Psychological Addiction

Psychological Addiction

Addictions can be either physical or psychological. When a person is addicted to a drug, both of these subtypes of addiction are present. Psychological habits come from the impact that substances may have on the brain. Typically, they deal with the reward center of the brain. In many cases of addictive substances, the drug produces a massive amount of dopamine that leads to feelings of euphoria or pleasure.

The Role of Dopamine in Psychological Dependence

Unfortunately, the dopamine flood has some severe impacts on the brain’s structure. Over time, the brain changes to make it impossible to have regular feelings of accomplishment. The mental desire for the drug becomes too much to avoid, and eventually, the person gives in to the feeling.

Sometimes, the psychological component of addiction might be both pleasure-seeking and avoiding returning to the real world. Many people who use recreational drugs do so as an escape from reality. Because they use the substance this way, they feel less of a draw to return to the real world and keep using it as a means of permanent escape. This approach can be dangerous and lead to overdosing if the user isn’t careful.

Physical vs Psychological Addictions

As mentioned before, addictions can be both physical and psychological. Physical addiction is based on the physical need for a drug to be present in the body. Because it’s not used to the sheer volume of dopamine that a drug’s high generates, the brain will rewire itself to deal with it. As a side effect, the brain retools itself to be unable to function if the drug isn’t present in the bloodstream. This situation is a physical addiction, where the brain’s structure has changed to accommodate the drug.

Psychological addiction doesn’t rely on the body. The brain is a powerful organ, and when it wants something, it creates urges in a person. Psychological dependence comes from the brain wanting more of a substance. This situation may arise because the brain wants its pleasure centers to function or escape reality. The urges formed can be compelling and hard to ignore in either case.

What Is Psychological Dependence?

Psychological dependence is when the brain becomes attached to a substance through emotions or feelings. Mental dependence doesn’t show the same sort of effects as physical dependence. However, that doesn’t reduce their impact on their wants and needs. The brain’s pleasure center is the core of these psychological addictions. Because many of these drugs make it impossible to feel regular feelings of accomplishment anymore, the brain becomes depressed when it doesn’t get the chronic stimulation from them.

Part of the impetus to keep using the drug is to recover those feelings of euphoria that the brain was chasing initially. The dependence on that feeling of joy keeps the user coming back for more. The brain’s normal dopamine response can’t provide the emotions that the brain’s pleasure center needs anymore because of tolerance. This tolerance comes from the massive dopamine flood discussed earlier. The more dopamine within the brain, the more it needs to get the same feelings of pleasure.

How Does Psychological Addiction Happen?

Psychological Addiction

Psychological addiction is the exact mechanism a person uses to ingrain habits into their daily schedule. When a person does something consistently over time, their body starts rewarding them with small shots of dopamine to the brain. The minor doses of dopamine are usually enough to get the brain’s pleasure centers working and feeling satisfied.

The body, detecting that doing a particular thing gives a reward, continues setting up times to do that thing, establishing a habit. Habits don’t necessarily have to be bad. Some of them, such as exercising regularly or taking breaks from work, are healthy and necessary parts of restoring balance to life.

Unfortunately, using drugs short-circuits the reward pathway and drives the brain into a spiral of uncertainty. The amount of dopamine that even the mildest drug generates is far more than what the brain can deal with usually. Once it’s had this taste of pleasure, it can’t go back to the tiny allowances it would typically get. The result is psychological addiction.

What are the Underlying Causes of Psychological Addiction?

What causes a person to become mentally addicted to a substance? The mental draw of a substance may be due to the feelings it produces when it’s in the body. However, this isn’t the only reason for developing psychological dependence.

Some studies have suggested that certain people get a positive reaction from doing a particular drug. The response here is simple – they enjoy the feeling, so they do the drug. However, in some cases, it might not even be about the emotions that the drug generates when it’s in the person’s body.

Other researchers have found that some people do drugs because of nostalgia. In many cases, people started doing drugs when they were younger and associated it with having a good time or going to a party. Because of their feelings rooted in the past, these individuals are more likely to do drugs.

In a few cases, people use drugs as a tool to cope with their reality. Just like some people read, others use drugs to help them imagine themselves away from their surroundings. Also, psychological dependence can take hold as the outside world gets more unforgiving. The fantasy world that the drugs introduce them to becomes where they want to spend most of their time.

What Substances Cause Psychological Addictions?

Most substances can cause psychological addiction. Some substances may only cause psychological dependence and have no physically addictive properties. While almost any substance can result in psychological addiction, a few stand out as the most addictive from a mental standpoint. Among them are:

  • Cannabis
  • Psychotropic medication, including depressants
  • Stimulants, like cocaine and Ritalin
  • Hallucinogens like LSD
  • Inhalants

Many of these substances also have a physical addiction component that goes along with psychological addiction. It’s not a simple process to understand how a person becomes psychologically addicted to a substance or whether they are more mentally or physically addicted to it.

How Does Addiction Affect the Brain?

As most people would know, addiction is a brain disease that results from making bad decisions regarding sourcing a drug and using it. These decisions are illogical and don’t make sense to someone who understands the user. Even the person making the decisions isn’t sure why they’re doing it.

Addiction’s effect on the brain makes it less aware of the world around it. It encourages tunnel-vision – forcing the person to focus on a single goal and ignore all the other things that might happen during their quest to achieve it.

The brain’s physical structure also changes because of addiction. Physical addiction stems from a condition known as dependence. As mentioned above, the brain rewires itself around the massive floods of dopamine that the drugs introduce. This rewiring leads to an inability to function without the drug.

Dependence is the fuel for psychological addiction as well. When a person becomes dependent, their urges and cravings center on getting the drug at any cost, including facing jail time or death. The psychological blocks that would stop these behaviors become eroded, leading the person down a dangerous path that may eventually claim their lives.

Withdrawal From Psychological Addictions

Psychological Addiction

Withdrawal is a crucial part of addiction recovery. Going through withdrawal breaks the body’s dependence on a drug, but it can also give users agency in their decisions again. Detoxification is a method of controlled withdrawal that most rehab facilities use to help their patients overcome their addiction.

Unfortunately, withdrawal can have some severe symptoms. These symptoms may ramp up in intensity the longer a person avoids the substance. Among the typical psychological responses to withdrawal are:

  • Cravings
  • Change in sleep patterns or incidences of insomnia
  • Obsessing over the substance or romanticizing its use
  • Mood swings
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor judgment
  • Depression
  • Anxiety when considering stopping the use of the substance
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Denial of a substance abuse problem

These psychological responses are in addition to the physical reactions a person may have from a drug. The psychological responses work alongside the physical withdrawal symptoms to push a person back into using the substance, even though they know it’s not in their best interest.

Supervised withdrawal in detox facilities is the best way to overcome withdrawal. Staff at those facilities can help in case there’s a medical emergency. These facilities are also excellent at preventing people from succumbing to their urges and relapsing. Withdrawal sets the stage for further treatment.

Can Rehab Help with Psychological Addictions?

Psychological Addiction

Rehab centers offer many solutions for psychological addiction. As mentioned before, many rehab centers have detox facilities that can aid in breaking the physical dependence a person might have on a substance.

However, physical addiction isn’t the only thing that detox addresses. Psychological addiction can be dealt with partially in detox. The real power of detox is allowing a person to proceed to in-depth therapy to deal with their psychological dependence on a substance. If they are still physically dependent on the substance, there’s no way they can succeed in overcoming the psychological dependence on it.

Behavioral Health Treatment for Psychological Addictions

Behavioral therapies have shown a lot of promise in helping patients overcome their psychological urges to use a drug. These therapies focus on giving the individual tools to spot when their thoughts are impacting their actions. The goal is to spot the negative thoughts that lead to negative actions early to avoid them.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has become one of the best ways to deal with psychological addiction over the long term. Other behavioral therapies may also contribute to overcoming psychological addiction. However, this requires constant work, even after in-facility treatment has ended.

Many people believe that they’re clean of the substance when they’re finished their three-month stay in a rehab facility. Unfortunately, that isn’t true. Rehab centers address the problem of overcoming the most pressing symptoms of addiction. Over the long term, psychological urges may persist, potentially risking falling back into their old habits of use.

CBT can be helpful in these situations, giving a person the tools they need to overcome their psychological addiction. Recovery is only truly complete when a person no longer has these urges to use the substance. This final point may take years to get to, but it’s worth the time spent getting there.

Treatment For Psychological Addiction or Dependence

Pathfinders Recovery has dealt with both physical and psychological addiction. Our rehab centers have dedicated detox facilities, but we also provide long-term support for recovering persons in the form of therapy. Our trained staff are knowledgeable in treating psychological addiction and can advise you on the best approach for you.

If you’re unsure whether you can overcome your addiction, come see us. Our doors are always open, and we’re willing to listen and help. Contact Pathfinders today to schedule your first visit and experience our approach to overcoming addiction.

Differences Between Crack and Cocaine

Differences Between Crack and Cocaine

Cocaine is a dangerous drug that has caused untold damage to lives and families worldwide. For a long time. Cocaine was the purview of the rich and famous, but in the mid-80s, something changed for the worse. A new version of cocaine came onto the scene. Nicknamed crack, this version of the drug was cheaper and easier to produce.

It was also a lot more dangerous and just as addictive as the original product. Thanks to quick and efficient drug trafficking, cartels were able to dominate low-income neighborhoods with cheap crack, leading to a massive decline in fortunes among the economically depressed parts of the country. Today, crack has been the cause of severe destruction of low-income neighborhoods.

An Overview of Cocaine and Crack

At their core, crack and cocaine are the same substance, albeit made in different ways. Cocaine is manufactured into a powdered form, but when it’s processed into crack, it presents as a rock-like substance. Crack cocaine sees the raw coke powder combined with water and another substance (commonly baking soda) to solidify the powder into a hard stone. The term “crack” stems from the sound the rock makes when heated while being smoked. The effects of crack and cocaine on the body are also similar since they are both stimulants.

How Are Crack and Cocaine Similar?

Crack and cocaine are the same substance essentially. These drugs create a reaction in the body that speeds up metabolic processes. When a person takes either crack or cocaine, it immediately releases dopamine to the brain. Dopamine is the substance the body uses as a reward for doing something positive. However, this dopamine rush is far in excess of what the body is used to handling. After the dopamine high dissipates, it leads to a depression that could spiral into dangerous thoughts. Because the depression is so deep and sudden, people who use either form of cocaine are tempted to keep using it to avoid that depressive episode. People who use either crack or cocaine are at risk of severe ailments, including hallucinations, seizures, arrhythmia, stroke, and sudden cardiac arrest.

Physical Differences Between Crack and Cocaine

Cocaine is a powdered drug that can be snorted or diluted, and injected into the bloodstream. On the other hand, Crack is a rock that is usually heated within a pipe to be smoked. Crack is generally cheaper to buy than cocaine. Crack is a relatively new drug, showing up around the 80s. Cocaine and its precursor, the coca plant, were well known and used in even pre-Columbian times in South and Central America. Crack also carries harsher penalties for having and using it than cocaine does. Crack acts a lot faster than cocaine, allowing a person to get high in a fraction of the time they need with cocaine. Additionally, crack can be considered far more addictive than cocaine, with addiction sometimes setting in after the first use of the substance.

Is Crack More Addictive Than Powdered Cocaine?

Differences Between Crack and Cocaine

Cocaine is a highly addictive substance, and it has historically caused thousands of deaths thanks to overdosing on the substance. However, as addictive as cocaine is, crack may be even more addictive than its counterpart. This addictiveness stems from how crack enters the bloodstream and how fast it interacts with the brain.

A massive high sets in rapidly when a person smokes crack but fades just as quickly. The short, pleasurable nature of the high forces people to want more of the substance to sustain it and avoid the eventual depression. Dependency on a substance sets in when the brain rewires itself to handle the drug’s presence. In this case, this rewiring happens rapidly, sometimes after the first use. Conversely, cocaine may take a little longer to act.

The Cost Differences Between Crack and Cocaine

One of the most compelling reasons for people to use crack is how cheap it is compared to cocaine. Powdered cocaine found popularity among the upper class of the US in the 70s and 80s. The drug became a status symbol, as those who could avoid it spent tons of money on the substance. Its illegality raised the price and made it impossible for those without the economic means to afford the drug.

In the 80s, this changed when crack was first produced. This version of the drug combined cocaine with low-cost baking soda and water to make an even more potent drug that could be mass-manufactured without costing the makers much in terms of time or money. A single kilo of cocaine could make four kilos of crack. The cost of a crack rock was much more affordable to those of lower economic means. Now, even the economically depressed could experience cocaine, which led to an addiction epidemic that still plagues those areas today.

Can You Overdose from Cocaine and Crack?

Cocaine and crack build tolerance within the brain. When someone takes a drug, their brain changes to deal with it. In the case of crack and cocaine, the brain ramps up its ability to respond to dopamine. This change in the brain chemistry means that the user needs more of the substance the second time around to get the same feeling out of the process.

Unfortunately, the obvious side effect of this change is that the person may inadvertently consume more of the substance than is safe. Overdosing from crack or cocaine happens, even in the most meticulous users. Since many users consume the drug in isolated circumstances, no one can know when an overdose happens fast enough to get them the help they need. Most individuals who overdose on these substances die as a result.

Other Risks and Side Effects Of Cocaine And Crack

In addition to overdosing, there are other pressing side effects of crack and cocaine. One of the most apparent, especially in low-income neighborhoods, is the loss of economic freedom. Crack isn’t expensive, but maintaining the habit requires spending a lot of time and money on the drug. If the police arrest a user, they may face jail time and lose their job.

This loss of economic freedom has a knock-on effect of increasing crime in neighborhoods with rampant crack usage. When a person takes crack or cocaine, they will also likely experience several other side effects, including:

  • Mood disorders
  • Headaches
  • Decreased appetite
  • Paranoia
  • Hypersensitivity

A person who uses crack generally smokes it, leading to lung problems and respiratory issues. Cocaine, if snorted, can lead to nosebleeds. If injected, using dirty needles can lead to hepatitis and, on occasion, AIDS.

Differences Between Crack and Cocaine

Can You Get Withdrawals from Snorting Coke?

If you snort coke, it counts as consuming the drug. As with all other drugs, snorting or consuming it in different ways can lead to dependence on the substance. If a person becomes dependent on the substance, then withdrawals can happen as a result. Smoking crack can also lead to withdrawals if someone becomes dependent on the substance. The withdrawal process can take time and may have various side effects, including:

  • Poor cognitive function
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Drowsiness
  • Apathy
  • Insomnia
  • Intense drug cravings

The symptoms start within the first day of the person not using the substance, but they increase in intensity. Withdrawal is the first step of recovering from a dependence on the substance. The side effects are the body’s way of convincing the person to keep using the substance. Detox is a form of controlled withdrawal.

Many facilities offer medically supervised detox since symptoms can become extreme in rare cases. It’s better to be prepared than to do it and hope for the best. Pathfinders Recovery has a dedicated team to help with crack and cocaine detox, ensuring that patients get the best care possible.

Finding Treatment for Cocaine in Any Form

Detox is the first step in overcoming crack and cocaine addiction, but it’s not the only thing that needs to be done. While detox will help a person break their physical dependence on the substance, a significant portion of a person’s mind is still stuck on using it.

Therapeutic methods such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help individuals struggling to recover from the drug’s psychological hold on their bodies. Therapy can happen in either inpatient or outpatient settings, although a particular type of treatment might appeal to a person more than the other because of how they are delivered.

Residential Treatment for Cocaine and Crack

Inpatient treatment centers focus on helping people overcome their addiction by reducing the number of distractions around them. Inpatient facilities also limit visits from family and friends and keep the facility free of all drugs at all times. The downside of checking into an inpatient facility is that it is expensive and requires the person to put their life on hold for a bit. The expense has become less of an issue as many inpatient facilities now offer payment plans or take insurance for client stays.

Outpatient facilities are cheaper but require a much bigger commitment from the client. A person could theoretically continue their job and life uninterrupted at outpatient therapy once they meet their scheduled appointments at the rehab center. Outpatient treatment is less intrusive, but it also opens up a person to more temptation from the drug.

Long Term Recovery from Cocaine Is Possible

Cocaine and crack can cause massive problems to a person, but there are ways to deal with this issue. Long-term recovery at a rehab center like Pathfinders Recovery focuses on both the physical and mental aspects of addiction.

Our trained staff can develop individual plans that appeal to each patient’s needs. Through CBT and other proven scientific methods, we help patients overcome their dependence on a substance so they can see a brighter future. Contact us today to experience a different kind of recovery – one that’s focused on you.

Can You Force Someone into Rehab?

Force Someone into Rehab

Rehab is often thought of as a voluntary activity, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be voluntary. Sometimes the court or other legal representatives may consider forcing someone to go to rehab because it’s what’s best for them. The person sentenced to rehab this way might not have believed it otherwise.

In other states, it’s illegal for someone to send someone to recovery without their consent. Depending on the locale, you might not be able to legally put someone into rehab who doesn’t want to go. The real question shouldn’t be if you could force someone into rehab, but rather if you should.

In some cases, a person might become self-destructive because of their addiction. They may not even see that as a problem and won’t accept that they are addicted. Putting someone in rehab forcibly should be a last resort, but even so, you should be aware of whether it’s legal to do so.

What Are Requirements for Arizona Drug Court?

In Arizona, a person can enter Drug Court if the state deems that they’ve met the requisite requirements. With Drug Court, a person is mandated to attend status hearings so the state can be updated on their progress. The attendee will have to sign a contract that outlines what goals they agree to meet during their recovery at each court date. The program runs for one year, and a person must complete all the goals set forth by the court to “graduate” the program. To be eligible for Arizona Drug Court, a person must have the following:

  • Drug-related felonies that are eligible for probation within the previous two years
  • Has a score of medium-high or high risk on the OST/FROST and spiked more than 67% on the drug domain
  • Has a history of substance abuse that’s severe to moderate
  • Must reside within the supervision area for the Drug Court

This state-mandated treatment is involuntary, and a person committed needs to complete it before being discharged.

How Effective Is Court Mandated Treatment?

Force Someone into Rehab

One of the most common questions is whether court-mandated or involuntary treatment is effective. The research on this topic is limited, and there’s not much to go on. Statistics show us that almost one-third of all patients admitted to rehab programs in 2013-2014 was through involuntary methods such as court-mandated rehab.

Based on the number of people who recovered because of the court-mandated rehab, it seems that the process does work. Individuals who are coerced into rehab programs tend to do better and stay longer, completing their course of treatment. While the data is still uncertain, the results are promising based on what we know.

What Are Involuntary Commitment Laws in Arizona?

Forcing someone into rehab through involuntary commitment usually means relying on the law to do so. If the person you intend to commit to rehab is a minor, the court might not be willing to do so. They will commit a minor if there is enough evidence that the person has a substance use disorder and may have attempted to harm themselves in the past. The same goes for a non-minor, although the court is more willing to look at involuntary commitment in those cases.

One of the most compelling arguments for involuntary commitment is the inability to function. If a person is so addicted to a substance that they can’t take care of themselves, the court is likely to force them into rehab. The person will be appointed a lawyer to argue their case at a hearing. However, in many cases, they may also think that the person may need to go to rehab.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Mental Health Disorders

Dual diagnosis treatment

Dual diagnosis occurs when a person has both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder. In the past, these disorders weren’t treated together, but it was found that a dual diagnosis treatment must be used for proper recovery from addiction to occur. When a person is admitted to a rehab center, they will have to go through an evaluation that helps the facility determine whether they are a candidate for dual diagnosis or not.

Dual diagnosis combines treatments to give the most effective outcome for individuals who have both a mental health disorder like anxiety or depression and substance use disorder. Sometimes, the mental health condition leads to addiction.

Who Pays For Court Ordered Rehab?

In most cases of court-ordered rehab, the weight of payment rests on the shoulders of the plaintiff. It’s a common misunderstanding that the state will pay for involuntary commitment to a rehab center. The state is never responsible for paying for a plaintiff’s rehab.

If it’s not the state that brought the request for commitment, the circumstances of payment change. In these cases, the person who put the person forward to be committed involuntarily is responsible for paying for their treatment. This rule only applies in states that have passed “Casey’s Law” (Ohio and Kentucky). Indiana has “Jennifer’s Act,” which performs the same function.

What Are Some Ways To Convince Someone To Go To Rehab?

Force Someone into Rehab

Convincing someone to go to rehab might be quite hard. However, doing so ensures that they are also on board with overcoming their condition. Compelling someone to go to rehab requires them to admit they have a problem and wanting to get help for it. In some cases, families might try intervention to get their loved ones aware of the hurt that their addiction may be causing others within the family. Professional interventions may not work, however.

When someone is dealing with addiction, their brain may not be in the proper frame to make the right decision. As a result, they might not agree to enter rehab, leaving you with few options aside from an involuntary commitment to a rehab facility.

Establishing Motivation for Sobriety in Court Ordered Rehab

The most crucial part of overcoming addiction is setting up a motivation for sobriety. Why should a person want to get sober when they enjoy using the drug? Usually, the reason for sobriety for voluntary patients is the need to recover their lives. Addiction can cause severe economic and social damage to a person who has to work through it.

Many of these people remember life before their addiction and want to get back to that point. Their urges challenge this motivation, but a rehab facility can give them the tools to deal with it.

Court Ordered Rehab

For involuntary addiction, the approach is somewhat different. A person who is checked into a rehab center against their will might not want anything to do with the process. However, these cases can be resolved by helping the person understand the point of view of others.

When a person starts to accept that they have a problem and decide to change their circumstances, rehab can help them overcome their addiction. While a person might enter rehab being against recovery, they’re more likely to want to finish the treatment once they realize the benefits it offers them in the real world.

Make Treatment Attractive: Presenting Pathfinders Recovery

To convince a reluctant person, it helps to make treatment attractive. At Pathfinders Recovery, that’s what our staff always aim to do. We provide amenities and therapy for all of our clients that cater to their specific needs.

Our team is personable and approachable, making it easier to discuss addiction and come to terms with it. If you have a loved one that needs that special attention and care, give us a call today. We’re more than glad to facilitate you and help your loved ones get the care they need.

Heroin Effects on 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.

10 Defeating Attitudes in Early Sobriety

Getting sober is one of, if not the hardest thing that us addicts will ever have to do. The journey to long term recovery is a hard one, often bumpy and filled with difficult personal and emotional challenges. Here are some thoughts and belief systems that commonly come up for us amongst early sobriety to be aware of, watch out for, and discard when they creep in!

1. The Non Sober People Are More Fun

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Addicts in general, myself included spend our time trying to do WHATEVER we can to “feel good” in the moment.  Sometimes life is not going to feel good and that is when we do not know how to handle it. That being said, the guys and gals that are goofing off, not working on themselves and acting out in negative self-defeating behaviors may appear to be having more fun…but talk to them when they relapse, get arrested, or end up back in treatment or at a 12-step meeting getting another new comer chip and ask yourself if that looks like fun? No judgement here, the thing is nothing changes until something changes and you must do things you have never done to get where you have never been period – simple as that.

2. I Am Not Ready To Be Sober Yet

You have hit your bottom once you have quit digging. Some people lose everything, die, get locked up ect…some other people end up realizing it much quicker and don’t lose much but can see where their life is heading and make the effort to change it quicker. So please don’t let your mind give you this excuse, it’s not true!

3. This Won’t Work For Me

Here is the thing…how can we know something that we don’t know…we can’t. Just because my mind is telling me that I know something does not mean it’s true. Find a mentor that has been where you’ve been and be open minded to having a new experience. Do what they say and great things will follow.

4. I’m Unique and Worse Than Everyone

This one always gives me a laugh because I can relate so strongly. Almost every addict I’ve had the pleasure of working with at one point or another experiences this thought. I have found out that I am not special or different and when I look for similarities instead of differences I can relate to some people I would never have expected to be able to.

5. I can do this on my own

In my experience this was not true. However, I will say if you truly believe that you can give it a try. If it doesn’t work, then try a treatment center and entering into a 12-step program.

6. Thinking The Answer is on the Outside, Not on the Inside

I need to quit smoking, get a job, enroll in college…TODAY !”. Relax, Rome wasn’t built in a day and we have to crawl before we can walk. You do not have to conquer all of your problems today. Keep it simple and make small realistic goals for yourself and overtime the upheaval and redemption of your life will be astonishing! Give yourself some time to really work on you in the beginning the rest will follow.

7. I Don’t Deserve A Better Life

This is not true for anyone – ever. Period. There is a little bit of good in the worst of us and a little bit of bad in the best of us. Take it easy on yourself, learn to forgive and love yourself. This is a process that is difficult and takes time but I promise you can do it and we will love you until you love yourself!

8. Nobody Cares About Me Anyway

I felt this way coming into recovery and what I found was the exact opposite. It was amazing how many people put their hand out to help me when all I did was simply become willing and ask for the help.

9. I’ve Tried Everything And Nothing Has Worked

No one has tried everything. There are variables to consider here. For instance, something I may have “tried” could work if I changed my perspective, applied myself and engaged in it with an open mind if I was closed off the first time. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh perspective.

10. I will control my use… it will be different this time!

If you are really an addict or alcoholic your own experience is the best test here.  Did you ever “just do one”?  Were you able to easily stop all substances at once at any time without any difficulty?  If you’re truly an addict or alcoholic all you have to do is be honest with yourself and reflect on your experience to see that this not true.  You’re not alone here we have all fallen victim to this way of thinking and it keeps us in addiction much longer than necessary.

How to Travel Safely in Early Recovery

HOW TO TRAVEL SAFELY IN EARLY RECOVERY

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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.

What To Look For In A Substance Abuse Treatment Center

I have been in the treatment industry for 5 years now and one thing I have learned is that like most things, when looking into treatment options you are going to find both good and bad. I am writing this post so that you know what to look out for when deciding on treatment and how to find the program that is right for you or your loved one. The following are a list of things to look for and to ask yourself.

What Life Skills do you teach the individual?

This is number one on my list for a reason. Any inpatient treatment center can lock someone in their facility for 30 days and force an addict to abstain for a month. That can help in the beginning, but what about when the doors are unlocked and they have to go out into the real world? There has to be a focus on practical application and how to live a sober life outside of the safe space that inpatient treatment creates. It’s important to look for a program that addresses the following issues – how to get a job, how to be accountable/responsible, how to budget your finances, how to communicate effectively, how to keep yourself and your personal areas clean etc… Things that may seem basic to some, can be a challenge and feel strange to an addict who has neglected these areas of their life. Any treatment program worth considering will understand how crucial this is, and not only teach these life skills, but create opportunities for them to be practiced often.

Avoid unrealistic promises and statistics

pathfinders recovery center, pathfinders arizona, pathfinders recovery, substance abuse treatment, drug abuse treatment, opiate treatment center, drug addiction treatment, alcohol addiction treatment, best rehab, top rehab in the us, best addiction center, get help today, heroin addiction help, meth detox arizona, heroin detox arizona, heroin addiction arizona, heroin addiction new jerseyThe truth is that there is no “one size fits all cure for addiction.” In fact, there is no cure at all. Statistics on success have little to no real value in this industry as far as I can tell. Each individual has the sole responsibility to gain and maintain knowledge about themselves and take the actions required to change their own life. Every person is responsible for their own recovery and happiness. A treatment program is responsible for equipping clients with life skills, providing guidance as a recovering addict carves a new path for themselves, and to hold clients to a higher standard than they have held themselves to in the past. If a program claims, “We have a 90% success rate!” they are selling you, not guiding you. Do your homework and remember that while there are no guarantees, there are endless possibilities for someone who commits to their recovery.

Make sure you understand features and benefits of the program.

  • What do they really offer? (Request a full program overview)
  • Do they teach about nutrition? (Do they talk about more than just mental health? A healthy diet and lifestyle makes a huge difference!)
  • What are their therapy modalities? (What approaches do they use? What is the background and skill set of the Therapists and Staff?)
  • Who are the owners and to what extent do they play a role in this facility? (If you can’t get the owner on the phone, or if you’re told you or your loved one will likely not meet them, I strongly recommend you look for another facility. You want access to the people in charge of treatment.)
  • How long is the program? (It varies, but in my experience it takes a minimum of 90 days to really impact someone’s chances of lasting recovery!)
  • How much does it cost? (Every program is different. You want to choose a State licensed treatment center, but they are not the most low-cost option. However, Health insurance can greatly reduce or eliminate this financial obligation!)
  • What are the refund policies if your loved one leaves early? (Do not put any money on the line without having a clear understanding of a program’s refund policies!)
  • To what extent is the family dynamic addressed? (This is a major component of long-term success after treatment.)
  • To what extent and how is the family involved? (How specifically does the program plan to help heal damage that addiction creates to the family system?)
  • What if my loved one relapses? (If a program tells you they will kick them out right away, or there is no consequence here…do yourself a favor and find another facility. This should be handled on a case-by-case basis as each addict and each situation is unique.)
  • What is your aftercare strategy? (This is crucial to lasting sobriety! What exactly happens after treatment? How long does the program stay involved? Do they help facilitate short and long term goal planning for once treatment is over? What after care options do they offer and how do they go about implementing these?)

Get all this down and look at it. Make sure you’re going into this armed with the facts and with both eyes open.

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