Prescription Painkillers: Silent, But Deadly

Overcoming Prescription Painkillers | Transcend Recovery Community

Painkillers are supposed to be our friends – they exist to alleviate pain, make us feel better, and help us get through the day with fewer complaints and less inefficiencies. Even the name makes them feel like defenders of justice and slayers of all things wrong in this world – after all, who wants pain?

But pain serves a purpose, and prescription painkillers – which can completely numb you to pain – take a terrible toll on many Americans. While drugs like acetaminophen and most non-steroidal anti-inflammatories can help you get through the day just fine, prescription painkillers are prescription-only for a simple reason: in the wrong amounts, and in the wrong hands, they can be extremely dangerous. And it just so happens that they often land in the wrong hands, and in large doses.

All prescription painkillers are opioids: opium-derivates, either natural or synthetic. Understanding what opioids do and how they work can give you insight into why they’re at the helm of our country’s growing overdose statistics.

 

What Are Opioids?

At some point, many centuries ago, poppy seeds were discovered not only to make for excellent moon cakes, but to contain a powerful psychoactive essence dubbed opium. Opium made the user feel less pain and feel much happier – not only did your physical troubles fade away, but it slowed your breathing and made life more pleasant. Yet opium was also addictive – and many got to a point in life where they couldn’t live without it and would go through extreme measures to obtain more of it.

While opium faded away from the West due to its Eastern roots, it was reintroduced as a powerful analgesic, the active ingredient in a painkilling tincture named laudanum. In the 19th century, a German chemist discovered morphine, a purified form of opium, named after the Greek god of dreams, Morpheus. It became the common answer to most problems of the mind, from anxiety to insomnia to pain and respiratory issues. The craze around morphine grew to the point that it became an active ingredient in children’s “soothing” medicine, and with the popularity of morphine came a greater understanding of the concept of addiction.

Nearly 100 years later, towards the turn of the century, another German chemist discovered heroin, an even more powerful form of morphine, advertised as a “non-addictive alternative” at first.

Today, both morphine and heroin are illegal substances meant to be unobtainable outside of medical purposes, and many other opioid derivatives exist, including synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil, both of which are magnitudes more powerful than their natural counterparts, and far more dangerous to consume.

Opioids work by binding to the brain through the bloodstream, and can be introduced into the body through inhalation, ingestion, or injection. Once in the brain, they bind to the brain cells’ opioid receptors, inducing an analgesic, euphoric effect, coupled with a slowed respiratory system.

Due to the extreme effects opioids have on the mind and brain, they are also prone to misuse and chemical dependency, wherein using opioids regularly and then stopping can lead to painful flu-like withdrawal symptoms. Sometimes, it’s also possible to build up a tolerance to opioids through continued use, leading to the urge to increase the dosage, until the heart stops or the user’s breathing stops, leading to death.

 

Painkillers Are A Nationwide Crisis

In the 90s, America’s fight against pain led to the official decision to heavily endorse prescription painkillers as a solution against the growing problem of chronic pain in the country. This decision was not meant to cause harm, nor did it encourage excessive prescription – but coupled with the advertising and profiteering at the time, it became the perfect storm for a massive influx in opioid prescriptions, inevitably leading to many pills out on the street, and a rise in addiction.

Heroin, trafficked in through other parts of the world and brewed at home, became a growing problem as well, and many people graduated from pills to black tar, while others began starting their addiction on illegal and often dangerous heroin, mixed with other drugs, unrelated products such as baby formula, and fentanyl, a much more powerful form of heroin that has led to a massive increase in overdoses over the past few years.

 

Treating The Addiction

Opioid addiction, like alcoholism and any other form of drug addiction, requires a lot of time and a strict program to overcome. There is no single program that can be successfully appropriated by all individuals – rather, addiction treatment is an individual matter, and each case needs a unique plan suited to their circumstances.

Addiction treatment often involves individual and group therapy, from art therapy to exercise and face-to-face conversation.

Of course, medical care is also a part of the solution. Medically-assisted treatment can be seen as detrimental for some patients, but for many others, it could save their lives and give them the gradual come down they need to avoid relapse, and ultimately defeat the addiction. Drugs like methadone have for years been criticized for being nothing more than simple alternatives to heroin and prescription painkillers, but the truth is that many Americans are successfully off their opioids thanks to treatments spearheaded by the diligent use of this drug.

There’s no denying that methadone dependence does exist and can occur. But to deny its usefulness may be doing much more harm than good. Ultimately, however, the goal is not to rely on any drugs whatsoever and live a life as free from medication as humanly possible.

Sometimes, sending someone into rehab or giving them an intervention is not possible – because they’re in a state of extreme physical duress. Opioid overdoses happen thousands of times a year, and cause tens of thousands of deaths – but many of those lives can be saved and given a second chance through the use of opioid antagonists.

 

Save A Life

Naloxone and other opioid antagonists present a way to save a life during an overdose, as the administration of naloxone can help the body effectively respond to opioids by completely blocking their effects. Using naloxone can quickly restore a person’s breathing, without needing the extensive training of a nurse or a professional first responder.

Naloxone kits should always be kept on-hand if you are personally addicted to opioids or know someone who is. In the case of a severe relapse or an overdose, naloxone can be used to completely block the effects of the drugs. It is not addictive, and could save the lives of thousands of Americans, and give them the chance they need to live a healthier, longer, sober life by taking the steps towards getting away from their drug use.

The fight against addiction is a long one for any individual, and the fight against addiction as a society may be even longer. The first and most important lesson is to separate the addiction from the individual and give many the much-needed time and love to get better and find themselves on the other end of this dark and terrible tunnel.

 

Mental Health Month: Why Drinking While Depressed Leads Downhill

Depression & Drinking - Transcend Recovery Community

The great English poet G. K. Chesterton wrote: “drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable.” More than just a saying, there is a profound and applicable truth to this, even in the modern day. Depression and drinking go hand in hand, and one makes the other worse. It’s a terrible relationship, one you would never want to entertain – and just as abusing alcohol can make you miserable, abusing alcohol because you’re miserable will only make both worse.

Alcohol is a common coping mechanism for the simple reason that it does, to a degree, make us happier. To be more precise, it makes people worry less. As an anti-anxiety drug of sorts, alcohol soothes the mind and calms the spirit – but at a cost. Not only is alcohol addictive, but it is poisonous. Too much at once, or over one’s life, will kill you.

And despite alcohol’s ability to make you forget for just a moment, nothing will have changed once you wake up. The way out of misery – the way out of depression – is by fighting through the pain and pushing against the problems. Therapy and treatment are in preparation of these two things – and drugs like alcohol will present you with setbacks in your depression, and other problems. Here’s why.

 

Alcohol And The Brain

Anyone who’s had more than a few drinks knows that alcohol clearly has a perceivable effect on the brain – one that does not take long at all to kick in. From slurred speech to difficulty thinking and slower reaction, the consensus between all drinkers is that it makes you slow – regardless of whether you are a happy drunk, a sad drunk, or an angry drunk. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and reduces anxiety, with the specifics differing from person to person based on their history with alcohol, and their genetics.

Outside of the effects of a single binge drinking session, alcohol also leaves lasting effects on the brain – negative ones. Alcohol slowly eats away at the brain and at several of your organs, primarily your heart, liver, and kidneys. But in the brain, rapid and severe drinking will lead to memory loss, slowed cognition, and increased risk-taking – followed by problems with decision making, caused by a combination of nerve damage and grey matter damage.

 

Why Does Alcohol Worsen Depression?

This all goes hand in hand with mental health issues, as alcohol not only induces brain damage, but worsens the effects of depression by increasing feelings of guild and helplessness and presenting a risk of addiction.

The damage is long-lasting, but not permanent. Abstinence can give your body enough time to heal, but the process takes years. Just like the battle against alcoholism, improving your brain and organ health after excessive drinking takes time.

 

Finding The Motivation To Do Anything

Depression is more than occasional sadness. Sometimes, it is defined as the inability to feel joy or pleasure. To paint a picture, people struggling with depression are fighting an existential battle that, from an outsider’s perspective, is completely invisible. They struggle with thoughts of suicide, and some days, getting out of the bed can seem like an impossible task – let alone getting a change of clothes, taking a shower, or cleaning up.

There are ups and downs for everyone, but for people with clinical depression, the downs slip far below the limits of the chart, off the board, into unseen realms.

Telling someone with depression to simply feel better is asinine, but the ultimate goal of treatment and therapy is to make this very task possible. Fortunately there are treatments for depression available, including new depression treatment methods like TMS, that can help without feeling the need to drink due to depression. People with depression sometimes lack the motivation to do what most would consider the most basic things – and they feel all the worse for it. Friends or family may tell someone with depression to just do it – regardless of whether it means getting dressed, walking the dog, doing the dishes, or making coffee – and finding themselves unable to, the feeling of worthlessness grows, and the disease becomes crushingly difficult to shake off.

There are days when things are better, and the depression is not as dominating. Days when a person might wake up and have just enough energy to start the day.

These are the most important days, especially if your depression is coupled with a dangerous habit like drinking. When you wake up, make it a goal to immediately jump up and out of bed. Summon as much visceral vigor as possible to complete the most basic and fundamental task of the day – before your mind can find a way to talk you out of it. In most cases, depression manifests as a long list of self-defeating thoughts and voices – by starting the day quickly before the voices can take hold, you can get dressed as hurriedly as possible and get to the first task of the day.

That task should always be something therapeutic. Exercising, walking in sunshine, listening to music, or starting your day with a comedy podcast are all quick and easy ways to achieve an initial mental boost, right out of the gate. Choose something depending on how you feel that day and make it a morning ritual to infuse your day with a spark of joy.

With time, you can set up a more complex schedule, and draft some goals. It can start with something like completing two chores in one day, or folding laundry faster. It may be something like increasing the time you spend walking, finishing a project for one of your hobbies, completely reading a book, or progressing to a harder exercise. Accomplishing things – no matter how small they might seem – can feel like adding notches to your belt, as well as improving both your physical and mental health. There may be times when motivation is harder to come by – but in the long-term things will get better if you work at it, and get help for addition and mental help.

 

Addiction By The Numbers: What Alcoholism Costs You

Addiction Issues | Transcend R

Alcoholism is more than sitting back and enjoying a few beers on a Friday night. Like any addiction, it’s an emotionally and socially crippling disease that robs you of the freedom to drink in moderation, and instead forces you to drink or drown in pain. Alcoholism is one of the more dangerous addictions, because the alcohol is legal, widespread, often a big part of any social occasion, and can quickly kill.

Up to one in six Americans binge drink every week. While not immediately a sign of alcoholism, binge drinking presents a massive risk of alcohol poisoning, which can be painful and fatal. Up to a fourth of adults between the ages of 18 and 34 engage in the behavior, with twice as many men as women.

Yet alcoholism is more than binge drinking. If the average binge drinker consumes about seven drinks per binge, four times a month, that racks up to nearly $1,500 per year at an affordable cost of $4 per drink. And that’s only counting the binge drinking sessions, and not the rest of the year. Meanwhile, an alcoholic will often consume much more.

 

Doing The Math

The top ten percent of American drinkers – that is, the ten percent of the population that drink the most – consume on average 74 drinks per week. That’s more than ten drinks per day, a statistic about 24 million Americans contribute to.

At a cost of about $4.61 (the average bar cost of a beer in LA) per drink, that’s over $300 per week, and $16,780 per year. If the drink costs more, then that cost rises exponentially. For reference’s sake, you can buy a car with that. You can also buy yourself a house in certain neighborhoods. Finance the creation of two wells, providing clean fresh drinking water for over 600 people.

With over $16,000 you could pay for a month’s gym membership, over 330 times. You in a family of four could live off that money in groceries for about 70 weeks if you spend liberally. That’s over 16 months. Or, you could take a cruise ship around Europe, easily getting a family of four over the pond in just over $10,000.

You can easily check for yourself exactly how much you’re drinking, by monitoring yourself for a week and averaging it out. The amount of money you may be spending on alcohol might astound you – and while you’ll have to invest a lot of that money into recovery, the long-term savings are insane. If you drink an average of ten drinks a day at $4.50 per drink, or five at $9, then going sober for ten years will save you $163,800. That money could, over the course of your sobriety, go into home improvements, tuition fees, good and healthy food, gym memberships, memorable vacations, and much more.

Even with a more conservative cost of about $2.05 per drink, you’re still looking at nearly $7,500 per year at ten drinks a day.

But if you don’t quit, then your addiction will ruin you. Aside from costing a boatload over the course of an addict’s life, the cost of addiction is much more than just the cost of the booze itself.

 

More Than Just Alcohol

The money you lay down to support your alcoholism is only a small slice of the pie. Excessive alcohol consumption has costs that go way beyond the booze itself – with a total societal cost of $249 billion a year, nearly $82 billion of that are lost purely due to a loss of productivity caused by drinking.

In states with heavy drinking statistics like California, the hidden cost per drink to the nation and its people is $2.77. Multiply that by the drinks you’ve had this week, and you’ll know exactly how much your habit has cost the economy.

Going back to personal consequences, however, it’s not just the American economy that gets tanked by alcoholism, and addiction in general. It’s your finances, as well.

 

Healthcare Cost Of Alcoholism

Studies in the past have shown that heavy drinking leads to significantly higher healthcare costs, even when accounting for other factors. This is logical, as heavy drinking presents a great risk of hypertension, heart disease, liver disease, cancer, and brain damage.

Furthermore, alcoholism worsens the risk as it usually leads to progressively higher alcohol consumption, on top of the risk of alcohol poisoning and the medical costs associated with surviving and recovering from an ER situation after a binge.

To understand just how widespread the issue is, a quarter to 40 percent of all US general hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from the consequences of alcohol-related problems. Overall, the cost of health care due to excessive alcohol consumption is $28 billion a year.

 

The Cost Of Lost Time

Aside from money spent on healthcare and booze, you lose an incredibly amount of time drinking. It’s not just the act of having a drink and getting drunk. It’s the broken sleep schedules, the debilitating hangovers, the blackouts and frequent lapses in memory, the consequences of bad cognitive skill and decision making due to excessive alcohol consumption, and much more.

Like any addiction, alcoholism can steal a person away from their jobs, their families, and their lives. It can turn a wonderful person into someone disagreeable and incoherent. But it can be treated.

 

Life Without The Addiction

Aside from the thousands saved simply not drinking, quitting will also give you newfound time and energy, and give your body time to heal and recover, cutting your healthcare costs and hopefully massive improving your quality of life. You’ll feel stronger, you’ll feel better about yourself, and with the right support, you’ll have a chance to lead a meaningful and productive life full of adventures and memorable experiences without a single drop of alcohol.

The best part? It’s more than just make belief. You can get help – and you can get better. Addiction treatment and sober living has come a long way, and we understand more about alcoholism today than every before. While it isn’t easy, the path to long-term abstinence and successful sobriety is extremely rewarding.

 

Dealing With The Mental Effects Of Prolonged Addiction

Mental Effects Of Addiction | Transcend Recovery Community

It’s much more than a choice. Addiction can best be described as a mental illness or a brain disease, a powerful compulsion that pushes patients to seek out drugs even if they know it’s detrimental and carries heavy mental effects and consequences. Drug users will go out of their way for the next high, to the point of risking something like prison again – repeat offenders prove that even a correctional system as harsh as America’s isn’t an effective deterrent for many.

What does help, however, is treatment. But to understand why treatment helps, it’s important to understand what addiction does to you – and how mental illness and the mental effects of long-term addiction play into why it’s so hard to stay clean for many.

There’s more to addiction than the fact that you feel the urge to get high. Prolonged drug use can physically harm you and cause mental damage, and the financial consequences of addiction can be ruinous.

 

What Mental Effects Drugs Have On The Brain

Drugs interact with the brain in many ways, but most of them work on the same basic principle. The best way to simplify how drugs work is to think of them as impostors of existing crucial neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals. They hijack the receptors in your brain’s cells and act as certain neurotransmitters, transmitting specific signals throughout the brain to elicit feelings of joy and happiness, but also other reactions, such as weakened coordination and slowed movement, as with alcohol, or a numbing effect that reduces the body’s ability to feel pain, like opioids. Whichever one is used, the mental effects are always negative.

All drugs have something in common, and that is their addictiveness. From nicotine to heroin, drugs elicit a response in the brain that is unnatural – this effect causes the brain to adjust. Most drugs invoke mental effects that condition the brain towards further usage, to the point where you begin to crave a drug. But as you take it more often, its effects are also severely diminished, causing you to need to take more. The two effects go hand in hand, making addiction particularly dangerous as the risk of overdosing is built into the nature of the disease.

Over time, it becomes harder to quit. Not only do most drugs cause physical damage to the brain and other organs, making it harder to think rationally and fight against the addiction, but as the brain normalizes drug use, it becomes reliant on it. Suddenly quitting can elicit painful withdrawal symptoms – sometimes, these mental effects can be fatal.

Aside from these complications, perhaps the biggest deterrent to recovery is the fact that drug use actively diminishes a person’s ability to think clearly, make informed decisions, and be critical. Drug use is also seen as a very effective short-term coping mechanism, drawing in people with high levels of stress caused by work or mental illness. At other times, due to its very poor performance as a long-term coping mechanism, and the fact that it can be mentally and socially ruinous to get addicted, addiction also leads to mental health problems including depression due to the consequences of getting addicted. A person who experienced years of loss due to their alcoholism may find it harder to quit because of the emotional (and physical) pain they endure while sober because of their drinking.

The only way out is through. One of the harder truths about recovery is that the mental effects and emotional pain are something everyone must process and overcome if they want to stay sober and successfully abstain for the rest of their lives.

 

Addiction, Anxiety, And Depression

Research shows that people with mental health issues – particularly forms of anxiety and mood disorders like depression – struggle with addiction more often than the general population. This is because people with mental health issues often try to self-medicate to deal with their issues without seeking out help or treatment, either to avoid stigma or for other reasons.

In other cases, excessive drug use may lead to the development of depressive symptoms and a diagnosis of major depression, because of the mental effects of addiction and the events that followed.

 

Seeking Comprehensive Treatment

Addiction treatment and mental healthcare have come a long way. Even though we’re not the best in the world at tending to our mental health, we do have a great understanding of the detrimental effects of stress and emotional pain, and the correlation between addiction and mental illness.

That is why many addiction treatment facilities utilize the knowledge of in-house experts to recognize the mental effects of addiction and formulate a comprehensive treatment. There is no one-size-fits-all in addiction treatment or in mental healthcare. But a treatment plan that addresses both issues as one – and even tackles physical issues through proper diet and exercise – can achieve wonders.

 

The Importance Of Strong Support

Ultimately, a person’s sobriety is as strong as they are – but when your strength falters, it’s important to have people in your corner backing you up, ready to help you get back on your feet and back into the ring. Some wrestle with addiction much longer and much harder than others, but regardless of your story or your circumstances, having people who love you and want you to stay clean and healthy can make a world of difference. A solid support system will give you a shoulder to lean on, an ear to speak to, and a fresh perspective whenever you feel the negativity catching up with you.

It’s one thing to have people around you ready to help you stay clean, but it’s another to be willing to ask them for help at the right moment. It’s important to recognize when you’re slipping and get the help you need to stay on the straight and narrow.

Beyond your support system and immediate circle of friends and family, consider sanitizing your relationships and removing yourself from relationships that you feel hurt you, or pull you down. Sometimes we retain friendships from the old days before the treatment, hoping to help them as well, but some people won’t accept help and have to find their own way to recovery. Knowing when it’s time to move on is important both for staying sane, and for staying clean.

In the end, it is possible that you will be struggling with the aftermath of addiction for the rest of your life. But that doesn’t have to impede on your ability to lead a colorful, exciting, and awe-inspiring life. Once you’re clean and the reigns are in your hands, it’s all up to you.

 

You Can’t Afford The Consequences Of Addiction

Consequences of Addiction | Transcend Recovery Community

Addiction is more than personal pain – the consequences of addiction are real and can reverberate through your life and lives of those around you for years to come. A few months spent in the throes of addiction can redefine your entire life and can remain a burden long after your last high.

This is not a condemnation or a judgment of those who have gone through addiction. Anyone who has struggled through addiction knows these things – and they are living them. But it may serve as inspiration for some to continue their hard work in recovery, to remind them of how bad things get – or it can spread awareness of how addiction is not something to be taken lightly, and any chance of it should be avoided if possible.

The consequences of addiction can be unimaginably high, and it sheds light on how this disease does much more than destroy relationships and cause physical damage. The effects of addiction on a family can echo through decades of debt and destitution in the worst of cases, and massive financial regrets in the best of cases. Understanding why and how can give further insight into how addiction takes a person and warps them, manipulating them, forcing them to do things they never thought they’d do – and giving them memories filled with shame and regret that some swear they may never live down.

 

How Much Does Addiction Cost?

There is no specific price tag on any given addiction. Just like how treatment exposes the individuality of addiction and the uniqueness of every case, the cost differs entirely based on the exact specifics of a person’s habits, their drug or drugs of choice, specific binges based on mood spikes, costs associated with the consequences of their addiction, and much more.

Of course, there is no such thing as a cheap addiction. A six-pack of beer a day will still add up over the course of a month and turn into a massive chunk of your yearly income. And that does not cover the costs of potential DUIs, medical bills associated with liver and brain damage, legal fees or lawsuits over drunken behavior and rowdiness, and much more.

No matter who you are, the cost of addiction is always severe. For people in poverty, addiction is about as ruinous as it can get – and it is unfortunately common. High stress and negative thinking are the perfect breeding grounds for self-medication, even with the most dangerous and addictive substances the street has to offer. But several stories up, in any major city’s night scene, people with more money than they know what to do with end up spending incredible amounts of it purchasing the most expensive drugs on the market. A single night can produce a tab running up into the tens of thousands of dollars.

There’s more to addiction than just the cost of drugs, of course. You pay every step of the journey – from the first hit, to your last day in recovery. Every step taken is one of the consequences of addiction.

 

The Cost Of Failed Careers

The first and most major of the financial consequences of addiction is loss of a job. We’ve all heard of “functioning alcoholics,” but someone with a full-blown drug addiction will rarely be able to hold onto their job. Once that goes away, every day spent struggling with addiction is a day you are not collecting any wages or making any money, and even with investments and efficient financial planning, drug misuse breeds recklessness, unnecessary risk taking and brain damage, often leading to poor financial decisions, misuse of funds and rash behavior.

Many who go down that path end up losing a big chunk of what they own, and too many end up having to go into debt because of it. Some lose out on life-changing careers over drugs, and about 60,000 people lose out on life per year due to them.

 

The Cost Of Legal Issues

Drugs are criminalized – and their possession is criminal as well, even in low amounts. Even worse are high amounts of drugs with the implied intent to distribute, or, if you planned on making drugs to fuel your addiction and continue to finance it, the price gets steeper.

But many people struggling with addiction end up paying out both in time and money not due to drug-related charges, but due to their behavior while high. From something as dangerous as driving under the influence or neglecting a child due to addiction, to something as simple as public indecency, drugs can make us do reckless things and pick bad choices. These consequences of addiction rack up over the years into a sizeable cost.

 

The Cost Of Shame

The emotional consequences of addiction is considerable. Some believe that relapses, rather than part of the neurological disease aspect of addiction, are instead tied to the shame and guilt many people feel shortly after rehab, as they reflect on their days spent as an addict, and the mistakes they made. Addiction is commonly tied to anxiety and depression not only because people with these conditions are more prone to addiction, but because addiction also greatly amplifies them, or even triggers them in the first place.

This can lead to a debilitating emotional pain, one that can prevent people from progressing in their recovery, even going so far as to struggle with the idea of a future for themselves.

Addiction treatment is meant to help people recover past that point, reconciling with themselves and seeking solace in the fact that they can strive to be better, and never again cause the sort of pain they once did. That said, this is one of the consequences of addiction that is harder to quantify, but is clearly present in many recoverees.

 

The Consequences Of Addiction On Society’s Budget

While the cost of an average addiction is not a very helpful statistic given the massive disparity in wealth and the various costs of the many various drugs Americans consume on a yearly basis, there is a national figure meant to represent how much damage addiction deals financially every year, as represented through unpaid debts, lost productivity, the cost of law enforcement, and the money spent providing addiction-related healthcare: $442 billion.

The country spends nearly half a trillion a year fighting the consequences of addiction, and many Americans pay out of their pocket to fight the symptoms of this problem, either directly or through taxes. No matter who you are or where you live, addiction affects us all. And we all must acknowledge what it is, how it works, and what we must do to prevent and treat it.

How Addiction Affects Your Family And Loved Ones

Addiction Affects Relationships | Transcend Recovery Community

Addiction is a disease – and while it is not contagious in the classic sense, its effects spread across families and through relationships. One case of addiction is not just the story of an individual, but a story in general, with an entire case of characters. Understanding how addiction can affect others will not only spread awareness on how important it is to stand against addiction, but it can help others learn how to stand against addiction.

Addiction is not a matter of choice, although it begins with a mistake. We are all human, and we all make questionable choices, especially in times of great stress, loss, loneliness, or sorrow. Yet unlike many other choices, the fallout from addiction can be a lifelong compulsion. Thankfully, due to decades of psychiatric research and an improved understanding of the brain, treatments today exist to help anyone who is struggling with their addiction.

But they cannot do it alone. Addiction may be an individual disease, but it takes a village to help someone stay sober – and when handled poorly, attempts to help someone get clean can tear a family apart.

 

Struggling With Addiction

Financial Issues

Addiction can lead to serious financial issues. Not only does an addiction jeopardize a person’s career, but it can lead to legal costs, damages, arrests, and the cost of the drug use itself which can pile up rapidly.

Depending on the severity of the addiction, sometimes hospital bills will have to figure into the equation as well. It is not uncommon for a family to struggle financially due to an addicted family member – which is why seeking help sooner rather than later is important.

 

Miscommunication and Arguments

A misplaced sentence, a fit of rage, a loss of understanding – it can be incredibly frustrating to live with addict, because the nature of their disease dictates that they never learn if they’re struggling with their addiction.

That, and because of the effect drug use has on the brain, it is not uncommon for an intoxicated addict to say things they don’t mean, or do things they would never do sober, becoming a source of strife and embarrassment at home and at outings and family gatherings.

 

Enabling and Mistreatment

Whether out of a misguided sense of love or out of spite, families can engage in incredibly destructive and negative behavior when dealing with an addicted loved one. From enabling their behavior, to abuse from the addict towards others, or from others towards the addict, there are many ways an addiction can create a dysfunctional and even violent household.

Addressing these issues can be incredibly difficult and personal, but when things come to a point, there is no sense in handling it internally. It is important to call for professional help.

 

The Importance Of Proper Communication

The one thing all failed relationships have in common is a failure to properly communicate. At its most basic level, the importance for clear communication is simple. When we want something from someone, we need to tell them in a way they can understand.

The trouble is that human relationships can become extremely complex. Our interests conflict, and so we lie or manipulate to win one thing from the other. Such episodes lead to resentment and a loss of trust, and clear communication becomes ever more difficult. Instead of taking words at face value, we try to read their intent, and uncover a plot.

Sadly, this happens all too often within families and between friends. Insecurity, anxiety, anger, or other negative emotions keep us from simply being straight – or our words someone we care about without us meaning it.

When used properly, communication can help foster cooperation and bring families together – even against an issue like addiction. Family therapy is a form of addiction treatment that involves everyone in the family coming in to help with therapy, perhaps to make peace or reconcile, or to clear up past misunderstandings.

Learning More About Addiction

Addiction in the family is incredibly difficult to deal with – but the damage it deals varies widely based on how it is dealt with.

If you shun or isolate the addict, things will get worse. If you embrace their behavior as part of who they are and enable them just to keep them from acting out, tragedy is guaranteed. If you take your own approach and “discipline” them into sobriety without their consent or cooperation, they will bounce back into addiction harder than ever.

Successful addiction treatment exists and is practiced in treatment facilities all over the country. Different programs for different cases, tailored to each individual, built to help them get better – with your assistance. If you let the addiction win by neglecting to take the right approach, the damage to the family will be even more severe. But with treatment, therapy, and the right education for everyone involved, the disease can be curbed and successfully mitigated.

There are many things to learn, and every family can start by considering how their actions and words affect people going through an addiction. Addiction is compulsory and uncontrollable – it takes a powerful external force to get someone to go sober, even if only temporarily.

From there, staying clean is very difficult – and although it gets easier with time, the lure of addiction should never be underestimated. Blame, anger, shame – these feelings only make things worse, and should never be given a voice. As a friend or family member, you must be strong, resolute, and compassionate if you want to help someone stay sober – and most importantly, you must look after your own mental and emotional health.

Coming Together

Just as addiction can tear families apart, it can be the fight you need to all come together. Fighting something like addiction and surviving all the scraps it brings into the family home is not just painful; it presents a crucial opportunity for everyone to come together and stick together.

To beat an addiction, you must absolutely want to get sober, and you need people who can support you and help you keep sober.

In the beginning, it is normal to rely on that support – even after an early treatment, like rehab. The temptations are strong and fresh, and the mental havoc of being clean while fighting against the aftermath of addiction can be harrowing.

As the weeks go by, sobriety can help you build a new life for yourself – get work, find hobbies, make new friends, and find ways to productively spend your time. There will be ups and downs, but it is a steady climb.

And with time, you will not have to rely on others to keep you sober. But having strong relationships with everyone in your family, and having a reliable social circle you can trust, both go a long way towards giving you all the reason never to consider your old habits again.

 

6 Tips To Resist Temptation

Resist Temptation

When all traces of a drug leave the body, a certain legacy is left behind. That legacy is the physical effect drugs can have on the brain, and the psychological scarring left behind by addiction and its consequences. To many, a marked and powerful aspect of that legacy is the craving and extreme difficulty to resist temptation.

Cravings remain long after rehab, and the only thing that helps them wane is time. But until they do, trying to resist temptation and fighting the urge to use again is central to any one person’s addiction recovery – and everyone has a different approach to ignoring the temptation.

Regardless of what your drug of choice was, cravings are a natural part of the recovery process. They come to you when you least expect it, and when you’re at your weakest. Anyone entering recovery must be prepared to resist temptation of these cravings, and you’ll need both short-term and long-term strategies to resist temptation and fighting off an urge when it appears. Here are a few applicable tips.

 

Find Something Else To Do

Addiction is tied intimately to the reward center of the brain, affecting what motivates us and makes us happy. Reclaiming that is an active process – finding new hobbies and spending time engaging in them can help people in recovery resist temptation and avoid struggling with cravings by instead focusing on other passions, such as painting, music, or sports.

From creative endeavors to intellectual pursuits or workplace ambitions, it’s important to find something that satisfies you, makes you feel accomplished, and keeps you busy and motivated.

 

Understand Your Triggers

Relapses rarely come out of nowhere, especially after early recovery. If you have been clean for a while, then the urge to use comes mostly during times of great stress, or when you are somehow reminded of your drug use. Positive memories of previous highs, places and things that remind you of the past – everyone carries different emotional triggers, based on memories or feelings.

It is important to recognize these triggers when they appear, resist temptation, and find a way to avoid them in the future. For example: even if you move to a new neighborhood, you might still take a similar route to work. That route might bring back memories, making it hard to focus and giving you a craving. Avoid that route and try to get to work through a different path.

Not all triggers can be avoided, and no one wants to live their life running away from places and people out of fear of certain memories. Understand that this is a temporary measure, and that with time, you can desensitize yourself to certain triggers and, with the help of therapy, eliminate their effect on you completely. However, this takes a lot of time and effort, and it is best to minimize the work you have to do by first taking the steps to resist temptation and avoid triggers wherever you can.

 

Talk It Out

Over the course of time, it is normal for events, feelings, and thoughts to weigh heavily on us. What might just be a passing casual thought in a fleeting moment could turn into a major issue in retrospect, an instance you feel ashamed or worried about.

Talking it out with others going through addiction recovery and hearing their perspective on it can help you better understand and accept your cravings, and learn to overcome them with time, rather than live in fear of them.

Sharing such moments with others also creates the opportunity to hear from them how they deal with their urges, learning new things that you might be able to apply in your own life.

It’s okay not to be entirely open to others at first. It is difficult to talk about addiction to others, especially early on. But something as simple as getting your worries and negative thoughts off your chest in a group can help you feel better, and even round up a few ideas on how to dispel and debunk those thoughts.

 

Try Therapy To Help Resist Temptation

Cognitive behavioral therapy allows patients to learn how to better control their thoughts, defeating negative thinking and replacing it with more positive, logical thinking. Cognitive behavioral therapy is not based on hearing what you want, but it is based on helping you create mental bridges to come to logical conclusions to eliminate negative bias.

Addiction can often bring with it shame and self-doubt, and cravings can make you further feel bad about yourself. But through cognitive behavioral therapy, you learn to resist the temptation of a craving by living out the consequences in your mind, being mindful of what you risk and what you care about, and helping you make a calm and sound decision to resist temptation and ignore the craving rather than give into it.

 

Overcome Your Past

Early addiction treatment relies on avoiding certain triggers to prevent recurring urges, but that does not mean that facilities or treatments advocate avoidance in the long-term. The only thing you need to avoid is drug use – but it is critical to confront your past, your actions, and their consequences.

Making peace with past events and coming to terms with everything that has happened over the course of the addiction is important. It gives people peace of mind and allows them to ultimately forgive themselves after asking others for a little forgiveness.

The urges and cravings are not just tied to events and places, but to mindsets as well. Being in a certain state of mind not only due to external stressors but due to an internal argument can cause a relapse. Coming to terms with your past and overcoming it – growing past it – is an important step in long-term recovery.

 

Learn How To Surf The Urge

Urge surfing is a therapeutic technique based on mindfulness, developed by the late Dr. Alan Marlatt. When urges begin, they can last up to half an hour depending on the intensity of the urge. Feeling an urge is accompanied by certain physical reactions, including sweat, jitters, shallow breathing, and an increased heart rate.

Urge surfing recommends taking an outsider’s perspective on these physical reactions, focusing on your breath, and taking note of every sensation and change that occurs as your urge begins. If you find yourself getting angry or otherwise emotional over the urge, stop and refocus on your breath. In, and out.

With time, the urge will subside – your controlled breath will help normalize your heartbeat, and by staying calm rather than reacting cholerically, you do not let the urge linger.

The reason surfing applies so well to this technique is because urges and cravings come in waves. They crash over you, steadily and powerfully. But by taking a deep breath and by riding it out on top of the wave rather than under its wrath, you can observe it from a safe distance and wait for it to subside. The key is not to do battle against the urge.

Research suggests that the longer someone stays sober, the lower their chances of relapse. This rests on the idea that as you continue to stay away from drugs, you develop ways to keep yourself sober and happy, limiting and even eliminating the need for drugs in your life, and resisting any urge to go back. To get to that point will take time, but with support and proper treatment, it can be done.

Early Warning Signs of Addiction

Signs of Addiction | Transcend Recovery Community

Regardless of if you are a parent, a friend, a relative or the person in question themselves, addiction is not necessarily one of the things you would expect to be sneaky. There may be something of a misconception that, most of the time, addictions are obvious. That there are obvious signs of addiction and a way to identify someone struggling with an addiction from the first meeting. Erratic behavior, or certain physical features, or even matters of hygiene.

But the truth is that addiction can hide in a person, to the point that many do not even realize they are struggling with an addiction until it is undeniable. The differences and warning signs of addiction are subtle in the best of times, and harmful yet inconclusive in the worst of times. Only a professional and the person themselves can declare someone an addict – but there are warning signs that, if diligently followed up upon, could reveal something critical.

Before we go into what signs of addiction to look out for when searching for early addiction, it is important not to forget the importance of basic decency and compassion. Nothing destroys the trust between two people like unfair assumptions and quick judgment. And if you truly want to help someone, then trust is imperative.

Do not judge, or assume – just look at the facts, conclude objectively, and pursue an adult conversation. This can be hard to do when emotions run high and entire relationships are at stake, but if you suspect someone else is struggling with an addiction, especially someone you care about, then it is important to stay calm and collected.

 

Drastic Personality Changes

People can change. But people typically do not change massively over the course of a very short period, unless there is a very influential catalyst driving that change. Regardless of what that catalyst may be, if the changes are negative, then it is fair to say that it is not a good catalyst.

For example: severe emotional trauma or excessive stress can push a person to adopt an aggressive, indifferent, or otherwise negative mood as a way of acting out and coping with their struggles. If the person you know is going through rapid mood changes, it could be a sign of stress.

It could also be signs of addiction and drug use. Drugs are psychoactive, which means they affect the brain and the mind, changing the way you think. Not only do the cause damage in the long-term, but short-term drug use can change the way a person behaves even when they are not high.

 

Frequent Lying

Another red flag is lying. People lie when they do not want the truth to be revealed – and if you have a close relationship with this person, then lying about basic things such as where they were recently or what they have been doing indicates that they have been doing something that they know is wrong, and they do not want you to know.

Finding out if someone has been lying, however, is not as easy as knowing that it is bad news. Try and snoop around a little, checking their social media and asking their friends to gather more information is you think you see signs of addiction.

 

Destructive Behavior

Aside from negative behavior and the onset of unhappiness or depression outside of a high, drug addiction also spurs people on to be destructive if it means getting their next fix. They might also lash out in the absence of drugs or become more prone towards risky behavior because of frequent drug use. This can quickly draw heavy consequences, including the loss of a job or terrible academic performance, and fights with others.

Observe the person you are suspecting and consider how their behavior and reaction towards things has changed. Are they impatient? Do old hobbies seem not to interest them anymore? Are they frequently unaccounted for, or unreliable and missing? These signs of addiction could be warning you about their drug habit.

 

Signs Of Addiction Is Not Always Drug Use

While these may be early warning signs of addiction , they are not necessarily indicative of addiction. Instead, they are a sign that something has gone wrong between you and the person you are suspecting, specifically along the lines of communication and trust.

Drug addiction is a terrible thing, but it is not the only cause of bad behavior or dishonesty. People lie and act erratically for many different reasons. Some of them are serious and carry long-term consequences, such as the development of depression. Others, however, may only be temporary, and are the direct result of some sort of external pressure causing your friend, relative or loved one to act out.

If you do not have some plausible evidence of drug use (paraphernalia, catching them in the act or getting confirmation of either from others you can trust), then any sufficiently stressful situation could be the root cause of the issues above instead of the signs of addiction. Either way, these are all signs that someone is struggling to cope with their situation, whatever it may be.

There is only one way to find out, and really make sure that your suspicions are not entirely unfounded.

 

Have an Honest Conversation

Nothing beats a good old conversation. Be honest, open, and come from a place of understanding rather than judgment. Open up to the person you are approaching. Talk to them about how people make mistakes, and about how we are defined not by these mistakes, but by how we react to their consequences and make up for our own fumbles. Being wrong is human, but a person’s own character is revealed by how they handle themselves and the situation.

And most importantly, let them speak. Try and understand their meaning. If something other than an addiction is causing this, it is still a vital issue that must be addressed and dealt with – perhaps they have been subconsciously crying for help. Teens especially need a lot of support growing up, as they have a lot of things to figure out.

But if it is addiction, then the most important question is whether the person wants to get better. It is unimportant how you feel about the situation – an addiction cannot be beaten unless the person being addicted sincerely wants to stop. The only thing you can do is make them see why they might want to and help guide them back to the path of sober living.

 

Seek Help For Addiction – Don’t Become A Statistic

Help for Addiction | Transcend Recovery

Don’t become a statistic. The words were plastered all over the New York City Subway at a time when getting onto the tracks gave you a dangerously high chance of death. It was meant to raise awareness of the danger lurking just a few feet below and advise subway passengers and commuters to exercise more caution when standing on the platform.

Yet we cannot help but be a statistic. You either do or you do not, but at the end of the day, you end up as a tick on a graph. So, what can you do? Be on the right side of the statistic.

What does this have to do with getting help for addiction however?

Roughly 20 million Americans over the age of 12 struggle with substance abuse and addiction. Only about 2.6 million, however, seek treatment. And about 64,000 Americans died from a drug overdose in 2016.

There are no concrete numbers on how many Americans successfully got sober and stayed sober, because the criteria differ wildly. Therefore, if you want to get out of being a statistic, your best bet is to stay sober.

Without treatment, addiction will kill you. There are only two options when you find yourself addicted to a drug – either it slowly takes your life, or you quit the drug.

Many choose the second option alone, but the cravings, the pain and the temptation drive them back, and they feel even worse than before. Addiction treatment exists to prevent that, to provide help for addiction and get people past the hardest part so they can work on themselves and hopefully stop using forever.

 

Why Addiction Is So Dangerous

To someone who has never been addicted, the cravings can best be explained as thirst rather than want. It is not like looking at something extremely desirable and being overcome with the feeling of wanting to have it, to the point of obsession. It is more like being in a desert with a parched throat, knowing you could quench your thirst with some water, but actively deciding not to.

Over the months and years, the thirst gets weaker, and you find other ways to survive the desert. But in your mind, you will always know that nothing can quench that thirst like ice cold water.

Addiction is a terrible thing. It makes you unaccountable to the point where you cannot trust yourself. It makes betraying others and doing terrible things much easier. It enthralls you to a substance that is slowly but surely killing you.

But there is a solution. Help for addiction exists and it can be beaten. Modern-day treatment options have shown that it can be done. The only question is which treatment suits you best.

 

Can Addiction Be Prevented?

No one truly chooses to be addicted. Everyone makes a choice when they take their first sip of alcohol or shoot up their first hit of heroin – but after a while, choice blurs away, because you lose the ability to stop. If you can quit on your own, it was not an addiction. And in the moment, you realize that you need help for addiction to stop, you understand why choice has little to do with it after a while.

So then, can addiction be prevented? Of course. By never taking a sip of alcohol, or a taste of any other drug. If you can skip the addiction and the rehab and go straight to permanent sobriety, then do so.

But many do not. For one, substance abuse and substance use is not the same. While drugs like heroin are incredibly addictive and alcohol consumption is the norm for most adults in the US, while alcoholism remains relatively rare in comparison. That alone is enough to tempt people to try it. The same goes for marijuana, which over half of the US adult population has tried.

Whether recreational use of certain drugs is okay or not is a very debated question that many people ask themselves. For at least some, they reach the conclusion that it is fine, despite the risk of addiction. And for them, there is no telling what will happen down the road.

For some people, addiction is genetic. It takes them very little time to get hooked, and when they do, it takes many years to feel unhooked. In other cases, it is a matter of a perfect storm of environmental factors, such as childhood abuse, grief, mental health issues and peer pressure. Others deliberately use addictive drugs to drown out certain emotions, self-medicating and thus turning one issue into two and magnifying the help for addiction that they need.

We cannot judge people for making the choices they did when they got addicted. We can judge the choices, but not the people. Because even if they made bad choices, they can be good people. All it takes is a little bit of help for addiction from the outside, and a willingness to getting better.

 

It Is Not Wrong To Be Addicted

It is common for people to judge themselves for their actions as addicts. Of course, it is only human to show remorse for the mistakes you made. But to drag it out from being conscious of your wrongdoing to feeling sorry for yourself and wallowing in shame helps no one.

Learn from your mistakes, get help for addiction, and always do your best to never repeat them. Life is never perfect for anyone, and everyone stumbles. The key is using them to be better in the future.

 

Getting Help For Addiction: You Are Never Alone

It has been said once before, but it can be said again. Over 20 million Americans struggle with addiction today. There are countless others who get help for addiction and are sober to this day. And yet others who lived full lives, fighting addiction, and living and loving despite it, passing away and leaving behind a legacy to be cherished.

You are not alone. Through the internet, and through treatment centers, group meetings and clubs everywhere, you can meet people at any time and at any place and talk about your feelings and troubles among others who have gone through many similar experiences.

No matter how crazy your story, no matter how bad your experiences, someone out there will know what it was like and will be able to sympathize. And even in your darkest hour, if you have a few sober friends around you and seek help for addiction, it will all be okay.

 

What Are Some of the Worst Drugs to Be Addicted To?

Worst Drugs To Be Addicted To | Transcend Recovery Community

Addiction is terrible no matter what form it takes – but there are drugs that are appreciably more dangerous than others, featuring a long list of side effects and potential long-term damage, as well as an addictiveness factor incomparable to most other substances. The are some of the worst drugs to be hooked on, but there are options.

Addiction recovery is not a set treatment, it is a process – and it is the only way to get clean and stay clean. But how exactly you go about your recovery is entirely up to you and your circumstances – and even the worst of the worst drugs will not stop you from having a shot at living a fulfilling and sober life if you make an effort toward recovery.

 

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines have been marketed and used since the 60s, as anti-anxiety medication. The most widely known benzodiazepine is valium, and much like alcohol, it reduces inhibition and causes a mild sedative effect, due to it enhancing the effects of a neurotransmitter known as GABA.

Because it acts similar to alcohol, it is also extremely dangerous in certain dosage or in cases of substance abuse, both due to its addictiveness and the fact that benzodiazepine withdrawal can kill a person, unlike most drug withdrawals.

Benzodiazepines count as sedative drugs, weaker alternatives to the much more powerful and much more dangerous barbiturates, and they carry with them a series of side effects such as potential amnesia and elevated risk of suicide.

Aside from being extremely dangerous when addicted to, benzos as they are known are also commonly combined with drugs that increase the substance’s deadliness, including opioids such as OxyContin, and alcohol.

Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed as anti-anxiety medication and should under no circumstance be used outside of a prescription. These are not lightweight drugs – yet the high rate at which they are prescribed means many pills of one of the worst drugs end up in the wrong hands, or in the black market, sold on the streets for a quick high and a chance of death.

 

Amphetamines

While methamphetamine is known as the malice that has spread throughout the US, especially across the Midwest, due to how easy it is to produce in a makeshift lab, amphetamines can be just as dangerous and difficult to break as an addiction – and many people, especially kids, struggle with it.

Commonly used as a mental and physical performance-enhancing drug and as a major ingredient in ADHD medicine, common prescription drugs that include amphetamine are Adderall, Dexedrine and Evekeo, as well as others. Amphetamines work differently to methamphetamine, but still count as stimulants – and are still highly addictive. The availability of amphetamines, especially for purposes that lie well outside any medical reasoning (such as for academic success) has in recent years fueled a new addiction especially among teens.

Amphetamines have their uses in the fields of medicine, and they can be invaluable for certain cases of mental illness – but getting addicted to amphetamines can send you into a rubber banding experience of increased intelligence and motivation, coupled by terrible crashes brought about by one of the worst drugs to get hooked one. And for many who originally got into the habit and saw it as a risky yet effective way to make it through the academic grind, it often is that habit that sends them into a downward spiral, far away from their original and previous ambitions.

 

Opioids

Opioids are some of the worst drugs in existence due to their sheer addictiveness – more addictive than almost any other drug, opioids are a class of drugs that affect the brain’s opioid receptors, killing pain while inducing feelings of euphoria. Opioids range from simple opium tea, cooked traditionally to relieve pain, to opium itself, and refined versions of the plant’s compounds, including morphine, codeine, and heroin, as well as synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil.

In recent times, opioids have grown to the top of the country’s list of concerning illicit drugs due to an explosion in usage across all groups, and a rise in overdoses and deaths. A number of factors caused this issue, most of which have been building up for decades, brought to the tipping point by the creation and distribution of low-quality heroin cut with the extremely dangerous and almost toxic fentanyl, one of the worst drugs to ever hit the country.

Other factors include a rise in wealth inequality and struggling industries, a rise in opioids on the street caused by homemade and imported heroin as well as prescription drugs, and most significantly, the rise in the use of prescription painkillers in the 80s, the effects of which created a new generation of people addicted to painkillers.

 

Nicotine

Although it might be a surprising addition to some on the list, nicotine is widely considered to be one of the worst drugs to be addicted to due to how hard the addiction is to break – and while the short-term effects are negligible for most, the long-term effects as well as general availability and ease-of-access to tobacco products makes smoking one of the hardest things to quit. In fact, while opioids are far more addictive, they’re statistically easier to break away from permanently.

The one thing nicotine has going for it is that it does not kill as quickly as other drugs might. While nicotine itself is incredibly toxic – so much so that a small amount of pure undiluted nicotine on skin can be enough to make you sick – the amounts present in cigarettes is unlikely to put you in the grave. On the other hand, the tar of smoking tobacco will cause long-lasting damage to your health, most notably an increased risk of cancer for yourself and everyone inhaling your smoke.

 

Synthetic Drugs Are Some Of The Worst Drugs

Synthetic drugs are nothing new, but they have become a challenging new addition to the list of worst drugs for law enforcement agencies trying to catch up to all of the new chemical combinations coming up both on the streets and in legitimate stores.

Synthetic cannabis is a great example: while the dangers of cannabis are questionable to some, synthetic cannabis is a completely different beast, capable of causing massive harm and even accidental overdoses due to the uneven application of synthetic cannabinoids to dried plant matter.

The long-term side effects of many of these synthetic drugs are difficult to pinpoint, due to how varied the products can be, and due to the lack of a larger sample size. Most synthetic drugs, however, including cannabinoids and cathinones (bath salts) should be avoided at all costs.

All addictions can lead to an untimely death – but these are some of the worst drugs to be addicted to, and for good reason.