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Addiction Recovery Anxiety & Stress Critical Incidents First Responders Uncategorized

The Human Brain: Frontal Lobe and Mid Brain

The Human Brain: Frontal Lobe and Mid Brain

The human brain is made up of many different parts, each with its own unique function. The frontal lobe and mid-brain are two of the most important regions of the brain, responsible for various critical functions. Though they are both parts of the human brain; frontal lobe and mid brain have some very different functions.

The frontal lobe is the larger of the two regions and is located at the front of the brain. This region is responsible for higher-level thinking, such as decision-making and problem-solving. Conversely, the mid-brain is located in the center of the brain and is responsible for more basic functions, such as movement and vision.

In recent years, scientists have made great strides in understanding how the brain works. We now know more about the different parts of the brain and their functions than ever before. And as our understanding of the brain grows, so too does our ability to treat different types of brain disorders.

What Is The Frontal Lobe?

The frontal lobe is the part of the brain that is responsible for many of our higher-level functions, such as planning, decision-making, and self-control. This area of the brain is particularly important in children, as it is still developing during the teenage years.

Functions Of The Frontal Lobe

The frontal lobe is one of the four major and most important lobe of the brain. It is located at the front of the brain and is responsible for a variety of tasks, including motor function, problem-solving, memory, emotions, and language. The frontal lobe is the largest of the four lobes and is divided into two sections: the left and right frontal lobes.

The frontal lobe is responsible for many of the body’s functions, including:
  • Motor function: The frontal lobe is responsible for controlling the body’s movement.
  • Problem-solving: The frontal lobe is responsible for processing information and making decisions.
  • Memory: The frontal lobe is responsible for storing memories.
  • Emotions: The frontal lobe is responsible for regulating emotions.
  • Language: The frontal lobe is responsible for producing and understanding language.
  • The personality function is responsible for our emotions and social interactions. This is the part of the brain that allows us to interact with others and experience the world around us.

Effects Of Damage To The Frontal Lobe

One of the most common effects of frontal lobe damage is problems with executive function. This can include difficulties with planning, organization, and decision-making. People with frontal lobe damage may also have trouble with short-term memory, and they may have difficulty understanding and using language. Additionally, some psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, are thought to be associated with abnormalities in the frontal lobe.

Physical effects of frontal lobe damage can include weakness or paralysis on one side of the body, as well as problems with balance and coordination. In some cases, people with frontal lobe damage may also experience changes in their personalities and mood.

What Is Mid-Brain?

The mid-brain is a region of the brain that is located between the fore-brain and the hind-brain. The mid-brain is also responsible for many of the body’s automatic functions, such as regulating blood pressure and heart rate.

Function Of Mid-Brain

The mid-brain is responsible for a variety of important functions, including the regulation of sleep, body temperature, and blood pressure. It also plays a role in the processing of information from the senses and the control of movement. Additionally, the mid-brain is involved in the formation of memories and the generation of emotions.

Effects Of Damage To The Mid-Brain

Damage to the mid-brain can have a variety of effects depending on the location and severity of the injury. Damage to the mid-brain can result in a number of different symptoms, including problems with movement, balance, and coordination. This can make everyday activities difficult or even impossible. In severe cases, damage to the mid-brain can cause coma or death. Damage to the mid-brain can also cause paralysis and blindness.

Difference Between Forebrain And Mid-Brain

The human brain is the most fascinating organ. It is divided into three main parts – the hindbrain, the midbrain, and the forebrain – each of which serves a different purpose. The hindbrain is responsible for primitive functions like respiration and heart rate, while the midbrain controls more complex functions like movement and vision. The forebrain, which is the largest and most complex part of the brain, is responsible for higher functions like thought, emotion, and memory.

While all three parts of the brain are important, the frontal lobe and the midbrain are particularly interesting when compared to each other. The mid-brain is responsible for processing information from the senses, while the frontal lobe is responsible for higher-level cognitive functions such as decision-making, planning, and problem-solving. 

The forebrain is located at the front of the brain, while the midbrain is located in the middle of the brain. The frontal lobe is larger and more complex than the mid-brain, and it contains more convolutions (or folds). The mid-brain, on the other hand, is smaller and simpler in structure.

While there are many differences between the mid-brain and the frontal lobe, they are both essential for normal brain function. Without either one of these structures, the brain would not be able to properly process information or perform complex tasks.

Summary

As it has been mentioned before, the forebrain and mid-brain have many key differences, but none of them can be overestimated. Both of them have their own importance and essential part of the brain. The forebrain is responsible for the higher cognitive functions, while the mid-brain is in charge of the more basic functions. In conclusion, both the forebrain and mid-brain are essential for the proper functioning of the brain.

Learn more about how addiction impacts the brain

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Addiction Recovery Cancer & Medical Uncategorized

Everything You Need To Know About Nicotine Addiction

Everything You Need To Know About Nicotine Addiction and Its Mechanisms of Dependence

Nicotine addiction is likley the most common addiction in the world. That’s not surprising as it is a highly addictive substance in tobacco products across the globe. It is the main reason why people who smoke cigarettes find it so hard to quit. (everybody knows somebody who has quit…many times.) When nicotine enters the body, it affects the brain in a number of ways. Nicotine increases the levels of certain chemicals that make you feel happy and relaxed. It also reduces the levels of other chemicals that make you feel stressed and anxious.

If you are trying to quit smoking, it is important to understand how nicotine affects your brain. This article will provide you with everything you need to know about nicotine, including its effects on your health and its potential risks. I know, I know…a bummer. But let’s keep it real.

So, What Is Nicotine?

Nicotine is an alkaloid found in plants. It is a potent parasympathomimetic stimulant and an important drug used in many forms of smoking cessation therapy. Nicotine acts as a nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonist to produce site-specific depolarizing changes in cell membranes. These changes elicit a variety of downstream effects that ultimately lead to activation of cell signalling pathways and regulation of gene expression.

Nicotine is addictive and can be harmful to your physical as well as mental health. It is important to be informed about the risks of nicotine before you start using it.

Dependence On Nicotine

Nicotine dependence is a psychiatric disorder characterized by compulsive use of nicotine-containing products, despite negative consequences. dependence on nicotine is thought to involve both psychological and biochemical mechanisms.

Psychologically, nicotine dependence is similar to other types of addiction and is thought to be caused by a combination of factors, including genetics, environment, and personality. Biochemically, nicotine dependence is thought to be caused by the changes that nicotine induces in the brain. These changes lead to an increased need for nicotine in order to feel normal and are thought to be responsible for the compulsive use of tobacco products seen in nicotine-dependent individuals.

How Does Nicotine Affect The Brain?

Nicotine binds to receptors in the brain and produces a number of effects, including increased alertness and concentration. It also causes a release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which gives smokers a temporary energy boost. In the long term, however, nicotine can have harmful effects on the brain. These effects include addiction, increased risk of stroke and cognitive decline.

In addition to the changes it causes in the brain, nicotine also has a number of other effects on the body. It can increase heart rate and blood pressure, and it can also constrict blood vessels. Nicotine is also a known carcinogen, and it has been linked to a number of different types of cancer.

How Is Nicotine Used?

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that is commonly found in cigarettes and other tobacco products. (In some aspects, nicotine is the most addictive substance on the planet – even above opioids. Though nicotine kills much more slowly). While many people think of nicotine as being harmful only to smokers, the reality is that it can be abused in many different ways.

Nicotine abuse can take many forms, including smoking (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, water pipes, etc), chewing tobacco (such as chew or dip), snorting tobacco (snuff), and even using electronic cigarettes (vapes). No matter how it is abused, nicotine is dangerous and can lead to addiction and other health problems. If you or someone you know is struggling with nicotine abuse, please seek help from a medical professional.

Harmful Effects Of Nicotine Addiction

Smoking is a leading cause of disease and death in the United States. Cigarette smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke cause more than 480,000 premature deaths each year in the United States. More than 41,000 of these deaths are from lung cancer. smoking is responsible for about 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men and about 80% of all lung cancer deaths in women.

Some other harmful effects of nicotine addiction include

• Lung cancer

• Emphysema

• Premature ageing

• Chronic bronchitis

• Stroke

Cancer

• Leukemia

• Impotence

• Infertility

• Weakened immune system

• Heart disease

• Gum disease and dental issues

• Diabetes

• Eye issues

• The appearance of premature ageing

• Pregnancy complications

• Cold and respiratory infections

• Loss of sense of taste and smell

• Peptic ulcer disease

• Osteoporosis

Nicotine addiction also increases your risk of developing mental health problems. If you’re addicted to nicotine, it’s important to get help so you can quit and protect your health.

Treatment For Nicotine Addiction

Nicotine addiction is a serious problem that affects millions of people worldwide. There are a variety of treatment options available, and a professional can help you choose the right one for your needs.

  1. Nicotine Replacement Therapy
    Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is a smoking cessation method that involves using a nicotine- based product to help smokers quit. NRT is thought to work by reducing the withdrawal symptoms that smokers experience when they try to quit. Nicotine replacement products come in a variety of forms, including patches, gum, lozenges, and inhalers.
    1. There is some evidence to suggest that NRT can help smokers quit, but the success rates are generally low. If you’re thinking about trying NRT to quit smoking, it’s important to talk to your doctor first to see if it’s right for you.
  • Support Groups
    Support groups are one of the most effective tools in the fight against nicotine addiction. By providing a safe and supportive environment, they can help people to quit smoking and stay smoke-free for life.
Support Groups can help you:

• Feel less isolated
• Understand that they are not alone • Share their experiences
• Learn from others
• Get motivation and support
• Stay on track

There are many different types of support groups, but all of them share a common goal. Some groups focus on providing information and education about quitting, while others offer more emotional support. No matter what type of group you choose, you will be surrounded by people who understand what you’re going through and can offer advice and support.

Summary

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that can have harmful effects on your physical and mental health. If you are addicted to nicotine, it is important to seek help to quit as soon as possible. There are a variety of resources available to help you quit, and many people have successfully quit smoking, chewing, dipping, using snuff and snus and even vaping. With the right support, you can overcome your addiction and improve your health.

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Addiction Recovery Opiates (Heroin and Prescription Pain Pills) Uncategorized

What Is Vivitrol?

What Is Vivitrol?”  I get asked that more and more often. Vivitrol is the injection (shot) form of a medication known as Naltrexone. And it’s use has grown significantly over the past several years – and for good reason. This article is intended to give you a little info and hopefully provide some clarity too.

  • Most commonly used for Opioid and Alcohol Withdrawal and to inhibit cravings
  • Comes in oral (Naltrexone) and IM (Vivitrol) forms
  • Must be prescribed by an approved physician
  • Is not meant to be a “magic pill” cure
  • Like other Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) options – the highest successful outcomes are when it is paired with therapy/treatment and support.
  • It is very different than other MAT out there at this time. 

*If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, please cheack out this resource page*

Stethoscope next to computer

Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that has the highest affinity for the -opioid receptors. In addition to its ability to block the effects of opioids, this compound has very few, if any, inherent effects. In 1994, the Food and Drug Administration of the United States gave its approval for the use of Naltrexone in the treatment of alcoholism (Kranzler, Wesson, Billot, Clinical, & Research, 2004).

In spite of this permission, the studies that have been conducted to determine whether or not Naltrexone is effective in treating alcoholism have produced mixed results. Patients failure to follow the prescribed treatment regimen while taking oral Naltrexone is one factor that contributes to the treatment’s overall lack of efficacy.

Some studies have also shown that in order for subjects to have greater reductions in alcohol consumption and risk of relapse as compared to subjects who were treated with a placebo, they must be highly compliant with the Naltrexone treatment. Utilizing formulations that provide sustained release or depot treatment is one approach that can be taken to address this issue.

VivitrolTM, a depot injectible dosage form of Naltrexone, was approved by the FDA on April 13, 2006, for the treatment of alcohol dependence in patients who are capable of withdrawing from drinking in an outpatient setting and who are not actively drinking at the beginning of therapy. Patients must also not be drinking at the time treatment begins. The recommended dosage of Vivitrol is 380 milligrams, which should be injected once per month or every 28 days.

Both DepotrexTM and NaltrelTM are examples of alternative depot parenteral formulations of Naltrexone. Naltrel helped to promote abstinence and decreased the incidence of relapse in two samples of alcohol-dependent subjects, while Vivitrol was shown to be effective at reducing heavy drinking among alcohol-dependent males (Chick et al., 2000; Monti et al., 2001).

The use of Naltrexone provides a blockade against the intoxicating and reinforcing effects of opioid-like compounds, which, in theory, can result in the elimination of drug-taking behavior. It does not produce euphoric effects, and as a result, it is not abused. Additionally, it does not result in physiological dependence on the user.

Similar to the situation with alcohol, the primary challenge presented by the oral formulation of Naltrexone for the treatment of opium or heroin dependence is low compliance (adherence). Long-acting sustained release formulations of Naltrexone (injectable or implantable) may help to develop compliance and, as a result, augment the efficacy of abstinence-oriented treatments with Naltrexone for heroin or opium dependence. Following the completion of opioid detoxification, the administration of Vivitrol is done for the purpose of preventing a return to opiate dependence (B. A. J. T. Johnson & management, 2007).

Mechanism of Action 

Dopaminergic pathways, (which have their origins in the ventral tegmental area, relay to the nucleus accumbens with neuronal inputs from other limbic regions, and progress to the cortex), are responsible for mediating the reinforcing effects of alcohol, which are associated with the substance’s potential for abuse. An antagonist for the mu-opioid receptor, Naltrexone, reduces the positive effects of alcohol through two distinct mechanisms. First, it prevents alcohol from causing beta-endorphin stimulation of dopamine neurons directly in the nucleus accumbens. Second, it prevents beta-endorphin from disabling the tonic inhibition of dopamine cells caused by gamma-aminobutyric acid neurons in the ventral tegmental area (Koob & Research, 2003; Wise & Bozarth, 1987).

Oral Dosage Form and Its Effects 

In alcohol-dependent people who had recently stopped drinking, taking oral Naltrexone was effective at reducing the likelihood of relapsing and going back to drinking heavily. Its general effectiveness has been limited by two consequential factors, one of which is that the pharmacokinetic properties of oral Naltrexone lead to significant fluctuations in plasma levels with oral daily dosing. A medication adherence rate of at least 85 percent is necessary in order for there to be a therapeutic response. First, the low plasma trough level of oral Naltrexone reduces the efficacy of the drug, which may explain why this requirement exists. Second, it is believed that high peak levels are responsible for adverse events, and it is estimated that up to 15% of people who receive oral Naltrexone will discontinue treatment due to adverse events, particularly nausea (B. A. Johnson & Ait-Daoud, 2000).

Therefore, optimizing the pharmacokinetic profile of Naltrexone by developing a deep intramuscular injection that would release Naltrexone over the course of several weeks would make the drug more effective as a whole. Therefore, plasma levels would remain relatively constant, and while they would be low enough to cut down on the number of adverse events, they would still be high enough to produce the desired anti-drinking effects. In other words, even though it is not anticipated that the effect size of the long-acting, intramuscular formulation of Naltrexone will be greater than the effect size of oral Naltrexone, it is likely that the overall outcome will be improved because of the increased compliance and longer exposure to a therapeutic dose (Bartus et al., 2003).

Patients are typically given 380 mg of the long-acting injectable (LAI) form of Naltrexone once every 28 days, and oral Naltrexone is typically titrated up to the target dose of 50 mg per day. Although the use of LAI Naltrexone does not require a trial period of oral Naltrexone, it is standard practise to determine the patient’s level of toleraance with oral doses before moving on to higher concentrations. It is possible that the use of LAI Naltrexone has benefits for adherence when compared to the use of oral Naltrexone. This is due to the fact that non-adherence is common among patients who are taking medication for alcohol use disorder.

3.1% of patients in the study were given any form of Naltrexone, but only 0.24% of patients were given LAI Naltrexone. This information was obtained from a study. Even though about 40% of people have experienced alcohol abuse of some kind at some point in their lives, very few people are actually receiving the help they need. According to the findings of the same study, the patients who were given the intramuscular injection were more likely to make use of both outpatient and inpatient mental health services. Patients battling alcohol use disorders who receive treatment that is both pharmacologic and makes use of mental health resources have better outcomes as a result of their treatment. These resources for mental health include individual drug counselling, care management, monitoring of a patient’s substance use, and intensive outpatient treatment, among other options (Aletraris, Shelton, & Roman, 2015; Marienfeld, Iheanacho, Issa, & Rosenheck, 2014).

More research is needed in order to find out the effects and outcomes of drug with the use of oral dosage form and other dosage forms. 

References 

Aletraris, Lydia, Shelton, Jeff S, & Roman, Paul M %J Journal of substance abuse treatment. (2015). Counselor attitudes toward contingency management for substance use disorder: Effectiveness, acceptability, and endorsement of incentives for treatment attendance and abstinence. 57, 41-48. 

Bartus, Raymond T, Emerich, Dwaine F, Hotz, Joyce, Blaustein, Marc, Dean, Reginald L, Perdomo, Brigido, & Basile, Anthony S %J Neuropsychopharmacology. (2003). Vivitrex®, an injectable, extended-release formulation of naltrexone, provides pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic evidence of efficacy for 1 month in rats.28(11), 1973-1982. 

Chick, Jonathan, Anton, Raymond, Checinski, Ken, Croop, Robert, Drummond, D Colin, Farmer, Roger, . . . alcoholism. (2000). A multicentre, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of naltrexone in the treatment of alcohol dependence or abuse. 35(6), 587-593. 

Johnson, Bankole A %J Therapeutics, & management, clinical risk. (2007). Naltrexone long-acting formulation in the treatment of alcohol dependence. 3(5), 741. 

Johnson, Bankole A, & Ait-Daoud, Nassima %J Psychopharmacology. (2000). Neuropharmacological treatments for alcoholism: scientific basis and clinical findings. 149(4), 327-344. 

Koob, George F %J Alcoholism: Clinical, & Research, Experimental. (2003). Alcoholism: allostasis and beyond.27(2), 232-243. 

Kranzler, Henry R, Wesson, Donald R, Billot, Laurent, Clinical, DrugAbuse Sciences Naltrexone Depot Study Group %J Alcoholism:, & Research, Experimental. (2004). Naltrexone depot for treatment of alcohol dependence: a multicenter, randomized, placebo‐controlled clinical trial.28(7), 1051-1059. 

Marienfeld, Carla, Iheanacho, Theddeus, Issa, Mohammed, & Rosenheck, Robert A %J Addictive Behaviors. (2014). Long-acting injectable depot naltrexone use in the Veterans’ Health Administration: a national study. 39(2), 434-438. 

Monti, Peter M, Rohsenow, Damaris J, Swift, Robert M, Gulliver, Suzy B, Colby, Suzanne M, Mueller, Timothy I, . . . Research, Experimental. (2001). Naltrexone and cue exposure with coping and communication skills training for alcoholics: treatment process and 1‐year outcomes. 25(11), 1634-1647. 

Wise, Roy A, & Bozarth, Michael A %J Psychological review. (1987). A psychomotor stimulant theory of addiction.94(4), 469.

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Addiction Recovery Life Transitions Loss Organ Transplant Pre & Post Surgical

Quick Look at Kidney Transplants

The Quick Look at Kidney Transplants

The kidneys are a fundamental element of our excretory system. The two bean-shaped kidneys play a very critical role in the human body. They are responsible for filtering out the blood and other body fluids. In this way, they ensure the release of waste that we don’t need and that can actually be harmful to hold on to. But when serious problems arise, a kidney transplant may be needed. And that can be a bit scary and overwhelming. You don’t have to go it alone. Below you will find a quick look at kidney transplants and a few ways we end up getting there.

There are several sorts of kidney problems that can occur. You might experience a kidney stone, swelling or deterioration. All of these kidney problems can halt those “exit” functions. For example, if the kidney becomes unable to filter blood, then the wastes accumulate within different body parts, causing numerous issues like high blood pressure. When approximately 90% of a kidney stops filtering and excreting, it results in kidney failure. 

Kidney transplantation is a life-saving procedure – and more frequent than you might think. It can be a solution for  kidney failure and other conditions requiring the removal of one or both kidneys.

In the initial stages, kidney “wash through” machines and dialysis might work. However, in severe kidney failure, the likely option is a kidney transplant. 

Although a human body can survive on one kidney, more health compromised people need another. And people with other medical ailments or second kidney failure will have to rely on an outsourced kidney; a kidney transplant. 

Causes of Kidney Failure 

Despite occurring naturally as we age, a few other factors can also cause kidney failure. Individuals having diabetes are more prone to kidney problems. Chronic or uncontrolled blood pressure levels also add to kidney damage. (the consistent inflammation can affect the filtering process). Unchecked, these all eventually lead you towards severe kidney failure. Increasing the chance that you will end up needing a kidney transplant.

Dialysis Vs. Kidney Transplant

With failed kidney, there can be two available options. First, you can go for dialysis, which is a machine-assisted excretion treatment and requires regular treatments for a lifetime. Second, you can seek ti have a kidney transplant. 

No doubt, a kidney transplant can seem scarier than dialysis. When is surgery not scarier? But it can be effective in the long term and raise the improvement and quality of life. With dialysis, a person has to continue undergoing the same procedure again and again. There is no point at which you recover -it’s an ongoing treatment process. It is because dialysis is a more of a maintenance procedure rather than a fixed point treatment. 

A kidney transplant, on the other hand, is a distinct and hopefully one-time procedure. Once you have a matched donor, undergone surgery and completed your recovery your health status, ideally, you should be improved. That is why a kidney transplant is often a preferable choice. 

Some people are afraid of surgery or getting rejected during kidney transplants. And let’s be very clear, you need to be willing to care for the new kidney and the recovery has a lot requirements and continued success depends on your ability to make a lot of lifestyle changes and keep them. Many people are ready to promise anything in the face of a serious medical condition – the reality is, with a transplant you are already very lucky to get a new organ to begin with – you need to be serious in your commitment. It’s rare enough to get a great match, you aren’t likely to get another one. 

In the end, it’s up to the patient and their physician to determine what is the best path for them.

Why Choose a Kidney Transplant?

When compared to dialysis, a kidney transplant can be preferable because of the following reasons;

• Low Treatment Cost – It is one-time, whereas dialysis will continue to cost for a lifetime. 

• Better Quality of Life –It gives you the opportunity to live the rest of your life in a better state of health – for many, this means in peace and comfort.

• Fewer Dietary Restrictions –Unlike dialysis patients, there are fewer limitations on what or what not to eat. 

• Lesser Health Risk –Unlike dialysis, it enables you to stay healthy in the long run.

Kidney transplant is not always an option. A few things might restrict you from going for a transplant. It is potentially unsuitable for people with old age, severe heart diseases, cancer, mental illness, alcohol or drug addiction, etc. So, everyone needs to consult with the doctor first, and if it comes under any no-go category, the person will have to continue with dialysis. 

Types of Donors for Kidney Transplant

For a kidney transplant, there can be two types of kidney donors. They are the following; 

1) Living Donor

A human body can rely completely on one healthy kidney for all metabolic activities. That is why a person with two healthy kidneys can donate a kidney to someone else who needs one. However, there are criteria to be met, such as blood group and tissues, to matchto either donate or accept a kidney. 

A kidney donor can be a family member or someone else. It is always preferable to receive a kidney from a blood relation as it lets you avoid the risk of rejection and is usually beneficial. 

2) Deceased Donor

Another way of getting a kidney is from a deceased person. It happens in a way that hospitals usually gather data on people needing a kidney. The hospital is informed immediately whenever a deceased person’s kidney matches the patient. The doctor prepares an instant surgery for a transplant. It is a very time sensitive process because the kidney transplant should take place shortly for a kidney to be valuable. 

Kidney Transplant Procedure 

Kidney transplantation is more or less like other surgical treatments. During a kidney transplant surgery, the doctor injects the anesthetic dose within your blood through an intravenous line in your arm. It is basically to make you fall asleep or for a while to undergo the incision. Once unconscious, the doctor makes an incision to open up your abdominal region. He then puts in the donor’s kidney and connects the arteries and veins to your circulatory system. As the blood starts flowing, the new kidneys function within your body.

Alongside that, your kidneys need a connection to the ureter. It can only then carry on the excretion process smoothly. The doctor connects the newly induced kidney to the ureter and the bladder. 

As far as your original kidneys are concerned, they usually remain inside the body and aren’t disposed of. However, in some cases, when the failed kidney causes trouble, it is removed too. 

Risks of Having a Kidney Transplant

Although a prevailing treatment for severe kidney issues or kidney failure, a kidney transplant is not a full-proof solution. It causes multiple risks either during the transplantation surgery or afterward.

• Rejection of the Donor Organ – While operating, the donated kidney might not be compatible with your body. It is possible to even after undergoing the matching tests and everything else. So, there is definitely risk, even beyond the ones typical of surgery. 

• Kidney Diseases –The transplantation, although it eradicates the ailment, for the time being, there are chances of the patient regaining a mild or severe ailment. 

• Side-effects –Undergoing the surgery can cause you side effects. It will leave an incision mark and temporarily cause redness, swelling, and pain. 

None of the above three risks is unpreventable. Almost every doctor provides medication to minimize donor rejection, kidney diseases and surgical side effects. And there is a lot that you can do to help or hinder your own success.

Postoperative Possible Complications of  Kidney Transplant

• Infection – Minor infections like urinary tract infections, colds, and flu are common after kidney transplants. However, in most severe conditions, pneumonia or CMV (cytomegalovirus) infection may occur.

• Blood clots –  The most common complication after a kidney transplant is the development of blood clots in the arteries connected to the donated kidney. In some cases, medications can be used to dissolve the blood clots.

• Urine leakage –  Sometimes, after a kidney transplant, urine may leak through the connection between the ureter and bladder. This usually happens during the first-month post-kidney transplant.

Conclusion 

Opting for a kidney transplant requires you to think twice before jumping in. It ultimately, is up to you because you must live with both the benefits, risks and lifestyle changes required of the transplant. You must be brave enough to analyze the situation and make a decision. 

Facing this decision and the life changes and commitment it requires can be extremely stressful. And not just on you, but also on your loved ones whose life will also change in the process. You both may feel worried about you undergoing surgery, fear of rejection or other complications. It marks a transition period in your life and theirs – and that is stressful all around. Be gracious and kind to yourself and each other. Stress directly impacts health, so consider working with a professional counselor who is experienced at working with transplant patients and their loved ones.

Do exercise, eat healthy, engage in positive activities, and take good care of yourself before and after the kidney transplant. And obviously, alcohol and other drugs will only damage your chances and your new kidney – you need to leave those behind. Change your lifestyle so you can spend your life in style.

References

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK567755/

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553074/

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7230851/

4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5549004/

5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6716102/

6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8711553/

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Addiction Recovery Alcohol First Responders Life Transitions Opiates (Heroin and Prescription Pain Pills) Terminal Illness Uncategorized

Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

The liver is a large meaty organ in the human body. It is responsible for breaking down the food, fighting infections, and filtering blood. A healthy liver ultimately allows for a more active and engaging life. However, very few people live lives that protect and preserve it. Most likely because we simply dont know the extent of its function or importance. But alcohol-related liver disease is on the rise and the increase in alcohol consumption over the pandemic years hasn’t helped either.

Liver Problems 

The liver, like other organs, can also get damaged for different reasons. When we don’t care what goes inside the body, our liver has to pay the price for it. Mostly, liver damage starts with swelling, further leading to fibrosis and scars. People who figure out the damage and seek treatment can reverse the case. But in the other case, fibrosis can turn into cirrhosis, which is terrible. It causes your liver to struggle hard to do an everyday task. With time, it ends at a point where your liver stops functioning, a liver failure. 

Symptoms of Possible Liver Problems

There are so many indications that can depict the lousy condition of your liver. Some of them can be following;

You might have itchy skin that causes bruises easily. 

Your eyes might turn yellow, which is also a symptom of jaundice. 

When your liver doesn’t function well, your belly may hurt. It sometimes makes you lose your appetite and feel sick of the stomach. 

It can also cause your different body parts like legs, arms, and belly to swell. 

What Causes the Liver Damage?

Liver damage can either be due to a medical condition, disease, or because of your unhealthy lifestyle.

Alcohol Addiction

Excessive drinking is considered bad for health. It is true because it lends up to the liver, which affects the blood filtering process. Meanwhile, it causes the creation of harmful chemicals that damages your liver. When a person continues to drink too much alcohol, the overproduction of chemicals occurs. It deteriorates your liver, causing a ‘fatty alcoholic liver.’ It might not threaten you at this point, but remember, it can turn into hepatitis, cirrhosis, or liver failure in days or weeks. 

Drug Addiction 

Liver infections are also prevalent these days. A virus consisting of Hepatitis variants like A, B, or C can also affect your liver badly. Such liver infections are mostly found among people struggling with drug addiction. This is usually because of the use of shared needles and unsanitary processes. Even seemingly minor mistakes and negligence can really harm your liver. 

Yes, there can be other factors triggering the liver problems like cancer, etc. But alcohol and drug addiction are the major ones.

Alcohol & Liver 

Alcohol is a red-labeled product, and its abuse can be threatening for life. It can cause several health complications, from high blood pressure to stroke. And ultimately, liver damage can be one of the potentially terminal effects of excessive alcohol consumption. 

Individuals addicted to alcohol have a high risk of developing chronic liver diseases like cirrhosis, hepatitis, or complete liver failure. It usually happens when a person consumes more than 15 drinks of alcohol over a week or a woman goes above eight glasses. It can be a one-time overdose or habitual abuse. In both cases, the over-drinking results in liver damage. 

Alcohol Consumption Statistics 

According to current research, 15%-30% of heavy drinkers are diagnosed with cirrhosis yearly. Most of them recover the damage when they give up on alcohol addicted and get appropriately treated.  It is one of the most common behaviors among adults in the United States. According to National Survey on Drugs, about 86% of adults have consumed alcohol in their lifetime.

The statistics on drinking are alarming, and many people are trying to find ways to reduce their alcohol consumption. Various factors contribute to drinking, including age, gender, socioeconomic status and culture.

How Does Alcohol Impact The Liver? 

The liver functions as the nutrients breaking and filtering organ. In the case of alcohol, when the liver breaks it down, the chemical reaction releases a toxin. It is harmful as it damages your liver cells, causing alcohol-related liver diseases. 

Do you know? The liver takes around an hour to process one alcoholic drink. It means the duration expands with the number of glasses. If someone does excessive drinks, the liver will take longer. What is more threatening is the point where the liver stops filtering any more alcohol. Rather than filtering, it lets the unprocessed alcohol enter the bloodstream. 

When unprocessed alcohol, traveling along in the blood, goes into different body organs like the heart and brain, it can have devastating results. 

Types of Alcohol-Related Liver Diseases 

Alcohol-Related liver disease; Steahopetatis (ASH)

It is an early-stage disease. It causes fat to accumulate within liver cells, interfering with liver function. The constant interruption declines liver production and health. 

Even though there are no particular signs and symptoms at an initial stage, abdominal pain can indicate it, particularly on the right side. Simply, alcohol abstinence can reduce pain and improves liver health. 

alcohol-related liver disease; Alcoholic Hepatitis 

It is a more common yet destructive type of alcohol-related liver disease. It occurs due to the killing of liver cells and developing scars or fibrosis. Around 35% of individuals drinking excessive alcohol develop this disease at mild and severe levels. 

When someone binges on drinking alcohol, it damages liver cells. The common symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis are fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, etc. If you experience it, stop drinking and see if things improve. In severe conditions, you must visit a physician and undergo liver treatment. 

Alcohol-Related Liver Disease; Cirrhosis

This is the most severe stage of liver deterioration. It becomes prominent when your liver is wholly scarred and damaged. The liver gets hard and shrinks in size. 

Cirrhosis is common among addicted drinkers. Those who continue drinking alcohol for years end up having this fatal disease. It eventually fails the liver, endangering their lives. 

How To Ensure A Healthy Liver?

No matter what put your liver at risk, certain medicines and lifestyle changes can help you recover it. Making wise choices for your life can be difficult and many factors must be considered. Here are some tips for sustaining a healthy liver;

Stop Feeding Your Addiction

Limiting substance-abuse related liver damage is possible. It only demands you stop consuming substance; alcohol and/or drugs. Alcohol-related liver diseases can seem to creep up on you unexpectedly – many people wait far too long to see their doctor and get help. For the sake of your health and life, and those who love and care about you – it’s a choice you need to make. And there are lots of resources to help you – start by reaching out to your family, your physician, a seasoned and professional addiction counselor or even a treatment center.

*Keep in mind that you need to get help – detoxing from alcohol and benzos can be deadly when done on your own.

Eat Well & Exercise

Having a healthy diet is always helpful. Eat more greens, fruits, and fibrous foods that are easy to digest. It will allow your liver to process in less time and relax too. Besides that, exercising keeps your body active. It enhances blood circulation, improving liver function.

Take Care of Your Health 

Whether be it your general or liver health, it deserves priority. You must take care of your health and opt for things that are good for it. Keep updating your lifestyle to a natural and healthier one to maintain well-being.

What Happens When You Quit Drinking?

Improved Sleep

The benefits of quitting alcohol are not just restricted to the individual but also their family members. The person who is quitting alcohol will see improvements in their sleep quality and will have more energy throughout the day.

Better Mental Health

Quitting or cutting down on alcohol can help people feel better mentally and physically. People addicted to alcohol often experience depression, anxiety and other mental health problems. Quitting or cutting down on alcohol can help them feel better mentally and physically by improving the quality of their lives.

Lower Risk of Cancer 

Alcohol is a huge risk factor for cancer. Alcohol abuse can also have other negative consequences. The cancer risk in people who drink alcohol is significantly lower than in those who don’t drink. Quitting alcohol is the best way to improve your health and reduce the increased risk of cancer.

Conclusion

The liver is a crucial organ to care for and substance abuse and/or addiction can put your liver in crisis. If you are an regular drinker or recreational user, you should at the very least have your liver checked out by your physician, routinely. They can run a quick blood test to look at risk of an alcohol-related liver disease. If your use has become routine, increased or even necessary, then opting for a professional and recommended addiction treatment program or center, may serve you even better. Whatever you choose to do, reach out to a professional and get the help you need and get it in time. It can save your liver and prolong life; the quantity and the quality of it. 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2787499/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6713002/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5397877/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3860472/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6826827/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441882/

Categories
Addiction Recovery Anxiety & Stress Cancer & Medical Grief Life Transitions Loss Survivors of Suicide Terminal Illness Uncategorized

Simple Buddhist Concepts for Recovery and Personal Growth

Many years ago a mentor of mine encouraged me to begin to explore simple Buddhist concepts for recovery and personal growth. That started me on a winding path of self discovery through Buddhist, Taoist and other Eastern philosophies that continue today. Below is a brief review of some simple concepts that aren’t typical in Western thought. Even so, they are growing in influence just as practices such as meditation and mindfulness have become more widely accepted.

Everyone experiences highs and lows throughout their lives. But not everyone’s story, self-image, or actions are a reflection of our hardest moments. As people, we are only defined by the current narrative we speak about ourselves and how we live it. Each and every day, we’re given the opportunity to grow and expand beyond what we always have been, allowing ourselves to unfold, heal, and release. If you’ve struggled at some point in your life or feel as if your past actions or choices have kept you from being the person you want to be in this world, following you will find a few key Buddhist practices that may help you achieve this. 

Suffering as Inevitable

All of us will experience pain and suffering, but ongoing suffering is at least partly, our own doing. One concept within Buddhism is that suffering can be overcome. This concept is the key to many intentions behind personal growth, whether you’re wanting to overcome suffering imposed upon you or suffering you impose upon others.

Suffering is an attachment to what is no longer wanted or wanted but no longer available. These may be negative experiences, thoughts or even emotions. When you allow yourself to continue to be attached to these experiences, you continue to empower them within your life. 

Learning to let go of this resistance in your life allows you to view these experiences in neutrality. This means not being swayed or affected by them in a hindering or diminishing way.

Suffering is also about perspective. If you are able to change your perspective of a painful experience, you may be able to dissolve the suffering surrounding it. Learning to find the positive in a situation, or even just the lesson learned, can help you find value in life’s darkest moments. 

Nothing Is Permanent

Life is always changing, flowing, and transforming. The same is true for people. As you move through time, you aren’t the same person as you were ten years ago, a year ago, or even an hour ago. Even if you aren’t aware of the subtle changes happening within you, they’re still happening. This concept can help you learn to release the past, which can sometimes dictate who you believe you are in the present moment. Also, viewing everything in life as temporary teaches you to enjoy the present moment for what it is, a gift. 

Live each moment as if it’s your last. Ask yourself, “what am I willing to let go of in order to embrace this moment?” How would you treat the people in your life? How would you view the world? Being present and allowing life to flow gives you a sense of freedom and empowerment. Stop allowing the past to dictate who you are and letting the fear of the future influence your present actions. 

Nothing Is Lost in The Universe

Everyone’s life has a purpose and experiences a variety of polarizing events. Some are wonderful, magically blissful, and others are painful, draining, and restricting. It’s easy to view these negative experiences as ‘wrong,’ but they are a part of your story, your history at this point. You cannot change them, but you can change from them. What you experience in life is just as important as the sun, the stars, and beyond. It doesn’t matter the life you’ve been dealt – why struggle against history? It matters what you do with it now. Your value is not condemned or diminished because of the failures you’ve experienced, how you’ve suffered or how far you’ve fallen. Your life has purpose. 

Even when you feel lost, some believe that you’re exactly where you need to be in order to awaken to the life lesson that you’ve been guided towards. Growth and expansion can only happen through change. Oftentimes, real change can only happen when you’re pushed out of your comfort zone or stripped from your attachments. (often resulting in suffering or loss.) Learn to look at life and all of the losses or disadvantages you perceive within your life, and recognize how they can motivate you, inspire you, or initiate a desire for positive change.

Embrace Your Life’s Journey

There isn’t a rule book for life and often no true guidance other than what other people have learned from their own experiences. Life isn’t meant to be perfected; there is no competition on who’s life is the greatest. Your life is unique, individual, and expansive. The journey you’ve walked may not look glamorous as someone else’s, but you’ll never truly know what they’ve experienced or gained from the life they’ve dealt with. 

There is meaning beyond the cycle of life and death. The impact and lessons we learn carry through all the lives we touch. That’s the promise if legacy; “plant the seeds even if you never see the trees they become”. Life isn’t perfect, and the lessons our souls crave can only be gained through experience. Learning to let go, accepting your past, and releasing resistance to any suffering you’ve experienced are achievements that few even choose to pursue. Be the exception! Remember that nothing is permanent; life is always changing and transforming. Rather than try to hold onto things that are changing, try instead to fully embrace the moment. Your life has meaning, you have worth! What you’ve experienced is invaluable and could likely have never been gained any other way than it already has.

Pain is inevitable, but suffering is, to some extent chosen. This doesn’t mean it’s your fault. It means you have the power within yourself to step out from the suffering and really live. We all need help with this from time to time in our lives. If you are suffering, get help; whether it be your physician, a professional counselor or someone else. To evolve and grow, it really does take a village. You don’t have to do it alone.

Categories
Addiction Recovery Alcohol Cocaine & Stimulants Opiates (Heroin and Prescription Pain Pills) Synthetics, Designer Drugs, & More Uncategorized

Quick Definitions and Facts on Addiction Treatment in Texas

Below you will find some quick definitions and facts on addiction treatment in Texas. I hope this helps to make things a little clearer. I’ve also included some personal opinions on what I believe good treatment should be in hopes of making it a little easier for you find the best option for you or your loved one.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Texas

Addiction, in the past, has incorrectly been thought to be a question of will power or choice. “If you really wanted to stop drinking, you would.” – we now know just how wrong and even damaging this belief was. 

Alcoholism, like all addictions, is a disease. (A disease is an illness or affliction of a primary organ and in the case of addiction it’s the brain.) Alcoholism is genetically oriented, progressive in its destruction and path, chronic and requires a lot more than just “willpower” to overcome. (*you can find some quick statistics on Alcoholism at the bottom of this page)

A well known addiction physician in Houston was fond of explaining it like this: Addiction is biological, like diarrhea, so if you think you can simply choose to overcome it – the next time you have diarrhea, try to think your way out of it. (a bit over simplistic and graphic for some folks – but you get the point). Addiction is a challenging disease because it has psychological, emotional, relational and other challenges, but at it’s core, it is still a disease. You cannot successfully out-maneuver your own biology; at least not alone.

It’s important to note that some substances can kill you outright when you are using them, few are likely to do this when you are detoxing off of them. Alcohol (and Benzos) are two of the definitive and very dangerous exceptions. Many people have died trying to detox at home. Even if you have succeeded in doing this before it is not worth doing – luck doesn’t last forever. By the time you are in crisis, an ambulance may not be able to make up the time needed to get you into medical care and safety.

When it comes to alcohol detox – always seek the help of a physician and personally, I would opt for a medical detox level of care. Your life is too precious to gamble. Again, you will not win against biology. Please, don’t do it alone. Get help.

Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment in Texas

Benzodiazepines are a commonly prescribed medication for sedation. Also called ‘tranquilizers’, benzodiazepines come in a wide range of varieties – amounting to 2,000+ different kinds. Benzodiazepine is a silent but potentially deadly drug that’s often used in combination with a range of other substances to produce its effects. Considered an accomplice in thousands of drug-induced deaths, benzodiazepine dependence and addiction is a serious health problem that poses a threat to an individual’s quality of life. It is especially lethal when mixed with other substances like alcohol.

Benzodiazepine detox, like alcohol detox, is very dangerous to undertake on your own. It is highly encouraged that you do not attempt this outside of a medical detox with physicians and 24/7 nursing available.

Chemical Dependency Education in Texas

This should be part of any level of treatment and is needed for both the person struggling with addiction and their family/loved ones. Sometimes exhausted and scared families will contend that they are not the one with the addiction so why should they “have to go” to classes/counseling. As many recovery communities teach; you are not healing and growing in your recovery until you change your mindset from “I have to go” into “I get to go”.

Chemical Dependency Education and support are a benefit and gift – don’t waste it or let it go by. CD Education helps to relieve the strain everyone has been feeling, support the hard changes needed to sustain healing for everyone and make sure that all members in the family and support system have accurate information and understanding of what is happening. I often tell families, “It’s not your fault that we are here at this point, but you are able to make the healing easier or harder going forward.” Your actions can mean more than your words. Get informed and get involved.

Any reputable Residential, PHP or IOP treatment program will have education and support services specifically for family and loved ones as part of it’s program. Make sure you get the details and take advantage of it. It’s a good start and they will often be able to connect you with other resources for ongoing support.

Cocaine Addiction and Treatment in Texas

Cocaine is an addictive stimulant drug that’s made from the leaves of the coca plant which grows native to various areas in South America. Cocaine is the second most commonly trafficked illegal drug in the world, with an estimated 1.9 million people aged 18 and over using the drug in the United States alone. 

One of the most difficult aspects of cocaine addiction is that the high first achieved – when the body has never before been introduced to cocaine – can never again be achieved to the same degree. The cocaine addict is essentially condemned to chase something that biochemically is no longer achievable. Yes, they can use more, but the pleasure will never reach the same point.

The greater risk of death is during use, not typically during deto, unless other serious medical conditions are present. But, detox can be very unpleasant and for many difficult to complete. This is where going into a medical detox facility can be helpful.Following detox, residential or partial hospitalization is necessary for any chance of sustained recovery. And like with all addiction, immersion in a recovery community is paramount to success.

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) in Texas

The best Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) will likely offer a holistic & evidence-based approach supporting long-term recovery for the client and the family. An IOP should include individual, group, & family therapy and all therapy should be conducted in a discreet, uplifting environment. If it is punitive or lacking privacy – go somewhere else. Beyond alcohol & drug addiction specific programming, the better programs tend to offer a range of therapies to support issues surrounding anxiety, depression, grief/loss, shame, trauma, family systems, process addictions and more.

Some programs are heavily weighted in favor of a particular recovery community’s philosophies; like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). More contemporary programs understand that there are different paths to recovery that may best fit individual needs. These will support clients being involved in AA, NA, Refuge Recovery, SMART Recovery, Life Ring, Celebrate Recovery and more. Many programs say they use evidenced-based approaches and individualize treatment. It’s okay to ask them to be specific and explain how this is achieved. A reputable program will welcome your interest and happily share what they do.

In Texas, an IOP should be at least 10 clinical hours (9 in group and 1 individual) each week and run 8 to 12 weeks. Groups should be run by Masters level therapists. Some will also employ Masters level intern therapists and they are required to tell you this up front. Some interns can be phenomenal, so don’t let that turn you away. But ideally there should be a balance so find out how much of your face-to-face clinical service is being provided by interns versus seasoned clinicians. Any IOP (or PHP) who has a majority of their clinician service hours being provided by interns should be up front about this and in our opinion, should also be ready and willing to negotiate a significantly discounted rate for clients without insurance.

Any reputable IOP will seek to involve family/loved ones in the treatment process and will provide a robust, specific and detailed Discharge Plan no less than 7-10 days before you leave that level of care. Make sure you let them know you want to be included in the development of this.

Marijuana Addiction Treatment in Texas

Marijuana is the most used psychotropic drug in the United States. Although the likelihood that a person might abuse and then become addicted to marijuana are slim, there are more cases in recent years where dependence has developed. One argument for this is that the THC levels in marijuana commonly accessible today can be 15 times more than what it was 10-20 years ago. (“It’s not your Momma’s marijuana anymore”).

Another difference is that a notable amount of longer term marijuana users experience significant increases in anxiety during withdrawal, some to the point of having panic attacks. These points, and others, are part of the reason that more centers around the country have developed specific programs for this and are accepting admissions for marijuana abuse. Some insurance companies are now supporting coverage for this treatment, too.

Methamphetamine Addiction Treatment in Texas

A highly addictive stimulant drug, methamphetamine is used by an estimated 12.3 million U.S. citizens. Over the long term, recurrent, frequent meth use can lead to addiction and dependence. The longer that a person uses meth, the stronger the dependence becomes. It isn’t uncommon for meth addicts to fall into financial turmoil as a result of their addiction. At a certain point when all monetary resources have been exhausted in pursuit of the next fix, abusers may turn to theft and other illegal activities in order to sustain their expensive habit.

Meth is particularly hard on the body and brain. Some treatment programs are cautious to admit long term users due to frequency of bizarre behaviors during early recovery. Healthcare needs and a longer duration of brain recovery are very common with longer term methamphetamine abuse.

Opioid Addiction Treatment in Texas

Considered a health crisis or epidemic, opioid addiction can cause serious dangers to a person’s health, social, and financial problems. The class of drugs are typically prescribed in healthcare settings to treat pain, but their strong potential for abuse has become a major problem worldwide.

The treatment for opioid abuse is twofold: opiate recovery counseling and withdrawal management. The first focuses on the social, mental, and emotional aspects of the addiction while the second works to ease the system into a drug-free state.

There are medications available to assist with opiate withdrawal and early recovery – there is some controversy around some of these. Speak openly with your addiction-savvy physician and counselor and get clear information. Even the most widely known medication for this has shown their highest success rates only when medication and treatment/counseling were used in tandem. There is no “miracle pill” cure. Treatment and a recovery support community are still necessary for any chance at sustained recovery.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) in Texas

PHP level of care should give our clients the strongest foundation possible upon which to build independence in an out-patient setting. It’s an highly-focused program, with groups meeting 5 days a week, for 5 hours a day, plus individual therapy and psychiatric visits. It is most often used in lieu of Residential Treatment (when combined with Sober Living) or as the first “step-down” post discharge from Residential.

PHP gives clients the knowledge, tools, support, and structure to start building strength and confidence in their sobriety. PHP should be seen as the first step of an extended treatment program that also includes Intensive Outpatient Programming (IOP) and possibly Sober Living. Any reputable PHP will seek to involve family/loved ones in the treatment process and will provide a robust, specific and detailed Discharge Plan no less than 7-10 days before you leave that level of care. 

Process Addiction Treatment in Texas

Addiction comes in all sorts of forms. A common misconception is the physical over-reliance on substances, in which an individual would often fall in physical, emotional, and mental pitfalls. But this reliance on substances is just one type of addiction. Process addiction, or behavioral addiction, deals with the compulsive nature connected to the actual act of abuse on substances and other triggers that cause addiction. Some examples of behavioral addiction can include gambling addiction, porn addiction, shopping addiction, gaming or social media addiction, and food addiction. 

Similar to other types of addiction, help is always available for the individual. Identifying the problem, addressing the different triggers, and creating solid treatment strategies are some of the best ways to help with this disorder. Addiction is nearly impossible to treat if the person won’t accept that they have an addiction.

A behavioral addiction can be present alone, as a co-morbid condition along with a mental health disorder or even cross-addiction with substance. (It is important to mention that the presence of any addiction with the absence of any emotional or mental health disorder is extremely unlikely. At minimum, anxiety and depression are a common part of early recovery and whether that is solely due to the process of addiction recovery or fueled by emotional health is something that time and a seasoned professional should help to determine).

Recovery Coaching in Texas

Professional recovery coaching is an invaluable step in the sobriety journey, as these experienced coaches provide continued guidance and accountability for clients either discharging from a Sober Living House, or after IOP, or for those who can manage a lower level of structure. Clients typically work with a recovery coach for 90-180 days. The best recovery coaches have been professionally trained, extensively, in addiction treatment and recovery, have experience working within the field and are immersed in their local treatment community.

In Texas, they should hold a professional certification and/or license. Personal or “life experience” does not make someone a professional recovery coach. While that can be helpful, that is what refer to as a peer not a professional. A professional has formal training, along with experience. You can think of it this way: having had heart problems may give you valuable insights but doesn’t make you a cardiologist. Likewise, personal addiction experience doesn’t make you an addiction treatment professional.

Sober Living in Texas

Sober living program provides structure and support in early sobriety, and is designed for individuals in need of that structure and accountability during the transitional period back to normalcy and independence. There is a world of difference in the quality and support levels provided by various sober living homes across the state. Do your research. Ask your physician and counselor for recommendations and whenever possible, go and visit/tour the facility. 

A reputable sober living will arrange for you to tour the property and answer your questions. You should expect that most will not allow family and others to visit or enter the property except at the initial tour – this is to protect the privacy of the other residents. Many will want you to have completed RTC, PHP or IOP before coming. Most will support your employment schedule, to a point.

Strong sober living homes have behavioral expectations, some type of curfew, house meetings and a required number of recovery community meetings each week. Rather than fight it, try to embrace it. If you’re headed to sober living then your way of staying sober wasn’t working anyway. So maybe it’s time to listen to someone else?

Synthetics Addiction Treatment in Texas

While drugs used to be made from natural ingredients, many of the drugs of today are synthetic or completely man-made. The roster of synthetics includes notorious names like methamphetamine, LSD, and ecstasy, all of which cause significant effects on both mind and body. Because of the nature of these substances, it’s highly likely for individuals to get hooked and addicted to their use.

Although the ever changing nature of synthetics can make it a challenge to understand the drug, synthetic drug abuse is treatable. The ideal treatment is a residential treatment center  in which a patient is sent to live in a facility for the duration of the process. Typically, 35 to 45 days or more may be needed, followed by at least 2-3 months of IOP. This is because synthetics can take many forms, and the emotional and psychological effects can be bizarre and lingering which can be scary and confusing for caregivers and the client. So, in some cases it can even be a safety issue. Also keep in mind that caretakers in a private home setting might not be able to identify whether the patient is using synthetics or not.

QUICK FACTS ON ALCOHOLISM IN THE US

(from the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics)

  • 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 12 have an Alcohol Use Disorder.
  • 140.557 Americans die from the effects of alcohol in an average year.
  • Of these, alcohol-related liver disease is the leading killer, causing 19.1% of all alcohol-related deaths.
  • 53.7% of alcohol-related deaths are due to chronic misuse.
  • 52.4% of chronic misuse deaths are attributable to alcohol alone; 47.6% include additional factors, such as other chronic health issues or drug abuse.
  • Alcohol poisoning is another leading killer, causing 32% of acute alcohol-related deaths.
  • Over half of Americans (roughly 60%) report increasing their alcohol use during COVID-19 lockdowns.
  • Each year, 97,000 sexual assaults among American college students involve alcohol.
  • 22.5% of acute-alcohol related deaths are due to suicide.
  • (Suicides involving alcohol kill more people than car accidents involving alcohol).

man sitting at table with hand on face

Struggling with Substance Abuse or Emotional Health in Houston?

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Addiction Recovery Alcohol Opiates (Heroin and Prescription Pain Pills)

5 Signs Your Drinking Is Now a Problem

There’s a fine line between a bad habit and addiction. Unfortunately, because it’s such a fine line, it’s easy to cross over it without even realizing it. And during the pandemic, many people started drinking more often and let’s be honest, just drinking more. So, how do I know if it’s something I should be concerned about? Here’s 5 signs your drinking is now a problem.

You might think that drinking or using any type of drug is something you have under control. Maybe it started out as something you did with friends. As a casual part of getting together. Or maybe you used it to relax.  

In some cases, though, your social or emotional habits can quietly become a dependency. And once this happens, it’s harder to stop than you might think.

With that in mind, it’s important to understand the signs that your habit has gone beyond “harmless”. When it is affecting the quality of your life and how you behave each day, a habit has crossed over into addiction territory. 

But how can you be sure? 

Let’s look at five clear signs that your habit has become an addiction. The sooner you take these signs to heart, the sooner you can seek the help you need and deserve.

1. You Can’t Stop

This is, by far, the most obvious sign that your habit has gotten out of control. If you’re unable to keep yourself from taking the substance, drinking, or performing a certain action (ie; compulsively watching pornography, etc.), you may have become addicted. 

Addicts have an extremely hard time giving up their “habits” on their own; psychologically and physically. That’s why extensive treatment and rehabilitation are often needed. If you feel a constant need and urge to give in to that habit, it’s time to consider that there’s something more going on.

2. You’ve Isolated Yourself

People who are addicted to something often isolate themselves from others. They know they can’t be away from whatever their addiction is for long. Plus, they might worry that other people could sense something “off” about them. 

If you’ve started to cut yourself off from your friends and family or you aren’t interacting the way you normally would, ask yourself why? Does it have anything to do with that “habit”?

3. You’re Getting Into Financial Trouble

Most addictions cost money. The more you need, the more it costs. Unfortunately, drug dealers know how much people rely on certain substances, so they’re happy to raise their prices so addicts can get their “fix”. If your choice is alcohol, something as simple as a case of beer can cost $25. 

As you continue to feed your addiction, you might find that you run into financial issues. But, because you can’t give it up, you might find other means of getting the money. It’s not uncommon for addicts to take from others in their house, to sell their belongings, or even to give up things like eating or paying for utilities so they can use that money for their addiction. 

If that sounds like you, or you realize you’re experiencing financial strain, it will only continue to get worse unless you seek help.

4. Your Behaviors Are Unstable

Have you noticed yourself doing some things that you wouldn’t normally do? It’s not uncommon for addicts to practice “risky” behaviors. Unfortunately, those behaviors could get you hurt, or cause harm to others. There’s a difference between doing something fun that will boost your adrenaline and doing something that could put your life in danger.

You know yourself better than anyone. You might not want to admit it, but being active in dangerous behaviors isn’t you. Listen to yourself, and to any loved ones reaching out to help.

5. Your Relationships Are Strained

In addition to isolating yourself, have you found that your relationships are struggling? That could include a romantic relationship, friendships, or how close you are with family members. 

Addiction affects every relationship in your life. You might not feel you can be yourself without getting judged. Meanwhile, your friends and family might be concerned about you. 

If you start to become paranoid about your relationships, it might spill over into other areas of life, including your job. That can lead to poor work performance and start a vicious cycle of losing your career and trying to fuel your addiction all at once. 

These signs aren’t meant to shame you. Instead, they’re meant to inform and help you. If any of them sound familiar or have caused any personal realizations, feel free to contact me. You can beat your addiction and take control of your life again— but you don’t have to do it alone

Categories
Addiction Recovery

Why COVID-19 Caused a Rise in Relapse

Why COVID-19 Caused a Rise in Relapse [and What to Do About It]

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted almost everyone in some way. Some people lost jobs. Others lost loved ones. Some even had to battle the COVID virus, themselves. 

But for recovering addicts, COVID struck twice as hard. The addiction epidemic was already running rampant throughout the country, and a pandemic decided to show up, it’s almost as if the two teamed up to make matters worse for those in recovery. 

Simply put, COVID-19 has created a larger addiction problem and has caused a rise in relapses over the last year. 

Why the sudden spike? And what can be done about it now? If you’re a recovering addict, what can you do to protect yourself from relapsing, or get back on track if you’ve already slipped?

Why the Rise in Relapse

Since the pandemic began, there have been plenty of rules and restrictions put in place. The most widely used practices have included social distancing, quarantining/staying home, and wearing masks while out. 

Unfortunately, all three practices can be difficult for those in recovery. 

Isolation comes with plenty of problems for everyone. It has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and a weaker immune system. From a mental health standpoint, it can cause anxiety and depression. 

For a recovering addict, feeling alone is even harder. It’s important to have a support system and people who can hold you accountable. When you feel you can’t see those people who help you or reach out when you’re triggered, it can make it far too easy to relapse. A report by NPR found an 18% increase in overdoses across the U.S. throughout the pandemic. People staying at home and abusing alcohol and other substances behind closed doors created a dangerous combination.

The Stress of Everything

It’s not just the isolation that has triggered a rise in relapse across the country. This pandemic has caused a lot of fear, uncertainty, and stress for everyone. Maybe you had just gotten a new job but were laid off because of the virus. Or maybe you haven’t been able to see older family members or high-risk friends. You might even be concerned about your financial situation. 

Everyone has their own “triggers” with substance use. But a common trigger is stress. Many addicts use alcohol or other substances to deal with stress or cope with anxiety. 

When you feel you don’t have any other outlet and the stress is getting to you, relapsing becomes a greater possibility. 

What Can You Do About It?

The most important thing you can do to keep from relapsing is to be as proactive as possible. Some facilities across the country have seen fewer people looking for treatment and help throughout the pandemic. That doesn’t have to be the case. You don’t have to fall into that statistic.

Now, there is a light at the end of the tunnel in the pandemic. Thanks to the vaccine rollout, more things are opening up. That can serve as your own “light”, too. 

If you’ve been struggling to stay sober, don’t be afraid to reach out to a treatment center as soon as possible. Even if you aren’t able to visit a facility or speak to an addiction specialist in person, it’s worth it to set up an appointment online. 

Remember, you aren’t alone in what you might be feeling right now. Reminding yourself of that can be a tremendous help. The effects of this pandemic won’t last forever, and you can get back on track by seeking the support you need by any means possible. 

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Addiction Recovery Uncategorized

Addiction Relapse: Understanding the Role of Expectations

Understanding the role of expectations in a key aspect of preventing addiction relapse. If you’re recovering from alcohol or substance abuse, the last thing you want to think about is relapsing. Unfortunately, that’s when it happens the most. It’s far too easy to believe that recovery is permanent.

While it can seem that way at times, it’s very easy to relapse, and several factors can play into it.

Some of the most common causes of relapse include boredom, fear, and resentment.

One of the most significant factors in relapsing is the role of expectations. Expectations can help to guide your recovery. Having unrealistic expectations will only make a full recovery seem impossible.

So, how can you better understand how expectations and addiction relapse are connected? What can you do to manage those expectations better?

Understanding Unrealistic Expectations

Part of the recovery process is setting goals for yourself. Goals come with expectations — that’s just natural. However, your expectations must be realistic. That’s why you need to develop several small goals for yourself, rather than one large one.

Realistic expectations allow you to reach those goals effectively. As a result, you’ll feel more motivated to keep working toward recovery.

Unfortunately, unrealistic expectations happen far too often. You might have an idea in your mind of how recovery should look. Or what you want your life to look like after the recovery process. Some common unrealistic expectations include:

  • Thinking the recovery process will be easy
  • Assuming you can handle it on your own
  • Expecting immediate results

When those expectations aren’t met (because they aren’t realistic), you might become frustrated. You might start to think your recovery program doesn’t work. Or, you might even take all of the blame yourself and slip back into addiction.

How to Set Realistic Expectations

How can you make sure your expectations for recovery are realistic? First, understand that recovery is a process. Nothing is going to get “fixed” overnight. While you might feel impatient at times, trusting the process is essential.

Next, make sure you educate yourself as much as possible. That includes learning about addiction, how it impacts your mind and body, and how the recovery process works. The more you know about addiction, the more realistic your expectations can be.

You should also focus on your health overall. Don’t make the mistake of solely “getting over” your addiction. Instead, think about how you can improve your health. Addiction recovery is only a part of that. But, when you’re focused on your entire person, you’ll want to break free of those chains of addiction the right way — not by rushing.

Keeping Your Expectations in Check

Maintaining your expectations throughout the recovery process is crucial to avoid addiction relapse. You can do that by acknowledging the progress you’ve made. It’s okay to tell yourself that you’re doing a good job! By recognizing how far you’ve come, it will make it harder to fall back.

You can also manage your expectations by reaching out for support. Remember, one of the most unreasonable expectations you can have is thinking you can do this alone.

Whether you need someone to talk to or you feel like you might be slipping, reach out to your support system as often as possible. That might be a family member or friend. Or it could be a recovery group or therapist.

Alcohol addiction counseling or substance abuse counseling can make a big difference in your overall recovery. Talking to a counselor can help you manage your expectations realistically. In doing so, you can reduce your risk of addiction relapse and keep moving forward.

Please contact me today if you need support in your addiction recovery or visit my Alcohol Addiction Counseling page to learn more.