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!

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.

How Stress Impacts Addiction and What You Can Do about That Relationship

People can grow addicted to harmful substances for a variety of reasons.

According to the Mayo Clinic, factors that can significantly raise the likelihood of you developing some form of substance addiction include mental health disorders, your family history, and the current situations involving your friends and family.

The reality is that if you aren’t careful, it can become very easy to fall prey to the perceived allure of addictive substances.

Those are not the only factors that can place you at greater risk for developing an addiction, however. Stress can also play a large role in how willing you are to use addictive substances.

Stress Hormones May Be Causing People to Crave Addictive Substances

An article published earlier this year by Tufts Now shines a spotlight on experiments being conducted by neuroscientist Klaus Miczek and his colleague, research assistant professor Herb Covington. Thanks to the experiments they have performed, a clearer picture of how stress can lead people to become addicted is starting to develop.

Experiments conducted on various animals have revealed that exposure to social stress can cause behavioral changes that sustain for extended periods of time. The exposure doesn’t even have to last that long for the changes to take hold.

There’s an interesting chain of progression that goes from when stress is first experienced leading up to when an addictive substance is sought after.

It starts with exposure to the stressful situation as that will subsequently lead to stress hormones being released by the brain. Those hormones then trigger specific dopamine neurons. After those dopamine neurons have been triggered, the increased craving for addictive substances is increased.

Why We Turn to Addictive Substances to Deal with Stress

If stress hormones do cause certain changes in the brain that eventually result in us wanting to consume an addictive substance of some kind, there is another important question that emerges. That question: Why do we have a tendency to look for addictive substances when we are dealing with a stressful situation?

This is not some kind of new phenomenon after all. Drinking after work is a habit for many and from there, it can develop into something more harmful.

Part of the reason why many people lean on alcohol and other addictive substances when they are feeling stressed out could be because of how those items can affect the brain.

As noted by Healthline, alcohol in particular is a sedative. In that capacity, alcohol can work as a kind of stress reliever. You can feel better and become more relaxed as a result of you having a drink.

Going back to the risk factors mentioned earlier, it’s also possible that we lean on addictive substances while in the throes of a stressful situation because we’ve observed others in our lives doing so in the past and have adopted that habit as our own.

Combine the immediate effects that a substance can have on us with the at-times difficult to struggle against inertia of a way of life we’ve grown accustomed to and it becomes easier to understand why people become addicted.

The Different Sources of Stress

For the average person, stress is completely unavoidable. If you go to school or work, chances are you will feel pressure of some kind.

You can probably think back to some of your high school days and recall just how stressful it was getting prepared for big exams and presentations. For those who are now members of the workforce, deadlines for projects are frequent sources of stress.

Traumatic events that took place earlier in your life can also make you more prone to feeling stressed out later on. That early event may also serve as a constant source of stress that becomes very difficult to get away from.

Per Psychology Today, chronic stress can increase our motivation to use and abuse addictive substances. Unless you can find some way to reduce the amount of stress you experience on a regular basis, you may find it harder and harder to fight against addiction. That is why it is essential for people to seek out a form of addiction treatment that works for them and significantly lowers the number of stressful situations they have to be in.

 How to Cope with Stress and Addiction

One of the best ways for you to get rid of your tendency to use addictive substances is to remove yourself from overly stressful situations. Quitting your job or your studies may not be options, but you can at least address the other sources of chronic stress that may be plaguing you at the moment.

Another option is to check in to a rehab or addiction treatment facility. While at a rehab facility, you can focus more on yourself and leave behind the stressful situations that have grown to characterize your everyday life. Even a temporary stay may be able to work wonders and ease you off of your addiction.

Stress may be inescapable and addictive substances enticing, but you don’t have to give in to either of them.

Benzos & Women: A Common Problem

Drugs such as Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin are often prescribed for conditions like anxiety and insomnia. These drugs are part of a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, or more commonly Benzos. These drugs are often prescribed along with opioids and are only often just as responsible for addictions. In fact, the  National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has reported that thirty percent of overdoses involving opioids also involve Benzos. The two drugs alone are highly addictive and when combined they can be a very deadly combination. Use, and abuse, of Benzos, has increased over the past several years in every age group but the most affected group is women, who have prescribed this class of drug at a rate twice that of men.

Why Women Become Addicted to Benzos

Most addictions to Benzos start out as the woman being prescribed the medication when she goes to the doctor and complains of anxiety attacks or stress-related insomnia. Women are often more willing to express these things to a doctor. Today’s women are often caretakers to both children and aging parents. They take on many responsibilities and are not as willing to take time for themselves to relax. They worry about the people under their care and forget to care for themselves.

Benzos were meant to be a short-term solution to problems such as anxiety and insomnia but many doctors will prescribe them over a long period of time because they understand the conditions causing the stress in a woman’s life are not always ones that disappear. Women become addicted easier than men because their body weight is lower and chemical changes within their bodies occur more frequently. It becomes easy to rely on the medication to unwind and get a good night’s sleep after a day of worry and stress. When waking up has the woman facing the same stressors, another dose will help her get through the day. The body builds a tolerance to Benzos quickly and larger doses are increasingly required in order to relax.

Signs of Benzo Addiction

Anyone, not just women is at risk of addiction. The fact that women are prescribed Benzos at twice the rate of men accounts in part for the increased number of addictions to Benzos we see in women. Because they are prescribed, and only a small number of women turn to illegal means of obtaining them, the signs of addiction often go unnoticed. Some of these signs include:

*An increased need for the medication to get through the day. Feeling you can’t get through the day without it.

*Immediately reaching for your prescription when you anticipate a stressful situation.

*Having to change brands (say from Valium to Xanax) because a former prescription doesn’t seem to work any longer.

*An inner knowing that tells you it is time to get help.

Treatment

Rehab for Benzo addiction must not only address the physical drug addiction but also the underlying condition that put the woman at risk to start with. While the causes of extreme stress can’t always be eliminated, learning how to deal with these situations is important. In addition to counseling, both individual and group, and possibly even family counseling, learning positive coping skills is necessary. These include learning ways you can relax, methods for taking care of your own needs, and overall skills for relaxation and stress management. Often this is best done on an inpatient basis as it allows you to put aside other responsibilities and concentrate on getting well.

Final Thoughts

Many women feel they don’t have time to devote to recovery. They are afraid that their family or job will be lost without them. It is essential to realize that if you fall apart, you can’t do your best for others. There is a good reason for airlines to caution parents to put on their own air masks first during an emergency. If you aren’t functioning, you can’t be there for others. Newport Beach recovery has experience helping women like you and your loved ones overcome their Benzo addictions. Contact us today and start on your road to recovery now. Tomorrow will dawn brighter and see a stronger you ready to face whatever may come from a place of empowerment.

A Guide to the 10 Most Dangerous Drugs

Any drug can be dangerous or even deadly depending on the dosage, oft-script use, or even based on an individual’s adverse reaction to the substance. While there are potentially harmful side effects for some prescription medications, it’s fairly easy to determine the most dangerous drugs. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) tracks the data every year and then releases a list of the drugs associated with overdose deaths.

Heroin

Heroin tops the list of most dangerous drugs. Although opioids and opium have existed since ancient history, Heroin first surfaced in 1874 and the substance was marketed as a “heroin” because of the “hero” or euphoric feeling. It was mistakenly prescribed as a remedy for colds, coughs, and congestion. Heroin is now an illegal drug that is highly addictive.

Cocaine

Chewing coca, a gift from the gods, was a common practice since ancient times. Tinctures from coca leaves were first used in 1850, and cocaine was extracted in 1855. Through the next few years, cocaine was manufactured and released in various forms, popularized, and recommended for use in improving athletic performance, as a local anesthetic, and as a treatment for substance abuse. Coca-Cola also famously released their soda containing cocaine and caffeine in 1886.  Medical literature reported on the damage caused by snorting cocaine in 1910, and the US banned cocaine in 1914.

Oxycodone

OxyContin was developed in 1916 to replace other addictive substances like codeine and morphine. The generic form, oxycodone, was first released in the US in 1939, and it quickly became the bestselling narcotic pain reliever. Drug abuse and addiction can lead to breathing problems, severe withdrawal symptoms, but also a higher likelihood of heroin use.

Alprazolam

Xanax is a popular trade name for alprazolam, used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. First patented in 1971, it was approved for US medical use in 1981. Alprazolam is one of the most prescribed drugs, but it can also be misused.  Negative side effects can include paranoia, impairment, and fatigue.

Fentanyl

While fentanyl is sometimes compared with morphine, it is 50-100 times more potent. It is prescribed as a shot, lozenge, or patch in instances where other forms of pain relief have been ineffective. Illegal forms are sold as an eye dropper, pills, or nasal sprays; but it is also frequently laced with other drugs like heroin. Drug abuse, then, can lead to death.

Morphine

Morphine is derived from the poppy straw of the opium flower. With a history of opium-based elixirs dating back to ancient times, Friedrich Sertürner discovered morphine (which he first called morphium, after the god of dreams) in 1804. Morphine use can lead to constipation or other side effects. Overdose or addictive use of this drug can lead to respiratory distress and even death.

Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that is sometimes used to treat ADHD or obesity. Amphetamine was first synthesized in 1887. Then, Chemist Nagai Nagayoshi derived methamphetamine from ephedrine in 1893. The drug was released in pill-form by Temmler for use by German soldiers and pilots during World War II. With severe zombie-like exhaustion and violent-outbursts, the drug was discontinued. Methamphetamine is restricted or illegal in many areas.

Methadone

Max Bockmühl and Gustav Ehrhart at the IG Farben company first synthesized methadone in 1937 as an easier-to-use painkiller, with supposedly less chance of addiction. The FDA approved the drug for use in the US in 1947. Then, doctors began prescribing methadone in the 1960s to prevent addicts from using heroin. It’s called the Methadone Maintenance Treatment, and while it did help with the heroin use, methadone drug abuse became a problem.

Hydrocodone

Derived from a poppy, hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic drug, with a high likelihood of dependency and drug abuse.  Carl Mannich and Helene Löwenheim first synthesized the drug in 1920 and the FDA approved it for use in the US in 1943. It is one of the most frequently prescribed opioid, with millions of prescriptions filled every year. Severe side effects are the addiction, allergic reaction, slowed breathing, liver damage, and infection.

Diazepam

Diazepam is a benzodiazepine, most commonly known as Valium. It was approved in 1960 and released in 1963 for use in treating anxiety, vertigo, seizures, insomnia, and alcohol withdrawal with fewer negative side effects when compared with similar drugs. While considered “safer” in general, the drug can still be dangerous and deadly when combined with other sedatives, particularly as an overdose. It has been popularized as a way to “take the edge off” or elevate anxiety or stress, but diazepam use has also been linked with depression, dizziness, or impairment.

Most of the most dangerous and deadly drugs have existed in one form or another since ancient times, and many of them were initially conceived to relieve pain and suffering. With increasing regularity, substance abuse becomes dangerous and deadly. If you or a loved one are struggling with any drug at all, we urge you to reach out for treatment. Contact us today for more information.

7 Tips for Women in Early Recovery

Starting out on the road of recovery can be filled with challenges.  You’ve taken the most important step when you stopped drinking or using drugs but everything in your life is now new.  You may be seeking out new friends, starting a new job or developing a new daily routine.  All while working hard to prevent having a relapse.  Each one of these situations can produce stress.  Combined together, you have a recipe for anxious moments.  This puts women in early sobriety at greater risk for relapse.  It is estimated that 90 percent of those recovering from substance abuse have a relapse.  While your primary desire may be to stay sober, even the strongest people must develop skills to prevent relapses and deal with stress.  Professionals recommend that you change your social circle and the places you go to.  This makes sense when you consider that if you want to create a new path for yourself, you need to leave the old path behind.  To help you on your journey, we’ve compiled some tips based on scientific research.

Change Your World

When you are embarking on the journey to discover what recovery means to you, you are essentially creating a new world for yourself.  You’re creating new patterns and people in your life.  Developing new friendships and changing where you spend your time will play a large role in preventing relapse and smoothing your transition into a new way of life.  You may find yourself spending more time with your family by planning special outings or evenings together.  For others, developing a structured daily routine helps ease anxiety and helps to avoid situations that could let to a relapse.

Develop Solid Relationships

When you enter recovery, it may seem like a new world.  Having friends who understand the transition you are going through is important.  They can help when you are frightened or uncertain.  Having a friend to call on when you are angry or down will help keep you moving forward.  Participating in a support group surrounds yourself with people who understand the pitfalls that await individuals in early recovery.  In fact, people who have enjoyed recovery for many years will share that they still face challenges.  Anyone who is new in recovery can learn from their coping strategies and apply them in their own lives.

Start Moving

Periods, often years, of using can take a toll on your body.  Incorporating regular exercise into your daily regime will pay off by improving your health and your emotions.  Exercise is well documented to relieve stress and balance mood.    This supports your desire to constantly improve yourself while preventing triggers that lead to relapse.

Prioritize Self Care

Caring for ourselves is not a priority for women.  We are raised to nurture others but often don’t nurture ourselves.  Things like a luxurious bath or a long walk are generally not things we think about in a fast-paced world.  They are, however, exactly the things that will keep you sane as you move through recovery, process raw emotions and figure out your future.  Taking care of yourself can relieve stress and anxiety.  You can also use these moments to just ‘check in with yourself’ and see how you are doing.  Small quiet moments doing things that nurture yourself keeps you in touch with your emotions and makes you aware of any triggers lurking to take you off the right path.  Spend some time with self-care because no one else will.

Write it Out

While, at times, you may feel shame or guilt over your past actions, if you allow them to, those emotions will hinder your recovery.  One way to progress and work through the emotions that are crowding you is to search for ways to manage swirling thoughts.  Professionals recommend writing about your feelings.  Getting them on paper gets them out of your head and lets you process.

New Work

When you leave female addiction treatment, you’ve already begun recovery.  To maintain your new outlook, get a job.  Many people leaving treatment will either be unemployed or underemployed.  This is a good time to look for a new job.  Not only will you have a method of income, but you’ll also meet new people and discover new skills.  Take care of yourself, though, as stress related to a new job can trigger a relapse.

Make Honesty a Priority

As you journey along the path of recovery, prioritizing honesty with yourself and others helps everyone.  By sharing your story with others in your support group, you’re sharing the common struggles that you all have.

These are just a few ideas to keep you going in early recovery.  You’ll find some strategies work better than others to prevent triggers and keep you sane.  The important thing is to keep working at it.  You’re worth it!

Call us today to continue on the strong path of recovery. We pride ourselves in always being able to help.