel relaxed and euphoric because it acts similarly to GABA. 

When a person uses Gabapentin consistently their brain becomes used to the chemicals it increases or inhibits. After a while, the brain becomes used to that level. This can also result in tolerance, meaning someone would need to do more of it to feel the same effect. Tolerance or not, the brain becomes used to the levels of chemicals brought about by regular use. Stopping upsets brain chemistry, which turns into both physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. 

How Is Gabapentin Addictive For Some People?

This medication can be more addictive for certain groups of people more than others. For instance, individuals suffering from a substance use disorder are more likely to become addicted to Gabapentin. A 2013 study found that 15% of participants consumed Gabapentin without a prescription alongside other drugs. 

Other factors may increase the likelihood of a chemical dependency on this prescription medication: 

  • Taking more than prescribed over time
  • Using it to self-medicate health issues 
  • Self-medicating because of a lack of health insurance 
  • Stopping prescription use without medical instruction 

People who are prescribed Gabapentin can still end up with a substance use disorder. They may ignore a doctor’s instructions or misinterpret them. It’s less likely a person will end up battling an addiction if they are prescribed it. Regardless, being aware of the possibility is still important. 

What Are Other Names For Gabapentin? 

Gabapentin is the generic version of its brand-name counterparts. Gralise and Neurontin are the most popular brand-name forms of it. Gralise typically comes in tablet form. On the other hand, Neurotin comes in capsules, tablets, and a solution. Both are used to treat nerve pain from shingles and reduce seizures in people that suffer from epilepsy. 

Other brand-name forms of Gabapentin include: 

  • SmartRx Gaba-V Kit 
  • Neuraptine 
  • Horizant 
  • Gabarone 
  • FusePaq Fanatrex 

On the streets, Gabapentin has different names. Street names for this prescription drug include “johnnies” and “gabbies.” Sometimes prescription drugs, like this one, are diverted for illegal use. Using Gabapentin without a prescription can be dangerous for multiple reasons. A person doesn’t understand what dose to take nor do they realize how it may affect them in the long term. 

What Are the Side Effects of Gabapentin? 

Like any medication, Gabapentin has side effects. They can happen through legal, medical use and non-medical use. Although, it’s less likely to happen when it’s prescribed. Medicine that affects brain chemistry may have serious side effects, especially if they’re stopped abruptly. 

The risk of side effects is increased if a person takes other forms of medication. It might come as a surprise that certain herbal supplements and minerals may increase the risk as well. GoodRx notes that Calcifediol and Orlistat, in particular, should be consumed with caution if a person takes them with Gabapentin. Using both at the same time could lead to worse short-term and long-term side effects overall. 

Short-Term Effects 

  • Feeling drowsy 
  • Fainting spells 
  • Loss of motor coordination 
  • Memory loss 
  • Trouble talking 
  • Double vision 
  • Increased chance of illness 
  • Tremors 
  • Strange eye movements 
  • Headaches 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive Sweating

Long-Term Effects

  • Jaundice 
  • Metabolic disorders 
  • Increased risk of a muscle tissue breakdown (rhabdomyolysis) 
  • Increased hostility and agitation 
  • Depression 
  • Breast enlargement 
  • Skin tissue disorders 
  • Decreased libido 
  • Issues with ejaculation 
  • Anxiety 

The Dangers of Abusing Gabapentin and Alcohol 

Alcohol is a depressant. Drugs like these slow down brain and body functionality. Gabapentin functions in a similar way. Because both have the same effect on the body and brain, they have the same side effects. So, it’s more likely for someone to experience intense side effects if they consume both. 

This is dangerous for multiple reasons. Both drugs slow down breathing. Consuming too much of either can result in severe breathing problems, which could land a person in the hospital. Also, nausea is a common side effect of both. Too much vomiting can lead to deadly cases of dehydration. Finally, it’s possible to overdose on Gabapentin. Combining drugs and alcohol only increases the risk of overdoing. 

Why Would Someone Use Gabapentin and Alcohol?

Using Gabapentin and alcohol is a terrible idea. Some people disregard this fact to have a good time, at times. Alcohol is a depressant, but large amounts can cause a stimulant effect. The idea behind consuming both substances is to feel energized, relaxed, and euphoric at the same time. Sometimes individuals with a Gabapentin prescription are unaware that alcohol poses a serious health risk. Either situation can result in an untimely death. 

Gabapentin and Tramadol 

Tramadol is a powerful opioid typically used for short-term pain relief. Taking Gabapentin and tramadol at the same time depresses central nervous system function. Combining Gabapentin with any kind of depressant can make it hard to breathe. Plus, it makes the side effects of either both. 

Most doctors wouldn’t prescribe both at the same time. Non-medical use of both makes overdose much more likely. Almost 70% of overdose deaths are due to opioid use. It’s important to consult a medical professional when consuming both for health reasons.

Discovery Insitute Can Provide the Tools to Fight Against Gabapentin and Alcohol Addictions

Ultimately, is Gabapentin addictive? Discovery Institute feels any risky drug use can result in addiction. Although it’s less common than most, Gabapentin use disorders can make a person feel alone and like life isn’t worth living. We provide personalized plans to help our members overcome the temptation of Gabapentin and alcohol. Contact us now to learn more.  

two men discussing benzo belly

What is “Benzo Belly”? Treating the Gut in Benzo Withdrawal

Taking certain anxiety medications, then stopping can cause withdrawal symptoms. A little-known withdrawal symptom of benzodiazepines is “benzo belly.” But, attending a medical detox program can help with benzo withdrawal pain relief. 

How do Benzodiazepines Affect Your Body?

Benzodiazepines or benzos are central nervous system (CNS) depressants. They treat anxiety and pain by slowing down brain activity. They work by increasing the activity of GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain. 

Benzos also enhance dopamine levels in the brain. This chemical messenger is involved in pleasure and reward. For this reason, people can become dependent and misuse their medication. After a few weeks of regular use, the brain can stop producing these chemicals naturally. 

Examples of benzos include:

  • Xanax
  • Klonopin
  • Librium
  • Valium
  • Ativan

The Dangers of Prescription Benzodiazepines

Benzos offer great benefits for anxiety and pain. But, they are for short-term use. For example, prolonged use of benzos for anxiety can make your anxiety worse. 

When your body starts expecting the drug to stimulate neurotransmitters, it needs more to get the desired effect. This is called tolerance. But, once you begin to feel withdrawal symptoms without the drug, it has become a dependence. 

Signs of dependence include:

  • Fatigue
  • Paranoia
  • Shakiness
  • Cold sweats
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Increased anxiety
  • Lack of focus and concentration
  • Increased heart rate

What is “Benzo Belly”?

The term “benzo belly” describes the stomach discomfort from benzo withdrawal. The symptoms of “benzo belly” include diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, and appetite changes. 

Benzos treat anxiety and seizure disorders. But, they have a high potential for misuse and addiction. If you develop an addiction to benzos, it means you can’t stop without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. 

However, withdrawal symptoms are very uncomfortable. As a result, most people start using again. This is why attending a medical detox program can help with benzo withdrawal pain relief and maintain recovery.

What Causes “Benzo Belly”?

Benzos affect almost every cell in the body, including the gastrointestinal tract (GI). When you stop using benzos, your body goes crazy, trying to function without the drug. For this reason, you may experience “benzo belly.” 

“Benzo belly” typically begins in the protracted phase of withdrawal. It may last for several weeks after your last dose. Although symptoms get better over time, some people may have symptoms for years. 

How Long Do Benzo Withdrawals Last?

For most drugs, withdrawal symptoms typically last 1 to 2 weeks after the last dose. But, benzos are different. They can have long post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). 

Symptoms of “benzo belly” may include alternating constipation and diarrhea. Eating certain foods can make the symptoms worse. But, your diet can help ease some symptoms of “benzo belly.”

So, how long do benzo withdrawals last? “Benzo belly” typically lasts for several weeks after the last dose. However, sometimes “benzo belly” can last up to a year or more. 

What are the Symptoms of “Benzo Belly”?

Symptoms of “benzo belly” include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Appetite changes
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Lower abdominal pain

If you are prescribed benzos, it’s vital to speak to your doctor before stopping. If you are taking benzos without a prescription, you should talk to an addiction center like Discovery Institute for treatment options. 

Is There a Cure for “Benzo Belly”?

In short, no – you just have to be patient and wait for the symptoms to go away. But, a change in your diet can offer relief. Furthermore, some foods can make your symptoms worse. “Benzo belly’ can make you feel like you have a food allergy, but it’s withdrawal symptoms.

Benzo Withdrawal Pain Relief: How Can You Overcome this Pain?

The pain and discomfort from benzo withdrawal cause many people to continue using benzos. The best shot at achieving and maintaining recovery is in an addiction treatment center. Medical detox programs can give you benzo withdrawal pain relief.

The use of medications such as Diazepam and Valium allows the body to adjust to the decrease of benzos. Because these drugs have slow elimination rates, it minimizes your withdrawal symptoms. 

Medication-assisted treatment is used in combination with other therapies such as psychotherapy and behavioral therapies. Some treatment centers offer gender-specific therapies. Some addictions stem from traumatic or life-changing situations. And, gender-specific therapies can help people mentally fight their benzo addiction. 

Holistic Treatment for Benzo Withdrawal Pain Relief

Holistic or alternative therapies can help with benzo withdrawal pain relief. Therapies such as yoga, acupuncture, and mindfulness can build mental strength to power through the discomfort and pain. These therapies will also help you along your recovery journey to maintain recovery.

Another holistic therapy is nutrition therapy. A healthy-eating-lifestyle can do wonders for “benzo belly.” A healthy diet can minimize and even prevent “benzo belly.” 

Tips for benzo withdrawal pain relief through diet include:

  • Keep meals small – The symptoms of “benzo belly” aren’t caused by overeating. But, it’s smart not to overwork the GI tract.
  • Keep meals light – Try to avoid eating heavy foods. You should consume smoothies, juices, and liquid foods when possible. 
  • Avoid harsh foods – Some foods and beverages are harsh on your stomach. `So, you should avoid highly acidic food and drinks. 
  • Take probiotics – Probiotics can replenish gut bacteria. They can be taken as a supplement or found in fermented foods and drinks. 

Although these tips won’t treat the source of “benzo belly,” they may alleviate the symptoms.

Other Lifestyle Changes to Relieve “Benzo Belly”

There are other things you can do to ease the symptoms of “benzo belly.” These include daily exercise, spending time in the sun, and getting plenty of sleep. 

Rebound insomnia is a big problem in benzo withdrawal. It may be hard to handle in the beginning. But, getting some early morning sun and exercise can combat the issue. Not only will it help with insomnia, but Vitamin D helps your immune system. While exercise helps rebalance brain chemicals and regulate your GI tract. 

Finding a treatment center with plenty of amenities increases your activity level and outdoor exposure. Important amenities to look for may include:

  • Outdoor sports
  • Swimming pool
  • Fitness centers
  • Gardens
  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi
  • Meditation

Other Symptoms of Benzo Withdrawal

It can be a dangerous and difficult process to withdrawal from benzos. You may feel anxious for many weeks. Everything around you can also be irritating. Besides insomnia being common, you may have headaches and tremors the first week. 

The severity of your symptoms can vary depending on:

  • Your current dose
  • How long you have been using
  • Poly benzo use
  • If you take any sedatives
  • Other substance use disorders

The onset of withdrawal symptoms depends on the type of benzo you take. But, possible symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Drug cravings
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Hand tremors
  • Muscle spasms
  • Headache
  • Aches and pains
  • Sweating
  • Racing heart
  • Hyperventilating
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Problems concentrating
  • Delirium
  • Grand mal seizures

Phases of Benzo Withdrawal: How Long Do Benzo Withdrawals Last?

Benzos are commonly misused with other drugs and alcohol. This action is known as poly-drug misuse and influences the timeline and severity of withdrawal symptoms. Unlike most other drugs, benzo withdrawal has phases of withdrawal.

The main phases of benzo withdrawal include early withdrawal, acute withdrawal, and protracted withdrawal. In the early withdrawal phase, symptoms typically start within a few hours to a few days of the last dose. In this phase, your anxiety may return along with insomnia. 

The return of pre-medication issues is called the rebound effect. The brain is trying to rebound without medication. However, this can be minimized by tapering the drug during medical detox. 

Acute withdrawal may begin a few days after the last dose. This phase involves the majority of the withdrawal process. During this phase, medication-assisted treatment can be beneficial in benzo withdrawal pain relief.

Suicidal thoughts and behaviors can happen in the acute phase. So psychotherapy and support groups are vital in understanding your emotions. On average, the acute withdrawal phase can last between 2 weeks and a few months. 

Lastly, the protracted phase can last for several months or even years after your last dose. You may experience tingling in your arms and legs, prolonged anxiety and insomnia, cognitive defects, and depression. These symptoms can come and go – sometimes you will go months without a sign, and then they come back. 

Medical Detox Eases Benzo Withdrawal Pain Relief

Benzo withdrawal pain relief, including “benzo belly,” is one focus of medical detox. Medical detox is generally an inpatient program – meaning you live in the treatment center. Medical staff and doctors anticipate and treat benzo withdrawal pain relief and offer a safe recovery.

Benzo detox typically involves tapering or gradually reducing your daily dose. This reduction continues until all symptoms are gone. Including “benzo belly.” Stopping benzos, cold-turkey is never recommended due to severe risks, including seizures. 

Co-Occurring Anxiety and Benzo Addiction

Did your benzo use leave you struggling with addiction and your initial struggles of anxiety? If so, dual diagnosis treatment programs can address both struggles. Once you complete detox, therapy helps you understand your addiction and manage your anxiety.

Therapies in treatment may include:

  • Psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Nutritional therapy
  • Holistic therapies including yoga and meditation
  • Behavioral modification therapy
  • Relapse prevention

Treatment at Discovery Institute

At Discovery Institute, our comprehensive programs address all addiction and mental health struggles. Our medical detox program can help if you are struggling with an addiction to benzos or need benzo withdrawal pain relief. Contact us today to find out how.

Addiction Help

What are the Signs of a Functional Addict?

When you think of a drug addict, you may see a very negative picture in your mind. Perhaps someone that is physically and mentally, a mess. You may think of a criminal or a homeless person using drugs. However, this is not always the case when it comes to addicts. Those who abuse drugs daily can be classified as a functional addict. Addiction is a disease that looks very different from case to case. 

Over the years, this cookie-cutter idea of an addict has created a negative stigma. While drug addiction may be a dangerous and sensitive topic for some, this stigma has made it harder to get help. A functional drug addict may be suffering in silence or be afraid to get help due to this idea. Over time, drug addiction may cause severe problems like financial problems or injury but this is not always the case. 

It is important to be able to spot the signs of possible addiction in loved ones or friends. Someone you know may be employed and living successfully but also struggling from drug addiction. If this is the case, Discovery Institute may be able to help. Once you’ve helped a loved one take the first step towards recovery, we’ll be their guide to a sober life. Don’t wait, get help today.

What Does a Functional Drug Addict Look Like?

A functional addict does not fit the image that comes to mind when you think of a ‘drug addict’. A functioning drug addict may seem completely normal; they’ll pay their bills, go to the gym, make it to their kid’s practices, and generally be in control of their life. By looking at a functional addict, you may not suspect that anything is wrong. Only close family members and themselves can truly determine the early signs of an addiction. 

Help for addiction

While there are many different physical effects of abusing drugs, there are a lot of social and behavioral effects as well. While they may be functional addicts right now, over time things can start to worsen. If a person does not take a hold of their addiction they can end up becoming homeless or riddled with health problems and financial problems. This is why it’s extra important to look out for the signs. 

The Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

There are a lot of red flags that can indicate a bigger issue at hand. Looking out for these takes patience and assurance. No matter how much a person may try to hide their addiction, there are certain effects and behaviors that indicate a problem. Even with a functional drug addict, there are still telling signs of an addiction. Some of the possible signs of drug addiction include the following:

  • Secrecy Being secretive about addiction can be a big indicator. They may be guarded or uncomfortable when someone inquires how they’re spending their time. 
  • Excuses or Justifications for drug use – A functional drug addict may use their job or school as a mask to use drugs. Particularly as a way to manage/relieve their stress.
  • Isolation/Confinement – A functional addict may be accustomed to a set pattern or routine (which is a red flag). This is to stay close to their go-to drug source. As time goes on, they may begin to separate from their family and friends more and more to get their drug dosage.
  • Decreased Physical health – While the person may insist that everything is okay and they have it under control, their addiction will eventually begin to show. It doesn’t take long for a drug to affect a person’s system; this will result in an absence of work, hobbies, and other responsibilities. Not to mention worsened health and even memory loss.
  • A double Life – A functional drug addict may be living or preoccupied with a double life. They may be absent from family gatherings or events to use drugs. They may disappear for long periods of time before returning fatigued or overly energetic. 
  • Bigger Problems at Home – The relationship with those around a drug addict can deteriorate over time. It can cause stress and pain as you see a loved one begin to fall into addiction. What starts as neglecting responsibilities can evolve into aggressive/dangerous behavior. 

Some of these telling signs can appear over time and can be hard to spot at times. It is not an easy feat but it is crucial to getting proper help for a loved one. In many cases, a functional drug addict will be convinced that everything is under control and nothing is wrong. 

addiction support

This may be connected to the idea that people who abuse drugs are apparent and obvious. Addiction can affect anyone, doesn’t matter if they are a doctor, businessman, teacher, parent, or politician. Make sure to look out for these signs so you can help a loved one get proper help today. 

Commonly Abused Drugs by Functional Addicts

Not all cases of drug addiction are the same, this is especially true for cases of functioning drug addicts. There are a few factors that determine the severity and problematic nature of a person’s addiction. This can be how much they are taking of a drug, how frequent, and its effects. It can be hard to list a definite list that fits all cases. Here are a few of the most commonly abused drugs today:

Each of these drugs can be very addictive and can be problematic down the road. While a person may be able to function on the surface, their body will eventually take a toll. It is essentially impossible to truly be a ‘functioning’ addict. The negative effects of these drugs are inevitable and cannot be stopped if a person continues using them. 

You Cannot be ‘Functional’ as a Drug Addict

While a functional addict might think they have everything under control and that there isn’t a problem, eventually things change. As someone becomes addicted to a drug they will continuously use it until they eventually become dependent on the drug. They may also become tolerant to its effects, which requires more dosage to get its effects. As time goes on, the person will eventually feel the negative effects. This comes in the form of physical, mental, and social effects. 

Drugs have an impact on us no matter how much we think we might be in control. What can start as casual use can become a full-blown addiction. It doesn’t take long for a person’s life to feel the effects of drugs. Relationships can be ruined, lives can be destroyed and lost if the person does not get the help they need. Doing nothing is not an option, if you or a loved one may be a ‘functional’ addict, it’s time to get help. 

How to Approach a Loved One About Help

The problem with functional addicts is that they may be abused for so long they don’t see a problem. In that particular moment, they may not see the issues at hand until it’s too late. Eventually, their life will take a turn for the worse (it becomes a matter of ‘when’, not ‘if’). With this in mind, it’s important, to be honest, and open with a loved one. Informing them about the possible dangers and effects of their addiction is a good starting point. 

addicts

Opening up honestly and looking at treatment options can be beneficial for you and them. While it may be hard, it is crucial to be open and transparent about their addiction and how it is affecting you. After, both of you can look for treatment options that will work best for them. If you notice the behavioral signs of possible addiction, don’t wait until it’s too late. 

Getting Addiction Treatment

While it can be overwhelming at times, it’s best to look for a treatment center that will meet all your needs. At Discovery Institute we make sure to cater to all your needs. In a general sense, there are a number of widely used treatment options for drug addiction. This is on a case by cases basis and is personalized specifically for the person. Some of the common treatment options include:

Even if the person thinks they have their addiction under control, this is not the full picture. Being a functional drug addict is a slippery slope, one you’ll eventually fall from. It’s also crucial to remember that no matter how bad things get, it is never too late to get help. 

Discovery Institute is Here to Help

Discovery is ready to welcome those who are willing to make a change in their life. We understand how devastating addiction can be, especially for a functional drug addict. With a variety of personalized and effective treatment options, we’re ready to help you towards a better life. Contact us today to learn about our facility and our treatment options.