brain scans for addiction

Up and Coming Evidence-Based Treatment Practices

This article was written by Robert Galvin, a Primary Counselor at The Discovery Institute

The disease concept of addiction is verbalized frequently and I believe is central to treatment. However, there usually is a watered-down interpretation given to most clients and their loved ones.

It is certainly understood that the brain is highly impacted by substance use and brain health disorders. The brain is central to everything in our lives. It is responsible for our thoughts, feelings and ultimately for our personality and behaviors.

This is a simple concept, yet do we utilize all our options to help our clients heal their brain?

I argue that we don’t. It stands to reason that how well a person’s brain functions correlates to their well-being and functioning in all aspects of life. Most current mainstream substance use and brain health treatment options emphasize medicinal psychiatric treatments, medication assisted treatment (MAT) and therapeutic interventions, all of which can be effective.  

In most substance use or mental health treatment facilities, there are typically no biological tests utilized to confirm a mental health diagnosis or functioning of the brain. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a way to view issues with brain functioning in our clients?

While mental health inventories or criteria are used to diagnose disorders, they don’t always paint the whole picture. It is also not uncommon for diagnosis to be incorrect. According to research reported by National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association (DMDA) approximately 69% of all first-time diagnoses of Bipolar Disorder are incorrect and more than one-third remained misdiagnosed for 10 years or more. This is certainly understandable as assessment and diagnosis in general is complex. A diagnosis in itself does not always explain the cause of the disorder. Clients can have a diagnosis for depression and there could be multiple reason such as grief, substance use, brain injury, chronic illness or pain, and other biological factors. Therefore, correct assessment is essential before implementing the correct intervention. This begs the question; how can we treat a disorder if we can’t always accurately identify the real cause? Imagine all the time and effort used to treat an incorrectly assessed problem, let alone the frustration and suffering a client will experience (i.e. bipolar diagnosis). 

I would like to encourage consumers, counselors, medical personnel, supervisors and anyone else involved with helping clients with substance use and brain health disorders to advocate for better evidenced based options. 

The trend toward finding solutions for treating individuals with substance use disorders has been proceeding in a seemingly urgent manner over the last few years in response to the opiate epidemic. Typically, over my 8-year career in substance use and mental health treatment, I have witnessed a consistent and sometimes considerable delay between the application of interventions and evidenced based research. The population suffering from substance use and brain health disorders all too often have poor outcomes as evidenced by recidivism rates and fatalities. Professionals and consumers have to contend with external influences which can cause significant barriers to treatment. One such barrier is limited funding and how it can all too often shorten the length of stay in treatment. However, we do have more control regarding the clinical interventions that we can implement to help our clients. There is a proven, but not often utilized intervention, that I believe could significantly change the trajectory of outcomes for our clients. I am speaking of the practices by Dr. Daniel Amen and SPECT scans. 

Dr. Amen is a well-known psychiatrist and brain disorder specialist who offers an alternative way to approach brain health. I believe so much in his research and interventions that I have enrolled for certification in brain health through his clinics.

Dr Amen introduced Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) scans as a means to visually display functioning of the brain. SPECT scans can tell us 3 things: areas of the brain that work well, areas that don’t work hard enough & areas of the brain that work too hard. 

He has been using SPECT scans for a least 4 decades and has developed simple strategies to heal the brain. His interventions are client centered treatments to help clients heal their brain and not only change their outcomes in recovery but also increase overall wellbeing. SPECT scans can be cost prohibitive among treatment facilities. However, professionals like myself can be certified in brain health. We would be able to accurately assess brain function issues without the use of SPECT scans at a significantly lower cost. The assessment process is very comprehensive and covers a variety of possible causes for brain health issues. The training also teaches client centered interventions that are realistic for clients to achieve. 

If you would like to learn more about Robert Galvin and his work at The Discovery Institute, please contact us today.

Polydrug Abuse

What is Polydrug Use? What Are the Dangers Associated?

Perhaps you’ve never heard of polydrug use and the effects of this problem. We will be discussing polydrug use dangers because a vast amount of people who struggle with addiction also partake in polydrug use. We will dive deeper into the nature of polydrug use dangers, which substances are commonly experienced together, and the effects on the brain that polydrug use has.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, we at the Discovery Institute want to help you on the road to recovery. We know that addiction can seem daunting and impossible to conquer. However it is a very treatable disease, the first step is to reach out.

What Is PolyDrug Use?

Polydrug use is the act of partaking in two different addictive substances at once. Usually, people do this to enhance the “high” that occurs with the use of certain substances. Polydrug use is a serious problem and can even be deadly.

To name a few, polydrug use can drastically increase the dangers of serious withdrawal effects, overdose, and death. Alongside this, polydrug use can also increase the likelihood of a co-occurring disorder. Finally, polydrug use can not only increase the likelihood of a dual diagnosis, but it can also produce mental illness even if the individual did not experience it before. Let’s take a look at why polydrug use dangers can cause these things, and which drugs are commonly used together.

Why Do People Participate in Polydrug Use?

When individuals risk polydrug use dangers, they do so to experience an advanced high. When someone takes two drugs at the same time, they are not only simultaneously experienced, but each individual drug high is increased. This produces a stronger and more intense euphoria.

The problem is that this also increases the normal dangers of drug use. One of the biggest problems with the highs people experience from using drugs is that the brain cannot produce those same chemicals at that level. That leads the body to “crash”.

This is called withdrawal, and if you struggle with addiction, you know withdrawal all too well. The problem with polydrug use is that it depletes the brain’s levels of “feel-good” chemicals far more rapidly than normal. This leads to an increased high and a more devastating crash. For example, taking alcohol and painkillers together increases the high; but it also increases the chance that the person will stop breathing.

The unfortunate reality is that polydrug use is extremely common. In fact, many do not know they are polydrug users. Plenty of teens use marijuana and alcohol, or ecstasy and alcohol. They do not even realize the severity and deadliness of their actions. At the Discovery Institute, we want you to know what you’re up against if you’re using multiple substances regularly.

How Many Addicts Are Also Polydrug Users?

If you think polydrug use is uncommon, you are sorely mistaken. In 2011, roughly 56% of all emergency room visits were due to polydrug use. That is over half of all visits to the ER. Additionally, in 2007, over 3 million Americans mixed and abused drugs. In 2009 this number increased to 4.5 million visits to the ER due to polydrug use. These ER visits are broken down as follows:

  • Cocaine – 422,901
  • Marijuana – 376,486
  • Heroin – 213,118
  • Opiate pain relievers – 342,983
  • Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium) – 312,931
  • Muscle relaxants (Soma, Flexeril) – 50,878
  • Stimulants (Ritalin, Adderall) – 21,799

Another important topic to discuss is the prevalence of polydrug use amongst American teenagers. Studies have shown that 7 out of 10 teenage drug users combined prescription medication with alcohol. This is having devastating effects on our younger generation. It can have detrimental effects on their futures, upbringing, and brain development. Now that we have discussed how many people participate in polydrug use, let’s examine the specific dangers.

Polydrug Abuse and Its Effects on the Brain

Drugs normally affect the brains of those who use them. However, when a person risks polydrug use dangers, the substances have deteriorating effects on their cognitive functioning. For instance, one example is the way our brains store our memories. Addiction literally rewires the pleasure, motivation, and memory centers of the brain. This takes away the ability to create formative memories after addiction.

While plenty of detrimental effects occur during addiction, they can continue into adulthood. We have all heard stories of people not being able to recall past experiences during, particularly intense addictions. However, it can also hamper our ability to form new memories.

It can also affect the ways our brain helps us sleep. Many times, addicts mix alcohol and sleep enhancement drugs to increase their “medication.” This can lead to sleep-walking injuries, comas, or even death. Alongside this, polydrug use can harm our circadian clock in general, decreasing our ability to fall into the REM cycle. For this reason, even when we get a good night’s rest, we do not feel as though we did. This is because the substances disrupted our sleep rhythm and prevented us from getting the rest we needed.

Increasing the Likelihood of A Co-Occurring Disorder

Not only is polydrug use a danger of producing twin addictions, but another polydrug use danger is also the possibility of causing a co-occurring disorder. This refers to the process by which two disorders are experienced at the same time.

Just like the high experienced by polydrug use dangers, these are not just two simultaneous disorders. The two disorders intertwine and create a more powerful, and more harmful disease. This disease becomes more difficult to treat. Additionally, the two disorders feed into one another, causing the individual to try to cope and relapse.

For example, a co-occurring disorder in this scenario is often addiction and mental illness. Mental illness can manifest itself as depression or anxiety (these are two of the most common). Addiction has a likelihood of causing, being caused by, or contributing to the formation of mental illness. However, polydrug use increases the likelihood of developing anxiety, depression, or another disorder.

This is because the withdrawal effects are far more severe, and far more devastating. They can cause us to feel an even more intense crash after the increased high. This can cause us to develop depression, and in an attempt to cope; isolate us further from loved ones. polydrug use danger like this is extremely severe since these disorders contribute to one another. Consider dual diagnosis treatment, and getting connected to a group that can support you.

Overdose and Death

The worst-case scenario, which is all too common, is that most of the time polydrug use will land users in the ER or lead to death. Drug Awareness Warning Network has done several studies which assert most ER visits are due to drug overdose caused by polydrug use, and many of these instances can lead the individual to die.

Death is all too common in relation to addiction, however, this is especially true in the case of polydrug use. For example, mixing ecstasy and cocaine increases the user’s high. But it also leads them to be far more likely to have a heart attack. Alongside this, the greatest polydrug use danger is “combined drug intoxication.” This has already led to countless ER visits and resulted in many unfortunate deaths. Next, we will move onto examining commonly experienced polydrug usages.

Cocaine and Alcohol

This is one of the most common combinations of substances. It actually leads to the development of an entirely new chemical within the body. This new chemical is called cocaethylene. The polydrug use dangers of cocaethylene are as follows:

When cocaine enters the bloodstream already filled with alcohol, it becomes cocaethylene instead. Cocaethylene has similar effects as cocaine. However, it is 20 times more likely to result in death and it can cause seizures, liver damage, and immune system damage. It also leads to an increase of around 30% of cocaine in the body, thus putting an increase of strain on the cardiovascular system.

Alcohol and Ecstasy

Alcohol and ecstasy are frequently used together, especially in party scenes. While alcohol is sometimes used to moderate the effects of ecstasy (since alcohol is a depressant), one may not feel all the effects of ecstasy, however, they experience a far more devastating crash when coming down. Both alcohol and ecstasy dehydrate you, combine this with sweating and dancing for several hours and you are at risk of heatstroke. It also strains the liver and kidneys, as well as impairing judgment. These are all extremely debilitating polydrug use dangers.

Alcohol and Heroin

Since alcohol and heroin are both central nervous system depressants, the experience of both at the same time increases the high of each. It also draws out different sensations and effects that would not normally be experienced with a single drug. Polydrug use dangers include:

  • Respiratory failure
  • Brain damage
  • Risk of overdose

If one were to overdose on alcohol and heroin, they risk cutting off oxygen to the brain.

Opiates and Cocaine

Polydrug use dangers of these two other central nervous system depressants are prevalent as well. These two drugs are sometimes combined when an individual hasn’t nodded off from the opiate, and cocaine to kick in. Since cocaine is an extremely stressful drug on the heart, taking these two drugs in tandem can put intense strain on the cardiovascular system.

It is not uncommon to see blood vessel ruptures, stroke, heart attack, and cardiac arrest from this combination. Also, since cocaine negates the sleepy effects of the painkillers, the individual may misjudge their prescription (or general measurement) and take way more opiates than they desired. Needless to say, this leads to some intense side effects, withdrawal effects, and possibly overdose.

Cocaine and Ecstasy

Both of these drugs are stimulants. They cause the user to go into overdrive. They also cause the body to be overwhelmed by heat and stress. The unfortunate reality is that many people frequently polydrug these two substances at clubs or parties. A survey of New York clubgoers saw 92% participate in polydrug use, and around 85% used both cocaine and ecstasy. Both of these drugs cause the heart to go into overdrive and lead to a stroke or cardiac arrest. On top of this, the level of sweating and overheating can lead to heatstroke.

Benzodiazepines and Alcohol

As previously stated, alcohol is often combined with sleeping pills and benzodiazepines like Xanax, Valium, Ativan, etc.. However, sometimes individuals will take a sleeping medication and are too impatient for the effects to kick in; thus they turn to alcohol to “boost” the sleeping medications. Another option is that an individual will already have been drinking, and miscalculate their prescription sleep medication due to impaired judgment. The result is polydrug use dangers.

The danger arises because both of these are depressants on the body’s central nervous system. If the individual does not fall asleep, they are heavily dizzy, lack judgment, have impaired memory, and are more aggressive. If they do fall asleep, things can be even worse because people can slip into a coma. Alongside this, while benzodiazepines alone have little risk of overdose; the combination between these two substances can be particularly lethal. 

If you are a loved one and are worried about your person struggling with polydrug use, please consider getting them help. We at the Discovery Institute recommend getting them an intervention. If done well, this is a great way to let them know you care about them and encourage treatment.

Contact Us

You are not alone, and it is not too late. Perhaps you are experiencing polydrug abuse which has formed a co-occurring disorder (or dual diagnosis), and you think you are too far gone. No one ever is, and we at the Discovery Institute want to help you get on the road to recovery. Recovery may seem like a long road, but you do not have to do it alone. Please consider reaching out to us today. We have a specialist ready to connect with you about anything you need. Taking back your life can start with a single phone call, call (844) 433-1101 today.

References:

https://druginfo.sl.nsw.gov.au/blogs/what-polydrug-use

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7616402

http://www.samhsa.gov/data/2k13/DAWN2k11ED/DAWN2k11ED.htm

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9243342

signs of cocaine use

10 Signs of Cocaine Use Disorder

Do you think someone you know is using cocaine? If so, it’s important to know more about the signs of cocaine use. Having this knowledge will give you the information you need in order to identify your loved one’s struggle. As a result, you can begin looking for options to help your friend or family member overcome addiction for good.

Drug Misuse in New Jersey

In 2017, drug overdoses claimed 70,237 lives in the United States. Of these deaths, over two-thirds (67.8%) were due to opioid overdose. It was the second year that drug overdoses killed over 60,000 people — in 2016, its death toll was 63,632.

In New Jersey alone, drug overdoses claimed at least 3,163 lives in 2018. It’s the fourth year that the drug death toll has risen in the state.

But opioids aren’t the only drugs that kill. Of all illicit drugs, cocaine is the second-leading cause of drug overdose deaths. So, it is certainly vital to know the signs of cocaine use, as it can help you save the life of a loved one you suspect uses it.

The bottom line is, cocaine is deadly, with cardiotoxicity only being one of its effects. In some cases, cocaine use can be easy to spot, as it leads to noticeable physical and mental changes in a person. But, there are also some less-than-noticeable or subtle signs of cocaine use.

If you think someone you know may be using this powerfully addictive drug, it’s important to act quickly. Be on the lookout for the following signs, as a family member or friend on this drug will exhibit many or all of them.

1. You Overhear them Say “Snow” or “Blow”

Aside from “coke”, cocaine has many street names, including “C”, “snow”, “blow”, and “powder”. That’s because, in street drug form, cocaine is white, and comes in a fine, crystalline powder.

If you hear your loved one use these terms when talking with others — especially people you don’t know — they may be buying or using cocaine.

2. Traces of White Powder Left around the Nose

Many cocaine users snort the drug in its powder form. As such, one way to tell if someone is sniffing coke is if you see white, powdery traces around their nose. A “runny nose” is also common among those who snort cocaine.

Prolonged “sniffing” of cocaine can also damage the very sensitive lining of the nose. As one snorts the crystalline powder, it can rupture the lining of the nasal passages. This is why nosebleeds are also common among those who use cocaine.

3. High Levels of Unexplained Happiness or Excitement (Euphoria)

One of the main reasons behind cocaine addiction is its powerful “euphoric” effects. This “high” brings such an intense pleasure akin to what one feels after a huge accomplishment. This “rewarding” feeling is one of the things that drive people to get high on cocaine over and over again.

In cocaine users, euphoria can show as extreme excitement or exaggerated happiness. Those on the drug may also “believe” that they’re doing so great in life.

If you notice that your loved one is uncharacteristically excited fairly often, this may be a sign of drug use. This is especially the case if the individual has no true explanation for their excitability.

4. Increased Self-Confidence to the Point of Overconfidence

Since cocaine exaggerates one’s feelings of well-being, it can lead to increased confidence. Much like the effects of methamphetamine, cocaine can even make one feel dangerously overconfident.

This overconfidence can result in cocaine users misjudging their abilities and skills. They may believe that their abilities are much better than they actually are.

These cocaine symptoms can be deadly, especially if individuals are misjudging their abilities. For example, some people who are under the influence of drugs like cocaine may attempt to drive, believing that they are capable of properly doing so. It’s no wonder that fatal car accidents are second to drug overdoses when it comes to accidental deaths. Unfortunately, many of these accidents involved drivers under the influence of drugs.

As you can see, overdosing isn’t the only risk when it comes to using stimulant drugs, like cocaine. So, if you notice that a loved one is struggling with drug dependence, it’s important to make sure he or she gets help right away. 

5. Pupil Dilation and Sensitivity to Light

As cocaine stimulates the brain, it responds by releasing adrenaline and endorphins. The release of these hormones then dilates or widens the pupils. Sometimes, the pupils can become so large that it also causes light sensitivity. In cocaine users, even normal lighting conditions can already cause this sensitivity. That’s why they may choose to wear sunglasses, even indoors.

6. Withdrawal and Isolation

A recent study found that cocaine users don’t like social interaction. One reason is that the drug makes them feel that interacting with others isn’t rewarding. 

Also, substance dependence tends to cause people to feel alone. This might come as a result of several things. In some cases, family members may misunderstand their loved one’s addiction, believing that the individual’s substance use is a choice. On the other hand, some family members or friends may try to help their struggling loved one. But, if they do not know exactly how to help, they may end up driving the suffering individual farther away.

Yet another reason why some people may isolate themselves while dealing with substance use is guilt. Many individuals feel guilty or ashamed because of their struggle with addiction.

As a result of these challenges, substance users may begin to withdraw from social settings. They may start to avoid being in the company of people they otherwise loved to hang out with. All these can lead to isolation, which is in fact, common in many other drug users.

7. Paranoia and/or Violence

Studies have found that “crack” cocaine leads to paranoia in up to 84% of users. It also found that almost half of crack users displayed violent behaviors.

When paranoia hits cocaine users, they may feel irrational fear for something unreal. They may think that people are “out to get” them. Sometimes, they may even feel they’re in danger. From here, delusions and hallucinations can occur.

Delusions can make people believe that they are another person. Hallucinations are perceptions of things that aren’t there. For example, hallucinating cocaine users may say bugs are crawling on their skin even if there aren’t any.

These delusions and hallucinations can be what drives them to commit violent actions. To outsiders, it may seem violent behavior, but to the users, it may be a form of “self-defense”. But they may be defending themselves from imagined dangers.

8. Frequent Disappearances

People who use crack cocaine feel the results almost right away. It can take up to 10 minutes before users who sniff the drug feel the effects of crack cocaine. But within 5 to 20 minutes of experiencing euphoria, the high goes away and may even cause discomfort.

This short-lived effect often drives people to want to get more of the drugs that they are using. This can explain why they often excuse themselves from family events. Some may even offer no explanation and just “disappear” several times a day.

9. Depression

Although cocaine use triggers the brain to produce endorphins, it also depletes serotonin. Serotonin is also a “happy” hormone that contributes to one’s feelings of well-being. Because cocaine depletes it so quickly, stopping its use can give rise to depression.

10. Lack of Appetite and Weight Loss

Perhaps your loved one is showing little to no interest in eating. This is not uncommon among those who struggle with substance misuse. Firstly, cocaine has appetite-suppressing qualities, making individuals less interested in eating food. Also, people who suffer from drug dependence often experience a decrease in self-care. They may not feel much like eating as drugs tend to take priority in their lives. 

As a result of appetite loss, individuals who suffer from cocaine dependence often show signs of weight loss. This change in weight can occur fairly quickly. So, if you have noticed that someone you know is losing weight somewhat rapidly, check for the other signs of cocaine use. If you see any of them in addition to weight loss, it’s possible that your loved one is dealing with a cocaine use disorder.

Getting Help for a Loved One Showing Signs of Cocaine Use in New Jersey

Cocaine misuse is a serious matter. Those who suffer from addiction can experience some very severe physical health complications. Some may even develop mental illnesses as a result of substance misuse.

This should be enough for you to encourage your loved one to get help as soon as you notice signs of cocaine use in them. Do what you can to make them realize they need help before this drug leaves you with no one to help. You may need to stage an intervention in order to encourage the individual to get treatment.

Need help discussing cocaine recovery and treatment in New Jersey with a loved one? Then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We can help a family member or friend you suspect to be using cocaine before the addiction worsens. 

If addiction is present in the life of someone you love, it’s time to reach out for help. Here at Discovery Institute, we offer treatment programs that can help you and your family to overcome the effects of addiction. Despite what the situation might look like, there is hope for your friend or family member. Just call us today to find out how we can help!

symptoms of meth use

How to Recognize the Signs and Symptoms of Meth Use

Here’s the deal: there were over 10,000 overdoses attributed to psychostimulants in 2017.

This includes meth (methamphetamine). These numbers aren’t declining — they’re growing exponentially.

If you suspect a loved one may be using meth, time is of the essence.

Here’s an explanation of symptoms of meth use so you can recognize abuse and take action.

What is Meth?

To understand the signs of meth use, you must first understand what meth is.

Methamphetamine is a psychostimulant, meaning it acts on the central nervous system. It’s also classified as an amphetamine.

Meth came into society in the 30s as a prescription inhalant. Due to its euphoric and energetic side effects, it quickly became a substance of abuse.

Clandestine labs began popping up to manufacture and sell this substance on the street. Now, it goes by the following names:

  • Ice (smokable meth)
  • Crystal
  • Snap, crackle, pop
  • Go
  • Tweak

It appears as a white to light brown crystalline powder or chunky crystals. It’s taken through ingestion, injection, snorting, or smoking.

There’s also legal methamphetamine prescribed for severe cases of obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It’s called Desoxyn and it has nearly the same chemical composition as meth. 

Desoxyn is a white, oblong pill that has an R and the number 12 printed on it.

It’s rarely prescribed due to its addictive qualities. However, other commonly prescribed amphetamines include Adderall, Concerta, and Ritalin.

Even though these substances are more commonly used to treat attention deficit disorders, they’re addictive, abused, and potentially gateway substances to meth.

Why is Meth Addictive?

As previously mentioned, meth creates a sensation of euphoria in the user. It rushes the cardiovascular system with dopamine.

Along with euphoria, users experience the following symptoms:

  • Energy
  • Alertness
  • Increased concentration
  • Sociability
  • Increased libido
  • Higher self-esteem and self-confidence

The intensity and duration of these symptoms depend on the way the user takes the drug. The quickest and most intense effects occur with intravenous injection.

Injection is also known as slamming, mainlining, or shooting up. Injection has the most potent effects but leaves the system quickest. Therefore, this is the most common method for severe addicts.

The next “best” thing would be smoking it. 

Addiction can occur with only a few uses. This is due to the potency and longevity of meth in the system. Users experience a high that can last up to 20 hours.

Once meth leaves the system, the user experiences a major crash where they feel depressed, fatigued, and irritable. This combined with chemical cravings for the substance leads to continued use.

There are several major problems with this occurrence. The first is that crystal meth has harsh, caustic chemicals in it. Over time, these chemicals have severe effects on the body.

Due to the highly addictive nature of the substance, overdose occurs more frequently. As the user becomes more and more addicted, they also become more volatile and likely to harm others.

It’s essential to notice symptoms your loved ones display before it gets to this point.

Symptoms of Meth Use

Paraphernalia

Paraphernalia is obvious evidence of meth use. What you may find varies based on the way the person uses it.

A common piece of paraphernalia is small baggies with white residue. This could be a tiny, sealable baggie, or a sandwich bag with the corner cut off.

Users who smoke meth must smoke it with something. This could be small pieces of aluminum foil, soda cans with holes in the sides, glass tubes, or gutted light bulbs.

When people smoke meth, there’s a burnt residue left behind.

If the user snorts it, traces of use include short straws and the shaft of writing pens. Intravenous injection requires syringes, armbands, and spoons. 

If you find any of these items, it’s likely that your loved one has a substance abuse problem.  Don’t ignore the paraphernalia. Get them help while you can.

Also, don’t rely on finding concrete evidence to confront them. There are many other obvious behavioral and physical signs of addiction.

Behavioral Signs

Meth causes people to stay awake for long periods of time, sometimes up to 15 days if there’s repeated use. The term for this is “tweaking”.

Tweaking results in fast and jumbled talking as well as jerky walking. In general, meth causes unusual activity. This makes users seem restless and hyperactive.

This hyperactivity manifests in twitching, tremors, and repetitive, obsessive behaviors.  Users can seem nervous and anxious (“strung out”).

Even if only used once, meth causes insomnia and then narcolepsy.

The varying amount of dopamine in someone using meth results in mood disturbances. They may sometimes show violent, aggressive behavior due to paranoia and fear.

Increased libido and sexual stamina are a result of increased dopamine as well.

Dangerous symptoms of meth use include changes in judgment and prioritization. The house becomes filthy, children and pets become neglected, and extremely bad decisions occur.

Because of this, long-time meth users can’t operate “normally”. It becomes hard for an addict to maintain a family and a job. As the addiction continues, the desire to do so goes away as meth becomes the only important thing.

If you’re concerned about your loved one using meth and the signs aren’t obvious, they may be new to using meth. They may be hiding their addiction by isolating themselves. You or other family members may start seeing them less and less.

Also, they may hang around new friends that you or their family do not know. These new friends are probably fellow users.

Physical Signs

If your loved one displays any of these physical signs, an intervention may be necessary:

  • Loss of appetite resulting in weight loss
  • Weakened immune system
  • Clogged or runny nose
  • Sunken and baggy eyes
  • Increased heart rate, resulting in sweating without heat or physical activity
  • Sores on face and body from picking (a repetitive, obsessive action done due to the sensation of bugs under the skin)
  • Discolored or rotting teeth (occurs because meth dries up saliva)
  • Dilated pupils

Your Loved One is Not a Lost Cause

If there’s paraphernalia, behavioral, or physical symptoms of meth use present, take action. Even the most severe meth addictions can still get treated with detox and rehabilitation.

If meth addiction isn’t treated, it can very easily and quickly lead to overdose.

Read more about what’s involved in an amphetamine detox and get help for your loved one today.

how to tell if someone is on xanax

Learn How to Tell If Someone Is on Xanax

Chances are, you’ve heard of Xanax. But how much do you know about it?

In addition to being a prescription medication, Xanax is also an extremely potent narcotic. It can also be habit forming and addictive.

If you or a loved one is using Xanax, it could get out of hand and turn into a full-blown addiction. This article describes how to tell if someone is on Xanax and what possible steps you can take.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. These kinds of drugs are prescribed to treat anxiety disorder or insomnia. It also has some other uses; for example, it can be used to prevent seizures in people who are going through alcohol withdrawal or to sedate someone who’s going through a manic episode.

Xanax generally comes in pill form. Sometimes, it comes in the form of a “bar.” In this form, you can break the pill into smaller pieces to take smaller doses.

What Does Being on Xanax Feel Like?

When people are on Xanax, they tend to feel very relaxed. Any anxiety the person has will quickly start to go away as the drug takes effect.

At higher doses, Xanax has a sedative-like effect comparable to sleeping pills such as Ambien. If you take too much of Xanax, you might experience blackouts in which you aren’t aware of where you’ve been or what you’ve done.

Why Is Xanax Dangerous?

Xanax is a drug that relieves anxiety, so it also relieves you of your inhibitions. This can lead to some odd and risky behavior. For example, many people decide to get behind the wheel and drive while they’re on a large dose of Xanax.

Because of its anxiety-relieving properties, it can have a strange effect on people’s personalities. Someone who might not normally do something as risky as driving under the influence might do it without thinking twice when taking Xanax.

Combining Xanax with alcohol can have very dangerous and unpredictable effects. You might take Xanax with no intention of drinking, only to start doing shots of whiskey once the drug takes effect. When combined with alcohol, the personality-altering effects of Xanax become significantly worse.

This drug is also incredibly addictive. Like alcohol, it can be very dangerous to withdraw from Xanax.

If you or a loved one wants to get off Xanax, you should only do so with the supervision of a medical professional. Quitting Xanax cold turkey can have some unpleasant side effects.

How to Tell If Someone Is on Xanax

Many people with Xanax problems started off being legitimately prescribed the drug. If your loved one has anxiety or panic attacks, they might be prescribed Xanax from their physician.

You won’t necessarily notice any extreme effects if someone’s using Xanax at prescribed doses. It’s possible to take Xanax and remain functional. Many people take it and continue to work jobs and look after their families.

In some cases, people can start to abuse the drug. This is when the symptoms of Xanax use become a lot more apparent.

Someone who’s on a high dose on Xanax may act fairly similar to someone who has consumed a lot of alcohol. They might slur their words and appear like they’re “dead behind the eyes.”

Obvious Strange Behavior

They’ll try to act like they’re not intoxicated, despite how obvious it is. Also, they might struggle to keep up with conversations and make nonsensical statements. For example, they might give you an answer to a question that you asked 15 minutes ago.

You might also notice strange behavior that’s not in line with your loved one’s normal personality. Some people who abuse Xanax go on online shopping sprees in the middle of a blackout and then they’re shocked when things start arriving. Sometimes, people might send nonsensical text messages or voicemails.

Serious Signs of Addiction

It won’t take long for Xanax abuse to spiral into full-blown addiction. As Xanax addiction takes over, your loved one might experience thoughts of suicide or self-harm. They might also become aggressive towards you, even if this isn’t in line with their normal behavior.

If someone’s overdosed on Xanax, they might experience seizures, involuntary movements, and even hallucinations. If you suspect someone’s overdosed, dial 911 immediately. In this country, you can’t be prosecuted for drug possession if you call 911 for an ambulance, so don’t worry about getting into trouble by calling.

Black Market Pills

If someone started taking Xanax legitimately but then started to abuse it, they might need to turn to the black market to acquire the drug. You might notice a Xanax abuser starting to associate with different types of people.

Sometimes, Xanax addicts might order the drug in the mail. Xanax is already dangerous, but it’s even more so when you’re getting it illegally.

Much of the illegal Xanax on the street is not pharmaceutical grade. Often, it’s been manufactured by illegal chemists who don’t necessarily know what they’re doing.

In some cases, Xanax bars can actually contain another substance altogether. This adds a whole new element of danger to Xanax addiction.

Get Help Today

So now you know how to tell if someone is on Xanax. When someone’s addicted to the drug, they stand the best chance of regaining their sobriety if they go to a rehab center.

The best way to treat a Xanax addiction is through inpatient rehab. When you go to inpatient rehab, you live in a medical facility throughout the course of your treatment.

Your condition will be monitored by healthcare professionals 24 hours a day. This is good for Xanax addicts, as the withdrawal symptoms for Xanax can be incredibly unpleasant and even dangerous. When you attend inpatient rehab, you’ll receive all the help you need to manage the withdrawal symptoms.

Do you need to speak to someone about drug rehab? Then get in touch with us now.

teen experimentation

When You Should Be Concerned About Teen Experimentation With Drugs

Did you know that by the time they reach 12th grade, around half of US teens have misused illicit drugs at least once? If your teen has been experimenting with drugs, it doesn’t mean that they’re a bad kid.

Teen experimentation is common, but it can lead to addiction problems later in life. There’s a chance that it’s a one-off event, but it could also be a cause for concern.

If you’re worried about your teen experimenting with drugs, here are a few things you should look out for.

If Addiction Runs in the Family

Some people are genetically predisposed to addiction and addictive behaviors. If your family has a history of addiction, this could be a cause for concern.

If your teen is experimenting with drugs, these biological factors might lead them to drug addiction later in life. 

Their Behavior Has Changed

Your child has always been a happy and friendly person to others, but now you’ve noticed a change. They might act out more, stay out later and become aggressive.

Some behavior changes are normal during puberty, but it could also be a sign of drug addiction. They may act secretively and hide things from you to hide a drug problem.

They might also be engaging in more risky behavior, such as having unprotected sex or engaging in violence. They might even steal money and possessions to fund their habit, so keep an eye out for these red flags.

They Hang Out with ‘Bad Kids’

Another sign that drug experimentation has gotten out of hand is when they change their whole friend group. They might be other teens or older people who have a bad reputation.

They might refuse to tell you things about their new friends or where they go with them. You may see new faces and names crop up a lot more and old friends slip away from them. 

If they have an addiction, they may be using or buying from these friends and it could lead to many other issues with addicition.

Their School Performance Goes Down

Lots of teens get bad grades occasionally and normally, it isn’t too much of a problem. But if you’ve noticed your child’s grades slip dramatically and their attendance goes way down, it could be a cause for concern.

They might have once been on track for straight As, but now they fail their assignments. There are lots of other reasons for this, but addiction to drugs could be one of them.

If They Have Experienced Loss

Studies have shown that teens who have experienced bereavement are at a heightened risk of abusing substances. If your teen has recently suffered a loss of a family member or friend, they might start using drugs.

Many people use drugs to escape from reality, and they could be using drugs to escape the pain of loss. If this has happened, make sure to get them into therapy or counseling to help them deal with it in a healthy way. 

They Have Experienced Trauma in the Past

Another reason to be concerned about experimental drug use going too far is if your teen has experienced trauma. People who have been subject to abuse or trauma in childhood are more likely to become addicted.

They may start to use drugs as a way to escape their traumatic past and forget about what happened to them. This is a slippery slope and could lead to a lot more trauma in the future.

If your child has experienced trauma in the past, make sure that they get proper psychological help. This will help them to process their experiences and move past without resorting to drugs.

They Look High A Lot

It’s one thing when you catch your kid with red eyes raiding the fridge with a case of the munchies. But it’s another thing when you notice your child is seriously high on hard drugs.

Are their pupils dilated more than normal? Do they nod out during conversations? Is their speech clumsy or slurred? Are they losing weight and is their skin getting sores on it? These could all be signs of drug addiction.

The physical signs or drug addiction are often quite noticeable, and it could be the biggest indicator of a serious problem.

They’re Under a Lot of Stress

One reason your child may turn to drug use is that they are under a lot of stress. It could be academic stress of exams, societal stress within their friend group, or stress at home. 

Whatever the reason may be, in times of stress and anxiety, teens may turn to drugs to calm down and escape. This is often an easy way to fall down the path of drug addiction. 

If you notice your child is under a lot of stress, take some time to talk to them about it. Let them know that you can help and find a productive way to deal with the issue.

Now You Know What to Look Out with Teen Experimentation

Teen experimentation with drugs is something that a lot of teenagers experience in their life. Sometimes, it’s just a phase or a one-off thing they wanted to try, but it can also lead to serious addiction problems. These are a few key things you should look out for if you suspect your teen is experimenting with drugs.

Are you worried that your child is addicted and want to get help for them? Check out our drug treatment programs for young adults to make sure your teen gets the help and support they need.

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What You Need to Know About Ambien Addiction

When taken properly, Ambien is intended to make the user feel relaxed and ready for bed. However, Ambien requires a prescription. This is because the drug can be dangerous. When misused, Ambien can cause dependence and other side effects. Below are a few things you should know about Ambien and Ambien addiction. For more information, contact our NJ detox centers today.

Side Effects

A common side effect of Ambien use is what doctors refer to as paradoxical excitation. This is when an individual exhibits unusual behavior while using the drug, and is unaware of his or her actions. Ambien comes with many other physical side effects including, drowsiness, tremors, headaches, loss of appetite, and much more.

Long-Term Effects

The most dangerous long-term effect of Ambien is developing tolerance to the medication. If you change your dosage without speaking to your doctor, or you take the drug for more than 30 days, you run the risk of increasing your tolerance. This can lead to you needing more and more of the drug to feel the same effects that you had when you first started taking it.

Dependence

When you continuously take Ambien, you can eventually become addicted and dependant on the drug. Eventually leaving you unable to function without it. This can be extremely problematic as substance dependence often interferes with everyday life. Some of the symptoms and effects of Ambien dependence and addiction include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Job loss
  • Headaches
  • Muscular pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased anxiety
  • Isolation from loved ones
  • Problems with digestion
  • Financial trouble due to drug use habits
  • Using more Ambien than recommended

After a person abuses Ambien for a while, it’s possible that he or she will experience very intense effects, including sleep problems (insomnia), nightmares, hallucinations, and depression. Some individuals experience a state of confusion as a result of Ambien use. 

Unfortunately, many individuals also deal with suicidal thoughts because of the effects of the drug. Some may even attempt to end their lives. So, it’s extremely important for each individual who struggles with Ambien dependence and addiction to get professional help right away. A drug detox program can help to end substance abuse. Then, therapy and treatment can help individuals to continue recovering from drug addiction. 

Identifying More Serious Effects of Ambien Abuse

Many individuals who have become dependent on or addicted to Ambien have found that it’s very difficult to stop using the drug. Once the body develops an Ambien dependence problem, the effects can be extremely intense. 

This drug can produce euphoria, which is a pleasurable feeling that many drugs offer to those who use them. This state of euphoria is often one of the causes of continued drug abuse and, ultimately, addiction.

But, some individuals mix Ambien with other substances, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines, in order to increase the euphoric effects of the drug. Not only is this dangerous, but it can also prove to be deadly to those who consume this mixture. Mixing benzos and Ambien is especially harmful because of the nature of both drug types.

Both of these substances depress the body’s central nervous system (CNS). So, combining the two can cause many issues, including slowed breathing. Since they both slow a person’s breathing rate, they can actually cause a reaction that actually stops the person from breathing. Individuals who mix Ambien with benzos or alcohol are at risk for overdose or even death. 

Ambien is a sedative drug so, as you might imagine, it causes users to become rather sedated and can cause individuals to have delayed responses and reflexes. Many individuals show signs of impaired judgment and disorientation. All of these effects can lead individuals to engage in dangerous or harmful activities.

These activities could include driving under the influence of Ambien, having unprotected sex, uncontrollable drinking, and even violent behavior and aggression. 

Those who use this drug before going to sleep may experience episodes of sleepwalking. Ambien has also been known to cause people to perform many other activities while unconscious, including driving, engaging in sexual activity, speaking to other people, and even eating. 

In most cases, if not all, individuals have no memory of the behaviors and activities they carried out while unconscious. These moments of unconscious activity are known as episodes of parasomnia.

When a person sleepwalks under the influence of Ambien, he or she may be put in danger. Many individuals have walked out of their homes while asleep. Some have gotten into their cars and begin driving. This can, of course, be very dangerous for the individual and all others on the road. 

Since the effects of Ambien abuse can be so intense, it’s important to end addiction immediately. It’s important, however, to end substance use with the help of professionals since Ambien withdrawal symptoms are serious. 

Common Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal is never easy when a person has been dependent on drugs or alcohol. Ambien withdrawal is no exception. Some of the symptoms people may experience after ending Ambien abuse might include the following:

  • Fever
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Agitation
  • Shakiness
  • Dizziness
  • Lack of sleep
  • Muscle cramps
  • Stomach cramps
  • High blood pressure
  • Excessive sweating

Many individuals experience excessive and uncontrollable crying while withdrawing from Ambien use. Some deal with intense symptoms such as convulsions and panic attacks.

The severity of these symptoms makes professional detox programs all the more important for those who wish to end substance abuse in their lives.

NJ Detox Centers

Ambien dependence and addiction are very serious problems. So, those who are suffering from any of these problems should seek help immediately in order to end the effects of Ambien misuse in their lives. 

Thankfully, there is help for each one who is suffering. Recovery may be challenging but the good news is that recovery is possible!

So, if you or someone you know is struggling with drug abuse or other substances, contact the Discovery Institute. Through supervised medical detox and proven treatment programs, we can help you get back to a drug-free life. Achieve the life you deserve today.

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Abuse and Misuse of Xanax

Xanax (also known as alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine used to treat individuals diagnosed with anxiety disorders or depression. Although Xanax has a high efficacy when used as medically instructed, there are numerous possible side effects associated with long-term intake, let alone abuse of the drug. If abuse should occur, treatment should be sought from a drug rehab in NJ.

Individuals that become habitual users of Xanax can rapidly develop a tolerance and require frequent increases in dosage to reap its calming effects. However, continued usage allows users to become dependent on the substance physically and psychologically.

Although Xanax is meant to treat depression and anxiety, abuse can result in increased depression, as well as suicidal thoughts. Other symptoms of psychological dependence that result from abuse include difficulty concentrating, disorientation and confusion, hallucinations, and memory problems.

Symptoms of physical dependency include:

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  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Heavy sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Excruciating joint pain
  • Muscle weakness and muscular twitching
  • Blurred vision
  • Impaired coordination and balance
  • Rapid heartbeat and heart palpitations
  • Seizures
  • Stuffy nose
  • Swelling of the hands and feet
  • Jaundice
  • Decreased urination
  • Constipation or diarrhea

Get Help for Substance Abuse with Drug Rehab in NJ

An addiction to Xanax, whether unintentional through misuse or brought on by abuse is incredibly unhealthy and should be addressed by professional help. Addiction and substance abuse are extremely difficult to overcome by yourself, even if you think that you don’t need help. Especially in the case of Xanax, a drug used to treat conditions associated with negative thoughts, destructive ways of thinking while stopping substance abuse may only get worse. The vicious cycle of Xanax addiction can have you feeling completely isolated and alone, but you are not alone. The Discovery Institute is able to help you get to recovery.

Discovery lends our four decades of addiction treatment experience to each and every one of our client’s unique set of needs. Our knowledgeable staff of licensed and highly-trained staff can assess your personal needs and point you in the right direction of the best treatment option suited for you. Contact us for the care and support you need to overcome addiction.

Asking for Help with Addiction to Drugs or Alcohol

Asking for Help with Addiction to Drugs or Alcohol

When you are abusing drugs or alcohol, asking for help with addiction is a scary thought. When you are considering this, you are usually at a point of desperation where all other ideas have been tried and failed. In truth, asking for help is one of the bravest and smartest things you can do. If you get help in time, you can save your life. Also, you will most likely be bringing a giant sense of relief to your friends and family members.

When should you ask for help with addiction?

If you ever think you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, it is a good idea to ask for help as soon as possible. The earlier you seek treatment, the better chance you will have at returning to a healthy and sober lifestyle. Here are some signs you might need help with addiction to a substance:

  1. You always make sure you have access to your drug of choice and know where to get more. This might mean knowing which liquor stores are open on Sunday, or having a backup drug dealer, or a secret stash for emergencies.
  2. You feel the effects of withdrawal if you stop ingesting the drug or alcohol. Withdrawal can be mild with symptoms like anxiety and shakiness and range to severe vomiting, convulsions, and even coma. Detox should always be done in a medically supervised environment to make sure you are comfortable and safe.
  3. You have done things you regret because of the drug or alcohol. Examples might include unprotected sex, stealing from your family and friends, lying to and conniving people, driving under the influence, or getting into verbal or physical fights.
  4. You are having personal or professional problems because of your addiction. You might find that you are always late to school, or keep calling in sick to work because you are under the influence, or suffering from the night before. It is only a matter of time until people will catch on, and getting fired or kicked out of school can have lifelong consequences.
  5. Your health is suffering. You may suffer from blackouts, tremors, and a poor memory. Additionally, you are probably not eating well and may be malnourished. All of these are side effects of drug or alcohol abuse.

These are just a few examples of when you should absolutely seek help for addiction. This list is not all-inclusive. In a nutshell, you should get help with addiction when you feel that you need it, no matter what makes you feel that way.

How to Ask for Help with Addiction

Asking for help isn’t easy. That is true no matter who you are. It is a humbling experience that puts you at other people’s mercy, and you are no longer in control. But if you think about it, you are already at the mercy of drugs or alcohol and certainly not in control, so the alternative is better. Continuing with drugs or alcohol will ultimately lead to your death. If you get help, you will have a shot at recovery.

When asking for help, make sure to go to someone you trust and someone that you know has your best interest in mind. Also, make sure that this person is sober and doesn’t suffer from addiction themselves. Examples may include a parent, sibling, best friend, or coworker. Whoever it is, make sure it is someone you trust will take good care of you and assist you in the journey of getting help. Chances are whoever you ask for help will be so relieved that you want the help that they will go out of their way to assist you.

Once you ask for help with addiction, follow through with it and work hard to get the help that you asked for. There’s nothing more discouraging than asking for help and then refusing to use it. If you are requesting help, you need it, even though at another time you may feel stronger, or your urge to get high or drunk will overrule the rational part of you that wants help. Don’t let that happen! Talk to someone you trust and together work on getting the help you need.