Healing The Gut After Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse is gut abuse. When you seek treatment for alcohol use, you not only must think about the disease itself, but you also must think about the physical consequences your body endured for a long time. Increased and long-term alcohol use bombards your digestive system with sugars, carbs, and inflammatory toxins. This raises the acidity level of your body, throws the ratio of your gut bacteria out of balance, compromises your gut lining, and can lead to chronic, systemic inflammation. Your stomach and intestinal tract are more than just part of the digestive system. They’re your immune system’s first line of defense against the toxins you consume.

When your gut health is compromised, inflammatory agents can quickly cross into the bloodstream. From there, toxins can trigger inflammation anywhere that blood travels, including your brain. In the rest of this article, we’re going to discuss which foods and supplements to take, and which to avoid to heal your gut and brain while recovering from alcohol abuse.

 

Avoiding Sugar

Sugar is something that most everyone has too much of in their diet. Sugar (such as alcohol) feeds the harmful bacteria that colonizes your gut. Scientists and researchers have yet to discover the ideal ratio of the many different strains of bacteria that live in your digestive system. What they do know is that some are obviously beneficial, while excessive amounts of others can compromise gut health.

These harmful bacteria are associated with obesity, autoimmune disease, ADHD, anxiety, depression, hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue, skins conditions like eczema, and the list goes on.

Bad gut bacteria consumes sugar for energy, while healthy bacteria thrives off of dense, fibrous leafy greens and other low-sugar vegetables. Eating less sugar and more veggies can speed the gut healing process. Keep in mind that as you detox from alcohol, you’ll also be detoxing from sugar. Sugar is highly addictive on its own, so you’ll be fighting two battles at once.

 

Eat Dense, Fibrous Veggies

Eating dense, fibrous veggies will give the good bacteria in your gut a fighting chance to thrive. Veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and chard are fuel for good bacteria. Artichokes are also an excellent source of fuel. When you eat broccoli, the good bacteria feeds on it in the small intestine. The denser the vegetable, the deeper into the digestive tract it survives without being completely broken down by enzymes. This means more food for good bacteria.

 

Supplement With Prebiotics and Probiotics

When vegetables serve as food for healthy bacteria, they play the role of prebiotics. Prebiotics are exactly this, fuel for healthy bacteria to consume. In the world of supplements, the bacteria themselves are referred to as probiotics. Supplementing with probiotics (good bacteria) and prebiotics (bacteria food) can help to recolonize your gut flora.

Before you take your probiotic supplement, make sure to eat plenty of broccoli, cauliflower, and other fibrous vegetables. You can also take a prebiotic supplement just before taking your probiotics. When you do this, the good bacteria (probiotics) will have something to munch on immediately. Artichoke is one of the most effective natural prebiotics, and several quality prebiotic supplements are derived from the plant.

 

Glutamine: One Of The Most Important Supplements For Repairing A Damaged Gut

Glutamine seals up that leaky gut. In scientific terms, glutamine “decreases intestinal permeability.” The cells of your small intestine use glutamine as a primary fuel source. When glutamine runs out, it becomes hard for the cells of the small intestine to repair themselves. By supplementing with glutamine, you give your cells the fuel they need to stay healthy and protect the body and brain from inflammation. Glutamine helps with nearly all gut issues: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), ulcers, diarrhea, leaky gut, bowel movements, diverticulosis, and Crohn’s disease. If it’s a gut-related issue, glutamine can reduce symptoms.

 

Glutamine Improves Focus, Concentration, and Working Memory

Glutamine is one of the most abundant amino acids in the body. Your gut can’t survive without it, and neither can your brain. In the brain, glutamine is used to make the neurotransmitters GABA and glutamate. The balance between these two neurotransmitters is critical to overall brain health, cognitive performance, and the prevention of serious brain-related disorders. Epilepsy, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and addictive behaviors are all affected by a healthy balance of GABA and glutamate. If you or someone you know in the Phoenix, AZ area is struggling with addiction or believes they have a problem with alcohol, Stonewall Institute’s 10-week Intensive Outpatient Program allows patients to work towards recovery without disrupting daily life.

 

Glutamine Strengthens The Immune System

Leaky gut is the starting point for a lot of autoimmune diseases. A compromised gut lining allows too many inflammatory agents into the bloodstream. This can lead to thyroid disease, Hashimoto’s disease, and a greater chance of getting sick in general.

 

Glutamine Reduces Pain Associated With Chronic Inflammation

Inflammation in the gut leads to inflammation all over. Leaky gut can make arthritis worse, exacerbate skin problems (like psoriasis) and wreak havoc on overall health. Strengthening the gut with glutamine can reduce these symptoms.

 

Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes help your gut process the difficult to digest foods like protein. In fact, enzymes are what allow you to digest all food, including complex sugars and starches. When not enough enzymes are present in the gut, intestinal inflammation can occur. As the food sits without being broken down, the lining of your intestine can become inflamed. Supplementing with digestive enzymes before and after eating can reduce intestinal inflammation by speeding up the digestive process.

It’s best to supplement with a broad spectrum of enzymes. A quality product will contain protease, lactase, lipase, and amylase. Protease is a pro at digesting protein, lactase breaks down dairy, lipase breaks down fat, and amylase goes to work on starches.

 

Herbs That Support The Adrenal Gland

Adrenal fatigue is more common in people with compromised gut health. Adaptogenic herbs like licorice root and ashwagandha are proven to aid in recovery from adrenal fatigue.

Licorice root increases hormone availability while alleviating adrenal fatigue by aiding the absorption of cortisol. Not only that, but it also promotes gut health by strengthening the mucosal lining of the stomach and small intestine. If you’d like to try supplementing with licorice root, go for the ‘DGL’ version. This type has had the glycyrrhizin removed, which can cause edema (swelling) and high blood pressure.

Ashwagandha is another adaptogenic herb that is especially effective at recovering from adrenal fatigue and balancing hormone levels post-addiction. It’s also proven to improve mood and cognitive health. Ashwagandha is a stress reliever, but also prevents against brain degeneration.

Ashwagandha’s effectiveness lies in its potent antioxidant content. The antioxidants in ashwagandha neutralize the free radicals in the blood that cause inflammation and cell damage. Ashwagandha is also proven to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Unlike prescription medications used to treat anxiety and depression, ashwagandha has no adverse side effects.

 

Bone Broth And Collagen

Collagen is the ingredient in bone broth that makes it so valuable for gut health. Collagen is also influential in reducing joint inflammation and strengthening soft tissue throughout the body. The amino acids proline and glycine in collagen can repair damaged intestinal lining. Supplementing with collagen also helps increase the gastric juices that strengthen the mucosal lining.

 

 

HCL (Hydrochloric acid)

Hydrochloric acid is the stomach acid that’s most important for breaking down protein before it enters the intestines. Individuals with poor gut health from drinking alcohol excessively or taking prescription meds tend to have too little HCL. This can be problematic because HCL plays a significant role in keeping bad bacteria from growing out of control in the small intestine. Check with your doctor before supplementing with HCL. Your doctor will want to test your stomach acid levels to make sure that you are, in fact, low on HCL. If she advises you to supplement with HCL, make sure it’s the ‘pepsin’ variety. Also be sure to take it with a meal that contains protein.

 

Oil Of Oregano

Oil of oregano extract is an anti-fungal. Supplementing with it can help balance the ratio of bacteria in your gut. Oil of oregano isn’t something to supplement with long-term, but initially, it can speed recovery. An overgrowth of yeast and candida can make gut flora imbalances worse. If you’ve been a beer drinker, you’re an ideal candidate for excessive yeast growth. The anti-fungal properties of oil of oregano can reduce yeast levels, giving your gut a better chance to heal itself and balance bacteria levels. Try building up your gut bacteria for a few weeks using the other techniques described in this article, then supplement with oil of oregano for one to two weeks.

 


Aside from taking supplements and eating healthy, exercise can ignite metabolism and stimulate the brain for a faster recovery from addiction. In the end, a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle is your best weapon against relapse. Having a healthy gut will make it easier to stay motivated and on track. It’s much harder to stay in a negative mindset when your digestion, immune system, and brain are all significantly improving together. Focus on accomplishing the small health goals, and the larger goal of sobriety will follow close behind. If you or someone you love is a habitual drinker, it’s important to keep an eye out for developing dependence. Stonewall Institute Treatment Center is a safe resource for any questions you may have. Call us today at 602-535 6468 or email us at info@stonewallinstitute.com.

Cocaine Addiction: Side Effects and Withdrawals

Cocaine is powerfully addictive. It’s a stimulant that, like many drugs, circulated among medical professionals well before it reached the general population. In 1884, William Stewart Halsted became the first physician to use cocaine as an anesthetic in surgery, however, Halsted also liked to use cocaine to enhance his performance in the operating theatre. He soon became the first cocaine-addicted physician on record. Sigmund Freud, the famous psychiatrist, was also a prevalent cocaine abuser. Cocaine is attractive to intellectuals and hard-partying weekend warriors alike because of its cognitive-enhancing and dopamine-boosting effects. This is also why this substance has a high potential for addiction and dependence.

Receiving treatment for cocaine addiction is crucial, and the earlier it’s treated the better.  Stonewall Institute Treatment Center’s 10-Week Intensive Outpatient Program is designed to not only treat cocaine addiction itself, but to also provide the tools, structure, guidance, and support that will help maintain long-term sobriety.

 

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a stimulant narcotic that’s used almost exclusively as a recreational drug. Cocaine is now only occasionally used in surgery as a topical anesthetic or for controlling bleeding during nasal surgery.

Cocaine is made from the leaves of the cocoa plant. Indigenous cultures in South America chew the leaves for their energizing effects. Bolivian and Peruvian cultures continue to chew cocoa leaves in high volumes. In Bolivia, an estimated one-third of the population chews cocoa leaves. In leaf form, the intoxicating effects are milder while the cognitive-enhancing effects, like improved mental clarity, are longer lasting.

Once cocaine is extracted from the leaves, it becomes significantly more potent. Both forms are addictive, but pure extracted cocaine holds a higher risk for addiction and dependence. The cocaine that hits the streets is rarely pure cocaine by the time it reaches consumers. Cocaine is often mixed with cornstarch, sugar, or quinine to increase profits. Because you never know what you’re going to get when you buy cocaine on the street, it adds another layer of health risk. Sharing straws or dollar bills to snort cocaine can increase the risk of catching hepatitis C. Snorting cocaine can cause abrasions in the nasal cavity that allows bloodborne pathogens to spread.

 

How Cocaine Works In The Brain

Cocaine affects the brain through a complex interaction of various neurotransmitters and proteins. The two neurotransmitters that cocaine most strongly influences are serotonin and dopamine. Most of the research on cocaine has been focused on its impact on dopamine transmission, as this is the area of the brain that seems to be most strongly affected. Cocaine blocks the function of the dopamine transporter protein. This transporter protein is responsible for removing dopamine from where it can remain active. As a result, the effects of dopamine increase, and the user feels high.  Because of this, many users will ignore the fact that they have a serious drug problem.

At the same time that cocaine makes you feel good by increasing dopamine activity, it improves cognition through a variety of functions, most notably by boosting levels of the protein BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). BDNF is a protein that’s critical for memory and learning. There are plenty of safer ways to increase BDNF, including exercise, yoga, meditation, sleep, and a healthy social life.

 

Cocaine Addiction: Risks and Side Effects

After only a short period of use, cocaine has a high rate of addiction. The same reason that scientists like Sigmund Freud and William Stewart Halsted loved cocaine is the same reason that makes it so addictive. The mechanism of action that boosts BDNF is also behind its addictive qualities. Without going into too much detail, cocaine enhances your sensitivity to experiencing the reward that comes from getting a hit of dopamine or serotonin.

The positive effects of cocaine include intense happy feelings of euphoria and increased energy. Along with these effects come a long list of dangerous risks and harmful side effects.

Medical professionals consider cocaine to be the perfect “heart attack drug” because it creates the perfect storm for cardiovascular issues. Large doses of cocaine can result in the stiffening of the walls of the arteries, high blood pressure, irregular and rapid heart rate, and myocardial infarction (heart attack).

Other side effects can include paranoia, psychosis, panic attacks, cognitive impairments, mood swings, and dramatic changes in personality.

Long-term risk factors for cocaine abuse include increased body temperature and the development of a manic-like condition similar to amphetamine-induced schizophrenia. These episodes are characterized by severe paranoia, aggression, confusion, and hallucinating the feeling of bugs crawling under the skin, also known as “coke bugs.”

Cocaine addicts can also exhibit rapid weight loss, decreased appetite, weakened immune system, difficulty managing relationships, and increased thoughts of suicide. Because of this life-threatening disease, it’s vital to seek professional substance abuse treatment as soon as possible.

 

Cocaine Withdrawal

One of the reasons why cocaine is so addictive is because its withdrawal effects come on fast. The crash that cocaine users experience at the end of a night of partying is a harsh reminder of withdrawals that await them if they try to get off the drug.

The immediate effects involved with cocaine withdrawal include pounding headaches, anxiety, and insomnia. The headaches are largely due to the dramatic changes that cocaine has on the cardiovascular system. As the walls of the arteries begin to relax and blood pressure decreases, it can be a challenge for the blood vessels in the head to adjust.

As you commit to staying off the drug, all of the negative side effects of cocaine use can get amplified. Long-term cocaine withdrawal symptoms include paranoia, anxiety, mood swings, depression, irritability, exhaustion, insomnia, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and intense cravings.

The “coke bugs” can return during withdrawals as well. Some users report symptoms similar to schizophrenia and the feeling that their mind is disconnected from themselves. Severe symptoms like these can last from weeks to months depending on the depth of the addiction. The intensity of cocaine withdrawals forces many users to turn to other substances like alcohol and marijuana to help cope with withdrawals and cravings.

 


Deciding to get clean from cocaine is an encouraging step forward in the path towards healing and recovery. The next step is to complete an alcohol and drug evaluation so it can be determined exactly which course of treatment will best suit your needs.  If you or someone you know needs advice about drug or alcohol addiction, feel free to contact Stonewall Institute Treatment Center at 602-535 6468 or email us at info@stonewallinstitute.com.  We’re here to help.

7 Myths About Marijuana Use

Marijuana use and addiction has been on the rise in the U.S. Several states have legalized marijuana for both medical and recreational use.  Marijuana use is also glorified in pop culture, such as musicians talking highly of the substance in their lyrics.  There is also a deeply ingrained myth within cannabis culture that claims marijuana isn’t ‘physically’ addictive, but rather is only ‘mentally’ addictive or habit forming.  The truth is that marijuana addiction is prevalent among users and can be addictive just like any other drug.

As a parent, the challenge lies in presenting kids with an accurate picture of the risks involved with marijuana addiction.  While talking to your children is important, it’s also very important to seek professional assistance if you or your child are dependent on marijuana.  In our 10-week Intensive Outpatient Program, we not only address and recover from the addiction itself, but we also provide necessary tools to address commonly reported co-occuring disorders, such as anxiety and insomnia.

 

In this article, we will address common myths regarding marijuana use that many young adults use to support their pro-cannabis stances.


Myth #1:  That Marijuana Isn’t Physically Addictive

The reason why so many adults end up seeking treatment for habitual marijuana use is that it has the same propensity for addiction as any other substance. The average adult seeking treatment for marijuana addiction is a near-daily user for an average of 10 years Adults make an average of six serious attempts at quitting before finally trying drug counseling. Individuals addicted to marijuana continue to smoke despite admitting that it causes relationship and family problems, financial stress, dissatisfaction with productivity levels, low life satisfaction, and sleep and memory problems.

 

Myth #2:  Many People Who Smoke Aren’t Addicted

A person’s tendency for addiction is largely determined by genetic factors that are then amplified by environmental factors such as common life stresses and nutrition. People with a predisposition for addiction share certain characteristics regarding brain chemistry. With marijuana, addicted individuals tend to have issues regulating the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine influences focus, drive, and determination. It also induces feelings of well-being when introduced to the brain in high doses as it is with marijuana use.

Explain to your kids that some people can smoke nearly every day without getting addicted because their brain chemistry doesn’t become altered by the drug long term. You never know that you’re addicted until your brain fails to produce enough dopamine on its own. The brain thinks, “Hey, I’m getting plenty of dopamine from an outside source now, so I don’t need to produce it on my own.” When the addicted individual tries to stop, their dopamine-starved brain craves more of the drug.  However, many users still do not realize that they have a problem with drugs.

 

Myth #3:  Marijuana Has Been Legalized In Several States, So It Can’t Be That Bad

The decision to legalize marijuana on the state level is influenced by many factors. One thing is for sure: marijuana doesn’t become legalized because it’s determined to be safer than previously thought. Marijuana still has the same potential for addiction and is carcinogenic when smoked.

For anyone under the age of 21, marijuana is still illegal in all states. It can be helpful to remind your kids that ‘minor in possession’ charges still apply, as they do with alcohol.

If your child is of driving age, remind them that they can absolutely receive a drug DUI for marijuana, just as they could receive a DUI for alcohol consumption. Marijuana lingers in the system of certain individuals longer than it does others. Compared to alcohol, it’s hard to know exactly how long testable levels will remain in your system. Because marijuana is fat-soluble, it takes longer for blood levels to sink below the drivable limit if you have a higher body fat percentage.

 

Myth #4:  Addressing The Prevalence of Marijuana Use In Music and Counterculture Scenes

Musicians and performers often heavily promote drug use in their music. While many artists do live the lives they portray, for most, the glorification of illicit activities is used as propaganda. Many admit in interviews that they over-exaggerate their drug use because they know it will result in better sales. It can be helpful to remind your children about the reality of drug glorification as a marketing strategy.

 

Myth #5:   “I’ve Smoked Plenty of Times and I Don’t Have Cravings or Withdrawals”

Drug dependence can develop gradually, and this is certainly true for marijuana. Early withdrawal symptoms and cravings are less noticeable because the effects of the drug are milder compared to other recreational substances. Users experience very little ‘comedown’ as the marijuana high wears off, and it may be a week or longer before your brain starts to itch for more of the drug.

 

Myth #6:  Marijuana Isn’t Expensive

Marijuana is one of the most affordable drugs to purchase, both legally and illegally.  When marijuana was first legalized in Washington State, there was concern that the high taxes would make marijuana too expensive, but the opposite effect has happened. Marijuana is now significantly more affordable than it used to be. Over time, however, the frequent marijuana consumption adds up and becomes expensive as it’s accessibility increases.  Just as it’s true for legal substances such as alcohol, marijuana can be considered a financial stressor in certain circumstances.

 

Myth #7:   Marijuana Isn’t as Bad For The Lungs as Cigarettes

While several studies have been done to compare the carcinogenic effects of marijuana to those of tobacco, no conclusive evidence exists to say that one is worse than the other. The truth is, the cancer-causing effects depend on the frequency of use. If you frequently smoke large amounts of marijuana, it’s undoubtedly a risk to your lung health. Although the scientific evidence of the carcinogenic effects of cigarettes vs. marijuana is inconclusive, it still should not be used as an argument supporting the use of marijuana.  Rather, it should be argued that ingesting any foreign substance into your body should be considered hazardous to your health.

 


 

Marijuana use is often thought of being significantly less dangerous to experiment with than alcohol or other drugs, however, this is not the case.  Although marijuana is generally thought to be the “basic” type of drug, the possibility for dependence is just the same as it is for other substances. However, the conversation should not be based solely on marijuana use, but based on alcohol and drug use in general.  By explaining to young adults that all illicit drugs, including marijuana, have a great propensity for dependence and addiction, it allows them to understand the extreme risks of alcohol and/or drug use in general.

If you have any further questions regarding drug or alcohol addiction, Stonewall Institute Treatment Center is more than happy to answer any questions you may have. Call us today at 602-535-6468 or email us at info@stonewallinstitute.com.

5 Tips For Boosting Self-Esteem While In Recovery

Getting sober may come with many sudden realizations, such as the amount of time you lost while under the influence. It’s a reality that can be hard for many to grapple with. Low self-esteem is common among recovering individuals and coming to terms with this can be difficult. By pursuing new challenges, you can start to rebuild your sense of self-esteem in recovery. It’s easy to dwell on the past, but the rest of your life is ahead of you. At Stonewall Institute Treatment Center, not only do we offer superior treatment for alcohol and substance use issues, we also focus on getting yourself in the right headspace so that you can get out there and meet your recovery goals.

1. Meet New People

Stagnancy is a big part of addiction. It’s easy for anyone to get lulled into the same daily routines without growing and moving forward in life. When you use, you tend to spend a large amount of time with other people who are doing the same things as you. Meeting new people can introduce you to a new set of healthy habits.  Picking a group of people with healthy practices takes the guesswork out of making good lifestyle choices. A group of friends that are inspired to live life to the fullest. Following their lead is the simplest way to get inspired to live a fulfilling life.

 

2. Learn Something New

Proving that you can still learn new skills will reduce anxiety about the future. Though sometimes hard, it’s possible to quiet that voice of doubt that lives in the back of your head. You just have to prove that you still have what it takes to acquire new skills. Anxiety comes from concern about the future. Nothing is more anxiety inducing than not believing you can start from scratch with something new. If you have faith that you can learn new things, you’ll quickly start to feel better about the road ahead. This is easier said than done. The majority of people go through life with stretches of time spent in stagnancy. Shaking the cobwebs loose and going for it is even harder when you’re coming out of the mental haze of addiction. Push yourself in the early stages of recovery to let go of lost time and get aggressive about tackling fresh challenges. Anything you can do to prove that you still have what it takes to acquire new skills will calm the anxiety you have about the future and build self-confidence.

3. Start An Exercise Routine

Physical challenges are great for building self-esteem. First, physical accomplishments and health goals are straightforward to execute. You put in the work, and the results come. There isn’t a lot of room for judging yourself. This makes exercise habits one of the best ways to prove to yourself early on in recovery that you can stay consistent and get results. The key here is consistency. Any form of physical exercise is beneficial. If you get bored of the same workouts, try a yoga class or go on a long walk with a loved one. Whatever you choose doesn’t have to be strenuous, just as long as you’re moving your body and thus, reducing stress and anxiety.

Making small strides every day refreshes your memory about the benefits of hard work. The emotional satisfaction that comes with that feeling of accomplishment is its own reward. The joy that comes from hard work is easy to forget when you’ve been struggling with the complications of addiction. Exercise reminds you of that feeling of success, and you can use it to translate positive momentum into other, more complicated areas of your life.

 

4. Share Your Story

Addiction can bring with it a lot of feelings of guilt and shame. The harm that some addicted individuals cause directly or indirectly to their loved ones can be a heavy burden to bear. It can leave the lingering question of whether or not you’re worthy of the love and acceptance you once were. By taking the step to share your full story with the world, you can get confirmation that you are still, in fact, deserving of love. Being vulnerable is also the mark of a great leader, and people respond accordingly. When you take the first step to expose your true self, people react by doing the same, and they share with you the best possible version of themselves. This opens the door to making new connections with emotionally available people who resonate with your story. If you live in the Phoenix, AZ area, the Stonewall Institute Treatment Center’s 10-week alcohol and drug treatment program can be a safe place to share your story and get support from knowledgeable experts and like-minded individuals.

 

5. Make Space In Your Day For Quiet Reflection

Spending time alone is part of the journey towards self-acceptance in the face of recovery. Just as being vulnerable with others can make connections and build self-esteem, meditating can help you reconnect with yourself. The modern world is so fast-paced and over-stimulating that it can be hard to get quiet time alone. Much of the benefit that comes from meditation is the result of removing all the background noise. A traditional meditation practice is something you can work up to, but initially, blocking off technology-free time to yourself is a great first step.

When you’re ready to kick your reflection time into the next gear, try going on hikes. There’s quite a bit of research on the mental health benefits of what the Japanese call forest-bathing. According to scientific literature, the smells, sights, and sounds of a babbling creek and wind rushing through the trees reduces anxiety. The sounds of nature are the perfect contradiction to the hyperactive stimulus of heavy traffic, computers, and cell phones.

 

The brain fog of addiction and recovery can make life seem emotionally stifling and overwhelming. Individuals suffering from addiction can have low self-esteem from the regrets that come with wasted time. By putting in the extra effort to reconnect with yourself and the world, you can get in a better headspace for living a productive life. Pushing yourself to master new skills and staying consistent with hard work is the best way to build self-esteem in recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance dependence, don’t hesitate to contact Stonewall Institute Treatment Center today. Call us today at 602-535-6468 or by email at info@stonewallinstitute.com.

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A Guide to Avoiding Relapse

One aspect of recovery many people worry about is relapse.  Simply defined, relapse is when an individual in recovery uses a substance again in some capacity.  In some cases, relapse is an isolated incident and the individuals returns to their life of sobriety soon after.  In other cases, the individual may spiral into the cycle of addiction once again.

 

Relapse is not a rare circumstance.  In fact, over 85% of previously addicted individuals will likely relapse within the first year of sobriety.  Drug and alcohol addiction is without a doubt one of the hardest diseases to overcome, so the reported relapse rates are not surprising to many.

 

When individuals relapse, many often feel a sense of failure, shame, and/or guilt.  It’s extremely important to reiterate:  Relapsing does not equate to failure.  Although it can be difficult to come to terms with a recent relapse, those in recovery must be reminded that taking their recovery day by day is key, and if relapse occurs, they can start again the next day.

 

But sometimes it isn’t that simple.  The relapse may trigger a binge, which may trigger another downward spiral into addiction once again.  The feelings of failure, shame, and guilt only exasperate the problem, and without the proper tools, the individual may lose everything they worked so hard to achieve.

 

This is why educating people about relapse prevention is crucial prior to or during treatment/aftercare.  If you or anyone you love is thinking about committing to the process of recovery, relapse prevention will be one of the most important lessons learned.

 

With the knowledge contained here, an individual struggling with addiction will understand that their recovery will be a continuous process, even after treatment.  In fact, it’s something they’re going to have to work on for the rest of their lives.

 

Within treatment centers, the proper motivation behind preventing relapse is widely discussed. Many times, an addicted individual ends up in rehabilitation through the efforts of a loved one. Although striving to not let down their family is motivation for many people in recovery, it’s not the sole motivation needed to transform their lives.

 

The best motivation comes from oneself.  The motivation that they themselves want to get better and that they need to be the one to make the change. They can realize the impact their disease is having on those around them, but when they realize that their substance use is controlling their lives and they’re they only ones able to stop it, that’s when they can make the brave decision to change for him/herself.

 

With this motivation, preventing relapse may become an easier feat.  When their self-worth and self-acceptance is positive, they’re more likely to recognize triggers that could spark a relapse.  And if they do in fact relapse, they can forgive themselves far easier because they know relapsing is a part of recovery and not something to be ashamed of.

 

For most individuals, there are three powerful tips that are given in concerns with avoiding relapse. Though the number of tips offered isn’t limited to the following three, these are generally considered the most effective.

 

  1. Seek out professional substance use help when you begin your recovery, through it, and even afterward.
  2. Consider what you’re going to experience throughout your recovery and set realistically healthy goals.
  3. Look for the people that will benefit you the most. Whether this is family, friends, or a community of other recovering individuals.

The true mark of successful recovery is the amount of commitment one puts into it.  Recovery requires a tremendous amount of commitment and hard work, but when an individual’s commitments are grounded in positive self-image, self-love, and self-acceptance, recovery can become easier day by day.

 

That’s not to say recovery is easy for some and difficult for others.  It will be difficult regardless, and we must come to terms with that when we make the decision to become sober.  We must realize that every day will be a struggle for awhile, but at the same time hold on to the notion that one day it will get easier and your life will change for the better.

 

Seeking Professional Help

 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, individuals who seek treatment are making an effort that goes beyond stopping drug abuse. “…the goal of treatment is to return people to productive functioning in the family, workplace, and community.”

 

The Institute claims that people who’re properly committed to treatment not only avoid drug use after recovery, but also decrease their criminal record and improve their occupational, social, and psychological functioning.

 

Within a qualified drug rehabilitation center, individuals suffering from addiction can expect to receive a treatment that correlates entirely with their situation as well as assurance for the right professional care.  Being that detoxing is an important first step, it’s vital this is done under a highly trained medical staff.

 

Withdrawals are never easy and on occasion, can even be fatal.  Under professional care, it’s assured you’ll not only rid your body of the substance, but you’ll be doing so under the most comfortable techniques known to modern medicine.

 

The detox is almost always followed up by a therapeutic stage in which individuals must reflect on the emotions that they’ve tied so closely together with their drug use.  This stage is just as vital as detoxing.  Even though the body is rid of a chemical, the mind will still have urges for it and may experience triggers.  Giving insight as to why relapse is an issue to begin with.

 

Therapy comes in all shapes and sizes. Depending on the individual, different programs will be sought out to fit their emotional circumstances.  Regardless of the individual, the goal of therapy is to relinquish those past emotions attached to drugs or alcohol and replace them with new optimism.

 

There are often instances where individuals seek out treatment but have preoccupations they can’t just leave behind such as family, work, or schooling.  If this is your case, you might want to look into an intensive outpatient program (IOP).  This program will give you all the same benefits as if you were entering a drug rehabilitation center while remaining flexible with your outside life.

 

Please note that Intensive Outpatient Treatment is simply one avenue to explore, and your best option to determine the correct treatment method for your circumstance is to seek a substance use evaluation from a licensed substance abuse counselor.

 

The importance of any treatment decision is that you’re seeking professional help.  Even after treatment is taken care of, it’s always recommended to continue on with other forms of support – such as 12-step meetings, sober living, and aftercare services.  A professional will always be there to help you on specific issues and unlike loved ones, they hold the opportunity to discover exact answers to your dilemmas.

 

Set Healthy and Realistic Objectives

 

If anything is guaranteed after intensive treatment, it’s that you know exactly the person you’ll be when you return to real life.  When really considered, you’re about to put your body and mind through a complete change and with this comes a new onset of emotions that aren’t always so clear in the beginning stages.  Another important piece of aftercare is readjusting to civilian life and avoiding people, places, or things that may trigger a relapse.

 

Setting unrealistic goals right away may also lead to relapse.  Telling yourself you can go out with your friends to a dinner without drinking or thinking you’re able to take the same route to work that you did while in the midst of your addiction may very well trigger relapse.

 

Realistic objectives are different for different people.  One person’s objective may include getting out of bed each day, brushing their teeth, showering, and putting on clothes that aren’t pajamas.  Another person’s objective may be finding the courage to cut ties with former friends and acquantiences that enabled their addiction.

 

Your recovery is completely your own and the pace at which you enter back into your life is completely up to you.  With a positive and healthy mindset, you’ll be automatically setting yourself up on the path of a successful recovery if you have realistic goals you can accomplish.

 

 

Keep Loved Ones Close

 

Family members, friends, and other close loved ones are usually the core of support for any person recovering from addiction.  This comes as no surprise as these people will be the ones there for you after treatment is over and as already mentioned, your recovery goes beyond checking in and out of a treatment facility.  It goes into the right kind of motivation.  Loved ones can be just that.

 

Though professional help should always be the first course of action, it is equally as important to surround yourself with an amazing support system after intensive treatment.  With the right support system, love, and proper aftercare, the chance of relapse can diminish greatly.

 

There will be instances where cravings come back, triggers happen, and suddenly relapse seems like a real possibility.  In these instances, a loved one can be the immediate source of comfort.  If the cravings continue, it’s important to speak with a substance abuse professional right away.

 

It must also be noted that participating in a 12-step program that lends support from others in the same place as you is also vital to maintaining sobriety.  There are other community support groups that aren’t 12-step, but working the steps has proven to be highly beneficial and provides a support system when loved ones may not be enough.  Even if a loved one is available for comfort, support groups have one trait loved ones don’t.  That is other individuals who’ve gone through similar experiences. Therefore, experiencing similar emotions.

 

Remember:  Recovery is not one-size-fits-all and relapse is a part of recovery.  If you or somebody you love experiences a relapse, know that it does not make you a bad person and will never make you a failure.  It may be viewed as a temporary setback, but never anything that defines you as a person or defines your commitment to your sobriety.

 

Take it day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute.

 

 

If you or anyone you know is looking for an alcohol or drug treatment program that’s right for them or you’re looking for more information on relapse and how to avoid it, Stonewall Institute Treatment Center is happy to help.  Please, give us a call today at (602) 535 6468 or email us at info@stonewallinstitute.com.  We’re here for you.

Stigma and Addiction: The Undesired Truth

There are many myths and misconceptions about alcoholism and who alcoholics are.  Those who are not in the recovery community contribute to the perpetuation of these myths via stereotypes and being generally unaware of what addiction actually consists of.   These myths may also contribute to the stigmatization of alcoholism.

The truth is that society has shaped itself to shame anyone who finds themselves suffering from mental health issues, especially when it comes to addiction.  When you consider the fact that many believe addiction is a “chosen path”, the shame and guilt felt by these individuals can grow exponentially.

With this stigma so common in society, those with substance use issues are put in a difficult position.  Those who want to get sober must go through recovery, followed up by a reentry into the world outside treatment.  Although stigma surrounds the individual pre-treatment, there’s also a stigma during and after treatment as well.

This stigma may have to do with the fact that many decades ago, it was forbidden to discuss mental health issues within the United States.  The reasons for this are rather vague. Some will defend that people suffering from mental health issues are simply leaning towards an excuse, while others find that people “overreact” to very common emotions.

It can be said that in today’s society, we are witnessing more public understanding in terms of mental health issues.  We are in the progression of becoming more open about the topic and people are discovering much more sympathy for those affected by mental health.

But even still, the problem of addiction seems to reign stigma hard.  More often than not, it’s for the simple reason that the disease comes off as though it were a choice.  Because of this, society disregards the idea that addiction is a mental health problem at all.

This is the undesired truth: the idea that people just don’t understand addiction.  With it comes a stream of emotions – guilt, fear, and shame – that cause individuals to avoid treatment.  Even though it’s been statistically proven that, at least, one member of every family experiences some sort of mental illness, the stigma continues to create boundaries.

Understanding the Creation of the Emotion

Being that treatment is seen as a sort of meditative period, medical carers are responsible for more than just physically getting somebody sober.  They also find themselves accountable for getting their patients to a fulfilling emotional state so they can live their happiest life.  With society’s stigma towards addiction, this isn’t an easy task for both patients and medical carers.

This only furthers the proof that there’s a taboo placed on substance abuse rather than disorders such as depression or anxiety.  Surveys have confirmed that there is a distinct difference in those will accept addiction and those who won’t.  Generally, people who are affected or are close with someone suffering from mental health issues are more likely to comprehend those suffering from addiction.

With this survey, 709 people were asked a few simple questions about how they felt about individuals suffering from mental health issues and/or substance use issues:

  • A little more than half claimed they’d work with an individual suffering from mental health issues while less than a quarter were willing to work with a substance abuser.
  • A little less than three-quarters pronounced employers have every right to disregard employment from addicted individuals.
  • A quarter believed employers had a right to deny employment from anyone with any type of mental disorder.
  • A little less than half said health insurance companies had their right for disapproving indivduals suffering from substance use seeking treatment.
  • About a fifth opposed health insurance companies from offering their benefits to those with any type of mental disorder.

These statistics clearly outline the stigma with addiction.  Thinking about these statistics with regards to those seriously looking for treatment should give an idea of the intense emotions they experience.  Shame, guilt, and a fear that others around them won’t comprehend why they want to change their lives.

Reasoning for Addictions Stigmatization

To put it simply, people are afraid of what they don’t know.  When something is an absolute mystery to us, we tend to avoid thinking about it.  When the time comes to think about it, we get the notion to retaliate.  Why?  Because we are unaware of how to properly react.  There is no sense of understanding within it.

This is exactly the case with addiction.  People don’t look into such a topic when they have no necessity to witness and/or experience it.  However, this doesn’t give us an explanation as to why other mental health issues are slowly finding an acceptance while ones like addiction still receive backlash.  Unfortunately, the explanation is often ignored even though it’s in clear sight.

There are individuals who are in a position where taking drugs doesn’t feel so much like a “choice”, rather, they are affected by something called Substance Use Disorder.  The effects of this disease cause the brain to have strong urges of intaking some sort of chemical.  Even if it’s unknown to the body, there’s the intention of making it known. This inevitably leads to addiction.

It should be noted that individuals affected by substance abuse disorder often experience this compulsivity even after treatment.  This makes sobriety all the more difficult to accept.  Even if a person doesn’t suffer from this disease, there’s still the chance for this sort of behavior.  Reason being, the thrill of a high is so permanently locked into the brain.

In order to properly understand all this, we need to know that what affects a person’s substance abuse is more than just the thrill of the high.  It’s vital to consider their genetics, environment, and the way in which they were raised.  With these in mind, it becomes more clear as to why people can’t just “shake off” an addiction, even after going through treatment.

With this might come a relapse.  This is another part of addiction that many others look down upon.  In order for the public to truly understand, we must push the notion that addiction is very much a disease, not a simple choice.  People with this disease struggle with finding their own groundings in life and often fall back into the cycle due to a lack of discovery.

This is why people going through treatment are often taught to look for other areas in which to take their lives.  With the proper distraction, recovering from addiction becomes all the more easier.  Mainly because it opens individuals up to other ways in which to spend their time.  With this, there’s the hope that a person will blossom into a happy, fulfilled, and productive member of society.

How Does Stigma Impact Individuals?

There is certainty that due to these negative attributes associated with the word “addiction”, individuals are avoiding treatment altogether.  This may only fuel drug addiction further. If a person entering treatment feels that he/she will be labeled with the term “addict” for the rest of their lives, they cease to seek out the necessary care.

The term overdose is, likewise, a deadly term which people avoid.  If any individual has gone through such fate, they understand nobody wants to be labeled with an overdose. This has to do for two distinct reasons:

  • Overdoses only happen in concerns with hard substances.
  • It’s generally considered a “low life” scenario when someone has had the experience of an overdose.

For this reason, those who have experienced an overdose often prefer to avoid telling their doctors.  For one, there’s this unspoken notion that a doctor isn’t going to trust a patient if the term is attached to them.  Secondly, there’s the risk of it reaching someone of importance (i.e. a family member).  Therefore, medication such as naloxone – what is used to reverse the effects of an overdose, saving many lives – often doesn’t reach the people it’s intended for.

The stigma of addiction is real.  Those suffering from alcohol and/or drug use can use denial in order to avoid the challenges of accepting they have a problem.  By bringing awareness to alcohol abuse, alcoholism, and substance use, we as a society can reduce the stigma often associated with addiction and ultimately get those individuals the help they need.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from substance abuse or if you would like more information on the above subject; please, give us a call at 602-535-6468 or email us at info@stonewallinstitute.com.  You are not alone.  We are here to help.

Why is the Drinking Age 21?

It’s safe to say that much of the youth discover ways to avoid the mandatory drinking age. Whether it be asking their older friends – or even, on occasions, their parents – or by stealing a bottle from the grocery store, young people have been attracted to inebriation for centuries now. And though their ignorance towards the drinking age holds many consequences, it cannot be forgotten that for throughout most of human history, there were no limits on an age for alcohol consumption.

Even today, many countries – such as Canada and England – only restrict drinking until the age of 18. So, why is it 21 in America? People will defend that if a person is able to fight for their country, then they should be justified to sitting at a bar and having a glass of beer. A statement as such has held much debate as to whether 21 is the proper age or not. However, the lawmaker’s intentions in the drinking age have plenty of reasonable considerations that are often disregarded.

It was on July 17th, 1984 when Ronald Reagan signed into law the National Minimum Drinking Age Act. The overall idea was the government was going to withhold highway funding from any state who didn’t raise their drinking age to 21. Being that no state wanted such a restriction, they all complied. Since then, for better or worse, the laws have remained the same.

However, recent scientific research is proclaiming that this law is having its positive and negative effects on the youth.

An Effort for the Sake of Better Health

The National Minimum Drinking Age Act did have its reasonings. The biggest being that most of the drunk driving incidents at-the-time were caused by teenagers between the ages of 16 and 20. With the ban being placed on them to legally purchase, there was a significant drop in the number of incidents happening across the country.

In 1982, out of all drunk driving incidents, 62% ended up in fatal casualty. By the year of 1995, that number dropped to 31%. Therefore, the law most certainly had some effect on the amount of people dying due to drinking and driving.

However, there was also a flip side to the coin. Being that the youth often finds enjoyment in taking risks, there seemed to be a new sort of risk in drinking before the age of 21. With the law provoking consequence and parents abidingly teaching their children not to drink, there became much more intrigue in the concept of drinking.

Just as with illegal drug use, there’s a sense of rebellion much of the youth is attracted to. The only difference being that drinking would eventually become legal for them. Therefore, they’ll eventually not have to feel as though anything is at risk.

Only a few years after the law was passed, a survey taken showed that a remarkable amount of college students were now drinking in comparison to legal drinkers. The reasoning behind this has to do with the common belief in the youth attempting to be rebellious.

So, outside of drunk driving, where does the concern truly lie in an eighteen-year-old drinking alcohol? There are some arguments brought up by doctors who’ve studied the topic. However, their claims can be rather inconclusive.

The Maturing Individual

In concerns with rehabilitation, it’s always important we don’t lead people into an addiction at such a young age. There are some thoughts that an immature mind is more likely to fall into a dependence as they’re unaware of the dangers in acts such as binge drinking. This is completely true, yet, varies from individual to individual.

Depending on their life experiences, their environment, and their genetics, addiction isn’t always a guarantee. A recent study shows that 7 out of 10 college students take part in consuming alcohol on, at least, a monthly basis. With this knowledge, it’s safe to say that not every single one of them is developing an addiction.

However, it could be questioned whether or not this is affecting their maturing brains. When talking about binge drinking, there are very damaging influences over a young person’s brain. A destruction has been known to leave people with permanent memory loss and other cognitive deficits.

To understand this, we must understand how the brain develops during the teenage years. There are a few changes going on throughout – generally speaking – the ages of twelve and twenty.

  1. The brain is learning to transmit information at quicker rates for the sake of handling more intricate thoughts.
  2. This is caused by neurons gaining size and power.
  3. The brain also gets rid of synapses.

Similar to that of an infant just discovering the world, a teenage brain is learning to process the realities of a more adult world. One of which is going to require responsibilities and an effort towards strategic goal planning.

Mixing this with alcohol is a dangerous concoction that could have a devastating impact. Therefore, it gives us a more proper reasoning as to why the legal drinking age is 21. If everyone were to follow this rule, it would give everyone enough time for their brains to develop into maturity.

To further this point, the part of the brain responsible for socializing and emotions – the limbic system – develops within these teen years. Being that alcohol is, generally, a social substance that can make you feel a certain way, those drinking at a young age are greatly affecting this developing element. To top it off, the areas of the brain responsible for judgment aren’t completely shaped until a person’s late 20’s. Leaving the legal age limit unreliable for the effects alcohol can have in this regard.

Conclusion

It’s important to look out for those around you. Whether you’re a parent or a member of the youth, problem drinking is proven to greatly affect that of the developing mind. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure any person that may be falling into these behaviors is aware of the potential consequence.

If addiction has already begun, there are solutions. Especially with the youth who still have their chance to change the inevitability of their future.

If you or anyone you love is struggling with a drinking habit and/or is looking for more information as to why the age limit for alcohol consumption is 21, please, give us a call at 602 535 6468 or email us at info@stonewallinstitute.com.

Alcohol’s Effects on Your Sleep Pattern

Many people hold the notion that alcohol can act as a sedative. Therefore, leading them to the belief that drinking before bed will lead to a better night’s sleep. However, modern science has proven for this to be anything but true.

For one, alcohol is actually a stimulant – to some regards – even though it’s classified as a depressant. If it didn’t wake us up and feel good, millions wouldn’t be going out every Friday night and having their drinks as a means of socializing. Alcohol makes us feel good and it does so in the essence of filling the brain with endorphins. These are the chemicals responsible for us becoming talkative, confident, and less socially ashamed.

These chemicals do eventually wear off and leave us feeling rather sluggish. Ending our drunkenness with a drowsiness. Sometimes, instances appear where an individual has drunk too much to the point of sending themselves into a loss of consciousness. But it should be noted that this is simply the body’s reaction the lack of consumption in terms of blood alcohol levels.

Interestingly, scientific research has led to the conclusion that alcohol, in fact, reduces the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. Yet, it increases the amount of time the brain spends within deep sleep.

To top this off, the second half of the sleep cycle is very much disturbed. Causing abusers to not get as good of a night’s sleep and more susceptible to waking up from minor annoyances. With this data, it’s highly suggested that people with insomnia do not use alcohol as a sedative. Though it may help an insomniac fall asleep quicker, there is a very likely chance one will be awakened before they’ve received a full night’s rest.

Some may be asking the question as to whether alcohol is always bad for sleep. There are instances where – in an example – a glass of wine has sedative qualities that will help an individual fall asleep and stay in sleep for a longer period of time. However, it’s highly noted that the body builds a tolerance to alcohol very quickly. And soon enough, the individual would have to increase the amount of alcohol consumption in order to recreate the same effects. With this, they will not only be doing harm to their body but also great damage to their sleep schedule.

Understanding the Sleep Structure with Alcohol

There’s usually a time in everyone’s school career where they learn about the sleep cycle. To those unaware, the average adult begins their night in a stage called NREM (defined non-rapid eye movement). To put it simply, this is when the brain slowly goes from consciousness to unconsciousness.

Following NREM is REM (defined rapid eye movement). During this period is when a sleeper will experience dreams as they are very deep into unconsciousness. Throughout the night, we experience the sleep cycle around four to five times.

When an individual brings the toxification of alcohol into this they are disturbing much of what the brain is used to. In essence, throwing it off the steady course of the cycle and almost creating an entirely new one.

As mentioned, alcohol will make you fall asleep faster as well as cause you to stay within deeper sleep for a longer period of time. With this knowledge, we can understand that the third and fourth stages of the sleep cycle are heightened to some degree. This also causes the SWS (defined slow wave sleep) to increase during the first half of a night’s sleep. For those unaware, SWS is responsible for refurbishing the body and immune system for the following day.

At this point, it does seem as though alcohol may help an individual find sleep. However, it’s during the second half of one’s sleep cycle that a person will experience the disturbance caused by inebriation. REM is greatly reduced during this time, therefore, leaving the user in a very fragile state of mind before a full refreshment of the body is complete.

How Alcohol Affects Everyone’s Sleep Differently

People are likely to have a versatile amount of experiences while attempting to sleep with alcohol in their system. For alcoholics, these experiences may happen more frequently than to that of a non-alcoholic having their fun with a night of drinking. And vice versa.

Being that alcohol also affects us all differently, the number of possibilities in which an individual sleeps – or wakes up – to remain inconsistent.

  1. Waking Up Too EarlyAs mentioned, the second half of the sleep cycle is very much disturbed by alcohol flowing through the blood. Being this, people will often find themselves waking up in the early morning – before their intended wake up time – and unable to fall back asleep. This is commonly known as the rebound effect.
  2. Combining Pills with AlcoholPreferably, we’re going to quickly discuss sleeping pills as many believe it’s a way to counteract any disturbance brought on by alcohol. Though some may find themselves getting full night’s rest – or even more – there is much danger in sleeping pills combined with alcohol. For one, the body is not receiving proper refurbishing as it would in a healthy body. But also, there are chances of accidents that could lead to fatal situations.
  3. Night SweatsAlcohol has the ability to open up blood vessels which, in essence, heat up the body to temperatures all too warm. With this, individuals will have the tendency to sweat throughout the night.
  4. Increased SnoringPeople who are affected by snoring are likely to worsen their symptoms. Being that alcohol relaxes the muscles in the throat and airway. If you’re not affected by snoring, there’s still the chance of gaining these symptoms through alcohol.
  5. Increased UrinationThis one may be obvious, but the more alcohol an individual is going to consume, the more they’re going have to use the bathroom. With this, it can be assumed that a night’s sleep will often be disturbed by the constant necessity of urination.
  6. Increased Chance of SleepwalkingBeing that alcohol increases our SWS, there are likely chances of people suffering from somnambulism increasing their suffering through drinking. The occurrence of sleepwalking happens more frequently in the SWS. Therefore, with alcohol only heightening the condition, people may find themselves in the position of sleepwalking more frequently.

 

If you or anyone you love is looking for alcohol abuse treatment or desire more information on how alcohol affects a person’s sleep patterns, please, give us a call at 602-535-6468 or email us at info@stonewallinstitute.com.

Why Do We Get Hangovers?

The fun always has to come to an end. And when it comes to drinking, this fun generally results in a hangover. The feeling of a dry mouth, unbearable headache, and nausea. It’s terrible and people generally get the sense of regret upon waking up with such unpleasant sensation. Yet, it doesn’t stop many from making the same mistake again. And again.

Hangovers tend to make people feel achy in the muscles. Their eyes become much more sensitive, specifically to light. And there’s this overwhelming desire to continually drink water as thirst never seems to end. People with severe hangovers will find themselves dizzy, sweaty, and maybe a little agitated.

There’s reasoning behind all these terrible symptoms. Hours after your last drink is consumed, your blood alcohol level dramatically drops. With this, there’s a climax with these symptoms once your blood alcohol level has hit zero.

According to Robert Swift, a professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University, hangovers are just like withdrawals. When a non-addict is drinking – even if it’s their first time – their body becomes ever so slightly addicted to alcohol. Enough to the point where a hangover will pursue as a way to release the chemicals.

This gives us input as to why proper detoxing for alcohol addicts is so important. If just a taste of being drunk causes an individual to experience withdrawal symptoms, you can only imagine what it must be like for someone who’s a heavy drinker.

Different Hangovers for Different Alcohols

Have you ever noticed that certain drinks will leave you feeling more hungover the following day than others? The reason behind this is a chemical known as congeners.

Congeners are a byproduct found in alcohol after it has been fermented. A result of a mix of other chemicals such as methanol, acetone, esters, and more. Their main responsibility is to the taste and smell that an alcoholic drink will create. However, they will also constitute some of the taste for non-distilled drinks.

These chemicals are more common in darker liquors such as:

  • Red Wine
  • Dark Beer
  • Whiskey
  • Bourbon
  • Brandy

Knowing this will give an explanation as to why that Jack Daniels made you feel worse in the morning than the Smirnoff you had the week prior. For social drinkers, it’s something to keep in mind. Though hangovers are hard to avoid when you’ve decided to have your fun with alcohol, there are ways to make that morning nuance less overbearing.

However, for problem drinkers, the nuance stems much longer than the morning. As mentioned, alcoholics will experience withdrawals more frequently the more often they drink. Therefore, though the congeners are a confliction, the constant hangovers have more to do with the frequent intake of alcohol itself.

Symptoms Caused By Congeners

As we know, congeners are responsible for the feeling of a hangover. But what we have yet to discuss are the symptoms responsible for drinkings after effects.

The main one being dehydration. Alcohol is prominently known for getting rid of fluids within the body. With this in mind, you can assume that the more severely you drink, the more dehydrated your body will be. This will, inevitably, lead to an even more severe hangover.

Alcohol also fuels you with something called metabolites, which leaves irritation within your body’s fluids. This also catapults dehydration and can be blamed for any feelings of nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. It can also vex other areas of the body like your stomach lining and the muscles of your lower esophagus. Metabolites are the greatest responsibility for puking.

Yet, it’s the brain that truly is taking in much of the torment. Alcohol has an extremely depressing effect on brain cells that cause a person who’s drunk to lack coordination and hold sensations of dizziness. The more someone drinks, the more they are killing the cells in their brain accountable for proper analysis of how to handle oneself.

If you ever find yourself feeling weak due to drinking, it’s because of the combination of effects on the brain and in lowering your blood sugar. People who experience diseases that cause low blood sugar – such as hypoglycemia – will feel this vulnerability even more.

With all this information, it’s important for individuals to remind themselves that alcohol is – in some regards – poisoning the body. And if said individuals have any sort of medical concerns, they should be aware of what they could be doing to their bodies with the intake of alcohol.

Yet, even healthy individuals should keep an open eye as to how much they drink. Too much of the substance could lead to diseases later on, one of the most important being an addiction. For once addiction becomes an issue, there’s much deterioration that’s going to take place within the body.

Avoiding Hangovers

Is there truly a cure out there that will ensure people avoid hangovers while drinking? The simple answer is no. The only sure fire way to prevent these terrible feelings is to either not drink or drink less of a particular substance. With the knowledge of congeners in mind, you can consider which drinks are less likely to produce stronger hangovers, but you cannot avoid them.

What about the cases of some people not getting hangovers? It’s hard to pinpoint everyone’s reaction to alcohol because we all hold different responses to any sort of substance. Body weight, the amount of food in the digestive tract, and the speed at which alcohol is consumed all play a factor in the hangover that will follow the morning after. Most of the time, the people who don’t get hangovers are drinking more responsibly.

It should be noted that keeping your body hydrated while consuming alcohol will help with the symptoms. Yet, it’s not the answer to curing hangovers. They’re incurable once they’ve taken their effect. And the reason being is your body’s withdrawing from the substance and needs to time to rid itself of the chemicals.

For heavy drinkers, you are only fueling your withdrawal symptoms further with the more you drink. And you’re destroying your body and brain cells while this is going on.

If you or anyone you know going through an alcohol addiction and looking for a treatment plan, Stonewall Institute Treatment Center is happy to help. Please, give us a call at 602-535-6468 or email us at info@stonewallinstitute.com.

How to Talk to Your Kids About Addiction

Proposing a conversation upon your children about another’s substance addiction is never easy. Whether the addict is a parent, sibling, or other close relatives, a child’s comprehension on the subject remains vague. Therefore, the adult intending to initiate such a conversation is going to have to explain the situation properly and efficiently enough for a child’s understanding.

Statistics show that more than 28 million children have at least one alcoholic parent. These children have been shown to grow up with emotional, behavioral, and academic problems. This is due to the fact that these children grow up facing issues the average child doesn’t have to handle. With addiction’s arbitrary inclinations, substance-abusing parents are more likely to threaten their children to abuse, neglect, and the witness of domestic violence.

Over time, these effects play their role, and children of addicted parents end up four times as likely to become drug addicts themselves. Depending on their environment, there’s the strong chance they won’t understand a life outside of their drug infested home. However, there are steps that can be taken to avoid this. One of the most important being the proper conversation.

To whoever decides to take this task upon themselves, you should be aware of a child’s developmental stages in coordination to living within an addict’s home. For example, if the addicted parent(s) never gave their children proper discipline, there’s the impregnable possibility that they will grow up with a shortfall in self-discipline and an understanding of their responsibility.

Emotions within a child as such can be confusingly sporadic. Often, the case of resentment becomes an issue. Especially as a child enters their adolescent years. With these emotions in mind, the conversation about addiction can get tricky. What you are about to undertake is the explanation of addiction’s destruction to a young, fragile mind that has already witnessed much of the horror. We should attempt to put that horror into perspective and a clear understanding for the child’s sake.

Listed below are different factors to keep in mind when preparing for the conversation. Obviously, everyone’s situation is different and no two conversations will be alike. But these factors have remained consistent in terms of how to handle a child born into an addicted family.

  • Cue Yourself Properly

    There’s a time and a place for this conversation. Preferably, within a private setting and following a pinnacle moment of the addict’s abuse. The talk should be one without distractions and remain in a relaxed manner.

    If there’s a plan set forth to help the addict, use the opportunity as a way to speak with the child. Bringing up that a solution is set in place is a reassuring factor to the overall discussion. If any major changes are to be expected within the child’s life, to shy away from bringing them up. Be sure to always let the child speak if they desire to and let him/her learn to open up to such a dilemma.

  • Remember the Child’s Age

    The maturity of the child has much to do with the way you’ll speak of the matter to them. They may be too young for big language or too old for skimpy details. Be upfront and speak the truth, but keep in mind two important aspects.

    1. The amount of information a child can retain truly depends on their age and understanding.
    2. The details of the situation may (or may not) be inappropriate for certain periods of time. For example, if the child’s parents have recently overdosed on a substance and the child has yet to enter preteen years, you’ll want to go about the situation in an illustrative, yet, forgiving manner.

    Remember to always end the conversation with a sense of hope. No matter how old a person is, hope can be a leading factor in how someone handles with the emotions of an addicted parent.

  • Educate Yourself

    If you are fairly unaware of how addiction works outside of the obvious traumas, it’s vital you teach yourself about the situation. The internet offers research on any regard to the subject. A look through Stonewall Institute’s blog will even give you much information on a variety of topics.

    More often than not, a child will have many questions upon addiction. It shouldn’t be underestimated that they’ll probably believe whatever the adult has to say. Without proper answers, you’ll find yourself misleading. If you truly don’t have an answer, there’s no reason not to look one up together.

  • Remain Honest

    Never let yourself mock-up an explanation or work around certain matters that may be sensitive towards the child. Lying is another way of underestimating a child’s intelligence. Though they may believe a lie or two, it’s unfair to place them in such a position. Though it has been said many times, honesty can go a long way.

  • Liberate Humiliation and Create Perspective

    There are many instances where children will blame themselves for their parent’s downfalls. It’s important a child realizes it isn’t their fault. With this, an addict’s behavior and intentions have more of a possibility of coming into perspective.

    Through this perspective, a child holds the potential of realizing that they are facing troubles on their own. And that these struggles are not their faults. It’s key to make sure they realize they are not alone in this struggle. More often than not, the person attempting to give this conversation has, likewise, been through much due to another person’s selfish decision.

    This can be an enlightening moment to bring up what’s called “The Seven C’s”. The National Association for Children of Alcoholics” have created this list as a way for children to better understand their situation.

    1. I didn’t CAUSE it.
    2. I can’t CURE it.
    3. I can’t CONTROL it.
    4. I can take CARE of myself.
    5. By COMMUNICATING my feelings,
    6. Making healthy CHOICES, and
    7. By CELEBRATING myself.

  • Remain Open to the Child’s Words

    Children who are put in such a position may feel disconnected from many around them. If so, you should attempt to understand this disconnection and give them time to open up to you. The emotions they must combat are strong and patience is a vital factor in helping their comprehension.

  • Look for Other Support

    Sometimes we can’t give a child everything they need. No matter how hard we try, there are areas of understanding beyond our own comprehension. And professional help becomes a possibility. Whether it be a counselor, teacher, therapist, or religious leader, a child may find their comfort in places outside of you.

    If you or anyone you know is looking for a treatment plan or you would like more information on how to properly talk to children about addiction, please, give us a call at 602-535-6468 or email us at info@stonewallinstitute.com.