The Best Ways To Handle Withdrawal Symptoms From Drugs And Alcohol

When addicts get clean, it doesn’t take long for them to start noticing the benefits. Their lives, in general, are better, but they will also notice a big change in the way that they feel physically and mentally. Addiction of any kind takes a big toll on your body and when you get rid of that habit and your body starts to repair itself, you will feel so much better. But things have to get worse before they get better and so many people don’t make it far enough to see any benefits because they fall at the first hurdle. The first few days and weeks are often the hardest because you have to get through the withdrawal symptoms. If you are a heavy user, withdrawal symptoms can be horrible to deal with and a lot of people think that it’s easier to live with the addiction than it is to try to go clean. But if you can make it past the withdrawal stage and start to feel some of the physical benefits, the rest of your journey will start to feel a lot less daunting. These are some of the best ways to manage withdrawal symptoms when you are a recovering addict.

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Speak To A Counsellor

Most people experience a deep depression when they first come off drugs and alcohol. When you take away that high that you got from using drugs or alcohol, you are left with the polar opposite feeling. If you are an addict, it’s likely that drink or drugs were central to your life and so when you give them up, you are left with a void. When the depression hits hard, it’s easy to convince yourself that it’s not worth getting clean if it’s going to make you feel this bad, and you would be better off using again.

Increased anxiety is very common as well because alcohol and drugs are often used as a way to combat anxiety. When you take away that crutch, those feelings come flooding back, usually much stronger than before. But the good news is, as long as you can stay sober, this anxiety will not last that long.

The important thing here is that you don’t let these feelings overwhelm you and you don’t reach straight for the drink and drugs to combat them. Instead, you need to find healthier ways to process your feelings and put things in perspective again, which is why seeing a counsellor is a good idea if you are going through withdrawal. One of the most important things that they will do is remind you that these feelings are temporary and they are partly a result of your withdrawal. But they can also help you start to tackle the underlying problems that lead to your addiction issues in the first place.

Consider Medications

In the past, you had to go it alone with your withdrawal symptoms but that isn’t the case anymore. There are medications available that activate the pleasure receptors in your brain in the same way that drugs and alcohol do. That means that they can improve the withdrawal symptoms and make things a lot easier for you. You should seek the advice of a doctor and see if there is anything that they can offer you to help you get through the first few weeks. When you are going through withdrawal, it’s likely that you will take some time off work and things might be a little chaotic, so it’s a good idea to find an online pharmacy like Simple Online Doctor and have medication sent directly to your house. That way, you can make sure that you keep up with the medication and you cut the risk of relapsing. Taking medication can make a huge difference to your withdrawal symptoms and make it a lot more bearable, which increases your chances of getting through the difficult early stages.

Spend Time With Family

When things get really hard and you are considering using again, you need things to remind you why you are going clean in the first place. It’s easy to lose sight of that when the withdrawal symptoms make you feel so awful, which is why it’s good to be near friends and family. The people around you suffer from your addiction as well and it has a huge impact on them. When you are in the midst of your addiction, you are not thinking about them and you cause them a lot of distress. They have a lot to lose if you relapse as well, and being reminded of that can help you get through the difficult early period.

A lot of people fall at the first hurdle because withdrawal can be horrible to deal with, but if you can make it through that, you stand a much better chance of staying sober for good.

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Understanding How Medication Assisted Treatment Can Help Opioid Addiction

Opioid Use Disorder and Medication-Assisted Treatment

Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) is a chronic, lifelong condition that affects quality of life, familiar relationships, and daily functioning. Unfortunately, much of the American public sees OUD as a moral failing, not a treatable medical condition. The reality is that OUD is a physiological response that develops after consistent use of opioids. Many opioid use disorders begin with a valid prescription to treat pain.

There are many reasons that a person experiencing OUD may find it difficult to stop, chief among them are the physiological and psychological pain of withdrawal. Medication-Assisted Treatment is a viable, evidence-based method of treating OUD that supports a long-term recovery.

What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)?

Medication-Assisted Treatment, or MAT, combines psychosocial, behavioral interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat Opioid Use Disorder. Medications used in MAT help address the physiological aspects of opioid addiction, while behavioral interventions address the other complex factors that contribute to the substance use disorder, such as trauma, family dynamics, or co-occurring mental health disorders. By addressing all factors simultaneously, providers can identify triggers, control cravings, and reduce the likelihood of relapse.

Understanding How Medically Assisted Treatment Can Help Opioid Addiction

Medication-Assisted Treatment and Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

Understanding the benefits of MAT first requires knowledge of how opioids affect the body and brain. An Opioid Use Disorder most often occurs when a person receives a prescription for a pain-relieving opioid following surgery or for a legitimate medical condition. When the affected individual takes the medication, it effectively controls pain because it works by blocking pain receptors. A side effect is a triggered sense of euphoria. Reliving this sense of euphoria is what may cause a person to misuse opioids for the first time. Over time, as the disorder progresses, the affected individual’s brain chemistry changes, such that it relies on the opioids to trigger the production of dopamine (the neurotransmitter responsible for the euphoria, but also in charge of several other important functions). This forms the basis for opioid dependence.

When the affected individual tries to abstain for opioids, withdrawal is the result, since the body no longer produces dopamine effectively on its own. Opioid withdrawal is notoriously painful and produces several troubling symptoms, such as:

  • Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Heart palpitations
  • Arrhythmias
  • Heart palpitations
  • Headache

These symptoms are often very intense, so much so that a person with OUD will use again simply to make them stop. Even once a person physiologically detoxifies from an opioid – a process that can take around three days but typically lasts up to a week – the psychological effects persist for weeks or months. Medication Assisted Treatment works by managing the symptoms of withdrawal by reducing cravings and minimizing discomfort.

What Is Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)?

The process of initial detoxification varies, but the most intense feelings of discomfort occur within the first 72 hours. Within 7-10 days, a person may be physiologically detoxified from the opioids. After this period ends, a person with OUD is vulnerable to a condition called post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).

PAWS refers to the psychological and emotional effects of an addiction. The symptoms may persist for weeks and months, even up to two years after initial detox. Symptoms tend to occur in waves and may include:

  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Intense cravings for the drugs
  • Emotional instability and irritability, quick to anger

One of the ways that Medication-Assisted Treatment can be beneficial is in the treatment of PAWS. People who utilize MAT report fewer cravings and reduced symptoms of PAWS, which can help support a long-term recovery by significantly reducing the risk of relapse.

Effective MAT Treatments for Opioid Use Disorder

Currently, only three FDA-approved medications exist for the treatment of Opioid Use Disorder: methadone, suboxone, and naltrexone. Here’s some information about each.

Methadone

Methadone produces a similar effect to opioids, but to a lesser extent and with milder effects. It is longer lasting and does not have the same increased potential for misuse; it does not tend to affect a person’s ability to function normally. As an opioid agonist, it works to provide relief of some of the most painful symptoms of withdrawal and PAWS. A single dose of methadone lasts about a day and a half. Some potential for misuse exists; as such, it may only be dispensed by a licensed provider in a clinical setting. A person on methadone treatment must visit the clinic for a new dose every couple of days, so they must be willing to remain compliant to the protocol.

Buprenorphine (Suboxone)

Buprenorphine is becoming a more popular choice amongst healthcare providers, as it is a partial opioid agonist and does not have a high potential for misuse. Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone (Narcan), a medication used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. While it is difficult to misuse, it still requires regular visits to a medical provider to receive. Providers who wish to prescribe suboxone must attend an eight hour training course to obtain a MAT waiver, so not all providers can prescribe it.

Naltrexone

Naltrexone is available in two forms: a pill or an intramuscular injection lasting up to 30 days. When taken as an intramuscular injection (Vivitrol), it provides a convenient option, particularly for those looking for an intensive outpatient treatment option. The once-daily pill can be taken in the comfort of a person’s own home. It has little potential for misuse or diversion; as such, any provider who is licensed to dispense medication may prescribe it.

Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist, which means it works by blocking opioid receptors. It effectively reduces cravings in the person taking it because it no longer produces a feeling or euphoria or “high.” However, Naltrexone is only a suitable option after a person initially detoxifies from the physiological effects of opioids; starting it too early can make withdrawal symptoms worse.

MAT as an Effective Treatment Option

Numerous studies show that Medication-Assisted Treatment is more effective in preventing relapse and supporting long-term recovery compared to behavioral interventions alone. The National Institute on Drug Abuse supports the use of MAT as an integral part of an addiction treatment plan. According to their research:

  • MAT is effective in decreasing overall opioid use and its associated harms, including overdose death, transmission of infectious diseases such as Hepatitis C, and illegal drug-related activity. When the city of Baltimore introduced an initiative to increase access to buprenorphine, overdose deaths in the city decreased by 37%.
  • The use of MAT in pregnant women reduces the symptoms of neonatal abstinence syndrome, which occurs when a baby is born with a dependence on opioids.
  • The use of MAT in treatment programs improves compliance to other protocol and follow-up. Patients who receive medications for their OUD are more likely to remain in treatment and receive holistic interventions that support a long term recovery. With increased comfort comes increased ability to develop compensatory mechanisms to manage their disorder and its possible triggers.

Facts and Myths About Medication Assisted Treatment

MAT has a large body of evidence supporting its use as a viable treatment option. Unfortunately, the public and even some clinicians continue to have misconceptions about the uses of MAT in the treatment of Opioid Use Disorder. These myths can work to keep people from utilizing MAT, when it could prove vital to their recovery process. For example:

  • Some people and providers believe MAT is simply the act of substituting one addiction for another. In reality, MAT is only one aspect of a holistic treatment plan. Medications help manage the discomfort of withdrawal and PAWS, which allows the patient to focus on other aspects of recovery. Since some medications for OUD have potential for misuse, they must be administered in a supervised clinical setting (i.e., methadone).
  • MAT is not, and never will be, popping a pill to cure an addiction. One essential aspect of MAT is the behavioral intervention, which allows people to explore and recognize the triggers for their addiction. Anyone in long-term recovery knows that a substance use disorder is not something that can be “cured;” rather, it is something that they work consciously on the rest of their lives.
  • Despite popular opinion, medications for MAT do not pose much risk for diversion. They are heavily regulated and require extensive training to prescribe. The only formulation that does not require waiver training, Naltrexone, has very little potential for abuse, since using it in conjunction with opioids will send the person taking it into withdrawal.

The Use of MAT for Opioid Use Disorder

MAT can play a vital role in the treatment of OUD by reducing cravings and controlling long-term symptoms of withdrawal, including those for post acute withdrawal syndrome. When combined with other behavioral interventions, it can help a person with OUD sustain a long-term recovery.

Continuum Recovery Center provides intensive outpatient services, including MAT, for the treatment of opioid use disorder. Our protocols, which include psychosocial, evidence based mental health therapies, help individuals identify the many facets of their opioid use disorder to maintain sobriety.


About The Author

Geffen Liberman, staff therapist at Continuum Recovery Center, has been in the field for over 20 years, and has worked in every facet of substance abuse treatment. Using his own personal experience in recovery and the education he has learned while in the field, Geffen can relate and connect with clients in a way that promotes recovery, self-love and the desire for clients to achieve the best for themselves. Geffen is licensed in Arizona as a substance abuse counselor and has an IC&RC certification, as well as a life coaching certification.


 

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Rehab Success Rates: Does Rehab Really Work?

There’s an endless amount of statistics and information online about rehabilitation from drug and alcohol. Some are scary, claiming that there’s no real way to recover from drug and alcohol abuse. On the other hand, some statistics claim that rehab is a type of miracle cure. In reality, it’s hard to distinguish fact from fiction.

If you or someone you know is in recovery or is beginning the journey to sobriety, it’s up to you to make the most of reality. With the costs for treatments on the rise, how do you know if you’re spending money on an effective program? While there is no “cure” for addiction, it is possible to treat and manage addiction successfully.

Think of addiction like a chronic condition. When left on its own, it only gets worse. However, when you start a treatment plan, it’s possible to live a healthy and happy life with this condition. The hard truth is that addiction is something that never fully goes away. It’s always in the background. That being said, it can be overcome for a brighter future.

In this guide, we’ll break down the walls around rehab treatment to determine if it really works. We’ll look into the success rates as well as what they mean to come out on the other side with an honest answer.

Rehab Success Rates - Does Rehab Really Work?

Drug and Alcohol Rehab Success Rates

If you or someone you know is struggling to recover from drug and alcohol addiction, you’re not alone. Drug overdoses have actually become the top cause of injury-related deaths in the United States. Over 44,000 people a year die from drug overdoses. But for those who seek treatment, how often do they recover?

There’s a lot of conflicting evidence and research that goes into these statistics, and it’s true they might not all be straightforward. However, we should still get to know the numbers.

First, let’s define what rehab means. This is a more confusing term that you’d think since there’s no standard definition of “rehab.” As you might expect, since there’s no standard definition, there’s also no standard way to define whether rehab is successful. A lot of success rates are based just on how many of the patients complete their programs while others follow-up with ongoing sobriety. In addition, how are relapses counted?

These are the questions that need to be asked about drug and alcohol rehab success rates. Understanding the concept of help with drug addiction can sometimes be confusing, but it usually has to do with the individual, facility and situation.

Drug and Alcohol Addiction by the Numbers:

  • Over 20 million Americans over the age of 12 have an addiction
  • 6.8 million people who have an addiction also have a mental illness
  • 16.6 million Americans are considered alcoholics

With these numbers in mind, how does rehab make a difference, if it does at all?

Rehab Success Rates by the Numbers:

  • Compared to those who obtained help with their alcoholism, those who did not get help were less likely to achieve 3-year remission
  • Between 40 – 60% of people who have been treated for addiction or alcoholism will relapse within a year

After seeing these stats above, it’s still not clear whether or not rehab is an effective way to manage addiction or alcoholism. We still need to take a closer look at how rehab works to see why it’s such an effective way to achieve recovery.

Addiction group therapy

Types of Drug and Alcohol Addiction Rehab

There are a number of different types of rehab from drug and alcohol abuse, and they also contribute to whether the program itself is successful. There are some intensive programs that are likely fit for those who are really struggling with recovery and withdrawal, and there are also outpatient programs like therapy and group sessions that are better for ongoing management.

Inpatient Treatment – With an inpatient program, there is a rigorous medication and counseling schedule that helps the patient slowly heal their body and learn coping strategies. These inpatient programs run anywhere from a month to several months, as needed, and they’re supervised by a medical professional.

Residential Treatment – These programs are similar to inpatient, yet they’re intended to last for a longer time. The patient moves into the residential facility for a long-term program which is usually over 70 days. From there, they become a part of the sober community to counsel patients into a better lifestyle change.

Detox – Detox is something that gets a lot of media attention, but it’s actually not a program in itself. Detox is the process of transitioning the body from regular substance. Detox is usually done before a patient enters an inpatient or residential program.

Outpatient Treatment – Finally, outpatient includes a number of things like group therapy, in-person sessions, and counseling. Patients continue to live in their own homes, and these programs are ongoing for a longer period of time.

Support group

Why Do Drug Rehab Programs Work?

Not all drug treatment programs are created equal. Unfortunately, there are many substance abuse programs that don’t live up to their claims. In order for a program to be effective, it needs to have a number of things:

  • Educated, experienced personnel
  • Physicians certified by the American Board of Addiction medicine
  • Individualized treatment
  • Long-term timeframe
  • Mental health counseling and treatment
  • Medications, if needed

Simply treating the symptoms of addiction doesn’t work. There needs to be a customized approach to treatment that addresses the root problems as well as coping strategies for the future. While it’s true that between 40 – 60% of patients relapse in the future, this does not mean the program was a failure.

As we’ve said, addiction is a chronic illness. There is no single cure that magically changes the way the patient’s body and mind are wired. It takes ongoing care and management. There are good days, bad days, and in-between days. As long as the patient recovers from their relapse and keeps moving closer to recovery, it’s a success.

Final Thoughts

If you or someone you love is struggling with the challenges that come with addiction, don’t be deterred by the confusing statistics surrounding drug rehab success. These programs, as long as you’re careful in your choice, are an effective way to achieve a brighter future.

Instead of fixating on success rates, we need to change our perspective on what it means to live with addiction. Things are never that black and white. Relapse or troubles after treatment doesn’t mean the entire program failed. It just means more structure and support is needed to keep moving forward.

Choosing the method of recovery that’s right for you is half the battle. From there, you’ll need to find a treatment that works for your lifestyle. Ultimately, we can all agree that drug rehab is more than worth it to protect your future and your happiness.

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The Ties Between Alcohol and Cancer

Alcohol is one of the most used substances in the country, and one of the deadliest. It is important to learn more about the dangers and health risks associated with overindulging in alcohol. Alcohol is one of the most widely used drugs in the United States and, according to the National Institutes of Health, leads to the death of 88,000 Americans annually. One of the most common problems associated with over drinking is cancer.

Excessive alcohol use leads to the development of a number of different types of cancers. Based on data from 2009, it is estimated that 3.5 percent of cancer deaths in the United States were alcohol related.

The Ties Between Alcohol and Cancer

Types of Alcohol-Related Cancers

There is clear evidence that the use of alcohol leads to the development of multiple types of cancer. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists alcohol as one of the known human carcinogens in a report.

Head and Neck Cancer

Oral and throat cancers are more prevalent in drinkers than non-drinkers. Specifically, moderate drinkers have a 1.8-fold higher risk of developing these types of cancers than those who don’t drink. For heavy drinkers, it is even higher, as they are five times as likely as developing these types of cancer. Similarly, the risk is even higher if the person uses tobacco as well.

Esophagus Cancer

Alcohol abuse is also associated with a higher risk of esophageal cancer. Similar to oral and throat cancers, those who use alcohol moderately have a slightly higher risk of developing this type of cancer, but heavy drinkers are five times as likely to develop it.

Liver Cancer

Liver cancer is one of the most common types of cancer among alcohol users. In fact, those who drink are two times as likely to develop this type of cancer as nondrinkers.

Breast Cancer

Studies have shown clear evidence that there is an increased risk of breast cancer in those who drink alcohol compared with non-drinkers. Heavy drinkers specifically are 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Colon Cancer

Alcohol consumption leads to a 20 to 50 percent increase in the risks of cancers of colon and rectum compared with no alcohol use at all.

There is mounting evidence that alcohol consumption is linked to a number of other cancers and that it is associated with increased risks of melanoma and prostate and pancreatic cancers.

Woman drink

Why Alcohol Increases Cancer Risk

There are a number of hypothesized reasons that alcohol use leads to an increase in the risk of different types of cancers, however, the exact risk isn’t completely understood. One hypothesis is that when the body breaks down ethanol, it turns it into acetaldehyde, a toxic chemical, and probable carcinogen, the substance can damage both the DNA and proteins in the body. Similarly, cells that are damaged by alcohol may try and repair themselves, but this can lead to DNA changes and can be a step toward cancer.

While there is no proven way to avoid cancer completely, there are steps that you can take to help lower your risk of alcohol-related cancer.

For one, you can work to limit your consumption of alcoholic beverages. For men, this means limiting yourself to no more than one or two drinks per day, and for women drinking no more than one drink per day.

Moreover, avoiding binge drinking or drinking heavily can help to reduce your risk of alcohol-related cancer as the risk of cancer increases with the more alcohol that you drink. However, even light drinking can lead to an increased risk of developing some type of cancer. Reducing binge drinking will also help with a number of other physical health problems.

Tobacco

There is much evidence that shows the combination of alcohol and tobacco leads to a much greater risk of developing oral and throat cancers than just using one or the other. The problem becomes much worse if tobacco and alcohol are used together.

Bottles Alcohol

Getting Alcohol Treatment

Recognizing that you or your loved one has a drinking problem is just the first step. For most, getting sober is not an easy process and it is a lifelong struggle. Luckily, there are many treatment options across the country that can help those with alcohol use disorder. Going through an alcohol treatment program can be frightening, especially if you don’t know exactly what to expect. But the more you learn about what treatment can offer the more comfortable you will likely feel about the situation.

Drug and alcohol treatment centers are there to help patients safely detox and to educate patients on the details of addiction and how to prevent relapse following discharge from a facility.

When it comes to getting treatment, detoxification is one of the most important steps in achieving sobriety, especially for those dealing with alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use can lead to dangerous, even life-threatening withdrawals if not handled properly. There are a number of worrisome symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal, including:

  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Agitation
  • Auditory and visual disturbances
  • Anxiety
  • Vomiting and more

Alcoholism treatment

A treatment center will likely provide medically supervised detoxification for new patients. Detoxification can last somewhere between a couple of days to a week. During detoxification, patients will overcome the symptoms and problems associated with withdrawals and newfound sobriety. This will allow the patients to deal with hard physical problems before they begin behavioral treatment.

After detoxification, patients will be exposed to group and one-on-one therapy sessions to help them learn more about the details and processes of addiction. Some styles of therapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy, will be used to help patients identify triggers that could lead to a relapse. Following inpatient treatment, patients will likely be given a discharge plan and pointed toward an outpatient facility to help them continue their treatment while getting adjusted back to normal life.

Treatment centers are there to help. They’re there to be a part of the solution and save as many people as possible.


About The Author

Matthew Boyle is the Chief Operating Officer of Landmark Recovery, drug and alcohol rehab centers in Indiana. He has been working in the healthcare space for 7 years with a new emphasis on recovery. Before his ventures into healthcare, Matthew graduated from Duke University in 2011 Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree. After Duke Matthew went on to work for the Boston Consulting Group before he realized his true passion lies within Recovery. His vision is to save a million lives in 100 years with a unique approach to recovery that creates a supportive environment through trust, treatment, and intervention.


 

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Battling Addiction: 5 Ways To Spur Yourself On

When you’re dealing with addiction, you accept that you’re in a lifelong battle. If you take your eye off the ball, you could end up going back a few steps; as such, you need to be spurring yourself on everyday, and reminding yourself that the voice in your head – the voice of your addiction – is smaller, and not as significant, as your voice. Keeping yourself focused can be difficult, but there are many ways to do so, and we’ve noted down 5 of them here.

Image credit

#1: Think about yourself

No matter what your addiction would have you feel or think, you are worth so much more than a life controlled by substances. You have things to achieve, memories to make, and you deserve to do this on your own terms. Recovery from addiction is ultimately about you, so remind yourself that you’re the focus here, and that your voice should prevail, not the one that is pulling you in a toxic direction.

#2: Keep your loved ones in mind

Addiction has a hurricane-like effect on your life, meaning that your family and friends invariably get pulled into the suffering. Think about all of the times that they have stood by you throughout your addiction, and how they never turned their backs on you, because of their love. Whilst recovery is complex, keeping your loved ones in mind can help you in the day-to-day of handling your addiction.

#3: Reward yourself for landmarks

As with anything that you’re trying to achieve, when you’ve reached certain points in your recovery, you need to celebrate! Getting those new veneers from a leading ultimo dentist, having dinner with your loved ones, and even walking around the park and appreciating your new outlook on life, are all great ways to reward yourself for how far you’ve come. And you deserve it!

#4: Make a bucket list

Looking to the future is always a great idea, and making a bucket list could help to keep you focused. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to visit Niagara Falls, or you want to drive around the country, or you’ve always wanted to skydive. Whatever it is that you want to do, keep your future in mind. This is a future that you may not have had if you were still in the throes of addiction.

#5: Remember how far you’ve come

Staying focused throughout your recovery will be a result of remembering how far you’ve come. A few years (or months) ago, you may have been living a life that you couldn’t even remember due to substance abuse, and now, you’re on the road to freedom. It’s a tough road, but the important thing to remember is that you’re on it. Think about all that you’ve achieved, and all that you could achieve still.

So, if you’re battling addiction, it’s important to remember that the journey will be a difficult one, and there is a lot to overcome. However, it is extremely worthwhile, and taking it day-by-day is important if you’re going to keep your addiction at bay. Spur yourself on, and keep these things in mind; your future will be brighter than you ever expected as a result.

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Advice For Caregivers Looking After An Addicted Loved One

Are you a caregiver for an addicted loved one?

It might be somebody you live with on a full-time basis, such as a partner, parent, or a child. Or you might live apart but see your loved one on a regular basis to provide physical and emotional support.

Whatever the case, we know it won’t be easy for you. Focusing on their needs will take its emotional toll on you, so for your own needs, as well as to give you the tools to be a better caregiver, you need to think about yourself too.

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You shouldn’t care for your loved one alone

We’re sure you’re great, but you’re not superhuman. All the care your loved one needs shouldn’t come from you alone, as you might experience exhaustion and burnout, and that won’t help anybody. So, ensure you have the support of your doctor for yourself and your addicted loved one. Get in touch with the appropriate therapy and rehabilitation groups if your loved one hasn’t yet been through a course of help. Considering addictive disorders are linked to mental illness, you might also seek help from community support services for people with a disability. And share responsibility for your loved one with other interested parties and family members, giving you the option to follow the next tip.

You need to practice self-care

The demands of your loved one may be many, but without time to yourself, you might become ill and even prone to addictive tendencies yourself. Therefore, find time to care for your mental health, with exercise, sleep, and healthy eating, and do things that relax you and make you happy. Schedule time in the week for yourself, and if your loved one needs full-time support, take this time when they are otherwise engaged in a support group or with another carer. Your life is important, and nobody wants to see you suffer unduly, including your loved one, so look after #1, for the benefit of yourself and those around you.

Attend a support group for caregivers.

It might be a group that is organised by a specific charity or organisation, or it might be an online group, or something that has been set up informally in your local community. Whatever the case, you need to know that you aren’t alone as a caregiver, so meet up with those people who know what you’re going through. The social company will be useful for a start, but you might also draw on the strength and ideas of others to help you in your caregiving role. You might also be a source of help to others, so be prepared to share anything that has made your life easier.

Don’t be afraid of letting go

We know you will do all you can to help your loved one, but when it gets too much for you, it is important to hand over that care to others. Especially when you don’t feel equipped to handle mood changes and lapses back into addictive behaviour, you should call on the assistance of the relevant professionals to take over your caring duties. You or they might have to spend a significant amount of time apart for a while, but that’s okay. Provided they are still getting help, and so long as you aren’t running yourself into the ground, you will both benefit from a little distance.

We hope the advice above was useful to you, but we would love to hear your thoughts. Should you be a caregiver for another, let us know how you have coped, and give us any further advice for the benefit of our readers.

Take care, and thanks for reading.

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Taking Some Control Over Your Own Health 100%

Your health is something you can often feel out of control with. You’ve got a brain and a body to look after, to feed properly and put to bed at night, and they’ll still turn on you when you least need them to! At least, that’s how it feels when you suddenly come down with a cold, or you get a diagnosis for a chronic illness you weren’t expecting when you went to the doctor’s that morning.

And that’s why you can feel so out of control, and so vulnerable, in the face of your own wellbeing. You want to be someone in charge, and you want to be confident as you do it – but how can you even think to manage that when we’re hardly ever sure of what causes us to get ill? It’s a delicate balance, and it’s one you should learn about. So with all that in mind, here’s a couple of ways you might be able to put some control back in your own hands.

(Unsplash)

Ask for Help When You Need Some

Of course, it may seem counterproductive to ask someone else to help you out when you’re feeling out of sorts, but it’s one of the most important self care tasks to keep in mind. Whether you’re feeling bad because of a physical ailment or a mental illness, you need to remember you’re allowed to reach out, and that you’re going to feel much better for doing so.

Taking control means giving yourself a break, not working yourself to the bone, and knowing your own limits in terms of your health. Being able to stand firm in the face of the idea that unless you’re contributing, you’re not worth the time and effort, is something few people are able to do. So let’s make sure you stay in bed when you’re struggling to stand up, and that you’re taking the time to have a snack if you haven’t stopped at the daily grind all morning!

Use a DNA Kit

Nowadays, technology can do a lot for our health, and monitoring is made a lot more effective and a lot less invasive because of it. After all, the more advances that come out each year, the better we get at solving our ailments and giving ourselves a chance at longer, healthier lives. Operations are far more complex, and far more successful, thanks to the use of technology, and even your own heart can be regulated via the use of tiny electrical devices.

Which is why a DNA test might be best for giving you an insight into your own body and how it works. After all, your genetic code has a lot to answer for, and companies like iDNA Health are the experts in Clinical Genetics – why not visit a website like this to see if a kit would be available to you?

Remember, taking some kind of control over your own health doesn’t have to be as hard as it’s made out to be.

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The Life-Altering Symptoms of Addiction

Addiction is classified as a disease that has several side effects and comes with a range of dangerous conditions or behaviors. If you are able to take steps to really recognise these behaviors or conditions, before it becomes worse, then it can be a great place to be to help them to deal with what they are going through and get the help that they need.

Disorders of substance abuse can have a range of effects, from things that impact people psychologically, to physically, and socially. It can really reduce quality of living; even the small day to day things can be damaging. The thing is, if you or someone you think may be abusing substances, there are many symptoms that can overlap one another. So really being on the lookout can make a difference as for some people, it isn’t clearly cut.

As an example, when someone experiences a psychological effect of wanting to spend their money from groceries to buying addictive substances, they not only have reduced money, but they have access to substances, and aren’t meeting their nutritional needs either. In a similar vein, relationship problems can occur, as well as more and more of an aversion to interacting socially with others, which can be isolating but can also make lead to or worsen psychological problems, like anxiety or depression.

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Denial and Secrecy

When someone is abusing substances, then often this will be done alone or secretly. So look out for someone that suddenly, or even not so suddenly, starts to withdraw and become more of a recluse. It is also something to look out for when someone will start to deny what is happening, even if you had witnessed it, perhaps; there will be a denial that there is even a problem. If there is talk of being able to quite anytime that they want to, then that is when alarms bells should start ringing (whether for you or for someone you care about).

Life-Altering Impact

There is no getting away from the fact that substance abuse brings with it some pretty life altering damages. Smoking a substance can lead to respiratory diseases and cancers, for example. Illicit drugs can lead to physical damage to your limbs and problems with your blood vessels, which could lead onto limb amputation and then disability, requiring a huge lifestyle overhaul and the use of things like disability phone apps. If you are someone that regularly drinks alcohol to excess, then it can lead to things like liver problems and generally poor health.

If these things can be dealt with fairly early on, then it can really reduce the negative impact that they have. So intervention as soon as possible is needed, otherwise, life-altering consequences can occur.

Financial Difficulties

At the end of the day, these substances cost money. And when they are used on a daily basis, the cost is going to be large. And with the side-effects that can come as a result, it can often lead to not working or getting fired. So financial difficulties really is something that can happen as a result, and that can also be pretty damaging and life-altering. Seek help as soon as you can, for you or a loved one, to nip it in the bud.

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8 Things You Should Know About Gender and Addiction

There are many misconceptions about addiction and these often include how people perceive how a person’s gender may impact addiction and recovery. While  anyone can become addiction to drugs, alcohol or process addictions there are a few gender related trends to take note of.

8 Things You Should Know About Gender and Addiction

Men Are More Likely To Become Addicts Than Women

According to studies carried out males tend to start using drugs and alcohol at a much younger age than females. Males also tend to drink alcohol and use more drugs more frequently and in much higher quantities than females. Males are more likely to engage in binge drinking.

This does not necessarily mean that men are more susceptible to become addicts. Studies show that teenage males have more opportunity and are more exposed through their peer groups than females. It is often the case that teenage girls are first introduced to drugs by their male peers.

Women are in fact more likely to transition from substance abuse to dependence and addiction and they do so at a faster pace than men.

Death By Overdose

Men are more likely to die from an overdose than women. More than double men have died from overdosing on heroin and opioids than women and almost two thirds of the deaths by prescription opioids have been men.

Dual Diagnosis and Gender

While dual diagnosis is equally prevalent between men and women the types of mental health disorders differ. Men are much more likely to antisocial personality disorders and women tend to have affective disorders such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.

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Detoxing, Recovery and Relapse

Men are more likely to have more intense alcohol withdrawal than women. Women are more likely to experience physical side effects of addiction (such as liver damage) and overdose.

Men are less likely to relapse and have a better chance at long term sobriety than women. Women report more intense cravings and are more likely to relapse than men.

Types Of Drugs

Men are more likely to abuse a variety of illegal drugs such as anabolic steroids, methamphetamines, heroin, LSD, cocaine, ecstasy, opioids and molly. Women are more likely to abuse prescription medications than men.

Process Addictions

In general women are more likely to have an eating disorder than men. Women are more likely to suffer from anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa while men with eating disorders are more likely to be overeaters.

Women are more likely to be dissatisfied with their weight and engage in dieting for weight control and purging.

When it comes to sex addiction men are physical and men are emotional. Men tend to obsess over sex and objectify women. Men tend to get involved in sexual behaviors that are not emotional.

Women look to sex for power or control, or to get the attention or praise that they want.

Women are also more likely to have a love addiction, which can easily be mistaken for a sex addiction. With a love addiction the addict looks for all her self-worth from her partner.

Men are about three times more likely to be addicted to gambling. Another difference with gambling addiction is that women tend to favour the slot machines and bingo while men are more likely to get hooked on table casino games or the stock markets.

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Reason For Stopping Drugs

The biggest motivating factor for both men and women stopping drugs is for their children. 49% of women gave their children as the reason for stopping drugs, almost double that of the 26% of men that gave their children as their motivation.

Reason For Using Drugs

The trigger for men could originate for some men from traditional gender roles. Men may feel that they need to be adventurous and in control. Drugs and alcohol may seem like a good tool to help achieve these things. Men can be encouraged to keep their feeling hidden and taking drugs and drinking alcohol can appear to be a way of coping for some men.

Women often turn to drugs and alcohol in response to a traumatic event from childhood. In one study 30 to 59% of women in an addiction treatment program had a dual diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder.

Although men are more often in situations that are physically dangerous women are at a higher risk (both as a child and as an adult) to be victims of personal violence. In addition to this women are more likely to be sexually victimized while using alcohol than men.

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Does Your Relationship Need A Little Work?

Relationships take work. That’s probably not that shocking to a lot of people. We might all be taught that once you find the right person, everything will slot into place and it’s all perfect from then on. But most of us know that that’s simply not the case. Relationships take time, effort and work to be able to function properly. And sometimes it can feel like the work that you’re putting in isn’t being balanced by the good stuff you’re both getting out of it. It can make you wonder why you’re even putting in that effort at all. If you’re in that position, it can be really difficult to figure out what to do. Here are a few things that you can try if your relationship is on the rocks.


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Try to talk it through

This is not the same as arguing about things. Take some time, sit down and make sure to have a calm conversation about what it is that’s bothering you. Make sure that you really listen to what each other has to say. Many people just spend their time waiting to talk instead of really listening. But if you do that you might miss how your partner is really feeling. Be ready to accept that your partner might say things that you disagree with but make sure that you don’t get defensive or angry, arguing isn’t going to solve anything. Just listen and see if you can reach the root cause of your problems together.

Take some time apart

Before hiring a divorce lawyer, try taking some time away from each other. When you’re in a committed relationship, it can sometimes feel as though you’re losing a piece of your own life. It can feel stifling and restrictive. By taking some time apart, you can remind yourselves that you’re both individuals with your own lives. Then you can come back to each other with a fresh perspective that you can bring to the relationship. It’s also a good way to find out if the desire to pull away actually lasts when you’re not around your partner anymore, or if it’s just something that comes out during a heated argument. Whether you stay in contact is up to you, some couples find it better to be totally separate for that time while others prefer to keep at least a little bit of contact.

Consider counseling

Talking through your problems is extremely important, but it can be very difficult to see a way to solve them when you’re in the thick of it. In couples counseling, you’re able to bring in an unbiased third party like Susie Tuckwell who is professionally trained to help you get to the root of why you’re unhappy. Ninety-seven percent of couples have said that they got the help they needed from couples counseling. The presence and environment of a counselor can prevent discussions falling apart into yet another argument.

The truth is that there is no such thing as a relationship that doesn’t take work. Just because things aren’t playing out like some fantasy that you had in your head, that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth fighting for.

 

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