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

Substance Abuse Rates Are Higher in the LGBTQ Community

LGBTQ Substance Abuse Rates

June is LGBTQ Pride Month, where we celebrate our LGBTQ community and increase visibility and discussions around equality. We’d like to take this moment to discuss how Substance Abuse affects the LGBTQ community at disproportionately higher rates and what we can do to support them. 

People who identify as LGBTQ are at a higher risk for Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and addiction. For example, according to the Center for American Progress, 20-30% of people who identify as LGBTQ use drugs and alcohol compared with about 9% of the general population. Furthermore, a 2015 study found that people who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual are twice as likely to have used an illicit drug in the past year. LGBT identifying individuals are also found to binge drink in a higher percentage than heterosexual individuals.

 

Discrimination Can Lead to Substance Abuse

Although great strides have been made towards equality, dignity, acceptance, and fairness for the LGBTQ community, we still have a very long way to go. LGBTQ people face high levels of stress every day, often called Minority Stress, simply by being themselves. 

Many LGBTQ individuals have experienced social prejudice in the form of discriminatory laws and practices around areas such as housing, employment, relationship recognition, and healthcare.  Furthermore, social stigma from friends and even family members adds to the challenges.

Issues like these can range from difficult and upsetting to dangerous and severely traumatic. LGBTQ individuals suffer higher incidences of stressful childhood experiences, school victimization, neighborhood hate crimes, and family conflict than heterosexual and cisgender individuals.

For instance, traumatic experiences for LGBTQ can include: 

  • Disownment from their family based on their sexual orientation
  • Violence based on sexual orientation or gender identification (hate crimes)
  • Rejection from their religious community
  • Physical abuse by family members
  • Bullying or peer ridicule for LGBTQ youth
  • Public discrimination in the form of job loss or child custody loss

Furthermore, LGBTQ community members who are also of a minority race, religion or gender face further societal pressures and prejudices.

Moreover, these societal pressures can lead to feelings of self-loathing, shame, or negative self-view which correlates to higher substance abuse, self-harm, and suicide rates among LGBTQ. 

As a result, each of these factors and stressors lead to significant stress and anxiety around everyday choices and lifestyle. Feelings of isolation, anger, fear, and depression lead to a higher likelihood of substance abuse to escape these problems. 

 

Social Component

Party subcultures in LGBTQ communities can also promote substance abuse. A UK study found that the most widely used drugs among LGBTQ people were party drugs such as poppers, cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine and amphetamines. LGBTQ individuals were 10 times more likely to have used cocaine in the previous month than the general population. 

 

Higher Rates of Co-occurring Disorders

Trauma and stress can exacerbate mental illness, driving people to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. As a result, this is one of the reasons LGBTQ individuals are more likely to have Co-occurring Disorders. According to the SAMHSA, people who identify as LGBTQ are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, PTSD and mental other health disorders. Additionally, they are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts and attempts. 

Transgender individuals are twice as likely to have a mental disorder as cisgender individuals. In adolescence, transgender youth have higher rates of self-harm, depression, suicide, and eating disorders than cisgender youth. 

This is why it is vital that LGBTQ individuals in substance abuse treatment also be screened and treated for co-occurring psychiatric disorders. 

 

How Can Non-LGBTQ Help? 

Firstly, change starts at the individual level. For example, try educating yourself on LGBTQ issues. Be conscious not to reinforce stereotypes and stigmas that lead to the feelings of isolation which lead LGBTQ to use. Support laws and policies that lead to equality for all LGBTQ members of society. Likewise, be an advocate and speak up for injustice. In short, if society is causing the problem, we need to change our way of behaving. 

Secondly, support your LGBTQ friends and family. If you feel they have a problem, talk to them. Be a listening ear, tell them your concerns, and if it feels right, discuss treatment options. Addiction thrives in the dark so bringing it to light can help, just remember to do so gently. 

 

Getting Help 

However you identify, if you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, help is available. Call us today to find out how we can support you through this difficult time. We’re here to listen. 

 

Sources

Connolly MD, Zervos MJ, Barone CJ, Johnson CC, Joseph CLM. The Mental Health of Transgender Youth: Advances in Understanding. J Adolesc Health Off Publ Soc Adolesc Med. 2016;59(5):489-495. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2016.06.012.

Duncan, D. T., Hatzenbuehler, M. L., & Johnson, R. M. (2014). Neighborhood-level LGBT hate crimes and current illicit drug use among sexual minority youth. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 135, 65–70.

Huebner, D. M., Thoma, B. C., & Neilands, T. B. (2015). School victimization and substance abuse among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adolescents. Prevention Science, 16, 734–743.

Patricia E. Penn , Denali Brooke , Chad M. Mosher , Sandra Gallagher , Audrey J. Brooks & Rebecca Richey (2013) LGBTQ Persons with Co-occurring Conditions: Perspectives on Treatment, Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 31:4, 466-483, DOI: 10.1080/07347324.2013.831637. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07347324.2013.831637

Schneeberger, A. R., Dietl, M. F., Muenzenmaier, K. H., Huber, C. G., & Lang, U. E. (2014). Stressful childhood experiences and health outcomes in sexual minority populations: A systematic review. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 49, 1427–1445.

What Is a Dry Alcoholic?

Dry Alcoholic | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

A dry alcoholic is a person who has stopped drinking but is still plagued by the emotional issues that contributed to the addiction in the first place. Moreover, these problems continue to hijack their psyche even though they are sober. In a nutshell, dry alcoholics are individuals who have overcome physical dependence on alcohol but haven’t committed to living a healthy, fulfilling life in recovery.

These impairments undermine a person’s ability to completely leave their addiction in the past, despite being abstinent. This failure to overcome these issues causes those who are suffering to remain entrenched in a subpar day-to-day life less satisfying or happy than it should be. Dry alcoholics have not addressed past trauma, resentments, or guilt, and as a result, many will eventually relapse back into substance abuse.

What Is a Dry Alcoholic or Dry Drunk?

A dry alcoholic or “dry drunk” describes someone who, despite their sober lifestyle, continues to behave as if they’re still in active. addiction. It’s not uncommon for dry alcoholics to appear to be eternally unhappy, and uncomfortable with sobriety. Often this is because they are sober for others or legal purposes, not because the lifestyle for themselves and their wellbeing.

Who Becomes a Dry Alcoholic?

There are numerous reasons why an individual in recovery would continue to experience many of the same psycho-emotional symptoms they did when they were actively using. Factors that contribute to becoming a dry alcoholic may include the following:

The person in recovery…

…has a comorbid mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety that has not been adequately addressed or managed.
…assumed that the simple act of becoming would be enough to resolve most problems, and did not develop improved coping skills beyond their previous dysfunctional solutions.
…failed to exert enough effort into their emotional well-being and thus, has become trapped in a less-than-ideal way of life.
…did not take full advantage of behavioral therapy, counseling, or external support systems such as friends, family, peer group meetings, etc.
…is spiritually lacking. This has less to do with actual religion but instead reflects a core belief that achieving inner peace is not necessary or possible.
…are resentful that they cannot drink “normally” like other people, and regard sobriety as, more or less, a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Dry Alcoholism vs. Healthy Recovery

Comparing a dry drunk to a person who is having a successful recovery isn’t hard. It’s all in the attitude they present to the world around them.

For example, dry alcoholics…

…exhibit resentfulness and anger, and have a low tolerance for stress.
…have enacted few changes in behavior and lifestyle other than sobriety. At times they continue to isolate themselves despite feelings of loneliness.
…are often criticized by loved ones. They may regard the person to be every bit as unpleasant to be around as when they were actively drinking.
…believe their lives are not much better than before they stopped drinking, or are, in fact, worse.
…cling to the erroneous belief that their dysfunctional coping skills in some way improved their lives.
…engage in self-pity and behave as if they were forced into abstinence.
…continue to romanticize drinking.
…continue to ignore life’s challenging in the same way they did when they were active alcoholics.

Dry Alcoholic | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

Conversely, individuals who experience a healthy recovery…

…exhibit forgiveness, resilience, and self-respect.
…engage in healthy behaviors and lifestyle changes such as enacting effective coping mechanisms and reengage in a positive, active social life.
…are noticeably different in their attitude and behavior to others close to them.
…experience more enjoyment in life than when they were drinking, and accept that their prior coping mechanisms were unhealthy.
…understand that in recovery, life shouldn’t revert back to what it was like before. Instead, it needs to be considered in the context of a new paradigm of living.
…confront life’s challenges head-on and constructively, exhibit self-confidence, and bounce back in spite of setbacks.

Dry Alcoholic Prevention

Those in early recovery are still at risk of the emotional pitfalls that are characteristics of a dry alcoholic.

A person can avoid these by…

…becoming an expert at identifying the signs of dry alcoholism vs. a healthy recovery.
…preparing to revisit early recovery, figure out where things went wrong, and seek resolutions for them.
…dedicating themselves fully to recovery and monitoring progress on a life-long basis, if necessary.
…refusing to “romance the drink” or consider that previous unhealthy coping mechanisms were working in some way.
…continuing to seek meaningful connections oneself and others.

Treatment for Alcoholism

Alcohol addiction is a chronic disease. It negatively impacts the lives of those who suffer as well as loved ones close to them. Fortunately, alcoholism is very treatable, and using effective therapies and a comprehensive approach, people with this condition can recover and go on and live happy, healthy lives without alcohol.

Recovery in Tune offers comprehensive, evidence-based programs that include services essential for the recovery process, such as counseling, psychotherapy, group support, and more.

If you or someone you love is dependent on alcohol, we urge you to contact us as soon as possible. Discover how we help people reclaim their lives and free themselves from the chains of addiction!

Hiding Alcohol and Other Warning Signs of Alcoholism

Hiding Alcohol | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

It is not always easy to identify an alcohol problem in a loved one. People with addiction issues can become masters at concealing and denying the severity of their addictive behavior.

One of the main signs of a severe problem is hiding alcohol. Not only will the alcoholic drink covertly, but they will also frequently have secret hiding spots for alcohol. In some cases, these may be nearly impossible to find, but there are some common places that many alcoholics regularly go to for concealment.

Hiding Alcohol

Popular hiding places are bathroom cabinets and shelves, basements, closets, clothes, bags, and suitcases. They may also hide alcohol in kitchen cabinets or drawers behind or in other items such as cans, boxes, or jars. You may find empty or full bottles under furniture or stuffed between the cushions. Outdoors is also an option; under porches or in a garage or shed.

The important thing is to find the alcohol before the loved one realizes you are looking for it. If the person knows that you are on to him or her, he or she may switch to hiding spots that are even more difficult to locate.

Warning Signs of Alcohol Addiction

The following are 12 more signs that indicate a secret alcohol addict:

Secret Drinking 

Drinking alone, especially when keeping this a secret from family and friends shows that the person realizes that their behavior is not normal and that others may criticize them for it. It’s a subtle admission of right versus wrong, and the person may not even realize they are doing it.

Look for telltale signs of being “buzzed” or under the influence, even though you did not actually see this person drink. Or, they may appear to drink very little in comparison to how intoxicated they appear. In other words, they have been drinking more than they have been revealing.

Missing or Being Late for Important Events or Occasions

The person will be absent from, or late to school, work, family functions, etc. They may more or less disappear for several days or insist that they were doing something or were somewhere they were not. 

Making Excuses

Alcoholics frequently make excuses for their drinking. Reasons may involve serious issues such as mental illness, or merely day-to-day stress or chronic pain. They may blame those around them for having to deal with relationship strain—especially that which directly results from their drinking.

Drinking at Inappropriate Times

Drinking in the morning or upon first waking and needing “the hair of the dog” may speak to their level of dependency and desire to avoid a hangover or withdrawal symptoms. But, drinking may occur for seemingly no reason at random times throughout the day.

Alcoholics often drink in situations that they should not. These situations might include drinking while at work, school, or family functions, while operating a motor vehicle, or at any time or place that it isn’t socially accepted.

Isolation and Loss of Interest

As alcohol becomes an increasing obsession for the alcoholic, they often begin to ignore other parts of their life. They may avoid people to conceal their drinking, or neglect to attend events or gatherings with family and friends. The alcoholic may also become disinterested in activities they once enjoyed or considered important, such as sports or hobbies.

Hiding Alcohol | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

Mood Swings 

Alcohol abuse and withdrawal symptoms affect a person’s mood, thoughts, and behaviors. Alcoholics are notoriously unstable emotionally. Extreme mood swings are common, and a person may suddenly go from happy to unreasonably angry or sad. Hardcore alcoholics often experience personality changes when they are drinking, and crying jags or episodes of verbal or physical abuse toward others may occur.

Physical Symptoms 

Signs of alcohol intoxication are an obvious giveaway, but these are not always apparent. Severe alcoholics may have a higher tolerance and may only appear somewhat intoxicated at levels that would make others look absolutely inebriated. They may be mostly functional and exhibit only mild signs such as unusual talkativeness, slightly slurred speech, flushing of the skin, and bloodshot eyes.

Withdrawal symptoms can occur hours to days after a person has stopped drinking. As such, he or she may appear shaky, sweaty, and agitated or depressed.

Severe alcoholics may also present as unkempt, unclean, or disheveled. This is a sign that they are so focused on being intoxicated that they are neglecting routine personal care, such as bathing, eating properly, etc.

Memory Loss and Blackouts or “Brownouts”

Alcohol impairs a person’s short-term memory. Someone having a blackout or brownout (partial loss of memory) will not remember the things they did or events that happened while they were intoxicated.

Obsession With Alcohol

An alcoholic will obsess over obtaining and consuming alcohol. The person may try to seem patient, but often, it’s clear that they are agitated because they can’t drink at any given time. Most alcoholics are silently plotting the next time they will be able to have more alcohol. 

An obsession with alcohol causes a constant mental preoccupation that can very easily damage intimate personal relationships. Furthermore, an alcoholic may rush through activities haphazardly to make time for drinking, rather than enjoying their time being sober and engaging with loved ones.

Drinking Rapidly or Chugging 

Alcoholics will often quickly drink or “chug” their first few drinks. They will do this because they are seeking to get intoxicated rapidly, or perhaps because their tolerance is so high they feel like they need a head start. It may also be used as a way to evade withdrawal symptoms. Some will chug a few drinks then go on with their day as if it were completely normal.

Hiding Alcohol | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

Drinking Rituals

The person is always drinking at certain times of the day, such as after getting home from work or at bedtime, or in certain places. The hallmark of an alcoholic is that they feel that they need to engage in their drinking ritual, and will likely become upset or stressed out when they are unable to do so. 

Missing Money or Valuables and Spending Excessively

Addiction is usually expensive. The addict may purchase cheap alcohol, but ultimately, it adds up. He or she will spend way too much money on drinking, to the extent that they may become financially stressed. They may then steal items, borrow money, or generally begin to hassle others to help them obtain alcohol.

While no one behavior indicates someone is an alcoholic for sure, the presence of several of them is collectively a powerful sign that this person has a very severe problem. Some of these signs may be subtle; others are more obvious. In any case, if you witness this behavior, your loved one likely has a dependence or addiction to alcohol. 

Getting Help for Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a chronic, lifelong disease that does not go away, but fortunately, it can be treated effectively. If you suspect that you or someone you love has a problem with alcohol abuse, contact us today. Recovery in Tune offers a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to alcoholism that includes services essential for the process of recovery. 

These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Behavioral therapy
  • Individual and family counseling
  • Substance abuse education

Our skilled and compassionate staff are dedicated to providing our clients with the tools they need to break free from the chains of alcohol addiction once and for all! You don’t have to suffer any longer—professional help is available now!

Deciding to Check into an Alcohol Treatment Program

For those suffering from alcohol addiction, a lot of potential options for addressing the addiction may have been previously attempted yet failed. These might include participation in an AA group, living in a sober living home or counseling. In instances where the intake of alcohol is high for an extended period of time, tapering down may not be an option. Checking into an alcohol treatment program is often the best available remedy in such a situation. By learning more about alcohol treatment programs and how they address addiction to alcohol, starting the road to sobriety should be achievable.

Diagnose the Addiction

Inpatient treatment is expensive and is an expense which is possible to avoid if the problem is addressable with other solutions. Some strategies might include group therapy in outpatient treatment, checking into a sober living house or attending several AA meetings on a daily basis. Should the use be particularly high, make an effort to taper down and attend as many meetings sober as possible.

Isolate Use

There are two schools of thought when it comes to alcoholism. One relates usage to compulsion while the other relates it to choice. Regardless of your opinion, isolating yourself from the potential to consume alcohol is an effective way to address the problem. Consider taking an extended vacation to a remote area with a loved one in order to limit access to alcohol.

Consider an Alcohol Treatment Program

If none of the above approaches help reduce or eliminate the use of alcohol, it might be time to check into an alcohol treatment program. This could be an outpatient or inpatient program, either of which is typically preferred based on the overall seriousness of the addiction.

Preparing for Entrance into A Program

There are a few steps which should be taken before deciding to enter into a treatment program to help create an optimal environment upon leaving the program.

1. Employment: Work with your employer to negotiate continued employment upon exiting the program. Failing to negotiate such an agreement could leave yourself without a viable source of income upon leaving the treatment program, which can quickly veer you back towards using alcohol. This step is usually only necessary for inpatient treatment. Sustaining employment throughout outpatient treatment is generally achievable.

2. Bills and Potential Emergencies: Arrange for all of your bills to be paid while participating in an inpatient program. If you have insurance work with the provider to find out how much money is available for the treatment. Although you will still be able to sustain contact with the outside world while in a treatment program, it typically isn’t possible to physically address any emergencies. Have a friend, neighbor or relative be responsible for your residence and other possessions such as a vehicle during this time period.

Medical Care

Most alcohol treatment programs that take place at a clinic have the capability to recognize and address symptoms related to alcohol withdrawal. These include delirium tremens and hallucinations on the higher end of the spectrum. Withdrawal symptoms can be treated as they occur at such a facility.

Group Therapy

Group therapy is an essential aspect of recovery, thus, it is prevalent within any alcohol treatment program. Expect to participate in several group sessions on a daily basis upon checking into an alcohol treatment program. According to verywellmind.com, “These sessions are designed to begin to teach you the skills that you will need to live life without drugs and alcohol. You will learn how to recognize situations in which you are most likely to drink or use drugs and how to avoid these circumstances if possible. You will learn new coping skills. The group sessions are designed to teach you the value of seeking support from others who are going through the same experiences and challenges that you are. In some facilities, these group sessions may be actual 12 step meetings. In other facilities, they may be facilitated by staff members.”

Be sure to contact us at Recovery In Tune if you have any questions about making the decision to check into an alcohol treatment program.

Alcohol and Breastfeeding

Alcohol and Breastfeeding | Is it Safe? | Recovery in Tune

Alcohol and Breastfeeding: Is it Safe? – Drinking alcohol while breastfeeding is never advised. There is no “safe” level of alcohol in breast milk for a baby to consume. Studies have shown that infants who consume alcoholic milk may feed and sleep less often and exhibit poor motor coordination.

Alcohol and Breastfeeding Facts

When a woman drinks alcohol, it is transferred to her breast milk at concentrations comparable to those in her bloodstream. Although a breastfed baby is only exposed to a relatively small amount of the alcohol that the mother consumes, newborns clear alcohol from their bodies at a much slower rate than adults.

As long as there is alcohol in a lactating mother’s blood, the milk will also contain alcohol. Alcohol levels in both a mother’s blood and breast milk peak within 30-60 minutes of consuming the last drink. After this time, factors such as weight, food intake, and hydration can affect how long it takes for alcohol to clear her body.

To avoid harmful effects for the baby, a mother who breastfeeds should never consume alcohol—ever. If she does, she should not engage in breastfeeding for at least two hours after consumption. This waiting period could help to minimize alcohol levels in her milk as well as the risk for adverse effects.

What Is Pumping and Dumping?

“Pumping and dumping” is the practice of a woman pumping her breast milk and discarding it in some way. A woman may do this believing it removes the alcohol from her milk faster, but it does not.

It does, however, allow the woman to remove the milk from her breasts in a manner that will not affect the baby. This option may be a better one, but it is also an unfortunate and unnecessary waste of essential nutrients that could benefit the child. Moreover, there are good reasons why many women choose to breastfeed and prefer not to rely on formula.

How Can Alcohol Harm a Baby?

Studies have found changes in the sleep patterns of infants who breastfed from mothers who had consumed alcohol. Two studies revealed that, while the total amount of sleep was unchanged for infants after consuming alcohol-laden milk, sleep was divided into more frequent but shorter intervals, and they experienced less REM sleep. Another study found that the infants’ sleep was 25% shorter on average after drinking alcoholic milk.

Also, in 1989, researchers investigated the association of the mother’s use of alcohol during breastfeeding to an infant’s development at one year of age. It was found that motor development was significantly poorer in infants who were regularly exposed to alcohol in breast milk.

Alcohol and Breastfeeding | Is it Safe? | Recovery in Tune

Myths and Alcohol’s Effects on the Milk Supply

Research has also found that breastfed babies may consume 20% less milk following a mother’s alcohol consumption. This decrease in feeding is not related to shorter feeding times or a change in the milk’s flavor. Instead, it has been attributed to the diminished amount of milk that a woman’s body produces after alcohol consumption.

The National Institute of Health reports that “nursing after 1 or 2 drinks…can decrease the infant’s milk intake by 20 to 23% and cause infant agitation and poor sleep patterns.” Although babies tend to drink less milk after the mother has consumed alcohol, these women often cannot recognize that there is a difference.

Women are taught in some cultures that drinking alcohol can increase a woman’s milk supply. Unfortunately, research has found that this is not the case. A report by the National Institute on Drug Addiction (NIDA) issues the following warning:

“…the lore of many cultures encourages lactating women to drink alcohol to optimize breast milk production and infant nutrition. In contrast to this folklore, however, studies demonstrate that maternal alcohol consumption may slightly reduce milk production.” They refer to drinking alcohol shortly before breastfeeding as “counterproductive.”

Alcohol and Hormones

Alcohol may influence a mother’s milk supply in two specific ways.

There are two pituitary hormones that are responsible for regulating the breastfeeding process: prolactin and oxytocin. Prolactin is released while the infant is suckling and stimulates the further production of milk. Oxytocin functions to contract the muscles around the mammary tissue of the breast to release the milk.

When babies consume less milk, less prolactin is released. Because a baby’s amount of suckling influences the amount of prolactin that is released, if the baby begins feeding less, the mother will produce less prolactin. This signal tells the body that the woman needs less milk for the baby, thus her milk supply will be reduced.

Studies have also found that alcohol consumption may interfere with oxytocin. This effect could further decrease the mother’s milk level and impair the infant’s ability to feed.

Studies conducted on lactating rats demonstrated that acute alcohol administration “significantly inhibited suckling-induced prolactin and oxytocin release as well as milk production and, consequently, the pups milk intake.”

The Bottom Line

Alcohol and Breastfeeding | Is it Safe? | Recovery in Tune

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that the best way to ensure a baby is not harmed by alcoholic breast milk is to avoid drinking while breastfeeding. But, for those who insist on imbibing, the important thing is to be aware of your alcohol intake and to avoid feeding alcoholic milk to your child.

Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirm that “not drinking alcohol is the safest option for breastfeeding mothers” and that “exposure to alcohol above moderate levels through breast milk could be damaging to an infant’s development, growth, and sleep patterns.” The CDC also stresses that drinking alcohol in excess may “impair a mother’s judgment and ability to safely care for her child.”

Experts recommend planning ahead and to not breastfeed a baby while consuming alcohol or soon after drinking. It can take several hours for a woman’s body to clear all the alcohol from her blood and milk supply. Conversely, a woman can pump and store her milk and feed it to the baby while she is drinking or after she has consumed a drink. The use of formula during this time is yet another option.

Of note, if you feel you have to go to great lengths in planning your drinking habits around breastfeeding, this could be a sign that you have an alcohol use disorder. The stress of having a child can compel some mothers to drink, or continue drinking, but this may not always be the responsible action to take.

Moreover, if you are often worried about what effects your alcohol use might have on your child, the stress alone is probably not worth it. It’s best to quit drinking entirely, at least while you are breastfeeding, and seek help if you feel you need to do so.

Getting Help for Alcoholism

If you find that you are struggling to stop drinking, you should consider seeking treatment for alcoholism. If you are a lactating mother in this situation, Recovery in Tune may be the perfect place to get help.

Our center offers outpatient treatment for those who need flexibility in their schedule to take care of their families. Our comprehensive programs include a wide range of evidence-based services, such as the following:

If you or someone you love is struggling with alcoholism, we urge you to contact us today and speak to one of our caring addiction specialists. We can provide you with the support, resources, and tools you need to overcome substance abuse. You deserve to be healthy, so allow yourself the opportunity to enjoy long-lasting sobriety and well-being.

We are dedicated to helping those who need it most to renew their hope and foster happy and fulfilling lives!

Risks of Using Steroids and Alcohol

Steroids and Alcohol | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

Risks of Using Steroids and Alcohol – Steroids and alcohol can be a dangerous combination that can affect vital systems in the body, including the liver, kidneys, heart, immune system, gastrointestinal system, and can even result in mental health problems.

Alcohol Use Statistics

The use of alcohol is widespread among adults. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH, 2015) reported that among persons aged 18 and older, 86.4% had reported consuming alcohol at some point in their life.

Alcohol abuse can quickly lead to addiction and pose a danger to the individual and other people. An estimated 88,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes each year. According to the 2015 NSDUH, 15.1 million adults and 623,000 children aged 12-17 suffer from an alcohol use disorder.

Steroid Use Statistics

Anabolic steroids are drugs that simulate the hormone testosterone and are sometimes prescribed to help patients with certain kinds of anemia or men who don’t produce enough testosterone on their own. Recreationally, they are used to increase muscle mass and bolster athletic performance. Approximately 3,000,000 people use anabolic steroids in America each year.

Those who abuse anabolic steroids recreationally may use quantities up to 100 times higher than normal dosage amounts. Most professional sports organizations prohibit the use of anabolic steroids. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that the largest single group of anabolic steroids users is male weightlifters.

Why Do People Combine Alcohol and Steroids?

Some people use alcohol and steroids without knowing the potential health risks. They may take a prescribed steroid medication for a health problem, and perhaps drink occasionally without considering the possibility of side effects. However, whether deliberate or accidental, regularly drinking alcohol while taking steroid medications for any reason can increase the risk of adverse health consequences.

Some people who use anabolic steroids may suffer from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) or have a distorted perception of their body and size. In general, however, people who abuse steroids are seeking physical results, such as increased muscle mass, improved athletic performance, and reduced body fat. Many people on steroids may shun alcohol due to its high-calorie content and ability to slow metabolism, but others with BDD or other mental health issues may turn to alcohol as a means to self-medicate.

If a person begins combining steroids and alcohol as a way to numb the adverse emotional effects of the steroids, they are doing more harm than good. Some of the potential side effects of using steroids by themselves can include aggressive mood swings, emotional instability and volatility, hallucinations, and paranoia. These symptoms can all be exacerbated when alcohol is thrown into the mix.

Potential Side Effects

Steroids and Alcohol | Recovery in Tune Addiction TreatmentThe prolonged use of steroids and alcohol can compound the risk for certain side effects and health complications. On their own, both alcohol and anabolic steroid abuse can have an adverse impact on a person’s health and well-being.

Steroid Side Effects

Common anabolic steroid side effects include the following:

  • Acne
  • Fluid retention
  • Pain during urination
  • Hair loss or growth
  • Infertility
  • Changes in libido
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Tendon rupture
  • Osteoporosis
  • Stunted growth in children
  • Testicle shrinkage
  • Low sperm count or sterility
  • Male breast growth
  • Deeper voice for women
  • Breast shrinkage
  • Menstrual cycle changes
  • Mood disorders
  • Psychological dependence

Possible Combined Side Effects

In addition to the aforementioned steroid side effects, combining steroids and alcohol increases a person’s risk of:

  • Liver damage
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Psychological disorders

Serious Health Dangers

The most significant risk a person faces when they use steroids and alcohol is a high level of liver toxicity. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA long-term steroid abuse can result in damage to the liver and kidneys—two vital organs that are commonly known to suffer damage when an individual drinks alcohol excessively. Thus, mixing steroids and alcohol can overwhelm the liver ever quicker, leading to cirrhosis or liver failure.

Other physical dangers of mixing these two substances include:

  • Dehydration
  • Chest pain
  • Hypertension
  • Allergic reactions

Finally, there are also a number of psychological side effects that have been associated with the combined use of steroids and alcohol. Prolonged steroid use can cause mental instability, mania, and even psychosis. Even short-term steroid use can make a person’s mood unpredictable, and can precipitate the infamous “roid rage.” When this volatile mindset combines with the lowered inhibitions of an intoxicated person, the potential for dangerous or violent behavior is much more likely.

Treatment for Abuse of Steroids and Alcohol

Discontinuing the use of anabolic steroids is the first step to preventing many of the unwanted and hazardous side effects of these substances. If alcohol is used in combination with steroids, however, it is recommended that individuals seek treatment at a specialized facility such as Recovery in Tune.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction and steroid abuse, we can help. Comprehensive treatment, including psychotherapy and counseling, is available for these disorders.

Contact us today to speak with one of our representatives to learn more about our treatment options!

Alcohol and Depression

Alcohol and Depression | A Vicious Cycle | Recovery in Tune

Alcohol and Depression: A Vicious Cycle – The abuse of alcohol and depression are closely correlated. Many people who experience depression, especially those who have not been properly diagnosed and treated, turn to alcohol in an attempt to feel better or numb the pain. In fact, at least 30%-40% of alcoholics also suffer from a depressive disorder.

Unfortunately, heavy alcohol consumption ends up having the opposite effect. Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that reduces activity in the brain and body. Studies have revealed that alcohol use increases both the duration and the intensity of depressive episodes. It also increases the likelihood of having suicidal thoughts.

Alcoholism can lead to the development of other stressors in life, such as financial, legal, and family problems that exacerbate depression. Moreover, if a depressed person than turns to alcohol in an effort to make themselves feel better, a vicious cycle has begun that can be extremely difficult to break.

Alcoholism can result in depression in many circumstances. Prolonged alcohol abuse can dramatically alter and rewire the brain, as well as affect other chemical balances in the body. This is especially true regarding the brain’s neurotransmitters—chemical messengers that regulate emotions and other important bodily functions. These widespread changes can ultimately lead to depression.

Alcohol Addiction

Prolonged, heavy alcohol consumption can lead to alcohol use disorder (AUD). Alcohol use disorder is hallmarked by problematic drinking and includes a broad spectrum of instances of alcohol abuse.

Some symptoms of alcohol use disorder include:

  • Considerable time spent drinking
  • Neglecting other activities to drink
  • Having cravings for alcohol
  • Repeatedly drinking too much or for too long
  • Continuing to drink despite adverse effects on relationships
  • Continued drinking despite emotional consequences, such as depression

Depression

Alcohol and Depression | A Vicious Cycle | Recovery in Tune

Depression is a potentially serious mental health disorder that is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or worthlessness. It can infiltrate every aspect of an individual’s life and dramatically affect those around them. It often leads to problems with friends and family as well as difficulty in the workplace. Depression increases the risk of developing other health conditions and places the person at a higher risk for suicide.

Unfortunately, depression is a remarkably prevalent disorder. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), it affects about one in every 15 people.

The APA states that an individual can be diagnosed with depression if they present with some of following symptoms for at least two weeks:

  • Sadness
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Erratic sleep patterns
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Concentration problems
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Feelings of guilt

The development of depression is related to a multitude of different factors. Some people are genetically prone to depression. Personality can also play a role, as those with low self-esteem or who are more likely to be negative are also more likely to develop some level of depression.

In addition, environmental factors, especially those in childhood, play a fundamental role in the development of depression. While all of these factors can contribute to the likelihood that a person will experience depression, their presence does not guarantee he or she will get the disorder.

How Depression Leads to Alcohol Abuse

Some people drink alcohol in an attempt to cope with their depression. People can be attracted to the sedative and euphoric effects of alcohol as a kind of self-medication that distracts them from continual feelings of sadness. While alcohol may temporarily alleviate some symptoms of depression, it ultimately serves to exacerbate the condition when used on a chronic basis.

Alcoholism is associated with a myriad of adverse effects on nearly every aspect of life. As a person begins to encounter financial and legal consequences as a result of alcohol abuse and their relationships start to incur damage, depression can worsen. This fact often results in a disturbing cycle of alcohol abuse as a means to self-medicate symptoms of depression.

All the while, though, the depression is actually worsening with continuous use. Some people have overlapping genetic predispositions that make them more susceptible to both the abuse of alcohol and depression. What’s more, the onset of one disorder can trigger the other.

Those with depression who use antidepressants to manage the condition can experience additional adverse effects due to alcohol abuse. Alcohol consumption makes antidepressants less effective, and the depressant effects of the alcohol will further exacerbate the now inadequately managed depression.

How Alcohol Abuse Leads to Depression

Alcohol and Depression | A Vicious Cycle | Recovery in Tune

While depression can place an individual at a higher risk of developing an alcohol problem, the inverse is equally common. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), depression can manifest and increase while a person is suffering from alcoholism. As noted, this increase in depression can then result in more drinking, thus continuing this cycle from the other side.

According to one study, individuals dealing with either alcohol use disorder or depression double their risk of developing the other condition. Furthermore, the researchers concluded that this phenomenon is not merely a correlation. Indeed, alcohol use disorders and depression are bound up in a reciprocating causal relationship.

The study also found that alcohol abuse is more likely to cause major depression than the other way around, though the causality could go in either direction. There were links found between the neurophysiological and metabolic changes brought about by alcohol abuse and the mechanisms for depression to occur. Altogether, the findings demonstrated that abuse of alcohol puts an individual at a significantly higher risk to develop depression than that of a person who is not abusing the substance.

It is clear that alcohol abuse can cause depression, and depression can also contribute to alcohol abuse. This relationship can be cyclical, and a person can get caught up going back and forth between abusing alcohol and then using alcohol to try to relieve the resulting depression.

This can prove to be a challenging set of co-occurring conditions to address, and professional help is direly needed. If a person encounters feelings of depression as a result of alcohol abuse, it’s likely that these symptoms will subside some time after alcohol use has ceased.

Treatment for Alcohol Abuse and Depression

Alcoholism and depression can both be harrowing predicaments. For a person suffering from both conditions simultaneously, though, life can be especially troubling and often results in much poorer outcomes. Fortunately, due to the frequent co-occurrence of depression and alcohol abuse, many addiction treatment centers, such as Recovery in Tune, are clinically prepared to treat both disorders concurrently.

Integrated treatment is the most effective way to achieve recovery from both disorders. If only one condition is treated without addressing the other, relapse is highly likely.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy and counseling are two of the most effective ways to combat both alcoholism and depression. We offer these services in intensive-outpatient and outpatient formats and may include medication-assisted therapy to aid in recovery from both conditions. Our highly-trained staff of addiction specialists is dedicated to providing every client with the knowledge and support they need to fully recover and foster the healthy and satisfying lives they deserve.

If you or someone you love is suffering from alcohol abuse and depression, contact us today. Discover how we help people escape the clutches of addiction and enjoy long-lasting wellness and sobriety!

Mental Effects of Alcohol

Mental Effects of Alcohol | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

Mental Effects of Alcohol – Alcoholism is a potentially life-threatening disease that can wreak havoc on a person’s life, mind, and body. While all effects of alcoholism can be devastating, one of the most tragic things to watch is how alcoholism impacts a person’s mental functioning.

The Mental Effects of Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol Alters Brain Chemistry

Our brains depend on a stable balance of chemicals and processes to function optimally. Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, which means it can interfere with that balance and affect a person’s thoughts, feelings and actions. This effect is primarily due to alcohol’s effect on neurotransmitters, chemicals such as dopamine that transmit signals from one neuron in the brain to another.

The relaxed or euphoric feeling that people may encounter if they have an alcoholic drink is caused by the aforementioned chemical changes that alcohol induces. For some, one or two drinks can help them feel more social, confident, and less anxious. This relaxing effect occurs because the alcohol is starting to depress the parts of the brain responsible for inhibition.

But as a person drinks more, more of the brain starts to be impacted. When high amounts of alcohol have been consumed, instead of pleasurable effects increasing, negative emotional responses may occur, causing one to become angry, aggressive, anxious, or depressed.

Alcoholism and Mental Health Disorders

Sometimes people drink as an attempt at self-medication for a mental health condition. Other times, drinking appears to instigate or exacerbate such disorders. In either case, alcoholism and the mental illness fuel one another, perpetuating a vicious cycle of drinking to feel better, feeling worse, and then opting to drink again while hoping for a different result.

Anxiety

For those without serious mental health issues, a little bit of alcohol may serve as a stress reliever because it induces an increase in the feel-good chemical dopamine, and also reduces other brain activity that could make one anxious or agitated. However, alcohol use can also increase anxiety and stress and make these and other problems more difficult to deal with. This is, of course, because regular, excessive drinking interferes with the balance of brain neurotransmitters that is needed for good mental health.

When a person consumes a significant amount of alcohol, their perception of any given situation may narrow. Moreover, if a person is prone to anxiety and notices something that could be construed as threatening, he or she may focus on that and miss other information in the environment that could contradict or temper that perception. For example, someone might see their partner talking to someone and assume that he or she is flirting, but in reality, it’s just a friendly conversation that could be properly analyzed if only the intoxicated person was in a right state of mind.

Depression

Mental Effects of Alcohol | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

If a person drinks excessively on a regular basis, he or she is likely to experience some symptoms of depression. Regular drinking reduces levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that helps to regulate mood.

People who experience clinical depression are more likely to be heavy or problem drinkers that others without mental health problems. For some, the depression came first, and they’ve resorted to alcohol use for the relief of negative thoughts and feelings. For others, however, drinking came first, and so it may be the primary cause of their depression.

Drinking heavily can also affect one’s relationships with significant others, family, and friends. It also can impact work or school performance, and these problems can also contribute to depression. Severe depression that is coupled with alcohol’s ability to lower inhibitions can result in self-harming or suicidal behaviors.

Alcohol’s Effect on Memory

People may joke about heavy drinking that leads to blacking out and an inability to remember the night before. The truth, however, is that alcohol abuse at this level is anything but funny and is actually extremely dangerous.

While one or two incidents of blacking out don’t necessarily inflict irreversible damage memory, regular and excessive drinking to the point of blacking out can eventually lead to permanent memory impairment. Memory problems are associated with difficulty learning and retaining new information and can also have an adverse impact on concentration.

Increased Risk of Dementia

Dementia is most often associated with the elderly, but alcoholism can contribute to the development of at a younger age and increase the risk of dementia even in those who would not have otherwise developed it. This increased risk is based on the fact that alcoholism accelerates the normal shrinkage process of the brain that occurs as we all age. Among other problems, dementia is hallmarked by a declining ability to plan and make sound judgments and decision.

Treatment for Alcoholism

Most often, some of the mental effects caused by alcoholism can be reversed if a person discontinues alcohol use. Unfortunately, this can be incredibly challenging, and professional help will likely be necessary for a successful recovery that has the potential to stop and reverse elements of mental deterioration.

Recovery in Tune offers a wide range of evidence-based services that include psychotherapy, counseling, group support, and aftercare planning. We employ caring addiction professionals who deliver these services to clients with patience, compassion, and expertise.

If you or someone you love is suffering from the effects of alcoholism, contact us today. Discover how we help people free themselves from addiction and cultivate healthy, fulfilling lives for themselves!

Effects of Alcohol on Blood Pressure

Effects of Alcohol on Blood Pressure | Recovery in Tune

Effects of Alcohol on Blood Pressure – Although alcohol consumption is enjoyable for many, even moderate use can increase certain health risks. Having more than three drinks in a single event will temporarily cause a person’s blood pressure to rise, but prolonged binge drinking or regular alcohol use can cause a chronic increase in blood pressure.

What Is Hypertension?

The heart pumps blood throughout the body every time it beats. For the blood to sufficiently circulate, a certain amount of pressure is needed. A healthy heart that is functioning optimally will pump blood throughout the body at relatively low pressure.

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a disorder in which the heart is forced to pump harder to circulate the blood through the entire body. This puts a strain on the arteries, as they have to work harder to move the blood that’s now flowing throughout the body at a higher pressure.

High blood pressure, however, is frequently asymptomatic for many people for some time. One of the most dangerous aspects of this condition is that those who have it may not know it. In fact, about one-third of people who experience high blood pressure are unaware of it, meaning that it can remain undiagnosed until a significant health complication occurs.

Signs and symptoms of profoundly high blood pressure may include the following:

  • Severe headache
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Vision problems
  • Chest pain
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Blood in urine
  • Pounding neck, ears, or chest

Effects of Alcohol on Blood Pressure

Drinking heavily over time can produce an increase in blood pressure. When a person drinks alcohol above an amount the body can efficiently process, this causes blood pressure to rise. For the duration of a drinking episode, and for some time after, blood pressure will stay elevated.

Indeed, continued, excessive drinking can adversely impact blood pressure. If drinking persists, over time these effects will compound, and perilously high blood pressure can develop. For this reason, alcohol addiction is a dangerous circumstance for those who suffer it.

Dangerous Complications of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure has been linked to many different health issues, including kidney damage and retinal disease. High blood pressure can also lead to potentially life-threatening complications, including the following:

Stroke

High blood pressure puts stress on the arteries and blood vessels throughout the entire body, including those of the brain. The continued strain will result in blood vessels clogging or weakening. When this occurs, there is a blockage of blood or bleeding in the brain, also known as a stroke.

How much a person is affected by a stroke depends on where the stroke transpires and how much the brain has been compromised. Someone who had a relatively mild stroke may only have inconsequential problems, such as transient weakness in an arm or leg.

People who have massive strokes, on the other hand, may become permanently paralyzed on one side of the body or entirely lose their ability to speak. Some people completely recover from a stroke, but more than 2/3 of those who survive will encounter some form of disability.

Effects of Alcohol on Blood Pressure | Recovery in Tune

Heart Attack

The presence of hypertension substantially increases the risk of a heart attack. Because high blood pressure forces the heart to work harder and increases overall stress, there will be an increased risk of breathlessness, chest pains, and heart attack.

A heart attack is characterized by an abrupt blockage of the network of coronary arteries that surround the heart muscle and provide it with oxygen and blood rich in vital nutrients. This condition prevents blood flow to the heart muscle and damages it.

Aneurysm

Hypertension is a significant risk factor for a cerebral aneurysm (brain aneurysm), which is a weak or thin spot on an artery that balloons out and fills with blood. The bulging aneurysm can put pressure on nerves and brain tissue and may rupture or burst, spilling blood into the surrounding tissue (hemorrhage). A ruptured aneurysm can result in severe health complications, such as hemorrhagic stroke, brain damage, coma, and death.

Other Factors

There are other factors in addition to alcohol consumption that can contribute to the development of high blood pressure. These include hereditary factors, being over the age of 65, being overweight and/or physically inactive, tobacco use, and eating a diet high in sodium or low in potassium.

Treatment for Alcoholism

To lower blood pressure to a normal range, it’s essential to decrease the amount and frequency at which alcohol is consumed. Some heavy drinkers can find ways to reduce their consumption to moderate levels over a sustained amount of time, but for many, decreasing alcohol intake to healthy levels is extraordinarily challenging and medical intervention is necessary.

Recovery in Tune uses a comprehensive, research-based approach to addiction treatment that includes services vital to the recovery process, such as psychotherapy, drug counseling, and aftercare planning. Our highly-trained addiction specialists are dedicated to providing clients with the tools and support they need to achieve abstinence, avoid relapse, and sustain long-term sobriety and wellness.

Contact us today and discover how we can help you begin your journey to recovery!