History of Methamphetamine Explained

history of meth

Brought more into the collective mind by Breaking Bad, to say that methamphetamine is a highly addictive and incredibly potent drug is an understatement. Even with those adjectives.

It’s a wildly devastating stimulant.

The history of methamphetamine, and relatedly, the history of crystal meth are far more pedestrian affairs than the frenetic and chaotic show.

The humble origins of this strong stimulant date back to late 19th century Germany where a Japanese chemist, Nagai Nagayoshi, studying there synthesized amphetamines –  and isolating ephedrine from the ephedra plant that was used in traditional Asian medicine for millennia – for the first time in 1887. 

Not a lot happened in the world of amphetamines until the early 20th century.

It was in 1919 that the “magic” happened, so to speak. Again, a Japanese chemist, Akira Ogata, found a much easier, more simplified and streamlined way to create the stimulant but in a crystalline form and thus the world was introduced to crystal meth. This new form was also highly soluble in water making it an easy candidate for injection down the road. 

Similar to the discovery of amphetamines, there wasn’t much reportable action on the drug for some years. Then came World War II and meth went gangbusters.

Soldiers on both sides of the war consumed prodigious amounts of amphetamines to stay awake and functional with the keenest use among the Germans and Japanese. 

After the war, in the States, it shifted to become an attempted solution to many things, from increasing productivity to weight loss to asthma. It was finally regulated more aggressively in 1970 under the Controlled Substances Act.

What Is Methamphetamine?

Now that you know the history, what exactly is methamphetamine?

Per the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Crystal methamphetamine is a form of the drug that looks like glass fragments or shiny, bluish-white rocks.”

It can be taken in a myriad of ways as well, people can smoke, swallow (in pill form), snort or inject the drug. The effect produced varies by intake method.

Is Methamphetamine Addictive?

As noted in their definition, not only is it addictive, it’s highly addictive. Meth releases a sizable amount of dopamine in the brain and those feelings of pleasure are enormous. So much so that people quickly want to experience it again but as tolerance builds and they need to take more and more to achieve the same high.

This creates and cements the cycle of addiction. Moreover, withdrawal, which is never pleasant, drives people to take more just to avoid those symptoms.

Dangers of Abusing Methamphetamine

The effects and dangers of meth are vast and seep into all parts of a person’s life. The physical, psychological and behavioral.

Physically, meth abuse can look like:

  • Picking at skin obsessively leading to open sores
  • Extreme weight loss due to malnutrition and loss of appetite
  • Twitching
  • Liver damage
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Premature aging
  • Blackened and rotting teeth also known as “meth mouth”

The specter of the physical damage is already haunting but the damage it sows in the mind is also immense:

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Memory Loss
  • Paranoia
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Insomnia

Which can all lead to behavioral problems:

  • Moodiness
  • Irritability
  • Violent and aggressive outbursts
  • Unpredictable behavior
  • Borrowing money, stealing, etc. to get money for meth
  • Problems at work, school, home
  • Ignoring obligations and relationships
  • Disregard to personal appearance or general hygiene

Get Help With a Crystal Meth Addiction Today

Given all of that, it goes without saying that methamphetamines are incredibly dangerous drugs. If you suspect someone in your life is having issues with them, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Newport Beach Recovery Center and we can help advise the next steps to take.

The Fine Line Between the Alcoholic vs. Social Drinker

social drinking vs alcoholism
It’s not as simple as drawing a line in the sand and saying on one side stands the social drinker and on the other the alcoholic. That one additional drink magically transforms you from a normal drinker to a problematic one. Life isn’t that black and white, and drinking, like everything else in this world, exists in shades of gray. Along a spectrum. That said, there’s no doubt a difference between the two types of drinking but a person doesn’t necessarily switch overnight, they slip slowly, perhaps even imperceptibly, into alcoholism. While not being a literal line with an actual number of drinks attached to it, there certainly is a threshold people cross in their relationship with alcohol. So, what changes?

Establishing the Social Drinker

The social drinker has no real reliance on alcohol. Drinking is a compliment to their activity and not the reason they’re doing something. If they’re out with friends and the alcohol were removed, they’d still be having a good time. In other words, alcohol isn’t the star of their show. They’ll have a casual beverage to socialize, kick back and relax or relax but they don’t require or default to alcohol to do those things. They choose when they drink and drinking doesn’t get in the way of their work-life, their family life or their commitments. Social drinkers have a clear ability to stop or moderate their drinking. As far as definitions go, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines moderate alcohol consumption as, “up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men”.

Establishing the Alcoholic

Since we touched on the definition of moderate drinking, what defines heavy alcohol use? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, “for men, heavy drinking is typically defined as consuming 15 drinks or more per week. For women, heavy drinking is typically defined as consuming 8 drinks or more per week”. Think about that for a second. Is it surprising that the amount of drinks that constitute heavy alcohol use in the eyes of the CDC is just having essentially 1 more drink per day than a moderate drinker? Heavy use doesn’t automatically make someone an alcoholic though, it’s less about the number and more about that relationship with drinking. That said, binge drinking and heavy alcohol use can increase an individual’s risk of alcohol use disorder. The alcoholic’s relationship with alcohol is substantially different than that of the social drinker. Drinking is the reason they’ll participate in things and when they drink it’ll be with the intent to get drunk. They’ll drink alone. Their tolerance to booze will grow and they use drinking as a coping mechanism to deal with issues with all sorts of issues, from stress to being alone to anxiety about socializing. Drinking is the crutch they lean on. Alcohol will have a substantial effect on their work and personal life. Maybe not from the outset but it’s often only a matter of time until someone slips up in their alcoholism/alcohol use disorder. In other words, what defines the alcoholic is dependency.

How to Get Professional Help With Alcoholism

Alcohol use disorder is a scourge that affects 14.4 million adults in the United States and about 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually, but it’s not something you have to suffer through alone or silently. If you’re concerned you may have gone over that line yourself or have a loved one you think may be teetering on the brink, give us a call at Newport Beach Recovery Center. Our team has over 30 years of combined experience in treating alcoholism and is always available.

Exercise and Addiction Recovery

exercise and addiction recovery

Exercise is truly the gift that keeps on giving, what you put in in terms of efforts comes back 10-fold in how you feel. Getting in shape, as the phrase suggests, will also have you looking better. Unfortunately, between looking for drugs, getting wasted or drunk and then dealing with the hangovers and withdrawal those who abuse substances to the point of addiction most likely aren’t fitting in a workout.

Doesn’t land too highly on the to-do list of an addict.

This really is a shame because working out offers so many benefits and you don’t even necessarily have to incur the costs of a gym membership if money is tight.

Benefits of Exercise in Addiction Recovery

Getting started with exercise may not come naturally at first but going through that initial bumpy batch of getting into the swing of it is absolutely worth it.

Better Mood

Working out releases those feel-good chemicals into the brain, replacing the garbage you were putting in before. A good exercise releases endorphins, dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin and leaves you feeling fantastic. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “runner’s high”, that’s pretty much where it comes from and it certainly has the power to put you in a better mood.

Healing the Body

Drug and alcohol addiction don’t just affect the mood though, they devastate the body. Exercise puts you on the path of immediate physical recovery and maintaining a workout regimen sets you up to lower risk for possibly developing other health issues down the road as you get older. Exercise functions to keep your blood pressure in check and make your heart strong to reduce the risk of cardiovascular and heart disease.

Structure

An uncomplicated but powerful tool, having a structure in your day means you know what you’ll be doing with your day. Creating a routine that includes dedicated exercise time goes a long way towards avoiding finding yourself in situations that may trigger you.

Dealing with Stress

Exercise is a time-tested coping mechanism and a healthy one at that. There are plenty of not healthy ways to deal with stress as any addict knows but getting the stress out at the gym, or wherever you choose to exercise, by working up a sweat is AOK. 

Meeting People

If you used to meet people bars, clubs or other places that revolved around drugs and alcohol and are wondering how you’re going to stay social in sober life, exercise presents a perfect opportunity. A gym is a wonderful place to meet people who are on the right track so to speak and if a gym is maybe a little too intimidating for you, trying a sports league or pick up games at the park. All good options for creating new, healthy connections.

Different Types of Workouts

This is the fun part: figuring out what works for you. Working out comes in so many different forms and finding what you like is only a matter of research and then some trial and error. The big categories are aerobic, strength and stretching/flexibility.

Aerobic

These are your cardio workouts that get your blood pumping and heart rate up. Running, biking, swimming, team sports, HIIT (high-intensity interval training), etc. fall into this category.

Strength

Pretty much what you think it is, strength training is about resistance, things like lifting weights, machine exercises, using bodyweight, etc.

Stretching/Flexibility

Workouts in this area are all about improving range of motion, flexibility and balance. They tend to be more low impact, think yoga and Pilates.

Benefits of Addiction Recovery

The benefits of recovery far outweigh the alternative and exercise is a simple, yet profoundly effective way to keep yourself on track. We’re big fans of working out at Newport Beach Recovery Center and would be happy to tell you all about the positives that come from an active lifestyle in your recovery journey. Call us to learn more.

How To Pay For Rehab

One of the biggest challenges of attending a drug rehab is finding a way to pay for treatment. While many individuals out there are desperate for addiction treatment to help them with their substance abuse issues, many addiction treatment programs can be costly.

If you’re struggling with substance abuse, don’t let paying for rehab deter you from seeking treatment. There are many resources out there that can help you or a loved one pay for rehab. As you explore your options, you can determine what treatment facility is best for you. 

Required Treatment for Your Needs

The first step to take to determine if you can afford addiction treatment is figuring out what kind of addiction treatment you need. There are various types of addiction treatment programs available to choose from. Different programs will have different costs associated with them.

Treatment Options

The type of treatment option you need depends on how severe your addiction is along with other factors. If you are dealing with a mild addiction, an outpatient program could be enough to help you overcome your substance abuse. If your addiction is more serious, and you might experience severe withdrawal symptoms that require medication and observation, inpatient treatment with detox is the best option for you. 

Inpatient treatment

When you undergo inpatient treatment, you will live at the treatment facility. This is a residential form of treatment. One of the biggest benefits to inpatient treatment is you remove yourself from your surroundings that helped fuel your addiction. You will also have only one thing to focus on during inpatient treatment: getting and staying sober. The normal temptations aren’t available during inpatient treatment. This treatment is more costly than outpatient because of its residential nature. 

Outpatient treatment

Outpatient treatment tends to cost less than inpatient treatment because you don’t live at an outpatient facility. You’ll attend individual and group therapy sessions here, just like you would during inpatient. The difference between the two is you aren’t putting your life on hold while participating in outpatient treatment. You will live at your house, have all of the same personal responsibilities, and even go to work. The downside to this is you have less time during the day to focus on recovery, the upside is you’ll easily learn how to incorporate recovery into everyday life.  

Exploring Funding options

Once you have determined what type of treatment you’d like to pursue, you can explore your options for funding the cost of addiction treatment. 

Private health insurance

Private health insurance can cover a portion or all of your addiction treatment costs, depending on your plan. If you have a particularly good health insurance plan, all of the costs of treatment will be covered. To find out if your insurance covers addiction treatment, you can reach out to them over the phone. You can also call the rehab you want to attend to get your insurance verified (they’ll let you know if they accept it or not). . 

Employer assistance

If you’re currently employed, you can see if your company provides employer assistance. If you feel comfortable doing so, consult with the human resources office of your employer to look into any funding available for rehab treatment for employees. Any don’t worry about potentially losing your job after confiding in HR about your addiction, according to the FMLA, it’s illegal to be fired when pursuing addiction treatment. 

Medicare or Medicaid

Both Medicare and Medicaid offer some coverage for rehab treatment. If you are on Medicare or Medicaid, look into the details of your policy. You should have at least partial coverage for rehab. However, the extent of any coverage that your plan includes depends on which parts of Medicare coverage you have or which state you live in when it comes to Medicaid. 

State governmental programs

Some state grants are allocated toward covering the costs of addiction treatment. These programs are frequently provided in connection with a state’s judicial system. This means that you’re especially likely to be eligible for state governmental programs if you are having legal problems as the result of drug or alcohol addiction. 

Cash pay

If you don’t have insurance or access to programs that help pay for rehab, you can pay out of pocket, although this is rare. If you are looking to pay for rehab yourself, you can call the facility you’d like to go to and ask the cash pay price. 

We’re Here To Help

Newport Beach Recovery Center is here to help you with your addiction. You can verify your insurance benefits through our website or by giving us a call. Please don’t wait to reach out for help, it’s time you get your life back from addiction! 

Why You Should Attend a Medical Detox

medical detox

The best way to get started on the road to recovery from drug addiction is to undergo detox at a professional treatment facility. Unfortunately, many individuals struggling with drug abuse attempt to undergo detox on their own and are unsuccessful at attaining sobriety. It can also be incredibly dangerous to detox on your own as certain withdrawal symptoms are very severe.

Sometimes addicts will attempt to detox themselves because of financial limitations, embarrassment, or they think it won’t be that hard.  Newport Beach Recovery Center is here to let you know you shouldn’t detox by yourself. You have a much better chance of getting and staying sober by going to a professional detox program. 

What Is Medical Detox

Detox treatment for drug and alcohol abuse consists of clearing toxins out of the body that have resulted from substance abuse. A major focus of detoxification treatment is overcoming withdrawal symptoms that occur when you stop using drugs or alcohol. While detox and withdrawal can be difficult, we do everything we can at Newport Beach Recovery Center to make you feel safe and comfortable.

Detox is generally considered to be the first step in overcoming drug or alcohol addiction. After our clients go through detox, they move on to our residential inpatient treatment program. 

How Medical Detox Works

Before you’re able to undergo detox, we collect and review your substance abuse and medical history. It’s important we’re fully aware of the substances you are currently addicted to, how long you’ve been using them, and how frequently. All of these factors will help determine how long your detox will be and what the process is. On average our detox process lasts about 4-7 days. During detox, we monitor your health very closely. Depending on what substances you use, withdrawals can be mild to severe. 

Common withdrawal symptoms experienced amongst all addicts are nausea, anxiety, depression, an overall feeling of being sick, fatigue, and insomnia. These are not out of the ordinary as your body is now adjusting to functioning without drugs or alcohol. 

Benefits of Medical Detox

One of, if not the biggest, benefit to medical detox is being under the care of medical professionals while you go through withdrawals. Some withdrawals can be fatal so you definitely shouldn’t detox on your own. Other benefits include: 

Medicine is prescribed to manage withdrawals. 

During detox, we prescribe certain medications that help ease withdrawal symptoms. If you try to detox on your own at home, you won’t have access to these kinds of medications. It’s also important to wean the body off drugs instead of stopping cold turkey because you can completely shock your system. The “comfort meds” we prescribe are given to you in a controlled setting so you won’t be able to take them whenever you want. 

Therapists and counselors are here to help. 

Our experienced staff is available to answer any questions you may have during detox. If you start to experience any anxiety or feelings of depression, our staff can help. We know it’s crucial for those detoxing to have mental health support as detoxing affects the body and mind. 

Support from like-minded people. 

Aside from the support of our medical staff, it’s important to have the support from other addicts as well during detox. Detoxing at home alone is solitary. Being alone can aggravate some common symptoms of withdrawal such as depression and anxiety. With medical detox, our clients can help encourage, motivate, and keep an eye on you, which creates a supportive environment.

Detox Medically With Us

Newport Beach Recovery Center can help you overcome your addiction. We offer comprehensive detoxification, residential treatment, and outpatient treatment options. Detoxing is the first step to take on the road of recovery and once you accomplish that, we can help you with the next step! Contact us today to learn more about our program. 

Am I Addicted to Opioids?

am I addicted to opioids

Addiction is a serious disease that comes in many shapes and forms. One drug that is highly addictive is opioids. Opioids are split into two categories: legal and illegal. Legal opioids, such as codeine and Percocet, happen to be some of the most commonly prescribed pain medications in the US. They are extremely addictive, even when taken as prescribed. It’s estimated that about 2 million Americans a year misuse opioids. 

If you’ve found yourself here because you feel like you’ve been abusing opioids and are not sure if you’re addicted, keep reading to find out common signs and symptoms of an opioid addiction. Please note the purpose of this blog is to raise awareness for warning signs of addiction, not to provide a diagnosis. 

What Is an Opioid Addiction?

This is an addiction that usually involves medications that are used to help people cope with acute and chronic pain. Acute pain can be caused by surgeries or accidents, like breaking a bone. Some of the most common forms of opioid medications include OxyContin, Hydrocodone, Lortab, Percocet, and Vicodin. If someone has an addiction to opioids, their brain chemistry has been changed to believe that it requires these medications just to remain alive. 

How Does One Get Addicted to Opioids?

An opioid addiction often begins both innocently and innocuously. Many people who have an addiction to opioid medications are initially prescribed pain medications to help them manage a serious medical condition or injury. For example, if you need to have surgery, you will be prescribed pain medicine to manage the pain post-op. If you consistently take the medication, your body will become physically dependent on the drug. 

Opioids are powerful medications that are supposed to help manage acute pain, not chronic pain. Unfortunately, many people end up taking opioids for chronic pain anyway. Back pain is one of the most common reasons why someone might be prescribed opioid medications. Eventually, people who use legal opioids may start to use illegal opioids as well, such as heroin. 

Signs and Symptoms of an Opioid Addiction

If you think you’re suffering from an addiction to opioids, there are a few signs and symptoms to look for: 

  • Taking more pills daily than prescribed
  • Starting to feel like your prescription isn’t strong enough
  • Obsessive thoughts about the medication
  • Running out of your pills before the refill is ready
  • Starting to buy pills illegally because you can’t get a prescription refill
  • Going to different doctors to try to secure multiple prescriptions
  • Feelings of wanting to isolate and not be around family or friends
  • Feelings of being depressed and not interested in anything
  • Being worried when you only have a few pills left 

People who suffer from an addiction to opioids may end up progressing to street drugs in an effort to control their pain because prescription medications no longer work for their discomfort. If you or a loved one may be struggling with opioids, please reach out to us today. 

Let Us Help You!

At Newport Beach Recovery Center, we are a drug and alcohol rehab center located in the beautiful area of Costa Mesa, CA. Our trained professionals have an extensive amount of experience dealing with a wide variety of addiction and substance abuse issues. We are here to assist individuals and families who are struggling with addiction throughout the Costa Mesa, CA area. Please contact us today to learn more about how our addiction treatment program can help you!

Opioid Epidemic: Everything You Need To Know

The opioid epidemic is very real, and communities all over America are dealing with the fallout of aggressive over-prescription of opioids. Tens of thousands of people became addicted to opioid-based painkillers and engaged in substance abuse as a direct result. The opioid addiction crisis has sent many people to seek out addiction treatment in order to recover from an addiction they were led into by pharmaceutical companies seeking profit in any way possible. The Centers for Disease Control estimates the cost of prescription opioid abuse costs the U.S. $78.5 billion annually from loss of productivity, healthcare-related to the addiction, addiction treatment, and law enforcement activities involving opioid substance abuse.

How the Opioid Epidemic Began

For most of the 20th century, physicians prescribed opiates for pain relief on a limited basis. They were prescribed for certain types of injuries or conditions and as needed, but physicians preferred to resort to other forms of pain relief. Then in the 1990s, the medical field decided to take patient pain more seriously and loosened up on prescribing opioids for pain relief. Around the same time, pharmaceutical companies began a nationwide marketing push to promote their opioid pills for pain relief and touted the low risk of addiction in combination with the effectiveness of the pills.

These changes coincided with a change in how Americans live their daily lives which resulted in more social isolation and untreated mental health issues that include depression and anxiety. These issues can manifest as physical pain. Physicians are more likely to prescribe opioids for people with anxiety instead of treating the condition. In turn, the patient is at increased risk of developing an opioid addiction due to the highly addictive nature of opioids.

Another aspect of the opioid epidemic is the fact that people have different perceptions of pain. One individual may feel that the pain they’re experiencing is manageable and at a level 2 on a scale from 1-10 while another may feel that the same pain is at a level 9. Because there’s no effective way for physicians to verify the pain apart from their own experience and judgment, they will prescribe opiates for the patient who’s self-reporting a level 7 pain that’s really a level 2.

Ending the Opioid Crisis

Resolving the opioid epidemic isn’t going to be easy. There are people who have a legitimate need for opioid-based pain killers which means the medication still needs to be manufactured. Physicians have to balance prescription with the risk of opioid addiction and the potential for eventual addiction treatment for their patients. No physician wants to harm their patients; In fact, it’s part of the Hippocratic oath. There will most likely always be a risk of opioid addiction until a more effective, non-addictive pain reliever has been discovered.

Physician education is another aspect of ending the crisis. It’s not unusual for a physician to take the word of a drug manufacturer when it comes to the efficacy of a medication. Thousands of physicians fell prey to pharmaceutical manufacturers’ claims of their opiates being safe to use and shows a need for medical professionals to engage in ongoing education about addictive substances and their potential for patient abuse. Physicians who are informed are more likely to engage in the responsible prescription of pain medication and less likely to prescribe opiates to patients who self-report pain without a definitive physical cause.

Encouraging people addicted to opioids to get addiction treatment for their substance abuse can be highly beneficial for themselves and the communities affected by the opioid crisis. Patients who enter addiction treatment programs are also more likely to get their underlying mental health issues addressed and properly treated. Those who successfully resolve their addiction and find help for their mental health issues are returned to society with the tools they need to lead a productive life. They also talk about the benefits of getting clean and healthy to others who may be ready to change their lives for the better and also take action.

The Final Efforts

The fallout from the opioid epidemic is going to take time to resolve. It has a high relapse rate due to the physical changes in the brain that cause addiction. Reducing the brain’s physical need for the euphoric effects of opioid consumption is not an easy task, and it can take a long time for someone to get free from that craving. Proactive efforts to prevent new cases of addiction are being made, but more needs to be done to reduce prescription opioid addiction and the resulting substance abuse. The opioid epidemic is far from over, and the country is just starting to get control of the situation. Building upon the efforts already made can help the country heal and move forward from the damage done by opioid addiction.

How to Cope with Losing a Loved One to Addiction

Even though it’s not something that anyone finds it to be particularly pleasant, everyone knows that coping with the death of a loved one is a natural part of life. There is no denying that any type of loss is painful, but there is something about the loss of a loved one from addiction that puts things in a different category altogether. Addiction is a deadly disease, it doesn’t discriminate against anyone, it affects men, women, and children and it has destroyed many innocent lives. Unfortunately, losing a loved one to drug abuse is all too common. If you have lost a loved one to substance abuse, it is critical that you learn how to cope with the loss and not allow this devastation to consume your life as well. Here are some ways to cope with the loss of a loved one from addiction.

Get Support

Loss and unresolved grief are burdens that are commonly carried. It’s important to keep yourself in the company of supporting and loving others that you share your feelings and experiences with. It’s easy to fall into the trap of isolation, but it is critical for your own emotional health to increase your contact with family and friends, attend grief meetings and share from your heart. Do not be afraid to open up about what is going on inside your emotions.

Avoid Holding Back

Holding back your emotions doesn’t benefit you or those around you. Pain is inevitable, but you must grieve effectively and in order to do this, it’s essential that you share and release your pain with others. It’s often beneficial to talk with others who have also lost a loved one to addiction, such as groups that are designed specifically for loved ones of men and women who had a substance abuse problem. For instance, Al-Anon groups are typically located in most cities, and they will not only be able to provide you with information regarding addiction but direct you to additional support groups that help with the grieving process.

Grieve in a Healthy Way

It is essential for your emotional as well as physical health that you allow yourself to not only grieve but to grieve in a healthy way. There are many stages of the grieving process, and your health depends on your experience in all stages. Over time the shock and the denial will gradually fade, so focusing on living in the present will help ground you through the denial phase of grief. Another phase is anger and you’re entitled to be angry, so allow yourself to be angry by expressing the anger in healthy ways. It is critical that you remember that you were and are powerless over what has happened. Depression is also a stage of grief that you must get through, but once you have worked through the anger and hurt, it will eliminate the risk for harboring resentments, which creates unnecessary distances between you and your loved ones when you need them the most. Although it’s difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel-acceptance will eventually come.

Living Your Life Well

One of the best ways to honor your lost loved one is to live your life the way they would want it for you. So, don’t forget to take care of yourself. The grieving process is stressful and overwhelming, but it’s critical that you not lose yourself in the process. Participating in activities you enjoy, such as taking a walk, listening to your favorite music or finishing that book you started is a great way to calm your mind and rejuvenate your emotional and physical strength.

After losing a loved one to substance abuse, it is common for family and friends to blame themselves, to look for ways that they could have helped or try to look for what they may have done wrong. Do not blame yourself or others! Harboring these feelings will prevent you from moving on and prevent you from healthy grieving. It’s important that you are gentle with yourself and give yourself space, time and patience you need to work through the loss.

Domestic Violence: How It Can Lead To Substance Abuse

domestic abuse and substance abuse

Unfortunately, it is common for domestic violence and addiction to go hand-in-hand. It is common for both men and women that engage in domestic violence to blame their actions on drugs or alcohol. When the abuser sobers up, they are often remorseful and claim they weren’t aware of what they were doing. For either the abuser or the victim, substance abuse can increase the risk of more violence. An addiction to drugs or alcohol leads to extremely intense and damaging mental and physical conditions for the abuser as well as the victim. The good news is that there is help available for the women and men that are violent or are the victims of domestic violence.

Diminished Self-Control

Substance abuse can diminish self-control and reduce inhibitions over their emotions, which may lead to domestic violence, often it’s because they are unable to cope with their inner turmoil. Alcohol and drug abuse may also make it extremely difficult for them to make good decisions about their behavior in the heat of the moment.  This poor degree of self-control may easily lead to domestic violence on the part of the abuser. An addiction to drugs or alcohol alters nervous structures and chemicals in the brain; drug abuse changes personalities and changes priorities. For these reasons and many more, it is critical that they be treated for both their addiction and violent tendencies.

Are Substance Abusers More Like to Become a Domestic Violence Victim?

Studies have shown that substance abuse may increase the risk of women and men being victims of domestic abuse. Drugs and alcohol have a significant effect on your body and its various systems; substance abuse alters the thinking of the user. For instance, using alcohol creates negative effects on cognitive capabilities, which may result in those who are using to exercise poor judgment and place themselves at risk of being the victim of domestic violence. There is also evidence of a high probability that women and men who are victims of violence have substance abuse problems. Sadly, children of those who abuse drugs and alcohol are also often attacked during the abuse of a loved one. It is common for many of these children to become accustomed to these behaviors from childhood, resulting in them becoming abusers or victims of domestic violence in adulthood.

Treatment for Domestic Violence and Substance Abuse

Treatment for domestic violence and substance abuse should be integrated. Just like other co-occurring disorders, collaboration among healthcare professionals is essential in order to best address each individual condition. The trauma that is often caused by domestic violence victims generally requires different treatment options that the treatment methods for the abuser; however, when substance abuse is mixed into the factor, it is critical that the treatment methods be done at the same time for the best chances of recovery.

Because of the trauma and severity relating to domestic violence as well as the stigma that is often related to substance abuse, it is common for people to be discouraged about seeking treatment. Many people that experience domestic violence have gone through other traumas in their lives, such as sexual abuse, childhood neglect and other types of violence. For this reason, experiencing any type of discrimination can be extremely traumatic on its own, which limits their access to support and services. Since many victims of domestic violence turn to substance abuse in an attempt to deal with the trauma of the abuse, disclosing their alcohol and drug abuse to others is often the primary reason they delay seeking treatment. However, it is critical to understand that domestic violence generally results in physical and emotional injuries as well as other health problems if you do not seek help. Treatment can help you learn how to overcome being a victim of abuse, resist being the abuser and put your substance abuse behind you.

Stress and Substance Abuse: How Strong is the Connection?

Recent advances in the study of addiction and the science of recovery have delivered strong evidence that a link exists between stress, drug use, drug abuse, and addiction. Stress has long been recognized as both a necessary element for personal growth and learning as well as a significant health hazard. In order for a human being to remain healthy, happy, and productive- some degree of stress is necessary. The question is, where is the balancing point before stress becomes a hazard- and how much of a risk of addiction does stress impose on and men and women?

Stress: The Addiction Connection

The research has shown time and again, that the initiation of drug use, drug abuse, and relapse are more likely to occur in persons who exhibit signs of stress or who report feeling stressed. A number of studies are currently in circulation in addiction medicine circles which offer compelling, statistically supported arguments for this claim.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, different people have different tolerances to stress or “stress thresholds.” They explain that stress has a physiological basis, and once the threshold is reached, the hypothalamus is engaged, releasing the “corticotropin-releasing hormones,” the stress hormone known more broadly as cortisol. When this happens, the individual receives a strong chemical signal within the brain that triggers pleasure and/or comfort seeing behaviors. 

How Much Stress is Too Much?

This idea has gained a great deal of traction in the world of addiction treatment. The notion that self-control can be compared to a muscle that has a limited amount of energy and a limited lifting capacity has taken root in treatment culture and practice. This is particularly true of evidence-based treatment programs. The simple reason for this that the idea is both backed up my massive amounts of statistical evidence- and it is strongly in agreement with the common intuition about self-control- ie; that it is limited.

Of course, there is no universal stress threshold that applies to everyone. One person’s resistance to stress is dependent on perceptions about one’s self, the type of stressor experienced, and underlying physiological factors rendering the individual’s capacity for self-control.

The studies promoting this view are largely unanimous in their findings. They show that persons exposed to stress;

  • Are more likely to abuse alcohol or other drugs
  • Are more likely to continue using alcohol or other drugs
  • Exhibit a decreased expressed interest in exhibiting self-control
  • Report increases ideations related to using drugs or alcohol
  • Report a sharp increase in interest in drugs which they have used before

The researchers agree that the biological mechanism that makes an individual capable of resisting temptation is a delicate one. Their findings support the notion that stress can disrupt the mechanism of self-control, deplete its chemical reserves- rendering the self-control mechanism effectively inoperative.

Addiction as a Disease Process

Over the years, the notion that addiction is not a moral failing, but the disease has received a great deal of push-back. There is some reason to resist the idea because if the moral component of drug abuse is removed, it would seem that addicts would have one less emotional resource to draw upon in their recovery.

Still, the evidence that addiction is, in fact, disease and not a character flaw is strongly supported by these findings on stress and drug use. While these developments may take some moral impetus away from the recovering addict- it is a virtual certainty that advances in addiction treatment will develop as a result of this relatively new understanding.

Evidence-Based Addiction Treatment

Divided roughly into Pharmacotherapies and Behavioral Therapies, evidence-based addiction treatment is based on empirical, statistical, and medical evidence which shows a given treatment to have the effect of reducing use, abuse, and relapse- making recovery more likely.

The scientific movement which views self-control as limited physiological research has been a big part of the rise of the evidence-based treatment model.

Possibly the greatest advance has been the reduction in the perceived stigma of entering treatment as a confession of weakness or a moral failing. Recovering from an addiction may be difficult, but it is possible. Ceasing to be a “bad” or “weak person,” on the other hand- is not so straight forward. It would appear that removing the stigma of immorality from addiction has made it easier for those who need help to seek it.

Of course, when all is said and done- we are all still responsible for our own actions. The harm done to one’s self and others as the result of addictions is still the responsibility of the person who committed harmful actions. But it is widely recognized that forgiving one’s self is an important part of overcoming addiction- and by understanding the true nature of self-control, self-forgiveness becomes much more achievable.