Stimulants like Adderall increase body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. When used for a prolonged period, especially in high doses, they can damage the heart and cardiovascular system.

 

The most common medical issues arising from Adderall use are high blood pressure and tachycardia, as published in the National Institute of Health. But a 2017 study reveals that those who abuse stimulant drugs, like Adderall, show signs of premature aging in their cardiovascular system.

 

It is natural for physiological processes to fail after years of working hard. However, stimulant abuse tends to compound and expedite this process. Experts believe that stimulant and drugs like Adderall disrupt the normal stem cell-functioning and cell division which can lead to serious heart problems.

 

When tachycardia – a heart rate over 100 beats per minute – develops, one may encounter a range of complications. They may have blood clots, heart failure and even sudden death. There are numerous types of tachycardia, but the most common one is atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is a rapid heart rate that arises from irregular, chaotic electrical impulses in the atria. These signals cause quick, uncoordinated, weak contractions of the upper chambers of the heart.

 

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Stimulant drugs, like Adderall can cause the heart to work harder and pump faster than it needs to. This can lead to serious negative health consequences.

 

When the heart beats too fast, it may not supply enough blood to other parts of the body. This may starve tissues and organs of nutrients and oxygen and lead to the following symptoms:

 

 

 

A brief look into Adderall and its uses

 

Adderall is a prescription drug that treats narcolepsy and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It's a blend of two drugs: amphetamine and dextroamphetamine and is the number one treatment option for ADHD. Adderall enhances focus and attention and reduces impulsive behaviors. Studies show that 75% to 80% of children with ADHD will notice a positive change in symptoms using stimulants like Adderall. In fact, Adderall is considered part of a complete treatment program.

 

In addition to ADHD and narcolepsy, Adderall can be used for Attention Deficit Disorder and bipolar disorder. Although the drug isn't approved by the FDA to treat bipolar disorder, it may be prescribed off-label during depressive episodes to increase energy and lift the mood.

 

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Like any other type of prescription drug, Adderall can be abused.

 

Abuse and addiction to Adderall

 

Most ADHD stimulant medications, like Ritalin, Adderall, and Adderall XR, fall into the Schedule II category. They are legal but considered dangerous due to their high risk of dependence and abuse. Like with other stimulants, one can abuse and develop a dependence on Adderall. Research indicates that a growing number of people without ADHD are using Adderall illegally.

 

Experts believe that ADHD happens because of signal problems in the brain. So, the Adderall stimulates parts of the brains (mainly the prefrontal cortex) to receive more signals. The prefrontal cortex controls thoughts and behavior. When an average person (a person without ADHD) takes this medication, they get more activity in the prefrontal cortex. This increases their metabolism and concentration and makes them more alert.

 

People – especially those in college – abuse Adderall to perform better at work or school, or to feel more focused and alert. Students use it as a smart drug to combat the pressures of higher education. Others use it because it creates a feeling of euphoria. When Adderall is injected or snorted, it can cause a "high" that resembles cocaine. This may, in turn, result in physical and psychological dependence on these drugs.

 

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Many college students use Adderall without a prescription. They feel it helps them meet the high demands of their academic life on campus.

 

When taken as directed by a doctor, there's little risk of addiction. But when used recreationally for the "high," the risk of Adderall abuse increases. Like other drugs of abuse, stopping Adderall may cause withdrawal symptoms. Those who quit after using high doses for a while may experience depression, fatigue, and tiredness.

 

So, in the case of addiction and dependence issues, one should find help through an addiction treatment facility. Addiction centers have experts and processes in place to help patients gain control and live a clean, healthy life.

 

Side effects of amphetamines

 

Adderall has a profound effect on the cardiovascular system since it serves as a central nervous system stimulant. It increases heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure and lessens appetite. Although it's effective at making one feel alert, energetic, cheerful, and confident, and less tired or bored, the drug is linked to a range of negative side effects.

 

Adderall use can cause changes relating to sexual performance and sex drive. Its use is often linked to feelings of irritability, restlessness, and anxiety.

 

Long term side effects of heavy Adderall use include dizziness, dry mouth, and weight loss, and abdominal pain. Users may also experience blood clots, breathing issues, heart muscle weakness, suicidal thoughts, heart palpitations, atrial fibrillation, and heart diseases. An allergic reaction to the drug may cause swelling of the face, throat, or tongue.

 

High doses of Adderall over a few days can trigger paranoia, hallucinations, and panic. But this subsides as soon as the drug is cleared from the system. According to Molecular Psychiatry, panic attacks and anxiety tend to occur after long-term use or withdrawal. The intense "upper" effect is especially dangerous to those who have blood pressure or heart problems.

 

How extended Adderall use affects the heart

 

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The use of stimulants can actually accelerate the aging process and wreak havoc to your physical and mental health.

 

Stimulant drugs wreak absolute havoc on the body, particularly the heart. According to the study, these drugs speed up a user's cardiovascular system's aging process compared to the rest of the population. A team of researchers at the University of Western Australia published their findings on February 9, 2017, in the online Journal of Asia.

 

The study sampled 713 participants in their 30s and 40s attending a clinic for drug abuse from 2006-2011. It measured the stiffness of the arteries of all participants using radial artery pulse tonometry. Arteries –blood vessels that supply oxygen to the heart – tend to harden with age.

 

Each participant was asked about their drug use and categorized into one of four groups. There were 483 nonsmokers, 107 tobacco smokers, 68 methadone users, and 55 amphetamine users in the four groups. Many amphetamine users had used it within the past week and more than 50% just the previous day.

 

Of all the four groups, the heart system of amphetamine users was aging faster than that of methadone users and smokers. This was both about their real chronological age and over time. The results stayed the same, even after considering other cardiovascular risk factors like cholesterol levels and weight.

 

Who shouldn't use Adderall?

 

Patients with a history of severe anxiety, agitation, glaucoma, or a personal or family history of Tourette syndrome or tics should not use Adderall. Those with severe heart problems or congenital heart defects should also not use stimulants because it might cause sudden death. Such patients should notify their doctors about any history of heart rhythm disorder, heart disease, heart attacks, coronary artery disease, mental health disorder, high blood pressure, and seizure disorders.

 

The skin is the largest organ in your body. It is also the most visible one and is often referred to as the window into a person’s overall well-being. The skin carries a clue about the health of other organs. Changes in the skin color or texture may sometimes indicate severe health conditions, according to dermatologists.

 

Drug and alcohol use can have severe consequences on the body organs. Drugs like cocaine, and heroin can significantly stress the heart and damage kidneys. Alcohol, on the other hand, puts tremendous strain on the liver. But since it is impossible to see what’s happening in the body with bare eyes, the damage may go unnoticed for years.

 

Luckily, you can identify drug or alcohol-related issues by looking at the skin. When drug users abuse substances for a long time, they may experience sores, inflammation, infections, and even skin rotting. This happens for a range of reasons, including:

 

 

Here are some common skin problems tied to regular drug use:

 

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Regular skin problems can be a sign of drug abuse.

 

Dry, flaky skin

 

Substance abuse can cause dehydration through the effects of the drugs themselves. Illegal drugs are known to increase sweating, speed of breathing, urination, and diarrhea, and vomiting. In some cases, the drugs make a person over-active, interfering with the body’s awareness and attention to ignore the need for fluid. Dehydration is characterized by dry eyes, chapped lips, dry mouth, and feeling thirsty. Prolonged use may also cause dry, flaky skin. Dry skin is more prone to wounds, blemishes, and poor healing.

Skin rashes

 

Rashes are common in heavy meth users. They manifest as festering and painful-looking sores. Meth (and cocaine) users develop sores for various reasons, but the most common is that they pick and scratch their skin. They do so because it feels as though bugs are burrowing underneath the skin. Some say they feel a sensation of drug coming out of their skin. So they pick at it to the extent that they tear their flesh open. Meth mites – the feeling that insects or bugs are crawling under or on the skin – is a common side effect of excessive methamphetamine use. It’s also the biggest giveaway of meth addiction.

 

Heroin use may also lead to intense itching because it triggers the production of histamine. It may cause immense, blistering rash or dark patch on the skin (with velvety feel). Heroin use may also cause red patches to form all over the body.

 

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Healthy skin can deteriorate at a rapid pace when illicit drugs are being used.

 

Red blotches and sores

 

Another reason meth users develop sores is that the drug isn’t clean. It’s made with battery acid, which causes abscesses. And the byproducts used during its production can irritate the skin and cause itchy red sores that look like burning skin rash. Besides, crystal meth suppresses the immune system, making it hard for the body to fight off infections and bacteria. Couple that with poor hygiene, and you create a perfect storm for meth rash. This can occur in the face, arm, shoulder, back, and between the legs.

 

Necrotizing fasciitis

 

Some drug dealers add other substances to cocaine to stretch their product and increase profit margins. One such substance is levamisole, which is linked to necrotizing fasciitis, a skin-eating disease. It manifests in an extreme blackening of the outer ear and reddening of the cheeks. The same effects may happen on the back, chest, buttocks, legs, and abdomen.

 

Skin disorders

 

Not everyone who uses drugs will experience skin disorders. It’s all up to a person’s genetic markup. Stimulants can cause hypersensitivity, hives, cold sores, and the swelling of the epidermis. In extreme cases, these drugs can cause severe conditions like Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN) and Stevens - Johnson syndrome (SJS).

 

SJS is a rare yet severe skin and mucous membranes. It is characterized by a painful rash that blisters and spreads. The outer layer of the rash dies, peels off and starts to heal after several days. A more severe form of SJS is called TEN. TEN is a rare and potentially life-threatening condition that affects over 30% of the skin and causes immense damage to the mucous membranes. In TEN, the peeling progresses fast, leading to large raw areas that may weep or ooze.

 

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Unexplained sores, rashes and scabs are common with certain types of drugs.

Atopic dermatitis

 

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, atopic dermatitis (AD) is a common skin condition that affects more than 1 in 10 Americans. However, the condition, which makes the skin red and itchy, is common among those struggling with drug addiction. AD is a chronic pruritic inflammatory skin condition that mostly affects the neck, arms, cheeks, and legs.

 

Wrinkles and lines

 

These usually arise because of smoke, weight loss, or other toxins. But drug use can also cause premature aging, lines, wrinkles, and so on. Smoking drugs like heroin, crack, cocaine, meth, or marijuana harms the skin, creating a wrinkled, leather-like texture that makes one look older. Smoking also speeds up and facilitates skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and even skin cancer.

 

Hyperpigmentation

 

When a drug-dependent person is dehydrated, exhausted and malnourished, they may experience drug-induced hyperpigmentation. This is where they experience color changes in the skin, folds, and spots in different parts of the body. Drugs like heroin, prescription meds, crack cocaine, and cocaine can cause a nutritional problem. Advanced stages of addiction can make one neglect regular foods and meals, leading to exhaustion and malnutrition.

 

Skin and soft tissue infection

 

Since the drugs lower the body’s immunity, any infection that shows up in the skin may take a long time to heal. Sometimes, it might worsen. Many cocaine and heroin users who inject drugs develop infections at the injection point, which becomes severe with repeated use.

 

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The sooner you address a problem with drugs or alcohol, the easier it will be to treat. Get help now, before it's too late!

 

Treatment for skin problems arising from drug use

 

Treatment programs exist to help those struggling with drug addiction to overcome their using problem, and resulting skin problems. Addiction treatment allows patients to heal their mind, body, and spirit. Most of these centers have experts who can offer medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. In extreme cases, these experts may refer the patient to a specialist.

 

Like many people, you may notice that your social life – or even your business networking –involves plenty of drinking. In many places, when a friend or colleague says, "Let's meet for coffee," they mean a drink or two.

 

But despite how much people try to normalize drinking alcohol or using drugs, it is not suitable for you in any amount. Alcohol and drugs affect the brain in negative ways. According to the Department of Health, drug use can cause serious changes in the brain that influence the way you think and act. Some substances can cause cancer, heart disease, lung issues and mental disorders like depression.

 

So, although we are going to highlight some cool things to do while high, we recommend staying away from abusing substances as much as possible.

Decide to get off drugs forever

 

You probably are using drugs and alcohol to fill a void in your life or to feel better. It could be that you're feeling inadequate towards yourself or the world. However, abusing substances is never the solution. Once the high is over, you'll have to face reality again. Emotional, physical, and psychological issues don't resolve with drug use. If anything, it'll only make the situation worse. The best way to take care of these issues is to get professional help. So, take advantage of this time to decide to get off drugs forever. Drugs aren't the solution – they only add to the problem.

 

Drink iced water

 

Hydration is critical when you're high. It keeps your mouth moist and helps you to feel better the following day. Ice water is the best way to hydrate when you are high because it cools your body and keeps you alert.

 

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For your own safety, a really cool thing to do while high is stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water.

 

Watch a movie

 

A great movie never disappoints – and the experience is even better when you're high. Grab some popcorn, turn off the light, and play a movie that you like. Thanks to platforms like Netflix, you have limitless options for the films. Here are some recommendations to get you started.

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Plenty of trippy movies out there to enhance your experience. They're better with friends too!

 

 

Devise a plan to get back your friends

 

One of the greatest downsides of abusing substances is strained relationships. If you are like many people who abuse drugs, you might have pushed some of your friends and loved ones away. In that case, this might be a great time to come up with a plan to win them back. Make a list of the people you've hurt with your drinking and note down how you're going to fix the relations.

Listen to music

 

Music has some of the most incredible therapeutic benefits. Certain tunes trigger the production of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. These neurotransmitters enhance the feelings of well-being and happiness. Listening to music is definitely one of the things you should do while high. Not just because of your mental well-being and physical health alone. Research shows that enjoyment goes way beyond the present moment because it influences the outcome of your hormones and cognitive functioning. Listening to music sober is a lot of fun, but it's even better when you're high. The parts of the brain that draw relations between ideas are stimulated when you're high.

 

Here are some cool songs to listen to when you are high:

 

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Music can be an amazing outlet for expression and it can offer a great deal of hope.

 

Play video games

 

Video games promote a healthy lifestyle, increases social activity, and make you a better decision-maker. Studies show that gaming can help people suffering from cravings or addiction to reduce the intensity of their desires. But that's not all. A nice game can help you form stronger relationships with your friends and family members because of their matching love of games. If you are homebound, you can pair couch lock and couch co-op for a fantastic time. You can also play board games if that's what is available or what you prefer.

 

Read a book

 

Reading a book sober is always better – but it doesn't mean you can't do it when you're high. Since your attention span tends to diminish when high, it might be good to go for short reads. You may also want to find an exciting fiction book. Here are some books to read while high:

 

Do some dancing

 

If you are in a club and are feeling extra energetic or adventurers, you can hop on to the dance floor and whip out a couple of dance moves. Dancing is a fun and refreshing activity and is also a great exercise. Going to a local dance club allows you to get some social interaction, do some incredible exercise, and create new experiences. If you are at home, you can learn or practice dance steps to stimulate your mind.

 

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Dancing can be great exercise. Physical activity can greatly stimulate your mind, body and soul.

 

Shower regularly 

 

It is always a good idea to keep clean. The easiest way to do so is to take a quick shower and put on some clean clothes. A long bubble bath can also work the magic. In this case, you want to turn out the lights and light some candles. You can also play your best music or listen to an educative podcast, to learn a few things.

 

Find your Zen

 

Activities like Pilates, yoga, meditation are great for flexibility and core strength. They are also good for your brain. Many people get high before a long and relaxing meditation session – you can do this too. Find some chill place, roll your yoga mat, light some candles, and find your inner Zen. You can even meditate about a sober and fulfilling life.

 

Have you ever told a story about someone doing something distasteful or illegal, yet that someone was you? Or have you felt the need to pose a question as another person to stir some reaction or get specific feedback? If yes, then you are no stranger to SWIM.

 

SWIM is an acronym for "someone who isn't me". Many people use SWIM when telling some story about them doing something unpleasant, to avoid reprimand. They say something like, "So and so got drunk and hit a stray dog." Or "SWIM ate an entire bag of oranges when stoned and now they have been on the toilet with running stomach for the last hour." Usually, they believe it would provide some identity concealment or legal protection when talking about something they should not be admitting to.

 

Those who use SWIM assume that they can say pretty much whatever they feel like in an online forum without any social or legal consequences. Or that they could get away with it because they are only reporting what someone else did.

 

This article delves deeper into the SWIM culture and why it's widespread among young adults, especially those using illegal drugs. We'll also talk about how young people perceive the risk of their participation in a public forum and how they manage to conceal their identity.

 

SWIM culture and what it's all about

 

SWIM is often used to avoid self-incrimination in contexts discussing drugs and alcohol use. It's also used in places where criminal acts occur to "avoid" legal action. The "M" in SWIM is sometimes replaced with a "Y" for you, so, SWIY instead of SWIM. Someone who isn't you is mostly used when one is questioning the other. For example, "SWIM loves using drugs. How much does SWIY pay to support his habit?"

 

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Online forums can be a great way to get information or even social acceptance for your actions or thoughts. This can be both a good thing, and a bad thing.

 

SWIM and SWIY are all the rage these days. People use them in forums, social platforms, and even when talking to other people. They do it to try to save face and avoid judgment. In some cases, they use these acronyms to protect the board. Some boards don't allow anything illegal or linking to unlawful material. Other boards prohibit "confessions." Members cannot start a thread admitting they are abusing drugs and so on. So, they use SWIM or SWIY acronyms to avoid being shut down.

 

One Reddit user was curious about why people who want to talk about drugs on online forums use SWIM. He asked why people wrote things like. "SWIM wants to know how blah blah blah."

 

A majority of responses dismissed SWIM as lame. "I don't get it … do they realize saying SWIM doesn't change anything and that feds aren't looking to bust forum users," read one post. "It stands for the stupid way to incriminate myself," read another. "It is policy to use it on some forums. It's stupid, but some places require it," added another.

 

But this doesn't stop people from using SWIM. The reality is many people would rather hide face when talking or writing about something they deem shameful or unpleasant.

 

Online forums and the need for anonymity 

 

People use the internet to find drug-related information, prescription drugs, and novel substances marketed as "legal highs." After all, the internet offers a convenient way to access this information and products. It also ensures anonymity – especially among those who want to maintain their privacy for fear of judgment or incrimination.

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Dark, online forums are the perfect place to speak anonymously about your addiction to drugs or various other criminal activities.

Anonymity serves as immunity for those concerned about potential legal and social ramifications of revealing stigmatized or illicit identities or behaviors. It also facilitates the creation of social support groups based on stigmatized identities.

 

Those struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues use online forums for a range of reasons. These include information exchange, social support, friendships, convenience, and even recreation.

 

The forums are managed by peer leaders who moderate content and may remove members who do not comply to set rules. Rules are meant to ensure members do not deviate from the forum's focus, and that people coexist in harmony.

 

Online forums allow users to present themselves anonymously. They can also read comments while remaining anonymous, or take part in the conversation using a pseudonym. People prefer remaining unidentified when using online forums, especially when discussing illegal or stigmatized behaviors.

 

SWIM in online forums

 

The enforcement law is always on the watch out for drug dealers and suppliers. That's why people are warier of discussing such compared to other issues like drug-abusing or drug addiction. They have code words and vague language and use the third person to describe their experiences. SWIM is one such language.

 

In one analysis, participants reported that they discussed their substance use in public online forums strictly. Their discussions involved only drug use and not dealing/supply and past but not future or present. The discussions are also vague enough for the rest of the population to understand. Of the participants in the analysis, none mentioned discussing drug supply or deals in public forums. One of them admitted to doing so – but only through private messaging.

 

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You never really know who you're talking to online. Some people seek answers to their problems, when they may be too afraid to ask someone they know for help.

 

The law and SWIM

 

SWIM is not usually a crime because it is not defamation. The United States law defines defamation as any statement made by someone that hurts another's reputation. Defamation is proven by showing that:

Taking care of the underlying problem

 

Most people who use SWIM often have some mental or substance abuse disorders. So they try to get help or communicate with others using SWIM to conceal their identity or feelings. According to the National Institute of Health, the internet has the potential to assist young adults by lowering the stigma associated with mental health and drug dependence. It also gives them access to professionals and services that they would otherwise not access.

 

But still, it is essential for young people with addiction problems to seek substance abuse treatment. Holistic addiction treatment will often address the mental, social, and physical aspects of addiction. A 2016 report calls for a public health-based approach to address drug use. Public health is a science of preventing injury and disease and protecting and promoting communities and populations' health.

 

Have you ever wondered why some addiction patients act with no thought of consequences? Like they run into a friend in town and accept a sudden invitation to get high when they have a job interview? Or they take part in pathological gambling despite the well-known risks of doing so? What really makes an addict so impulsive?

 

As it turns out, most people who are struggling with substance abuse act on impulse. So, this means many have trouble controlling their behaviors or emotions. Impulse disorder could be a sign of an underlying problem, like a mental health issue or other personality disorders.

 

In this article, we will look at the things that make addicts impulsive and the treatments that can help them. But first, let’s understand what an impulse disorder is.

 

Impulsive behavior and impulse control disorders

 

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Many addicts also struggle with their mental health. Co-occurring disorders are common amongst people who are prone to alcohol and drug addiction.

 

An addict with impulsive behavior finds it hard to resist the sudden desire to do something that’s contrary to the societal norms. They may do so quickly, repeatedly, and with no consideration of the consequences.

 

Examples of impulse behaviors include:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Irrational, impulsive behavior is a common trait amongst some people whoo struggle with addiction.

 

Acting on impulse is not a bad thing. It can be a motivating force behind the artistic genius. For instance, some incredible music, books, and art come out of impulsive action. But most addiction patients are impulsive often, sometimes multiple times in a day.

 

Impulsive behavior becomes a disorder when:

 

 

 

 

Why are Addicts so Impulsive?

 

While the cause of impulsiveness is not always evident, studies show that it may have something to do with the prefrontal lobe. According to this study, the prefrontal cortex is responsible for higher-order functions. These functions include conscious thought, spatial learning, decision-making, and judgment.

 

Addiction negatively affects this part of the brain and alters its functioning. So, someone who’s dependent on drugs or alcohol might be unable to make rational decisions or override impulsive urges. So, they end up acting on impulse without thinking, which is not usually in their best interest.

 

The ability to resist impulse urges allows us to function well in society. It keeps us from danger by enabling us to consider the outcomes of our actions. But when that part of the brain is no longer functioning well, we become susceptible to impulse actions.

 

Addiction causes changes that promoted impulsive behaviors. So, the addict desires to only live in the present moment with no regard for the future.

 

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If you are struggling with addiction, your life choices typically revolve around one thing: getting your next fix.

 

Other Reasons why Addicts can Act on Impulse

 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

 

Impulse behavior is an immediate factor between ADHD and addictive disorders. According to one study, both impulsive acts and impulsive choices are observed in ADHD and addiction disorder. Experts believe that there’s a strong link between ADHD and addiction and that many individuals with ADHD often turn to alcohol and drugs.

 

Different studies have shown that people with ADHD have higher levels of impulsive and hyperactive behaviors. That’s why:

 

Again, those with ADHD usually turn to substances. While there isn’t a clear reason why that’s the case, experts believe that these patients have problems regulating neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine. But it could also be that they turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to cope with ADHD symptoms.

 

It is especially challenging for adults with undiagnosed or untreated ADHD. One expert matched the situation to playing with an invisible fire and wondering why the hands are burning.

 

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

 

Impulse behavior is a hallmark of BPD, a debilitating personality disorder that distorts a person’s self-perception. BPD patients are seen as highly dependent, manipulative, and dramatic. However, mental health experts say that these behaviors arise as a dysfunctional way to deal with emotional pain and overwhelming fear.

 

Patients with borderline personality disorder often suffer from insecurity, anxiety, and low self-esteem. They also have substance abuse issues. Alcohol, in particular, makes them comfortable when they are in the company of others.

 

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Many people with BPD consume alcohol, often to excess to mask their insecurity in social situations.

 

Alcohol dependent individuals with BPD express a wide-range of impulsive behaviors. These include:

 

Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED)

 

IED is an impulse-control disorder that’s characterized by the inability to resist impulses. This may lead to property destruction, serious assaults and frequent verbal aggression in the form of temper tantrums.

 

The condition results from a combination of environmental, biological, and genetic factors. Many IED patients grew up in families where verbal and physical abuse and explosive behaviors were common.

 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, IED starts in adolescence and affects someone throughout their lives. It’s one of the many impulse control disorders where a person is unable to control aggressive behaviors that violate other people’s rights.

 

An episode of intermittent explosive disorder could manifest as:

 

Treatment for Addicts With Impulsive Behavior Issues

In addition to substance use treatment, a patient needs treatment for the specific impulsive behavior condition. One general approach is behavioral therapy, where one learns to work through and better handle situations that trigger impulsivity.

 

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A combination of therapy and medication may be necessary to help people with impulsive behavioral disorders.

 

Healthcare providers may use several medications to treat impulse-related severe conditions. They recommend a dopamine agonist, opioid antagonists, mood stabilizers, and antidepressants for treatment. Antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors can also help treat IED and other impulse-control disorders. Methylphenidate or amphetamine and dextroamphetamine treat ADHD.

 

Family therapy is also an effective treatment for impulse behavior. This is especially true since the roots of severe impulsive behaviors may stem from the family environment. And in some cases, the impulsive behavior also hurts other members of the family. Family therapy can help address both of these issues.

 

A concerned Reddit user posed a question about a bizarre thing that had happened to him after using molly. He bit his cheeks and lips without even noticing. “The next thing I know, my lips got huge, puffy, and swollen as though I had a disease,” he added.

The user wanted to know why he bit his lips that bad and whether there was anything he could do to prevent it from ever happening again. This ignited all manner of responses from users, with most of them suggesting that it was a common side effect of using Molly. “Salt water gargle for the inside of the mouth, and Vaseline for the outside. Neosporin, if they are really bad, and a binky, aka pacifier for next time,” one comment read.

This comment caught my eyes. All along, I thought pacifiers were for kids. As it turns out, people use them when they go out partying. Partly for fashion, but mainly as a safety measure.

Here’s how.

MDMA users don’t just deal with euphoria and decreased inhibitions. They also experience lip-chewing, jaw clenching, and tooth grinding, which are synonymous with a condition called bruxism. So, they wear "binkies" or pacifiers to raves, or discretely chew gum, to avoid destroying the soft parts of their mouth.

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Pacifiers, glow sticks and vapor rub are common staples at raves. Now you'll understand why.

Why do ravers grind their teeth? 

Bruxism is a reflex action triggered by a discrepancy between a person’s perceived ‘optimal bite’ and their actual bite. It generally affects people when they are sleeping, and in 70% of cases can be as a result of increased stress and anxiety.

Sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, are also common causes of bruxism. According to experts, sleep apnea arises from the micro-arousal of the sympathetic nervous system. This triggers an increase in one’s heart rate, brain activity, respiratory rate, and eventually rhythmic masticatory muscle activity that makes them grind teeth.

However, most ravers don’t grind their teeth because of stress, anxiety, or sleep apnea. They do so because of the recreational drugs that they use. These drugs are common in clubs, dance parties, and music festivals. Ravers grind because the drugs trigger the endocrine system to release chemicals into their bodies. Among these chemicals are serotonin in high levels and dopamine, norepinephrine, and noradrenaline in low levels. The latter is most likely to result in jaw muscle compulsory straining and clenching.

Drugs like cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, and meth are central nervous system stimulants. Their mechanism of action bases on the brain’s neuronal transmitters, which are critical for functions that involve sleep cycle, memory, learning, hormone regulation, body movement, and so on. They also trigger motor disorders that cause bruxism. Ecstasy causes the most concern when it comes to severe awake and sleep bruxism.

Does the environment of a rave make a difference?

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Being around bright lights, loud music and friendly faces can increase serotonin levels, which can make you more likely to grind your teeth.

Ravers are likely to get so high and grind their teeth even more compared to those who use recreational drugs like MDMA at home. MDMA releases serotonin. But the brain produces even more serotonin to respond to external stimulation. So, when a person goes to an electronic dance music event or a rave scene, his or her brain produces more serotonin because of the environment, lights, music and community (talk about peace, love, unity, and respect culture). The excitement is more than what they’d experience at home with house music and less crowd. Besides, there is a higher chance of mixing other psychoactive substances into Molly or ecstasy, which increases muscle tension.

The effects and symptoms of bruxism 

Many ravers will tell you about their sour tongue, lacerated insides of the cheeks and aching jaw after a night out. This is because the rave culture involves the use of psychedelic drugs, among other substances that affect the mouth.

While ecstasy teeth clenching isn’t inherently harmful, dentists express concern because users often report extended dry mouth as a result of reduced saliva production after using. Add that to bruxism, dehydration from dancing and possible consumption of soda, and the potential of teeth damage multiplies.

Besides, bruxism triggered by ecstasy can become chronic. Although the effects of use may wear off in two days, some patients may continue grinding for months after use. The most common symptoms of bruxism include:

Headaches and facial pain often go away when the grinding stops. But tooth damage only occurs in severe cases and may require treatment.

Treatment options for teeth grinding

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A simple child's pacifier became a fashion statement, because ravers would use them to stop grinding their teeth.

Pacifiers and binkies

Pacifiers were a favorite of rave fashion back in the 90s when ravers did a variety of drugs in one go and tended to grind their teeth down to the gum. The paraphernalia provided them with something to chew on and also served as a fashion statement. Today, pacifiers are used to protect the teeth and cheeks from the effects of drugs used to enhance the rave experience. A pacifier helps those who chew really hard by protecting them against chewing their lip, locking the jaw, or and having jaw pain.

Mouth splints and mouth guards

Mouthguards and splints work the same way as pacifiers. They create a physical barrier between the upper and lower teeth, thus preventing them from damage. Mouthguards and splints balance out the pressure across the jaw and can minimize any grinding noises.

Quit using drugs

The best way to treat ecstasy-triggered bruxism is to quit using it altogether. Since the condition usually happens after use, it is a great idea to stop using it. Ravers can find another way to make merry while clubbing, that doesn’t cause harm.

Medication used for grinding teeth?

Medications aren’t always very effective in treating bruxism. But doctors prescribe muscle relaxants, and stress or anxiety medication. Sometimes, they administer Botox injections to help those with severe bruxism who don’t respond to other treatments.

A muscle relaxant weakens the muscle enough to minimize the effects of clenching and grinding, but not so much as to prevent proper use of the jaw muscle for eating. Stress and anxiety medications, on the other hand, help address stress and other emotional problems that may be causing the bruxism.

When a loved one goes through the tough recovery journey and comes out on the other side sober and clean, there’s a lot to feel good about. However, the joy almost always comes with the fear of relapsing. After winning the difficult battle against substance abuse, it can be heart-wrenching to imaging that the victory may not last forever. But the reality is that the recovery from addiction seldom goes as planned. Many patients slide back to their old habits of using, so much so that relapse (although dangerous) is considered a normal part of the recovery journey. If you or a loved one has relapsed recently, please understand, it is not a failure.

No matter how diligently one pursues their recovery or how committed they are to lifelong sobriety, there’s a chance that they will relapse at some point. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the relapse rates for addiction mimic those of other chronic diseases like asthma, hypertension, and diabetes.

According to the study, relapse rates for people treated for substance use disorders are 40-60%, which can be compared with those for people treated with asthma, 50-70%, and hypertension, 50-70%. Understanding how relapse happens is critical to preventing relapse because the patient learns to identify the signs (or triggers) and course-correct before they begin using again.

What is a relapse? 

Relapse is a normal part of recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. It occurs when symptoms of a condition reappear after a time with no symptoms. According to the Marlatt and Gordon model, relapse starts with a high-risk situation that’s accompanied by a poor coping response. When this happens, the patient experiences decreased self-efficacy and becomes more prone to a lapse, or one-time use of the substance. For some patients, a lapse comes with a sense of failure or guilt about using again. They feel that they’ve broken some personal expectation or moral law, and assume that alcohol or drugs will lift the negative feelings.

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If you or a loved one has relapsed recently, know that you are not alone. There should be no shame associated with a relapse. There are many people who understand what you're going through and they're willing to help.

Unfortunately, when relapse happens, many people – especially those around the patient – assume that treatment did not work, or that the patient lacks the willpower to stay sober. But a successful treatment for substance use disorder needs continual assessment and modification. Relapses along the way don’t indicate failure; they only signify that addiction treatment needs to be adjusted, changed, or reinstated.

What happens after someone has relapsed? 

When a person with substance use disorder slips back to their old habits, it doesn’t mean they failed. It means they have to try again and continue to practice healthy habits. In case the relapse was an isolated incident, and the patient is committed to adjusting or examining their recovery care plan, they may not need to go to an inpatient drug rehab. They may only need a supervised medical detox to overcome withdrawal. But if the patient has relapsed full swing, they’ll benefit more by going back into strict treatment programs.

Relapse comes with an increased risk of overdose. When patients abuse substances for a prolonged period, they develop tolerance, meaning they no longer respond to the substance in the way they did in the beginning. So, it takes a higher dose of the substance to get the same effect as when they first used it. Tolerance reduces with treatment.

If the recovering patient relapses and uses the same dose as they did before treatment, they are at a very high risk overdosing, which can be fatal.

Long-term inpatient drug treatment should address relapse and prevention

Finding a safe living environment that removes access to substance and negative influences is the best way to address relapse. Long-term inpatient treatment facilities provide residential treatment options for relapsing patients who need intensive levels of substance use treatment. This extended care options are often provided outside of hospital settings and run anywhere from six months to 12 months or more. And while some treatment centers have structured length of stay, others only allow the patient to graduate when they are ready to do so.

A high-intensity rehab program may be the best option for patients experiencing severe addiction, chronic relapses, among other situations that can benefit from prolonged treatment. Most long-term inpatient rehabilitation programs focus on creating a safe and steady environment that encourages sober living. It helps patients to heal from social damage resulting from addiction. Some addiction treatment programs are better than others. Do some research on ethical drug rehab facilities before you make the final decision.

Benefits of long-term residential care 

Structure is one of the biggest benefits of residential care. Relapse can consume a patient’s life, create instability in their family, job, or school, and deplete their self-worth. The robust structure of long-term treatment facilities can help a patient regain a sense of responsibility, confidence, and ability to plan and carry out vital goals that support sobriety.

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Finding the right kind of help is crucial in maintaining sobriety. There are many different options out there.

Throughout the course of treatment, the patient’s day will include activities and care that are designed to help them achieve their goals. Patients have 24-hours access to support from fellow peers and trained addiction specialists. They have time to interact, meditate, and even join peer support meetings. Patients can also be part of self-help groups, which play a significant role in building accountability, confidence, inspiration, and a sense of acceptance.

Long-term centers approach treatment from the idea that no patient is similar to another, and will, therefore, have different paces of recovery and coping. Often, these facilities will adjust the length of treatment according to how well a patient is recovering. Those who have a hard time may have to spend more time in the facility – but the result is often worth it.

Most inpatient treatment centers provide incredible support for physical health, particularly when it intertwines with mental health. Patients can expect exercise, nutritional therapy, and information on these two influences the mood and overall health. Since the aim of in-house therapy is to arm patients with tools to manage their happiness and quality of life without alcohol or drugs, this information is critical in long-term recovery.

There’s also the aspect of easy access to transformative treatments and therapies while in long-term addiction facilities. These programs give patients enough time to learn and be able to cope with exposure to drugs, stress, and other triggers without a likely relapse.

Is long-term inpatient drug treatment effective in addressing relapse?

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The road to recovery may be a long one. Your journey will have some bumps along the way. Stay the course.

As you may have realized from this article, addiction treatment is not all about ending addiction. It involves helping the patient resolve the complex underlying issues (stress, mental health issues, peer pressure, unstable home) that caused the addiction in the first place. It’s about helping the patient uncover the true meaning and purpose in their life, and regain a sense of fun and joy devoid of drugs or alcohol.

Long-term residential drug treatment centers or therapeutic facilities, as they are commonly referred to, are ideal for relapsing patients. Unlike short-term rehab, long-term rehab continues treatment until the patient is ready to carry on – when they’re stable and able to fit back into society. These facilities help relapsing patients change negative patterns of behavior and thinking and develop strategies, skills, and techniques they require to combat cravings, reduce stress and cope with other powerful forces to enhance the chances of successful recovery. These centers also address disorders (depression, schizophrenia, bipolar, anxiety or conduct disorder, etc.), that often co-occur with addiction to treat the patient holistically.

Individuals who struggle with addiction suffer from psychological, emotional, behavioral, nutritional, and physical issues. They are also prone to a range of severe health conditions like damage to the skin, brain, heart, lungs, liver, and even teeth.

Although many people assume that dental health isn’t as critical as that of heart or other major organs, the link between addiction, dental illness, and life-threatening conditions is undeniable. Oral health issues, especially when left untreated, can lead to other more critical conditions.

Review of Health Effects and Care by the National Institute of Health indicates that oral health issue is one of the most prevalent addiction-related comorbidities that need more attention by both policymakers and clinicians. Individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs) have more oral health problems than the general population but are less likely to receive care. This is because they spend most of their time intoxicated or trying to find more drugs. Dental visits or personal hygiene are often the least of their worries.

How drug use affects the teeth

Drugs like heroin, methamphetamine, ecstasy, cocaine, and marijuana can cause teeth and gum problems. In most cases:

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Even the simplest thing, like brushing your teeth can be neglected while in an active addiction to drugs.

Many individuals who abuse drugs have some form of teeth deformity. Even the public health advertisement shows that meth abuse harms the teeth. But like most people, you may not have the slightest idea of how the damage happens, how quickly it occurs, or the type of drugs that affect the teeth. So, here’s a list of common drugs and how each one of them can affect your dental health.

Different drugs and their effects on teeth

Opioids and opiates

Regular use of opioids and opiates can restrict the production of saliva and dry out oral tissues. Saliva naturally lubricates the mouth and keeps tissues moist. It also clears any leftovers from the gumline and between teeth. Most importantly, it regulates oral acids and bacteria that destroy enamel and cause decay. Again, opioids reduce pain, which makes it hard for users to detect changes in their gums and teeth. Studies reveal that some users apply opioids directly into the gums and teeth to dull dental pain. Unless it gets out of hand, they won’t seek professional help.

Club drugs 

Club drugs like MDMA, ecstasy, K2, and molly cause users to grind their teeth, resulting in wear and tear of the enamel. In several studies, 93-99% of club drug users experienced a dry mouth. This dryness can persist for up to 48 hours after use – or even longer after a higher dose. Club drug users turn to soft drinks (which are acidic and sugar-rich) to relieve dry mouth, dehydration, and hyperthermia from vigorous dancing. Add that to reduced saliva secretion and buffering ability, and the rate of tooth enamel erosion will skyrocket. Again, club drug users report vomiting and nausea as a side effect, which could also increase erosion of the teeth.

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Many drugs can cause "cotton mouth". Saliva is an important weapon your body has to fight tooth decay.

Methamphetamine (Meth)

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), a survey on 571 meth users revealed 96% had cavities, 58% had untreated tooth decay, and 31% had six or more missing teeth. Meth causes serious oral problems commonly described as “meth mouth,” – which presents as extensive gum disease and tooth decay. Once the harm begins, it is near impossible to reverse the effects and, in many cases, results in multiple tooth extractions. What’s more, meth rots teeth very quickly. Meth dries up the saliva, making the teeth more susceptible to decay and cavities. It also causes users to grind their teeth due to stress. Additionally, meth makes one thirsty and leaves them craving for sweet drinks. Sugar feeds bacteria that harm tooth enamel – a process that’s aggravated when there’s no saliva.

Cocaine (Coke)

Coke users experience an increased rate of tooth decay for a range of reasons: first, the powder is an acidic salt with a low pH (4.5). When applied to the oral or nasal route, it mixes with saliva and raises its acidity levels. This mixture is harmful to enamel as well as the hard dentin tissue underlying the enamel. Secondly, cocaine may cause transient chorea, a movement disorder that manifests in mouth and jaw-related muscle spasms that mimic a strange smile or grinding the teeth. Teeth grinding causes wear and tear and may result in damage to the jaw, surrounding gums, and the enamel.

Marijuana and tobacco 

Smoking cigarettes or marijuana cuts oxygen supply to the bloodstream causing infected gums not to heal. Gum disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. Smoking also leads to dry mouth. Marijuana use is associated with cannabinoid hyperemesis, a condition that causes vomiting. When one vomits regularly, he or she exposes the teeth to stomach acid that causes decay and cavities. Tobacco, on the other hand, can cause bad breath, gum disease, and damage. According to research, smoking may account for about 75% of periodontal disease in adults.

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Many in addiction recovery have neglected their oral hygiene for far too long. Visiting a dentist is a crucial early step in your overall recovery.

Finding help for your addiction

Substance use is detrimental to one’s overall health. If you or a loved one is suffering from drug addiction, it’s best to seek treatment and rehabilitation. Although some dental health concerns like enamel degradation, cancer, and tooth loss cannot be reversed, there’s still plenty that can be done to help restore a healthy mouth and smile. Rehabilitation facilities will also help treat addiction and any co-occurring disorders that contribute to user’s difficulty in maintaining their oral health.

D.A.R.E., the anti-drug campaign, was designed to teach learners about the dangers of drug use, arm them with social skills to resist peer pressure to explore, and help them feel that saying no is socially acceptable. Resistance and self-esteem were at the core of D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program). Through the 80s and 90s, it expanded from a small local program to a national campaign against drug use. At its peak, D.A.R.E. was adopted by 75% of schools in America at the cost of approximately $125 per child.

But see, there was only one problem. D.A.R.E .did not work

The approach made sense on the surface and was widely embraced by teachers, parents, and policymakers. But as it turns out, the program did little or nothing to fight drug abuse in youth. In some cases, it only made things worse. A 2009 meta-analysis of 20 controlled studies by two statisticians revealed that those who participated in the D.A.R.E. program were just as likely to abuse substance as those who got no intervention. But more disturbingly, other studies indicated that some learners were more likely to abuse substances if they passed through the program.

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While it was perhaps well-intentioned, D.A.R.E. did not produce positive results in stemming the tide of drug abuse in the United States.

If you were among the millions of students who took part in the D.A.R.E. program between 1983 and 2009, you might be surprised to learn that experts have repeatedly proven that it didn't work. Despite being one of the most widely used drug abuse prevention programs targeted at school-aged students, it did not make you any less likely to abuse drugs or turn down the offer to abuse drugs from friends. The catchy "Just Say No" slogan that has served to keep the D.A.R.E. program distinguishable among learners seemed to be just that – catchy as studies show these words may not hold up under a microscope.

History of the D.A.R.E. program

D.A.R.E. is the most popular drug use prevention program in the U.S. (and the world). The original D.A.R.E. program, which was latched on Nancy Reagan's mantra "Just Say No," was created in 1983 as a joint effort between the Los Angeles Unified School District (L.A.U.S.D.) and Lost Angeles Police Department (L.A.P.D.) to end the recurring cycle of substance abuse, related criminal issues, and arrest. The curriculum's core elements were skill training, resistance, and self-esteem building for elementary school students. D.A.R.E. created and implemented a middle school and high school curriculum in 1984 and 1989, respectively.

D.A.R.E. took off quickly. Communities understandably wanted to ensure their kids led a drug-free lifestyle. It reached about 6 million learners in the first year at the cost of $750 million. It even expanded to other parts of the country (and globe) with funding support from the Safe and Drug-Free Schools, Communities Act of 1994, Department of Justice and other organizations. According to a National Institute of Justice report, 52% of school districts nationwide had adopted the D.A.R.E. program in one or more of their schools in 1994.

But it didn't take long for research to show that the "Just Say No" approach wasn't working. By the early 90s, multiple studies revealed that D.A.R.E. did not influence its graduates' choices regarding drugs and alcohol use. The effort to ignore vast reviews about the program came to a climax when the Institute of Justice accessed the program in 1994 and rendered it ineffective, but failed to publish the findings. In that decade, the program was placed under scrutiny by the U.S. Surgeon General Office, Department of Education, and the Government Accountability Office. These evaluations saw the transformation of D.A.R.E. into an evidence-based curriculum, Keepin' It REAL, which was launched in 2011.

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Throughout the greater part of 30 years, D.A.R.E. has been in place across the United States. It did nothing but push children away from the rest of society, if they were to experiment with drugs or alcohol.

Overall efficacy

Proponents say that the program has helped prevent drug use among students. They argue that D.A.R.E. enhances social interactions between students, police officers and schools and that it's the most prevalent drug abuse prevention program. Opponents, on the other hand, use evidence to show that the program is ineffective at preventing students from abusing substances. They contend that the program makes students ignore legitimate information about the dangers of drugs and that it's even linked to increased drug use.

In the 1990s, different polls started to show a reduction in the use of cocaine, L.S.D., methamphetamines, and marijuana. But opponents argue that the program – which condemned illicit substances – might have made the survey participants be more guarded and thus less likely to open up about using. Again, between 1991 and 1995, there was a 92% increase among 8th graders who had used marijuana and a 59% increase in illicit drug use among high school seniors. According to opponents, this is too big a number for a program that works. The war on drugs didn't manage to prevent declining life expectancies and record numbers of overdoses either.

The results of 30 other similar studies indicate that the program didn't prevent students from abusing substances in the short-term, or later on in life. A study produced alarming results with graduates showing a 29% increase in substance abuse and a 34% rise in tobacco use. But the most disheartening research done on the D.A.R.E. program was one that for over ten years. Participants indicated their drug use statuses when they were 10, and then 20 years old. The results showed that those who finished the program were no less likely to drink alcohol, use illegal drugs, or succumb to peer pressure than their counterparts who never went through the program. What's more, participants who took part in the program said they struggled with low self-esteem later in life.

The weakness of the D.A.R.E. program

The weakness of the program, as many studies point out, was the simplicity of its message – and its alarming claim that “substance use is prevalent.” Students don’t respond well to exaggeration, and both the “Just Say No” mantra and panic implied in the drug-fighting campaigns were pushing the kids away. At the same time, some researchers suggest that by making the drugs seem to be everywhere or widespread, the program might push kids with mental conditions (like anxiety or stress) towards drugs.

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The D.A.R.E. program was a historic failure, by any measure. We still have much to learn about the reasons people turn to drugs or alcohol, and why it becomes a major problem for some.

Moving into the future

In 2001, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awarded a $13.7 million grant to develop and test the "Take Charge of Your Life" (T.C.Y.L.) program. The pilot study that ran for eight years examined T.C.Y.L.'s effectiveness in empowering students to not act on their desire to use alcohol and illegal drugs. Findings revealed that D.A.R.E.'s T.C.Y.L. coursework had varying effects for students. Students who had used cannabis by the 7th grade were highly unlikely to use it by 11th grade, compared to those in the control group. The study also uncovered that D.A.R.E.'s curriculum resulted in a 3 to 4% increase in cigarette and alcohol use among 11th-graders who never used in 7th grade, compared to those who never joined the program.

Based on the results of T.C.Y.L., D.A.R.E. transitioned to a brand new, and promising coursework called Keepin' it REAL. This program encourages learners to "Refuse offers to use drugs, Explain why they don't want to use, Avoid situations where drugs are used, and Leave situations where drugs are used (REAL). It encourages them to lead a safe and responsible lifestyle. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there were no concerns, adverse effects, or unintended consequences with the Keepin' it REAL program. The Department of Justice, in a 2012 review of the new program, said it was promising as it seemed to lower marijuana and alcohol use, and improves resistance skills. However, the report also noted that positive outcomes usually fade over time.

 

Several studies have shown a strong correlation between substance abuse and mental illness. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, many people with mental health conditions develop substance use disorders (SUD), and vice versa. The incidences tend to co-occur (also called comorbidity or dual diagnosis) more often than what could be attributed to chance.

While mental health issues don’t cause drug addiction or vice versa; they can exacerbate the symptoms. It is not uncommon for individuals to self-medicate a mental illness with alcohol or drugs. Conversely, alcohol and drugs can lead to psychological issues like paranoia, delusions, anxiety, and depression or worsen existing psychiatric conditions. So, individuals diagnosed with anxiety or mood disorders are highly likely to suffer from drug abuse disorder compared with respondents in general. The same holds for those diagnosed with drug disorders as they are likely to suffer from mental disorders like anxiety or mood disorders, etc.

Please don’t take our word for it

A past NIH study showed that certain protective factors don’t exist among those with severe mental illness. Individuals with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, for instance, have a higher risk for drug use. Multiple national population surveys suggest that about 50% of those who experience substance use disorder will also experience mental illness at some point in their lives, and vice versa.

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Mental health issues and substance abuse go hand-in-hand for many people of all ages, and backgrounds.

Other reports not only support that these two disorders are connected, but also emphasize that drug use in itself is a mental illness. This is because drug use changes the brain in ways that affect the person’s hierarchy of desires and needs. The resulting compulsive behavior that overpowers one’s ability to control impulses despite the negative outcome is similar to other mental illnesses.

With that in mind, let’s now look at types of mental disorders that increase drug use.

Anxiety disorders and drug use

Anxiety disorder is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States, affecting 40 million (or 18.1%) adults age 18 and over annually. But anxiety doesn’t affect adults alone. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), these disorders affect 25.1% of children aged 13-18. When the anxiety goes untreated, these children may perform poorly, become distant socially, and abuse substances.

Comorbidity is common with substance abuse and anxiety. About 20% of individuals with mood disorders or anxiety have substance use problems. The same number of people with drug problems suffer from anxiety and mood disorders. A mental health professional told ADAA that anxiety disorder often travels in the company of drug or alcohol abuse, as those with a social anxiety disorder might abuse substances to feel comfortable and less restricted in social settings. But it robs them of knowing when to stop or accepting that they have an underlying problem that needs therapy and treatment and not substance to overcome the fear. Eventually, the drugs that serve as temporary solace (whether illicit drugs, prescription drugs, or simply stimulants) can also trigger anxiety.

Bipolar disorder and drug use

Individuals with bipolar disorder experience radical mood swings that can last for days or weeks in a row. Depending on the severity, these episodes may occur as little as a few times in a year or as often as several times in a week. In one study of people with bipolar disorders, about 60% had some history of substance misuse. And while it’s not clear why this disorder makes people more prone to alcohol and drug abuse, different studies try to connect the dots.

Some experts believe that inherited traits play a role in linking bipolar disorder to alcoholism or drug abuse. In a Mayo Clinic post, one doctor suggests that the genetic differences affect brain chemistry linked to bipolar disorder. He further noted that the same traits might also influence how the brain responds to drugs and alcohol, exacerbating the risk of substance use disorders. But there’s also the aspect of mania – where the upswing from depression lowers judgment, leading to increased substance abuse.

Other experts suggest that addiction arises when the patient uses drugs or alcohol to ease anxiety, depression, and other bipolar-related symptoms. As discussed above, abusing substances in the name of relieving the symptoms only worsens the situation. Frequent drug use can change the brain’s reward system. Over time, this mind-altering changes lead to compulsive drug-seeking behavior. Drug use can also cause brain changes that lead to bipolar disorder.

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Many adults battle depression and other types of mental health issues on a daily basis.

Depression and drug use

Depression is another mental disorder that frequently co-occurs with drug use. Like other mental illnesses, the relationship between drug use and depression disorders is bi-directional. Depressed individuals may abuse substances to uplift their mood or escape from feelings of despair or guilt. However, substances like alcohol (which is a depressant) can increase the feelings of fatigue, lethargy, hopelessness, or sadness. On the other hand, people can feel depressed once the effects of alcohol or drugs wear off, or when they struggle to deal with the way addiction has affected their lives.

Depression is like a gateway to substance abuse. Approximately one-third of those with major depression go on to have alcoholism problems. People struggling with depression often have a hard time giving up drugs or alcohol because it can worsen depression. Some who quit cold turkey are bombarded with withdrawal symptoms that are difficult to bear, causing them to relapse.

Schizophrenia and drug use

Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness in which people interpret reality abnormally. This brain disorder makes it hard for people to distinguish the imaginary from reality, affecting about 1% of all Americans, approximately two million adults. Patients often are unable to respond to different social situations in an appropriate emotional way. This leads to strained relationships with family and friends.

An estimated 50% of those suffering from the condition have a history of substance misuse. Often, these people engage in alcohol or drug abuse to self-medicate or relieve feelings of depression and anxiety. Drug and alcohol are environmental triggers for schizophrenia. A person with existing genetic risk factors for the condition can activate it after prolonged substance abuse. Using illicit drugs like cocaine, amphetamines, or marijuana heightens schizophrenia symptoms or make them worse.

Schizophrenia and substance abuse disorders have similar symptoms, which explain why people often confuse one for the other. Unfortunately, this only makes it even harder to diagnose the condition or co-occurring illnesses.

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Self care is important when dealing with a dual-diagnosis or co-occurring mental disorder.

Conclusion

It suffices to say that mental disorders and drug use are two sides of the same coin – you cannot address one and ignore the other and expect a successful outcome. That’s why dual diagnosis patients enroll in integrated treatment programs that address both problems simultaneously. Otherwise, untreated mental disorder symptoms can cause the patient to be unable to remain sober and clean. Untreated drug use, on the other hand, can make mental disorder treatment ineffective.

Struggling With Addiction 2020 © All Rights Reserved
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