How Dangerous Are Smart Drugs?

Smart drugs are stimulant prescription medications that people use to enhance their mental performance. Smart drugs can make you feel more awake, more motivated and improve aspects of memory and learning. Like all stimulants, however, they pose serious health risks, and abusing smart drugs can lead to heart problems, psychosis, paranoia, and addiction.

Why Do People Use Smart Drugs?

Smart drugs such as dextroamphetamine (Adderall®) and methylphenidate (Ritalin®) increase the signaling of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical that produces feelings of euphoria and may enhance cognitive functions.

Doctors prescribe Adderall and Ritalin for certain psychiatric disorders like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. However, there is a growing trend of the misuse of smart drugs by healthy people without any medical need. This includes:

  • Professionals to increase their productivity
  • Older people to slow declining cognition
  • High school and college students to improve academic performance.  Research suggests that in North America, up to 25% of students may have used smart drugs

What Are The Short-Term Dangers of Smart Drugs?

While smart drugs may cause short-term improvements in brain function, they can also have uncomfortable and dangerous side effects. 

Common adverse effects include headaches, dizziness, nervousness, and insomnia, though some people have more extreme reactions. Taking smart drugs can cause psychotic episodes, extreme paranoia, and suicidal thoughts.

Taking high doses of smart drugs also puts you at risk of an overdose. Stimulant overdoses, while not normally fatal, can be extremely dangerous. You may develop a dangerously high body temperature, fast or irregular heartbeat, cardiovascular failure, and have seizures.

What Are The Long-Term Effects of Smart Drugs?

While it may be tempting to use smart drugs to help you do better in college or be more productive at work, repeatedly using smart drugs can lead to a range of severe health problems. 

Using smart drugs may lead to psychiatric disorders such as insomnia, anxiety, and depression. These conditions can have an immense impact on your mental well-being and decrease your productivity and performance in the long run. 

Repeated use of smart drugs can also lead to addiction. When you take smart drugs, it activates the reward pathway in your brain, producing urges to seek and reuse the substance. It also interferes with your ability to resist these urges. These effects may be stronger on a developing brain, putting young people at greater risk.

Addiction is a serious illness that can be devastating to your health, work, and social life. It is a chronic brain disease that causes physical changes in the brain, which can be long-lasting or even permanent. Recovering from addiction requires commitment and support, usually from a rehabilitation center or professional treatment program.

Do Smart Drugs Improve Mental Performance?

Most people misuse smart drugs to try and improve their mental performance. However, scientific research offers contradictory evidence on their effectiveness. Several studies suggest that for healthy individuals, smart drugs do little to improve most cognitive functions. 

A systematic review of studies found that Modafinil did increase wakefulness and attention, even in healthy individuals. However, it also made individuals feel more confident, making it difficult to assess its impact on other aspects of cognitive performance. 

Similarly, a study on the effects of Adderall on young people found that there was no improvement in cognitive functions such as working memory, control, creativity, and intelligence for most people. However, as with Modafinil, participants did perceive their mental skills to be enhanced. This overconfidence may hinder someone’s ability to complete tasks and work effectively, outweighing any benefits of the drug.

Smart drug abuse and addiction can cause serious damage to your health, social life, and work performance. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer our clients tools to use as they move forward in a sober lifestyle. 

Our treatment program focuses on healing the whole person and not just addiction. Our individualized recovery plans are rooted in the 12-step philosophy and provide a range of treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, art and music therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic care, and equine-assisted therapy. 

Our treatment facilities are located near the southern shore of New Jersey, allowing us to provide optimal healing and relaxation throughout your stay. If you struggle with addiction, or if someone close to you does, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information.


The Dangers of Polydrug Use

Polydrug use is when you use more than one drug at a time or mix drugs and alcohol. People usually mix drugs to enhance their effects and to experience a more euphoric high. However, mixing drugs can compound their side effects and increase the chances of an overdose, respiratory failure, or even death.

What Are the Dangers of Polydrug Abuse?

The dangers of mixing drugs depend on the combination of drugs or alcohol that you are using. While it is possible to combine some drugs safely when following a prescription, mixing drugs without medical advice or mixing illicit drugs is extremely dangerous. Some of the possible dangers include:

  • Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety
  • Liver damage and failure
  • Heart problems
  • Stomach bleeding
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Respiratory failure
  • Brain damage

Alcohol and Benzodiazepines

Mixing drugs with alcohol is one of the most common forms of polydrug abuse. In 2011, over half of all alcohol-related emergency room visits in the United States also involved illicit drugs. People often mix drugs and alcohol at parties to intensify the intoxicating effects.

Mixing benzodiazepines (benzos) with alcohol can be particularly dangerous. Both substances are central nervous system depressants that work by slowing down the brain. Taking them together compounds their effects and may lead to slow breathing, organ failure, and coma.

Alcohol and Cocaine

People often mix alcohol with cocaine to ease some of cocaine’s negative side effects like anxiety or twitching. It can also re-energize someone and make people feel less drunk.

However, using alcohol with cocaine is hazardous. It enhances the effects of cocaine, increasing its blood concentration by up to 30%. It may also increase your heart rate and cause you to behave more violently.

Combining alcohol with cocaine also produces a new chemical in the liver called cocaethylene. This drug is toxic and may lead to seizures, liver damage, and a weakened immune system.

Opioids and Benzodiazepines

Opioid painkillers and benzodiazepines are both prescription drugs that your doctor may prescribe to treat certain conditions. Combining opioids and benzos is always extremely dangerous. Both drugs are sedatives that impair thinking and suppress breathing which is the leading cause of death by overdose. A study in North Carolina found that death by overdose was ten times higher in patients combining opioids and benzos than in those just using opioids.

Worryingly, many doctors still prescribe opioids and benzos simultaneously. In 2013, 17% of people receiving opioid prescriptions in the United States were also prescribed benzos.

Heroin and Cocaine

Combining heroin and cocaine is known as ‘speedballing’. Taking heroin with cocaine enhances the effects of each drug and produces a new kind of high that you can not experience from taking either substance on its own.

Using both substances together can also reduce some of their negative side effects. While this may make the experience more pleasurable, it can cause you to think that you are soberer than you are. Speedball users may continue to take more of each substance, increasing the chance of an overdose.

The duration of cocaine is shorter than heroin, so the effects wear off earlier. Users who have taken a high dose of heroin can experience respiratory failure when the effects of cocaine subside. Repeatedly injecting drugs also increases the risk of collapsed veins and abscesses.

How Does Polydrug Use Lead to Addiction?

When you repeatedly use an addictive substance, it affects the reward pathways in your brain. Your brain recognizes the pleasurable effects of a drug and produces urges to use the substance again. If you take multiple addictive substances, this reward-seeking behavior is reinforced and intensified. It strengthens the urges to use drugs, increasing the chances of addiction.

Polydrug abuse is a serious problem in the United States that can be devastating to your short-term and long-term health. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer our clients numerous tools to move forward in a sober lifestyle. We focus on healing the whole person alongside addiction. Our treatment program is rooted in the 12-step philosophy and offers each client an individualized recovery plan.

We offer a range of treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic work, and equine-assisted therapy. Our treatment facilities are on the south shores of New Jersey and provide optimal healing and relaxation. If you seek relief from addiction, or if someone close to you does, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information about our treatment options.


Benefits of Group Therapy

What Is Group Therapy?

Group therapy is an effective treatment approach for Substance Use Disorder (SUD). It supports individual therapy and medication in a multi-pronged approach to addiction recovery(1). The idea of group therapy can be daunting for many, as people often fear opening up and becoming vulnerable in front of others. These fears usually subside after beginning group work.

Johan Hari says the ‘opposite of addiction is connection.’ Addiction can be a very isolating experience. When we participate in group therapy, we learn to connect and empathize with others. Ultimately, this leads to greater self-compassion and growth, which are two key factors for long-term recovery.

A trained mental health professional leads group therapy sessions. Clients get the chance to share their stories, thoughts, and experiences, and listen to others in the group share similar experiences. This cultivates a sense of understanding and compassion in the room.

Addiction impacts our mental and physical health. It also affects our well-being(2). It is common for those struggling with addiction to feel guilt and low self-worth. Many live with an internal voice that criticizes their life and choices, and the internal chatter, thoughts, and beliefs that come with addiction can be exhausting. 

In group therapy, clients learn that many others also experience these self-criticisms. Groups help us understand that such negative thoughts result from:

  • Addiction
  • Unresolved trauma
  • Other mental health issues

We learn that these thoughts are not a reflection of our worth or validity as a person. 

What Are the Benefits of Group Therapy?

Group therapy is a cornerstone of addiction and mental health treatment. It increases self-awareness and promotes positive therapeutic outcomes. Group therapies for SUD target specific substances. Others in your group will also be in recovery from a given substance, and members may be at different stages of their recovery journey. 

Common benefits of group therapy for SUD include:

  • Compassionate support and encouragement
  • Perspective on one's experience
  • Improved behavioral health
  • Improved communication skills
  • Reduced sense of isolation and loneliness
  • Connection to others

According to SAMHSA, 'the lives of individuals are shaped, for better or worse, by their experiences in groups. People are born into groups. Throughout life, they join groups. They will influence and be influenced by family, religious, social, and cultural groups that constantly shape behavior, self‐image, and both physical and mental health.'(3)

As such, group work is a powerful healing tool. Through connection with and understanding of others, clients in group therapy get the chance to shift their perspective on their circumstances. One of the principles of group work is fostering a greater connection to ourselves and others.

What Types of Group Therapy Are Available?

Treatment providers use various group-based treatment models to help clients achieve lasting recovery. Groups usually consist of members who share treatment needs, and common types of groups used in addiction recovery programs include:

Psychoeducational Groups

Clients learn about the nature of addiction and mental health issues. Psychoeducation (PE) groups cover addiction, medication, mental health conditions, and lifestyle. Topics covered in PE encourage self-exploration, and clients explore how topics relate to their own circumstances.

Support Groups

Support groups provide peer support and a sense of accountability in clients. They encourage resilience and maintenance of sobriety. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

This group helps clients recognize limiting patterns of thoughts and beliefs. Clients in this group learn to:

  • Develop practical problem-solving skills
  • Set realistic goals
  • Identify maladaptive behaviors and emotions

Skill-building groups

Skill-building and development groups teach clients about relapse prevention and self-management. In this group, clients learn how to set healthy boundaries. They learn how to manage difficult emotions, how to relax, and how to cope with triggers and stress. 

Interpersonal Process Groups

Interpersonal process groups focus on clients issues and offer effective solutions. A client discusses an issue and works with group members to find solutions. Interpersonal groups offer the chance to practice communication and problem-solving. Clients then apply these skills to their relationships outside treatment.

Each of the above group models has benefits for clients struggling with SUD. A trauma-informed, expert-trained group leader facilitates a powerful therapeutic experience for each group. The type of group offered to a client must suit their treatment needs. 

At Enlightened Solutions, we offer our clients tools to use as they move forward in their sober lifestyle.  We focus on healing the whole person rather than merely treating the addiction. Enlightened Solutions is a licensed co-occurring treatment center, meaning that we can treat both substance use disorders and the mental health issues that frequently accompany addiction.  Our treatment program rooted in the 12-Step philosophy offers each client an individualized recovery plan. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a range of treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic work, and equine-assisted therapy.  Our location near the southern shore of New Jersey allows us to provide optimal healing and relaxation. If you struggle with addiction, or if someone close to you does, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information about our treatment options.

 

(1) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2005. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 41.) 1 Groups and Substance Abuse Treatment. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64223/

(2) Lanier, C A et al. “Drug use and mental well being among a sample of undergraduate and graduate college students.” Journal of drug education vol. 31,3 (2001): 239-48. doi:10.2190/R7T3-T266-JN9E-UX3W

(3) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2005. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 41.) 1 Groups and Substance Abuse Treatment. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64223/


How Long Does Cocaine Stay in the Body?

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine, also known as coke, blow, and white, is a powerful stimulant drug. SAMHSA explains that stimulants increase activity in the central nervous system, resulting in a powerful, euphoric high.

The effects of cocaine are intense but brief. They peak within 15 minutes of use and subside within 45-60 minutes. The effects are highly desirable, so the short-lived nature of the high drives many users to take more once the effects begin to wear off. Frequent cocaine use leads to mental dependence, making it extremely difficult to stop.

 

How Long Does Cocaine Stay in the System?

When you use cocaine, the body breaks it down into chemicals known as metabolites, which are what show up in drug tests. There are four standard tests used to detect cocaine. These are:

Blood test

Cocaine metabolites remain in your blood for up to two days after last use.

Saliva test

Cocaine metabolites remain in your saliva for up to two days after last use.

Urine test

Cocaine metabolites remain in your urine for up to four days after last use.

Hair test

Hair sample tests can detect cocaine metabolites for up to 90 days after last use.

 

What Factors Influence How Long Cocaine Stays in the Body?

The above tests and timelines are not exact. They are an approximate timeline for how long cocaine metabolites remain in the system and can be detected. 
Several factors influence how long cocaine remains in the body. These include:

  • How much cocaine has been used - higher doses of cocaine lead to higher concentrations of metabolites.
  • The method of consumption - cocaine can be snorted, dabbed on the gums, smoked, or injected. Snorted or dabbed cocaine remains in the system for longer than injected or smoked cocaine. 
  • Frequency of use - regular use of cocaine keeps metabolites present for longer than they would remain after one-time use.
  • Polydrug use - simultaneous use of cocaine and alcohol can keep metabolites in the system for longer than they would remain if cocaine were used by itself. 
  • Weight and metabolism - cocaine remains in the system for longer in those with a high percentage of body fat.

 

What Are the Signs Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction?

If you have recently used cocaine or know that a loved one has recently used cocaine, it’s essential to understand the signs and symptoms of abuse. 

Primary Care explains that cocaine has a high potential for abuse. Dependence and addiction can happen after even a short period of misuse. If you believe that you or a loved one may be struggling with cocaine addiction or is likely to develop an addiction, be aware of the following symptoms, as outlined in the Journal of the National Medical Association:

  • Anxiety, panic
  • Insomnia
  • Psychosis
  • Paranoia
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty in cutting down or stopping use
  • Stealing, borrowing, or begging for money to fund cocaine use
  • Lies and secrecy about drug use
  • Feeling that you need cocaine to function in daily life

If you have noticed any of the above signs and symptoms in yourself or a loved one, seek professional help. Effective, evidence-based cocaine addiction treatment is available. Addiction is a progressive condition, which means it gets worse the longer a person goes without treatment. The earlier you seek treatment, the greater your chance of successful recovery.

Psychotherapeutic and behavioral interventions are available to help you overcome cocaine addiction. These approaches consider your history of substance use and your personal background. Addiction often has its roots in other issues, such as unresolved trauma, so it's essential that treatment addresses the entire person.

At Enlightened Solutions, we offer our clients many tools to move forward in their sober lifestyle.  We focus on healing the whole person rather than just treating the addiction. Enlightened Solutions is a licensed co-occurring treatment center. We can treat both substance use disorders and the mental health issues that frequently accompany addiction.  Our treatment program is rooted in the 12-Step philosophy and offers each client an individualized recovery plan. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a range of treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic care, and equine-assisted therapy.  Our facility near the southern shore of New Jersey allows us to provide optimal healing and relaxation. If you seek relief from addiction, or if someone close to you does, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information about our treatment options.


Signs of Teen Drug Use

It can be frightening to think that your teen has been misusing drugs or alcohol. Teenagers are at a crucial stage of development, and drug or alcohol misuse at this stage of their brain development can have dire consequences on their overall health and well-being. 

Peer pressure, self-exploration, and mistakes are natural parts of growing up and, as much as we would like them not to, many teens experiment with drugs and alcohol. However, there is a difference between one-time drug use and chronic use. 

If your teen has been misusing substances, it is essential to seek professional help. An adolescent mental health specialist can guide you on the steps you can take to prevent the onset of dependence and drug addiction. If your teen is already addicted, evidence-based teen-friendly treatment programs are highly effective.

How Do I Know If My Teen Has Been Using Drugs? 

You may notice some worrying behaviors in your teen and jump to the conclusion that they have misused drugs or alcohol. It is likely that your teen's mood swings, withdrawal, rebelliousness, and unusual behavior stems from their racing hormones and developing sense of the world around them, however, there is a chance it could be from substance misuse. 
It is essential to recognize the early warning signs of teen drug misuse so that you can take effective action to help them. 
According to Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, early warning signs of teen drug use include(1):

  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed hobbies and activities
  • Secrecy about whereabouts
  • Health problems 
  • Sudden change to social group
  • Unusual sleeping patterns
  • Increased irritability, aggression
  • Drastic weight loss or gain
  • Missing prescription drugs
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia (rolling papers, needles, bongs, empty spirit bottles, burned spoons)

What Are the Behavioral Signs of Teen Drug Use?

Behavioral signs are usually the first signs of teen drug use that parents and loved ones notice. Common behavioral signs of drug or alcohol misuse to look out for include:

  • Coming home late
  • Frequently asking for money
  • Withdrawing from the family
  • Absence from school or work

What Are the Physical Signs of Teen Drug Use?

Physical indicators of drug or alcohol misuse in teens include:

  • Neglect of personal hygiene
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Sores on mouth
  • Large dilated pupils
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Shakes and tremors
  • Sudden weight loss or gain

What Are the Risk Factors for Teen Drug Use?

FACTS is an acronym you can use to understand the risk factors for teen drug use. 

F - Family History

Suppose there is a history of substance misuse in the family. In this case, a child or teen is more likely to use drugs and develop an addiction(2). SAMHSA reports that children with first-degree relatives who have Substance Use Disorder are eight times more likely to misuse substances than those without(3).

A - Age of First Use

The younger a person is when they first use drugs or alcohol, the more likely they are to develop an addiction(4). Teen brains are at a crucial stage of development, and drug or alcohol misuse at this time can shape how the brain continues to grow and develop. 

C - Craving

Drug or alcohol misuse can lead to dependence. When dependence occurs, the teen experiences intense cravings for the substance when it is not available. Teens may not yet have developed the ability to tolerate the distress associated with these cravings, making them more vulnerable than adults to addiction.

T - Tolerance

Tolerance to a substance's effects builds up the more it is used. If your teen needs to use more of a drug in greater frequency to achieve the desired effects, they are at high risk of dependence and addiction. 

S - Surroundings

Exposure to drug or alcohol misuse in the home or in one's peer groups increases the likelihood of drug or alcohol use, and prolonged exposure normalizes the behavior. A teen may notice that family members or friends use drugs or alcohol in stressful times and learn to do the same. 

Should I Talk to My Teen About Drugs?

It’s essential to talk to your teen and listen to their opinions and perceptions about drugs and alcohol. By speaking with them about the reality of substance misuse, you create a trusting, supportive relationship in which they feel comfortable talking about their experiences. 

Talking goes a long way in reducing the risk of substance misuse. Make sure that when you talk to your teen, you do so with compassion and understanding. Hostility and confrontation will not help. 

If you have discovered that your teen has been misusing drugs or alcohol, don't hesitate to reach out for help. Effective interventions and treatments are available and can help your teen curb their drug use before addiction takes over. 

You’re never too young for recovery. There are treatment centers and support groups across the United States dedicated to helping teens find recovery.

At Enlightened Solutions, we offer our clients numerous tools to move forward in their sober lifestyle.  We focus on healing the whole person and not merely treating the addiction. Enlightened Solutions is a licensed co-occurring treatment center; we can treat both substance use disorders and the mental health issues that frequently accompany addiction.  Our treatment program rooted in the 12-Step philosophy provides each client an individualized recovery plan. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a range of treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, massage, acupuncture and chiropractic care, and equine-assisted therapy.  Our location near the picturesque southern shore of New Jersey allows us to provide optimal healing and relaxation. If you want to be free from addiction, or if someone close to you does, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information about our treatment options.

 

(1) Ali, Shahid et al. “Early detection of illicit drug use in teenagers.” Innovations in clinical neuroscience vol. 8,12 (2011): 24-8.

(2) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2004. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 39.) Chapter 2 Impact of Substance Abuse on Families. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64258/

(3) Lipari, R.N. and Van Horn, S.L. Children living with parents who have a substance use disorder. The CBHSQ Report: August 24, 2017. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD.

(4) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); Office of the Surgeon General (US). Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General's Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health [Internet]. Washington (DC): US Department of Health and Human Services; 2016 Nov. CHAPTER 2, THE NEUROBIOLOGY OF SUBSTANCE USE, MISUSE, AND ADDICTION. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK424849


Understanding MAT

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is an effective approach to addiction treatment. As the name implies, MAT uses medications to help those struggling with addiction overcome their condition.

SAMHSA defines MAT as 'the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a "whole-patient" approach to the treatment of substance use disorders.'

Medical intervention is one aspect of a broader approach used in addiction treatment. Medication helps clients manage their problematic symptoms. As a result, they can engage more in other parts of treatment. Clients in addiction recovery programs receive intensive psychotherapy, behavioral therapy and counseling, as well as life coaching and skills building alongside medical support.

What Does MAT Treat?

MAT treats clients struggling with:

  • Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)
  • Opioid Use Disorder (OUD)

The medications used in MAT promote healthy brain chemistry by rebalancing the hormones and chemicals in the body that have become out of balance due to alcohol or opioid misuse.

Some MAT medications block the effect of alcohol and opioids on the brain. This serves to reduce cravings and helps clients get through the withdrawal stage of recovery. 

Other medications prevent the body from becoming overwhelmed by abstinence from a given drug. For example, sudden cessation of opioid use can be dangerous if the client has a physical dependence. As such, MAT would involve substituting the client's substance of misuse with a safer, controlled substance, such as methadone. 

What Are MAT Medications?

Methadone

Methadone is an effective medication used in opioid addiction treatment. Methadone treatment aims to ease the withdrawal symptoms that occur when a client stops using opioids. Withdrawal is one of the leading causes of relapse. Methadone helps clients get through withdrawal safely so they can start the rest of their recovery.

Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine reduces cravings for clients struggling with OUD. Similar to methadone, Buprenorphine is a partial agonist which means it activates the opioid receptors in the brain, but to a far lesser degree than a full agonist. Buprenorphine, unlike methadone, does not produce a high. 

Naltrexone

Naltrexone is prescribed under the brand name Vivitrol. Naltrexone reduces cravings and lowers rates of relapse in both OUD and AUD. Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist, which means it blocks the brain's opioid receptors. As such, it becomes impossible to achieve the 'high' associated with opiate-derived drugs. MAT providers use Naltrexone after the detox stage of recovery, not before or during. 

What Are the Benefits of Medication-assisted Treatment?

SAMHSA reports that MAT helps clients struggling with AUD or OUD achieve and maintain sobriety. MAT supports clients on a chemical level while also supporting their behavioral health through behavioral therapies. 

Addiction treatment programs use MAT to suit the client's needs. Some medications and therapeutic approaches will be more suitable than others, depending on a range of factors, such as your history of drug misuse and your current health status. MAT's comprehensive and tailored approach offers a range of benefits to clients. Benefits of MAT include:

  • Increased engagement in rehab and therapy
  • Increased likelihood of completing a rehab program
  • Decreased symptom severity
  • Improved chances of gaining and maintaining employment
  • Reduced risk of relapse

Why Choose MAT?

There are many reasons to opt for MAT if you are struggling with AUD or OUD. MAT is an effective treatment approach for both of these disorders. Delivered alongside counseling and behavioral therapy, MAT is an integrated approach to addiction recovery. It can increase the time a person spends in treatment, which increases their chance of recovery success. 

Some people disregard MAT as substituting one drug for another, but this is not the case. MAT is safe. While MAT involves drugs, the medications used are highly regulated at a federal level and are FDA approved. MAT promotes addiction recovery by keeping the body as safe as possible. It reduces the risk of overdose that might happen if a client were to seek illicit drugs on the street. 

MAT is an approach to addiction treatment endorsed and supported by:

A comprehensive and integrated approach to treatment, MAT is a leading treatment type for both alcohol and opioid addiction. By easing withdrawal symptoms, MAT promotes greater resilience and encourages a deeper commitment to one's recovery. 

At Enlightened Solutions, we offer our clients tools to use as they move forward in a sober lifestyle.  We focus on healing the whole person and not just treating the addiction. Enlightened Solutions is a licensed co-occurring treatment center. We treat both substance use disorders and the mental health issues that frequently accompany addiction.  Our treatment program is rooted in the 12-Step philosophy and provides each client an individualized recovery plan. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a range of treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, massage,reiki, acupuncture and chiropractic care, and equine-assisted therapy.  Our facility near the picturesque southern shore of New Jersey allows us to provide optimal healing and relaxation. If you struggle with addiction, or if someone close to you does, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information.


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Do You Have a Drinking Problem?

Drinking alcohol is part of everyday life for many people, and some people suffer no ill effects as a result. They go out for drinks with friends from time to time, they enjoy wine with a nice meal, or perhaps they fix themselves a cocktail when they get home from work. They don’t drive after drinking; drinking doesn’t interfere with their work or other responsibilities, and drinking doesn’t cause problems in their personal relationships.

For other people, their drinking habit isn’t working out so well. They find that they are spending more time drinking. They occasionally call in sick when they have had a “few too many” the night before, and this is happening more frequently--alcohol is interfering with their responsibilities. Arguments with their spouse or significant other may be happening more often and might be about their drinking. They may have a few drinks thinking that they will be more relaxed and instead find themselves being less patient with their children.

Many people can probably relate to some of the examples described in the second paragraph. If you do, you may want to examine your drinking habits and your relationship with alcohol. Ultimately, it’s up to each of us to determine whether or not we have a drinking problem, but there are some general guidelines to consider when making that determination.

Your Drinking May Be Problematic If…

If any of the following are true for you, it may be an indication that your drinking is getting out of control.

  • You find that you are drinking more than you planned to with some regularity
  • You are drinking more frequently than you did in the past
  • You have trouble sticking to self-imposed limits--you decide that you are going to have three drinks and end up drinking more
  • When you are going out to eat you will only choose restaurants that serve alcohol
  • You feel guilty or ashamed about your drinking
  • You make an effort to hide your drinking, like pouring your drink into a coffee mug
  • The only way you can relax is with a drink
  • You are spending more time drinking 
  • You frequently have five or more drinks at one time, which is considered “binge” drinking
  • You are becoming more irritated with friends and family after drinking
  • Family members and friends have told you that they are worried about your drinking
  • You have been injured while drinking
  • You have been arrested for your behavior while drinking, including driving under the influence
  • It’s becoming more difficult for you to handle your responsibilities at work or at home
  • You experience “blackouts” or “brownouts” while drinking--a full or partial memory loss where you still walk and talk and appear to be functioning
  • You need a drink in the morning most days
  • You need a drink to feel “normal” physically and mentally
  • You can’t stop drinking, even though you have tried

If You Decide to Quit Drinking

If you decide that your drinking is a problem, you are not alone and help is readily available. If you want to stop drinking, depending on how much you have been drinking and for how long, you may want to detox under medical supervision. Check with your doctor or other health care provider because withdrawal from alcohol can be life-threatening.

You may want to enter a formal treatment program if you decide to stop drinking alcohol. Treatment facilities vary in what programs they offer--some offer treatment on an out-patient basis and some are residential programs. Some centers offer medically supervised detox while others are designed for patients to enter after they have completed detox. Centers vary in the treatment modalities they offer as well.

No matter what, after you stop drinking you will need a support system. Deciding to stop drinking is a major change and it will be easier for you to stick with it if you have the support of people who have been where you are now or who are going through what you are currently experiencing. Two well-known support programs are Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART Recovery). 

AA was founded in the 1930s. The organization describes itself as an “international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost anywhere. There are no age or education requirements, Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, meetings are available online or in-person if local guidelines allow. For more information, visit https://www.aa.org.

SMART Recovery is a “global community of mutual support groups. At meetings, participants help one another resolve problems with any addiction (to drugs or alcohol or to activities such as gambling or over-eating). Participants find and develop the power within themselves to change and lead fulfilling and balanced lives.” For more information about SMART Recovery, visit https://www.smartrecovery.org.

If you are concerned about your use of alcohol, help is available. Enlightened Solutions is a substance abuse treatment center located on the New Jersey shore. We are also licensed to treat co-occurring disorders, like depression or bipolar disorder, that often accompany or lead to substance abuse. We offer a range of treatment options tailored to the specific needs and goals of each individual patient.  These treatment options include traditional psychotherapy, both individually and in a group setting. We also offer a number of holistic treatment modalities, including family constellation therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral treatment (DBT), art and music therapy, yoga and meditation classes, acupuncture and chiropractic care, equine therapy, and sound therapy. In addition, our life skills offerings include education about nutrition and wellness to aid in healing the body and mind. If you are ready to change your relationship with alcohol, call us at (833) 801-5483.

 


When Family Becomes Toxic: The Signs and Effects

Family can be a positive or negative influence or a combination of both. Negative, or toxic, family dynamics may lead to frustration and cause emotional distress through interactions with family members or even the thought of them. It may be hard to recognize you are in a toxic or dysfunctional family or that you grew up in one. It is hard to see a situation when you are on the inside. There are ways to recognize and change how you engage in these toxic situations.

Recognizing a Toxic Childhood or Family Environment 

Most people do not realize the effects that their childhood family environment had on their development until they are adults. Some signs that you may have grown up in a toxic family environment include having to meet unrealistic standards, such as having chores or tasks that kept you from completing homework, playing with friends, or getting enough sleep. Some examples of what one might endure in a toxic family environment include:

  • Having to care for younger siblings by providing discipline and care to them
  • Staying up late with parents with substance use disorders (SUDs) to ensure they got to bed safely
  • Providing emotional support to parents with SUDs 
  • Cooking meals or doing excessive chores at extremely young ages
  • Receiving harsh criticism that made you feel unloved, unwanted, or lesser than
  • Having personal needs not met, such as being forgotten and not being picked up from school or after-school activities, not having adequate food at home, or suitable clothing and shelter

 Healthy family environments include supporting basic needs, including:

  • Making sure your needs are met, such as providing adequate clothing and food
  • Taking care of your health
  • Providing affection
  • Instilling discipline and setting boundaries

Recognizing a Toxic Family Environment

If you feel that you have dealt with, or are dealing with, a toxic family situation, try and recognize your feelings after interactions with family members. If you feel negative or down on yourself after family interactions, you may need to draw boundaries. For example, look for these particular feelings from your family that may be warning signs:

  • You feel controlled 
  • You feel disrespected and unloved
  • You feel hatred and disapproval instead of love

Substance Use and The Toxic Family Environment

A family member who uses alcohol or drugs isn’t inherently toxic, but substance use disorders (SUDs) may develop, which can lead to unhealthy dynamics within the family. Ways that substance use may influence a toxic family environment include:

  • Substance use that impacts a family member’s mood or behavior negatively
  • Substance use that is hidden or not spoken of among the family or to outsiders
  • Enabling a family member’s use of drugs or alcohol
  • Emotional, verbal, or physical abuse resulting from a family member’s alcohol or drug use 

Unfortunately, there is a relationship between substance use and abuse. SUDs take over the sufferer’s life, resulting in an uncontrollable need to use drugs or alcohol, which may lead to engaging in negative behaviors such as lying, stealing, manipulating, or abuse to obtain the substance.  Abuse within the toxic family can include:

  • Physical abuse or violence
  • Verbal abuse such as name-calling or harsh criticism
  • Sexual abuse, such as inappropriate touching
  • Gaslighting, or making someone doubt their perception of reality or memories

How to Deal with a Toxic Family Environment

Dealing with toxic family members is a personal and individualized pursuit. Some may cut off contact entirely with toxic family members, while others will limit contact and try to figure out the situation while protecting their emotional and psychological health. If you are currently in a toxic family situation or grew up in one, these strategies may help you navigate and cope:

  • Figure out what you want from your family relationships
  • Develop clear boundaries you want to set, by limiting the number of family visits and maintaining a certain level of contact that is comfortable for you
  • Practice separation and not getting involved in family issues

Separation may involve avoiding topics that evoke strong emotions, keeping conversations casual, and leaving if situations start getting toxic or heated. However, staying out of toxic family situations is easier said than done. You must make a plan to avoid getting drawn into the negative cycle that creates a toxic family environment. Some strategies include:

  • Establish topics to avoid while you’re with family, and informing them of these off-limit topics
  • Figure out how to change topics
  • Deflect a provoking or prying question by asking a different question
  • Deciding what you’re willing to share, and what you want to keep private

Toxic family members may use details about yourself to control, manipulate, and criticize you, so establishing boundaries on what you share with them is a form of self-preservation. Before engaging with your family, remind yourself of what your off-limit topics are so you don’t engage in conversations that may create dysfunction and negative situations. Furthermore, understand that setting boundaries are a risk in a toxic family environment since you risk rejection. Saying “no” to situations that lead to distress and unhappiness may be the best way to protect yourself from perpetual exposure to toxicity. You do not have control over anyone but yourself, and you cannot change toxic family members. You only have the power to change yourself and how you respond to or engage in situations. 

What to Do If You Feel You Are A Part of a Toxic Family Environment

Often, a toxic family environment involves a substance use disorder (SUD) and, unfortunately, may lead to unhealthy dynamics. Toxic family members may attack you, lessen your self-esteem, or disagree with your life choices. These situations can cause division between you and your family and impact your self-worth. You may need to set boundaries and create a personal path in life, avoiding the conflict and negativity that comes from interactions with a toxic family environment. Give yourself the power back. If you or someone you know has a substance use disorder to drugs or alcohol and is living in a toxic environment, call Enlightened Solutions today at 833-801-LIVE.


How a Drug-Induced Murderer Turned Into a Computer Engineer

How a Drug-Induced Murderer Turned Into a Computer Engineer

Drugs can cause you to do unspeakable things that you would never imagine doing sober. It can be a very tough question to answer whether a murderer deserves a second chance even if his actions were the cause of drug abuse. The story of Zachary Moore can teach you how keeping your feelings hidden about your parent’s drug use and your own can cause you to commit shocking acts that have the potential to ruin your life. 

Moore’s Drug-Induced Act of Murder

Moore grew up in Redlands, California where he would play video games, sports, and hang out with his friends. Unfortunately, he grew up with a dysfunctional family. His parents were both alcoholics who would go on frequent drink binges and forget to feed their kids. When Moore became a teenager, he was having trouble being able to manage his feelings. This would cause him to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. He felt like this would help numb and ignore his home life problems.

On November 8, 1996, an argument he had with family members pushed him over the edge where all of the anger and pain he was harboring led him to stab his sibling to death while he was sleeping on the couch. Moore’s defense attorney spoke at the trial that he blamed Moore’s home life of drug abuse, domestic abuse, and alcoholism as the cause of his actions. That it was a psychotic break after years of neglect and abuse. The jury did not take pity on Moore and was found guilty of murder. He was tried as an adult and was sentenced 26 to life in prison. Three days before his 17th birthday, Moore was transferred from juvenile hall to a high-security prison.

Moore’s Self-Discovery in Prison

For the next few years, Moore would go from prison to prison trying to figure out who he was and about what he did to land him there. Moore said he was surrounded by a bunch of adults who were on the same journey of self-discovery as him. In 2000, Moore landed in a “cell within a cell” where he was on lockdown 23 hours a day with little human contact. Being in that cell made Moore realize that his crime was the result of extreme emotions and how his circumstances growing up was not what made him kill his brother. That there were millions of kids who grew up like he did that found other ways to deal with negative emotions compared to committing murder. Moore discovered there were things about him that needed to be fixed. 

Moore formed a “brotherhood” with a group of other convicts who were trying to better themselves. He attended Buddhist services, meditation classes, and learned to deal with his emotions through the support of his new friends. In his late 20s, Moore landed at Ironwood, a medium-security facility in Riverside County. He enrolled in an online college program at Palo Verde College where he earned an Associate’s degree and graduated with a 3.89 GPA. 

The Last Mile

In 2010, entrepreneur and Silicon Valley investor Chris Redlitz was invited to give a business talk at San Quentin State Prison. He and his wife founded “The Last Mile,” a bi-weekly entrepreneurship program at the prison. Redlitz noticed a problem in that when inmates are released, they are given $10-$200 in cash and sent on their way with no job or housing help. In California, 7 to 10 released inmates recommit a crime within three years. This leads to an incarceration crisis of $183 billion a year spent. 

Redlitz wanted to empower inmates to have a future outside of prison to give them hirable skills. Coding is a very powerful skill to have in California. Since the prison had a no-internet policy, the program had a fake internet using video seminars. When “The Last Mile” expanded its program to Ironwood, Moore was one of the first people to sign up after finding a flyer for it in the prison hallway.

Moore Discovers Coding

Since Moore was sentenced in 1996, that meant he never saw the internet before. Even though Moore had a life sentence, he still had hope that he would one day be released with a good job. Only 10% of inmates with life sentences get admitted to the program. Moore was accepted and began the first of two 6-month curriculums.

Four times a week from 7 am to 2 pm, Moore and a team learned front-end code like HTML and CSS. For the first month, he could only write his code by hand. When computers were brought in, he relied on instructional videos and screenshots of real-user flows. For the second month, he learned Javascript and NodeJS. For his final project, he built a mock e-commerce site called GeekChic. Moore put in a transfer for San Quentin to continue his training. Not long after, he discovered he was up for parole.

How Moore is Now

On November 12, 2018, Moore was released after 22 years. For six months, Moore worked as a part-time engineer for “The Last Mile.” In May 2019, Moore went from intern to full-time engineer at Checkr, a background check technology firm. “The Last Mile” has transitioned 70 graduates to the workplace. Moore is an example of what happens to you when addiction and mental health are untreated and that if you work hard, you can get a second chance.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


What to Know About Marijuana Edibles

What to Know About Marijuana Edibles

People may think that consuming candy that has marijuana in it is safer than actually smoking it. The truth is that there are plenty of negative health consequences that can come from consuming too many edibles. By being aware of the dangers of marijuana edibles, you will think twice before buying them.

What Marijuana Edibles Are

Edibles are food products that have marijuana in them. It has become a popular way to consume marijuana as you can put marijuana in almost any food product. Brownies are the most popular edible, but marijuana can also be infused in gummies, chocolate, beverages, and others. The chemical compound in marijuana is THC which can make you high, affect your memory, thinking, and perception. There is also cannabidiol in edibles which also has relaxing qualities. Marijuana can also be infused in cooking oil for frying or searing as well as marijuana-infused butter that can easily be spread. 

There are people who use edible marijuana for recreational uses as it is legal in 11 states, but there are others who use it for medical uses in 33 states where medical marijuana is legal. The popular medical use for it is for pain relief, but can also be used for improving appetite, reducing nausea, and lowering inflammation. 

Eating Marijuana Vs. Smoking It

Smoking marijuana takes minutes to achieve the effects. Edibles, on the other hand, can take 1-3 hours since food is absorbed in the bloodstream through the liver. Because it takes a while, this will make the user want to absorb more and more of it to achieve the effects. It is often unknown how much THC is in an edible since it is hard to measure. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, a 52-year-old man with a brain tumor who accidentally received a dose 10 to 20 times higher than recommended of liquid marijuana. This caused him to go to the emergency room delirious with garbled speech. The chances of an overdose from edibles are much greater compared to an overdose from smoking it. If you take too much of an edible, you could experience symptoms like feeling very tired, a bit delirious, or being agitated or paranoid. 

The Safety of Marijuana Edibles 

If you buy a product from a registered clinic, the edibles must undergo tests. This means making sure there are no unwanted metals and that the product contains what it says on the package. Testing can also see if the dosage of marijuana that the package states is accurate, meaning you get the same THC content in each bite taken. It is important to still be careful when buying from a legal clinic since they still take a while to achieve the effects.

The Health Consequences of Marijuana Edibles 

People who already have health issues like schizophrenia, a history of heart attacks, blood pressure issues, anxiety, and a history of drug abuse should avoid edibles. People with psychiatric disorders could be worsening their anxiety with cannabis products. If you have a history of substance abuse, it is best to speak to a doctor about it before being prescribed to it if you need it for medical uses. Everyone metabolizes cannabis differently depending on their state of mind or metabolism. Be honest with yourself about what you can and cannot handle after you try an edible. Feeling more anxious is not worth achieving a high. No amount of marijuana edibles is worth compromising your mental health. 

Safe Ways of Consuming Marijuana Edibles

The body already has cannabidiol receptors which means that you cannot develop a physical or chemical dependency to the THC the way you can with other substances. If you are going to take marijuana edibles for medical uses, you still have to make sure that you are consuming them safely to avoid any overdoses. You should first read the labels on the edibles package so that you know the dosing of the THC/CBD in the product. The label will also tell you if the product has been tested by a third-party lab for safety which is a good sign. It is important to go to a good dispensary where the staff is educated on the product and understands the experience you want to give you a recommended option.

You can also speak to your doctor about your edibles use. They can tell you the truth about whether or not you should steer clear of them depending on your overall health and any mental health issues you have. The normal dose of an edible is between 5 to 10 milligrams. Take a 2.5-milligram dose and wait 90 minutes if you are used to cannabis. If you do not feel an effect after, you can try another 2.5 milligrams but be careful of your dosage. 

You should also keep edibles away from the sight of children as they can be consuming goods like gummies and have no idea that there is marijuana in them. If your teen children know that you use edibles for medical purposes, explain why you use it and what it is important to avoid. You also know that you are buying from a legal dispensary if they are following safe-specific rules of safety and testing. You can check your state government’s site for registered dispensaries. By using marijuana edibles for medical purposes only and using them wisely, you will decrease the risks of an overdose.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.