Drug Use

Your Brain and Body on Meth

The last time Sam used meth was following a breakup. She was terribly depressed and lonely, and she thought that meth would help her feel better. Instead, she said, it turned her into a “monster.” She recalls that when she was using meth she felt invincible and like she could do no wrong. In reality, she says, she was letting down the people she loved. The high she had experienced didn’t last and became more and more elusive.

In reality, she explained, meth turned her into a selfish, horrendous person. When you are high on meth, you can go for several days without sleep or food. You can’t hold a job when you use meth, she says, because your thinking and behavior becomes completely erratic and frequently violent. When your high wears off, you frequently feel depressed, anxious, extreme fatigue, and intense cravings for more meth so you won’t feel depressed, anxious, and exhausted. And so the cycle continues. Also, meth users can lose the ability to feel pleasure from daily activities. The only thing that brings them pleasure is the drug.

What Is Meth?

Meth, short for methamphetamine, is a synthetic drug made from pseudoephedrine, a nasal decongestant used in cold and allergy medicine, and common household substances like acetone, drain cleaner, brake cleaner, battery acid, lithium, and others. According to the Department of Justice, meth can be produced in two types of labs: “superlabs,” which produce large quantities of the drug and supply organized drug traffickers or small labs that can be in homes, motel rooms, and cars, among other locations. (Meth labs also produce incredible amounts of toxic waste and are an environmental hazard.)

Methamphetamine comes in several forms (crystal, rocks, powder, and tablets) and can be swallowed, snorted, smoked, or injected. According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the drug goes by a number of names on the street including meth, speed, ice, shards, bikers coffee, and crank, among others. Meth is also referred to as “poor man’s coke.”

Scope of the Problem

Meth use is prevalent in the United States. According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), more than 14.7 million people, or approximately 5.4% of the population, have tried meth at least once, 1.6 million people actively used meth in the year before the survey was conducted, and 774,000 people used in the past month. Meth is more widely available in the West and Midwest. The NSDUH is directed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the information gathered is used to guide public policy concerning drug use. According to staff members at Enlightened Solutions, a drug and alcohol rehab center located in New Jersey, meth addiction frequently co-occurs with depression and anxiety.

Meth’s Effect on the Body and Brain

According to a report published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the effects of meth on the body and brain can be devastating and long-term. 

Perhaps the most common physical problem associated with meth use is the severe dental problems that can accompany the addiction. Commonly known as “meth mouth,” meth users frequently experience severe tooth decay and tooth loss. Meth users are frequently malnourished and lose unhealthy amounts of weight. In addition, meth users frequently have sores and scabs on their face, arms, torso, and legs. These sores come from users scratching nonexistent insects that they imagine crawling under their skin. Meth also leads to cardiovascular problems including rapid and irregular heartbeat and elevated blood pressure. In addition, meth users are at an increased risk of having strokes or developing Parkinson’s disease.

Meth’s effects on the brain are damaging as well. People who use meth experience severe anxiety, confusion, insomnia, and mood disturbances and can become violent. People who use meth can develop psychotic features including paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, delusions, and the sensation of insects crawling under their skin. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, these psychotic symptoms can occur months or even years after the person has stopped using meth.

Research discussed in the report has shown that meth causes structural and functional changes in parts of the brain. Imaging studies have shown changes in the dopamine system associated with “reduced motor speed and impaired verbal learning.” These studies have also shown that there are changes in areas of the brain associated with emotion, memory, decision-making, and the ability to stop engaging in “behaviors that have become useless or counterproductive.”

Signs That Someone May Be Using Meth

If you think that someone you love is using meth, there are indicators to watch for. Overall, he or she will lose interest in activities and people that used to be important, like career, family, and hobbies. Signs to look for include the following:

  • Insomnia
  • Periods of no sleep followed by periods of excessive sleep, like 24-48 hours
  • Profuse sweating
  • Sores that won’t heal
  • Skin breakouts
  • Visible dental problems 
  • Non-stop or rapid talking
  • Short temper
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Shaking
  • Twitching
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Repetitive, compulsive behavior

Help for Meth Addiction Is Available

While meth is a very dangerous drug, the good news is that treatment is available. Treatment begins with detox. It is best if detox from meth is done in a treatment facility so the user will have medical supervision and be away from the environment where he or she was using. Following detox, treatment can begin. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been found useful for meth recovery. CBT focuses on learning new ways to think about and cope with environmental stressors.  A type of treatment called contingency management interventions is also helpful and involves providing incentives for people in recovery to stay in treatment and abstain from drug use. The woman mentioned in the opening paragraphs sought treatment for meth use. She says that recovery was difficult but worth it. She also says that she will never touch meth again.

Meth is a dangerous drug that can destroy lives because of its devastating physical and psychological effects. Enlightened Solutions is licensed to treat co-occurring disorders, which means that we can treat the anxiety and depression that frequently accompanies meth addiction. One of the treatment modalities we offer is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which has been shown to be one of the effective treatments for meth addiction. We also offer a range of holistic treatment modalities including art and music therapy, equine therapy, family constellation therapy, yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic care, and sound therapy. In addition, we offer traditional psychotherapy and support groups rooted in the 12-Step philosophy. We develop a treatment plan for each individual client. If you are struggling with a meth addiction and the devastation that it causes, please call us at (833) 801-5483. We are located on the picturesque New Jersey’s southern shore for optimal healing and relaxation.


Meth Use

Your Brain and Body on Meth

The last time Sam used meth was following a breakup. She was terribly depressed and lonely, and she thought that meth would help her feel better. Instead, she said, it turned her into a “monster.” She recalls that when she was using meth she felt invincible and like she could do no wrong. In reality, she says, she was letting down the people she loved. The high she had experienced didn’t last and became more and more elusive.

In reality, she explained, meth turned her into a selfish, horrendous person. When you are high on meth, you can go for several days without sleep or food. You can’t hold a job when you use meth, she says, because your thinking and behavior becomes completely erratic and frequently violent. When your high wears off, you frequently feel depressed, anxious, extreme fatigue, and intense cravings for more meth so you won’t feel depressed, anxious, and exhausted. And so the cycle continues. Also, meth users can lose the ability to feel pleasure from daily activities. The only thing that brings them pleasure is the drug.

What Is Meth?

Meth, short for methamphetamine, is a synthetic drug made from pseudoephedrine, a nasal decongestant used in cold and allergy medicine, and common household substances like acetone, drain cleaner, brake cleaner, battery acid, lithium, and others. According to the Department of Justice, meth can be produced in two types of labs: “superlabs,” which produce large quantities of the drug and supply organized drug traffickers or small labs that can be in homes, motel rooms, and cars, among other locations. (Meth labs also produce incredible amounts of toxic waste and are an environmental hazard.)

Methamphetamine comes in several forms (crystal, rocks, powder, and tablets) and can be swallowed, snorted, smoked, or injected. According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the drug goes by a number of names on the street including meth, speed, ice, shards, bikers coffee, and crank, among others. Meth is also referred to as “poor man’s coke.”

Scope of the Problem

Meth use is prevalent in the United States. According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), more than 14.7 million people, or approximately 5.4% of the population, have tried meth at least once, 1.6 million people actively used meth in the year before the survey was conducted, and 774,000 people used in the past month. Meth is more widely available in the West and Midwest. The NSDUH is directed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the information gathered is used to guide public policy concerning drug use. According to staff members at Enlightened Solutions, a drug and alcohol rehab center located in New Jersey, meth addiction frequently co-occurs with depression and anxiety.

Meth’s Effect on the Body and Brain

According to a report published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the effects of meth on the body and brain can be devastating and long-term. 

Perhaps the most common physical problem associated with meth use is the severe dental problems that can accompany the addiction. Commonly known as “meth mouth,” meth users frequently experience severe tooth decay and tooth loss. Meth users are frequently malnourished and lose unhealthy amounts of weight. In addition, meth users frequently have sores and scabs on their face, arms, torso, and legs. These sores come from users scratching nonexistent insects that they imagine crawling under their skin. Meth also leads to cardiovascular problems including rapid and irregular heartbeat and elevated blood pressure. In addition, meth users are at an increased risk of having strokes or developing Parkinson’s disease.

Meth’s effects on the brain are damaging as well. People who use meth experience severe anxiety, confusion, insomnia, and mood disturbances and can become violent. People who use meth can develop psychotic features including paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, delusions, and the sensation of insects crawling under their skin. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, these psychotic symptoms can occur months or even years after the person has stopped using meth.

Research discussed in the report has shown that meth causes structural and functional changes in parts of the brain. Imaging studies have shown changes in the dopamine system associated with “reduced motor speed and impaired verbal learning.” These studies have also shown that there are changes in areas of the brain associated with emotion, memory, decision-making, and the ability to stop engaging in “behaviors that have become useless or counterproductive.”

Signs That Someone May Be Using Meth

If you think that someone you love is using meth, there are indicators to watch for. Overall, he or she will lose interest in activities and people that used to be important, like career, family, and hobbies. Signs to look for include the following:

  • Insomnia
  • Periods of no sleep followed by periods of excessive sleep, like 24-48 hours
  • Profuse sweating
  • Sores that won’t heal
  • Skin breakouts
  • Visible dental problems 
  • Non-stop or rapid talking
  • Short temper
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Shaking
  • Twitching
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Repetitive, compulsive behavior

Help for Meth Addiction Is Available

While meth is a very dangerous drug, the good news is that treatment is available. Treatment begins with detox. It is best if detox from meth is done in a treatment facility so the user will have medical supervision and be away from the environment where he or she was using. Following detox, treatment can begin. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been found useful for meth recovery. CBT focuses on learning new ways to think about and cope with environmental stressors.  A type of treatment called contingency management interventions is also helpful and involves providing incentives for people in recovery to stay in treatment and abstain from drug use. The woman mentioned in the opening paragraphs sought treatment for meth use. She says that recovery was difficult but worth it. She also says that she will never touch meth again.

Meth is a dangerous drug that can destroy lives because of its devastating physical and psychological effects. Enlightened Solutions is licensed to treat co-occurring disorders, which means that we can treat the anxiety and depression that frequently accompanies meth addiction. One of the treatment modalities we offer is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which has been shown to be one of the effective treatments for meth addiction. We also offer a range of holistic treatment modalities including art and music therapy, equine therapy, family constellation therapy, yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic care, and sound therapy. In addition, we offer traditional psychotherapy and support groups rooted in the 12-Step philosophy. We develop a treatment plan for each individual client. If you are struggling with a meth addiction and the devastation that it causes, please call us at (833) 801-5483. We are located on the picturesque New Jersey’s southern shore for optimal healing and relaxation.


The Relationship Between Addiction and the Criminal Justice System: How We Can Improve Public Health Through Incarcerated Offenders Who Suffer from Substance Use Disorders

Currently, over 7 million adults are under criminal justice supervision in the United States, including probation or incarceration. Furthermore, figures estimate that half of all prisoners meet the criteria for being drug dependent or having substance use disorders. According to an article published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), if we implement effective addiction treatments into the criminal justice system, we could drastically improve public health and, therefore, reduce criminal behavior.

The Relationship Between Addiction and The Criminal Justice System

In the past three decades, there have been significant advances in the science of addiction. However, there is a gap between the research of addiction and the treatment of it, specifically relating to the criminal justice system. Although research repeatedly shows that addiction is a disease of the brain, most substance use disorder (SUD) sufferers do not get treatment. Incarceration may be a barrier to treatment, dependent upon the resources available to each particular prison facility and the prison culture in general. Often, incarcerated offenders who suffer from SUDs are not receiving proper psychological care while imprisoned.

Furthermore, illicit drugs are available to imprisoned individuals, regardless of the highly organized and structured environments. These drug-seeking behaviors often lead to illegal activities and disturbing actions within the prison. Therefore, there is a rare opportunity available in which changes to prison systems and their resources for these individuals may decrease substance abuse and thus reduce criminal behavior in prisons themselves. 

Drug Use and Treatment Before and After Incarceration

It is a missed opportunity not to treat an offender with SUD, as it could instantaneously improve public health and safety to do so. Incorporating treatment for SUDs into the criminal justice system would provide treatment to people who would not receive it otherwise. Furthermore, it would improve and lessen their medical issues and rates of reincarceration or recidivism, which is characterized by the tendency of a convicted criminal to re-offend. Incarceration lacks in addressing substance use disorders for imprisoned offenders since over one-quarter of people reincarcerated test positive for drug use. Despite being incarcerated or not, the challenges of maintaining sobriety and recovery from alcohol or drugs are universal. Notably, the following multiple stressors increase the risk of relapse:

  • Being labeled as an ex-offender
  • Difficulties in finding housing
  • Finding appropriate employment
  • Reuniting with family
  • Various requirements for criminal justice supervision

Possible Interventions for the Criminal Justice System

Research reports the multiple benefits of treatment in addressing SUDs inside of the criminal justice system. In doing so, the criminal justice system can encourage those suffering from SUDs to enter treatment and maintain recovery. These possible interventions include:

  • Therapeutic alternatives to imprisonment
  • Treatment combined with drug courts
  • Jail and prison-based treatments
  • Programs focusing on helping offenders’ transition from being incarcerated to being released

Research consistently shows that community-based treatment reduces drug use and related criminal behaviors. Individuals who participate in treatment while incarcerated and enter a community-based program after being released are seven times more likely to remain abstinent from substances and three times less likely to be re-arrested than those not in treatment. Successful interventions depend on organization and cooperation between treatment providers, criminal justice agencies, social service organizations, mental health care institutions, and physical health care establishments. Each type of criminal justice organization, such as drug court, probation, jail, or prison, has a role in authorizing and supervising specific interventions. 

Drug education is the most common resource offered to imprisoned persons with SUDs. Although treatment during incarceration and after release proves to reduce drug use and criminal behaviors, less than one in five inmates receive any formal treatment. The prison system lacks the resources, groundwork, and competent treatment staff required to meet the needs of SUD individuals. Sadly, addiction and substance use disorders remain stigmatized and not recognized as a medical condition by the criminal justice system, and therefore, treatment is not guaranteed. 

Conclusions

There are therapeutic strategies for SUD sufferers that the criminal justice system could use that will alleviate recidivism, lessen substance abuse, and decrease criminal behaviors. The benefits outweigh the costs when implementing self-help organizations, like Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous, into criminal justice agencies. For every dollar spent on drug courts, over four dollars is saved per individual in costs related to avoiding incarceration and health care, while prison-based treatments can save over six dollars per individual.

Substance use treatment in criminal justice agencies needs to complement the setting. For example, since jail stays are shorter, screening for drug and alcohol use disorders, mental illnesses, and medical conditions would be useful. Then, those individuals can refer to treatment providers in the community. In prison, punishment is ineffective in treating SUDs. Therefore, the system requires the organization of treatment options that aim to help the individual battling their addiction to drugs or alcohol while reforming behaviors. 

Looking for Help?

Substance use disorders can lead to criminal behaviors due to the addiction itself and drug-seeking behaviors. Research is constantly evolving, especially relating to positive treatment options for addictions, which is changing the face of the criminal justice system. If you are battling an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you are not alone, and there is hope for your recovery. At Enlightened Solutions,  we understand the complexities of addiction and foster hope for the future. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, call us today at 833-801-LIVE.

 


Serotonin Deficiency

Serotonin Deficiency

Serotonin is a powerful transmitter known for regulating our mood, sleep, appetite, and digestion. Low serotonin can lead to having a low mood which can lead to mental health conditions that lead to drug use to bring serotonin levels up. It is important that if you notice you are having a low mood that you take medication and natural remedies to increase your serotonin without the use of abusive substances.

The American Psychological Association says that 95% of the serotonin in our bodies regulates the movement of the intestines. 5% of serotonin is made in our brain which moves signals between nerve cells. If we do not have enough serotonin in our bodies, we can develop mental health issues like anxiety, depression, aggression, low self-esteem, low sex drive, poor appetite, and poor memory. If this goes untreated, the conditions go grow more serious like developing an eating disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, etc. Serotonin is the superhero of our mental health that fights away the negative emotions that lead us to anxiety and depression.

You could be using illegal drugs and alcohol as a solace to your low mood thinking this will help liven your spirits up. The truth is that drugs and alcohol will not boost your mood which will make you think that you need to take more and more, spiraling your addiction. There are also physical symptoms as well such as gaining weight, fatigue, carbohydrate cravings, and digestion problems. If your mood is so low, you will not have the energy to do anything or will think yourself too worthless to take care of yourself.

There can be many causes to serotonin deficiency. One cause can be having long periods of stressful situations which can deplete serotonin levels. You could be spending weeks studying for exams which are putting you in a bad mood if you are not sure you will pass. You could be applying for jobs for months and never hear back from companies. Maybe you have to take care of someone who has a serious illness that presents a new challenge every day.

Another reason for poor serotonin can be that you are suffering from digestion issues that impair the breakdown and absorption of food, preventing us from building serotonin. If you have poor protein where you are not making enough proteins, vitamins, or minerals to build up these neurotransmitters, a serotonin imbalance occurs. Toxic substances like drugs, pesticides, and prescription drugs can do permanent damage to our nerve cells that make serotonin. The same can be said to caffeine, nicotine, antidepressants, and cholesterol lowering medications. Not getting enough sunlight can also lead to low serotonin. This is true especially if you live in a cold climate which leads to seasonal affective disorder.

Unfortunately, there are no formal tests to determine if you have a serotonin deficiency. All you can do is track your symptoms for a few weeks and see if you low mood continues to persist. If it does, there are remedies to help bring your mood levels back up again. One way is using selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which are antidepressants that help your body use serotonin much better. When SSRIs prevent the body from reabsorbing serotonin, more serotonin circulates throughout the brain which makes more available. SSRIs include Celexa, Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, and Paxil. Remember that this medication does not produce more serotonin but helps circulate it more throughout the body.

SSRIs are not for everybody but there are still other solutions to help with serotonin levels like natural remedies. One is exercising as it helps you increase the production and release of serotonin. ConsumerSafety.org says that exercising for about 20 minutes could put you in a good mood for 12 hours. Pick an exercise that you would enjoy doing like dancing, swimming, running, or walking. Another remedy is eating more foods that have the nutrients you need to produce serotonin. There are foods such as turkey, eggs, salmon, pineapple, tofu, almonds, avocado, spinach, quinoa, rice, sweet potatoes, and whole grains. These foods are rich in tryptophan, magnesium, and complex carbohydrates that will improve your serotonin levels.

If you live in a cold climate where you do not have enough sunlight or there are too many rainy days, exposure yourself to bright lights. You can do that by getting out in the sun more or going to an area where there is a lot of sun. You can also visit a light box to increase your serotonin levels as well. Most importantly, you need to do more things during the day that makes you happy or think about things that you know will make you happy. This can mean watching cute animal videos, going to comedy shows, watching a funny movie, or anything else that will make you smile. Even if you have not had a great day today, doing that one activity can help make sure day and increase your serotonin.

Being in a good mood can make a great difference to your overall mental health. It is very important that you be in control of your good or bad moods. If your bad mood still persists, ask a therapist the best approach to raise your serotonin. By making sure that your serotonin levels are elevated, you are in control of your happiness and can have a more optimistic outlook of your life.

At Enlightened Solutions, we are here to help you remember that life can be full of happiness and enjoyable moments, once we learn how to manage our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Call us today: (833) 801-LIVE.


Why Are Synthetic Drugs So Dangerous?

Synthetic drugs can include popularly well known substances such as crystal meth, flakka, krokodil, and bath salts. Methamphetamines are central nervous system stimulant drugs. Compared to other substances, synthetics hit the system faster. With quicker access to the brain, synthetic drugs create a nearly instantaneous high which is powerful. Having direct impact on the central nervous system, synthetic drugs go racing through the nervous system and blood stream. Those who have abused synthetic drugs or have found themselves addicted report the sensations of euphoria firing on all nerves from brain to body. Unfortunately, the wild high of a synthetic drug does not last long. Synthetic drugs are cheap and sold is disguise in many easy to find places. Developing an addiction to synthetic drugs is easy when the drug is cheap, available, and ready to take one dose after another.

 

The Allure Of Synthetic Drugs

Powerful delivery of chemical substances to the brain results in a wide array of effects. Synthetic users report fantastical hallucinations, as well as severe paranoia. Crystal meth can keep someone up for ten days at a time in a blackout while simultaneously providing an excess of hormones and increasing sexual arousal. To those on the outside, the negative effects of synthetics would be a deterrent. For those who have experienced them, however, the positive is too good to pass up.

Problematically, continuing to use synthetic drugs is equivalent to gambling. Due to the chemical nature of synthetic drugs, the compound of one batch to the next will not be the same.

 

The Danger of Synthetic Drugs

Synthetics are made from an unpredictable variety of chemical substances from phosphorous to liquid drain cleaner. In an ongoing effort to fly under the watchful radar of local enforcement agencies, manufacturers of synthetic drugs are constantly changing the chemical recipe. As a result, synthetics addicts or those who recreationally experiment with them, are at risk.

At its worst, synthetic drugs can cause paranoia, elevated heart rate, high blood pressure, and overheating. While some report seeing God on synthetic drugs, many others report seeing the devil, from whom they run for their lives. Synthetics can cause stroke and cardiac arrest as well as permanent psychosis.

 

Enlightened Solutions is a coed treatment facility for men and women who want to heal and be liberated from their abusive relationship with chemical substances. We provide multiple levels of care and take insurance. For more information, call 833-801-5483.