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International Work Travel and Addiction Recovery

Navigating the International Landscape: Challenges Faced by Professionals in Recovery While Traveling for Work

International travel for work can be both exciting and daunting. For professionals who are in recovery from addiction, the prospect of traveling internationally can introduce a unique set of challenges. These individuals often walk a fine line between maintaining their sobriety and fulfilling their work commitments. From managing triggers and maintaining routines to navigating unfamiliar environments, the struggles they face can be both emotional and logistical. In this article, we delve into the struggles that professionals in recovery encounter when traveling internationally for work and explore coping strategies that can help them overcome these obstacles.

Disruption of Routine and Support Systems

One of the most significant challenges for individuals in recovery while traveling internationally is the disruption of their established routines and support systems. Daily routines often play a crucial role in maintaining sobriety, providing structure and stability. Traveling across time zones can upset sleep patterns, meal times, and exercise routines, potentially triggering feelings of instability and anxiety. Additionally, being physically removed from support networks such as recovery groups, sponsors, and therapists can leave individuals feeling isolated and vulnerable.

Coping Strategy:

Before embarking on international travel, professionals in recovery can research local support groups or recovery meetings in their destination. Virtual meetings can also provide a lifeline to maintain connections with their recovery community while abroad. Establishing a new routine that incorporates self-care activities, exercise, and meditation can help mitigate the destabilizing effects of disrupted schedules.

Navigating Triggers

Traveling often exposes individuals to new and unfamiliar environments, situations, and people. These changes can trigger emotions and memories associated with their addiction, potentially leading to relapse. Social events, business dinners, and networking functions involving alcohol can be especially challenging for those in recovery, as the temptation to revert to old habits can become overwhelming.

Coping Strategy:

Professionals in recovery can prepare in advance by setting boundaries and developing strategies to handle triggering situations. Politely declining alcoholic beverages and having a non-alcoholic drink in hand can reduce social pressure. Engaging a colleague or a trusted contact about their recovery can create a support system within the work context.

Cultural and Social Expectations

Different cultures have varying attitudes and customs related to alcohol and substance use. Professionals traveling for work may find themselves in countries where drinking is deeply ingrained in business culture or social interactions. This can create discomfort and tension for individuals who are trying to maintain their sobriety.

Coping Strategy:

Cultural sensitivity and preparation are key. Learning about the local customs and norms can help professionals anticipate challenges and navigate situations where alcohol is prevalent. Having a diplomatic way to decline alcohol that respects local etiquette is essential.

Jet Lag and Fatigue

Jet lag and travel-related fatigue can have a significant impact on mental and emotional well-being. These physical stressors can exacerbate cravings and weaken coping mechanisms, making it harder for professionals in recovery to manage their triggers effectively.

Coping Strategy:

Adequate rest, hydration, and healthy eating are essential components of managing jet lag and fatigue. Prioritizing self-care and giving the body time to adjust to new time zones can contribute to overall stability and resilience.

Emotional Vulnerability

Traveling, even for work, can be emotionally taxing. Feelings of loneliness, stress, and homesickness can trigger emotional vulnerability, which may tempt individuals to seek solace in substances. Furthermore, the pressure to perform well professionally can add an extra layer of stress.

Coping Strategy:

Regular communication with a support network, including friends, family, sponsors, or therapists, can provide emotional grounding. Engaging in mindfulness practices, journaling, or meditation can also help individuals manage their emotional well-being during their travels.

Wrap-Up

For professionals in recovery from addiction, international travel for work presents a unique set of challenges that require careful consideration and preparation. The disruption of routines, exposure to triggers, cultural differences, jet lag, and emotional vulnerability can all contribute to the struggle of maintaining sobriety while fulfilling work obligations abroad. However, with proactive strategies, resilience, a strong support system and a seasoned and experienced ESI Coach, individuals in recovery can navigate these challenges successfully.

Ultimately, open communication, self-awareness, and a commitment to their recovery journey can empower professionals to travel internationally for work while safeguarding their hard-earned sobriety. As awareness of these challenges grows, employers, colleagues, and peers can play a supportive role by fostering an inclusive and understanding work environment that respects the needs of those in recovery. By addressing these struggles head-on, professionals can embark on their international journeys with confidence, knowing that they have the tools and resources to navigate the complexities of both the professional and personal aspects of their lives.

Ben Carrettin, NCC, MAC, LPC-S, CISM

 

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The Real Dangers of Synthetic Weed

It ain’t “fake news”. Synthetic marijuana, also known as Spice or K2, is a dangerous type of designer drug that is made to mimic the effects of marijuana. However, unlike marijuana, synthetic marijuana (synthetic weed, is not a natural substance and is made by spraying chemicals onto plant material. This makes it a dangerous substance that can have serious health consequences for those who use it.

One of the main reasons why synthetic weed is so dangerous is that it is often much stronger than natural marijuana. This is because the chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana are often much more potent than the active ingredients in natural marijuana. As a result, users of synthetic weed can experience much more intense and unpredictable effects than they would with natural marijuana.

Another reason why synthetic marijuana is so dangerous is that it can have serious side effects. These can include seizures, hallucinations, and even death. This is because the chemicals used to make synthetic weed can be toxic and can cause serious damage to the body. In addition, because synthetic weed is often sold illegally, users may not know what they are getting or how much of the drug they are taking, which can increase the risk of overdose.

Finally, synthetic weed is dangerous because it is often marketed as a safe and legal alternative to marijuana. This can lead people to believe that it is a harmless substance, when in fact it is anything but. This can result in people using synthetic marijuana without realizing the risks involved, which can have serious consequences for their health and well-being.

Synthetic marijuana is not a safe alternative. It is a dangerous substance that can have serious health consequences for those who use it. It is much stronger than natural marijuana, can have serious side effects, and is often marketed as a safe and legal alternative to marijuana. As such, it is important for people to be aware of the risks involved with synthetic weed and to avoid using it altogether.

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A Deadly Mix: Xanax and Alcohol

In today’s fast-paced world, stress and anxiety have become all too common. Many people turn to prescription medications like Xanax (generic name: Alprazolam) to alleviate their anxiety symptoms, while others rely on alcohol as a coping mechanism. But what happens when these two substances combine? The answer is alarming: a potentially lethal cocktail that can lead to serious medical issues, or even death.

This blog post explores the dangers of using Xanax with alcohol, the potential for life-threatening consequences, the importance of a safe medically monitored detox from Xanax when abuse has occurred, and the serious risks associated with withdrawal.

Xanax and Alcohol: A Deadly Combination

The Mechanism of Action

To understand the dangers, it’s crucial to first grasp how Xanax and alcohol work separately. Xanax is a benzodiazepine; a class of drugs that depress the central nervous system, promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety. Alcohol, on the other hand, is a depressant that affects the brain in a similar way, causing sedation and impaired coordination.

When taken together, these substances intensify each other’s effects. The combined depressant action can lead to extreme sedation, slowed heart rate, and dangerously suppressed breathing.

Increased Risk of Overdose

The synergy between Xanax and alcohol makes it easier to overdose. Individuals who might typically consume a safe amount of alcohol could experience alcohol poisoning when Xanax is introduced into the mix. Symptoms of overdose include confusion, severe drowsiness, slow or irregular breathing, and unconsciousness.

Impaired Judgment and Risky Behaviors

Both Xanax and alcohol impair judgment and decision-making. This can lead to risky behaviors, such as driving under the influence or engaging in unsafe sexual practices. These actions not only endanger the individual but also those around them.

Potential for Serious Medical Issues or Even Death

Respiratory Depression

One of the gravest dangers of combining Xanax and alcohol is respiratory depression. When both substances are present in the body, the risk of dangerously slow or even halted breathing increases significantly. This can lead to oxygen deprivation, brain damage, or death.

Increased Risk of Accidents

The impaired coordination and judgment caused by this combination can result in accidents. Falls, burns, and other injuries are more likely when an individual is under the influence of both Xanax and alcohol.

Liver Damage

Both Xanax and alcohol are metabolized by the liver. Combining them can place extra strain on this vital organ, potentially leading to liver damage or disease over time.

Cognitive Impairment

Chronic use of Xanax and alcohol can result in cognitive impairment, including memory problems, difficulties in concentration, and decreased overall cognitive function.

The Importance of a Safe Medically Monitored Detox

Recognizing the Problem

If you or someone you know has been abusing these or other substances, recognizing the problem is the first step toward recovery. Common signs of abuse include a growing tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, and a preoccupation with obtaining and using the substances.

Seeking Professional Help

Attempting to quit Xanax and alcohol cold turkey can be dangerous due to the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms. Instead, it’s crucial to seek professional help for a safe detoxification process. Medical supervision is essential to ensure the individual’s safety throughout the withdrawal period. Family consultations can provide education and support regarding the process of detox and treatment that follows.

Serious Risks During Withdrawal

Seizures

Abruptly discontinuing Xanax can trigger seizures, which can be life-threatening. This risk is especially high if the individual has been using high doses or has a history of seizures.

Agitation and Anxiety

Xanax withdrawal can lead to intense anxiety and agitation. This can be extremely uncomfortable and may drive the person to relapse if not appropriately managed.

Hallucinations

Some individuals undergoing Xanax withdrawal may experience hallucinations, which can be distressing and disorienting.

Delirium

In severe cases, Xanax withdrawal can lead to delirium, characterized by confusion, disorientation, and potentially dangerous behavior.

Rebound Insomnia

Insomnia is a common symptom of Xanax withdrawal, and it can be severe. Sleep disturbances can exacerbate other withdrawal symptoms and make the process more challenging.

Wrapping It Up

The dangers of using Xanax with alcohol cannot be overstated. This lethal combination poses a significant risk of serious medical issues, including respiratory depression, overdose, accidents, and long-term health problems. Recognizing the signs of abuse and seeking professional help for a safe medically monitored detox are crucial steps in overcoming addiction to these substances.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Xanax and alcohol abuse, don’t hesitate to reach out to a physician, medical detox or addiction specialist. There is hope for recovery, but it starts with acknowledging the problem and seeking the right support to break free from the deadly grip of Xanax and alcohol. Your life, or the life of your loved one, is too precious to gamble – get professional help.

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The Mayhem of Meth Addiction

Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, is a highly addictive drug that affects the central nervous system. Addiction to meth is a serious problem that affects millions of people worldwide. Recovery from meth addiction is a challenging process that requires a lot of effort, time, and support. In this essay, we will discuss the factors that make recovery from meth addiction so difficult.

Firstly, addiction is a chronic disease that affects the brain’s reward system. Meth use causes the brain to release large amounts of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for feelings of pleasure and reward. Over time, the brain becomes dependent on meth to release dopamine, and the user experiences intense cravings for the drug. These cravings can be so strong that they can override the user’s willpower and lead to relapse.

Secondly, meth addiction can cause significant physical and psychological damage to the user’s body. Meth use can lead to a range of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and liver damage. It can also cause mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and psychosis. These physical and psychological problems can make it challenging for the user to focus on recovery and can lead to relapse.

Thirdly, meth addiction often co-occurs with other substance abuse disorders and mental health issues. Many people who struggle with meth also struggle with alcoholism, opioid addiction, or other drug addictions. They may also have underlying mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These co-occurring disorders can make recovery from meth more challenging as they require specialized treatment and support.

Fourthly, meth addiction can lead to social and economic problems. Meth users may lose their jobs, their homes, and their relationships due to their addiction. They may also face legal problems such as arrests and convictions for drug-related offenses. These social and economic problems can make it difficult for the user to access treatment and support, and can also lead to relapse.

Finally, recovery from meth addiction requires a significant lifestyle change. Meth often involves a lifestyle that revolves around drug use, and users may have to change their social circles, their daily routines, and their environments to avoid triggers and temptations. This lifestyle change can be challenging and may require the user to develop new coping skills and strategies to deal with stress and cravings.

Recovery from meth is a challenging process that requires a lot of effort, time, and support. Meth affects the brain’s reward system, causes physical and psychological damage, often co-occurs with other substance abuse disorders and mental health issues, leads to social and economic problems, and requires a significant lifestyle change. These factors make recovery a difficult and complex process that requires specialized treatment and support.

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Work, Travel and Recovery

Work, Travel and Recovery; Challenges Faced by Professionals in Recovery Who Travel

The life of a traveler can be exhilarating, with new destinations and opportunities around every corner. However, for professionals in recovery from addiction, this lifestyle comes with unique challenges that demand unwavering commitment and resilience. In this article, we will explore the challenges faced by professionals who travel for work while in recovery from addiction and the strategies (beyond working with a professional support service like RecoveryNomadUSA) that they can employ to maintain their sobriety on the road.

Triggers and Temptations

One of the primary challenges for traveling professionals in recovery is dealing with triggers and temptations. The stress of travel, long hours, and unfamiliar environments can trigger cravings for the substance they once depended on. Whether it’s the allure of a hotel bar, peer pressure during business dinners, or the stress of a delayed flight, these triggers can be hard to avoid.

To address this challenge, professionals must develop a robust relapse prevention plan. This may involve identifying triggers, practicing mindfulness techniques, and having a support system in place, even while on the road. Additionally, they can research recovery-friendly activities and venues in their travel destinations to minimize exposure to temptation.

Loneliness and Isolation

Traveling professionals often find themselves in new cities or countries, far from their usual support networks. Loneliness and isolation can exacerbate the challenges of recovery, as the absence of familiar faces can lead to feelings of loneliness and vulnerability. Attending meetings or therapy sessions may also be challenging in unfamiliar locations.

To combat loneliness and isolation, professionals can seek out local recovery meetings or online support groups. These virtual resources can provide a sense of connection and community even when miles away from home. Additionally, maintaining regular communication with loved ones and sponsors can help combat feelings of isolation.

Maintaining Routine

Recovery thrives on routine, but constant travel disrupts established daily schedules. Professionals often struggle to maintain their recovery routines, including exercise, meditation, and regular sleep patterns. These disruptions can lead to increased stress and vulnerability to relapse.

To address this challenge, professionals should adapt their recovery routines to their travel schedules. This might involve incorporating portable exercise equipment or apps for guided meditation. Prioritizing self-care and setting boundaries on work hours can also help maintain a sense of balance and routine.

Managing Stress and Anxiety

The demands of a busy travel schedule can be incredibly stressful. Stress and anxiety are common triggers for relapse, as individuals may seek substances to cope with these overwhelming feelings. Professionals in recovery must find healthy ways to manage stress while on the road.

To manage stress and anxiety, individuals can explore relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, or mindfulness meditation. It’s also crucial to communicate openly with employers about the need for a balanced workload and reasonable expectations to minimize stressors related to work.

Coping with Crises

Life on the road can throw unexpected challenges at professionals in recovery. From canceled flights to personal emergencies, these crises can disrupt their stability and trigger cravings. Navigating these situations while staying committed to recovery can be exceptionally challenging.

Professionals should prepare for such scenarios by having a crisis plan in place. This plan might include emergency contacts, a list of local resources, and strategies for self-soothing during stressful moments. Additionally, they can notify their support network about their travel plans to ensure they can be reached in case of an emergency.

Stigma and Disclosure

Recovery from addiction often involves stigma, and professionals may hesitate to disclose their past or current struggles with addiction to employers or colleagues. This fear of judgment can make it difficult to seek support or accommodations while traveling for work.

To address this challenge, individuals should carefully consider whether and when to disclose their recovery journey. It may be beneficial to have a trusted conversation with HR or a supervisor about the need for support or accommodations during travel. Employers are increasingly recognizing the importance of mental health and addiction recovery, and many have resources available to assist traveling professionals.

Planning Ahead

Effective planning is key to overcoming the challenges of travel while in recovery. Professionals should make a detailed itinerary that includes recovery-friendly activities, support meetings, and personal time for self-care. By proactively addressing potential triggers and challenges, individuals can better navigate their work-related travels without compromising their sobriety.

Quick Review

Traveling professionals who are in recovery from addiction face a unique set of challenges that require careful planning, resilience, and a commitment to their sobriety. By recognizing and addressing triggers, seeking support, maintaining routines, managing stress, and having contingency plans in place, these individuals can successfully navigate their work-related travels while staying firmly on the path to recovery. With the right strategies and professional support, the world can be a place of opportunity and adventure, even for those in recovery.

 

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Top 10 Benefits of Sober Living After Alcohol and Drug Addiction Treatment

Recovery from alcohol and drug addiction is a courageous journey, one that often requires not only the commitment to break free from substance abuse but also a supportive environment that fosters lasting change. Sober living, a structured and substance-free transitional housing option, has proven to be a powerful stepping stone for individuals emerging from addiction treatment. This critical phase in the recovery process offers a range of benefits that, along with addiction counseling, can significantly improve the chances of sustained sobriety and overall well-being. That’s why we’ve included this list of the Top 10 Benefits of Sober Living After Alcohol and Drug Addiction Treatment.

1. Structured Support: Transitioning from a treatment center back to the everyday world can be overwhelming, with temptations and triggers lurking at every corner. Sober living provides a structured and accountable environment, creating a buffer between the controlled setting of treatment and full independence. This structure helps individuals gradually acclimate to life outside the treatment center, reducing the risk of relapse during this crucial transition.

2. Safe Haven: Sober living homes are safe havens where individuals in recovery can find solace and camaraderie with others who understand their journey. Surrounding oneself with like-minded individuals who share the goal of maintaining sobriety can be incredibly empowering. These supportive communities offer a sense of belonging and a network of individuals who can relate to the challenges of recovery.

3. Learning Life Skills: Addiction can often disrupt the development of essential life skills, such as financial responsibility, time management, and conflict resolution. Sober living environments often incorporate life skills training as part of the program, helping residents regain control over their lives. Learning these skills not only enhances independence but also improves overall self-esteem and self-efficacy.

4. Holistic Healing: Recovery isn’t just about abstaining from substances; it’s about healing the mind, body, and spirit. Sober living homes often emphasize holistic well-being, encouraging residents to engage in healthy activities like exercise, mindfulness, and nutrition. This holistic approach to recovery can lead to improved mental health, increased physical vitality, and a renewed sense of purpose.

5. Accountability: Sober living environments promote accountability in various ways. Regular drug testing, adherence to house rules, and engagement in group meetings foster responsibility and commitment to sobriety. Knowing that actions have consequences and being accountable to oneself and the community can be a powerful motivator to stay on the path of sobriety.

6. Reintegration into Society: Rebuilding one’s life after addiction often involves rebuilding relationships, pursuing education or employment, and contributing positively to society. Sober living homes create an environment conducive to this reintegration process. By providing a supportive and drug-free setting, they enable residents to focus on personal growth and development while gradually reintegrating into their communities.

7. Preventing Isolation: Isolation can be a significant risk factor for relapse. Sober living homes counteract this by fostering a sense of belonging and reducing feelings of isolation. Residents connect with their peers, share experiences, and receive emotional support, reducing the sense of loneliness that can be a trigger for substance abuse.

8. Long-Term Recovery: One of the most significant benefits of sober living is its positive impact on long-term recovery. Studies have shown that individuals who participate in structured aftercare programs, including sober living, are more likely to maintain sobriety over the long haul. By providing a bridge between treatment and full independence, sober living homes offer essential support during the critical first months or years of recovery.

9. Building Healthy Habits: Sobriety isn’t just about stopping substance use; it’s also about cultivating healthy habits and coping mechanisms. Sober living homes encourage residents to develop positive routines, such as attending support group meetings, maintaining personal hygiene, and engaging in regular physical activity. These habits lay the foundation for a healthier, more fulfilling life beyond addiction.

10. A Second Chance: Perhaps one of the most beautiful aspects of sober living is the sense of a fresh start it provides. It offers individuals the opportunity to reclaim their lives, repair relationships, pursue dreams, and build a future they can be proud of. By embracing sobriety in a supportive environment, individuals can turn the page on their addiction chapter and start a new, inspiring narrative filled with hope and possibility.

Sober living after treatment for alcohol and drug addiction is a crucial phase in the recovery journey. It offers structured support, a safe environment, opportunities for personal growth, and the chance to build a life free from the shackles of substance abuse. By embracing the benefits of sober living, individuals can increase their chances of achieving long-term sobriety, reclaiming their lives, and experiencing the joy of a brighter, healthier future.

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WholeLife Recovery Group – Houston

WholeLife Recovery Groups – Houston (Spiritual-philosophical, Emotional and Relational aspects of Addiction Recovery) is an out patient therapy group for adults who have been through and completed Residential or IOP for alcohol and/or drug addiction within the past year and are currently active in a community-based recovery support organization (ex: AA, Refuge, etc). 

  • Meets weekly on Thursdays evenings from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm
  • Small group size – maximum of 8 to 10 members (space is limited)
  • Paid by the month.
  • Insurance statements provided monthly for dates attended.
  • Pre-Screening (no cost)
  • ROI with referring facility or provider required.
  • SEAR Group Facilitators are Ben Carrettin and Taylor Desjarlais.
  • (*we do not provide letters for court, prob/parole or employers)

WholeLife Recovery Groups are intentionally small, highly personal and process-oriented. We employ concepts from both Western approaches and Eastern philosophies creating a paradigm that challenges individual vulnerability. 

Attendance and active, considerate participation at all times

All cell and smart devices must be muted and put aside during group – No exceptions.

UAs on suspicion at our staff’s direction.

Active, ongoing involvement in a sober community such as AA, NA, Refuge, Celebrate, LifeRing or SMART is required.

Our approach easily compliments many community based recovery models while embracing individual differences, faith traditions and beliefs. 

9525 Katy Freeway, Houston, Texas (Memorial)

Call Ben: 346-493-6181

 

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Methamphetamine and the Brain

Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth is a highly addictive stimulant drug that affects the central nervous system. Meth abuse can cause severe damage to the brain, leading to long-term cognitive and behavioral problems. This essay will explore the biochemical effects of meth abuse on the brain.

Methamphetamine works by increasing the levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for feelings of pleasure and reward, in the brain. Meth causes the release of large amounts of dopamine, which leads to a rush of euphoria and increased energy. However, this flood of dopamine can also damage the brain’s reward system, leading to addiction and dependence.

Methamphetamine Abuse

Meth abuse also causes damage to the brain’s neurons, the cells that transmit information throughout the brain. Meth can cause the neurons to release toxic levels of glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter that can damage and kill neurons. This damage can lead to long-term cognitive problems, such as memory loss, impaired judgment, and difficulty with decision-making.

Meth abuse can also cause changes in the brain’s structure and function. Chronic meth use can lead to a decrease in the volume of gray matter in the brain, which is responsible for processing information. This decrease in gray matter can lead to problems with attention, memory, and decision-making.

Meth abuse can also cause changes in the white matter of the brain, which is responsible for transmitting information between different parts of the brain. These changes can lead to problems with communication between different brain regions, which can affect cognitive and behavioral function.

Methamphetamine and Brain Damage

In addition to these biochemical effects, meth abuse can also cause physical damage to the brain. Meth use can lead to inflammation and damage to the blood vessels in the brain, which can cause strokes and other cardiovascular problems. Meth abuse can also cause seizures, which can lead to brain damage and cognitive problems.

In conclusion, meth abuse can cause severe damage to the brain, leading to long-term cognitive and behavioral problems. Methamphetamine works by increasing the levels of dopamine in the brain, which can damage the brain’s reward system and lead to addiction. Meth abuse can also cause damage to the brain’s neurons, changes in the brain’s structure and function, and physical damage to the brain. It is important to understand the biochemical effects of meth abuse on the brain in order to develop effective treatments for addiction and prevent long-term damage to the brain.

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Alcohol and the Brain

Alcoholism is a chronic disease that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by a compulsive need to consume alcohol despite its negative consequences on our physical, mental, and social health. Alcoholism is known to have a significant impact on your brain, altering its biochemistry and leading to a range of cognitive and behavioral impairments. In this essay, we will explore the biochemical effects of alcoholism on the human brain.

Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that affects your brain’s neurotransmitter systems. It primarily targets the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate neurotransmitter systems. These two are responsible for regulating your brain activity. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that reduces neuronal activity, while glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter that increases neuronal activity. Alcohol enhances the effects of GABA and reduces the effects of glutamate, leading to a decrease in your brain activity.

Chronic Alcohol Consumption

Chronic alcohol consumption leads to changes in your brain’s structure and function. Studies have shown that alcoholism causes a reduction in the size of your brain’s frontal lobes, which are responsible for decision-making, planning, and impulse control. This reduction in size is due to the death of your brain cells, a process known as neurodegeneration. Alcoholism also causes a decrease in the size of the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory formation and retrieval.

Alcoholism also affects the brain’s reward system, which is responsible for regulating your pleasure and motivation. Chronic alcohol consumption leads to an increase in the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is associated with pleasure and reward. This increase in dopamine release leads to a reinforcement of alcohol consumption, making it more difficult for you to quit drinking.

Alcohol and Stress

Alcoholism also leads to an increase in the production of stress hormones such as cortisol and norepinephrine. These hormones are responsible for your body’s fight or flight response and are released in response to stress. Chronic alcohol consumption leads to a dysregulation of the stress response system, leading to an increase in anxiety and depression.

To sum it all up, alcoholism has a significant impact on your brain’s biochemistry, leading to changes in its structure and function. Chronic alcohol consumption leads to a decrease in brain activity, neurodegeneration, and dysregulation of the reward and stress systems. These changes in the brain’s biochemistry lead to a range of cognitive and behavioral impairments, making it difficult for you to quit drinking. Understanding the biochemical effects of alcoholism on the brain is crucial in developing effective treatments for this chronic disease.

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Six Ways To Find the Best Addiction Treatment Option for You

The addiction treatment industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that is supposed to help people overcome their addiction and lead a healthy life. However, there are many unethical and illegal practices that are prevalent in this industry. These practices not only harm the patients but also tarnish the reputation of the industry as a whole. In this article, we will discuss some of the unethical and illegal practices in the addiction treatment industry and six ways to find the best addiction treatment option for you.

Unethical and Illegal Practices in the Addiction Treatment Industry

1. Patient Brokering: Patient brokering is a practice where addiction treatment centers pay a commission to third-party marketers for referring patients to their facility. This practice is illegal and unethical as it puts profits over the well-being of the patient.

2. Insurance Fraud: Some addiction treatment centers engage in insurance fraud by billing insurance companies for services that were not provided or were unnecessary. This practice not only defrauds insurance companies but also puts patients at risk by providing them with unnecessary treatments.

3. Over-Medication: Some addiction treatment centers over-medicate their patients to keep them sedated and compliant. This practice is unethical and can lead to serious health consequences for the patient.

4. Lack of Qualified Staff: Some addiction treatment centers hire unqualified staff to save money. This practice is unethical as it puts the patient’s well-being at risk. (Any company that bills itself as a “concierge” or “premiere” service should not be filling it’s ranks with interns and inexperienced staff while still charging you top rates).

Things to Look for in a Good Treatment Program

1. Accreditation:

If you are looking at higher level care like residential / in patient or even intensive out patient services it’s good to start by looking for treatment programs that are accredited by a recognized organization such as the Joint Commission or the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). (If you are looking at out patient groups or individual sessions, look at the credentials of the individual, how long they have been in practice and what their peers in the community think of them.)

2. Evidence-Based Treatment:

Look for a treatment program that uses evidence-based treatment methods such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Ask them what specific training their staff have in these methods and how often they are retrained/updated in their training. I look for it in writing – in an email response or listed on their website. A reputable facility won’t have any hesitance in providing this – in fact, it should be a point of pride for them.

3. Qualified Staff:

Look for a treatment program that has qualified staff such as licensed therapists, doctors, and nurses. Ask them who is actually leading the groups, are those staff seasoned or are they intern-level, are these staff licensed in addiction only or do they also have licenses in emotional/mental health as well and how often do patients see the doctor, for how long are their sessions and are they in person?

4. Real Individualized Treatment:

Look for a treatment program that provides individualized treatment plans based on the patient’s needs and preferences. Beware of “cookie cutter” programs that think one type of approach works for all – ask them to explain how they adapt their program for different needs of their clients. 

5. Aftercare Support:

Look for a treatment program that provides aftercare support such as counseling and support groups to help patients maintain their sobriety. And yes, ideally there should be Family Services while in the program and ongoing family support afterwards.

6. “Glass Kitchen” Approach:

Patiently and openly informing you of your complete financial costs and what your insurance may or may not cover. Clearly explaining if there are any additional charges such as alcohol / drug testing and physician fees that might not be covered. Ethical programs will be up front and concrete about the charges for these and whether or not they are included or will be additional charges you will be responsible for.

7. Personalized and Accessible Discharge Plan:

You should be included in the discharge planning from the very first week. In Texas, a facility is required to provide no less than 3 referrals to the next appropriate level of care and thee referrals are to be “accessible” to the client. This means that if you must use your insurance, than the three referrals must be ones that accept your insurance. If none exist, they must provide the next most accessible and appropriate options they can find. A facility can’t magically make options appear out there. But in a big city, there are so many options and no excuse for not providing them. This is about what is best for you, individually, not necessarily who the facility likes to work or partner with in the service area. 

One last point on avoiding financial “scam” behaviors:

If you are using your in network insurance (INN) benefits then you should know exactly what this will cost from the very beginning. It’s also important to know what is really going on. When using your in network coverage you should owe nothing after your copay/deductible/out of pocket – beware balanced billing. If something seems wrong, call your insurance company and ask them to review it with you. (Some facilities do not bill for the physicians you see and those doctors bill separately. They should tell you this from the beginning. Always ask, if physicians or any other service is not included.)

If you are using your out of network (OON) benefits you are responsible for what your insurance company does not cover. However, some facilities inflate the charges on billing sent to insurance companies. In these cases, they may inflate the amount the insurance is asked to pay out and consequently what you will owe, as well. Ask them for their full cost and make a note of date, time, amount and who you spoke with. It’s unethical for a company to charge you one price and someone else another for the same service. 

When You Need Help With Claims

If it happens and you can’t get the facility to correct it – file a complaint with your insurance company. If your insurance  company doesn’t act in your best interests within an appropriate amount of time, consider filing a complaint against them with your state’s Department of Insurance. It can be incredibly effective and it’s not hard to do. Unfortunately, too many people don’t realize the support they have in these and end up with insurmountable costs that they should not be facing.

Unfortunately, the addiction treatment industry is plagued by unethical and illegal practices that harm patients and tarnish the reputation of the many honest and trustworthy professionals in the industry. It is important to be aware of these practices. Look for a treatment program that is accredited, uses evidence-based treatment methods, has truly qualified staff, provides individualized treatment, and offers aftercare support. By doing so, you can ensure that you or your loved one receives the best possible care and support to overcome addiction.

RememberYou and your loved one are the client (ie the customer). You have every right to ask questions and a have clear, complete understanding of what to expect.

To learn more – check out our Addiction Recovery 101 seminars for parents, partners and spouses.