The Importance of Outpatient Care after Residential Treatment

three women embracing each other during outpatient treatment

The usual course after an inpatient medical detox is to attend a residential or partial hospitalization program with a sober living component. Better programs will offer aftercare planning for when a patient completes the program and leaves the facility. An aftercare plan typically includes a number of components. 12-step or alternative fellowship meetings, medication management, and outpatient treatment are usually included.

Recovery Is a Lifestyle

The bulk of the work of recovery actually occurs after drug and alcohol treatment. There is a misconception among some that you go to rehab to “get fixed” and then go home and go about your life. The reality is quite different. While many people do go for a month of drug treatment and return home and change very little of their routine; the fact is those people more often than not do not stay sober. The most effective way to view recovery is as a lifestyle. Recovery isn’t something you start and finish in 30 days, it is an ongoing growth process.

Changing one’s lifestyle is a serious undertaking. Treatment centers are designed to detox and medically stabilize the patient and introduce them to the tools of recovery. As complex as addiction and co-occurring disorders can be, it makes sense to get as much help as you possibly can. A good treatment center can get you well on your way to a life in recovery. Anyone who does not continue to actively grow in recovery after treatment is doing themselves a great disservice. Optimism is healthy but it’s critical not to become overconfident in your newfound sobriety. Continuing with outpatient treatment and participating in fellowships can help you stay humble and continue to grow.

Outpatient Treatment Improves Outcomes for Long-Term Recovery

Outpatient treatment is one of the best tools there is in early recovery. The beauty of outpatient treatment is that it allows you to integrate treatment into your everyday life. It makes it possible to continue the progress you made in residential treatment. Reinforcing the principles of recovery in the first year is especially important. Outpatient treatment allows you to put new recovery skills to work in the real world while remaining connected to therapy. This one of the qualities that makes it

Research has shown that patients who follow a standard 28-day treatment program with outpatient treatment are much more likely to remain sober after 1 year. (1)

Many people attend an outpatient program with a sober living component after completing more intensive residential treatment. Many programs are designed to begin with Intensive Outpatient 3-5 days a week or more and then step down to outpatient 1-2 times a week. Outpatient programs typically have more flexible scheduling with morning, afternoon, or evening sessions. The idea is once a patient reaches that outpatient stage, they will be able to work or attend school again.

In conclusion, outpatient programs are a proven way to strengthen recovery. They should be seriously considered by anyone who receives treatment for substance abuse. Early recovery can be particularly challenging, so we all owe it to ourselves to leverage every advantage we can get.

Sources
(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4152944/

Are Partial Hospitalization Programs Effective?

entry space at Recovery In Tune Rehab in Ft Lauderdale Florida

Partial Hospitalization Programs, also known as PHP treatment, deliver intensive behavioral health treatment without requiring overnight stays in a medical facility. The popularity of these programs, particularly in drug and alcohol treatment, has grown a great deal in the past 10-15 years. One of the reasons for this popularity is the flexibility this type of treatment offers. Most patients benefit from a longer period of time in treatment. PHP programs make longer lengths of stay more practical and accessible to more people. By enabling patients to stay overnight in a sober living environment or even at home, the overhead cost is reduced. Patients can get a similar, full day of intensive treatment they would at an inpatient program. A PHP program generally includes many of the elements patients are looking for. Individual and group therapy, specialty tracks, dual diagnosis care, and more.

PHP Programs can make it possible for patients to have more days of treatment overall. They also allow for more flexible housing arrangements that may make it possible to spend time with family as treatment continues. Partial Hospitalization is not the right choice for everyone though. Most patients dependent on drugs or alcohol will want to begin with a medical detox for example. Detox is usually done on an inpatient basis, however, there are outpatient detoxes and Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) programs that can fulfill the needs of some. Some patients may require the 24/7 medical attention an inpatient clinical environment provides. People who have more acute co-occurring psychiatric issues, severe trauma, or lack any sort of stable home environment or support system may need more care. Each individual case is different, and it is best to ask for professional advice when deciding on what kind of addiction care is right for you.

The choices of behavioral health care for substance abuse are broader than ever before. This can make the decision on what type of care to get a little confusing. The benefits outweigh the complexity, however. The result is that it is much easier for most people to find treatment arrangements that meet both their needs and their means. Many people attend PHP treatment following detox and residential care, for example. Others may have already been detoxed and are able to begin with PHP and gradually move on to Intensive Outpatient and finally Outpatient care. The most important thing is that the patient gets the help they need with as little compromise as possible. It has become increasingly popular for patients to remain in some form of outpatient care for several months or even as long as a year. The movement towards a longer, sustained relationship between patient and program is results-driven. Research has shown that extending that engagement beyond the traditional 30-day model yields better outcomes. Patients who participate in 3 months or more of IOP or OP treatment are more likely to remain sober a year after treatment is completed. (1)

If you or someone you care about is looking for treatment, you are welcome to call us to discuss the options. Our staff will be happy to explain the different levels of care, verify insurance benefits and help you to make an informed decision.

Sources
(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1852519/

How To Pay For Residential Treatment

women sitting down discussing payment options for residential treatment

Once a person has made the decision to go to residential treatment for a drug or alcohol problem, one of the first questions often asked is: How? Here we will examine the options for residential treatment and how to pay for them.

Paying for Addiction Treatment

The first step in treatment for a drug or alcohol problem should be a medical detox. This is assuming that there is a need for medical attention. Typically, a person who is dependent on opiates, alcohol, or benzodiazepines will require this stage of care. Stimulants like methamphetamines and cocaine may not have severe or dangerous physical withdrawal symptoms. But that doesn’t mean that a stay in detox isn’t warranted. The point of detox treatment is not only to alleviate uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms but also to assess overall health. Drug or alcohol abuse often exasperates or obfuscates other health problems. Issues ranging from dental health to heart disease may be neglected. The detox phase of treatment is generally the most expensive, particularly on a per-day basis. Health insurance is usually the first place to look for payment. Thankfully, since the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 and subsequent legislation, coverage for treatment has been easier to find via health insurance. (1) Particularly in the case of medical detox for alcohol, benzodiazepines, or barbiturates, with which withdrawal symptoms can be potentially deadly.

Once a patient is through the detox phase of care (or not in need of it), the options for residential care become a lot broader. The most intensive type of care would be an inpatient stay at a drug and alcohol treatment center. Often this will be at the same location as the drug or alcohol detox and the patient simply changes phases. This consists of living at a facility 24 hours a day and the majority of the day will be filled with a variety of therapeutic activities. Group and individual therapy, grief and loss counseling, and other specialized tracks are usually offered. Treatment in an inpatient facility typically lasts 3-4 weeks minimum and the out of pocket costs without insurance can range from $15-30,000 or more. With health insurance, the only responsibility is for the deductible and out of pocket costs, which are usually more manageable. The good news is most facilities have very reasonable options for payment and may even work out payment plans for a portion of what is owed. Another option to pay for treatment has appeared in recent years. That is medical loans that are specifically designed for drug and alcohol treatment clients. Several companies such as Vertava Health offer these. A third option for raising the needed resources is crowdfunding. Sites like GoFundMe have been used by thousands of people to successfully raise millions of dollars collectively for medical needs.

Finding the Right Solution for You

As mentioned earlier, the options for care after detox is no longer needed are broad. One shouldn’t feel that a private inpatient treatment center is the only option if it is not financially practical. A new range of options that utilize Partial Hospitalization (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient (IOP) in combination with sober living offers much more affordable treatment for longer lengths of stay with or without insurance. These programs can range from $5-10,000 a month or much less. There are also sober living homes that work directly with state-funded treatment programs that are accessible to virtually anyone regardless of means.

In summary, looking for treatment and deciding how to pay for it can seem daunting. But it is important to understand that there truly are options for almost anyone now. The first step is really understanding the options for different types of care. Understand what is needed in your case and what you have in terms of resources. There are people who can provide help and guidance. If you’re like to contact us to learn more about our programs, feel free to call us at 1 (844) 7-IN-TUNE. To learn more about state-funded programs and resources in your area, you can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) 24-hour hotline at (800) 662-HELP or visit their Substance Abuse Treatment Locator at https://findtreatment.gov/

(1) https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Programs-and-Initiatives/Other-Insurance-Protections/mhpaea_factsheet

How Much Does Drug Rehab Cost?

woman searching on computer about rehab cost

For many people, drug rehab cost is a subject that seems both mysterious and confusing. Fortunately, a little knowledge will help demystify the subject and provide some much-needed clarification.

The ongoing opioid epidemic isn’t the only sign of a rampant drug problem in the United States, but even a brief look at the statistics associated with it will show how many people out there are suffering the pain of addiction and need professional help. Unfortunately, far too many people don’t get the professional help that recovery from addiction requires.

Clearly, there are a number of diverse reasons that these people don’t seek out the help they so desperately need, but financial concerns are definitely chief among them. That’s why it’s essential for addicts and their families to understand the cost of drug rehab. Understanding the costs associated with addiction treatment will go a long way toward removing one of the biggest obstacles to seeking and receiving it.

The Factors Involved in Drug Rehab Cost

The first step toward understanding the cost of drug rehab is knowing some of the factors that determine. It goes without saying that every person suffering from addiction comes to treatment from a very different situation. In order to estimate the cost of drug rehab, it’s imperative that you understand the details of these situations and the factors that have created them.

Here are some of the most important things you’ll need to consider:

  • The type of treatment you choose
  • What kind of detox is necessary, if any
  • The individual’s specific needs and the severity of their problem
  • Where the treatment center is located
  • The length of stay
  • The amenities that a given facility offers
  • The facility’s reputation

This list, while far from exhaustive, should give you a good idea of what factors you’ll need to consider when choosing a drug treatment program and estimating its costs.

How Much Drug Treatment Programs Typically Cost

Some facilities are free, while others might cost thousands of dollars a day. It all depends on the factors we mentioned above. It’s also important to keep in mind that most people use one form of insurance or another to pay for their treatment. In the list that follows, you’ll find the range of costs associated with three popular forms of treatment:

1. Detox. Getting clean of addictive substances in a safe medical typically costs between $4,000 and $6,000.

2. Outpatient programs. Generally speaking, the cost of an outpatient program depends on the frequency of your visits to the center and the overall length of your treatment. Although the most prestigious outpatient programs can cost upwards of $15,000, most hover in the $5,000-$6000 range depending on the length.

3. Inpatient treatment. Inpatient or residential programs are the most comprehensive forms of drug rehab and require clients to remain in the facility for several weeks. As with outpatient programs, the total cost of inpatient care largely depends on how long you end up staying in the facility. Inpatient facilities can cost anywhere between $15,000 and $50,000.

Paying the Cost of Drug Rehab

Most private insurance companies will pay for a large portion of your drug rehab cost. But clients without adequate health insurance can get the treatment they need as well. First of all, many drug treatment facilities are government-sponsored and free. Other people are fortunate enough to have nationally subsidized insurance plans like Medicare or Medicaid. Lastly, even the most prestigious facilities will sometimes accept an uninsured patient, usually by granting them some sort of scholarship or another form of financial aid.

Why Are Opiates So Addictive?

stormy sea with hand reaching for help

Opiates are notorious for their addictive qualities and the impact they have on people who become dependent on them. Opium and its derivatives have been a part of human history for more than 3000 years. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, it wasn’t until 1806 that the active ingredient in opium was first isolated. It was named morphine, after the ancient Greek god of sleep and dreams. (1) That marked the beginning of humanity’s complex pharmacological relationship with opioid compounds.

The agony of withdrawal soon became apparent to anyone who used morphine for more than a few days and tried to quit abruptly. However, we wouldn’t begin to understand the disease model of addiction until more than 100 years later when Dr. William Silkworth proposed that addiction was a psychological illness in the 1930s. It wasn’t until 1954 that the broader medical community accepted the idea. One of the early pioneers of addiction medicine, Ruth Fox, would later go on to form the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). (2)

Why Opiate Withdrawal is so Severe

All opiates work, in part, by activating receptors in the brain and causing the brain’s “reward system” to flood with dopamine. One of the functions a healthy brain uses dopamine releases for is to reinforce positive behaviors. For example, regular strenuous exercise produces dopamine. The brain is hardwired to seek that chemical that delivers a sense of well-being and calm. When abusing drugs becomes the primary source of dopamine surges, it can easily disrupt the usual set of priorities we have. The drug-seeking and using behavior is repeatedly reinforced and a pattern quickly develops.

Opiate addiction is complex. It very directly involves the brain’s reward system in a way unlike any other category of chemical. The double-edged sword of pleasure and pain it wields makes it a cruel master. It causes people to quickly develop deep-seated behavior patterns that can be incredibly challenging to change. Ironically, semi-synthetic opiates like heroin were initially developed in an attempt to make a less addictive opioid which could still be useful for pain relief. Modern research into opiate addiction has moved the field of addiction treatment beyond simply trying to treat symptoms into a deeper understanding of addiction and a focus on long-term outcomes.

Good News About a Solution

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) more than 2 million Americans are currently grappling with an opiate use disorder.(3) The positive news is that more research has been done into opioid addiction in the past 30 years or so than ever before and it is yielding promising results. The more we understand the mechanism of opiate addiction, the more effective interventions we can devise. As the opioid epidemic has exploded in the U.S. the demand for effective long-term solutions has become more urgent than ever before. Medication-Assisted Treatment or MAT has gained mainstream acceptance for delivering demonstrably better outcomes. The CDC is currently conducting a long-term study of over 1,000 patients to research outcomes for MAT patients. (4)

The ultimate goal of MAT along with other long-term programs is lifetime abstinence. Research has shown that longer engagement with opioid use disorder patients improves outcomes. Aftercare planning and outpatient treatment with or without MAT mitigates relapse events more effectively than the old treatment model where a patient was discharged after a couple of weeks and told to simply attend meetings on their own. MAT is only one of several solutions however and it’s not generally meant to continue for a lifetime. The powerful and complex addictive nature of opiates means that patients must be committed to change in order to maintain their recovery. There is no single cure for addiction in the form of a pill, no easy answer. The good news is that the treatment field is constantly evolving. Some very real and very promising developments in the treatment of opioid addiction have emerged in recent years. As science learns more about the inner workings of the brain and how genes play a role in addiction, we can expect to see more and more effective treatment.

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC46725/
(2) https://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/article/evolution-addiction-medicine-medical-specialty/2011-12
(3) https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment
(4) https://www.cdc.gov/opioids/Medication-Assisted-Treatment-Opioid-Use-Disorder-Study.html

What Is the Addiction Severity Index?

patient with doctor going over the addiction severity index

The Addiction Severity Index (ASI) is an assessment used by clinicians or researchers to evaluate a person’s need for substance abuse treatment. ASI is an instrument that guides treatment planning, and a semi-structured interview process that also assesses the history, intensity, and consequences of substance abuse.

ASI collects information about a person’s substance abuse habits and how they are associated with physical, mental, and psychosocial factors. These factors include health status, employment, and financial status, legal status, family history, and relationships, as well as psychological functioning. The higher the score a person receives on the ASI, the stronger their need is for treatment.

If you are being evaluated for substance abuse treatment, an addiction specialist may use the ASI as a means to determine the extent of your problem. The ASI can be a very beneficial tool, and it is essential to be as honest and forthcoming as possible about your substance abuse and other key factors in your life. An ASI, generally speaking, can be conducted in one hour. A trained interviewer will gather information both about your recent history (past 30 days) as well as lifetime trends and problems.

The Addiction Severity Index

The ASI provides a general overview of issues related to substance abuse, rather than concentrating on any specific area. An individual’s input is crucial because it allows healthcare providers to devise the safest and most effective treatment plan. Any information recorded in the ASI is confidential.

In each of the aforementioned areas, you will be asked to answer questions based on a 1-5 scale, and how bothered you are by problems in each area. You will also be asked how important you believe treatment is for you in those areas.

The scale looks like this:

1 – Not at all
2 – Slightly
3 – Moderately
4 – Considerably
5 – Extremely

You have the right to refuse to answer any question, especially if you consider the topic to be too personal, uncomfortable, painful, or traumatic. Keep in mind, however, that there are benefits to answering as many questions as possible and also truthfully because this information will be used to design a comprehensive treatment plan that is appropriate for your individual needs.

Why Does the ASI Matter?

therapy session with patient about the addiction severity index

An evaluative tool such as the ASI is important because substance abuse is a complex condition that is affected by many factors and also has repercussions that impact many areas of a person’s life. The more information that a person involved in your treatment has about your individual circumstances, the better informed they will be when they design a plan for you.

These programs operate much differently than say, 12-step support groups. They have the potential to address every aspect of a person’s health and emotional well-being in addition to substance abuse. For example, if you also struggle with maintaining employment or have legal issues, a devised recovery plan can be more focused on how to overcome these difficulties.

Substance abuse often causes damage to relationships, self-esteem, and a wide variety of life aspects that can be addressed if a treatment planner has information that helps to see the importance of these issues in your life. In other words, the ASI offers an interviewer a complete picture of what an individual’s life is like and how substance abuse fits into that life and affects it.

The ASI can also be essential for addressing co-occurring disorders, such as anxiety or depression. These conditions must be addressed simultaneously with substance abuse because if they are left untreated, a relapse is far more likely to occur. The whole point of using the Addiction Severity Index and using comprehensive addiction treatment is to heal and repair as many parts of a person’s life as possible, and not just the addiction.

Getting Treatment for Substance Abuse

Harmony Treatment and Wellness offers integrated, individualized programs that are outcome-driven and designed to examine and address addiction as well as mental and physical health. We employ highly-trained professionals who seek to give clients every opportunity they can to recovery and achieve long-lasting sobriety and well-being.

Our programs consist of a wealth of therapies and services clinically-proven to be beneficial for the process of recovery. These services include, but are not limited to, the following:


  • Psychotherapy
  • Individual and family counseling
  • Group support
  • Health and wellness education


  • Substance abuse education
  • Activities like art and music therapy
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Aftercare planning


Our caring staff also provides clients with the help they need to overcome other issues in their lives, such as those related to the legal system, finances, employment, and family.

If you are struggling to overcome a substance abuse problem, we urge you to contact us today! We are dedicated to helping our clients reclaim their lives from the grips of addiction and go on to live the happy, healthy lives they deserve!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Mental Health & Addiction

6 Tips for Navigating 4th of July Parties While Sober

4th of July Sober Party Tips

 

The 4th of July is synonymous with drinking and partying. For people in sobriety, it can be difficult to navigate the holiday. However, if you feel strongly that you want to have the 4th of July experience while staying true to your recovery, these sober party tips can help. 

 

1. Make Sure You’re Ready

Ask yourself, am I able to go to a place where alcohol will be served and not feel triggered? How often do I feel cravings? Do I have a support network I can call upon if I feel triggered? If you can’t say with confidence that your sobriety would be safe in a situation where people are drinking, don’t risk it. 

 

2. Host a Party of Your Own 

If you are worried about attending a party where you may be triggered, why not host your own sober celebration? Plenty of people will be happy to spend the 4th of July sober. Get the barbecue going, play some games, and spend the day outside enjoying the great weather. Plus one of the perks of hosting is you stay busy. 

 

3. Have a Friend to Lean On

Maybe you could bring a sober friend with you for support, or arrange with your sponsor ahead of time that you may need to call them on the day. Or maybe you could ask someone to check in on you via text during the party. Come up with a strategy that feels right to you. Putting some plans into place for coping with triggers will go a long way in protecting your sobriety. 

 

4. Keep a List of Coping Strategies on Your Phone

Speaking of coping with triggers, keep a list of portable coping skills on your phone. It could be going for a walk around the block, doing some deep breathing in the bathroom, or as Amanda Gist suggests “applying lavender essential oil to your neck and wrists to activate your parasympathetic nervous system.” Keeping a list will help you remember these strategies in the event you feel triggered. 

 

5. Come Prepared with Non-Alcoholic Options

Bringing your own drinks gives you more control over the situation. If you’re offered a drink you can say, “thanks but I brought my own.” It also avoids that awkward feeling of wanting something to hold whilst mingling. 

 

6. Be Your Own Exit Strategy

Carpooling is great for the environment but skip it today. Drive yourself to the party. That way if things start to feel unsafe for you, you can leave immediately. It might even be good to have a place in mind, where you can go and feel safe. 

And if you find yourself struggling, please do not hesitate to reach out for help. Contact us anytime, we are here to help.

Understanding Major Depressive Disorder

Major Depressive Disorder

To feel “low” from time to time is to be human, but what happens when it takes over your life? Major Depressive Disorder, or clinical depression, is a mood disorder that affects how you think, feel, and behave. It can manifest in physical symptoms like extreme fatigue and can affect normal day-to-day functioning. In some cases it can be so severe that sufferers feel that there is no reason to live and can become suicidal. 

Contrary to popular belief it is not something you can just “snap out of.” Major Depressive Disorder is a clinical issue that typically requires medical attention and intervention. Depression can affect people at any age or stage of life, including children and teens. 

 

Symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder

Major Depressive Disorder symptoms can vary from person to person. Not everyone with clinical depression will experience all of these symptoms. However, in general symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder can include: 

  • Feeling sad, empty, hopeless, or despair
  • Lack of motivation
  • Personality changes
  • Loss of interest or joy in activities previously enjoyed such as hobbies
  • Tiredness, extreme fatigue or lack of energy to even accomplish small tasks
  • Weight fluctuation, either reduced appetite resulting in weight loss, or increased food cravings resulting in weight gain
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling irritable, having angry outbursts, or feeling frustrated by even small things
  • Sleep changes, either in the form of insomnia or oversleeping
  • Trouble with concentration, feeling foggy, difficulty with decision making, and forgetfulness
  • Slowed speech, thought, and movement
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Frequent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, or suicide

 

Depression and Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is common among people experiencing Major Depressive Disorder. Often people use substances like drugs and alcohol to self-medicate and attempt to ease the pain they are feeling. Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol do not solve the problem and come with issues of their own. For example, alcohol can actually trigger depressive symptoms. Thus, substance abuse and depression can actually fuel each other and make things far worse. 

For this reason, Major Depressive Disorder and Substance Use Disorder are often seen together, called Co-occurring Disorders. 

 

Treatment

Currently the best course of treatment for Major Depressive Disorder is a combination of medication and therapy. Usually doctors prescribe serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) first. These medications are often better known by their brand names and include Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, and Celexa. Antidepressants such as these typically take anywhere from two to six weeks to be effective and it might take a few attempts to find the best medication fit and dosage. 

Furthermore, therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help patients recognize negative thought patterns early on, teach coping skills and strategies for controlling symptoms. 

In cases where Major Depressive Disorder co-occurs with substance abuse, comprehensive treatment is necessary. Facilities which specialize in treatment of Substance Use Disorder, addiction, and co-occurring disorders such as clinical depression will be able to treat all aspects of the problem. 

When only one side of a co-occurring disorder receives treatment, the untreated condition can continue to wreak havoc. Thus if a patient is treated only for alcohol abuse but not depression, the depression can drive them to use to deal with difficult symptoms. If the depression is treated without addressing the alcohol abuse, a person’s drinking could trigger the depression again. 

 

Getting Help 

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, addiction, or co-occurring disorders, contact us today. Harmony Recovery Group specializes in treating co-occurring disorders and getting to the root cause in order to give you the best chance at long-term recovery. Call us today and find out how we can help.

What is Nitrous Oxide? This Risky Inhalant Poses Health Concerns

Nitrous Oxide Inhalant Drug

Nitrous oxide, also known as Laughing Gas or Whip-its, is a colorless, odorless gas which works as an inhalant. It has been provided in clinical settings for over a century to relax patients for procedures. Reusable whipped cream canisters, like the ones for professional chef use, use Nitrous Oxide as a propellant. This is how it is more commonly acquired for recreational use. 

 

Clinical Use

In a clinical setting, Nitrous Oxide is often combined with oxygen and administered through a mask. The oxygen is helpful because high doses without additional oxygen can cause hypoxia (oxygen deficiency). If there is not oxygen alongside the nitrous, often the doctor will give the patient oxygen for several minutes after the Nitrous is discontinued. This helps clear any remaining gas from the body.  

In this way, the substance is very safe. It can relieve pain and act as a mild sedative, making it particularly useful in minor dental procedures where patients are fearful or would be uncomfortable. It is also often provided during childbirth as a mild pain reliever and relaxant. However, the effects wear off very quickly. 

 

Effects of Nitrous Oxide

When inhaled, Nitrous Oxide creates a high that lasts around 20 seconds causing feelings of euphoria and relaxation. Users may also experience laughing fits, hence the name Laughing Gas. 

It can also cause strong hallucinations in larger amounts. Steve-O, of Jackass fame and now 11 years sober, says Nitrous Oxide is one of the most frequent and darkest drugs he ever did. His hallucinations were so strong that he was constantly chasing that feeling again, ingesting larger and larger amounts with dangerous implications. 

Other effects of the drug include dizziness and difficulty thinking straight, impairments which can become dangerous. In Australia, an 18 year-old boy fell from a balcony and died after using Nitrous Oxide. Friends say he likely fell due to the dizzying effects of the drug. 

While overdoses are rare, they have been reported in both the UK and US. As previously mentioned, when the substance is used in large amounts without added oxygen, it can cause hypoxia, low blood pressure, and fainting. 

 

Side Effects of Nitrous Oxide

Short-term side effects can include:

  • Shivering
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Hallucinations
  • Sound distortion
  • Excessive sweating
  • Vomiting

There are also reports of allergic reactions to the drug. Signs to look out for are fever, wheezing, difficulty breathing, chills, and hives. These symptoms require immediate medical attention.

Long-term effects typically only occur from long-term abuse. Because Nitrous Oxide blocks B-12 uptake, those who use the gas regularly may develop deficiency which can lead to Anemia, nerve damage, and neurological complications. 

 

Getting Help 

Nitrous Oxide is one of many substances people take to escape their reality or as a party drug. But what happens when things get out of control? If you or a loved one are struggling with any type of substance abuse or addiction, we can help. 

Call us today, we’re here to talk and we’re here to listen. 

 

Women’s Healthcare Month: How Addiction Affects Women Differently

Women's Healthcare and Addiction

In the past, men reported higher rates of addiction and substance use disorder than women, but the past few decades women have swiftly closed the gender gap. Today, men and women experience roughly equal rates of these issues. However, women’s rates of progression, experiences, reasons for use, and stigmas can vary greatly from their male counterparts. 

 

Addiction Progression in Women 

Scientific studies have found that women progress in addiction faster than men due to their physiology. This is particularly true with alcohol, which female bodies process differently. Because women have less of a particular stomach enzyme which helps break down alcohol, it remains in their system longer and leads to higher blood alcohol levels. One drink for a woman can have twice the physical impact of one drink for a man. When a woman is drinking often, this higher saturation of alcohol leads to dependence more quickly. It also leads to brain and organ damage more quickly than for men. 

 

Co-occurring Disorders in Women

Studies show that women are two times as likely to suffer from depression and anxiety as men. Self-medicating is a common theme with co-occurring disorders to manage uncomfortable feelings and often leads to abuse, dependence and addiction. Women are also more likely to experience suicidal thoughts and attempts than men. 

Furthermore, domestic and sexual trauma in women can lead to co-occurring disorders. Roughly one in three women will experience a sexual assault in their lifetime, a stat which is higher for women than it is for men. Women are more vulnerable to physical attacks and are more likely to experience child sexual abuse, incest, neglect in childhood, and domestic violence. A history of violent trauma is more common among women with drug addiction, often as a result of PTSD. In fact, one study found that as many as 6 in 10 women with addiction also have PTSD. 

 

Women’s Pain and Addiction

Women’s pain is less likely to be taken seriously by medical professionals than men’s pain, called Pain Bias. According to Harvard Health, women’s pain is more likely to be considered psychological rather than physical. One study found that women in emergency rooms in acute pain were less likely to receive painkillers than males in similar condition. 

Conversely, women are found to suffer more frequently and more intensely from pain and often require more medication to mitigate the effects. One study found that women needed twice the amount of morphine as males to receive comparable pain relief. Women are also more likely to have chronic and painful inflammatory and/or auto-immune conditions than men. Further, women’s reproductive health conditions can lead to significant pain such as Endometriosis which affects 1 in 10 women worldwide.

The lack of adequate pain management can lead women to seek pain relief elsewhere in the form of illicit substances or illegally-sold prescription medications on the street. 

 

Social Stigmas and Pressures for Addiction in Women

Women with children in particular experience social stigmas around addiction. They have been found to be less likely to admit they have a problem, to analyze their own alcohol or substance use habits. They are also less likely to speak to a friend or professional about their problem for fear of judgement.

Further, women with addiction who are pregnant are less likely to seek support. One study found that 25% of opioid addicted pregnant women went untreated. Researchers believe that shame and stigma play a role in their barrier to receiving help. 

 

Getting Help 

Women need and deserve proper support in treatment of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and Addiction. Seeking help in a supportive, nurturing environment that also specializes in treating Co-occurring Disorders can help to make the changes needed to overcome addiction. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with drugs or alcohol, contact us today. We are here to listen and we are here to help.

 

Sources

https://www.jneurosci.org/content/37/12/3202

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5845507/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9398925/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3688835/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/addiction-in-women

https://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/genderwomen/en/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression/art-20047725