Research shows that about 40-60% of people relapse within 30 days of completing a rehab program, and up to 85% relapse within the first year. These statistics highlight the challenging nature of addiction recovery. But the good news is that relapse is a normal part of the recovery process, and there are several effective things you can do to lower the risk of relapse and promote long-term recovery.
The recovery from addiction is not a one-time event but an ongoing process. It’s essential to understand that there isn’t a finish line where you can declare yourself “cured.” Instead, it’s more like embarking on a lifelong journey – one that requires continuous effort, commitment, and positive reinforcement.
Just as a journey involves taking one step at a time, recovery relies on the accumulation of everyday habits. These small, consistent actions build up over time to create a substantial and lasting change in your life. Daily habits provide a sense of purpose and direction as you navigate the challenges and uncertainties that come with recovery. They also offer structure and routine that help you regain a sense of control, which can be particularly comforting during the turbulent early stages of recovery.
So, let’s explore these daily habits in more detail and understand how they can empower you to stay on track and build a healthier, more fulfilling life in recovery.
One of the first things to do is to define your goals with utmost clarity. Vague or ambiguous objectives can make it difficult to measure progress or stay motivated. Consider using the SMART criteria (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) to structure your goals.
Applying the SMART criteria to your recovery goals can help you create a roadmap for your journey, making it easier to stay focused, track your progress, and celebrate your achievements along the way. It’s important to break larger goals into smaller, more manageable steps to maintain motivation and a sense of accomplishment throughout your recovery process.
Social challenges like peer pressure, environments, situations, etc., can be significant obstacles in the path to recovery. You need relapse prevention strategies in place to help you avoid or deal with such triggers when they arise. Here are some quick strategies for avoidance:
There is a strong connection between nutrition and mental health. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can positively impact your mood and cognitive function, supporting emotional stability during recovery.
Proper nutrition also provides your body with the essential nutrients it needs to repair and heal. It can help alleviate physical symptoms associated with recovery, such as withdrawal symptoms or imbalances in neurotransmitters. Not only that, a healthy diet stabilizes your energy levels, reducing mood swings and irritability that may trigger cravings or relapse.
Here are some quick tips when planning your meals for a healthy lifestyle:
Experts think that physical activity can serve as a healthy stand-in for drugs and alcohol. The reason is exercise, and addictive substances work on the same parts of the brain. Adding physical activity to your routine helps release endorphins, which improve mood and reduce stress. Exercise as part of your daily discipline will also help you feel more energized and focused throughout the day.
Studies show that exercise might:
All these aspects are essential for recovery success. Dedicate time for your workouts and commit to it. The best part about exercising is you don’t have to stick to the same old boring routine. Try different activities, including yoga, swimming, dancing, sailing, cycling, climbing, hiking, martial arts, sports, etc., to discover the ones you love.
Taking a few minutes in every day to practice mindfulness and meditation can help you stay calm and focused. It’s like giving your mind a fresh start for the day. You can do this by simply sitting quietly, focusing on your breath, and clearing your thoughts.
Mindfulness has been shown to increase self-awareness and reduce impulsive behaviors, all of which are great in your road to recovery. It also provides a powerful tool for reshaping the brain’s neural connections and countering the effects of addiction.
Explore new hobbies and interests to stay engaged and focused on your recovery. Whether it’s painting, hiking, playing an instrument, or any other activity, finding something you’re passionate about can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
A journal can help you reflect on your thoughts and emotions, track your progress, and identify any patterns or triggers that may affect your recovery. It’s a valuable tool for self-awareness and self-improvement.
A consistent sleep schedule is crucial for overall well-being and mental health. Ensure you get enough rest by setting a bedtime and wake-up time that allows for sufficient sleep. Quality sleep can have a significant impact on your physical and emotional recovery.
Waking up at the same time each morning helps regulate your body’s internal clock, improving your sleep quality and overall health. It also provides structure to your day and can enhance your productivity and mood.
Taking care of your physical well-being is essential for mental and emotional recovery. Establish a daily hygiene routine, as this will improve your physical health and boost your self-esteem and sense of well-being.
Remember that recovery is a journey, and these habits can support your progress along the way. It’s important to tailor these habits to your specific needs and goals and seek professional guidance and support if necessary.
One of the best ways to look at drug addiction is to think of it as an uninvited guest. No one wants a substance use disorder to come into their lives and settle in for an extended stay. No one desires this any more than they would like to have diabetes, heart condition, or any other serious health issue. But addiction, nonetheless, imposes its presence, gradually making itself at home and overstaying its welcome, refusing to leave even when the negative consequences become apparent.
Comparable to an uninvited guest who overstays their welcome, addiction’s entry is unassuming, but its effects are far-reaching and damaging. Let’s delve into how drug addiction slips into your life, disrupts your peace, and why evicting this invisible enemy often requires professional help.
Substance abuse sometimes enters one’s life like an uninvited guest. Other times, it’s invited by one and unwanted by another (family members, spouses, etc.). Either way, the initial encounter often takes the form of curiosity or experimentation.
An individual may try a substance once to see what it’s like—much like they’d entertain a guest for a brief moment out of politeness. The initial encounter may not immediately raise alarm bells. However, this phase marks the beginning of a journey that can lead to hidden consequences.
This stage is marked by the brain’s response to the addictive substance or behavior, where the initial curiosity or experimentation gives way to a heightened sense of pleasure and comfort. It can be likened to when an uninvited guest feels at ease and gradually becomes more comfortable in their surroundings.
Alcohol or drug use activates the brain’s reward system, releasing neurotransmitters like dopamine that create pleasure and euphoria. Just as the uninvited guest appreciates the comforts of their new surroundings, the brain starts associating the substance or behavior with a pleasurable experience.
As the brain experiences the surge of pleasure from the substance or behavior, it reinforces one’s inclination to repeat the action. This reinforcement parallels the process of a guest finding specific amenities in their host’s house that make them want to stay longer. The brain begins to form connections between the stimulus (the addictive substance or behavior) and the pleasurable feelings, leading to a desire to repeat the experience.
At this point, the individual starts to use the addictive substance or engage in the behavior more frequently. The pleasurable sensations felt during the initial encounters become a sought-after source of comfort, leading to an increased desire to recreate those feelings.
The guest-turned-intruder’s presence becomes more noticeable as the addiction disrupts an individual’s life. What was once an occasional indulgence becomes a more frequent occurrence. The substance or behavior is no longer a choice but a compelling need. Responsibilities and relationships become overlooked or compromised as the individual’s attention becomes increasingly consumed by destructive habits.
As the uninvited guest takes over, addiction tightens its grip. Just as the guest starts dictating the household’s schedule, addiction dictates the individual’s life. The regular dose of pleasure the brain receives from the addictive substance or behavior creates a reliance that’s difficult to break. One may try to quit or reduce their addictive behavior, but withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and deeply ingrained patterns can make this a daunting task.
Some uninvited guests might promise to leave but then linger longer. And that’s similar to what happens when one is in pursuit of breaking the cycle of addiction. They might successfully abstain for a period, but the allure of the addictive substance or behavior and triggers like stress or social situations can lead them back into old habits. These relapses can be discouraging and make breaking free even more challenging.
The rewiring of the brain caused by addiction makes it extremely difficult to quit without professional help. Addiction affects multiple aspects of a person’s life, from brain chemistry to behavior, emotions, and decision-making. Seeking assistance from addiction specialists and professionals can help understand these changes, develop effective strategies, and provide the necessary support to reclaim one’s life from the grip of addiction.
The struggle to break free from addiction echoes the challenge of convincing an unwelcome guest to leave. Despite the individual’s sincere attempts, addiction often clings tenaciously, leading to cycles of relapse and self-criticism. Experts use different treatment options that might involve a combination of therapies and medications to help treat addiction. These may include:
Behavioral therapies are evidence-based approaches that modify addiction-related behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. These therapies address the psychological aspects of addiction and help individuals develop healthier coping strategies. Examples of behavioral therapies include:
MAT combines medication with behavioral therapy to treat substance use disorders. Medications like Methadone, Buprenorphine, Naltrexone, Acamprosate, and Disulfiram help manage withdrawal symptoms, reduce cravings, and stabilize brain chemistry. MAT is particularly effective for opioid and alcohol addiction.
Addiction affects not only the individual but also their loved ones. Family therapy involves the family members in the treatment process to address interpersonal dynamics, communication, and support systems.
Holistic treatments consider the individual as a whole, focusing on physical, mental, and emotional well-being. These approaches complement traditional therapies and promote overall health, and include:
The road to recovery is characterized by rediscovery, growth, and renewal. Much like reclaiming a space after the departure of an unwanted guest, individuals in this phase work on rebuilding their lives by joining support groups, nurturing relationships, embracing healthier habits, and creating a future filled with positivity and meaning. The process involves personal development, self-compassion, and a commitment to a life free from the shadow of addiction, demonstrating the resilience and strength of the human spirit in overcoming challenges.
If you or someone you know is struggling with drug use, contact a healthcare professional, counselor, rehabilitation center, or addiction support helpline for guidance, assistance, and resources.
A growing body of evidence suggests a strong link between club drug use and the development of substance use disorder. While not everyone who uses party drugs will develop an addiction, these substances pose unique risks that can increase the likelihood of developing SUD. By understanding the potential risks and long-term consequences, you can make informed decisions about their substance use and prioritize their well-being.
This article will explore the connection between party drugs and substance use disorder. We’ll also look at how they affect the brain, behavior, and overall health.
Party drugs, also called raves or designer drugs, are recreational drugs often used in social settings like parties, clubs, music festivals, and other social gatherings. People, especially young adults, use these types of drugs for a range of reasons, including:
Most people favor party drugs because they’re perceived to enhance social interaction by heightening euphoria, energy, and empathy. But what most people don’t know is the risk they expose themselves to when they use party drugs.
For one, these drugs are made synthetically in labs. So, they can have unexpected side effects during use because of contamination or substitution during formulation. Besides, drug dealers and manufacturers often cut the drugs with other substances to increase potency or profit margins.
This can put users at risk of overdose or even death, especially when their bodies aren’t used to the drug. In some cases, the drugs are laced with a date rape drug putting individuals at risk of sexual assault or other forms of harm.
Above all, club drugs for recreational use can lead to drug addiction. We’ll discuss more about this in this article, but first, let’s look at the types of club drugs.
During drug parties, people can use legal and illegal drugs in various forms, each with its effects on the mind and body. Here are some common party drugs:
Stimulants increase alertness, energy levels, and activity in the brain. They produce feelings of euphoria, heightened sociability, and increased focus. However, they can also increase heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and potential overstimulation. Examples of stimulant party drugs include:
Hallucinogens induce profound alterations in perception, mood, and cognition. They can cause sensory distortions, hallucinations, and an altered sense of self and reality. Hallucinogens are known for their potent mind-altering effects and include:
Depressants slow down brain activity, leading to relaxation, sedation, and reduced inhibitions. They can produce feelings of calmness and tranquility but also carry risks of respiratory depression and impaired coordination. Examples of depressant party drugs include:
Party drugs, often used recreationally in social settings, carry a significant risk of addiction and the development of substance use disorder. While party drugs may initially be sought for their pleasurable effects and social enhancement, continued use can lead to a cycle of dependence and compulsive drug-seeking behavior.
To understand the connection between party drugs and substance abuse, let’s examine how it affects the brain.
Party drugs, such as MDMA, cocaine, or methamphetamine, target the brain’s reward system, flooding it with neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals are responsible for feelings of pleasure and happiness. The brain quickly adapts to these surges by reducing its natural production of these neurotransmitters or downregulating their receptors. As a result, a person may experience a “crash” or a “come down” after the drug’s effects wear off, leading to intense cravings for more drugs to regain those pleasurable sensations.
With repeated use, the brain can build a tolerance to the effects of party drugs. This means that one needs larger doses over time to achieve the same euphoria they initially experienced. The cycle of increasing drug consumption to maintain the desired effects further reinforces drug dependence.
Continued use of party drugs can lead to cravings—strong desires or urges to use the drug again. These cravings can persist even during periods of abstinence and can be triggered by environmental cues associated with drug use. Additionally, party drugs can cause withdrawal symptoms when drug use is abruptly stopped or reduced, further fueling the cycle of addiction.
The combination of neurochemical changes, tolerance, and psychological cravings can lead to compulsive drug-seeking behavior. Now the person perceives the drug as necessary and needs it to function or cope with daily life.
Substance abuse is a risk factor for mental health issues, and party drugs are no different. According to studies, mental health, and substance use disorders often co-occur, with one leading to the other.
As such, using party drugs can exacerbate symptoms of pre-existing mental health conditions or contribute to developing new disorders. When this happens, people may turn to party drugs to cope or self-medicate. Here’s a quick look at the effect of club drugs on mental health:
Stimulant drugs like cocaine, amphetamines, and MDMA can cause heightened arousal, restlessness, and intense anxiety. Hallucinogens like LSD and psilocybin can also lead to anxiety, especially if the individual experiences a bad trip or overwhelming hallucinations.
Drugs like MDMA and methamphetamine can cause a temporary increase in mood and euphoria during use. However, the subsequent decrease in neurotransmitter levels (e.g., serotonin) can lead to a “crash” or feelings of depression, irritability, and emotional instability afterward. Prolonged or heavy use of party drugs can disrupt the brain’s natural reward system and contribute to persistent depressive symptoms.
Some party drugs, particularly hallucinogens and stimulants, can induce psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and disorganized thinking. These experiences can trigger or worsen psychotic disorders, like schizophrenia or substance-induced psychosis, among some users.
Chronic use of drugs like MDMA, methamphetamine, and ketamine can lead to long-term cognitive deficits, affecting learning, information processing, and decision-making. Alcohol, commonly used as a party drug, can also cause cognitive impairments, including memory lapses and difficulties with attention and concentration.
Substance use, including party drug use, is linked to an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. The alterations in brain chemistry, mood deregulation, and the social and psychological consequences of drug use can contribute to feelings of hopelessness, despair, and an increased risk of self-harm.
The best way to minimize risk is not to use drugs in the first place. But if you still choose to engage in recreational drug use, these harm-reduction strategies can help reduce the potential risks involved:
If you or someone you know is struggling with drug use, contact a healthcare professional, counselor, or addiction support helpline for guidance, assistance, and resources.
The struggle to overcome addiction and break free from its grasp is an arduous journey, full of challenges and setbacks. And for those who’ve experienced incarceration due to substance-related offenses, this struggle is further compounded by the risk of recidivism. A comprehensive addiction treatment program is a great tool to assist in reducing recidivism.
Recidivism, which is the tendency of individuals to relapse into criminal behavior after being released from incarceration or completing a period of treatment or rehabilitation, poses a significant challenge for those seeking to rebuild their lives.
Research has consistently shown a strong correlation between substance abuse and criminal behavior. According to one study, most people entering the criminal justice system have substance use problems or are using illegal drugs at the time of their arrest. Over 80% of inmates in local jails and state prisons said they had used an illegal drug, and 55% used drugs in the month leading to their arrest.
The sad part is that many of these people commit crimes to get money for drugs. In fact, 16.5% of inmates in state prisons said they committed crimes to get money to buy drugs. Others end up in prison because of the psychopharmacological effects of the substance they abuse. For example, drugs like meth or cocaine increase the chances of engaging in violent crime.
Recidivism is a major problem in the US. A longitudinal study by the DOJ that followed released inmates from 30 states found that:
Going by the numbers, it is evident that addressing recidivism is crucial in breaking the cycle of addiction and criminal behavior. And comprehensive treatment plays a pivotal role in achieving this goal.
Comprehensive treatment combines a range of interventions and support services that targets the physical, psychological, and social aspects of addiction. This holistic approach aims to address the root causes of addiction, promote sustained recovery, and ultimately decrease individuals’ likelihood of criminal behavior. Let’s explore the various components and therapeutic strategies involved in comprehensive treatment and how they contribute to reducing recidivism rates.
The first component of comprehensive addiction treatment is a thorough evaluation and assessment. This helps identify underlying issues that contribute to one’s use of substances. This includes:
These details allow for a tailored medical care plan that addresses the specific needs of the individual. Evaluation and assessment often happen after stabilization in substance abuse treatment. It can include physical exams and specific tests for diseases or disorders per the patient’s report.
Counseling identifies and addresses the psychological, emotional, and behavioral factors contributing to criminal behavior. It helps individuals develop healthier coping skills and strategies to manage their triggers and emotions. Counseling:
Counseling is essential to substance abuse treatment and often occurs alongside other interventions such as detoxification, inpatient treatment, or outpatient programs.
Comprehensive treatment recognizes that the journey to recovery does not end with completing a treatment program. Aftercare support is crucial for reducing recidivism rates. This support can include aftercare programs, sober living homes, support networks, and ongoing counseling sessions.
Continued guidance and assistance ensure that individuals are better equipped to maintain their sobriety, manage triggers and cravings, and navigate the challenges of everyday life without relapsing. A study found that inmates who joined continuing care after release had reduced recidivism.
Successful reintegration into the community is a significant factor in reducing recidivism rates. Comprehensive treatment includes programs focusing on community integration, such as vocational training, educational opportunities, job placement assistance, and housing support.
These programs help individuals rebuild their lives, establish financial stability, and regain a sense of purpose and belonging, which reduces the likelihood of engaging in criminal activities. According to a meta-analysis of programs that offer education to incarcerated adults, 43% of those who took part in education programs while incarcerated had a lower chance of re-offending than those who didn’t.
Comprehensive treatment considers the whole person rather than their disorder or illness. A person is made up of emotional, physical, environmental, and spiritual parts. It recognizes that individuals are complex beings with interconnected aspects of their lives and aims to treat the person as a whole rather than focusing solely on specific symptoms or conditions. The goal is to achieve balance and harmony within the individual by addressing all aspects of their well-being.
The holistic approach emphasizes the interconnectedness of the mind, body, emotions, and spirit, recognizing that imbalances in one area can affect other areas and contribute to various health issues or challenges. As shown above, the approach equips individuals with the necessary tools for sustained addiction recovery. From healthy coping mechanisms to stress management techniques to relapse prevention strategies, it empowers them to navigate challenges, make positive choices, and maintain their recovery over the long term.
Comprehensive treatment also emphasizes developing essential life skills like problem-solving, decision-making, and effective communication. This may, in turn, help reduce the risk of recidivism upon release. By prioritizing comprehensive treatment and support for individuals at risk of recidivism, we can make significant strides in breaking the cycle of addiction, reducing criminal behavior, and promoting healthier and more productive lives for those affected by substance abuse disorders.
Over the years, much progress has been made in reducing the stigma surrounding certain medical conditions, such as HIV and cancer. However, the same cannot be said for substance use disorders. Those struggling with addiction often face blame and shame for their condition, which can lead to a lack of understanding, support, and effective treatment. Overcoming addiction stigma is crucial to helping people get the help they so desperately need.
Despite the recognition of addiction as a disease, many individuals still view it as a personal choice or moral failure. In fact, research shows that addiction is more highly stigmatized than other health issues like mental illness. In fact:
These statistics highlight the extent of stigma and discrimination those struggling with substance abuse face. The negative attitudes and beliefs towards people with substance use disorders are deeply ingrained in society and often result in individuals facing isolation, shame, and difficulty accessing support and treatment. And when the country is waging war on drugs due to the opioid crisis, it is more important than ever to address the stigma and discrimination towards people struggling with substance abuse.
Stigma increases the risk of opioid overdose cases by discouraging people from seeking help due to fear of rejection. It can also prevent people in recovery from being able to fully reintegrate into society, impacting their employment, housing, and social opportunities. It is important to challenge these stigmatizing beliefs and attitudes toward addiction and promote empathy, understanding, and support for those struggling with addiction. Ending stigma is the best way to save lives.
Stigma refers to negative attitudes, beliefs, and stereotypes that are attached to individuals or groups based on certain characteristics or circumstances, such as addiction. Stigma can create a barrier for individuals seeking help or support and exacerbate feelings of shame, guilt, low self-worth, and isolation.
According to the 2021 survey by NSDUH, 40.7 million adults with substance use disorders did not get treatment at a specialty facility. Of this number, 39.5 million (96.8%) didn’t feel like they needed treatment, and 837,000 (2.1%) believed they needed care but didn’t try to get treatment.
Some examples of stigma towards those with addiction include:
Stigma related to heavy drinking and illegal drug use can come from various sources, including primary care physicians, friends, family, employers, media, and society. The justice system also contributes to stigma because it incarcerates those with addiction instead of helping them seek treatment.
Various resources are available for people struggling with addiction, including support groups like Alcoholic’s Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), which offer a community of peers who understand the challenges of addiction. You can also join inpatient or outpatient programs for a safe and supportive environment that allows you to focus on your recovery. Treatment centers provide a range of treatment options that include:
Remember that recovery is a journey, and it is important to be patient and kind to yourself along the way. You can overcome addiction and lead a healthy and fulfilling life with the right support and resources. Don’t suffer in silence; reach out for help today.
Harm reduction is a public health approach that aims to reduce the harms associated with drug or alcohol use, even if the individual is not yet ready to quit. Harm reduction strategies can include safe injection sites, needle exchange programs, and overdose prevention initiatives. Harm reduction efforts can help individuals manage the risks associated with drug or alcohol use and provide a supportive and non-judgmental approach to addiction.
If you are struggling with addiction, knowing that you are not alone is important. Addiction is a common issue that affects millions of people around the world. While it may feel like you are the only one dealing with this problem, many others are also struggling and seeking help. By reaching out for help, you can connect with others who understand what you are going through and provide you with support and encouragement.
Mental health and addiction issues often go hand in hand, and many people suffer from both. When you have a mental health disorder and substance use disorder at the same time, it is referred to as co-occurring disorders. Co-occurring conditions can be very difficult to manage, as each disorder often significantly impacts the other.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration estimates that about 9.2 million adults in the United States have a co-occurring disorder. Yet, only 7% of those individuals receive treatment for both issues. A whopping 60% of individuals with co-occurring disorders do not receive treatment for either issue. This is a growing concern when it comes to overall public health.
Co-occurring disorders, also known as dual diagnosis or comorbidity, refer to the simultaneous presence of a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder in an individual. This means that an individual may struggle with drug addiction and an underlying mental health condition such as bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, PTSD, trauma, etc.
Research has shown that people with mental health disorders are more likely to develop a substance use disorder, and people with substance use disorders are more likely to develop a mental health disorder. In fact, roughly about 50% of people with severe mental illnesses are affected by substance abuse and vice versa. This is because individuals may turn to substances as a form of self-medication to cope with their mental health disorder symptoms. Substance use may also worsen existing mental health symptoms or lead to new mental health problems.
Self-medication is one of the main issues surrounding co-occurring disorders. People self-medicate to attempt to numb or cope with the symptoms of their mental health disorder, such as feelings of sadness or worthlessness. However, this is a risk factor for substance abuse and addiction.
Self-medication can also mask the underlying mental health issue, making it difficult for individuals to access the appropriate mental health services. This further perpetuates the cycle of substance abuse, making it even harder for individuals to break free from addiction.
The signs and symptoms of a co-occurring disorder vary depending on the abused substance and mental condition. For example, marijuana abuse and depression could look very different from the signs of alcohol abuse and schizophrenia.
That said, here are some questions you can ask yourself to help determine if you or a loved one may be struggling with comorbidity:
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have a dual diagnosis and should consider seeking professional help.
Co-occurring disorders can be challenging to diagnose and treat because the symptoms of the mental health disorder and the addiction tend to overlap. This makes it difficult to determine which condition is causing which symptoms. In some cases, the symptoms might vary in severity, making a patient receive treatment for one disorder while the other disorder remains untreated. People may also be less likely to seek help if they struggle simultaneously with both issues.
But the good thing is that many treatment facilities and professionals (like psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists) specialize in treating comorbid conditions. These healthcare professionals are experienced in diagnosing and treating substance use and mental health disorders. They will perform a comprehensive assessment that includes physical exams, psychological evaluations, mental health screenings, and substance use assessments to determine the primary and contributing conditions.
Once a dual diagnosis is established, the healthcare provider will create a treatment plan that integrates both mental health and substance abuse treatment co-currently. Addressing these comorbid disorders at the same time ensures the best outcome.
With integrated treatment plans, the same practitioner offers both substance and mental health interventions in an integrated manner. The goal is to treat the person as a ‘whole,’ not just two separate issues. This treatment addresses the underlying causes of addiction, such as depression and anxiety, while providing strategies to help deal with cravings and overcome the physical aspects of addiction.
Integrated treatment often involves specialized therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), motivational therapy, and trauma-informed psychotherapy. Each type of therapy helps address the underlying issues contributing to addiction while promoting healthy coping skills and emotional regulation. These therapies can be offered in individual or group settings.
According to SAMHSA, co-occurring disorders are treated in a stage-wise fashion with different services provided at different stages: engagement, persuasion, active treatment, and relapse prevention. At each stage, a team of professionals provides services that address mental health and substance use disorder.
After treatment, the patient is encouraged to attend support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), to maintain sobriety. Additionally, they are encouraged to use the skills and techniques they learned in therapy, such as mindfulness and stress management, to help them cope with triggers and handle cravings.
Co-occurring disorders are complex conditions that require integrated and comprehensive health services. With the right combination of therapies, medications, and peer support, individuals can recover from mental health disorders and addiction.
Drug overdose is a significant public health issue that affects all age groups. However, it is particularly concerning among seniors, who are dying at an alarming rate due to drug overdoses. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of seniors who have died from drug overdoses, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
This data reveals a frightening trend in drug overdose deaths among older adults. In a single decade, alcohol and drug use among the elderly has skyrocketed, and as a result, more and more seniors are dying of an overdose. It begs the question, is it that more people from the 60’s & 70’s counterculture movements (hippies, beatniks, etc.) are now approaching their golden years? Or, is it simply that illicit and prescription drugs are more dangerous nowadays?
Many factors contribute to the high overdose rates among the baby boomer population. Along with regular health care procedures and recreational drug use, more and more seniors are becoming a significant part of the drug overdose epidemic in the United States.
Prescription medications, particularly opioid painkillers, significantly contribute to drug overdose among seniors. According to the CDC, seniors are more likely to be prescribed opioids and other medicines for pain relief that can be misused or overdosed on. They are also more likely to experience adverse side effects from these medications, such as respiratory depression, which can be life-threatening.
There are several reasons why seniors may be at increased risk of overdose from prescription medications. One reason is that they are more likely to have chronic pain, terminal illness, dementia, etc., that require multiple medications, increasing the risk of drug interactions and overdose. Additionally, age-related changes in the body, such as decreased kidney or liver function, can affect how medications are metabolized, increasing the risk of overdose.
Prescription drug abuse is also an issue among seniors. Many people mistakenly believe prescription medications are safer than illicit drugs, so they may be more willing to abuse them.
Another major factor underlying drug overdose deaths in seniors is a history of substance abuse. Many individuals reaching their golden years were part of the “hippie” or “free love” counterculture movement in the 1960s and 1970s. During this era, the use of psychedelic drugs such as LSD was popular, as was the use of marijuana.
Unfortunately, many of these individuals have carried their substance abuse habits into old age. They are now more vulnerable to overdosing on substances due to decreased tolerance and physiological changes that come with aging.
Today’s drugs are more powerful and, therefore, more dangerous than in the past. For example, the synthetic opioid fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and can cause death in even small doses. Fentanyl has been linked to a dramatic increase in overdose deaths over the past few years and is particularly deadly for seniors due to their decreased tolerance.
Alcohol use has also increased among seniors, and heavy drinking is becoming more common in this age group. Binge drinking is a particular concern, as it can increase the risk of alcohol poisoning and other health problems. But in many cases, alcohol is pushed to the side in discussions about substance use and addiction.
Older adults are drinking alcohol, and this is driving deaths from overdose, accidents, and liver disease. Besides, mixing alcohol and other drugs, especially depressants, significantly increases overdose risk.
The National Institutes of Health points out that some seniors may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with significant life changes. Retirement, the death of a spouse, or illness can all be difficult for seniors to handle and can increase their risk of substance abuse. The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a significant impact on seniors, who are more likely to experience isolation and loneliness due to social distancing measures. These feelings can lead some seniors to abuse drugs or alcohol as a way of coping with their situation.
Mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, or trauma, are a major risk factor for substance abuse and overdose in seniors. According to the World Health Organization, older adults are more likely to have mental health problems than their younger counterparts due to ongoing loss in capacities, the decline in functional ability, life-changing events, a drop in socioeconomic status with retirement, etc. These stressors can result in isolation, loneliness, or psychological distress in older people, leading to increased substance use and overdose.
Given the unique challenges that seniors face, it is important for caregivers, loved ones, and even healthcare providers to be aware of the warning signs of substance abuse and addiction and the available treatment options. Substance abuse is a serious issue that can lead to life-threatening consequences, and seniors need to get the help they need.
But in many cases, older adults have difficulty accessing treatment due to transportation, financial issues, and stigma. As such, they may need extra support and encouragement from family, friends, and the community.
If a senior is struggling with substance abuse, they must get professional help as soon as possible to lessen the risk of overdose and other health problems. By recognizing the unique challenges seniors face and addressing substance abuse issues early on, we can help to reduce the number of overdose deaths in this age group.
The number of drug overdose deaths in the United States has skyrocketed in recent years, with opioids leading the way as one of the most deadly and addictive substances. Many even consider it a drug overdose epidemic. According to the CDC, there were approximately 107,000 overdose deaths in 2021. In the same year, SAMSHA identified 141,529 unweighted drug-related ER visits from its analysis of 52 hospitals.
If these numbers are anything to go by, it’s evident that addiction is a major problem in the US.
And yet, despite this alarming trend, many US hospitals and emergency departments lack dedicated addiction specialists who can help those suffering from substance or opioid use disorder. This is a glaring omission, especially given how critical an early intervention can be for someone in the throes of addiction.
Without access to addiction specialists on staff, people with substance abuse problems may not get the help they need at a crucial juncture. As a result, they may go through multiple hospitals or ER visits. A lucky few will be connected with a treatment facility while they’re still at the hospital.
For everyone else, they walk out with a phone number to call, or often, nothing at all. Once they leave, many of these people go back to their old habits and never make the effort to call the number they’ve been given.
There’s a clear need for hospitals to do better when it comes to addiction treatment. So why is it that so many don’t have addiction specialists on staff?
If you go to a hospital with a kidney problem, you’ll likely be seen by a nephrologist. If you have a heart condition, you’ll be seen by a cardiologist. But if you’re struggling with addiction, chances are you won’t see an addiction specialist.
Only a few hospitals have someone who specializes in addiction medicine on staff. A majority of hospitals focus on primary care. Addiction is left untreated.
This is a problem because addiction is a disease requiring specialized care. Without access to an addiction specialist in ERs, people with substance use disorder are often left at the mercy of whoever happens to be on call. This could be a general practitioner, an ER doctor, or even a social worker, most of whom have very little training in physiology, medications, and other aspects of treatment.
For years, addiction prevention and treatment services have been delivered separately from other general and mental health care services. Drug and alcohol abuse has traditionally been viewed as a criminal or social problem. As such, prevention services were not typically considered a responsibility of health care systems. For this reason, those struggling with substance use disorders have had access to only a limited range of treatment options that were generally not covered by insurance.
In a nutshell, most hospitals don’t have specialists because:
For a long time, addiction has not been seen as a medical problem but rather a social or psychological one. Some medical staff still see it as a moral issue and not something that requires formal medical treatment. This attitude can make it hard to justify dedicating staff and resources to addiction treatment.
Additionally, many hospitals are already understaffed and overstretched, so it could be difficult to add another specialist.
And finally, there’s the question of reimbursement. Addiction treatment is notoriously underfunded, and many insurance companies don’t cover the cost of specialized care. Hospitals can find it hard to recoup the cost of hiring an addiction specialist.
NPR shared a story of a 63-year-old heroin addict, Marie, who was admitted to Salem Hospital, north of Boston, for COPD. The next day, she was told she was ready for discharge after the doctor had confirmed that her oxygen levels were good. But the woman was experiencing heavy withdrawal symptoms and could not move. She didn’t want to leave the hospital but felt like she had no choice.
Sadly, most hospitals would still let her go despite her pain and condition. Sometimes, she’ll be issued a list of detox programs or rehab centers to call. But more likely, she’ll be sent on her way with no real plan or hope for recovery.
This is a typical story of what’s happening in many US hospitals. Marie was lucky to have found a doctor who administered her some medications that helped. But every day, people with addiction walk into ERs across the country only to be discharged without real help or support.
This is dangerous because it increases the likelihood of patients relapsing and overdosing. In fact, research shows that patients have a higher chance of overdosing within a few days or weeks of being discharged from the hospital.
An addiction specialist is a medical professional specifically trained to diagnose and treat patients with substance use disorders. These specialists can provide critical support to patients who walk into the ER for various reasons but have an underlying addiction problem. Salem Hospital is one of the few hospitals that has succeeded in naming addiction as a specialty and hiring people with training in the disease.
And despite reservations from some staff, the addiction specialists get overwhelmed many days with referrals – a clear sign of the need for their services. The trend is similar in five other Massachusetts hospitals that added addiction specialists in the last three years. These facilities are funded by HEALing Communities study. Addiction specialists can help patients in several ways, including:
Addiction specialists are vital in helping patients get the treatment they need. They can also refer them to a reputable treatment facility for specialized care. Hospitals can provide a much-needed service to their communities by having these professionals on staff.
According to the National Institutes of Health, effective integration of addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery solution across healthcare systems can help address drug abuse and related issues. This is also the most promising way to improve access to and quality of treatment.
As part of an ongoing war on drugs, in November 2020, Oregon became the first state in the US to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of hard drugs. The measure, known as Measure 110, was widely praised by drug policy reform advocates as a progressive step that would help to reduce the stigma around drug use and provide people with drug addiction problems with much-needed treatment.
Measure 110 made personal possession of methamphetamine, heroin, LSD, oxycodone, and other drugs punishable by a $100 fine rather than jail time. This was in a bid to reduce incarceration rates and redirect funds toward addiction treatment programs. These treatment programs would be funded through marijuana tax revenue and savings from decreased law enforcement costs.
The Oregon Health Authority, one of many behavioral health resource networks, announced on September 22 that it had completed awarding the first two years of funding to nonprofits under Oregon’s decriminalization of drugs law.
According to OHA, the first round of grants totaled $302 million. Despite this milestone, experts warned that more than just services would be needed to curb the high rates of drug use and resulting societal costs in the state. Keith Humphreys told the Oregon lawmakers that the state should adjust its permissive approach as it encourages drug use without any deterrent.
“Because the West Coast has an individualistic culture with a tolerance for substance abuse, social pressures to seek treatment are often minimal,” said Keith Humphreys, the Founder, and co-director at the Stanford Network on Addiction Policy.
“So, on the one hand, we have widely available and highly rewarding drugs. On the other hand, little or no pressure to stop using them. Under those conditions, we should expect to see exactly what Oregon is experiencing: extensive drug use, extensive addiction, and not much treatment seeking.” (Source)
According to Humphreys, people struggling with addiction hardly seek treatment without pressure from loved ones, health care providers, or the law. He says this should be a concern because the state has lifted the legal pressure to stop substance abuse and seek treatment. Besides, since many people who struggle with use don’t work or keep in touch with loved ones, the pressure to quit might not come from those sources, either. (Source)
M110 allows the law authorities to write $100 tickets for personal possession of small amounts of drugs, and the charged person can just call the Life helpline line and have their ticket removed. It all seems very easy to get away with abusing drugs.
But despite that, many people who are issued these tickets still ignore them, according to Dr. Todd Korthuis, the head of addiction medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. By the end of this summer, 3000 tickets were issued, and only 137 calls were made. Even more disturbing is that most callers were not seeking treatment but only screening for legal reasons. (Source)
The Oregon voters voted in favor of Measure 110, which decriminalized the possession of small amounts of drugs and redirected 110 funds from law enforcement to addiction treatment. The measure was designed to address the state’s public health crisis, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to proponents of the measure, it would help to reduce the number of those incarcerated for drug-related offenses and redirect funds to much-needed addiction treatment programs. In addition, by decriminalizing drug possession, the measure will help to reduce the stigma associated with addiction and make it more likely that people will seek treatment.
When the voters passed the ballot measure, they recognized drug addiction and overdoses are a serious problem in Oregon; and that the state needed to increase access to drug treatment. The health-based approach to drug use problems is not only more humane but also effective and cheaper than criminal punishments. Making people criminals because they abuse drugs or struggle with addiction is costly and life-ruining, making it hard to seek treatment.
On February 1, 2021, the laws regulating controlled substances’ possession changed from felonies to Class E violations. Measure 110 is designed to ensure that anyone who wants access, assessment, treatment, and recovery services for substance use gets it.
By all accounts, Measure 110 was set to reduce the pressure on drug users seeking treatment or help. However, going by statistics, it seems to be failing because Oregon has a nearly 20% surge in overdose deaths in the year that ended in April 2022. And according to Dr. Tod Korthuis, Oregon has one of the highest rates of substance use disorders and mental health disorders. Conversely, it ranks the least for access to treatments in the nation.
Humphreys and Korthuis don’t fault Measure 110 for the spiking overdose deaths and other drug-related issues. However, they believe these trends have outpaced the state’s addiction treatment system.
Measure 110 is the first of its kind in the United States. The only other country that has tried it successfully is Portugal, which is often cited as an inspiration. Initially, the country had harsh policies led by the criminal justice system. It needed to try something else. So, in 2001, Portugal took a radical step and became the first country globally to decriminalize the consumption of all drugs.
Speaking about what needs to be done, Humphreys mentioned that Portugal puts heavy legal and social pressure on those abusing drugs to get help. And despite the decriminalization of drugs, one can hardly see people openly using or dealing drugs, as in West Coast cities of the US. That’s because they close operations and use court pressure to lead them into treatment.
“I have spent a lot of time in Portugal, and I know the people who designed their policy,” Humphreys said. “Please take it from me; Oregon is not following Portugal’s example and will not get its results.” (Source)
Humphreys further mentioned the need for harm reduction, which emphasizes engaging directly with addicts to prevent overdose, and transmission of infectious disease, improve physical, social, and mental well-being and offer low-threshold options for accessing addiction treatment and other health care. He recommended solutions like making Naloxone (opioid antagonist) more available to reduce overdose deaths.
As the prevalence of mental health issues and substance use disorder continue to rise in the United States, the search for new and innovative treatments has become more urgent. One potential therapy that is gaining popularity is psilocybin mushrooms. Psilocybin, the main active ingredient in magic mushrooms, has shown effectiveness in treating alcohol use disorders (AUD).
A clinical study published in Jama Psychiatry found that psilocybin could help people with alcohol use disorders reduce their drinking days. The study participants were given 12 weeks of manualized psychotherapy and were randomly selected to get psilocybin or diphenhydramine during 2-day-long medication sessions at weeks 4 and 8. The results showed that over 50% of the participants who were assigned psilocybin stopped drinking entirely for months or even years.
After 32 weeks of analyzing the 93 participants with alcohol use disorders, researchers discovered that the 48 participants who got psilocybin and psychotherapy had an 83% reduction in their drinking habits within 8 months of their first dose, while those assigned placeboes had 51%. While the exact mechanism of action is not known, it is thought that psilocybin helps to break the cycle of addiction by:
The safety and efficacy of psilocybin mushrooms as a treatment for alcohol addiction are still being studied, but the preliminary evidence is promising. As a precaution, you should never consume psilocybin mushrooms without the supervision of a trained medical professional. Psilocybin may be riskier in an uncontrolled environment because your experiences may feel extreme. For example, you may feel severe anxiety while under the influence of the drug.
Other common side effects are nausea and vomiting, paranoia, and delusions. In rare cases, psilocybin mushrooms can cause psychotic episodes. Psilocybin mushrooms can also interact with other drugs and medications. For example, they can intensify the effects of antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication.
It is always important to speak with a medical professional before consuming psilocybin mushrooms, especially if you are taking other medication.
Psilocybin mushrooms are a type of mushroom that contains the psychoactive compound psilocybin. Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound that is found in over 200 species of mushrooms. When consumed, it can produce powerful hallucinations and an altered state of consciousness. Some people use psilocybin mushrooms for recreational purposes, while others use them for medicinal or spiritual purposes.
Psilocybin has been shown to be an effective treatment for various conditions, including depression, anxiety, and addiction. It is also being studied as a potential treatment for PTSD and OCD. Although psilocybin mushrooms are legal in some countries, they are illegal in most parts of the world. Possession and consumption of psilocybin mushrooms can lead to jail time and heavy fines.
Alcohol addiction is a serious problem that can lead to various negative consequences, including health problems, relationship difficulties, and financial problems. In some cases, alcohol addiction can even lead to death.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol is a factor in about 95,000 deaths annually in the United States. These deaths are due to various causes, including alcohol-related accidents, liver diseases, and other health complications.
Treatment rates for alcohol use disorder are low (e.g., 7.6% in 2021), and the Food and Drug Administration has only approved 4 AUD evidence-based medications since 1947.
While these medications can help people with alcohol addiction, they have been shown to be only partially effective. Psilocybin mushrooms have shown promise as a treatment for substance use disorders and could potentially help to reduce the number of deaths due to alcohol addiction.
Although the study’s results are encouraging, it is important to note that it’s a small study with a limited number of participants. More research is needed to confirm the findings and to determine the long-term efficacy of psilocybin mushrooms as a treatment for alcohol addiction. The study only analyzed 93 participants, and only 50 were given psilocybin as such research needs to be done in a bigger and more diverse population.
Besides, the study used diphenhydramine, an antihistamine, as a placebo, which is not an ideal substitute for psilocybin. It was also observed that the participants didn’t have serious drinking problems as those who usually enrolled in clinical trials for alcohol use disorders. The clinical trial may have attracted participants who were already managing their condition. Most notably, the researchers didn’t include participants with underlying mental disorders like depression so they could establish if psilocybin-assisted therapy treats AUD and not other co-occurring disorders.
But patients with severe AUD can benefit from the therapy. This is especially true if the therapy can address other issues that underlie physical dependence and mental disorders. In this case, the treatment will simultaneously address both conditions.
Ketamine is also showing potential as a treatment for alcohol addiction. A group of researchers found that Ketamine disrupts memories to help heavy drinkers stop drinking or cut back. Ketamine blocks the NMDA receptors, disrupting the reconsolidation of memories associated with alcohol consumption. As a result, heavy drinkers who receive ketamine treatment may have fewer cravings for alcohol.
It has also been shown to be an effective treatment for various conditions, including depression, anxiety, and chronic pain.
Psilocybin mushrooms and Ketamine have shown promise as potential treatments for alcohol addiction and some mental health issues. However, more research is needed to confirm the findings. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, many resources are available to help. Never try psilocybin mushrooms or Ketamine outside a clinical setting, as they can be dangerous.