Arizona Addiction Recovery Center Phoenix & Scottsdale, AZ Fri, 29 May 2020 18:07:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Arizona Addiction Recovery Center 32 32 All About Schedule IV Drugs Fri, 29 May 2020 18:07:11 +0000 The United States mandated the Controlled Substance Acts or CSA as a drug policy, under which the manufacture, use, possession, importation, and distribution of substances are regulated. Under the said Act, it is stated that all substances that are regulated in some way under federal law must be put into five schedules. These substances can be prescription medications and even illegal ones, are all part of the said act. Some of these drugs regulated are those that belong to Schedule IV drugs. 

What Types Of Drugs Are They?

Schedule IV drugs are substances or chemicals that are defined to be drugs with a low potential for abuse and at the same time risk of dependence. Medicines in this classification can and are abused or can be addictive or create dependency but not as much as those in Schedule 1, 2, and 3. Among the best examples of drugs in this schedule are:

  • Xanax
  • Soma
  • Valium
  • Ativan
  • Talwin
  • Ambien
  • Tramadol


Xanax is a benzodiazepine (alprazolam) that affects the chemicals of the brain that causes anxiety in an individual. It is mainly used to treat anxiety disorders and anxiety caused by depression. Xanax is also used in treating panic disorders with or without fear of situations and places that cause feelings of helplessness, panic, and embarrassment. 

This drug may be habit-forming and can cause addiction, overdose, and death if misused. Taking Xanax with alcohol and other drugs can cause drowsiness or slow breathing. 

Side Effects:

Taking Xanax needs precaution as this can cause an allergic reaction. If you have hives, swelling in the face, lips, throat, and tongue, call emergency services immediately. If you have the following signs and symptoms, call the doctor right away:

  • Seizures
  • Lightheadedness or feelings of passing out
  • Hallucinations
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • An increase in energy 
  • Lack of sleep
  • Double vision
  • Being talkative, agitated or hyperactivity
  • Racing thoughts
  • Jaundice or yellowing of the eyes, skin

Adults may experience longer side effects of Xanax. Elderly who take benzodiazepines are prone to accidental falls and other injuries. Some of the most common side effects of Xanax include drowsiness and light-headedness. It is important to call your physician right away if you experience other side effects than the ones listed above. 


Soma or carisoprodol is a drug that blocks pain sensations in the muscles between the nerves and the brain. It is a muscle relaxer and is used together with physical therapy and rest to treat any skeletal muscle conditions like injury or pain. It must be used for a short period only, usually around 2 to 3 weeks. This is because there is no evidence of it being effective in long term use and it is also because most skeletal muscle injuries only last a short time. 

Side Effects:

In case you have more than the common side effects of this drug and they do not subside and becomes severe, call your doctor or seek medical attention immediately:

  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness or sleepiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches
  • Trouble urinating


Diazepam is an oral tablet that is a controlled substance drug available as a brand-name drug Valium. It also comes in a generic form that costs less than the original ones. In some cases, the strength of the generic diazepam is not as strong as the brand-name version. It is also available in oral solution and rectal gel. Diazepam is used to treat anxiety, symptoms of alcohol withdrawal like tremors and agitation. It is also used for skeletal muscle spasms and as an add-on treatment for certain types of seizures. In some cases, diazepam is used as part of combination therapy which means you need to take it with other drugs prescribed for your underlying condition. 

Side Effects

Taking diazepam can slow down the brain’s activity and even interfere with your motor skills, judgment, and critical thinking. It must not be taken with alcohol or other drugs that can slow your brain’s activity. Driving is also prohibited as well as operating machines. The most common side effects of diazepam include:

  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Dryness of the mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Headache
  • Inability to control muscle movements
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea
  • tremors

Mild effects may go away within a couple of days or weeks but if they grow into severe ones and do not go away after a month or two, it is best to call or see your doctor right away. 

Serious side effects of valium include life-threatening ones. If you experience the following, seek medical attention immediately:

  • Increased frequency and severity of seizures
  • Drastic changes in the brain’s activity like how you think as well as confusion, depression, slowed or slurred speech, vertigo, blurred vision, memory loss, or suicidal thoughts.
  • There are also unexpected reactions that you should watch out for like anxiety, extreme excitement, increased muscle spasms, hallucinations, agitation, and trouble sleeping. 
  • Yellowing of the sclera and skin
  • Inability to urinate and inability to hold urine.
  • A severe increase or decrease in sex drive
  • Withdrawal symptoms like tremors, abdominal cramps, convulsions, and sweating. 


Ativan (lorazepam) is a prescribed medication belonging to the benzodiazepine class. It is usually used to treat anxiety symptoms as well as insomnia and status epilepticus, which is a type of severe seizure. It is also given to patients who will be undergoing surgery to make them sleep. Ativan comes in two forms; tablet and intravenous solution which is given through injection. 

Side Effects

Ativan can cause mild or serious side effects. If the reactions are severe, it is best to seek medical treatment immediately. The most common side effects of Ativan are as follows:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Weakness

Less common side-effects are:

  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of coordination
  • Restlessness

If Ativan is taken via injection, side effects may include redness and pain at the injection. These are common reactions but if the side is swelling and itching, contact your physician right away. 

Side effects may go away within a couple of days or weeks but if there is a more severe reaction than normal, then seek emergency treatment. 

Serious side effects include:

  • Breathing problems like slowed breathing and respiratory failure.
  • Psychological and physical signs of dependence on Ativan like anxiety, body aches, depression, muscle weakness, nightmares, nausea, sweating, and vomiting.
  • Allergic reactions may also occur. Watch out for symptoms like severe rashes, hives, trouble swallowing or breathing, swelling of your face, tongue and lips, as well as increased heart rate. 
  • Suicidal thoughts are also among the severe side effects of Ativan and must be reported immediately. 


Naloxone (Talwin Nx) works by blocking certain effects of opioid medications which include the feelings of euphoria that can lead to the abuse. It is usually given to treat moderate to severe pain. 

Side Effects

Side effects of Talwin may range from mild to severe, temporary, or permanent. The most common side effects of this medication include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Constipation
  • Confusion
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness or fainting feeling
  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • A false sense of well-being
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nightmares
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Redness, swelling, pain or burning at the injection site
  • Stomach pain or cramps
  • Sleeping problems
  • Unusual weakness or tiredness


Ambien (zolpidem) is a sedative that works by affecting the chemicals in the brain which is unbalanced in people with sleeping problems. It is used to treat insomnia and comes in an immediate-release tablet to help individuals fall asleep. There is also the extended-release form called Ambien CR, which dissolves quickly to help you get the needed sleep for long hours. Since this is a prescribed medication, only your physician can decide which Ambien will work best for you, depending on your diagnosis. 

Side Effects

Some of the side effects of Ambien can range from mild to severe. Do not use this drug if you have severe allergic reactions to Zolpidem. Stop using this medication and seek immediate medical assistance if you experience the following:

  • Chest pain
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Trouble breathing or swallowing
  • Feelings of passing out

Ambien may have stronger sedative effects on older adults which can cause dizziness or severe drowsiness. 

Common side effects of Ambien include the following:

  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness during day time
  • Feelings of being “drugged”
  • Light-headedness
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of coordination
  • Stuffy nose
  • Dry mouth, nose or throat
  • Irritation
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Upset stomach
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain


Tramadol is a narcotic-like pain reliever used to treat moderate to severe pain in adults. Its extended-release form is used for the around-the-clock treatment of pain.

Side Effects

Common side effects with Tramadol include constipation, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, dizziness, drowsiness, and tiredness. It can also cause itching and sometimes headaches. Immediate medical assistance must be called if serious side effects begin to appear: 

  • Shallow breathing with long pauses
  • Blue colored lips
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Noisy breathing
  • Sighing, shallow breathing or stops breathing while sleeping
  • Slow heart rate or weak pulse
  • Feelings of passing out
  • Seizures
  • Missed menstrual periods
  • Sexual problems like decreased libido, impotence, loss of interest in sex 
  • Vomiting, nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness or severe tiredness

Call the physician if the patient shows symptoms of serotonin syndrome like:

  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Fever and sweating
  • Shivering
  • Fast heart rate
  • Muscle stiffness or twitching
  • Loss of coordination
  • Diarrhea

Are Schedule IV Drugs Dangerous?

Schedule IV drugs are made from opioids and narcotics which could produce a sedating effect. If misused, this could lead to an addiction that may be hard to overcome. While it is considered low risk for addiction, users can develop a dependence on them. If the user is found to be using or possession of these drugs illegally then they can face jail time as well as suspension of driver’s license for at least six months for their first offense. If caught on their second and third offenses, they could be jailed for at least two years. 

In conclusion, do not abuse or misuse Schedule IV drugs. Not only are you going to face rehab but you could also go to prison. Follow the doctor’s prescription and make sure to only follow the given doses. This way you avoid developing dependence and jail time. 

What is Gray Death? Thu, 28 May 2020 17:29:53 +0000 It is a known fact that drug users and manufacturers mix different kinds of drugs in order to achieve a more potent drug to use or sell. One of these mixed drugs is what many call the “gray death”. What is it made of? How does it affect your body? If you are looking for answers and general information about this drug, then this article is all you need.

Defining Gray Death

The name gray death is the name given to a street drug that popped up in Alabama, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, and Indiana back in 2016 and 2017. It contained a mixture of opioid substances like fentanyl, heroin, and U-47700 or what they refer to as “pink”. Users called this drug by its name because the combinations are strong enough to cause immediate death not only to the user but to anyone who touches it.

The chemical component of gray death varies from batch to batch which makes it even more dangerous. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that Gray Death is not a single drug but contains many different potent opioids. It is believed that this drug is the combination of whatever the drug dealer has on hand or can be a toxic combination of drugs like:

  • Carfentanil
  • Heroin
  • Fentanyl
  • U-47700 (commonly known as pink)
  • Other unidentified drugs or unnamed opioids

The name of the drug comes from its color, gray which is often compared to the color of cement or concrete. This also comes in different textures, sizes and can appear in chunks or gray powder. It is also called gray death due to its potency that even a minute contact with the drug can cause serious health problems or worse – immediate overdose.

Many experts are still struggling to understand what the effects of this drug are and what it is exactly. However, they believe that this first came out in 2012 but was in a different formulation than the ones recently discovered. One of the scariest things about this drug is that the formula itself varies from one batch to another. In fact, samples gathered in the streets of Georgia in the first half of 2017 showed different variations. This is also the reason why the experts studying this drug are baffled by its contents as well as appearance. They cannot explain how the drug was able to obtain its deathly gray color.

Gray Death Gaining Popularity Among Users

Despite its danger, gray death is surprisingly gaining popularity in the streets. Since it is powerful and cheap, this drug can be sold for as little as $10 and many manufacturers can make it with whatever ingredients they have; that’s one quick way to make money.

Another reason why gray death is becoming popular is that foreign manufacturers can quickly evade the US drug laws by simply changing their formulation. They can make it fast and send them as quickly as possible. This is also the reason why gray death tends to get more and more potent, thanks to the ever-changing components done by many manufacturers. Despite the dangers it poses, many opioid addicts are still enticed to use this drug mainly because of its ability to produce a high that is unlike any other. Unfortunately, this can also turn deadly real quick if the user is not careful.

Side Effects of Gray Death

It can be consumed through the most typical drug routes. A user can inject the drug, smoke it, snort it, and even consume it orally. However, there are serious side effects when this is consumed. The main goal is to gain the euphoric effects of opiates but there are also lethal and depressive effects that could take over fast if the user is not careful. Among the common side effects of gray death include:

  • Cold clammy skin
  • Dizziness
  • Heart failure
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Shallow breathing

If the person shows these signs, it’s best to call emergency services immediately. These are the signs of an opioid overdose:

  • Bluish tint on the skin
  • Clammy skin
  • Excessive sweating
  • Lowered body temperature
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Unresponsiveness or loss of consciousness

In some cases, reports have been noted that gray death could be resistant to naloxone (Narcan) which is why it is important to call emergency personnel right away. Most people who are affected by this drug are those who consume gray death and ones that are addicted to opioids. Not only that, those who treat the victims can also become victims of gray death if they do not handle the drug carefully.

First responders like law enforcement officers and EMTs are the ones most at risk if they ever come into contact with it. It. Since gray death is synthetic opioids, they can be easily absorbed through the skin or be can inhaled without their knowledge. There have been reports of overdosing on gray death even with minimal contact and so it is crucial that they know what to do with it upon recovery.

Gray Death is a Deadly Drug

Gray death has the potential to be the deadliest drug found in the streets today, thanks to its main components (fentanyl, carfentanil, and U-47700). Since it is done differently per batch, any person can die within minutes upon contact. The overdose cases and fatalities of this drug are also rising however, the exact numbers are impossible to pinpoint. Testing for the presence of gray death may not also be seen especially since synthetic opioids have been added in small doses, the traces cannot be detected when tested.

Fortunately, there are some tools and methods used in reversing heroin overdose. These can be used to reverse a gray death overdose but the process is challenging. Gray death overdose requires multiple doses of naloxone (Narcan), in some cases, 10 doses but it can also be a problem if first responders do not have enough amount of Narcan at hand. In some cases,  “naloxone resistance” with gray death is possible, this means that the individual may not be able to survive a gray death overdose even with Narcan available since their body may be resistant to it.

Narcan doses will also not be as effective if non-opioid drugs are in the mixture. This means if the person has amphetamines, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, cocaines, and other non-opiates combined with gray death in their system then Narcan will not work as first remedy. This is why gray death is considered to be a very potent drug with deadly side effects.

Demographics Vulnerable To Addiction Tue, 26 May 2020 17:39:32 +0000 Anybody can develop an addiction regardless of who they are, their race, social status, beliefs, or gender. However, it can be difficult to digest as to why some demographics are more prone to it than others and despite having morals or being raised in a good family, there are plenty of factors that could increase their chances of becoming an addict. Factors like medical history, genetics, environment, and others are among those that contribute to developing an addiction. These can all influence the abuse in many ways and the more an individual is exposed to it, the more likely they will become dependent on drugs and alcohol.

The Most Affected Individuals

Although addiction is a disease that affects all demographics, there are specific groups of people who are more vulnerable to addiction than others. Knowing which demographic is more at risk can help you become proactive in avoiding triggers or situations that could lead to more drug use. 

The male gender

It has been suggested that men can develop addictions more quickly than women do. According to research, young men ages 18 to 24 years old are most likely to abuse drugs. Caucasian men are also most vulnerable to abuse drugs compared to African Americans. It has also been discovered that men have higher chances of becoming addicts than women as there are far more men in rehabilitation centers and programs compared to their female counterparts. Insecurities are also among the main reasons why men turn to drugs or alcohol. Doubting their own masculinity could lead them to cope by taking drugs and other substances which unfortunately can result in abuse and addiction. 

People with mental health issues

Individuals with mental health issues like bipolar disorder, depression, and ADHD have been found out to be more at risk of abusing drugs and alcohol. According to studies, one reason for this is that there are a large number of people that self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. This is in an effort to numb the symptoms of their underlying mental health problems. People who suffer from anxiety, depression, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorders also use drugs or alcohol as a means to cope with their condition especially if the illness is left untreated or undiagnosed. Those who do not seek medical treatment for their condition may also turn to drug abuse as a means of an easy and quick fix. In some cases, those who do receive treatment still turn to substance abuse in order to satisfy their own cravings. As a result, they develop an addiction that is hard to overcome and at the same time struggle with their own mental health issues even more. 

Teenagers and young adults

Teenagers are still at an age where they are highly impressionable so anything that their peers do, they will do as well. High school and college students are also at a stage where their brain is still forming. Unfortunately, this is also the time when they begin to express themselves and do whatever they want in order to fit in. This usually means partying to try out drinking and do drugs. However, this is not always the case but since they are at an impressionable age, teens and young adults are considered to be at risk for forming an addiction at a young age. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, individuals ages 12 to 24 years old are more likely to have addictions and substance use disorders at an early age because they are prone to experimenting and trying out new things. This also makes them susceptible to mental health disorders when they get older. 

People who suffered trauma

Trauma and stress are among the most common reasons why a person turn to drug and alcohol abuse. Individuals who experience extreme violence, stress, trauma, or abuse often turn substances in order to cope with or numb the pain they are feeling. However, this is not always the case as there are plenty of people who had overcome their PTSD without the need for using illicit substances. 


Another factor in regard to demographics that affects your vulnerability to addiction is your biological and environmental components. There are certain ethnic groups that show different reactions as well as metabolism to drugs which can affect their sensitivity. Cultural factors like the influence of drug use and societal factors also play a role in the consequences of drug use. Take African Americans and Hispanics for example, their overall drug use is relatively low compared to white Americans. This is also the reason why the consequences of drug addiction within these ethnic groups are also lower compared to others. 

People with a family history of drug abuse

Individuals who grew up in a family where their relatives struggle with addiction are also most likely to become drug dependent themselves. Although a person’s genes play a role in the development of an addiction, a person does not develop an addiction right away after birth. However, they are more prone to develop this in their later life since they already have a genetic predisposition. If this individual has poor coping skills then they also have 50% chances of developing an addiction. It is also believed that an individual whose parents are both drug addicts are more likely to develop drug dependency eight times more compared to those who don’t. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 45 to 79% of children belonging to addicted parents are most likely to abuse drugs and alcohol as well – this is in comparison to the general population. They also believe that the way children are raised and the environment they are living in also contributes to their drug and alcohol addiction as an individual. 

These demographic shows how people can be vulnerable to drug and alcohol addictions. Hopefully, this information can be used to help educate people about substance abuse so it cannot be passed down to the next generations. This growing addiction problem can be beaten if we all help each other, let us start today. 

What to Know About Schedule V Drugs Fri, 22 May 2020 20:53:01 +0000 The Drug Enforcement Administration in the United States has a classification system for all types of drugs or chemicals used to make drugs in the country. Each of them is categorized and includes a scheduled ranking for each class of substances. One of them is the schedule V drugs which are the least harmful of all substances but still have the potential to be addictive. If you are interested to know what Schedule V Drugs are, then this article will shed light on that.

What are Schedule V Drugs?

Schedule V drugs are drugs, substances, or chemicals that have a lower potential for abuse than other schedule drugs. The drugs in this category have currently accepted medical use in the United States and are generally used for anti-tussive, anti-diarrheal, and analgesic purposes only. Abusing these drugs may lead to limited psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other drugs in schedule IV. Here are examples of schedule V drugs:

  • Robitussin AC or cough preparations with less than 200mg of codeine or per 100 mm.
  • Lyrica
  • Lomotil
  • Motofen
  • Parepectolin

Robitussin Ac

Is a mixture of expectorant and narcotic mainly used to treat cough and reduce chest congestion as caused by the common cold or upper respiratory infections. It is available in generic form as well with side effects of:

  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Facial flushing
  • Headache
  • Itching
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Skin rash
  • Upset stomach
  • Warmth, tingling sensation on your skin or redness

If you experience mood swings, irregular or fast heart rate, and trouble urinating call your doctor immediately. 


This was originally FDA approved as an anti-epileptic drug or anticonvulsant. This works by slowing down the impulses in the brain of the individual that causes the seizures. It also affects the chemicals of the brain that sends signals of pain in the nervous system. IT is also used to treat fibromyalgia pain or nerve pain in patients with diabetes, spinal cord injury, and herpes zoster as well as other uses.

Lyrica can cause severe allergic reactions so it is crucial that you stop taking this medication and call emergency help if you experience having blisters or hives in your skin, swelling on your lips, face, throat, or tongue. You must also report any NEW symptom to your physician like:

  • Mood swings or behavior changes
  • Anxiety, depression, panic attacks
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feelings of agitation, impulsiveness, irritability, hostile, aggression, restlessness and hyperactivity
  • Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of hurting yourself
  • Weak or shallow breathing
  • Blue colored skin, fingers, toes or lips
  • Confusion, weakness and extreme drowsiness
  • Vision problems
  • Skin sores (if diabetic)
  • Swelling of the hands, feet, rapid weight gain
  • Unexplained muscle pain, tenderness or weakness with fever


Is the brand name of diphenoxylate and atropine which is a combination of drugs used to treat the symptoms of acute or chronic diarrhea. It was approved by the FDA in 1960 and was even used by the late President Kennedy and the Apollo Space Team. Lomotil works by slowing down the internal movements of the bowel. Common side effects of Lomotil include:

  • Confusion 
  • Dizziness or depression
  • Dryness of skin, mouth, and nose
  • Euphoria
  • Headache
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea or vomiting

However, you must alert your doctor if your diarrhea continues on for two days or if you have severe symptoms like fever. Among the signs that you should watch out for are the following:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Decreased urination and increased thirst
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty in breathing or swallowing
  • Hoarseness of voice
  • Hives
  • Numbness of arms and legs
  • Ongoing pain that radiates at the back
  • Rashes or itching
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of the face, eyes, tongue, lips, gums, mouth, hands, ankles, feet, and lower extremities.

If you are experiencing other symptoms not listed, make sure to call emergency services immediately. 


Is also used to treat diarrhea by decreasing the number and frequency of the bowel movements and slowing down the movement of the intestines. Among the most common side effects of this medication are the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiredness

Serious side effects must be reported immediately and get immediate help if you exhibit the following:

  • Stomach or abdominal pain
  • Swelling
  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Mood swings
  • Restlessness
  • Numbness or tingling sensations in the arms and legs
  • Eye pain
  • Swelling of the face
  • Redness
  • Visual changes or seeing rainbows or round lights at night and blurry vision


Is a drug used to treat mild to moderate acute diarrhea. It is also used in chronic diarrhea as a temporary symptomatic treatment until the patient’s etiology is confirmed or determined. It should not be used if the diarrhea is accompanied by bloody stool or mucus in stool and fever. The side effect of parepectolin is constipation and users must discontinue using this if the symptom becomes bothersome. 

Are These Drugs Addictive?

The abuse of schedule 5 drugs is less likely but it can also be problematic mainly because addiction to these substances is difficult to identify. This is also the reason why abuse of schedule V drugs might not exactly appear on common drug tests compared to other substances. 

Let’s say, some cough syrups are on schedule 5, this could also mean that you can readily purchase them from the drug store and even at groceries. Buying one is not a crime but if this is excessively taken and mixed with soda to create a drug called Purple Drank then schedule Vcan become an addictive substance that may cause harmful side effects, addiction, and disorientation

Addiction to schedule 5 drugs still requires support and treatment. The good news is that, detox may be less challenging compared to other illicit substances and the withdrawal symptoms are not as uncomfortable compared to schedule 1 drugs. However, in order to permanently remove this addiction, rehabilitation is needed by addicted individuals. This recovery can be achieved with the help of therapeutic methods like:

  • Individual talk therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Music and art therapy
  • Relapse prevention 
  • Acupuncture and yoga therapy

If you or someone you know has an addiction to schedule V drugs, it’s best to get help immediately. It may not be as dangerous compared to other scheduled drugs but an addiction that lingers for a long time can become one. So reach out to people who can help and put an end to this addiction now, good luck!

Substance Abuse in Men vs. Women Wed, 20 May 2020 20:54:47 +0000 For many years, the research done on addiction to drugs and alcohol has mostly been conducted on men and they were the only participants over the decades of study. However, this yielded bias medical results as there are also women who have problems with substance abuse. That all changed in 1990 when several U.S. organizations instituted requirements for women to be included in the study. Since then, experts have discovered a number of differences in addiction between men and women. 

Men and women both experience addiction and through research, it was found that they differ in many ways like how they have experienced addiction, the types of drugs they have used, the reasons for their substance abuse, the consequences it came with, and their needs regarding treatment. While these generalizations don’t always mean that the differences are true, they are there to help shed light on the growing substance abuse in both men and women. At the same time, they offer the opportunity to identify their needs so treatment can be given through analysis. 

Men Vs. Women

Men and women differ when it comes to substance addiction. There are also different factors affecting the results. According to the most recent data gathered by the National Institute on Drug Abuse as well as other organizations, here’s how men and women differ:


  • About 5 million men had reported misuse of drugs and alcohol last year. 
  • 45% of men will generally seek help with their addiction but are less likely to report their abuse of sleeping aids. 
  • Men are most likely to develop an addiction first compared to women.
  • They are also most likely to develop severe addiction disorder, exhibit a co-occurring antisocial personality disorder, and other types of substance abuse compared to women. 
  • Men tend to abuse substances more due to peer pressure.
  • When it comes to recovery, men are more likely to stabilize substance abuse at a lower dose compared to women.
  • They are more likely to experience intense symptoms of alcohol withdrawal compared to females.
  • Men are less likely to relapse and have a longer abstinence period than women.


  • Women are likely to change their substance abuse to substance dependence and addiction at a faster rate than men do.
  • They are also prone to self-medication with illicit substances. 
  • Women are likely to suffer the side effects of their substance abuse and are at risk of overdosing. 
  • They experience intense cravings and are more prone to relapse than men. 
  • 15.8 million women have been reported to use illicit drugs in that past year. 4.6 million of them have misused prescribed medications. 
  • They are more likely to seek help for their sleep medication abuse but will not seek help for their addiction in general. 
  • Women develop substance abuse more quickly compared to men. They are also more likely to have co-occurring anxiety disorders and experience more panic attacks compared to men. 
  • Nicotine patches for those who have tobacco addiction do not work well for women. 

Reasons for Substance Abuse

Men and women have different reasons for using substances. Both genders have different causes as to why they become addicted to substances. Here’s what we found out:


Men are more likely to use substances in order to enhance positive feelings. They are also more likely to use drugs to answer their curiosity, to satisfy their cravings, and for pleasure. Coping with different situations like problems of fitting in or trouble at home are also among the many reasons why men tend to abuse substances. Men are also most likely to have a co-occurring antisocial personality disorder but this does not indicate whether or not this increases their chances of using drugs.  

Generally speaking, men have a faster metabolism. This is also one of the reasons why they tend to take more alcohol and drugs until they are intoxicated. Because of this, men take longer to develop an addiction compared to women. 


According to studies, women are more likely to focus on self-medication when it comes to their psychological problems or peer pressure. Not only that but women who have problems in relationships, experienced trauma as a child, or have trouble at home are more at risk of using drugs and alcohol. They are also known to abuse stimulants like cocaine, nicotine, and meth in order to lose weight. 

Co-occurring anxiety disorders like depression, eating disorders and borderline personality disorders are also likely to happen among many women. Not only that, but they also become intoxicated even if they have taken fewer substances which makes them most likely to develop an addiction faster than most men. Studies show that this is because men and women have different neural systems. Therefore, they both have different motivation and reward systems in the brain. 

Different Drugs Abused by Men and Women


Both men and women have more or less followed the cultural norms when it comes to the use of depressants. In the US, men are likely to abuse alcohol while women are given prescribed medications which they abuse in the long run. However, the gender gap in depressant abuse is getting smaller. A recent study showed that women nowadays are drinking and abusing alcohol at the same levels as men do. 


Alcohol is one of the most common substances abused in the US. Alcohol abuse in men is higher compared to women. About 20% of men have alcohol use disorder or AUD while 7- 12% in women. Recent studies show that women are now falling more in line with men when it comes to their drinking habits. Young adolescent females ages 12 and young adults aging 20 are believed to have higher rates of binge drinking and underage drinking than men who have the same age. 

Women, in general, weigh less than men which is why alcohol has greater effects on the female body. They are also more likely to develop diseases related to alcohol abuse even if they have only abused alcohol for a short period of time. Breast cancer can develop in some women while people with AUD are at risk of death caused by alcohol abuse. This could be alcohol-related accidents, liver and heart diseases, stroke, and even suicide. Women who are intoxicated are also more likely to engage in unprotected sex which could result in STD or pregnancy. 


Between the two genders, women are more sensitive to pain and may experience longer pain compared to men. This is also one of the reasons why they are likely to misuse prescribed opioids like oxycodone and synthetic ones like heroin to self-medicate their anxiety or pain. Not only that, but women also tend to develop a dependence on opioids faster compared to men since dopamine response in a woman’s brain is immediate. On the other hand, men are most likely to misuse opioids and can overdose fatally as a result of this abuse. In a report submitted in 2016, 27 men died per day as a result of opioid overdose compared to women. 

During the first year of an opioid use disorder, women are more likely to have a fatal overdose. This may be caused by the continuous use of opioid prescriptions alternating it with heroin injections. However, women are more likely to survive than men who abuse heroin. Women who suffer from heroin use disorder usually start their habits at a young age, abuse heroin on small doses in a short span of time, and are less likely to participate in injection drug use. These types of women report doing the abuse due to pressure from their sexual partners or social circles. 


Men abuse marijuana more than women, this is a fact. According to studies, men are three times as likely to likely smoke marijuana when compared to women. The effects on both sexes are also different; for one, spatial memory impairment is greater in women while men exhibit greater euphoria. Both genders show equal rates of marijuana treatment admissions and both equally have an underlying mental health issue. However, men are most likely to have a co-occurring substance use disorder and antisocial personality disorder while women who abuse marijuana are most likely to suffer from anxiety disorders and panic attacks. 

Methamphetamine and Cocaine

Both men and women are more or less likely to abuse stimulants but according to reports, women are more prone to using these drugs at a younger age compared to men. They also tend to feel more cravings and fall into possible relapse due to changes in their body during hormone production and menstrual cycle. It is also suggested that estrogen plays a role in the effects of stimulants in the brain. Because of this, women tend to consume these in large amounts and develop an addiction faster than men. 

However, studies found out both genders who have been abusing this drug for a span of time show similar rates of impairments when it comes to learning, academic achievement, and concentration. In addition to that, men are likely to suffer from reduced blood flow to the brain because of this abuse. 

Cultural differences also affect the addiction between men and women. Men tend to abuse meth and cocaine as part of their pleasure while women abuse these drugs to stimulate more energy and for losing weight. It is also the men who tend to switch drugs if meth is not available for them to use. 


In terms of treatment, evidence has proven that women are able to complete their treatments in a short span of time and even seek guidance after their treatment is over. However, since addiction is a chronic illness, there is no guarantee that both genders can truly recover after each treatment or therapy which is why long-term therapy is needed. Aftercare programs can help provide them with the tools and skills they need to avoid relapse. 

So whether you are a man or a woman who is addicted to substances, it is best to receive treatment that is customized to meet your needs. With research-based and compassionate treatment, recovery is very possible. 


What is Lean and How Dangerous Is It? Mon, 18 May 2020 19:10:58 +0000 Drug addicts are known for mixing different kinds of substances in order to achieve a new kind of high. One of these known mixed drug concoctions is commonly known as Lean. What is lean and how dangerous is it? If you are looking for answers, then this article is the one you need.

What is Lean?

Lean is known by many street names, such as dirty sprite, purple drank, sizzurp, and lean drink. It is a liquid substance made of prescription-strength cough medicine, soft drinks, and hard, fruit-flavored candy. Its popularity began in the 1990s but it only gained its popularity in the music scene when musicians like Justin Bieber, rapper Lil Wayne, and hip hop groups like Three 6 Mafia began using and singing about it. It was only in 2014 when Purple Drank made its way into the hip hop scene in Texas.

The harmful ingredient in this mixed medication is prescribed cough syrup which contains codeine and promethazine. Codeine is an opioid drug that is present in cough syrup and works as a suppressant, while promethazine is an antihistamine that causes sedation. If these are combined together, it could most likely lead to impaired motor functions. Codeine, if consumed in large doses can result in extremely harmful side effects. Individuals who take codeine may lose track of the amount they have consumed because lean is a liquid drink. Since lean is made with cough syrup, soda and candy, users will think that this is just some harmless concoction and therefore will consume more.

It is difficult to track the misuse of lean as the primary ingredients can only be attained through prescription. Because of this, the trend of using lean is more complicated. According to research, this is often used by celebrities and even professional athletes but it has been a common topic among tweens and teenagers these days who are now looking up how to create to concoction thinking that it is a cool drink and safe to use. 

How Does Lean Work?

Lean looks like an attractive purple drink, but when it is consumed, individuals may experience euphoria and dissociation from their bodies. This effect is often called the “swooning euphoria” which is mainly caused by the substance promethazine. This drug acts as a sedative while codeine creates that feeling or sense of euphoria. When lean is consumed, the effects can last up to 6 hours which also makes them popular among people who want the experience of being high.

This purple drink is called Lean because the person may experience similar effects of being drunk. So people literally lean on to something to support themselves once these effects take place. 

Common Side Effects

There is no actual ratio as to how users mix this drink, which is why there is always a risk of overdosing from this mixture. Promethazine is an antihistamine, sedative, and antiemetic that when used alone is not really as dangerous especially if it is prescribed by a physician. However, if it is mixed with drugs like codeine, then you have one powerful and dangerous drink. When this is taken in large doses, promethazine usually results to:

  • Drying of skin and mucous membranes
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Increased breathing and severe breathing problems
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Hallucinations 
  • Seizures

Another active ingredient in lean is codeine. This is a drug that turns into morphine when metabolized by the body. It also acts as a suppressant in prescribed cough syrups. When morphine and opioids are taken, it usually results in euphoric feelings or feelings of elation and analgesia. Among the dangerous side effects of codeine are the following:

  • Brain damage
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stops heart from beating
  • Redness of the face, neck, arms and upper chest

Both codeine and promethazine are present in Lean. Purple drank is mainly composed of multiple depressants which can synergize and cause the following side effects:

  • Coma
  • Stupor
  • Memory loss
  • Headaches
  • Restlessness
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Sleepiness or somnolence
  • Respiratory depression 
  • Hypotension
  • Sudden death

Regular intake of purple drank can also cause major health issues. Drug addicts can also experience dental decay, irregular heartbeat, weight gain, seizures, trouble breathing, and urinary tract infections.

If the user has taken other central nervous depressants like barbiturates, tricyclic antidepressants, or narcotics, the results are usually fatal. Since there is no pointing as to how much purple drank does it takes to kill a person, it is advised by experts to not take any amount of this dangerous mixture.

Signs of Lean Overdose

If you suspect someone has overdosed on purple drank, it is crucial to call emergency services right away. Among the signs and symptoms you should watch out for are the following:

  • Discoloration of the lips and fingernails, usually bluish in color
  • Difficulty in breathing, usually labored and shallow breathing
  • Skin feels cold and clammy to touch
  • Coma or unresponsiveness
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness and drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Irregular blood pressure
  • Muscle twitching
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Spasms of the intestines and stomach
  • Generalized weakness 
  • Weak pulse

Can It Be Addictive?

Codeine alone is a habit-forming opioid painkiller. This means that the more you take of it, the more prone you are to developing dependence and addiction. It is also very possible to build tolerance which can put you at risk for coma and fatal overdose. Developing an addiction is possible but it will not happen overnight. Factors like your environment, genes, underlying mental health, and frequency of use all play a role in the development of lean addiction. 

The active ingredients in Lean can remain in your body for a certain period of time. The dosage, regular intake of this mixture, age, weight, metabolism, hydration, and activity levels can highly influence the effects of purple drank in your body. However, there is no exact timeline for this drink, and experts estimated the detection of this drug in your system according to the presence of codeine. 

It can stay in your urine for 2-3 days, 24 hours in the blood, and 1 to 4 days in your saliva. If you have been taking lean for a long time, it could last up to 2-3 months in your hair follicles but it will not register within 2 to 3 weeks after using. That is why it is hard to determine the exact duration of this drug in your system if it were to be checked via drug test.

Withdrawal Symptoms 

Tolerance from lean is very much possible and when the person decides to stop using, he or she will also experience withdrawal symptoms. Among these symptoms include the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Runny nose
  • Teary eyes
  • Sweating
  • Muscle pains
  • Yawning frequently
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Diarrhea
  • Goosebumps or chills

All of these can be very uncomfortable but it can be treated if the person seeks help right away. Complications may pose a potential danger; vomiting and diarrhea, for example, can cause electrolyte imbalances in the body. Overdosing from purple drank is possible too however, your body might not have the same tolerance to it once you have decided to stop using. 

Getting Treatment

If you or someone you know has formed an addiction to lean, seek help, and consult with professional health care workers, mental health, or your primary care physician who can help refer you to a specialist. Struggling with drug addiction can be treated, depending on your needs however, you may undergo long-term addiction treatment to help you overcome these addictions. 

In Closing

Is purple drank dangerous? Yes, this is because it contains two of the most powerful drugs mixed in one liquid. There is no actual ratio used in mixing this drink either so you cannot predict the severity of the problem once the person is addicted. Seeking help is nothing to be ashamed of, in fact, it is one of the bravest decisions you can do. If you don’t want to end up in a coma or sudden death then avoid taking in this drug and get the help you need as soon as possible. Choosing life is always better than wasting it away, good luck!

Common Reasons Why Addiction Happens Thu, 14 May 2020 17:30:02 +0000 As you may now know, drug addiction is a chronic and compulsive disorder of the mind that makes the person habitually use substances in order to achieve the desired effects of the trademark high. In America, about 20 million people who were addicted to drugs and alcohol in 2013 did not receive the needed treatment for it. That being said, the number of cases of drug abuse and addiction have increased over the last few decades. But how does addiction happen? What are the Common Reasons Why Addiction Happens? Here’s what you need to know.

Risk Factors

There are plenty of misconceptions about substance abuse and why addiction happens that people still don’t understand. Generally, people think that drug abuse and addiction is a choice or a result of criminal or deviant behaviors. However, this has created a stigma among people who are struggling with a legitimate disease that has taken control over their lives. It is the same stigma that makes it difficult for them to get the help they need. There are plenty of risk factors involved in drug addiction and why it happens, but it is actually a complex medical condition that can involve a number of environmental, biological and developmental factors like the following:

Genetics or biology

Making decisions to use drugs/alcohol or not depends on the individual and this choice related to their own responsibility. However, one of the main reasons why addiction happens to people has to do with their genetics. According to research, a person’s genetic makeup actually does contribute to how susceptible a person is to develop an addiction.

Genes have something to do with the dopamine production of a person’s brain and its response to the use of psychoactive substances like drugs and alcohol. The genetic disposition of a person can tell if they can get addicted easily or not. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse or NIDA, about 40 to 60% of people are at risk for developing an addiction if genetics was the basis. But despite that, there is a continuous research going on to find out how a person’s individual physical attributes can contribute to this risk. It may be a matter of time to find out how genes can lead one to be an addict.

A family history of addiction

Besides your genes, your family background also plays a crucial part in why addiction happens. If by chance you have a history of alcohol abuse or drug abuse in the family, then it is more likely that you will develop one too. Watching family members who are alcohol and drug abusers can subconsciously affect a person. The cycle of using and not using substances can consciously or subconsciously affect a person’s judgement to start using substances, which later leads that person to experience the same cycle as their family members.

If a child grows up in a home where a family member suffers from addiction and where this addiction is normalized by the members, it is most likely that this child will also grow up experimenting with drugs and alcohol as well. In addition to that, a child will also learn negative coping skills if they grow up with parents who turn to drugs or alcohol at times when they are stressed. This kind of behavior is later learned so when their child is under stress, they may also turn to drugs and alcohol in order to cope.

Co-existing or co-occurring mental health conditions

If a person struggles with depression or anxiety then it’s most likely that they may start using drugs and alcohol as a form of self-medication, to suppress negative thoughts or to cope. This self-medication often leads to regular use of substances and misuse of prescribed medications. Once this happens, the dopamine system in the brain is compromised which can lead to the development of addiction. That is why it is important to understand if the addicted person has underlying co-occurring mental health disorder so treating these conditions can be done accordingly. Keep in mind also that these co-occurring disorders can be diagnosed or undiagnosed. Among the most common mental health disorders that could lead a person to addiction are:

Peer Pressure

Sometimes, developing an addiction does not start at home but rather among the peers or social circle of a person. This usually happens when their group of friends engage in regular substance use. A person might feel pressure to use substances in order to fit in whenever they are with friends. This can become a habit that may result in long-term substance abuse later on, and this abuse can later develop into an addiction. In other words, addiction can happen when the use of substances is highly encouraged by peers.

As tolerance to these substances take hold, the individual may increase the amount of drugs or alcohol they take, as well as the frequency of their usage. If this cycle goes on, the person will no longer feel good without using these substances.

Experimenting with substances at a young age

There’s a saying that “curiosity killed the cat” but in this case, curiosity developed an addiction. One of the main reasons why addiction is developed is based on the fact that addiction has more detrimental effects on a brain that is still developing compared to an adult brain. That being said, a young person who experiments with alcohol and drugs is likely to develop an addiction later on in their life.

According to studies, young adults who have experimented with substances before they reached the age of 18 are more prone to developing an addiction and will most likely have an underlying substance disorder by the time they reach 20 years old. It was also found that teenagers are at risk for using drugs at an early age because their brain is still developing. They are also more likely to make decisions based on rewards or feeling good rather than involved which is why young people will develop an addiction because of these behaviors.

Prescription medication abuse

A person who suffers from co-occurring disorders like anxiety and depression are usually given prescription medication in order to handle their symptoms. While these are helpful, someone healthy and has intentions of getting relief of their symptoms can be at risk for developing an addiction quickly.

Prescribed painkillers for chronic pain, post-surgery, and injury can be dangerous. They are highly addictive, and even a person who was seemingly unlikely to develop addiction based on the other factors may find themselves in trouble with these kinds of drugs. For this reason, being prescribed opioids is a common risk factor for developing addiction.

Hope is not lost

While there are many reasons why addiction is developed, there are also plenty of ways to cut off an addiction. Through responsible, research-based treatment within an accredited and trusted facility, breaking the addiction cycle is possible. Committing yourself to a treatment will help manage the causes of substance abuse and start your journey on the path to recovery. So seek out medical attention if you wish to stop using drugs or alcohol and live a sober life.

May is Mental Health Month Thu, 14 May 2020 17:09:13 +0000 May is also known as the Mental Health Awareness month. This month is dedicated to helping raise awareness and educating the public about the ongoing mental health illnesses that some people have. It is also celebrated to help those who are living with these conditions and at the same time come up with strategies to attain mental health and wellness. 

There are millions of Americans who are battling mental health and the numbers increase each year. That is why the month of May is dedicated to mental health awareness to help encourage open conversations about these conditions and at the same time implement effective and efficient methods of treatment.

Hospitals and health systems play an active role in providing behavioral health care and helping patients find available resources in the community. They also help in creating unique partnerships with different companies to help address these behavioral health issues in non-traditional ways. Many of these include innovations in the way behavioral health disorders are diagnosed or identified and treated with the help of physical and behavioral health services, changes in the inpatient and outpatient settings as well as other community partners. All of these strategies help in improving the overall value of health care as well as improvements in the outcome of patient care and total costs. 

Facts About Mental Health Illness

In an effort to clear up some issues regarding mental health misconceptions as well as promote awareness, here are important facts that you should know about. 

  • One of the leading causes of ill-health and disability around the world are mental disorders.
  • One out of five people around the world have mental health disorders. That is more than the population of Florida and New York combined.
  • Women are more likely to seek help for their mental health issues.
  • Depression can occur twice as likely in people with heart diseases compared to the general population. 
  • People who took their own lives by suicide has a 90% underlying mental illness. 
  • About 18% of Americans have anxiety disorders.
  • 6.9% of Americans suffer from severe depression. 
  • 2/3 of people with known mental disorder never seek help. Those who do receive treatments can sometimes find them ineffective.
  • There are plenty of patients who withdraw from treatment even before they have completed their therapy sessions or medications. 
  • 1/5 of adults who received mental health treatment drop out before completing them. 
  • One out of five Americans suffer or have experienced mental illness. 
  • 1 out of 25 people experience serious mental health illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. 
  • About 800,000 deaths around the world each year are due to suicide. 
  • About 41,000 people in the United States commit suicide yearly. 
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death around the world among 15 to 29 years old. 
  • Those who have been to war or have experienced a major disaster are most likely to have mental disorders. 
  • People with mental health issues are generally non-violent and can even have jobs.
  • Only 3.5% of violent acts are due to people with serious mental health illnesses.
  • Genetics, injury, physical illness, or traumatic life experiences are among the many factors that can lead an individual to have a mental illness. 
  • People suffering from mental health issues often do not seek treatment due to the stigma associated with it. 
  • Only 44% of adults who are diagnosed with mental illness are able to get the treatment they need.
  • Therapy, yoga, meditation, and holistic treatments are all helpful in treating mental health issues. 
  • Addressing trauma in children and adolescents can help prevent the development of mental health disorders. 
  • Investing in improving mental health services in low to medium income countries is not as costly. Giving $2 to $4 per capita can help save millions of lives. 
  • About $200 billion dollars is lost due to serious mental health illnesses in the United States each year. 
  • About 50.5% of adults in the US with drug and alcohol addiction also suffer from mental illness. 
  • 20% of young adults suffer from a mental health condition.
  • 1 out of 10 adolescents has experienced a period of major depression. 
  • It is twice likely that members of the LGBTQ community suffer from mental health conditions.
  • About 70 to 90% of people who seek proper treatment for mental health disorders have seen reduced symptoms in their condition. 
  • Most people with mental illnesses lead a productive life despite their mental health challenges. 

Treatment for these conditions is plentiful but no single method is able to treat everyone effectively. In fact, the best solution to cure mental health problems is through a combination of treatment like the following:


This is also known as “talk therapy”; it is a therapeutic way of treating mental illness with the help of a trained mental health professional. It is also a good way to help people who have a variety of mental and emotional difficulties. Through increasing the well-being and providing them healing, a person can benefit a lot from psychotherapy. It is also believed that 75% of those who enter this kind of treatment have seen improvements in their conditions. 

However, psychotherapy cannot be any help if it is done alone. This is why medications are paired with this therapy to treat common mental illnesses. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety, anti-psychotic, stimulants, and mood stabilizers are among the many medications that can help manage the symptoms and are highly recommended to be paired with psychotherapy. 

Case Management

Is the coordination of services for individuals suffering from mental health illnesses. A case manager usually handles and assists adults and children in getting access to the needed medical, social, educational, and other services needed by those who have mental health issues. If needed, hospitalization can also be given to the patient. This way they can be monitored, properly diagnosed, and given proper medications or treatment. 

Support Groups

These groups play an important role for individuals to unite and share their success stories and experiences regarding mental health illness. This could be through specific areas like family, grief, depression, or divorce. With the help of their counselor, members of the support group can guide each other through a shared goal of recovery. 

Complementary and alternative medicine

These are helpful to those who are living with mental health issues like insomnia, fatigue, and anxiety but want to learn coping skills to overcome their situation. Some of these alternative treatment includes exercises, relaxation techniques, yoga, meditation, and dietary supplements as part of their daily nutrition. 

Taking care of our mental health is a priority and this is a great month to take time to focus on it. If we are not of sound mind, we cannot function normally. So if you want to know more about mental health and help raise awareness, make sure to reach out to your local health groups. The more aware the people are about mental health, the more we can help others who are suffering these conditions. 

How Addiction Effects Your Health Wed, 13 May 2020 17:42:13 +0000 When we talk about addiction, the first thing that comes in mind are drugs and alcohol. However, addiction is not limited to these substances alone. Understand that, addiction is a disease that affects your behavior and overall health of certain parts of the brain and the body. When you are addicted, you can’t resist the urge to use drugs or alcohol no matter how much damage it can do to your body. 

Now drugs and alcohol are not the only substances a person can be addicted to. You can also get addicted to nicotine, painkillers, and other legal substances. Taking drugs for the first time might make you feel good but over time, this will change the chemicals in your brain. So, the longer you are addicted to these substances, the more unable you are to stop yourself from using. This can eventually lead to more physical damages and behavioral changes. So how does addiction affects your health? Here’s what you need to know.

Difference Between Abuse and Addiction

Drug abuse is using legal or illegal substances/drugs in ways that you shouldn’t do. This could be taking medication pills that are not for you or from some else’s drug prescription. Abusing drugs may help ease stress, makes you feel good, and even avoid reality but the difference with substance abuse from addiction is that, with substance abuse, you can choose to change your unhealthy habits. You can also choose to stop using these drugs and stay away from it. 

Addiction, on the other hand, is when you simply cannot stop using a substance. This can put your health in danger if the addiction lingers on for a long time. Addiction can take a toll on your finances, physical and mental health, as well as your relationships with your loved ones. The urge only gets stronger every second even if you wish to quit, so you only end up using more drugs and alcohol in the long run. 

The Effects on Your General Health

There are a wide range of long-term and short-term health effects associated with substance use disorders. Effects may also vary depending on the type of drug abused, how often it is taken, and how much is used by the individual. The person’s general health can also affect the effects of drug use. This is also because substances play a role in every organ in the body. Here are some of the side effects of drug addiction:

  • Heart conditions can occur ranging from abnormal heart rates, collapsed veins, blood vessel infections, and even heart attacks. 
  • Immune system is weakened and can increase the person’s risk of getting infections and develop illnesses. 
  • Can cause abdominal pain, nausea, changes in appetite and eventually weight loss.
  • Seizures, mental confusion, stroke, and brain damage.
  • Strain is increased on the liver which can lead to liver failure and damage. 
  • Lung problems and other respiratory problems are also very common. 
  • Memory loss, problems with attention and decision making makes living more difficult. 

Drug addiction can also increase your risk of contracting infections. The percentage of contracting Hepatitis C, HIV or Human Immunodeficiency virus, and other types of infection are high – this is usually caused by the sharing of infected needles and engaging in risky behaviors like unsafe sexual activities. Skin infections, as well as infections in the heart valves, can also occur when the person is exposed to bacteria through injecting drugs into their system. 

Effects on Your Brain

All kinds of drugs can affect the brain’s reward center, which is part of the limbic system. This is also the area that controls the mood and instinct of a person. When a person is addicted to drugs, these substances cause the brain to produce a large amount of dopamine. Dopamine is a brain chemical that helps regulate the feelings of pleasure and other emotions to flood the brain when a person feels good. When the brain is “flooded” with dopamine, the individual will feel the “high” and this feeling is usually the end result of using drugs. It is because of this euphoric feeling that many people become addicted to drugs in the first place.

Initially, these changes in the brain’s chemistry may be voluntary but it can change how a person performs and even their ability to make decisions. When drugs are used over time, intense cravings and compulsive drug use can develop. In the end, the person will develop a dependency, and can no longer function normally without taking drugs or alcohol in some cases. 

Alcohol also has different effects on the brain. For one, alcohol disrupts the brain’s communication pathways. When this happens, the person’s mood, cognitive function, and behavior change. Alcohol-induced nutrition deficiencies and brain damage can also be caused by alcohol. Not only that, but it can also cause seizures, liver failure, and damage if abused for a long period. 

Pregnant women who are exposed to alcohol can also damage the developing brain of unborn babies. It can also result in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. However, unlike drugs, alcohol-induced brain problems can be corrected if given proper treatment. Quitting alcohol for months or years can also help repair an individual’s cognitive abilities and even help restore their memory skills. 

Effects of Addiction on Behavior

It has been proven that addiction or substance use disorder can lead to a myriad of behavioral problems which can be both have long-term and short-term effects. These may include:

  • Aggressiveness
  • Addiction
  • Hallucinations
  • Impaired Judgement
  • Paranoia
  • Loss of self-control
  • Impulsiveness

Missing work, being involved in injuries and accidents are also among the consequences of drug abuse. Alcohol and drugs are also to be blamed for almost 80% of the offenses done by Americans according to research studies. These offenses include:

  • Domestic violence
  • Driving under the influence
  • Damage to properties related to drug or alcohol abuse
  • Vehicular accidents

In some cases, drug use and mental illness often co-exist. Mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia may have developed before the addiction but in some cases, these can be triggered by drug use and even worsen these conditions. 

People with underlying disorders like anxiety and depression may use drugs as a means to cope with the symptoms but it can deteriorate their disorders in the long run and even put them at risk for developing an addiction. This is also the reason why proper treatment is needed to correct both drug abuse and mental health disorders. 

In Closing

If you have been using drugs and felt like you are getting out of control, seek treatment immediately. Talk to your doctor and see what treatment options are there for you. Recovering from drug addiction can take time and there is no exact cure. However, therapies and medications can help you stop using and be drug-free. So make sure to talk to your doctor so you can figure out which is the best treatment plan for you. 

First Step Into Recovery: Withdrawal Fri, 08 May 2020 18:59:35 +0000 Recovering from drugs is not an easy road. You will experience a lot of discomfort and pain, especially during the withdrawal period. However, withdrawal is something you cannot avoid since it is part of your detoxification and recovery. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to ease the uncomfortability of withdrawal. If you are going through withdrawal right now or must do it in the future, this article can help you get through it. Here’s what you need to know. 

What is Withdrawal?

As an addict, your brain and body is used to the chemical changes made by drugs and/or alcohol. However, once these chemicals are flushed out during detox, your brain circuitry will attempt to re-adjust to normal functioning once more. Unfortunately, until it can accomplish this, you will be lacking some important chemicals in your brain while it tries to get back to normal, and it is during this time that the withdrawal symptoms will be the strongest. 

Withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the individual and the amount and type of drugs they took. The duration, type of withdrawal symptoms, and intensity of the withdrawal phase will also vary based on the drug used, method of consumption, co-occurring disorders and level of dependency

Substances like opioids, alcohol and benzodiazepines may result in very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Sometimes, it can even be deadly if the user suddenly stops using these substances. This is referred to as “quitting cold turkey,” which can be life-threatening if not treated immediately through medical detox and with the supervision of trained health care professionals. 

Withdrawal of the drugs and alcohol in the body can result in a myriad of side effects. Among of them include the following:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness 
  • Seizures
  • Nightmares
  • Nausea
  • Muscle cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Back and joint pains
  • Low or high blood pressure
  • Irregular heart rates
  • Sweating
  • Excitability
  • Fever, cold and clammy skin
  • Respiratory distress
  • Dilated pupils
  • Tingling in the extremities
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Paranoia
  • Delirium
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Hallucinations
  • Mental confusion
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Shakiness or tremors
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Sensitivity to pain
  • Disorientation
  • Muscle weakness 
  • Loss of appetite

Handling Withdrawal Symptoms

So how can you handle withdrawals during recovery if these signs and symptoms are showing? Besides being monitored by a trained health care professional, you can also do the following:

Be a part of a medical detox program

In order for withdrawal symptoms to be fully managed, it is crucial for you to attend a medical detox program. Keep in mind the withdrawal symptoms can both be an emotional and physical experience. If you don’t know how to handle the waves of symptoms, then it can be dangerous to you and even fatal if not properly treated. Studies show that 5% of people who suffer from alcohol withdrawal will experience what is called delirium tremens, which is a life-threatening form of alcohol withdrawal. Without proper care, this symptom can cause death to the person withdrawing from alcohol intake. 

A medical detox can last up to 10 days on average. During this time, the patient is monitored by healthcare professionals ‘round the clock. Some cravings or symptoms can be managed with the help of medications as well as emotional support that is provided to the patients 24 hours, 7 days a week. This is to ensure that patients have the support they need, no matter what form it may be. 

Eat a well-balanced diet 

Eating a well-balanced meal can definitely help in your fast recovery. Diet plays a big role in healing your mind and body, which is why it is essential for you to prepare a meal rich in vitamins, proteins and nutrients. This will help in keeping your brain healthy and for your body to function normally again. Keep in mind that when you were addicted to substances, the drugs and alcohol depleted the nutrients in your body. Eating the right food and drinking lots of water can help replace the nutrients you have lost. Doing this can help in your quick recovery. 

In case you have no idea what to eat or how to prepare a healthy meal, you can always ask a dietitian about the recommended diet for recovering addicts. This way you can prepare the right meal every time. 

Get plenty of exercise

Besides eating the right diet, adding an exercise routine in your daily activities can also help in your fast recovery and manage withdrawal symptoms. Exercising can help your brain release more endorphins which can also help restore its balance. It reduces your stress and tension as well as promoting better sleep. According to studies, exercising can help reduce the chances of relapsing, and at the same time decreases the cravings. 

You don’t have to do intense workouts in order to achieve this. Instead, you can try walking, running, or simple aerobic exercises to keep you stable during withdrawal. Exercising is not only beneficial for your body but also for your mental health which is why it is important that you include this in your routine everyday. 

Get enough sleep

Sticking to a sleeping schedule is also crucial during the withdrawal stage. This does not only promote healing to your body, but to your emotional health as well. When you are well-rested, you are able to think clearly, control your moods, and avoid cravings. Going to sleep as scheduled is also a good way to establish a healthy sleeping routine. It can also help in balancing your heart rate and blood pressure which helps in your recovery. So make sure to avoid watching television or being on your phone before sleeping so you can get proper rest. 

Practice meditation, stretching or yoga

Yoga and meditation have been promoted by many health experts as an alternative to alleviate any pain felt in the body. Stretching and trying yoga poses can also help in stimulating blood flow as well as blood circulation. This also relieves tension, stress and muscle ache that you might have. The use of meditation and proper breathing techniques can also help one to be more aware of their bodies and be in tune with it. So the more you practice, the more you become aware of how your body works and how you can help yourself recover faster. Relaxation techniques are also helpful in your recovery. This means learning how to slow down your thoughts and regulate your breathing in order to reduce anxiety and get rid of negative emotions. You can practice this along with yoga and meditation for better results. 

Learn how to communicate with your family, friends and therapist 

One of the best forms of therapy is talking. This can be helpful in externalizing your emotions, thoughts, and helps in alleviating emotional distress. So reach out to your family, talk to them and voice out your thoughts. You can also participate in counseling and therapy sessions so you can learn about healthy coping mechanisms, as well as turning negative thoughts into more positive ones. 

Withdrawing from drugs and alcohol is not going to be easy, especially if you have been addicted to drugs or alcohol for a long time. However, if you want to turn your life around and start clean then this is something you must go through. The good news is that you have a lot of options on how you can handle it. The only thing you have to do is to commit to your recovery so your efforts are not in vain. When this is over, you will be glad you went through it, so trust the process.