How Destructive Character Patterns Affect Addiction

How Destructive Character Patterns Affect Addiction

Certain personality traits, environmental factors, and even genetics can lead to addiction to drugs or alcohol. It can be common to see specific patterns of thoughts or behaviors that are present when seeking treatment. It is important to be aware of these behaviors and thoughts and work to adjust or avoid them. Some destructive character patterns can include:

  • Lack of impulse control
  • Loss or lack of self-control
  • Poor stress management
  • Neglecting (or undiagnosed) co-occurring disorders
  • Risk-taking behavior

Impulse Control

One common pattern of behavior when it comes to addiction is impulsivity. When you develop an addiction to alcohol, cocaine, opioids, or other substances, you may often struggle with impulse control. This refers to the inability or lack of consideration when it comes to the consequences of your actions. If you struggle with impulse control, you may engage in risky or detrimental behaviors without weighing the negative impacts your decisions may have.

When you struggle with impulse control, you may lack the inner dialogue that occurs when you are deciding what to do. This refers to the ability to negotiate and comprehend the potential consequences of a decision. Self-regulation is also a skill that you may struggle with if you lack impulse control.

Self-Control

Another common pattern of behavior when it comes to addiction is a lack of self-control. This can be similar to impulse control; however, this speaks more to being able to stop doing something or moderate your thoughts or behaviors when you want or need to. For example, you may be fully aware of the consequences of a poor decision but find yourself unable to avoid making the decision that leads to the negative consequences.

Addiction is a perfect example of this concept. When struggling with substance use disorder, you might be aware of the harmful effects of using. Although, you might have no control over your dependency on the substance you are using.

This can be difficult to understand for those who have not experienced addiction firsthand and can even be difficult to process when you enter treatment. At Enlightened Solutions, we use 12-Step principles to help you identify your loss of control over your addiction and embrace the healing that comes with that realization.

Stress Tolerance

Stress affects everyone differently. You may have a high tolerance for stress and may even feel motivated by it. Yet, you could be very debilitated by stress and anxiety. This can often lead to self-medicating or seeking release in the form of drugs or alcohol.

Managing stress well is essential to your health for many reasons. In addition to the risk of addiction, increased stress levels can lead to poor mental and physical health. It can even trigger life-threatening conditions such as poor cardiovascular health.

Co-Occurring Disorders

It is normal for you to discover that you have a co-occurring diagnosis upon completing the intake and assessment process. A co-occurring disorder refers to the presence of an underlying diagnosis that could be triggering or reinforcing your substance use. A few common co-occurring diagnoses include depression and anxiety.

Similar to those seeking substances to relieve stress, you might choose to drink alcohol or use drugs to ease symptoms of anxiety or depression. Neglecting to address these disorders can lead to substance use and abuse. At Enlightened Solutions, we provide a full mental health evaluation to be sure we provide you with everything you need during treatment to find healing and good health.

Risk-Taking Behaviors

In some cases, taking risks can be a beneficial thing. While this can be harmless in some situations, it can sometimes lead to much worse.

When you take risks often, you may lack some or several of the aforementioned character traits. You may lack impulse control, which affects your judgment and processing of consequences. Perhaps you lack self-control and, despite knowing something is dangerous, feel unable to refrain from taking the risk.

Sometimes, there may be an underlying condition or disorder that could be leading to dangerous or risky behavior. Substance use can often begin as a one-time experimental thing out of curiosity. If you enjoy taking risks often, you may not consider the long-term impact of your decisions but only consider the immediate risk. After all, you are not intending to become addicted to substances.

During treatment, clinical professionals will help you identify any potentially harmful thoughts and behavior patterns that could have led to your substance use in the first place. Learning more about these behaviors and developing strategies for change is crucial. By participating in therapy and focusing on healing and change during treatment, you can stay on track and be successful in recovery.

Harmful behavior patterns can often lead to substance abuse. Some common examples can include lack of impulse control, loss of self-control, poor stress management, the presence of a co-occurring disorder, or engaging in risk-taking behaviors. Some may exhibit a combination of these traits. Possessing any of these characteristics or behaviors significantly increases the likelihood of substance abuse. It is important to address and correct these behavior patterns to avoid addiction and relapse. At Enlightened Solutions, we help clients recognize any underlying issues that may have led to their addiction and pose potential for relapse in recovery. Our programs help you develop strategies for correcting destructive thoughts and behaviors and create more productive and healthy habits. If you or someone you love is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, we would love to hear from you. Call Enlightened Solutions today at (833) 801-LIVE.


Are Stimulant Use and ADHD Related?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental health disorders diagnosed in children. About half of childhood cases persist into adulthood, although it is normal for hyperactive symptoms to diminish somewhat.

Adults with ADHD are at much higher risk of developing substance use disorder; between 25% - 40% of adults in active addiction also have ADHD.

ADHD and Addiction

The exact mechanism of what causes ADHD is unknown, but we know that it often correlates with a deficit of dopamine in the brain. This characteristic poses a multitude of challenges to people with ADHD, including:

  • Difficulties with judgment
  • Impulsivity
  • Distractibility
  • Fidgeting
  • Overactivity
  • Short-term reward-seeking
  • Social awkwardness

These traits put people with ADHD at a unique risk of developing an addiction. Young people who struggle to control impulses or behavioral differences are often exposed to drug use earlier in life and are less resistant. At the same time, self-medication is extremely common among people who are not diagnosed. Adults with ADHD frequently abuse substances initially to quiet distractions, calm themselves down, and be productive.

Self-Medication With Illegal Stimulants

Abusing stimulants to self-medicate puts users at the same risk of addiction as using stimulants to get high. In addition, most illegal stimulants cause mental dependence when they are taken long-term, meaning the brain slows down its dopamine production when the drug is consistently in the system.

Using stimulants to self-medicate increases the risk of addiction. To the user, it may feel like these drugs are necessary to function, but this self-imposed treatment sets the groundwork for psychological addiction.

In a user with ADHD, this could cause further issues and make recovering from addiction more challenging. Withdrawal can also heighten ADHD symptoms, and they can be more extreme due to initial low dopamine production in the brain prior to the use of any medication.

Prescription Stimulant Addiction

Prescription drugs used to medicate ADHD are addictive in their own right. The most common drugs used to treat ADHD (Adderall, Vyvanse, and Ritalin) are all central nervous system stimulants with the potential for abuse.

Modern research hasn’t found an overall trend in people developing addictions to their prescription drugs, but it occasionally happens. ADHD stimulant medication tends to produce highs only when it is improperly used or used by people without ADHD - however, dependence can develop regardless.

In addition, when people in treatment start to increase their dose against their doctor’s guidance or use short-acting medications at times of day not prescribed (e.g. outside of regular working hours), this can suggest abuse.

Treating Addiction and ADHD

Dual diagnosis

If a person is suffering from substance abuse disorder and undiagnosed ADHD, addiction treatment is highly likely to help. Effective addiction treatment incorporates dual diagnosis from the very beginning, which highlights the presence of any underlying psychiatric or behavioural conditions. Recovery is different for everyone, and co-occurring disorders require individual treatment. In people with ADHD, an effective treatment program needs to focus on building healthy coping strategies for its mental and behavioral challenges.

Therapies

Attending any type of professional addiction therapy is universally helpful. However, in many cases, ADHD and drug treatment therapy compliment each other. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been shown to strengthen resolve and empower people to make positive changes in their actions. These changes help people to manage ADHD symptoms and also cope with drug cravings healthily.

We Can Help

If a mental health disorder is complicating a substance use disorder for you or your loved one, we can help. Enlightened Solutions is licensed to treat substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders such as ADHD that frequently accompany them. We offer a range of modalities, including dual diagnosis, psychotherapy, yoga, meditation, art and music therapies, acupuncture, and chiropractic care - all rooted in the 12-step philosophy. If you would like more information about our ADHD and stimulant addiction treatment, please call us at (833) 801-5483.


How Problematic Is Marijuana Addiction?

Whether it’s called weed, pot, grass, bud, herb, or any of its numerous slang names, marijuana and its main psychoactive chemical, THC, is one of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States.

New Jersey has legalized marijuana for recreational use, but there are many persistent misunderstandings about this drug’s addictive potential. Because of this, marijuana addiction is systematically undertreated. In 2015, four million people were diagnosed with a use disorder for this drug, but only 138,000 sought treatment.

Use of Marijuana

Marijuana is the broken or ground dried flowers of the cannabis sativa plant that users usually smoke or mix into food. However, there has also been a sharp increase in the abuse of this plant’s resin, a substance with a higher THC concentration that produces more intense highs.

The short-term effects of marijuana intoxication include:

  • Feelings of happiness
  • Mild hallucinations
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Increased appetite
  • Reduced reflexes

Users generally experience significantly reduced response times and motor skills when under the effects of the drug. Nationwide, marijuana use is the cause of the second-highest number of hospital visits of any illicit substance - largely due to an increased risk of accidents. In 2011, 456,000 emergency room patient reports in the United States mentioned marijuana.

Marijuana Changes the Brain

Areas of the brain, such as the hippocampus, rely on an endocannabinoid neurotransmitter called anandamide for some of their dopamine production. However, with frequent use, the brain adapts and reduces the production of its anandamide - messengers we need for normal functioning.

At the same time, the continuous abuse of this drug seems to alter and harm this region of the brain. The hippocampus – which is responsible for memory formation and information processing - seems to shrink with prolonged heavy use. This can lead to very worrying changes in cognition, especially in young people.

Eventually, the use of marijuana produces cross-sensitivity. This means that the brain has adapted to the drug, and the groundwork has been laid for dependence and addiction to other psychoactive substances. In addition, there has been a growing body of evidence that corroborates marijuana’s status as a gateway drug, especially in long-term studies of teenage users.

Signs of Marijuana Addiction

Marijuana use disorder is a clinically diagnosed condition that describes the compulsive use of the drug even when people want to stop or when it harms a user’s life. Experts estimate that about 30% of people who use marijuana in some form have a degree of diagnosable substance use disorder.

Heavy users of the drug can go into withdrawal when they can’t access or cease using the drug. Symptoms of withdrawal from marijuana include:

  • Mood and sleep problems
  • Irritability
  • Decreased appetite
  • Cravings
  • Physical discomfort
  • Restlessness

Why Seek Marijuana Addiction Treatment?

Studies have begun to illuminate exactly how harmful long-term marijuana use can be for mental health. Eventually, THC exposure may even speed up the aging of the brain through the loss of neurons.

Studies looking at marijuana abuse disorder in adolescents found that continued use alters the connectivity and shrinks the size of areas in the brain involved in executive functioning (memory, learning, problem-solving, and impulse control).

Others have found that abuse, particularly in teenage years, is associated with significantly lower scores on IQ tests by mid-adulthood.

Two longitudinal studies have found that marijuana abuse causes cognitive impairment or loss of verbal memory functions in adults as well.

The loss of mental functioning means that people who use marijuana recreationally are likely to be functioning at a lower level even when they are not under its influence. These changes are continuous and incremental, making them harder to detect in oneself. Still, the evidence points to marijuana abuse drastically affecting our ability to achieve our potential in work, school, and relationships.

If you are worried marijuana use may be turning into an addiction, there are treatment programs that can help.

Marijuana Addiction Treatment in New Jersey

Enlightened Solutions is a licensed dual diagnosis treatment center that offers each client the tools they need to begin a sober life. We offer an effective individualized recovery program with a long-term focus rooted in the 12-step philosophy. Our treatment modalities include both talk therapy and holistic treatment practices, with the potential to continue in support groups long after you leave our center. If you would like help with marijuana addiction, reach out to us at (833) 801-5483.


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.


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.


Eating Disorder

You Can Never Be Too Thin--or Can You?

“You can never be too thin or too rich.” This quote has been ascribed to twice-divorced Wallis Simpson, the American woman for whom Edward VIII abdicated England’s throne. Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, was reportedly obsessed with wealth--and being thin.

Apparently, the duchess isn’t the only one to ascribe to this point of view. Thin models and celebrities stare at us from magazine covers. Celebutantes, almost always thin, post their filtered, carefully posed selfies on Instagram. Women of every age try diet after diet in an attempt to look like the airbrushed images that bombard them every day. According to BusinessWire, the weight loss and diet control market in the United States reached $72 billion in 2019, the highest it had ever been.

That last point may be proof that what’s good for Wall Street isn’t always good for Main Street. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), twenty million women and ten million men in the United States suffer from an eating disorder. Eating disorders have the “second-highest mortality rate of all mental health disorders, surpassed only by opioid addiction.” NEDA works to educate the public about eating disorders, build communities to support people who are recovering from these disorders, fund research, and provide people with resources. In an effort to educate the public, NEDA sponsors National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which will be February 22 through 28 in 2021.

What Are Eating Disorders?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, eating disorders are “serious medical illnesses marked by severe disturbances to a person’s eating behaviors….These disorders can affect a person’s physical and mental health; in some cases, they can be life-threatening.”

Three common types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.

People with anorexia avoid food or severely limit the amount and types of food they eat. They see themselves as overweight even when they are severely underweight. Some people with anorexia, in addition to restricting food, will force themselves to vomit or misuse laxatives and diuretics in an effort to further limit calories. Signs that someone may have anorexia include restricted eating, excessive exercise, extreme thinness, fear of gaining weight, and a distorted body image. As the illness progresses the person may develop medical issues, including:

  • Anemia
  • Muscle wasting and weakness
  • Brittle hair and nails
  • Low body temperature
  • Lethargy or fatigue
  • Heart damage
  • Brain damage
  • Multi-organ failure

Anorexia can be fatal and people who die from anorexia exhibit medical conditions associated with starvation.

People with bulimia eat unusually large amounts of food and feel as if they have no control over their eating. They compensate for binge eating by forcing themselves to vomit, misusing laxatives or diuretics, fasting, or excessive exercise. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), people with bulimia can be a normal weight or even be overweight. Medical issues caused by bulimia include a chronically inflamed and sore throat; swollen salivary glands; worn tooth enamel and tooth decay; acid reflux; intestinal issues from laxative abuse; dehydration; and electrolyte imbalance which can lead to a stroke or heart attack.

Sufferers of binge-eating disorder have repeated episodes of binge eating, usually defined as “eating an amount of food that exceeds what most people would eat within a two-hour time period. People with this disorder will eat even when they are not hungry and eat until they are uncomfortable. They tend to eat very rapidly during these binge episodes and they frequently eat alone or in secret because of feelings of shame or embarrassment. People with binge-eating disorder are frequently overweight or obese and diet without success. Heart problems are the most common health problem for this group.

Co-Occurring Mental Health and Substance Abuse Issues

While the causes of eating disorders are not known, experts speculate that eating disorders are caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and societal forces. What is known, however, is that many people with eating disorders also suffer from depression and anxiety and may have issues with substance abuse. 

A study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders found that 50% of people with eating disorders abuse drugs or alcohol, particularly those who engaged in some sort of purging behavior. According to an advisory released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), people with eating disorders have high rates of substance abuse as well. As the eating disorder becomes more severe, the likelihood that more than one substance is abused increases as well. Studies reported in the advisory found that people with binge-eating disorder tended to abuse alcohol, while those who attempted to increase their weight loss by purging (including bulimics and anorexics who purge) abused stimulants and sleeping pills.

The same advisory noted that co-occurring mental health disorders are common among people with eating disorders, particularly anxiety disorders, mood disorders (including major depressive, bipolar, and seasonal affective disorders) and impulse control disorders.

Help--and Hope--Is Available

Fortunately, help is available for people suffering from eating disorders. As serious as these disorders are, they are treatable, and people do recover.

Treatment for an eating disorder includes nutrition education, psychotherapy (talk therapy), and medication. Of the available psychotherapies, family-based therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy have been found to be effective. Alternative treatment modalities are also helpful in treating eating disorders. These include yoga, meditation, massage, fitness therapy, and acupuncture. 

You can recover from an eating disorder and receive treatment for co-occurring disorders that you may have. Treatment can literally save your life.

Experts estimate that nearly thirty million Americans suffer from an eating disorder, which has one of the highest mortality rates of all mental health issues. Approximately half of those who have an eating disorder also abuse drugs or alcohol and co-occurring mental health issues are also prevalent in this population. Eating disorders are serious health issues that can result in death if not treated. Help for eating disorders is available at Enlightened Solutions. We are a drug and alcohol treatment center on New Jersey’s southern shore and we are licensed to treat co-occurring disorders, including anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder. Our treatment plans are rooted in the 12-Step philosophy. We focus on healing the whole person, not just treating the addiction. In addition to traditional talk therapy and support groups, we offer a range of holistic treatment modalities including yoga and meditation, art and music therapy, and family constellation therapy. If you have been struggling with an eating disorder or other addiction, please call us at (833) 801-5483. We can help.


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.


Google

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.