Exploring the Link Between Family Genetics and Addiction Tendencies

Exploring the Link Between Family Genetics and Addiction Tendencies Pathfinders Recovery Center - A family all holding hands together, an analogy for exploring the link between family genetics and addiction tendencies.

We often hear of people having an addictive personality, or even that addiction runs in families.

It does bring up the question: “Why does one person get addicted to drugs or alcohol and another doesn’t? Is addiction linked to genetics?”

Is it possible to be predisposed to addiction? Is there a genetic link to addiction? If your parent or relative struggles with drug or alcohol addiction, do family genetics mean there’s no hope for you?

We’re going to answer all of these questions for you in this article.

Keep reading to learn about the genetic predisposition to addiction and general addiction tendencies based on your DNA.

What Is Addiction?

The American Society of Addiction Medicine states that addiction is a direct effect of the reward and motivational part of our brains being affected by an overwhelming need to “pursue reward or relief by substance use and behaviors.”

Alcohol addiction is one of the most common addictions in the United States.

An estimated 15.1 million people have an alcohol use disorder (AUD).

While most of us immediately think of alcoholism when we think of addiction, you can be addicted to many different substances and/or behaviors.

Some other examples of common addictions include:

  • Tobacco
  • Opioids
  • Sex
  • Cocaine
  • Benzos
  • Gambling

Any substance or behavior that affects your pleasure and/or reward system in the brain has the potential to become an addiction.

Exploring the Link Between Family Genetics and Addiction Tendencies Pathfinders - A husband and father is pouring another drink at the dining room table while his wife and daughter stand behind him depressed and watching him suffer with his alcoholism, as he wonders whether addiction is linked to genetics or not before seeking treatment.

Is Addiction a Disease?

Addiction is defined as a chronic disease of the brain that affects you mentally, physically, and socially.

Addiction directly disrupts normal brain function that impairs your judgment, learning, motivation, memory, and reward/relief systems.

Genetic Links to Addiction

As with other diseases, there are a number of factors that contribute to the development of the disease.

These factors include social settings, environmental factors, behavioral factors, and family genetics.

Let’s get a little bit more into the genetic predisposition associated with addiction.

“Addiction Genes”

There has been a scientific effort to uncover the specific genes that would result in addiction and drug abuse disorders.

This brings up two questions: “Why would there be genes for addiction anyway? If addiction is so harmful, shouldn’t those types of genes have already been eliminated from our population due to natural selection?”

Some argue that “addiction genes” may have helped our early ancestors to promote motivation and feelings of pleasure/reward for things like gathering food, procreating, etc. Once these genes are in place to reward us, it can affect how we behave with other things that give us pleasure, like drugs and alcohol.

There has been some success in finding particular “addiction genes.” As with most things concerning genetics, there is no one specific “addiction gene.” Instead, it’s a complex system of different genes and chemicals that can lead to addictive tendencies.

One common gene found in many drug addicts and alcoholics is a gene that affects dopamine receptors in the brain, specifically the DRD2 gene.

Dopamine is this “feel good” chemical in your brain. When you do something pleasurable (like drugs), your brain releases dopamine, which makes you feel good and makes you want to do more of that thing.

If your dopamine receptors are changed or more receptive to dopamine, it could make it easier to become addicted to drugs.

This is just one example of a potential “addiction gene” found by scientists. Hundreds of other genes can contribute to a predisposition to addiction. See some more examples here.

Twin Studies

Some of the most telling facts about addiction and genetics are genetics looking at family history and relatives with addiction.

Studies show that genetics amount to up to 50% of the likelihood that you’ll develop an addiction.

How do we know this? One study looked at over 1,000 sets of twins. Identical twins have the same genetic make-up. Therefore, if addiction were solely genetic, we would assume that if one twin had a substance abuse issue, the other twin would as well.

However, they found that if one twin had an addiction, the other twin was likely to have an addiction. But, they found that if one twin had an addiction, it didn’t mean the other twin had an addiction too.

In simple terms, this study found that genes have a large factor in addiction since the likelihood of twins having an addiction was high.

However, when one twin had an addiction, many of their twins with the same genes did not have an addiction.

This indicates that other factors that contribute to addiction besides genetics, even if addiction is linked to genetics.

Other studies support these findings.

This leads to the consensus that genetics amount to half of the predisposition/risk of developing an addiction.

Children of Parents Struggling with Addiction

When thinking about addiction’s genetic component, we have to look at the history of drug addiction in families.

One of the easiest ways to study the genetic links to addiction is to look at the children of those struggling with addiction.

These individuals struggling with substance abuse pass on their genes to their children. So, if there is a genetic link, logic tells us that the children of these individuals should also have substance abuse issues at one point or another. They should at least be at a much higher risk of addiction compared to children of those that do not have drug or alcohol issues.

And studies have found that this is, in fact, the case.

Children of those struggling with addiction are eight times more likely also to develop an addiction than children of individuals without substance abuse issues.

Another study showed that people who use drugs are more likely to have at least one parent that also uses drugs.

Is It Really Genetics? Digging Deeper

After everything we’ve just gone over, from the specific genetic findings to the family statistics, you might think it’s definite that genetics is the factor that causes addiction.

While it’s true addiction is linked to genetics, there are questions related to how much this means in terms of genetic predisposition.

However, we can’t ignore the behavioral and social aspects of family life that have nothing to do with genetics.

Children growing up with parents who normalize drug and alcohol use may simply use drugs because socially, it seemed normal. This doesn’t have to do with their genes; it has to do with their social environment.

While family statistics and studies show a link between genetics and addiction, it’s also important to remember that addiction is a complex disease with many factors, including social and behavioral factors.

Exploring the Link Between Family Genetics and Addiction Tendencies Pathfinders - A man struggling with substance abuse has decided to enter treatment after learning that addiction is linked to genetics and his parents struggled with addiction. He is taking part in an initial group therapy session to discuss his story and gain insight for healthy coping mechanisms to break free from addiction.

Other Factors that Can Lead to Addiction

Continuing with this idea, let’s look at some other factors that can contribute to addiction besides “addiction genes.”

Some of the most significant risk factors for addiction include:

  • Stress
  • Mental health disorders, such as depression, eating disorders, anxiety, etc.
  • Emotional/physical trauma
  • Peer pressure
  • Pop culture exposure
  • Easy access to drugs/alcohol
  • Social environment

Predisposition Is Not Certainty

This brings us to a very important point.

Just because you’re predisposed or have a higher risk of developing an addiction doesn’t mean you definitely will.

Your entire family could struggle with alcohol and drug abuse, and you could have multiple “addiction genes.”

But this does not mean addiction is inevitable for you.

If you feel you have many risk factors and can feel yourself potentially going down the wrong path, you can learn coping skills and enter treatment before an addiction develops.

Understanding your risks as a child or relative of someone who struggles with substance abuse can be a way to regulate your drug use. It can also help you understand you’re predisposed to addiction, which might motivate you to seek help before things get worse.

Each of these factors could lead to a higher risk of addiction, no matter what genes you have.

Addiction is complex and is the result of not one but many factors.

Genetics could be a big part of what leads someone down the addiction path, but it’s not the only factor. Although it is still essential to be aware that addiction is linked to genetics.

Family Genetics and Addiction: Bottom Line

You’ve probably heard that alcoholism is a family disease, and on some level, that’s true.

Addiction is linked to genetics and drug abuse disorders.

However, it’s also important to recognize that addiction is a complex disease that cannot be pinpointed on one factor or cause. It’s a myriad of social and biological triggers that come together to form the perfect storm known as addiction.

If you or a family member is struggling to stay sober, contact us today.

We can help those suffering from addiction overcome their reliance and live a healthier, more stable life.

 

The Behavior and Common Patterns of an Addict

The Behavior and Common Patterns of an Addict Pathfinders Recovery Center - A young addict is laying in a street corner as he begins to experience withdrawal symptoms from his substance abuse.

What is an Addict?

While you may have heard about rising addiction rates, you might not fully understand what an addict actually is.

An addict is someone who has an addiction to a drug or to alcohol.

These addictions can form in various ways — from prescription drug misuse or recreational substance use.

No matter what led to a person becoming an addict, there are many different ways addiction can affect their lives and the people around them.

These effects have serious long-term negative physical and mental effects.

This is what makes having access to quality addiction treatment centers so important.

The Behavior and Common Patterns of an Addict Pathfinders Recovery Center - A group of those in recovery for being an addict and residing in residential treatment to learn healthy coping mechanisms to avoid substance abuse.

Understanding Addiction

Addiction is a serious, chronic disease because of the way substance abuse changes the brain. An addict’s brain makes them constantly crave, seek, and use substances, even when it is negatively affecting their health.

This is because alcohol and most drugs change the way that your brain releases the chemicals that make you feel happy and relaxed. Your brain learns to rely on a substance to release these chemicals, which makes it difficult for you to feel good from things you used to enjoy doing. Over time, you will need more of the substance to feel the effects.

This is what makes overdose such a major concern for addicts.

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Common Patterns within Addicts

No matter what substance an addict uses, they tend to have similar patterns in their behaviors. These behaviors can act as red flags to addicts and their friends and family members.

There are various signs you can look for to try and figure out if you or someone you know is an addict.

These signs include:

  • Having new friends frequently
  • Spending a lot of time alone
  • Stopping activities or hobbies you used to enjoy
  • Not taking care of your physical appearance
  • Having problems being tired or sad all of the time
  • Losing or gaining a significant amount of weight
  • Having too much energy
  • Talking fast or saying things that do not make sense
  • Often being angry, or having violent outbursts
  • Frequently changing between feeling bad and feeling good
  • Having a strange or unreliable sleep schedule
  • Having problems fulfilling your obligations at work or at school
  • Frequent strife within your personal relationships

Just one of these signs may not mean that someone is an addict. If you or someone you know is showing two or more of them, there is a chance an addiction is to blame.

Once you realize that you or someone you know is an addict, it is essential to start seeking out a drug rehab or alcohol rehab program.

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The Physical Effects of an Addiction

Drug and alcohol addiction can have many negative effects on an addict’s body. This is because our systems are not meant to process large amounts of drugs and alcohol on a regular basis.

This can lead to issues with many of an addict’s body processes and organs. The effects an addict experiences can vary depending on what they are abusing, how often they are using it, and how much they are taking.

Some common negative effects include:

  • Problems with the nose and lungs for people who snort drugs
  • Damage to the liver, kidneys, or heart
  • Damage to the lungs, which leads to breathing problems
  • A higher chance of cancer, including liver, throat, esophageal, breast, and kidney cancers
  • Short- or long-term problems with your brain
  • A higher chance of being infected with HIV or hepatitis from sharing needles or having unsafe sex
  • Needle marks, collapsed veins, and an increased chance of getting a serious skin, muscle, or blood infection from frequent injection or from using a dirty needle for those who inject drugs

While some effects of addiction are short-term and can be successfully treated by a doctor, others cannot. That is why it is critical for an addict to find help from a reputable rehab like Pathfinders Recovery Center.

 

The Behavior and Common Patterns of an Addict Pathfinders Recovery Center - An older man talks with an addiction specialist regarding his past as an addict and the need for addiction aftercare services.

Mental Illness and Alcohol Rehab

An addict’s substance abuse does not just pose a risk to their physical health. It can also have many different negative effects on their brain and mental health. These effects can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Problems dealing with stress
  • Angry or violent outbursts
  • A harder time learning new things
  • Short and long term memory loss
  • Poor judgment
  • Poor decision-making skills

These negative effects happen because of how drug abuse changes the way that your brain works. These effects can last for weeks or even months after an addict stops abusing drugs or alcohol.

For addicts who had an existing mental health issue before they became an addict, substance abuse can make their symptoms worse. Addicts often deal with serious depression and anxiety due to substance-related chemicals that imbalance their brains.

The only way these people feel better is by using drugs or alcohol. Once the effects wear off, they only feel worse. This leads addicts with mental health problems to use more and more drugs in order to try and treat their symptoms.

Going to rehab is the only way for addicts to finally get help for both their addiction and their mental health problems, known as a dual diagnosis treatment.

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Drug and Alcohol Rehab Treatment Options

There are many individuals struggling with addiction that tend to worry their addiction is too severe to be treated by a drug rehab or alcohol rehab program.

However, no matter how severe your addiction is, it is possible to get help and successfully overcome addiction.

Drug rehab treatment helps addicts get clean by avoiding the use of drugs and learning healthy ways to cope with stress and other triggers to avoid relapsing, and even potential overdoses.

There are many different drug rehab and alcohol rehab treatments available.

Some common rehab center treatments include:

  • Medical detox to assist in easing withdrawal symptoms
  • Behavioral therapies
  • Medications to lessen cravings or long-term withdrawal symptoms
  • Treatment for mental health issues
  • Tools and resources for long-term care to prevent relapse

For an addiction rehab program to be successful, it must be customized to suit the individual needs of every client. This is something that Pathfinders Recovery Center takes very seriously.

Each and every client that comes to us for help to overcome addiction gets the individualized attention they need by receiving a customized treatment plan based on a multitude of factors.

 

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Getting the Help You Need for Your Addiction

When someone is dealing with an addiction, it can be challenging for them to see how their addiction is affecting their health. It may also be hard for them to see that they can get help to lead a normal, sober life.

At Pathfinders Recovery Center, we know what it takes to get your life back to normal after addiction.

Our luxury locations provide you with a comfortable and home-like atmosphere so that our clients feel safe and secure throughout their treatment program.

We ensure your success by using only scientifically-proven, cutting-edge, and effective drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs.

We have over 25 years of experience in helping people with addictions and co-occurring disorders to overcome their addictions.

Many of our clients wonder whether or not they will be able to take advantage of their health insurance benefits to assist in covering their treatment. Simply give us a call, and one of our addiction specialists can perform a free insurance verification check to see how much of your treatment program will be covered by your insurance before you actually enter treatment.

No matter what addiction you may be struggling with, you do not have to keep dealing with the negative effects of this alone.

Let us use our years of experience to help you get on the path to a meaningful and lasting recovery.

Contact us today, and see the difference our rehab programs can make in getting your life back on track.

What Causes Addiction?

What Is Addiction?

Across the U.S., millions of people struggle with some form of substance addiction.

If you or your loved one are affected by drug or alcohol problems, having accurate information is vitally important. This includes information on the underlying causes of serious substance problems.

Experts define addiction as a type of brain disease.

Unlike some kinds of illnesses, this disease is chronic. That means that addicted people do not have short-term problems that disappear after a brief period of time.

Instead, they have long-term problems that must be dealt with over extended periods.

Here is a closer look at the underlying reasons for addiction’s chronic nature.

What Causes Addiction Pathfinders Recovery Center - A man pours himself another glass of liquor as he continues to struggle with his addiction issues.

Reasons for Drinking or Taking Drugs

Understanding how addiction happens helps to understand why the average person starts drinking or taking drugs.

The truth is, there is no one answer to this question.

On the contrary, adults and younger individuals may have multiple reasons for becoming substance users.

Things that may motivate you or someone you know to start abusing drugs or alcohol include:

  • Pressure from a friend, someone else you know, or society in general
  • An urge to feel better
  • A desire to avoid feeling bad
  • An interest in what it feels like to be drunk or high
  • A belief that substance use will improve your performance at work
  • A belief that your substance use will help you do better in class
  • The wish to enhance athletic performance

Some people start abusing drugs or alcohol because someone else makes them. However, this is usually not the case.

Instead, most people act of their own free will. Why would they do such a thing? It is most likely because they underestimate the possibility of getting addicted or experiencing other kinds of substance abuse problems.

Peer pressure is an especially significant influence on teenagers. This makes sense for several reasons.

First, adolescence is a time of newfound freedom for most teens. That includes the freedom to start making their own decisions.

At the same time, teenagers have not fully developed their ability to think in logical terms. They also have not developed full control over their impulses.

Together, these factors help make peer influence a potent source of social pressure for teens.

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How Does Addiction Develop?

When you drink or take drugs, you change the amounts of chemicals produced inside your brain.

One of the most important changes involves a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine plays a significant role in your health. One of its biggest jobs is making it possible for you to feel pleasure. The greater the amount of this chemical in your brain, the more pleasure you feel.

Your brain can cope with changes in its dopamine levels up to a certain point.

For example, that is what happens when you eat your favorite foods. Your brain produces a bit more dopamine, then returns to normal when levels of the chemical drop back down.

However, compared to everyday activities, drugs and alcohol trigger massive increases in your dopamine levels.

If you do not use a substance repeatedly, your brain has time to process these increases.

The situation changes if you keep drinking or taking drugs. If you do this, your brain will start to treat high dopamine levels as a normal situation.

This shift in your brain’s expectations is the gateway between voluntary and involuntary substance use.

When this shift happens, you can no longer drink or get high just because you want to. Instead, you will feel a pressing need to do so.

Part of this need is physical. However, if you are affected by alcohol or drug addiction, you also have a psychological need for substance use.

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Do Specific Ingredients Make Drugs and Alcohol Addictive?

How do drugs and alcohol boost your dopamine levels and trigger addiction?

Do specific ingredients or chemicals in these substances cause the problem?

No, there is no single chemical responsible for addiction-related issues.

On a chemical level, alcohol and drugs are very different and do not share all of their ingredients.

The most important thing is what drugs and alcohol do, not how they do it.

No matter how these substances reach your brain, they all have the same basic effect on dopamine output.

Every year, researchers learn more and more about the details of how addictive substances work.

The main point is that involvement in drug or alcohol abuse can lead to major, lasting problems.

Are You At-Risk for Substance Use Problems?

Research shows that not everyone has the same chance of becoming addicted.

A range of known factors can increase your risks. These factors include:

  • The presence of depression or other mental illnesses
  • An unstable environment at home
  • Starting to use drugs or alcohol when you are a child or adolescent
  • Having a family history of serious substance problems
  • Difficulties at work or in the classroom
  • Growing up in places heavily affected by poverty
  • Living in places where drug or alcohol use is widely accepted
  • A lack of parental oversight while growing up
  • Poor socialization skills
  • Being friends with people who accept substance use as the norm
  • The method you use to take a drug (i.e., injecting a drug rather than snorting it)

The single most significant factor is your family background. In fact, more than half of your risk can come from genetic influences.

It is important to note that having risks for substance problems does not mean you will get addicted. However, it does mean that your odds of experiencing problems are generally higher.

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Substance Use Problems and Mental Illness

Addiction and mental illness are closely linked to health issues.

Research clearly shows that large numbers of people with substance problems have a mental illness.

It also shows that the same connection works in reverse. In other words, if you have a mental illness, you have higher chances of developing a substance use disorder.

When they affect you at the same time, addiction and mental illness are known as dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder.

Dual diagnosis is a serious concern for a couple of reasons. The condition can intensify your drug or alcohol problems. Its presence can also heighten your mental health problems.

What Causes Addiction Pathfinders Recovery Center - A woman is engaging in an individual therapy session to determine any underlying mental health disorders that have contributed in one way or another to her addiction problems.

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Treating the Causes of Addiction

As we have seen, substance problems are a major issue in America.

Fortunately, you can get treatment for these problems.

Modern substance rehab is not based on guessing or wishful thinking. Instead, all quality addiction treatment relies on proven techniques backed by solid evidence.

For one reason or another, a large percentage of people with serious substance problems never seek professional help. This means they never take full advantage of the resources available to them.

Just by actively searching for a treatment program, you put yourself on the road to abstinence and a substance-free lifestyle.

Today, there are treatments for every form of addiction.

Whether you are struggling with alcohol or drugs, you have options that will help you recover.

You also have workable options for recovering from dual diagnosis.

Common treatments for these problems include a variety of medications. They also have numerous types of behavioral psychotherapy.

When you seek out treatment, your doctor will devise a plan suited to your specific needs.

Depending on your situation, your plan may include medication, psychotherapy, or both of these options.

Your circumstances will also determine whether you enroll in an outpatient or inpatient program. Both types of programs produce positive results for many people who enter them.

Need more information on the causes and treatment of alcohol and drug addiction? Just contact the professionals at Pathfinders.

Our in-house specialists will answer any questions you may have.

We will also direct you to substance treatment programs that fit your short- and long-term recovery requirements.

Addiction Aftercare

What is Addiction Aftercare?

Addiction aftercare is an important part of ensuring long-term sobriety.

Sobriety does not always begin and end in an addiction treatment program.

Long-term sobriety requires a long-term commitment.

This is where addiction aftercare comes in. When you complete an addiction treatment program, you may be anxious about what happens next.

When you choose Pathfinders’ luxury treatment center, we will help you find guidance and support long after your program is complete.

Choosing Pathfinders means choosing long-term sobriety and incredible peace of mind.

Addiction Aftercare Pathfinders - A group of individuals that has completed treatment is taking part in a group therapy session at a reputable rehab center for addiction aftercare to ensure they stay on the path of sobriety

Addiction Treatment and Addiction Aftercare

There are many options available to you when it comes to addiction treatment programs and addiction aftercare programs, .

Whether you have completed a residential inpatient program, outpatient program, or a supplemental treatment that landed somewhere in between, you may not feel ready yet to face your sobriety alone.

During your addiction treatment, you learned how to build healthy support systems, habits, and coping mechanisms. You learned how to manage your addiction and avoid relapse.

But, what happens when you feel unprepared to face these tasks alone? You choose not to.

Professionals in addiction health care have long sworn that remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical.

Research in this area shows us that most people will need at least three months in treatment to reduce or stop their drug use significantly.

They take it a step further to ensure that the best outcomes occur with longer durations of treatment.

Whether your addiction treatment program lasted 30 days or one year, the support and guidance you receive only stop there if you let them.

Addiction aftercare is ideal for those who need help enforcing their sobriety, building effective support systems, and participating in recovery groups that will help keep you on track.

 

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Why is Addiction Aftercare is Often Necessary?

As you likely know by now, addiction is a chronic illness. This is not something to hide or be ashamed of.

Addiction is chronic the same way diabetes is.

Removing the stigma from your addiction will help you reevaluate your need for continued care.

Addiction, whether it is drugs or alcohol, is lifelong.

There is no quick fix or cure.

The good thing is that addiction can be effectively managed and treated with comprehensive care and long-term support.

There is no shame in admitting that you are not ready to face your sobriety alone.

This is the reason why addiction aftercare was created.

We want you to have access to medical, physical, and emotional support, guidance, and ongoing maintenance for as long as you need it.

We will help you manage your disorder so you can maintain your sobriety and good health.

Maintaining your sobriety and health can also improve all other aspects of your life.

As you progress through addiction aftercare, you may notice that you have naturally developed better communication skills, relationships, and financial habits.

 

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Addiction Aftercare vs. Other Addiction Treatment Programs

During your initial addiction treatment program, you have gone through the detox, withdrawals, and the early learning stage.

You have developed a deeper understanding of your addiction and the underlying factors that contribute to it.

You have used therapeutic and holistic techniques to improve your mental and physical health.

Achieving sobriety in your addiction treatment program is a major accomplishment to be celebrated.

But, it is not one that should later bring you fear.

Once your program ends, you should not feel like you have to move forward alone from here.

Addiction Aftercare Settings

Addiction aftercare is simply the next logical step after you achieve initial sobriety.

It can be done in an inpatient setting, intensive outpatient, or traditional outpatient setting.

12-step programs are some of the most common addiction aftercare services.

In any setting, addiction aftercare can help you find support in a safe and comfortable environment, and make it easier to avoid relapse.

It comes as no surprise that patients who participate in addiction aftercare programs often experience lower relapse rates than patients who do not.

You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to get the care you need.

We will tailor your addiction aftercare program to best meet your unique needs and circumstances.

Addiction Aftercare Pathfinders - A man who has completed his initial addiction treatment is now participating in addiction aftercare by virtually holding a one-on-one counseling session with an experienced rehab facilitator to help him stay free from addiction

 

Recovery Groups

When you are working toward long-term sobriety and a healthy, fulfilled life, seeking addiction aftercare in recovery groups can help in various ways.

Participating in addiction management in group settings helps you hold yourself accountable. You will also be able to swap stories with others on the same journey and learn from their experiences.

This may feel strange or uncomfortable for addicts starting their original addiction treatment program.

But, you are likely used to group settings by now. In recovery groups, you can benefit from a supportive environment, receive encouragement and advice, and maintain anonymity if you choose.

Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are two of the most common examples of these groups. They provide social and complementary support to other addiction treatments.

In these types of settings, you can continue to develop effective strategies for dealing with stress and managing your condition.

Common Problems After Addiction Treatment

The same way that your original addiction treatment program did not rely on a singular technique; your addiction aftercare program will not, either.

Addictions often come with ongoing, systemic issues.

Maintaining your sobriety will include overcoming barriers and hurdles after your program ends.

You may have trouble finding a job or home. You may face distressing legal troubles, as well.

The stress and worry that stem from complications like these can be significant triggers for substance abuse.

Avoiding relapse will require a dedicated, long-term approach.

Addiction aftercare can help.

 

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Treatment Methods Used in Addiction Aftercare

Depending on your needs, you may have access to many of the following:

  • Career guidance and support
  • Legal guidance and support
  • Support through life transitions like relocations, job changes, and family problems
  • Ongoing case and addiction management
  • Substance monitoring
  • Life coaching and effective goal setting
  • Relationship and support group building
  • Academic support for those furthering their education
  • Support and guidance with budgeting and general financial planning

Addiction aftercare focuses on providing help, encouragement, guidance, and advice on maintaining sobriety and building the life you want.

Many people who have struggled with addiction do not have these same types of support systems at home.

We are here to fill in the gaps.

You have everything you need within you to build the life you choose.

Let us help you work through all of the other details and set you firmly on the path to finding it.

Paying for Addiction Aftercare

Most major insurance providers help in covering the cost of addiction treatments.

At Pathfinders, we accept most major insurance providers to make it easier for our patients to get the care they need and deserve.

If you are unsure of your coverage, call our addiction counselor to get an insurance verification.

They are always available to help.

If you do not have insurance, they will be happy to discuss each of your treatment and payment options to work out what is best for you.

 

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Pathfinders’ Addiction Aftercare

Pathfinders Recovery Center offers luxury addiction treatments that meet a variety of needs.

We have received the Gold Seal of Approval from The Joint Commission and are a member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers.

We are proud to have committed ourselves to provide comprehensive care throughout each stage of the recovery process.

Whether you completed your initial program here or elsewhere, our addiction aftercare is open to you.

We are here to help you achieve a sober life so you can reach each of your long-term goals.

What Happens if I Relapse?

What Happens When you Relapse?

If you have found yourself telling a trusted friend or relative: “I relapsed,” you may be asking yourself what happens next.

Saying or hearing the words: “I relapsed” can be challenging for everyone involved.

Addiction does not just impact the individual; it affects their loved ones too.

It can also impair your career and the community you have built around yourself.

A relapse is not a failure.

It is not the end of the road.

Relapsing into a drug or alcohol addiction is the same as relapsing into a chronic medical condition. It only means that it is time to try again.

What Happens if I Relapse? Pathfinders - A man who has previously completed treatment and was on the right path to recovery and sobriety has suddenly found himself saying "I relapsed." He must realize that relapse is not a failure, and there are ways to come back from a relapse

I Relapsed

Living a healthy, sober life is something that you deserve, and the people who love you deserve to see it happen too.

Saying the words: “I relapsed” is hard to do.

It can be disheartening and difficult to admit when it happens.

But, like any goal worth pursuing, a setback should not keep you from coming back stronger and giving the pursuit of long-term health and sobriety all that you have.

Understanding the difference between “I relapsed” and “I failed” is crucial in maintaining the mentality you need to succeed.

 

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After Relapse, It is Time to Quit Again

Whether you have relapsed at home after quitting cold turkey; having been through a program already, we will meet you where you are in your journey and help you get back on track.

When you feel like relapsing means that it is time to stop trying and let the professionals and the support system you build here at Pathfinders remind you why it is worth trying again.

And no matter how many times you have relapsed, it is always worth trying again.

 

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How Common is Relapse After Rehab?

Relapsing does not mean that you will never be successful.

Unfortunately, it is an occurrence that many addicts struggle with.

In fact, most addicts who do not participate in aftercare planning, services, and programs are likely to relapse and return.

If you have relapsed in the past, it may be time to reevaluate and pursue another path to sobriety.

At Pathfinders, we offer a wide variety of program options and services for a personalized, high-level experience.

Relapsing should not keep you from trying again. It may be the next try that changes the rest of your life.

Risk Factors for Relapsing

Addiction is a chronic disease.

To put this into perspective, conditions like asthma and diabetes are also chronic diseases.

And relapse rates for drug abuse are similar to relapse rates for other chronic medical conditions.

Addiction is not something to be ashamed of or embarrassed by. It is not something you should hide or ignore.

Some of the most common risk factors for relapsing are high-stress jobs, challenges in important relationships, and overwhelming cravings.

Another important risk factor to consider is your environment.

If you live or spend time with people with addictions, you are more likely to relapse.

The same is true, with an addiction starting in the first place.

Alcoholism, in particular, is largely linked to genetics.

While there is no cure for addiction, it can be managed with the right approach.

What Happens if I Relapse? Pathfinders - A young man has admitted "I relapsed" and has attended group therapy at a rehab facility center to seek treatment to begin is path to recovery again because relapse is not a failure, but a way to learn from mistakes and find healthy ways to avoid relapse in the future

 

Avoiding Relapse

Seeking well-rounded, versatile, and personalized addiction care is crucial to avoiding relapse.

Remaining in treatment for the appropriate amount of time is also crucial.

Experts suggest that long-term recovery requires multiple episodes of treatment lasting for at least three months.

Addiction treatment allows you to counteract the disruptive effects of addiction on your brain and behavioral patterns.

Counteracting self-destructive or otherwise damaging thoughts and behaviors will help you regain control of your life.

Avoiding future relapses means changing deeply rooted thoughts and behaviors, resuming treatment, modifying treatment, or trying another type of treatment.

If you follow the comprehensive plan, we create with and for you, build healthy habits, coping mechanisms, support systems, and practice relapse prevention techniques, you will give yourself a much higher chance of success.

Pathfinders Rehab Program Options

Whether you are recovering from an addiction to alcohol or drugs or a dual diagnosis, we offer a variety of program options to help get you through.

Depending on your unique needs, addiction, and mental health, we will recommend one of the following program options:

For many people, medical detox is a necessity at the start of addiction recovery.

Whether you have skipped this step in the past or tried and then relapsed, this is a critical part of enforcing early sobriety.

This supervised, professional care setting can make all the difference when you are coping with even the worst alcohol or drug withdrawal symptoms.

It can also help you build your strength and confidence as you continue into additional treatments.

 

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Pathfinders Rehab Program Methods

From various therapies to support groups, our rehab treatment methods are well-rounded and holistic.

They are care methods based on years of research and results.

These care methods will likely include:

  • Individual therapy sessions with a trained professional within our facility
  • Family therapy sessions
  • Group therapy
  • Support groups and recovery group meetings
  • Training in addiction management and relapse prevention
  • Lifestyle and financial guidance
  • Aftercare planning
  • Long-term support

When used together, each of these treatment methods can help you avoid relapsing again in the future.

We provide you with the tools, knowledge, guidance, and support you need. Putting in the work every day is up to you.

Finding long-term health and sobriety and avoiding the complications that come with addiction may be challenging, but it is infinitely worth the effort.

You deserve a life free from the abusive cycle of addiction.

Find it today.

Is Relapsing Dangerous?

Multiple relapses can be dangerous or fatal.

Your body may not be adapted to the same levels of drug exposure as before, making it easier to overdose. This is something that many people never consider.

A relapse is not an excuse to give up. It is a perfect reason to try again.

At Pathfinders, we understand how difficult it can be to become and remain sober.

We will work with you to ensure that you have what you need to find long-term sobriety so that these concerns become a thing of the past.

Do not let your drug or alcohol addiction control your life for another day.

Paying for Addiction Care

If you have never attended a rehab program before, you may be worried about the potential costs.

What may surprise you is that most health insurance providers offer coverage for addiction health care.

If you are unsure of how much of your program will be covered, please call our addiction specialist. They will confirm your insurance coverage for you.

They will also outline alternative payment methods if you do not have insurance.

This is an essential factor to consider, but it is not the only one.

Avoiding relapse and building a healthy, sober life you feel good about is infinitely worth pursuing.

 

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Pathfinders Addiction Care

It is time to put your last “I relapsed” into the past.

Leave it far behind and find addiction care that simply works.

It may be what was missing all along.

From your first phone call through aftercare planning, we will walk the path to sobriety with you, and we will help you overcome each barrier that presents itself along the way.

This is What You Need to Know About Quitting Cold Turkey

What is Better Quitting Cold Turkey or Slow Over Time?

Do you struggle with an addiction? Do you want to quit, but just can’t find a way? Do you wonder if it’s better to do it “cold turkey” or slower over time?

The most difficult addictions to overcome, in order of difficulty, are nicotine, opioids, benzodiazepines, alcohol, and cocaine.

The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health looked at how many individuals used tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drugs.

The report showed that about 164.8 million Americans over the age of 11 stated they had used in the past month.

You are not alone in your fight to become sober. Once you quit, you will still have to find the strength to remain sober. Continue reading to learn about “going cold turkey” to overcome an addiction.

Cold Turkey - Hello I Am ... Name Tag Words "Going Cold Turkey" in black marker.
Going Cold Turkey Hello Name Tag Words 3d Illustration

“Quit Cold Turkey” Meaning Defined

When did this phrase “quitting cold turkey” start? The earliest known use of this phrase was in The Daily Colonist newspaper in 1921. This phrase describes the abrupt stopping of an activity that’s considered harmful.

It may have originated from the phrase “talking cold turkey”. This described a time when a person was direct and blunt.

Another explanation is that cold turkey is a quick dish to serve. There’s no need to spend time cooking. Thus, it’s an abrupt meal to serve.

Today, when you quit cold turkey, it means you stop a harmful habit immediately. There’s no weaning down period.

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Benefits of Quitting Cold Turkey

A 2016 study comparing quitting smoking slowly vs. cold turkey. It was published in The Annals of Internal Medicine.

The study participants were divided into 2 groups. Group 1 quit abruptly and Group 2 decreased smoking by 75% over 2 weeks before they quit.

Both groups used nicotine supplements during and after quitting. At 4 weeks, 39.2% of Group 2 remained abstinent compared to 49.0% of Group 1. At 6 months, 15.5% of Group 2 were still abstinent while 22.0% of Group 1 remained smoke-free.

This study concluded that stopping cold turkey lead to longer success with quitting smoking.

The Difficulty with Going Cold Turkey?

The hardest part of stopping the use of an addictive substance is managing withdrawal symptoms.

The effects may last weeks, months, or even years. Each person has a different experience and coping mechanisms.

Withdrawal symptoms depend on the substance and length of addiction. It’s important to understand that this only describes the physical symptoms.

Other emotional and behavioral triggers accompany addictions.

Opioids or Opiates

Withdrawal symptoms often last 72 hours to about 5 days.

They include:

  • Aching muscles
  • Restlessness and anxiety
  • Teary eyes and runny nose
  • Excessive sweating
  • Trouble sleeping and frequent yawning
  • Diarrhea and stomach cramping
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Goosebumps on the skin
  • Dilated pupils and blurry vision
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure

After about a week, these physical symptoms decrease.

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Benzodiazepines

When stopping benzodiazepines, many people experience “rebound” symptoms. This often begins between 1 and 4 days of stopping use.

Depending on how often and how much you used, symptoms can last up to 10 days.

Rebound symptoms include:

  • Problems sleeping
  • Increased anxiety and tension
  • Panic attacks
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Excessive sweating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Headache
  • Stiffness or pain in muscles
  • Cravings
  • Tremors in hands

Severe addicts may experience hallucinations, seizures, psychosis or psychotic responses, and/or suicidal ideation.

Cocaine

Withdrawing from cocaine can make you feel so weak that you don’t feel like doing normal activities. Symptoms can include:

  • Restlessness, irritability, and agitation
  • Generalized discomfort
  • Strong cravings to use cocaine
  • Mental and physical exhaustion
  • Depression
  • Anhedonia which means not being able to feel joy or pleasure
  • Upsetting, dramatic, vivid dreams
  • Increase in your appetite
  • Decrease in motivation
  • Feeling sleepy much of the time
  • Decreased libido or sexual desire
  • Difficulty concentrating

Some people also have headaches and other physical symptoms. Some severe cases experience suicidal thoughts, hostility, and paranoia.

Cocaine Withdrawal Occurs in Three Stages

“The Crash” occurs in the first several hours to days. People feel severe depression, exhaustion, restlessness, and irritability. They may even think about suicide.

The second stage of withdrawal lasts one to 10 weeks. The person’s mood and ability to function improves. Yet they feel bored and lack pleasure.

They often experience cocaine cravings, irritability, low energy, inability to concentrate, and sleep disturbance. At this point, there’s a high risk of relapse.

The last stage, extinction, includes extreme cocaine cravings the come and go. People also experience mood swings during this phase which can last up to six months.

The length and amount of cocaine use impact the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. For most people, withdrawal symptoms last between one and two weeks.

Alcohol

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Often, alcohol withdrawal symptoms manifest in the following timeline.

In the first 6 to 12 hours after stopping alcohol, the person may feel agitated, anxious, shaky, and nauseated. They may also have headaches and vomiting.

In the following 12 to 24 hours, they often experience disorientation, hand tremors, and seizures. The symptoms increase after 48 hours without alcohol.

Symptoms include seizures, insomnia, high blood pressure, and hallucinations. They may also have a high fever with excessive sweating and delirium tremens.

Withdrawal usually stops in 5 days but may continue longer for some people.

The severity of withdrawal depends on the frequency, amount, and length of time of a person’s addiction. Other medical problems can also increase symptoms.

Cold Turkey - A man is exercising in his home. He has stopped drinking cold turkey and uses exercise to get past the withdrawal.
A man is exercising in his home.

Strategies for Coping During Withdrawal

There are steps you can take to help overcome withdrawal symptoms. Each person is unique and responds differently to withdrawal and coping mechanisms.

Following is a list of strategies to try when undergoing withdrawal:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Ask your practitioner about medication to help with the withdrawal symptoms
  • Surround yourself with positive, supportive people
  • Avoid being around people who are using your addictive substance
  • Stay away from places or situations that act as triggers for your addiction
  • Talk with your practitioner before you take any other medications
  • Plan a daily schedule that involves engrossing and distracting activities

The most important point is to have a support system when you quit. Don’t try to do it alone.

Support After Quitting Cold Turkey

Johan Hari, a British journalist said, “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety; the opposite of addiction is connection.”

Addiction often drives a wedge in healthy relationships. This leads to increased isolation, anxiety, and depression.

The addicted individual spends more time with people engaged in the same destructive behavior. Soon, it feels like they have no other options.

Thus, one of the keys to addiction recovery is to reconnect with positive people. Engaging in groups of recovering addicts provides a bond with others facing the same struggle to stay sober.

These relationships provide the following.

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Accountability

One of the hardest steps in recovery is not taking that first drink or drug.

Once the individual leaves rehab, it’s important to stay in contact with counselors or peers. This provides support to help you stay sober.

Prevent Loneliness

Many recovering addicts may have lost their former community groups. Family and friends may not want them around anymore.

Sponsors and peers can relieve feelings of loneliness that could lead to a relapse.

Increased Hope

Participating in a rehabilitation program provides education to help you stay sober. They also teach coping mechanisms including how to avoid and cope with triggers.

They also celebrate successes and provide a sense of hope.

Maintain Positivity

Many former addicts have a poor self-image and lack self-confidence. Counselors and sponsors can help change those negative inner monologues.

They help individuals identify and redirect these thought processes.

Learn New Ways to Have Fun

For many addicts, their perception of having fun involved using the addictive substance.

Rehab programs develop new interests and skills that increase joy in people’s lives. When choosing to have fun, the addict must make choices that don’t act as triggers.

Increased Social Confidence

For many people who have experienced addiction, they don’t feel socially competent. In the past, they used the addictive substance as a buffer to manage social anxiety.

It’s important to work on improving social interaction skills without using a “crutch”.

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Are You Ready to Fight Your Addiction?

Are you or someone you know struggling with an addiction?

Are there conflicting opinions about whether going cold turkey or gradual withdrawal is better?

It may be time to talk with professionals at an addiction center.

Pathfinders Recovery Center provides effective, well-researched, cutting-edge addiction treatment.

For the past 25 years, we have focused on helping people recover from drug and alcohol addiction. We work with any other disorders you may have along with the addiction.

An important part of our care involves help transitioning back into society. There’s no instant cure.

We understand that ongoing support is imperative.

Our center believes that each person adapts, changes, and progresses in different ways and at different times.

You will experience a fun, safe, loving, and peaceful environment. All interactions are strictly confidential.

This atmosphere facilitates healing and develops connections.

Contact us today to ask questions about our program.

Gratitude: How to Remain Grateful

Gratitude:

The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.


Someone recently messaged us at Pathfinders Recovery Center and asked for a blog on the topic of gratitude. We thought to ourselves, “that is a great idea,” especially considering gratitude is so essential in everyday life and our in level of happiness. It is so easy after some time sober to ‘let the shine wear off’, but here are some tips and tricks we use to better our attitudes daily at Pathfinders Recovery Center that really work!

For starters to establish a little credibility let us take a quick look at the research. The results of an 8-year study from The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley indicated that a regular and continuous gratitude practice results in the following benefits:

  • Progress towards important personal goals
  • Higher alertness and longer attention span
  • Increased determination and Energy levels
  • Greater Sense of feeling connected to others
  • Better all-around health
  • Quality and duration of sleep were increased
  • Higher levels of self-discipline

Here are some methods we use as daily gratitude exercises that have really worked for us.

Get A Journal And Dedicate It To Gratitude

addiction-recovery-tips

Jot down 3 things that you truly feel grateful for. This will not work if you don’t take a minute or two in between each entry to really internalize and feel the gratitude for these things on an emotional level. This will also only work and last if you do the exercise daily (we challenge you to do this for 2 weeks).

Remember Where You Came From

Typically, alcoholics and drug addicts have been to some of the darkest and loneliest places that anyone could imagine. Therefore, when some time in recovery passes and we start getting things back in the monetary and spiritual sense (i.e. car, home, good job, relationship, happiness, confidence which are all good). It is extremely easy to forget where we came from by becoming complacent and comfortable and no longer prioritizing our recovery or connections with other people. This does not serve us well for the long term.

Remaining humble is key, and realizing that you are always 100 percent capable of going back to the dark lonely place that we come from.  Not to live in fear, but to remain humble and level headed is the goal here.

Set Goals And Act On Them

One thing we’ve often noticed in this field is that people are happy typically have a goal, a hobby they LOVE, or something positive to direct their energy towards that no one can take away from them. The opposite appears true in our experience as well.  We must be honest with ourselves and set some small goals, and some big goals as well, and start taking baby steps on a daily basis to chase our dreams. Do not let yourself get too comfortable; this is a natural state that we gravitate towards, and our growth stops when we are too comfortable and complacent. The magic happens outside of our comfort zone and that goes for people of all walks of life and every stage of spiritual and emotional development.

Serve Others And Socialize With Like Minded People

addiction-treatment-helpThe most rewarding times in our lives are when we can truly step out of ourselves. To show up for another person in a capacity that makes their life better in some way is incredible. Drug addicts like us have taken enough from this world during active addiction, and it is a phenomenal feeling to give something back. Also, surround yourself with people that bring positivity and love into your life. Negative influences can deeply affect your level of happiness, so we highly recommend surrounding yourself with people who share your goals and are willing to take actions with you toward generating real happiness; we do not do this thing called recovery alone!

The Heroin Effect Of The Mind & Body

Heroin Use Today

Heroin is an opioid, first synthesized and sold in the late 1800’s. Like other opioids, heroin has a calming affect on the body, used as an antidepressant and a painkiller. Opioids have been used for centuries to provide relief from pain beginning in Egypt before making their way to Europe and India.

Derived from opium poppy sap, opioids can be found in the form of powder, tablets, pills, syrups and capsules. Heroin is typically sold in a powder that is most commonly injected, but can also be snorted smoked or sniffed. It is one of the most addictive substances on the market, which is why it is the most deadly. It has become one of the most widely used drugs amongst users worldwide with statistics rising everyday.

In the United States, heroin addiction has become an epidemic. In our country alone there are currently over one million heroin users across the nation. This startling number is five times what it was in 2000, increasing at a dramatic, unprecedented rate. Over 10,000 individuals die of a heroin overdose every year, which accounts for roughly 60% of all drug related deaths. In the past, most of the country’s heroin use was confined to urban areas. This is no longer the case as heroin addiction has spiked in suburban and rural communities, as well.

It is important for all of use to be educated about heroin addiction and how to deal with the issues that have risen because of our country’s epidemic. We must be armed with the facts about heroin abuse to start combating the problem and making headway towards a solution for the future. This article is intended to inform others on exactly how heroin addiction affects the mind and body of a drug addict. We will be discuss, explain and explore dopamine, opiate receptors, and the symptoms and side effects of heroin addiction.

effects-of-heroin-addiction

Key Concepts in Opioid Addiction

Opioids are a group of drugs that have been and are still used for medical purposes across the globe. Morpheme and codeine are common opiates that are prescribed to alleviate pain after surgery and to combat the side effects of certain illnesses. These are the key concepts that allow heroin alter our physical and mental states:

Dopamine – A neurotransmitter that controls emotions, motivation, movement and pleasure and plays a major role in reward based systems. Certain drugs, like heroin, produce excess amounts of dopamine in the brain. This dramatic increase in a feeling of euphoria is what keeps addicts coming back for more. The brain is rewarded with a spike in dopamine when a an addict is using heroin, causing it to crave the drug to produce another high.

Opioid receptors – A group of receptors in the brain with opioids as ligands, a molecule that binds to another. When opiates attach to the group of receptors, the brain sends signals to block pain and other senses related to emotion. The result is slower breathing and a calming feeling.

Opiates and Opioids – Alkaloid compounds naturally found in the opium poppy plant. Psychoactive compounds are found in opiates that trigger different sensations in the brain and body.

GABA – A Neurotransmitter that plays an important role in anxiety and more. Typically, GABA inhibits the amount of dopamine that is released in the brain. However, the use of opioids prevents GABA from working properly, allowing excess amounts of dopamine to be produced when heroin is in the system.

What Happens To Our Bodies When We Use Heroin?

When heroin is introduced into the bloodstream it travels to our brain and attaches itself to the opiate receptors in the cortex. What happens next? Our bodies produce dopamine in excess and our brain becomes flooded with the neurotransmitter. We experience an intense feeling of euphoria and pleasure, rewarding our brain for using the heroin. Opioid abuse also decreases our level of GABA. Low levels of this neurotransmitter are linked to irregular sleep patterns, depression, excessive stress, and anxiety. Because GABA is involved in the slowing of dopamine release, without this key component dopamine is produced in higher levels.

During my heroin addiction, the drugs made me not have a care in the world. I felt euphoria every time I was using and I couldn’t be brought down from the high that I felt. The grass looked greener and the sky looked bluer. Prolonged heroin use leads us to this state of being.

What are the Signs of a Heroin Addiction?

Sometimes people are unaware of the signs to look for in other people who may be struggling with a heroin addiction. There are many physical and psychological changes that you may notice a person abusing heroin. These include:

  • Flushed skin
  • Nasea
  • Falling asleep at inappropriate times and places
  • Lack of interest in activities, like school and work
  • Increased lying and secretiveness
  • Poor hygiene
  • Trying to hide body parts
  • Refusing to eat at all
  • Injection marks on the skin

What Are Some Side Effects Of Heroin?

The are many side effects of heroin use that keep heroin addicts using. When the body is not under the influence of the drug, the side effects worsen on an even greater scale. The body begins to go into withdrawal just hours after last use, keeping addicts coming back for more and more.

Here are some short-term effects of heroin abuse:

  • Decreased heart rate
  • Slowed breathing
  • Itchy skin
  • Confusion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Cold sweats
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting

What are the Long-Term Effects of Heroin Addiction?

Over time, continuous heroin abuse results in a decreased number of opioid receptors in the brain, which can lead to more serious issues and even death. After repeated use, our brain becomes custom to being under the influence of heroin and our tolerance decreases. Soon it takes more heroin to feel the same amount of pleasure as before. We feel as though must increase our dosage to experience any form of a high. This is what people often call “chasing the dragon.” It is trying to experience the high that we once had and being unable to achieve it. Your brain’s chemistry quite literally changes and you are unable to achieve the same effects with the same dose. Dr. Steven Dewey, a prominent addictions specialist, calls heroin addiction an organic brain disease. Dr. Dewey explains, “I’ve never seen a drug explode on the scene as much as opiates have.”

Here are some long-term effects of heroin abuse:

  • Hepatitis and HIV caused by use of unhygienic injections (i.e. dirty needles)
  • Pulmonary Edema (fluid in the lungs)
  • Decreased bowel motility
  • Muscle weakness
  • Impaired immune system
  • Poor dental health
  • Decreased sexual function
  • Open wounds, scabs and scars
  • Coma
  • Dealth

At the end of my heroin addiction in 2010, I could not get high and had to use to not feel extremely sick. This is a very dark place to arrive at, but it is darkest before the dawn!

heroin-addiction-signs

What Keeps Heroin Addicts Using?

A while into abusing opiates, us addicts experience withdrawal when our body is not flooded with dopamine and the chemicals are leaving our bodies. These withdrawal symptoms can be painful and unpleasant which is why so many addicts continue to use. They want to avoid what they know will come when the heroin runs out. As difficult as it may be, a safe, effective, medical detox is necessary to move forward with a healthy, happy and sober life.

Some symptoms of heroin withdrawal include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Extreme cravings
  • Depression
  • Body aches
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Sweats
  • Racing heart
  • Hypertension
  • Fevers
  • & More…

I’ve been there and I needed help to get sober. I would not have made it if it wasn’t for the group of people and support system that guided me through my early recovery.

There is a way out. At Pathfinders Recovery Center, you will meet the owners including myself on the first day of arrival, and throughout your stay you will receive the individual time and attention you deserve. Please call or message us if you or a loved one is struggling. Addiction is literally a matter of life and death. We are here 24 hours a day to help.

Addiction and Loneliness

loneliness-and-addictionIf you or a loved one is suffering from an addiction this article will cover a perspective proven through clinical studies that you must not miss. Society in general has led addicts to feel ashamed of the insidious affliction they suffer from. Addicts cause pain and confusion in themselves and anyone that truly deeply cares for them.

What Does Loneliness Look Like?

Loneliness may not be the same for everyone. The Huffington Post explains, “Being lonely is more of a state of mind and that state of loneliness can change on a dime if one so desires.” Loneliness in addiction can look like:

  • Disconnection from others
  • Little to no interest in relationships
  • Feeling depressed and anxious
  • Thinking there is no one to talk to
  • Believing there is no hope
  • Feeling like no one cares

A History Of Failure

A little over a century ago this country made the decision to ban and make illegal nearly all drugs.  They instituted punishments as an incentive to deter people from abusing these substances.  This makes sense on a basic level of thinking, but the issue is that it is clearly not working, as shown in this chart. In my experience When something doesn’t work, you either have to fix it or throw it away.

overdose-death-stats

From the National Institute on Drug Abuse

Adapting To The Environment

In the early 1920s there were some interesting experiments conducted regarding addiction. They took a rat, placed it in a cage on its own and put two water bottles, one with Cocaine laced in the water and one containing fresh water.  The rat drank the cocaine water until it overdosed and died. Bruce K. Alexander, Professor Emeritus, Simon Fraser University conducted some similar experiments but added some new variables. He made a “rat park” with cheese, tubes, toys, and most importantly friends!  In this rat park he put the same two types of water bottles, one with cocaine laced water and one with pure water.  The following observation was astonishing. The overdose rate amongst the rats dropped to 0 percent.  Most rats didn’t even touch the cocaine water, and the ones that did stopped before overdose. Professor Alexander questioned, “What if addiction is not about being hooked on chemicals but it is instead an adaptation to your environment?”

The message to be heard here is that humans want to bond and connect. If our self-esteem is low, or we have been beaten down emotionally, we will naturally feel a desire to bond with something other than people.  This could look like food, gambling, drugs, sex, television, shopping…really anything that makes us feel okay for a short period of time and provides relief. Therefore, it is counterproductive to punish addicts, remove them from society, label them felons, make them unemployable, shun them, etc…it just perpetuates the cycle.

Finding Solutions To The Drug Problem

In 2000, Portugal had one of the worst drug problems in Europe with 1 percent of their entire population being hooked on heroin.  Portugal decriminalized all drugs and set up social programs to help drug addicts reintegrate back into society. They took all the money they were spending on housing, feeding, arresting, and policing these addicts and put it into social programs where they would set drug addicts up with jobs and pay half their salary for the year, thus incentivizing companies to hire them and affording the addict the opportunity to reconnect with people and find a sense of purpose. Fifteen years after these programs were set in motion the addiction rate is down 50 percent, overdose is down, HIV rates have gone down drastically in addicts, and in EVERY addiction study shows massive decreases.

Hopefully one day our society can catch on and be this progressive and in the solution.

Helpful Tips to Overcome Loneliness and Addiction

  • Build a social network from the ground up. We addicts are intelligent people; we can see who is healthy and working on themselves and who is not – stick with the winners and you will become one.
  • Find someone that you can trust that understands addiction and talk to this person VERY REGULARLY about your feelings of loneliness, anger or whatever it is that you’re experiencing
  • Volunteer work and support groups such as 12-step fellowships are great places to make new healthy connections this will take time and attendance and may not happen right away so you have to keep going.
  • I want to reiterate the importance of cutting out negative connections – not all connections are good connections.
  • Make friends and family a priority in your life.  When you’re down and out it’s not going to be your online “friends” there that save your skin; the real connections that you make will be there for you when you need them the most.
  • Commit to people and make a plan to show up for them and then follow through with that plan!

Contact Us

Pathfinders Recovery Center
Scottsdale, AZ
pathfindersaz.com
info@pathfindersrec.wpengine.com
(855) 728-4363

*This blog post was authored by Lawrence Briggs, Director of Operations at Pathfinders Recovery Center. Ph: 480.320.0752

How to Travel Safely in Early Recovery

HOW TO TRAVEL SAFELY IN EARLY RECOVERY

traveling-in-recovery

How to Avoid a Relapse for You or a Loved One

Traveling during recovery is scary for many addicts making the changes necessary for a healthier lifestyle. You aren’t used to leaving the safe, comfortable environment you’ve build for yourself during this time. Your routine will have to be temporarily changed and there will likely be new challenges you face that wouldn’t happen at home,

We’ve created a guide for those looking to still enjoy life and all that it has to offer while staying sober. Here are our tips on traveling safely in early recovery:

Use a Sober Companion if Possible

A close friend of mines grandfather just passed away. He is early in recovery and known to relapse every time he visited his hometown on the east coast. I had the honor and privilege to go with him back east and be there for him and his family in a time of grief. We went to various restaurants and AA meetings. It turned out to be a safe, and good (as far as circumstances would allow) time and we both stayed sober. Not everyone will be able to afford this luxury but if at all possible I highly recommend bringing someone healthy with you!

Schedule Accountability Calls

Set up a time each day that you’re going to call a healthy sober individual that you trust. Talk to them openly and honestly about anything going on in your head while on your trip. They will be glad to help you and this will make a HUGE difference for your chances of staying sober!

Attend Meetings Along The Way

Prior to leaving for a trip I highly recommend calling the local inter-groups and 12 step resources for the area you plan to travel to. Get a realistic meeting schedule that you can commit to and stick to it. They will be more than happy to help you (It’s what they do to ensure their own sobriety!)

Keep A List Of Phone Numbers In Your Wallet Or Purse

You never know what could happen while traveling, you could lose your phone, break it, forget it somewhere, it could get stolen or it could be as simple as your battery died and you forgot your charger. Print or handwrite a list of all your sober networks phone numbers, the intergroup for the area you’re in and make sure you keep it somewhere safe like your purse or wallet. I love technology but batteries can be a real issue!

Avoid places where people will be using drugs and drinking if possible

This is so important and gets over looked a lot of the time. There is going to be times where it’s unavoidable, say you’re going to a close friend’s wedding and everyone there loves to get loaded. Well that doesn’t mean you need to be around while anyone’s doing drugs in a hotel room or going the a bar after the big moment. Be mindful and keep yourself out of questionable situations at all cost the best you can! Really check your motives before deciding where and how to spend your time, and once you are there I would highly recommend making the time spent about other people not yourself!

Quick Travel Tips

  • Continue your normal routine as much as possible (journaling, meetings, etc.)
  • Exercise
  • Have a plan for what activities you’ll do throughout the day
  • Be aware of trigger symptoms
  • Prepare to say NO to uncomfortable situations
  • Connect to loved ones back home

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If you get into a tough spot, don’t be afraid to walk out of anywhere you’re at and pick up your phone and start calling EVERYONE that you can in your sober network.