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.

effects of drug addiction on family members/signs of drug use in teens

Teenage Attitude or Something Worse? Early Signs of Drug Use in Teens You Should Know

Studies confirm that teenagers are biologically wired for risky behavior. And while that may not come as a shock to some parents, it may help others understand why their teenage children make confounding life choices. 

But as much as any good parent would hate to find out that their teen has been using drugs, sometimes it’s difficult to even know. It’s crucial that you’re able to spot the signs of drug use in teens so that you know whether or not your child is lying or hiding it from you. 

Today, we’re going to go over some of these telltale signs so you know whether or not your child needs professional help. 

Changes in Teen’s Outward Appearance

There are many signs of drug abuse in a teenager that you can look for, but one of the easiest to spot is their appearance. If you need a place to start, then it could help to look at these outward signs. 

Poor Hygiene

“Kids are kids,” is something that gets tossed around a lot. And yes, children may have a tendency to play, get dirty, and not care so much about keeping up with good hygiene. 

With that being said, excessively poor hygiene might be a sign to look out for. 

Scratch Marks

If a teenager is using opiates, one sign to look for is excessive scratch marks or the constant act of scratching. Some opiates cause the body to release histamine, similar to an allergic reaction, which can cause scratching symptoms to manifest. 

Track Marks

Track marks are unhealed puncture wounds that may be one of the signs of teenage drug use. Some drugs are taken intravenously with needles and are usually found on the forearm.

Rather than puncture wounds, they may also bruise or scab over. 

Bloodshot Eyes

A child may have bloodshot eyes for a number of different reasons, but it’s still a good outward sign to look out for. Bloodshot eyes (which appear reddish), may be a sign of marijuana use. 

Other drugs can cause other observable changes in your child’s eyes, though. For example, cocaine abuse and various hallucinogens like LSD may cause a user’s pupils to dilate. Heroin, on the other hand, may cause pupils to reduce in size. 

Changes in Teen’s Behavior

Just looking at your teen may tell a big part of the story, but you also need to pay attention to the way they act. Behavior changes can be a big indicator that your child could be secretly hiding an addiction from you. 

Failing Grade

Let’s be honest, school isn’t always easy for children. There could be a number of reasons why a student may be falling behind in the grades department. 

Still, failing grades and overall poor academics might tell you that something is taking away from their priorities and concentration at school. 

Avoiding Eye Contact

According to Mark Bouton, a former FBI agent, there are many ways to identify someone who’s lying. Avoiding eye contact is a sure sign that someone is hiding something from you. 

Now, why your child is hiding something or what it is exactly is another story. Sometimes, it helps to know that something is being hidden from you in the first place, though. 

Hostile Reactions

If your teenager reacts and lashes out in hostile ways, it might indicate that they are subconsciously being defensive. This could be another sign of teen drug abuse since they might be harboring a secret that affects them. 

Demands for Privacy 

It’s no secret that most teenagers want privacy. They are slowly growing into adults, and they desire that sense of independence. 

That being said, sudden and extreme demands for privacy might be a red flag to look out for. It could mean that they have something – physically or otherwise – that they are trying to hide, such as drug paraphernalia. 

Change of Friend Groups

People change and that might include changing friend groups. Sometimes, your interests change significantly enough that you may lose some friends and gain others. 

But a sudden change in your teenager’s social life is still a sign to look out for. Their new friend group may be for purposes other than just socializing. 

Significant Mood Swings

Does your teen go from extreme highs to extreme lows in seemingly no time at all? 

There could be many reasons for that, including psychological issues, but it might also be a reaction from prolonged drug use. Some drugs may cause significant mood swings, or the mood swings may be a sign of defensive behavior from harboring the secret addiction.

Other Indicators

Sometimes, you need to look beyond your teenage child’s appearance and behavior for indicators of drug use. It’s important to observe events happening around your house, too. 

Missing Medication

If you have your own prescribed medications and find that they are mysteriously missing, it could be a sign that your child is stealing them. Statistically, the use of opioids in highschoolers is actually down, but many still agree that they are easy to acquire. 

Masking Scents

Some drug use creates obvious smells, and your teen may use various things to mask that scent. This could include:

  • Cologne/perfume
  • Incense burners
  • Vaporizers
  • Scented candles

While these things individually may not indicate teen drug use, it’s still a useful behavior to take note of. 

Drug Accessories

While you may not catch your teen redhanded with drugs, there are still accessories to drug use that you may find. These include:

  • Needles
  • Ziploc bags
  • Aluminum foil
  • Balloons
  • Spoons 
  • Lighters
  • Aerosol cans
  • Rolling paper or cheap cigars

Again, some of these items on their own may not conclusively prove teen drug abuse, but they important clues. 

Look Out for Signs of Drug Use in Teens

No parent wants to find out that their child is using drugs or keeping dangerous secrets from them. But the reality is that some teenagers get away with drug abuse for a long time and may never be confronted about it. 

As a loving caregiver, you should pay attention as early as possible to the signs of drug use in teens that might tip you off to any potential problems. If you suspect that your child is abusing substances, feel free to contact us right away to discuss options for addiction rehabilitation. 

signs of a drinking problem

How to Recognize the Signs of a Drinking Problem

How dangerous is alcohol?

Your initial answer might be “not very”. Especially when you consider the physical effects of other drugs, like heroin, meth, and cocaine. These drugs can stop your heart in a single dose.

The problem with that argument is that it doesn’t take into account the damage alcohol does on a wider scale. Alcohol is responsible for far more deaths, broken homes, and property damage. And it’s legal, making it the most dangerous drug of all.

In this article, we’ll explore how you can spot the signs of a drinking problem in a friend or loved one.

Recognize the Signs of a Drinking Problem

If you fear that a friend or loved one has a drinking problem, the first thing you can do is educate yourself about it. Here are a few of the common signs of alcohol addiction.

They’re Isolated

Alcoholics understand that their drinking habits aren’t like those of others. Because of this, they tend to shy away from social situations. Most often, those social situations are the ones where they can’t drink the way they’d like to.

They lose touch with the idea that they can have fun without alcohol. And they become more and more isolated over time.  

They’re the “Life of the Party”

Everyone has had a night they’d like to forget. Maybe you had one too many drinks and did something foolish at a bar. But it shouldn’t occur often.

If your friend is always the life of the party, that could be a warning sign of alcohol addiction. You’ll notice they drink more than anyone else. And they get drunk before anyone else does.

The life of the party usually can’t stop at just one drink. And they often pass out while the night is still young. Or talk about experiencing blackouts. 

They’re Participating in Dangerous Activities

Drunk driving is never okay. In fact, it’s one of the most dangerous things you can do. So if you know someone who does it regularly, that’s a big red flag.

But you may notice other strange behaviors too. They might pick fights while they’re drinking. Or insist on participating in dangerous dares. 

Drinking against doctor’s orders while on certain medications is a dangerous activity. And excessive drinking while swimming, or riding a bike, or even cooking can be a serious health risk.

They’re Having Relationship Problems

Neglecting responsibilities is a common behavior of addicts. If you notice that your friend is constantly talking about relationship problems, that’s one of the signs.

These problems are often compounded because they may drink to feel better about the situation. They might pick fights with you or other loved ones. And they may become verbally or physically abusive.

They’re Having Problems with the Law

Legal troubles are the most obvious sign of an addiction. It’s one thing to get busted with booze as a minor. But it’s another thing to have serious criminal offenses on their record because of drinking.

Getting arrested for domestic violence while they’re drunk is a sign of a problem. Other common legal problems for addicts include DWI, breaking and entering, and theft. Even public intoxication, although not as serious as some of the legal issues we’ve discussed, is something to keep an eye on.

They’re Lying

Once addiction gets ahold of someone, it tends to strip them of their moral compass. Someone with a drinking problem is more likely to lie, cheat, and steal to get what they need.

You might catch them lying about when they drink, how much they drink, and who they drink with. They may lie about the fact that they won’t attend an event because they plan to drink instead. And you may find that they’re lying about how much money they spend on drinking.

Their Crowd Drinks Too Much

You can tell a lot about people by observing their friends. People who drink heavily tend to stick together. 

It’s common to see alcoholics ditch their former set of friends for others who drink as they do. If you notice that your family member has started hanging out with the “wrong crowd” it might be time to seek help.

They’re an “Angry Drunk”

Emotions vary from one alcoholic to the next. The “angry drunk” is a common sight amongst alcoholics.

But any major change in emotional behavior is something to look out for. This could be when they’re drunk or when they’re hungover. 

You might notice that they’re quicker to snap at someone. They may have less patience with their kids or their spouse. Or they may cry more often than they used to. 

They’re Trying to Quit

Anybody who makes the effort to quit has a problem. Simple as that. They recognize it or they wouldn’t try to quit in the first place. 

The problem is that nobody can quit on their own. And most alcoholics who do try it won’t last long. 

If you hear your loved one talking about wanting to quit, that’s a sign that there’s a problem. And that they may be ready to get the help they need.

What Can You Do?

The best thing to do is to educate yourself. Talk to a family counselor about your options. When you’re educated about the disease, you’re better able to help without making the situation worse.

Consider joining an organization like Al-Anon which helps friends and family of alcoholics cope. Learn to talk openly about alcohol without lecturing your loved one.

And most importantly, don’t drink with your loved one. Don’t buy them alcohol or help them out by lying for them. And don’t argue with them while they’re drunk. 

Get Them the Help They Need

Alcoholics will not get the help they need until they’re ready. So keep that in mind when you’re speaking to them about help. You can’t force them to do anything.

But you can take care of yourself. Get the help you need so that you can be there to support your loved one in their time of need.

At Discovery Institute, we can help you and your loved one overcome alcohol addiction. If you recognize the signs of a drinking problem, call us now. We offer 24/7 help with 100% confidentiality. 

signs of prescription drug abuse

A Prescription for Disaster: 10 Tell-Tale Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse

Americans are taking more prescription drugs today than at any other point in the past. There are almost 5 billion prescriptions filled every year.

For the most part, this is a good thing. The majority of people take their prescriptions as prescribed to treat certain illnesses and conditions.

But there are a few downsides to the country’s infatuation with prescription drugs. One of them is that there are millions of people who are abusing prescription drugs and putting themselves at risk.

If you suspect someone in your life is doing this, look out for the signs of prescription drug abuse. If you spot any of them, get them the help they need to kick their addiction to prescription drugs like Oxycontin, Percocet, Xanax, Valium, or Adderall.

Here are 10 of the most common signs of prescription drug abuse.

1. Mood Swings

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 also skip sleeping altogether on certain days when they use high dosages 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 start needing to take higher dosages 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 always 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.

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 brain power focused on finding drugs 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 together.

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.

Watch for Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse

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.

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

The Hurdles of Meth

For people addicted to meth, also known as methamphetamine or crystal meth, finding sober living in New Jersey can be extremely difficult, even when compared to other addictive substances like cocaine, alcohol or even heroin. A simple trip to a New Jersey detox just won’t be enough to help due to the unique challenges a person who suffers from substance use disorder in relation to meth faces. The use of meth is still more widespread than heroin and opioids despite the headlines painting a different reality, but a lot of this is due to some of the main difficulties a person has laid before them when they decide to visit meth rehab in New Jersey.

One of the biggest and most glaring differences between the conversation surrounding meth compared to opioids and opiates is that there is no known medication assisted treatment, which is currently in hot debate in policy discussions for opioids. This means that there’s no physical blockers of the effects of withdrawals or the effects of the drug itself to help a patient trying to get clean whatsoever, putting the brunt of the difficulties on both the treatment team and the addicted person themselves.

The drug also has extreme adverse psychological effects, especially with long term heavy use which can lead to permanent psychology changes which can incapacitate some aspects of the person’s life. Anxiety and paranoia are often symptoms of meth use that can never be fully overcome, even after treatment. These individual aspects can be medicated to some degree through prescriptions from trained psychologists, but they are often a permanent problem that requires maintenance through a recovering meth addict’s entire life. Sometimes it can seem as if meth turns a normally balanced demeanor into a manic depressive/bipolar type personality that lasts after sobriety is in full swing. Heroin and opioids, on the other hand, only really affect behavior and cravings for the drug itself, making it almost a walk in the park for treatment by comparison.

Complicating the issue is that, many times, heroin users will also use meth to counteract the unwanted effects of meth like drowsiness and lack of focus. This presents many kinds of problems, not the least of which is extreme health problems with the cardiovascular system. It’s never a good idea to mix ‘uppers and downers’, but often when addiction is at play, rational decisions are typically the last that are considered. With the two addictions tied together, it’s possible for the lingering meth habit to restart the heroin habit after initial detox or even vice versa.

Discovery InstituteMeth continues to be an incredibly detrimental drug to the user which deserves more research into ways to combat it’s long term and short term effects to help mitigate the ever growing numbers of America’s exploding addiction crisis that covers all substances.

Whether you or someone you know is suffering from methamphetamine use disorder or another substance use disorder, calling a treatment facility like Discovery Institute at 844-478-6563 can help.

Nurses Speak About Their Own Addiction

Rehab in New Jersey sees all kinds of people come through. Musicians, chefs, veterans, men, women, gay, straight, young, old; substance use disorder discriminates against no one. It truly is an equal opportunity illness that threatens sober living in New Jersey. We never think of people that are supposed to help people as part of the crowd that would face addiction, but recently nurses told their stories in The Star, a Canadian newspaper revealing that addiction can start in extremely unexpected ways.

Anne, 59 years old, recalls how she had a ruptured appendix that had been mostly manageable pain-wise, but one day at work 6 years after being treated, “I got this attack of pain and I just helped myself to opioids at work, thinking I could get through my shift. I knew I was doing something wrong, so ethically, it was really soul-destroying.” Revealing the guilt she harbored over the entire ordeal, “You rationalize and justify it, but once you take the drug, the drug sort of takes you…and I struggled off and on with that all my life.”

In Canada, an organization recently formed called the Nurses Health Program, which aims to identify nurses who are suffering from addiction while protecting their confidentiality. The aim is to encourage nurses to seek help “earlier than they otherwise would have” than they would under a more adversarial system, such as America’s lingering ‘War on Drugs’ policies, which essentially operates in such a way that criminalizes people with addiction. The organization, which operates through the College of Nurses of Ontario, says they have believe the nearly 60 of on average 144,000 per year reported as ‘incapacitated’ could be just the tip of the iceberg. 91% of those aren’t self reports, which puts major concern on the nature of how many might be dissuaded from seeking treatment.

In 2010, the University of Alberta’s Diane Kunyk held a survey of over 4,000 registered nurses and three percent reported they were addicted to drugs or alcohol and most had never reported to their employers they were struggling with a problem. Compounding the problem is that interviews revealed many nurses had very little understanding of addiction or even how to identify it, whether with themselves or with a patient.

“That makes it a lot harder for people to actually seek help because they don’t know what they’re going to be coming up against,” says Dr. Yelena Chorna, an addiction physician at the Homewood Health Centre in Guelph, a treatment center specifically for health-care professionals.

As understanding of addiction and the nature of addiction continues to disperse throughout the medical community as well as the general public, it’s only a matter of time before the entire punishment model is upended and turned into a medical condition which is focused on helping, rather than harming, people who are suffering from the illness.

If you or someone you know is suffering from substance use disorder, call the top rated drug rehab center in New Jersey, Discovery Institute, at 844-478-6563.


The Risk for Student Athletes to Addiction

People tend to think that addiction is something primarily that adults have to deal with, but patents who enter drug rehab centers in NJ show that addiction knows not of age of a person it affects. Rehab in New Jersey often sees teens and college athletes that have found themselves affected by injury which lead to be prescribed painkillers for which they develop a substance use disorder.

New Jersey’s state office announced a cooperation with Interscholastic Athletic Association, a regulatory body of sports programs a most of the state’s schools, both public and private, an initiative help with reducing risk of athletes inadvertently finding themselves in the throes of addiction from common scenarios including the one described. The program includes nearly 300,000 athletes at 437 academic institutions.

The first part of the initiative requires athletes to view an informative documentary that describes the risks associated with athletics that are commonly found to lead to drug addictions. For players whose age still puts them within the guardianship of an adult, such as their parents, the parents are also required to view the film. Much of the risk they face comes from their higher likelihood to be prescribed addictive painkillers than their peers who aren’t in an athletic program due to the injuries they sustain at a higher rate.

“Our partnership with the NJSIAA will help raise awareness and educate students and parents on how to prevent sports injuries from leading young athletes down the path to addiction,” said Sharon Joyce, direct of the Office of the New Jersey Coordinator for Addiction Responses and Enforcement Strategies, or NJCARES.  

The program comes after a spike in athletes becoming addicted to painkillers like oxycodone, which if allowed to form an addiction and is continuously untreated, can lead to more dangerous drug use in the form of heroin and fentanyl. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics show that nearly half of all heroin users began using it after developing an addiction to prescription pain pills. Drug related deaths in New Jersey totalled over 3,000 in in 2018, which prompted state officials to begin looking for more ways to prevent addiction itself in hopes of increasing the overall health of its citizens.

“We’re pleased to announce the NJSIAA as our latest ally in the fight to end New Jersey’s opioid crisis,” said Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, NJCARES project manager. “This partnership has opened a new front for our battle against addiction – high school athletic playing fields across the state.”

The program not only warns of the addictive properties of specific drugs commonly prescribed to athletes who sustain injuries during practice and games, but also aims to inform them on alternatives which are much safer. It also covers signs of a developing addiction as well as ways to safely find treatment if they find themselves with a substance use disorder.

If you or someone you love is seeking sober living in New Jersey free of prescription painkillers or other addictive substances, call Discovery Institute at 844-478-6563.

Overdose Not The Only Risk of Drug Use

It’s very easy to point to reports in the news about the threats associated with heroin and other opioids and opiates. Almost unanimously, the ‘boogie man’ of use is the often inevitable overdose that comes at the end of a severe addiction, with many overdoses resulting in either permanent damage to the nervous system or body. However, there are almost an uncountable number of other negative effects to addiction to these substances that become higher and higher as substance use disorder develops in a person.

One of the key identifiers of someone who is suffering from addiction is putting aside safety and ignoring objective positive alternatives in order to feed the craving of the substance of use. With opioids, often times, drug use is simply a way to get rid of the withdrawal symptoms. Each drug carries with it it’s own set of what you might just consider ‘Russian Roulette’ that comes with illicit drugs.

Some of the most devastating have been the spread of bloodborne pathogens and some STDs through the use of previously used needles. During the 80’s and 90’s and even into the 00’s, there were clearly identified pockets of HIV and AIDS spread that happened specifically within heroin users. While these two diseases aren’t exactly the same death sentence it was when it first appeared as an epidemic in the 80’s, it’s still a physically and financially crippling disease that is even more devastating than maybe even heroin addiction itself.

One thing that often gets understated when it comes to buying illegal drugs is the actual quality of the substance itself. Without an established regulatory body that ensures public safety or purity of product, it’s quite easy to stumble into a botched batch and by the time this bad product is identified, it’s usually because it’s already affected the user negatively. Fentanyl has been popping up in heroin and cocaine around the country, which can kill with just a .1 grams mixed into an otherwise non-lethal dose of anything. Recently, a batch of heroin was found containing a bacteria that causes botulism, a condition in which the bacteria attacks the nervous system causing breathing difficulties, muscle paralysis and even death if not treated almost immediately after the first symptoms present themselves.

Discovery InstituteThen there’s the financial side of things. Often times, the inhibiting of clear focus and side effects of drug use make holding down a job difficult, but because the cravings are so strong, this often leads to risky behavior including, but not limited to, lying to loved ones, stealing, and even putting one’s self into harm’s way by going into places to purchase which might be particularly rough neighborhoods where dealers protect their market through force. And this is all before considering the legal consequences of being caught with or buying the drug.

But addiction, when severe, will make a person ignore all of these immediate risks. Getting treatment, that typically begins with a NJ detox center, followed by rehab in New Jersey, can help a person suffering from substance use disorder find sober living in NJ. If you or someone you know is suffering from an addiction, call Discovery Institute at 844-478-6563.

Meth – Still Hiding Behind Opioid Crisis

Methamphetamine was the ‘crisis’ of the 90’s and 00’s. Newspapers, magazines, journals and even television shows sensationalized it and got people all over the country aware of it’s effects and scope of devastation on the population. Currently, those same outlets are making a similar run on opioids, both prescription and illegal forms, but in reality, the number of people suffering from heroin addiction still trails far behind crystal meth and has far deeper impacts on it’s users, especially considering there are absolutely no known special ‘withdrawal’ drugs or medication assisted treatments (MAT) to help those seeking sobriety from it.

Long-Term Methamphetamine Use

Meth use has many long term effects which can cripple a person mentally and physically if addiction becomes prolonged and severe. Like most all drugs, usage over time becomes heavier and heavier as the body develops tolerance towards it’s more pleasurable effects that initial act to ‘hook’ a user, and includes changing methods for how the drug is used. A person addicted to meth will often find themselves unable to experience any kind of pleasure without the drug and stopping use will slam the person with withdrawal effects that include anxiety, fatigue and intense craving.

Users of meth will often exhibit symptoms that may appear to others as potentially dangerous, such as acute anxieties, confusion, insomnia, mood instability and often times these will also manifest as violent behavior. Paranoia, hallucinations (visual and auditory) as well as delusions frequently are identified with users and often times can continue for months or years after a person has quit using the substance. A person attempting to stay sober will often face a barrier of maintaining emotional control over themselves as stress often triggers recurrences of meth psychosis if the user was previously exhibiting such radical behaviors while taking the drug.

The brain’s changes on meth contribute largely to these symptoms. Neuroimaging have revealed significant changes in the brain’s structure and functional operation in areas of emotion and memory, which are where the majority of contributing factors for these behaviors stem from. In addition, a hijacking of dopamine release in the brain acts as the major ‘hooking point’ for a user and is a major cause of repeated use and addiction despite the negative psychological effects exhibited by users.

Motor skills and comprehension will degrade over time in long term usage and a non-neural brain cell network known as microglia are affected as well. Former users of crystal meth will develop a glut of microglial cells which attack healthy neurons, contributing to the neurotoxic effects of the drug. Thus far, studies have only found a few of these effects to be partially reversible, but the most effective way to handle these symptoms is to seek treatment as early as possible in the addiction cycle; waiting too long for treatment can have irreversible effects and permanently change a person’s ability to function within society without heavy aid.

Meth Addiction Treatment in New Jersey

While the opioid crisis has had a much more visible effect on the population as a whole, methamphetamine addiction is still an incredible challenge to those who find themselves or a loved one addicted to the substance. If you or a family member is battling a substance use disorder from this highly addictive drug, contact Discovery now. Our rehab center in NJ is staffed with experienced professionals who are here to help your family get through this addiction clean on the other side.

Just One Time

Rehab in NJ is rife with similar but unique stories of people’s first experience with drug use. Regardless of background, creed, ethnicity, religious preference (or lack thereof), income and class, sex and sexual preference, you name it, substance use disorder is not choosy about whom it affects just as a car wreck doesn’t care who is in the car when it results in injuring a person inside. If you’re inside the car, you risk injury when in a collision. However, a lot of people that go through New Jersey detox share a story of intending to just ‘try’ a drug only to wake up one day down the line and find that there was never going to be ‘just one time’.

Whether someone is pushed into a situation where they let their guard down and make potentially negative decisions, (which don’t always include trying a substance but can include running away from problems physically, straining friendships and family bonds out of fear, anger or stress, to simply deciding to not get out of bed or worse, attempting suicide), or whether under innocent circumstances of just wanting to ‘experience’ what it’s like to try a substance, many drugs don’t take long to change the neurobiology of the user into developing a dependence on it. One of the more talked about substances in this category is opioids like oxycodone, often found at ‘pill parties’.

Many people who experience the highs of opioids find that once they come down, they feel further down than when they started, which is part of the neurobiological change. It’s the same feeling in a physical and mental form as the existential feeling of making, say, $4000 one month but only $2000 dollars the next month, even though your average previously was $1700 a month. The feeling highlights the differences between the high and the low, making the low feel depressive and uncomfortable despite it being completely negligible and manageable prior to using the drug and is often enough to change behavior to seek out another use.

Many people within the treatment community believe it only takes a week of taking prescription opioids to develop an addiction in many people, making it highly dangerous for those who don’t realize what is happening to their mind and body when ingesting them. Drugs like cocaine/crack have similar effects. A comedian who battled with cocaine use once said, “Cocaine made you feel like you wanted to do more cocaine”, which is a sentiment echoed by others who have undergone cocaine use disorder in addiction treatment centers in New Jersey.

Discovery InstituteOne of the best ways of avoiding addiction is understanding the risks involved with the drug being used before using, so that if a use disorder develops, it can be tackled sooner rather than later. It’s easier to get effective treatment if you’ve only been using for a month or two than a decade or two and have very little of your original self left.

No matter what the circumstances of finding yourself with substance use disorder, calling a treatment center is still the best way to take back control. Call Discovery Institute at 844-478-6563 for options.

The Isolation of Addiction

One of the commonalities of severe substance use disorders (SUDs) involves isolation. Often people who suffer from addiction struggle to connect with others. They may become isolated, spending more and more time alone. This combination of isolation and addiction can hinder an individual’s relationships with friends and family members. It can keep people from spending time with their parents, children, or spouse.

But, why exactly does isolation occur along with addiction? Why do people isolate themselves when they’re struggling with the effects of alcoholism or drug dependence? Maybe you have a loved one who is becoming distant and you suspect substance use is in the mix. If so, knowing more about the nature of addiction and how it affects those who suffer from it can help you tremendously.

Why Do Isolation and Addiction Co-Occur?

Individuals may choose to be isolated in order to hide their substance use and the effects of being intoxicated. Addiction has a way of making people feel ashamed. It often causes individuals to feel guilty or afraid. This may cause them to isolate themselves from friends and family more and more frequently. 

Others may find themselves pushing away the people who do know about their addiction to avoid hurting those individuals or making them upset. Some people might have always preferred to be less social. So substance use in isolation may seem as normal to them as when they watch a movie alone on an uneventful Friday night.

Often times, it can be a mixture of all these circumstances and more. The causes of isolation in situations that involve addiction will vary from person to person. After all, no two people are alike. Likewise, no single case of substance dependence is exactly like any other.

Many behaviors that are associated with addiction may also involve other factors, even down to a person’s normal behavior before developing substance use disorders. For some people, trauma may lead to “self-medication” which manifests into a disorder because the trauma was never addressed. Others may experience trauma after realizing they are addicted to some substance, such as cocaine or alcohol.

More About Isolation and Addiction

Isolating oneself when using drugs or alcohol can be internalized. Keeping a secret from one’s closest family members can emotionally isolate the individual from someone they respect and trust even if the relationship itself continues daily, with conversation and even laughter.

This can also spill over into a person’s workplace. Many jobs don’t exactly offer an exceptional social atmosphere as it is, with co-workers often having to smile at each other publicly while knowing that it will have to become cutthroat if the company is downsizing or offering up a promotion where space is limited.

Some workplaces can be extremely stressful, causing individuals to become overwhelmed with worry, fear, and utter discomfort. Many people turn to substance use in order to escape from the effects of stress. But, this may lead them to distance themselves from coworkers in order to hide their substance dependence. 

Homelife can also be difficult and challenging. Obstacles can arise in relationships and financial burdens can take over a person’s life. This may drive individuals to isolation and substance misuse. 

A user may find themselves getting up every single morning and spending time just figuring out how to hide this aspect of their lives which, for whatever reason, is slowly spiraling out of control. 

Is My Loved One Suffering From Addiction? Recognizing the Signs

One of the most common stories of those surviving someone who passed away due to addiction will state that they had no clue that there was a problem. A person who shuts off from the world shuts out possible help. We live in a country that obsesses over individuality, rugged individualism, and self-motivation. But, when a chronic illness like addiction is involved, it almost always ends in tragedy.

This is why it is so important for individuals to better understand addiction. If you have noticed that someone you know is becoming more and more isolated, perhaps it’s more than loneliness or  “a phase”. This isolation may be a sign of addiction in your friend or family member’s life.

If you’re not sure that a substance use disorder is present, you might consider checking for the following signs:

  • Secrecy
  • Paranoia
  • Insomnia
  • Moodiness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Lack of motivation
  • Changes in personality
  • Frequent disorientation
  • Carelessness or recklessness
  • Unusual/abnormal body odors
  • Unkempt or untidy appearance
  • Trouble keeping up with schoolwork
  • Difficulty managing responsibilities at home
  • Loss of interest in once enjoyable activities
  • Tardiness at work; other problems on the job
  • Sudden changes in weight (weight loss or gain)
  • Defensiveness when addressed about substance use
  • Needles, pill bottles, alcohol bottles, and other paraphernalia 
  • Physical signs of substance use: dilated pupils or small pupils, bloodshot eyes, burn marks, track marks, lack of physical coordination, etc.

If you’ve noticed any of these signs in a loved one’s life, it is likely that he or she is suffering from addiction. If this is, in fact, the case, then it’s absolutely necessary to make sure the individual gets help. 

How Can I Help My Loved One Overcome Addiction?

It is common for people to be unsure about how to help individuals who are suffering from substance dependence. So, if you’re not certain about what you should do, you’re not alone. The good news is that there are multiple things you can do to help your loved one who is struggling with alcoholism or drug misuse.

But, first, it is helpful to know what not to do when someone you know is suffering from addiction. If you know individuals who are struggling with alcohol or drug misuse, you must avoid enabling them. This is one of the most important things to remember. To enable an individual means to make it easier for him or her to continue unhealthy behavior.

It’s very likely that you don’t intend to enable your suffering loved one. Undoubtedly, you want to help the individual. But, it’s important to recognize even the most subtle ways in which you might enable the person’s addiction. 

Signs of enabling addiction include:

  • Giving the person money
  • Lying or “covering” for the individual
  • Taking on the person’s responsibilities
  • Losing or neglecting personal boundaries despite discomfort
  • Putting the needs of the struggling individual before your own needs
  • Codependency: i.e. holding on to the relationship for fear of being alone

It can be especially difficult to avoid enabling a person who is very close to you. If you’re married to the individual or the person is a close friend or sibling, you may struggle to hold him or her accountable. But, if there are any behaviors in your life that may make it easier for the person to continue using, it’s best to recognize and avoid these behaviors. 

To help your loved one, you may need to do things that are challenging. But, the results will be positive, both for the individual and for you.

Intervention: A Way to Help Your Loved One

The main goal of intervention is to help your loved one find their way to freedom from drug or alcohol dependence. It’s important for the struggling individual to get help for addiction in order to overcome the disorder. So, you may find yourself in a position where you need to encourage the person to get professional help. 

Your initial thought may be to address the individual about his or her substance use. Perhaps, you may see the individual drinking more than usual. Or you may notice physical signs of drug use. Maybe the individual is becoming distant from friends and family. It’s likely that you’ll want to mention these things and ask your loved one if they’re struggling with addiction. In some instances, conversations like this can lead to a solution. However, this might not always be the case.

It may be difficult to speak to your loved one about his or her struggle with addiction. If you suspect that the individual is dealing with substance dependence, you may need to intervene. But, it’s likely that the person will become defensive. This is fairly common when substance dependence is involved. Still, it can be hard to talk to your family member or friend because of this defensiveness. So, you might need to seek professional assistance.

To help your loved one, you may need to hold an intervention. An intervention is a meeting that involves the individual struggling with addiction and his or her loved ones.  Typically, the family members or friends who recognize the presence of addiction will join together to speak with the person who is suffering from substance dependence. But, it’s important to understand the best way to go about holding an intervention. Failing to do so may result in an ineffective attempt to help your loved one overcome addiction.

What Else Can I Do For Someone Who Is Suffering From Addiction?

Help your loved one by learning more about addiction. It may be hard for you to understand some of the individual’s behaviors and words. Sometimes, addiction can cause people to do hurtful things. However, it’s important to remember that your loved one is suffering from a disease that they cannot control. The more you learn about substance dependence and how it is affecting your friend or family member, the better.

You can also help the individual by encouraging him or her to get treatment. You can even have a treatment facility lined up when you hold the intervention. This will enable you to immediately take your loved one to get help once he or she finally decides to do so. 

Another thing to remember is that helping yourself is one way to ultimately help the struggling individual. You might consider family counseling. Therapy can help you to find peace and closure. It can also give you the tools and resources you need in order to continue helping your loved one.

Finally, providing support is one of the best things you can do for your friend or family member. You can support the individual throughout his or her struggle with addiction. Then, you can continue to support the person as they begin treatment. This support can continue throughout recovery. It will mean more to the individual than you may realize. Since isolation and addiction often go hand in hand, your loved one may feel alone, even in treatment. Being there for the struggling individual will extend more love and genuine care than anything else.

Ending Isolation and Addiction: Getting Treatment for Substance Dependence

If someone in your life is suffering from the isolation of addiction, you can help! Your support and love along with professional treatment will help to bring healing to the person’s life. So, now is the time to begin the journey to freedom from substance use disorder. Contact us here at Discovery Institute to speak with specialists in the best New Jersey treatment center. Let us walk with you and your loved one today!

The Effects of Meth on the Body

Methamphetamines are among the most dangerous and most addictive illegal drugs available. Because it is cheap to make — and therefore cheap to buy — it has become a raging menace in low income parts of the U.S.
Crystal meth — the name for the synthetically produced street version of the drug — is a highly addictive stimulant. Users say smoking (or sometimes snorting or injecting) meth makes them feel euphoric. Some users enjoy the high energy the drug gives them.
Many casual users find themselves quickly addicted because of the euphoric rush. The drug and the high last for as long as 12 hours after smoking — making it almost predatory on low income populations. Like many drugs, consistent use requires higher and higher doses to feel high — which leads to higher rates of addiction and long term use. There are serious long term effects of meth on the body.

Effects of Meth on the Body

Short terms effects of meth use can include major anxiety, sleeplessness, and paranoia. It’s quite common for meth users to stay awake for days at a time. The lack of sleep can exacerbate effects of the drug. Meth users often because extremely paranoid. Some may even have psychotic episodes or breaks in which they hallucinate. An urban legend with some truth is that meth makes you feel like bugs (or something) is crawling on your skin. Meth actually can cause this skin crawl phenomenon in many users.
The positive effects — and the reason so many become dependent — include euphoria and stimulation. Many users enjoy that meth gives them focus and energy to accomplish things. That sense of accomplishment can help fuel a mental and emotional addiction, on top of the physically addictive components.
In the longer term, using meth can have even worse effects on the body. Chronic, long term meth users appearance can drastically change. Users often lose large amounts of weight due to the fact that meth is a stimulant and appetite suppressant. Meth has been known to make users lose their teeth, coining the term “meth mouth” in many circles.
In additional to aging quicker and sagging skin, using this drug can cause users to develop meth sores. Because their body is in under such stress from the drug, lack of sleep, and not eating, it can’t properly heal itself. Combine that with the anxious picking habit many meth users develop and it’s a perfect recipe for meth scars.

Treatment Options

If you or a loved one are struggling with meth addiction, seek professional help immediately. Meth is one of the most difficult addictions to overcome, so most people need medical attention and therapy to become sober.
Meth withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable and intense. To help kick the habit, please contact our NJ rehab center and we can help the user treat the meth addiction and return to a life free from addiction.