Withdrawal symptoms are one of the toughest parts of overcoming addiction. Almost everyone finds it challenging. Once you get to the other side, however, you'll realize that your efforts to manage your withdrawal symptoms have been well worth it. You have the rest of your life ahead of you, free from the chains of drug or alcohol addiction.
Withdrawal often produces a wide range of side effects. Acute withdrawal leads to physical health issues like congestion, fatigue, nausea, shakiness, or vomiting. On the other hand, protracted withdrawal causes mental health problems ranging from anxiety to depression and so on. A medical detoxification program is usually effective in managing these withdrawal symptoms.
When you drink alcohol or abuse drugs regularly, your brain adjusts to the presence of the substance. You develop a tolerance to the substance and need more of it to feel good again. At this point, you may become physically and psychologically dependent. In which case, going without the substance for a certain period can induce withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal happens when you fail to provide your mind or body with a drug on which it has become dependent.
Withdrawal is your body's way of showing that the drug concentration is declining. These symptoms often develop when you reduce the amount you're using or quit "cold-turkey." Continued withdrawal may cause severe symptoms and feelings. This is why it's essential to get professional help at an alcohol and drug rehab. It's critical to deal with withdrawal in a safe and supervised environment with professionals. This helps manage all the challenges that come with withdrawal syndrome.
Withdrawal symptoms can be mild to severe, depending on the type of drug, amount of use, and the duration of use. Stimulants like meth and cocaine often trigger psychological symptoms, whereas prescription drugs, heroin, and alcohol cause both psychological and physical symptoms. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, withdrawal symptoms may appear within a few hours of not using or be delayed for several days. Common symptoms include:
These symptoms may last for a few days to a few months. Meaning, you may experience mood swings, challenges sleeping, as well as constant fatigue for months. Serious effects like confusion, high fevers, and seizures may also develop. In worse cases, withdrawal can be life-threatening.
Quality treatment centers never use rapid detox kits or cold turkey methods. Instead, they provide therapy and medications to manage your withdrawal symptoms. Detox is the first stage of a successful addiction treatment program. It frees your body from the toxins of alcohol and drugs before long-term treatment begins.
Medically supervised detox is also critical in identifying and treating any substance-related medical emergencies. These emergencies may arise during the detox phase due to active substance abuse. Never attempt to self-detox. That would only expose you to potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms and the high-risk of relapse.
Nothing is more comforting and relaxing than being in the company of people who've traveled the same path as you. Support groups like Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous can provide tips and encouragement to people in recovery, like you. Support from friends, family members, and other recovering individuals is critical for minimizing relapse. When you join these support groups, you get surrounded with like-minded people with similar goals.
Exercise gives your recovery a lively change. It boosts the presence of happiness-inducing chemicals like dopamine. So, the more you work out, the more dopamine gets to your brain. And when your fitness rises, so does your mood and mental health. Studies reveal that physical activity and exercise can help boost dopamine levels. Science also shows that in addition to support groups and detox, exercise is a tremendous counter-withdrawal tool. It reduces compulsive drug abuse as well as cravings.
Eating healthy meals is an essential part of detox, as it replaces lost nutrients and helps keep your energy levels up. It also keeps your body and brain healthy. You'll benefit from a basic healthy diet – but it helps to understand your nutritional deficiencies. This table will guide you to making the right diet choice depending on what you're detoxing from.
|Substance of Abuse||Vitamin and mineral deficiency||Deficiency Effect on body|
|Alcohol||Vitamin A Vitamin B1, B2, B6 Vitamin C Calcium||Anemia Korsakoff’s disorder Osteoporosis Diabetes High blood pressure Severe malnutrition|
|Opiate (heroin and morphine)||High-fiber diet Whole grains Beans Peas Leafy vegetables||Constipation Diarrhea Nausea and vomiting|
|Stimulants (Meth and crack)||Proteins Omega-3 Flaxseeds Eggs Dairy products||Depression Coronary heart disease|
And while you are at it, don't forget to keep hydrated. Withdrawal tends to leave you feeling dehydrated. So, drinking lots of water can help your body heal properly. It also keeps the thirst that's easily mistaken for cravings at bay.
Insomnia is one of the withdrawal symptoms for people with a physical dependence on substances. So having a guideline for good sleep hygiene can help you address insomnia. This includes things like establishing sleep rituals and reestablishing your body’s natural circadian rhythms. Sleep rituals like sleeping and waking up at the same time, or avoiding screens 30 minutes before going to bed can help you fall asleep fast.
Withdrawal can be challenging and even fatal. If you are trying to quit using drugs or alcohol, it's advisable to seek professional help. Medically-supervised detox means you'll be under expert care throughout the withdrawal process. Withdrawal management is a big part of the medical detoxification process. It is the most comfortable way to manage your withdrawal symptoms.
You should note that detox alone isn't enough to support long-term abstinence. But it's a crucial step in a holistic abuse treatment that offers the tools you need to quit using and minimize relapse. The good thing is that most addiction centers offer detox and other therapies in-house.
There's a lot of stigma around drug and alcohol misuse. People with substance use disorders continue to be blamed for their illness. Although medicine has long concluded that dependence is a complex mental health issue, many employers, law enforcement, and healthcare systems, continue to see addiction as a sign of flawed character, or as a moral weakness. Oregon's decriminalization law hopes to change that.
Thanks to the media and the heavily-politicized ‘war on drugs’, people see those who use drugs as bad people, who are deserving of punishment. There have also been policies that systematically criminalize addicts – throwing them behind bars each time they're caught in possession of personal or noncommercial drugs. But arresting an addict repeatedly for possession because they are unable to get treatment doesn't help. Well, at least not from the lens of Oregon's Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act.
Oregon ranks almost last out of the 50 states when it comes to accessibility of drug addiction treatment resources. It also has one of the longest waiting lists in the United States. The latest report by the Oregon Substance Use Disorder Research Committee, shows that 1 in 10 Oregonians struggle with alcohol or drug use. And that 2 in 3 Oregonians either struggle with a substance abuse problem, or they have a friend or family member who does. The report further shows that addiction costs the state about $6 billion dollars a year in everything from policing, to healthcare, to lost productivity and other associated costs.
Going by the numbers, Oregon is in the middle of an addiction crisis. Substance use disorders devastate the state’s youth, communities, finances, and governments. Issues surrounding drug and alcohol misuse also exacerbates many of the state's most pressing issues, like poverty and homelessness. Loss of employment, high medical costs, violent crime, and the destabilization of families are also common concerns. Other impacts include poor educational achievement, huge burdens on Oregon's criminal justice system and the growing need for state-sponsored social services.
The aforementioned report mainly recommends treating substance abuse like a disease, as opposed to a moral failing. This is the general consensus among members of the modern medical and mental health fields. After all, addiction behaves like any other chronic medical condition. It cannot be cured easily, but with medical intervention, it can be controlled. Health care treatment is effective at helping individuals who abuse drugs, to regain control of their lives. Criminal punishment doesn't typically help in this way. Sometimes jail time can make the substance abuse worse, over time. The modern health care approach includes an overall assessment to determine an individual's needs. It then connects them to the services they need to turn their lives around.
Before the new decriminalization law, Oregon was treating addiction as a criminal problem. In 2017, for instance, the law enforcement officers arrested over 8000 people in cases where possessing small amounts of drugs was the most severe offense. In many cases, the same people were arrested for possession, over and over, because they were unable to get treatment for their addiction.
Unfortunately, criminalizing drugs burdens people with criminal records. These records hinder them from going to school, getting jobs, receiving licensing, housing, or even keeping their job. The criminalization of drugs in the United States typically has harsher consequences for people of color and the poor.
In a bid to address the drug issue, the Oregon State introduced Measure 110. This measure is intended to expand access to treatment services and eliminate unfairly harsh punishment for minor, nonviolent drug offenses like simple possession. This approach will allow individuals to recover more easily.
Oregon's Measure 110 (aka, Drug Addiction and Recovery Act) seeks to make addiction to hard drugs a public health issue instead of a criminal one. When the act goes into effect on the 21st of February, 2021, oxycodone, meth, heroin, cocaine, and other illicit drugs will be decriminalized in the state. From now on, people won't be arrested and jailed for possession of small amounts of drugs. Instead, they will get a fine of up to $100. And they can have the penalty waived, if they complete professional addiction assessment within 45 days of getting the citation.
These assessments have to happen in an addiction treatment center. In which case, the individual goes through a series of substance use disorder screenings and, upon completion, expresses the need to get treatment. At this point, the case manager works with the individual to create a personalized drug rehabilitation plan.
Oregon's decriminalization law: Measure 110, focuses on recovery. As mentioned above, it aims at removing penalties for low-level drug possession charges and replacing them with a $100 fine. This fine can then be waived if the individual seeks treatment. On top of that, the measure tries to enhance treatment options in Oregon. It reallocates marijuana tax dollars and the savings from law enforcement making fewer arrests, to fund assessments, harm reduction, addiction treatment, and other services for people who are struggling with addiction.
According to the chief petitioner for the measure, Janie Gullickson, Oregon's existing laws have been a failing system. It is costly and in many cases, the penalties ruin people’s lives. The decriminalization law addresses how the current laws treat drug-related crimes and how Oregon promotes and supports addiction treatment. Measure 110 makes Oregon the first state in the United States to decriminalize all drug use.
Under the measure, drug possession is a civil violation, like a traffic offense, and is subject to a $100 fine without the possibility of jail time. Initially, possessing personal/noncommercial drugs was a misdemeanor in many cases and a felony where one has more than two prior convictions of possession or any felony. But now, these offenses are termed civil violations.
Possessing large amounts of drugs like 2 grams of meth, heroin, or cocaine or 40+ Oxycodone pills was a felony that attracted criminal penalties. The new measure reclassifies these offenses as misdemeanors. But Oregon still applies strict penalties, when there is evidence of a commercial drug offense, like manufacturing or distributing drugs. Oregon will continue to charge these types of crimes as a felony. Other factors include when a person is selling drugs, or they have weapons or stolen property in their possession.
A detailed analysis by the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission says that this measure should minimize 3,679 or 90.7% of drug-related convictions.
Oregon's decriminalization law also targets addiction treatment. It redirects some marijuana tax revenue from schools and other programs into a new grant for substance use disorder treatments. Cannabis tax is projected to reach $91million between 2021 and 2023. The measure will use some of this money to develop addiction and recovery centers that will run every day to address drug users' needs and help connect them to a wide-range of healthcare services.
In addition to treatment, these funds will cater to the housing needs of those with addiction problems and provide harm reduction services like needle exchanges. The Oregon Health Authority will appoint a committee that oversees the centers and decides how to use the fund's money.
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word meth? If you are like most people, it would probably be "illicit drug," or "club drug," etc. But that’s to be expected. Meth is a common street drug that never misses on parties, clubs, and even among peers. According to the National Institute on Drugs abuse, 1.6 million Americans used meth in 2017. But when is meth prescribed as a medical treatment? Does this happen often?
There actually is more to methamphetamine than it being a substance of abuse. In fact, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration classifies it as a Schedule II stimulant that makes it legally available through a non-refillable prescription. Meth is prescribed as a medical treatment for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) and weight-loss. We'll dive into these and more treatments later on in this article, but first, let's make sure we are on the same page.
Meth is a strong and highly-addictive, white, odorless, and bitter-tasting crystalline powder. It is used as a stimulant and affects the body's central nervous system. According to the NIDA, meth was developed in the early 20th century from its parent drug, amphetamine. The drug was originally applied in bronchial inhalers and nasal decongestants.
Meth, like amphetamine, stirs a range of effects. It increases activity and talkativeness, reduces appetite, and triggers euphoria or a pleasurable sense of well-being. But unlike amphetamine, greater amounts of meth get into the brain. This makes it a more potent stimulant. It also produces longer-lasting and more dangerous effects on the central nervous system than amphetamine at comparable doses. That explains why many people misuse the drug.
It's important to note that there are variations of meth. Crystal methamphetamine – a street version of the drug meth – is more potent. It is a common "club drug" that's hard to miss in rave parties and night clubs. Crystal meth also goes by other names like glass, ice, blade, chalk, black beauties, etc. Meth users will smoke it with a small glass pipe or swallow, snort or inject it into a vein.
Crystal meth is simply a poison that acts as a stimulant at first, but then it begins to destroy the body, systematically. It is linked to severe physical and mental health conditions like aggression, memory loss, psychotic behavior, and potential brain and heart damage. Again, the drug burns up the body's resources, causing a devastating dependence that can only be relieved by taking more of the drug.
If an individual continues to use crystal meth, they expose themselves to a wide range of mental and physical damage. A common example of this is meth mouth. Meth users often present with severe tooth decay, fracture or loss, and a host of other teeth and gums issues. One Clinical Oral Investigation study revealed that meth users had higher levels of periodontal disease and gingival bleeding. For most users, this damage is often irreparable even after recovering from their substance use disorder.
Meth was originally used as a respiratory stimulator and nasal decongestant. It was then used to keep the army alert and their enhance mood and endurance during the Second World War. But later, it became apparent that meth was highly addictive. In the 70s, it was added to the Schedule II list of controlled substances. Meth is illegal, save for when a doctor prescribes it to a very limited number of medical conditions. These include obesity, ADHD, and narcolepsy (off-label).
Stimulants are the first course of prescription drugs for ADHD treatment. Studies show that stimulants, like Adderall can improve ADHD symptoms in about 70-80% of people. Central nervous system stimulant medications work by increasing the amounts of norepinephrine and dopamine hormones in the brain. This, in turn, boosts concentration and lowers fatigue that's common with ADHD. Amphetamines and methamphetamine are good examples of stimulants used for ADHD treatment. Stimulants like meth increase attention and reduce restlessness in people who are:
Methamphetamine is an integral part of a complete ADHD treatment program. It's meant to be used along with other treatments like counseling. However, this drug is available only with a health care provider's prescription and is non-refillable. Meaning, a patient has to get a new prescription each time they need this medicine.
Along with ADHD treatment, doctors will occasionally give obese patients prescription methamphetamine for weight loss. While the drug can curb appetite, its effects on the nervous system and metabolism also seem to weigh in on its weight loss abilities. But because of the drug's addictive nature, there's an increased risk of addiction. So when physicians prescribe it, it's usually only for a short period. Methamphetamine is issued alongside other interventions like exercise and diet.
As mentioned earlier, only a doctor can prescribe this drug to patients. The doctor will weigh the pros and cons of using the drug and determine whether or not it's safe. Patients should inform the doctor about:
Doctors consider a lot of things before prescribing methamphetamine. But despite this, there's always an addiction risk when someone abuses the drug or takes drugs prescribed for another person.
For example, a patient may notice that the original dose no longer works. So they increase their dosage, creating tolerance that leads to addiction. Or the patient finds they no longer need the drug. But once they stop, they experience intense withdrawal symptoms that often compel them to take more of the drug.
Common side effects that are linked to prescription meth include:
A patient should contact a doctor as soon as they notice one or more of these side effects.
Meth addiction is one of the hardest drug addictions to treat. But treatment programs exist to help patients with addiction problems quit using and go back to leading a healthy life. Treatments can also help patients struggling with withdrawal symptoms. Recovery from meth needs a holistic treatment plan that includes detox, counseling and therapy.
Addiction is more than a physical dependence on substances. Even after detox, when the body is no longer hooked, one is still at high risk of relapse. Factors like stress, environmental cues, and social networks can create a strong ongoing urge to use again. That's why therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) come in handy. CBT helps one escape cravings and learn to manage what life throws at them without alcohol and drugs.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of talk therapy. It bases on the belief that addictions arise and are worsened by a series of negative thought patterns. CBT helps people identify and explore thought patterns that tend to undermine their ability to make healthy choices. It then arms them with the right tools to reframe their thoughts and go back to a healthy and addiction-free life.
CBT is a problem-specific and purposeful approach that needs one's active participation to succeed. It uses different strategies to identify thought patterns that lend towards an addiction. These strategies include mental distractions, relaxation techniques, role-playing, and journaling. Unlike other therapies that dwell on the past, CBT focuses on present-day thoughts, challenges, and behaviors.
Different approaches and techniques can help address behaviors, emotions and thoughts. Here are some common therapeutic approaches that involve CBT:
Cognitive therapy: It finds and changes negative thinking behaviors, patterns and emotional responses.
Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT): REBT finds and changes irrational beliefs. It also helps one to learn to identify and change these thought patterns.
Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT): DBT focuses on behaviors and thoughts. It also integrates mindfulness and emotional regulation approaches.
Multimodal therapy: It looks into psychological issues by addressing the seven modalities. These include imagery, cognition, sensation, affect, behavior, interpersonal traits and biological/drug considerations.
CBT can be used as a short-term treatment geared to help people with:
This article will focus on CBT and its help in treating drug-related addiction.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy's primary goals in treating drug and alcohol addiction are:
In the therapy session, the patient will learn different attributes that will help uphold their sobriety. They will learn coping skills, resilience, assertiveness, stress management skills and relaxation skills. CBT has two main components in its use to treat drug-related addiction. These are skills training and functional analysis.
FA is an essential step in CBT. In FA, the therapist and patient break down behavior chain into its respective parts. They seek to identify the feelings, thoughts, and situations that caused the substance abuse in the first place. Once they determine how and why a behavior was formed, the therapist and patient can then change parts of the behavior chain to get a different result.
People turn to drugs or alcohol to manage stress, anxiety, depression and so on. If a person gets to a point where they're receiving treatment for substance abuse, it’s likely they’re abusing drugs as a way to cope with some set of problems. Skills training tries to help these people unlearn bad habits and learn better coping skills. This way, they’ll know how to apply them in situations that trigger their substance use. Skill training changes the way people think about their addiction. It also teaches them better ways to tolerate their inner feelings of distress.
CBT was initially designed to prevent relapse when treating alcohol issues. This is according to a research-based guide by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Later on, the therapy was adapted in the treatment of drug-related addictions. These drugs include cocaine, nicotine, marijuana, and methamphetamine. It was also applied in the treatment of addiction to prescription drugs. The National Institute on Drugs Addiction post cited one interesting study. This study showed that 6 in 10 patients in CBT had a clean toxicology screening at their 12-month follow up.
Another evidence from several large-scale trials and quantitative reviews point to the effectiveness of CBT for addiction. An NIH group did a meta-analytic review of CBT for drug use and addiction, including 34 randomized controlled trials. CBT treated a total of 2,340 patients. The results revealed that marijuana patients got the best outcomes. Opioids and cocaine patients also got incredible results. But individuals with polydrug dependence had the smallest effects. That's to say, those struggling with multiple-drug use issues would benefit more from other treatments.
CBT for drug addiction includes a range of interventions, either combined or used in isolation. The interventions can also be provided in individual, or group therapy. Group formats involve therapy with groups like Narcotics Anonymous or Alcohol Anonymous. Individual formats include detox, pharmaceutical, or residential treatments
Cognitive Behavioral therapy banks on the idea that feelings and actions are caused by one's thoughts as opposed to outside stimuli like situations, people, or events. While a person cannot change their situation, they can change the way they think about them. CBT has been shown to help an individual in recovery to:
When untreated, a person can turn to drugs and alcohol to try to avoid the discomfort or pain that these situations cause.
CBT is an intense short-term treatment program. Under normal circumstances, a patient gets a weekly session for about 5-20 weeks. However, the frequency of sessions and length of treatment tend to differ based on a range of aspects. For instance, individuals with strong support from family and friends may have shorter treatment duration. The same applies to those with mild cases of addiction.
Other factors that might influence duration and treatment plan include patient needs, personal experiences and the duration of substance use. The type of disorder and level of withdrawal symptoms may also weigh in.
It is easy to wonder why or how someone in their right minds would self-harm. But as it turns out, "normal" people intentionally hurt themselves every day. Some do it to cope with stress and discomfort or to feel real and alive. Others do it to punish their bodies or to feel empowered. Sometimes, people don't even know why they cause self-harm, but they still do it anyway.
Self-harm and cutting are a form of addiction as many young adults crave the relief that these behaviors elicit. Like substance abuse, users continually cut, punch, bang, and burn themselves to self-medicate but end up having trouble stopping. Most of them describe a specific type of high, connectedness, release, or a sense of calm after the self-injury.
Individuals who inflict self-injury are trying to release pent-up emotions. They see their actions as positive as it allows them to express feelings and remain in control. So they keep hurting themselves to try to release or control feeling of sadness, fear, frustration, anger, overwhelm, or even happiness.
But sadly, hurting yourself never truly resolves the feeling. It only leaves behind a sense of guilt or shame. Eventually, the person may have to perform more intense or prolonged self-injury to achieve the same release. This may go on and on that the individual feels unable to stop. Addiction to self-harm mimics addiction to drugs and alcohol in many ways. For instance, people who cause themselves harm aren't in full control of their actions just like those with SUD. Besides, most underlying pieces (conditions, triggers, causes, etc.), are the same in both cases.
Self-harm is more common than many people realize. About two million cases of self-harm cases are reported in the United States every year. The condition – clinically referred to as non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) – is characterized by an intentional self-induced injury that's not meant to be fatal. Estimates show that 1 in 5 females and 1 in 7 males engage in self-harm behaviors. 90% of those who self-harm start during their pre-adolescent years, and that 50% of them have been sexually abused. Reports also show that 70% of young adults who engage in self-harm have made at least one suicide attempt. But note that NSSI and a suicide attempt are two different things.
Intentionally hurting yourself isn't a mental disorder in or of itself. But it is a behavior that's often associated with anxiety, stress, depression, borderline personality disorder, PTSD, and substance abuse disorder. The cutting and banging and burning tend to worsen over time, especially when the co-occurring problem remains unaddressed.
Since self-harm is a coping mechanism, the frequency of harm increases as the person's mental health degrades. This escalates the overall risk and danger. Besides, when substances are involved, there's an increase in harming behavior with more chance of severe injury. Most ER visits from self-harm happen when the individual has been abusing drugs or alcohol and harms themselves more severely than intended.
If a loved one has co-occurring disorders, he or she should seek professional help. According to National Institute on Drug Abuse, anyone seeking help for comorbid conditions should be evaluated for both disorders and treated accordingly. That’s why you have to find a reputable addiction treatment center that offers effective behavioral therapies like:
As mentioned above, self-harm can happen when an individual has an addiction problem. However, the opposite is also true. And individual can turn to drugs and alcohol in an attempt to numb their feelings or alleviate stress. But since drugs and alcohol impair motor skills, slow reaction times, and interfere with nerve ending connections, they may make it hard for an individual to control their self-harm behaviors.
In addition to substance use disorders and mental health issues, other self-harm risk factors include:
Many people who engage in these acts don't want others to find out. So they do so in secrecy and cut places that are hard to spot, like on the stomach, higher up on the thighs, or arms. Most of them seem normal or even happier on the outside, with no sign tell-tale sign of the habit. This makes it hard to know if your loved one is self-harming or cutting. However, some signs of self-harm include:
Strange scars: if a loved one is cutting or scratching, chances are they will have strange scars on their body. Look out for scar tissue or multiple cuts in one location. Cutting addiction may also include thin lines like those from a sharp object.
Unexplained abrasions or cuts: Your loved one could be cutting if they always blame accidents or clumsiness for their injuries or bandages.
Bloodstains on clothes: Nothing is alarming about spotting blood on your loved one's belongings. However, if you notice blood on the sink, toilet paper, hand towels, or clothes, it could be a sign they are self-harming.
Covering the skin: Your loved one may insist on wearing pants and long-sleeved clothes even when it’s hot outside. That's because they don't want you to see the scars.
Isolation: People who cut tend to isolate themselves because of depression or the need to hide their behavior. They may also feel irritable or uncomfortable in public.
Keep in mind that these warning signs vary among individuals. So, it is worth looking into any strange behaviors your loved one is showing. They could be crying out for help, but you don't even notice. And even if self-harm is not the issue, your loved one could be struggling with another serious issue, like substance abuse or depression.
Self-harm like burning or cutting may offer temporary relief to physical and emotional pain. However, in the end, it may cause feelings of shame and guilt along with physical side effects like anemia and infections. A cutting addiction is hazardous because one may cut a vein and bleed to death or cause long-term nerve or tendon damage.
Growing evidence suggests that behavioral addictions like cutting and self-harm mimic substance addictions in many ways. They have similar phenomenology, natural history, overlapping genetic contribution, comorbidity, tolerance, neurobiological mechanism, and response to treatment. So, self-harm patients may benefit from various therapies that we mentioned above and treatments offered in addiction centers.
There is a strong connection between drug use and crimes. In 2004, 18% of federal and 17% of state prisoners said they committed their current offense to get money for drugs. But other than that, drugs are also connected to crime through the effects they have on the user’s behavior or lifestyle. A drug court is one method that many state and local governments have implemented to help people overcome their addictions and reduce their criminal liabilities.
Drug addiction has become an unprecedented public health crisis. Incarceration alone might not help as many drug offenders who struggle with underlying issues. Most eventually go back to using drugs after serving their time in jail, or prison. Drug courts are a great alternative to this vicious cycle. They’ve shown incredible results helping offenders recover from addiction and avoid a lifetime of further criminal activity. Drug courts connect with other stakeholders to address the offenders’ needs, through comprehensive case management, job training, housing, education, and mental health referrals.
Drug courts are designed for people who are struggling with a substance use disorder. They give participants a chance to go into a long-term addiction treatment program and agree to court supervision instead of getting jail time. In turn, drug court participants need to maintain their recovery and work towards lifestyle changes as they take on life’s responsibilities. Ultimately, drug courts help to reduce crime and bring about a real positive difference in people’s lives.
As the name implies, a drug court is a court tasked with handling cases involving non-violent offenders who abuse alcohol or drugs. It provides complete supervision, drug testing, substance abuse treatment, as well as immediate sanctions and incentives for individuals charged with drug-related crimes.
Drug courts use a holistic and supportive model as an alternative to conventional ways of prosecuting individuals charged with drug-related crimes. The holistic approach gives drug court participants a comprehensive substance abuse treatment program that involves a non-adversarial and multi-disciplinary team of:
The main goal of drug courts is to end the substance abuse among offenders and the resulting criminal behaviors. Drug courts differ from other criminal justice systems as they create a close collaboration between treatment experts and criminal justice.
Although the steps vary from one jurisdiction to another, some aspects are pretty standard, and include:
The effectiveness of drug courts is not a matter of speculation, but a product of more than 20 years of comprehensive scientific research. From the onset, the program embraced science like no other criminal justice program. It integrated best practices and evidence-based approaches and had experts measure the outcomes. The drug court even encouraged federal agencies like NIJ, BJA, CSAT and NIDA along with state agencies to bring in the scientific community to analyze the program and uncover its strengths, weaknesses and opportunities.
In 2006, the scientific community ruled, beyond any reasonable doubt from meta-analyses, that the drug courts lower criminal recidivism. In individual analysis – as illustrated in the table below – the results show a significant decrease in reconviction or re-arrest by an average of about 8 to 26%. This included results of offenders on probation as well as those going through traditional criminal case processing.
|Institution||No. of Drug Courts||Average crime reduction (%)|
|Washington State Institute for Public Policy||57||8|
|University of Cincinnati||22||8|
|University of Nevada||76||9|
|Canadian Department of Justice||66||14|
Other supporting studies also show that drug courts are successful in diverting substance-dependent offenders away from incarceration and minimizing their risk of recidivism. In a 2012 NIJ’s Multisite Adult Drug Court Evaluation, drug court participants reported less drug use and less criminal activity compared to other groups.
In another national study funded by the Department of Justice, 84% of drug court graduates haven’t been re-arrested and charged with a serious crime within 12 months of graduation. 72.5% haven’t been arrested two years after graduation.
While drug courts are effective in rehabilitating an offender, not all offenders qualify to join. High-risk offenders like those who are dependent on drugs or alcohol and are high risk of recidivism are good candidates for drug courts. But violent offenders, on the other hand, are not good candidates for the court.
Studies reveal that a drug court gets the most ROI from offenders with the following characteristics:
Offenders move through three phases, namely bronze, silver and gold, as follows.
Bronze: this is the first phase, where an offender goes to court every week to try to end drug or alcohol use. They have to attend probation appointments and participate in agreed treatment options or employment. They also have to meet with drug court once or twice in two months for their personal progression plan.
Silver: this is the second phase, where an offender goes to court every two weeks to monitor their progress. The offender must show progress in reducing the use of non-prescribed drugs as they move towards quitting altogether. They also must proceed with training, education or finding a job.
Gold: this is the final phase, where the offender goes to court once a month to track progress. At this stage, the individual needs to completely stop drug use, remaining drug-free and they must attend all appointments, including counseling sessions. The offender begins to prepare for a life without drug court supervision once they complete the program.
Drug courts help offenders recover from their dependence on drugs or alcohol, which can help prevent future criminal activity. These proceedings also help lower the financial burden of repeatedly processing low-level, non-violent offenders through the country’s courts, prisons and jails, which saves taxpayer money.
You’ve heard the saying, “too much of something is poisonous.” But it couldn’t be more true that it is with substance abuse. A prescription drug keeps the pain away. And a glass of alcohol makes you merrier at the end of the day. However, with continued use, you risk building tolerance, dependence, addiction – and eventually, overdosing.
It’s easy to assume that “stable” substance use shields you from overdosing – but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, an article on CNN showed that long-term heroin users who end up with fatal overdoses are likely to have the same levels as those who overdose and survive.
The reality is that anyone can overdose from drugs or alcohol. There’s just no way to predict who and when. But later on in this article, we will discuss some factors that put one at higher risk for overdose.
A drug overdose is a medical emergency that happens when you consume a mix or too much of a substance. You can overdose on alcohol, prescription medications, illegal drugs and other substances. Overdoses are usually fatal, but most people who overdose can be saved if they get medical attention soon enough.
That’s why it is essential to familiarize yourself with the following signs and symptoms, should you find yourself in such a situation where you, or a loved one might be overdosing.
You’ll know you are overdosing when you notice some evident changes in your eyes. Narcotics like fentanyl, hydrocodone, morphine, and heroin cause the pupils to constrict, eyelids to become heavy, and eyes to water.
Changes in eye’s general motion or color are signs of intoxication. Red eyes are a common symptom of overdose for several drugs, especially marijuana, cocaine, and alcohol. This is because of the expansion of blood vessels in the eyes.
Here are some common signs of a drug overdose indicated by the eyes:
An opioid overdose causes a slow, irregular breathing pattern. If you are overdosing on opioids, you may become unresponsive or unconscious and notice that your fingernails or lips are blue. This is due to a low oxygen supply. Identifying these symptoms quickly could mean the difference between life and death, considering opioid overdoses kill about 128 people each day in the US.
Stimulants may have an opposite effect to opioids. They tend to increase the heart rate and cause chest pain, palpitations, and even stroke or cardiac arrest. When your heart is overly stressed, it may cause small muscle tears, bleeding, and severe pain.
Some common signs of overdose indicated by the heart and chest include:
Depressant overdose may result in loss of consciousness. Stimulant overdose, on the other hand, will cause aggressiveness, agitation, and anxiety. When you overdose on stimulants, depressants, or both, you may find that you are violent or aggressive – and that your behavior is largely unpredictable.
You may also feel confused and disoriented. In this case, you’ll find that you’re talking rapidly or nonsensically. You may fall, stumble, scream, or cry. And even if you are still conscious, you may notice that you aren’t in touch with your surroundings or able to maintain balance. So basically, you’ll know you are overdosing when you are:
Of course, you won’t know about your unresponsiveness or unconsciousness until later on when you recover. Unconsciousness happens when the brain cells shut down because of the overwhelming amount of toxins in your body.
Vomiting is your body’s way of getting rid of any toxic substance from the gastrointestinal system. It is perhaps the easiest way to tell you are overdosing since it’s more of a physical reaction. Sadly, you may vomit while unconscious, which makes it a choking hazard because you won’t be able to expel it. If this happens, you may suffer brain damage or even death. Vomiting is often accompanied by nausea.
Overdosing from alcohol or stimulants, like cocaine or methamphetamine comes with a risk of seizures. A seizure is a medical emergency; therefore, calling 911 as soon as you notice early signs like trembling and shivering can help save a life.
In extreme cases of drugs or alcohol overdose, you may end up dead. Drug overdose deaths are so common that there were 67,367 cases in the US in 2018 alone. While data for 2019 and 2020 has yet to be finalized, provisional data from the CDC suggests that drug overdose deaths are on a steady increase. The provisional data from 2020 shows a 13.2% increase in drug overdose deaths from the prior year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioids, particularly synthetic opioids, are the main driver of drug overdose death.
These are only a few signs and symptoms of overdose – and they may vary from person to person. If you are experiencing an overdose, you should get immediate attention from medical professionals. Calling 911 can be a great way to access emergency help. The operator will ask about your symptoms and provide critical information about the things you should do as you wait for the ambulance to arrive.
You can overdose unintentionally for a range of reasons – like when you:
In many cases, drug overdoses are unintentional. When you start taking a drug, your body builds tolerance. So you’ll need to take more and more to achieve the same effect you did when you started. Failure to do so will lead to withdrawal symptoms.
In unintentional overdose deaths, many events can happen that increase your chances of overdose. For instance, illegal street drugs often mix with other substances – so you may not know how much of the drug is in each hit. Again, since illicit drugs are never labeled, a hit can be more potent than you anticipated.
Other common risk factors for overdosing include:
But it is also possible to overdose intentionally, when seeking a desired effect – to harm yourself or get high. If you’re overdosing to harm yourself, you should know that there are better ways to deal with the “unmanageable feelings.”
Intentional overdose can happen when you have an untreated mental disorder like anxiety, depression, and so on. If this is the case, it’s essential to seek treatment through a licensed rehab center that knows how to treat comorbid health conditions.
A drug overdose is a medical emergency and should not go unreported. Many states apply the Good Samaritan laws that protect you or anyone who calls 911 to report the emergency. So you don’t have to worry about ending up on the wrong side of the law.
Substance use disorder is one of the main causes of drug overdosing. It is, therefore, critical to seek help soon to avoid the severe consequences of an overdose. While knowing the signs and symptoms of an overdose is essential, treatment at a rehab center is the best way to safely detox, identify any underlying mental health issues, recover and lead a healthy life.
We all feel anxious from time to time – like when we have an upcoming speech, or when going to a job interview, and so on. Anxiety is a normal part of life. It is your body's way of dealing with stressful situations and can keep you alert or help you perform better. To that end, anxiety is a good thing. However, there are times when the anxiety gets out of hand and starts being a problem. Like when it interferes with daily activities. Problem anxiety tends to be chronic and irrational and may result in or reflect an anxiety disorder. Anxiety and alcohol are a dangerous combination, resulting in a vicious cycle that never ends.
There are about 40 million people with an anxiety disorder in America at any given time. Of this number, 1 in 5 reports using alcohol to cope with stress.
Panic disorder: this anxiety disorder is characterized by the fear of having future attacks and losing control in public. Patients with panic attacks turn to alcohol to calm down or numb their fear of an impending attack. Research shows that alcoholism occurs on 10-40% of those with panic disorders and that 10-20% of panic disorder patients are struggling with addiction.
Post-traumatic stress disorder: Any psychological or physical trauma (like an accident or sexual abuse) that leaves one feeling out of control or powerless can cause PTSD. Many people with PTSD turn to alcohol to numb their pain or gain some control in their lives.
Social anxiety disorder: according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 20% of people who struggle with social anxiety also struggle with alcohol use disorder. This is partly because they drink to try to relieve the stress that comes with social situations.
Specific phobia: those with specific phobias experience intense fear of a situation or thing that poses no immediate threat. Some common examples of phobias are small spaces, heights, and animals.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): is a common anxiety disorder affecting 3.1% or 6.8 million adults in the United States. It's characterized by excessive and persistent worry about several different things - whether its work, family, health, money, etc. – even when there's little or nothing to provoke it.
GAD makes an individual always nervous, tense, and worried about everything. Of course, this is no way to live, so some individuals turn to alcohol to cope with the condition. This article will delve deeper into GAD and how it affects those with alcoholism.
Anxiety disorder affects the central nervous system. It can increase blood flow, accelerate the heart rate, and push the brain into overdrive. Doctors often prescribe CNS depressants like benzodiazepines to treat extreme cases of anxiety. Benzodiazepines reduce GAD's intensity of physiological symptoms, like panic attacks, headaches, muscle tension, restlessness, and insomnia – but so does alcohol (to some extent).
Alcohol is a sedative and depressant. In this way, it has some effects that mirror anti-anxiety medications like benzodiazepines. That's why patients who cannot access a prescription for their anxiety problem often turn to alcohol to relieve their symptoms. Alcohol use is also common among those who can't afford therapy or are too embarrassed to seek it. They drink up to increase their levels of relaxation and also mitigate stress in their lives.
But the use of alcohol to lower anxiety almost always fails. Anxiety is a mental disorder that can arise from long-term drinking. Substance-induced anxiety can happen in people with other anxiety disorders like GAD. Unfortunately, adding another anxiety only makes the GAD worsen.
Besides, those who depend on alcohol to mask their anxiety problems may start to rely on it to relax and may build a tolerance to the de-stressing effects of alcohol. This makes stress and anxiety even more difficult to cope with.
People struggling with anxiety may turn to alcohol to relieve stress. But long-term heavy drinking is also a risk factor for anxiety disorder. This is because alcohol upsets hormones, sleep, and brain function. When the mind and body don't get enough rest, one may feel irritable and on edge. The changes in the brain may also increase the risk for anxiety issues. This is because the brain chemicals – neurotransmitters and serotonin – are responsible for positive mental health.
And as it turns out, alcohol doesn't just cause anxiety – it can worsen it. A 2017 study indicated higher anxiety levels among individuals with alcohol use disorder than those without when faced with stress. In one review of 63 studies, reducing alcohol intake led to improvements in both anxiety and depression. According to the authors, cutting back on alcohol could enhance one's self-confidence, social functioning, and mental and physical quality of life.
Still on anxiety, there's also the aspect of concern and uneasiness that comes after drinking alcohol. Many heavy drinkers end up panicking as they try to review the things they might have said or done, and what others who were present are thinking of them.
Studies show a different trend of alcohol use among individuals with a generalized anxiety disorder. Most people with this mental health disorder start drinking excessively around the same time as the onset of anxiety symptoms. And while it still isn't clear why this happens, researchers think that the initial signs are related to alcohol withdrawal. It is also possible that alcohol use presents a mechanism for anxiety and panic disorders to develop.
Not only does drinking lead to anxiety and anxiety lead to drinking, the two trigger each other into an unending cycle. Anxiety makes an individual start drinking. This only makes the anxiety worse. So they drink more to feel better but end up with even worse anxiety and so on.
The more alcohol one takes, the more tolerant they become. Over time, they may need to drink more alcohol to achieve the same effects. In the long run, this may negatively affect their mental health, leading to higher levels of depression and anxiety after drinking.
Patients are highly discouraged from trying to treat anxiety or detox from alcohol without help from a healthcare professional. The process needs professional oversight to help manage their conditions. There are many effective treatments for alcohol and anxiety disorders, including talk therapy, individual/group therapy, prescribed medications, or a blend of these methods. Patients should also join support groups for continued support throughout their recovery.
Biophysics is a field of science that applies methods and theories of physics to understand how biological systems work. It seeks to explain how life molecules are created, how different parts of a cell function, and how body systems – like circulation, brain, immune, etc. – work. Rehabs are now using the biophysical addiction treatment approach to create a powerful remedy that not only offers long-term effectiveness but one that addresses the physical emotional and psychological aspects of substance abuse.
Addiction does significant damage to an individual’s mental health, physical health, and overall well-being. Traditional rehab systems do a great join of arming these individuals with the right tools and resources to overcome addiction. But still, cases of relapse after 12-step and other conventional treatments are widespread. But the good thing is that more and more treatment centers are now incorporating biophysical addiction treatment programs that cater to individual needs, as opposed to taking a one-size-fits-all approach.
Biophysical rehabilitation programs use physical principles and methods to solve biological problems – like drug or alcohol abuse. Substance use overloads the body with toxins that disrupt its delicate balance, leading to damage to different processes and systems. Biophysical treatments are designed to reverse this damage that often occurs on the cellular level. It allows patients to regain balance and restore the body’s optimal functioning.
Biophysical treatment bases its model on the concept that life-long sobriety only happens when treatment is done at a physical, mental, and cellular level. It not only seeks to achieve sobriety but also to arm the patient with the necessary skills and mindset to have an optimal state of health for years to come. When the body is devoid of toxins on the cellular level, the treatment model suggests that both the physical and mental cravings will cease.
Relapsing is part of the recovery journey. But unlike the traditional programs which suggest that addiction is an incurable disease, and that relapse should be treated with more drugs or medication, biophysical treatment rehabs have proven that addiction is curable. The latter has shown that patients can experience permanent recovery using alternative treatment modalities.
Biophysical treatment centers report the highest success rates. This is partly because the non-traditional, non-12-step approach treats patients holistically. They do much more than offer one-size-fits-care or weekly follow-up meetings or limited patient success tracking. The other reason is that the programs run for around 90 days (or more), giving patients enough time to heal physically and mentally.
Rather than treating a single facet of an individual, the biophysical treatment acknowledges that each person is different, and their addiction problem revolves around the total of their experience. That’s why the model focuses on both the physical and physiological aspects of addiction. The first part of the program involves healing the physical aspects through detox. And the second part addresses mental health concerns.
An exciting yet incredible aspect of biophysical therapy is that they are often 100% natural programs. Unlike the conventional rehabs that use drug replacement therapies or medications to wean an individual off drugs, this program takes a drug-free approach to improve the health and well-being of the patient. These rehab facilities provide long-term and residential treatment programs that deliver all the essential elements for complete substance abuse rehab.
The module uses unique sauna programs to address the biochemical and biophysical imbalances. It also uses social education along with other methods that include light exercise, nutritional supplements, and counseling to help patients achieve long-term sobriety.
Medical sauna procedure is not only a great way to de-stress and relieve stress, but also release chemicals from the body. The sweating process gently and safely releases toxic chemicals. Medical studies show that most toxins can be expelled through the skin, relieving the burden on the liver and kidney. Biophysical treatments use sauna programs to detox their clients.
Since substance abuse and mental health problems often co-occur, detox alone won’t cut it. That’s why rehabs use different types of therapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy and family therapy, to treat the physiological aspect of addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, behavioral therapies provide incentives for patients to modify their attitudes, increase their life skills to handle triggers, and remain abstinent.
Many people with substance use disorder don’t eat well-balanced meals. So, in most cases, they will lack essential nutrients that are critical to overall health and recovery. Biophysical treatment centers offer a nutritional supplement to help ease withdrawal symptoms like irritability, depression, and fatigue that are common in patients with nutritional deficiencies. In his book dubbed Biochemical Individuality, Roger J. Williams, PhD., explained that rats that lacked specific vitamins consumed more alcohol than their healthier counterparts. But once the deficiencies were addressed, the consumption was lowered.
Exercise provides vast benefits. In addition to helping patients structure their days and provide a general positive feeling, exercise helps heal the body and brain. Research shows that exercise helps heal the body, even among healthy individuals. But it’s even more beneficial to recovering patients as it increases the number of new nerve connections in the brain. This allows the brain to recover from the harm that the substance had caused. Biophysical rehabs offer different kinds of exercise, including yoga, meditation, walks, and so on.
Once the treatment is over and the patient is discharged from the facility, most biophysical rehabs offer two or even more years of program follow-up to ensure long-term success. The same cannot be said for traditional programs that provide short-term follow-up and rarely track progress.
Most substance abuse programs treat addiction symptoms with more medications (for mental illnesses and withdrawal symptoms). Biophysical rehab centers address addiction using a holistic, biophysical approach. These centers recognize that drug therapy sometimes leads to relapse and that many patients resist the treatment for apparent contradictions. So, they provide a different approach that offers:
The natural approach is safer and effective in addressing addiction. Once all drug residues are eliminated from the body, the patient can then focus on clearing their mind and working to ensure they stay sober.
The main focus of biophysical rehab treatment is to give individuals more abilities in life. This is achieved by integrating skills and cognitive therapy that lets the patient raise their awareness and make pro-survival decisions. Through treatment, the patient gets to understands why they started abusing substances and are armed with skills not to fall back to the trap. They are also empowered to take control of their lives and communicate better, just so they can associate better with people.
Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol is a criminal offense. It happens when someone drives or operates a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol to the extent that makes operating the vehicle unsafe. DUI may attract hefty fines, jail time, and high insurance premiums. It may also cause loss of health or life in case of an accident.
Most states in the US have laws requiring persons with DUI convictions to go through a test to determine the extent of their alcohol use. This evaluation checks the extent the driver’s life is affected by alcohol use, and if their drinking behavior is considered alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse. Meaning, if someone is arrested for DUI, that fact by itself shows that the individual has a drinking problem.
But unfortunately, most people may deny a drinking problem until something serious – like a DUI – happens. Others may acknowledge a drinking problem but do nothing about it. If your loved one falls in any of these categories, you’re likely wondering how you’d confront them after a DUI. In this article, we will discuss the intervention details and typical things charged during the DUI offense to give you an idea of how you should approach the situation.
When your loved one drives under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he or she may risk injury or death to self, pedestrians, and/or other road users. He or she may face severe consequences like jail time, high insurance rates, job loss, and large fees and fines. Their driving privileges may also be revoked. And when they’re found guilty with DUI, the information will reflect on their criminal records, severely limiting future opportunities.
If you think your loved one has an addiction problem, you should confront and nudge them to seek help. This could be anything from joining a support group, to attending rehab and so on. In some cases, getting help may allow your loved to mitigate some of the legal consequences that come with DUI charges.
It is incredibly difficult when you love someone with substance abuse disorder. Individuals who struggle with alcohol and drug addiction tend to be unable to love or appreciate the people around them as they once did. They also do a great job of pushing you on edge or making you feel scared. But as most recovered addicts will tell you, the confrontation from a friend or family often marks the turning point in their addiction story. It is what saves them from a life of self-destruction.
In case you’re wondering how to go about the initial confrontation, here are some quick tips to get you started:
This is where you convene a group of people to confront your loved one. These people work to persuade the person to change their behavior. More specifically, they motivate them to seek help from a treatment program or a professional to deal with their alcohol addiction. The intervention team often includes family and friends of the alcohol-dependent person.
Fear paralyzes people from taking action. It is fear that makes families and friends ignore the problem or convince themselves that the addiction problem will fix itself. But this conversation needs to happen. Your loved one has a DUI charge. If you don’t do anything, it is likely there will be a next time.
It’s essential to prepare and decide what happens in an addiction intervention before you involve the person. People struggling with alcohol addiction are in a fragile state, mentally and emotionally. So, you have to intervene in a way that doesn’t make them feel attacked or alienated. Everyone should be friendly, composed, and open-minded. Here are some good points to keep in mind:
The person may likely want to walk out of the room. However, the team should ask him/her to sit and listen to what everyone has to say. Modern approaches to confrontational interventions rarely involve accusation, humiliation, and pointing out the subject’s flaws.
Each person in the team can share thoughts or read their letter expressing their concerns. In this case, these grievances should consist of how the subject’s behavior has affected the person speaking. For example, the DUI has caused property damage or emotional torture, and so on. The focus should be to encourage the subject toward treatment.
Your intention shouldn’t be to accuse the subject or force them to take treatment. But you should lay out specific outcomes should the person fail to get treatment for their alcohol addiction.
Once each member expresses their love and concern, the group should offer the person with a list of possible treatment options to consider. And when it’s all said and done, the subject decides whether or not to seek treatment.
The best way to learn how to face the person with an addiction problem is to stage an intervention with the help of a professional interventionist. This allows families and friends to come together and plan how to confront the subject.
You may want to confront the person immediately after the DUI. But that’s never the best idea. You want to wait until they are sober – preferably in the morning. At this time, they will be rational and less likely to lose control of their emotions. Besides, waiting will give you more time to stage an intervention rather than doing it all by yourself.
Chances are your loved one doesn’t want to talk about the DUI and their addiction problems. When you insist on having a conversation, they’ll likely be resistant and angry. You should know that he or she isn’t resisting you, but the conversation and its possible outcomes. Speak with compassion and care, not with judgment. When you accuse or speak with a negative tone, you’ll only stir resentment and anger.
Your role in getting help for the individual you are confronting is critical. Even though your words support, or actions may not go through immediately, they will bring the patient a step close to accepting they have a problem, enrolling in an addiction treatment center, and regaining control of their life.