5 Things You Must Know About Sleeping Pill Abuse

sleeping pills

What is Sleeping Pill Abuse?

Simply put, sleeping pill abuse is taking a sleep aid against prescription or directions. According to the National Institutes of Health, as many as 30% of Americans report symptoms consistent with insomnia. Concern about the long-term effects of sleeping pills has been building for some time. Perhaps sleeping pill abuse should not surprise us. After all, we live in a stressful period in history right now. The fast pace of this constantly interconnected life in the information economy has been harder for some to adapt to than others.

The natural cues for sleep and rest we used to be able to rely upon are more muted than in the past. Before the invention of electric lights, candlelight or an oil lamp were your only options. We had little to keep us occupied and engaged after hours compared with the 21st century. Even long after the invention of electricity, there were still many natural and societal cues that at least helped to keep us on track. Up until the mid-1980s for example, television stations stopped broadcasting after midnight or 1 am. Baby Boomers and some Gen-X’ers will remember the Star-Spangled Banner playing at the end of the day’s broadcasts and then a test pattern or noisy static were all you got until morning.

The Role Stress Plays in the Abuse of Sleeping Medications

The idea of the world shutting down or pausing seems quaint now. Communication never stops in our world today. Television certainly doesn’t stop, neither does the Internet, of course. There is a never-ending stream of entertainment and information available at our fingertips. Work has also become more demanding for many of us. With more people working remotely than ever before, it is our own responsibility to manage the work-life balance and it’s not easy for many of us.

The concerns of the modern world can often seem right at our doorsteps thanks to the Internet and the 24-hour news cycle. This contributes to anxiety for many of us, even if we aren’t aware of it. Being aware of your stress and its sources and learning to manage them is an essential part of getting a handle on insomnia. This will be a part of any solution for sleeping pill addiction.

The 5 Things You Must Know About Sleeping Pill Abuse

Sleeping pill abuse is a serious problem. More so than many people realize. There is a correlation between sleep disorders and substance abuse for example. Someone with a substance use disorder is much more likely to also have a co-occurring sleep disorder. Conversely, if you have a sleep disorder you are more likely to develop a substance use disorder. This is especially true if you have a history of substance abuse in your family or other risk factors.

Here are 5 things you should know about sleeping pill abuse:

  • Many people abuse medications or drugs not usually prescribed for sleep to help them get some rest. These include alcohol, opioids, benzodiazepines and marijuana.
  • Most prescription sleeping pills like Ambien or Lunesta are controlled substances. This means they have potential for abuse and you may become addicted to them.
  • Sleep medication is among the top 5 most abused classifications of prescription medicine, even though many are unaware.
  • Abruptly quitting a prescription sleep aid can have serious side effects. Benzodiazepines are especially dangerous. You should always get professional help for this.
  • Thousands of people have been able to get quit sleep meds and get a good nights rest by using natural alternatives, non-addictive meds and behavior modification.

What Can I Do About Sleeping Pill Abuse?

If you or someone you care about is living with sleeping pill abuse, rest assured there are solutions. It is not uncommon to become dependent upon a sleep medication through no fault of your own. Lots of people begin by taking an Ambien only occasionally only to find that they cannot sleep without it every night. For some, this turns into abuse. Sometimes when the prescribed dose no longer has the desired effect.

Other people just like the mild euphoric effect that some sleep aids produce. They may abuse sleep aids that aren’t prescribed to them to get it. Or they may discover this side effect when they are prescribed the medication and become tempted to abuse it. Whatever the reason, if you or someone you love is abusing these medications you are no doubt looking for solutions.

Here are some tips to bear in mind when it comes to sleeping pill abuse:

  • Doctors have varying levels of awareness about addiction. They may not give you sufficient warning about the risks. Always do the research before you take a medication.
  • Treatment is available for sleeping medication abuse. Thousands of people check into rehab every year for sleeping pill addictions. You should never be ashamed of getting help.
  • Even a lifetime of insomnia does not mean you can’t get a good night’s rest without drugs. Seriously explore the many healthy alternatives to help yourself sleep.
  • If you are struggling with your sleep medication, talk to someone about it. You don’t have to overcome this on your own and things won’t get better by themselves.

Conclusion

Sleep is a vital function. The body and mind require rest. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, there will be physical and mental consequences. Everyone needs a different amount of sleep, but no one gets away without getting enough. Listen to your body and your mind. Become aware of proper sleep hygiene. Keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet. No television or phone at least 1 hour before bed. Try to keep a regular sleep schedule as much as possible, even on weekends. Get regular physical exercise and avoid caffeine in the afternoon or evening.

If you follow all the advice above and listen to your body, chances are you will not need a sleeping pill to get rest in the first place. If you are already living with sleeping pill abuse or someone you love is, help is available. Recovery in Tune can help you or your loved one overcome their addiction to sleeping medications. Call us at 1 (844) 7-IN-TUNE or reach out to us via our contact page for more information.

Are Anti-Depressants Addictive?

A man looking worried.

Are anti-depressants addictive? No, they are not addictive in the sense that drugs such as heroin or alcohol are. People who abuse antidepressants don’t have the same cravings that those other substances produce. They don’t generally have addictive behaviors, euphoria or the same negative consequences of other drugs either.

People can still become physically dependent on antidepressants however. Dependence on antidepressants takes the form of a need to take them or else experience some withdrawal-like effects. Anyone prescribed an antidepressant should always take it exactly as prescribed. If you want to stop taking an anti-depressant for any reason, you must talk to your doctor first.

Antidepressant Dependence or Addiction

What is antidepressant dependence? Are anti-depressants addictive?

Dependence on antidepressants happens when someone takes the medication regularly. When they stop taking these medications, they may go through anti-depressant withdrawal if they suddenly stop.

While antidepressants aren’t addictive in the conventional sense, it is possible to misuse them. There are many environmental, psychosocial and genetic causes for this type of behavior.

 Some symptoms of antidepressant misuse include:

  • No control over your use of these medications
  • Taking antidepressants in a way contrary to prescription
  • Compulsive use of antidepressants
  • Using antidepressants you do not have a prescription for

If you experience more than one of these symptoms, you are probably misusing antidepressants. If you believe you are dependent on these medications, you should speak to a medical professional about them.

Defining Addiction to Antidepressants

Are anti-depressants addictive in the first place? Even though people can’t become addicted to these medications like they could with drugs such as heroin, they can still have a dependence or pattern of misuse.

Someone can have an addiction in the sense that they experience withdrawal symptoms after not using a specific substance or can’t stop using even when they try. If you try to reduce your use of these medications, but experience nausea, stomachaches, or other symptoms, you may have a dependence upon them. Again, you should never cease taking an antidepressant without speaking to your doctor.

Many people think they don’t have an addiction to antidepressants because they don’t feel euphoria. Even though you don’t get a dopamine rush when using a medication, that doesn’t mean your body isn’t dependent upon it.

Some people abuse antidepressants. Some cases even state that people snort these medications. People may do this when they want another drug but can’t get it.

The good news is that most people who take antidepressants benefit from them. They have a better life because of taking these medications. If you have a prescription for antidepressants but feel your body is too reliant on them, talk to your doctor about it. You should never change your medication regimen without a doctor’s advice and counsel.

Antidepressant Overdose Signs

Most of the time, antidepressants are safe. However, some people will overdose on antidepressants. Some of the overdose signs for these medications include:

  • Dizziness
  • Shaking
  • Fainting
  • Confusion
  • Coordination issues
  • Convulsions
  • Irregular heartbeat

If you see someone with these overdose signs, make sure you get them immediate medical attention. Calling 9-1-1 during these situations would be best.

Drug Combinations

There are millions of people who use antidepressants. Most of the time, people take these medications to treat depression. However, there are some other reasons why doctors may prescribe antidepressants, as well.

The problem is that many people who are taking antidepressants use other substances at the same time. One of the common substances people take with these medications is alcohol.

Medical professionals recommend that people who are taking antidepressants don’t drink alcohol. If you already have an addiction to any other drug, you may be more likely to develop an addiction to antidepressants.

Some severe mental and physical health issues that occur when combining antidepressants and other drugs include:

  • Strong sedation
  • Worse anxiety and depression
  • Extremely high blood pressure
  • Worse coordination issues
  • Unconscious
  • Overdose

Some people don’t want to wait to let antidepressants work. Most doctors will tell you it takes 4 to 6 weeks to receive full effects from these medications. It is essential only to take the dose your doctor prescribes. If you are struggling with severe depression and your medication isn’t working yet, talk to your doctor. There may be other treatments that can help in the meantime.

Get Help with Antidepressant Addiction or Dependence

There are millions of people who struggle with depression. Fortunately, antidepressants can help people to manage depression. However, there is also a chance that you will become reliant on antidepressants. If you try to stop taking them, you might experience withdrawal symptoms. If you use antidepressants with alcohol or other drugs, you could experience other complications or physical health problems. You should always be honest with your prescribing physician about any other substances you are using, legal or otherwise.

We hope we have effectively answered the question ‘Are anti-depressants addictive’ and given you some useful information. If you believe you have a problem with drugs or alcohol or someone you love does, we are here. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Recovery in Tune today. We can help treat your addiction and your depression and have you living a better life.

The Long Term Effects of Heroin Use

Shows one of the long-term effects of heroin use

The long term effects of heroin use occur at the physical, mental, and psycho-social levels. In this post, we’ll examine these long-term effects and present a counterargument against some common misconceptions.

The Long-Term Effects of Heroin Use: An Honest Account

Researchers and qualified medical personnel understand the long-term effects of heroin use very well. A quick internet search will turn up dozens of peer-reviewed studies on the subject. And while there are some areas of disagreement, one thing is undeniably clear. In short, the damage that long-term heroin use can do extends far beyond the mind-boggling number of overdose deaths we typically associate with the opioid epidemic.

Unfortunately, the availability of this information has done little to dislodge the strange combination of myths and ignorance that inform the average user’s view on heroin’s long-term effects. This post is designed to help heroin users and their families understand that there’s more to worry about than the dramatic overdose event.

Before we begin, we’d like to be clear about our perspective. While our only goals are clarity and evidence-based conclusions, we approach the subject of heroin use as advocates of the abstinence model of recovery. We openly admit that there are other legitimate ways to approach heron use. This includes the brilliant work of harm reduction advocates all over the world, as well as the occasional scholar who has questioned the abstinence model through insightful sociological inquiry.

The work of these fine people is wise, beneficent, and necessary. This is especially true in the informing of public policy and acknowledging the importance of the group. Our motive here is much simpler. We hope to help a single addict stop suffering.

Physical Effects

We’ll begin with a look at the long-terms effects of heroin on the user’s body. Obviously, even a few uses can lead to the following difficulties:

  • Rapid increase of tolerance
  • Physical dependence
  • Skin infections
  • Withdrawal symptoms

Now, these things can start early in your heroin career. We call it a career because heroin use is a full-time job, but that’s another story. In any case, these rather severe early effects give way to much graver consequences later on.

In all fairness, we need to add the following disclaimer. Most of the health consequences we’ll be discussing apply to the chronic, addicted user. We attach no moral evaluation to this habit. It’s simply true that heroin does severe damage to the body with chronic use. They likely do not apply to those few people (at one time called ‘joy bangers’) who can get away with an occasional fling with heroin. But you wouldn’t be reading this article if your relationship with dope was a mere fling, so that’s kind of beside the point.

Does the Method of Ingestion Matter?

Some of the physical consequences of continued use have to do with the way the drug is ingested. Like most drugs, heroin can be ingested in several different ways. These include snorting, smoking, and injecting it. And while the form of ingestion makes little difference in terms of dependence, it does influence the form that the negative health outcomes of heroin users take.

Here are a few examples:

  • Snorting heroin tends to damage nasal tissue and the mucus membranes that help fight off infection.
  • This leads to breathing difficulties and an increased risk of a variety of respiratory maladies.
  • Even snorting heroin a few times can cause nose bleeds and start to damage the sense of smell.
  • Swallowing difficulties, often leading to malnutrition.
  • Snorting heroin can also tear or carve out holes in the septum.
  • Smoking heroin can lead to lung problems and will eventually compromise the functioning of the liver.
  • Injecting heroin can cause anything from skin infections, painful abscesses, and numerous severe pulmonary difficulties.
  • The long-term effects of IV heroin use can also lead to scarred or collapsed veins, as well as dangerous bacterial heart infections.

So yes, in one sense, the method of ingestion does matter. But despite all this, it’s important to know that heroin is highly addictive drug no matter how it enters the body. Additionally, any form of chronic heroin use can lead to long bouts of insomnia, constipation, pneumonia, and tuberculosis. Chronic users of all genders often experience sexual dysfunction as well.

Of course, there is the constant risk of overdose death from any opioid drug. It doesn’t matter how long someone’s been using, or how high their tolerance is. Anyone who ingests heroin at any time exposes themselves to the risks of overdose, respiratory failure, and death.

Cognitive and Emotional Effects

Long-term heroin use inevitably leads to cognitive and emotional problems. This should not be surprising. For one thing, people who witness a loved one descend into heroin addiction often describe them as having become ‘a different person.’ Well, in a very real sense they have become a different person.

We say this because chronic heroin use changes the structure and chemical make-up of the brain. In fact, it actually damages parts of the brain’s white matter. This typically results in poor executive functioning and difficulties in controlling behavior. This is especially true in stressful situations, as the chaotic heroin user simply lacks the brain cells to adapt to changing situations.

The damage can eventually worsen significantly. A high number of heroin dependent people develop moderate to severe mental disorders. These can range from anxiety and depression to mood and/or personality disorders.

Needless to say, these difficulties lead to a variety of social and financial problems as well. Chronic heroin users usually isolate themselves from friends and family as their addiction deepens. They also have difficulties maintaining stable employment and sometimes resort to criminal activities to support their increasingly expensive habit.

The Long-Term Effects of Heroin Use: Fact vs. Fiction

Understandably, many people focus on the possibility of an overdose when they consider the plight of the chaotic heroin user. Clearly, we must do everything we can to reduce or eliminate this heartbreaking events. However, overdose is not the only risk that heroin users face.

As we have seen, the long-term effects of heroin use include other significant risks as well. Yes, our first priority must be to prevent unnecessary deaths. However, we should not focus on this possibility so much that we ignore these other significant consequences. If you or someone you care about is struggling with any form of substance abuse, please seek help immediately. Recovery in Tune offers evidence-based, compassionate treatments that work.

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.

Dangers of Methylone Abuse

Dangers of Methylone Abuse | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

 

Methylone is a synthetic designer drug that works on the brain similarly to MDMA or ecstasy, as it is nearly identical, in a chemical sense. It is a stimulating synthetic cathinone that increases energy, alertness, and excitability.

Because of the energetic high methylone can trigger, it is frequently referred to, along with other drugs, as “bath salts.” It is commonly sold on its own. It is produced in large batches clandestine labs, so methylone is generally much less expensive than MDMA, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

Although methylone is not very well-understood, we do know the drug has been related to the deaths of people (albeit rarely) due to its intense side effects.

Methylone Abuse and Potential for Addiction

The Drug Enforcement Administration reports that methylone was first found on the illicit drug market in the U.S. in 2009. It was eventually classified as a Schedule I substance in 2013, so for at least four years, it could be purchased legally. Although methylone is no longer lawfully obtained in the U.S., other synthetic cathinones remain unclassified at the federal level.

Although some older adults may abuse synthetic cathinones like methylone, the drug market is comprised mostly of adolescents and young adults. They often gain access to these drugs through convenience stores or the internet. A common source of use is in social settings such as clubs, concerts, and raves.

Signs of Abuse

When an individual uses a substance, such as bath salts, that contains methylone, symptoms are similar to those of other stimulants, including MDMA, cocaine, and meth:


  • Unrealistic feelings of superiority
  • Increased talkativeness
  • High sociability and excitability
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Impaired judgment, impulsivity
  • Feelings of pleasure and well-being
  • High energy and increased alertness


  • Accelerated pulse and breathing
  • Increased libido
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased hostility or aggression


The comedown effects from powerful stimulants such as synthetic cathinones like methylone may include profound depression and fatigue. These symptoms may compel people to use more of the drug to relieve psychological discomfort.

Toxic Effects and Signs of Overdose

Toxic effects of methylone commonly include moderate symptoms, such as the following:


  • Accelerated heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Derealization
  • Pupil dilation and blurry vision
  • Impaired concentration and focus


  • Restlessness
  • Altered time perception
  • Muscle tension and aches
  • Teeth grinding and jaw clenching
  • Insomnia
  • Profuse sweating


Signs of severe side effects and an overdose on methylone can include the following:


  • Hyperthermia
  • Dizziness
  • Profound confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Depersonalization


  • Paranoid delusions
  • Extreme, unwarranted fear
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Rashes


Methylone and other cathinones do not have a substantial impact on brain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, and adrenaline. For this reason, methylone may be less addictive than other stimulants, but the depletion of dopamine at high doses can be toxic and hazardous to one’s health.

Abusing synthetic cathinones like methylone over the long-term can alter neurotransmitters and result in mood disorders, such as depression. This can happen long-term. Mental health problems that may co-occur with abuse of methylone or other cathinones include the following:


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Acute or chronic psychosis


  • Episodes of mania
  • Paranoid delusions
  • Suicidal ideations


As noted, in very rare instances, methylone use has been linked to fatal overdoses. In one study from 2011, researchers talked about three such fatalities. All subjects exhibited seizure-like activity and very high body temperatures (up to 107°F) before their deaths. Two of the individuals also developed metabolic acidosis, a condition in which the body produces too much acid.

One of the three cases had prolonged hospitalization before death presented with symptoms similar to sympathomimetic toxicity, which can occur with the use of certain prescription and non-prescription drugs that have stimulating properties. In addition to cathinones and MDMA, Examples of non-prescription sympathomimetic agents include OTC cold medicines containing ephedrine and illegal street drugs, such as cocaine and meth.

Overcoming Methylone Abuse and Addiction

Since methylone is a relatively new psychoactive substance, there are no known drugs that have been approved by the FDA to be used in medication-assisted therapy. Instead, the detox process involves the management of withdrawal symptoms through other means, generally at the discretion of a doctor or addiction specialist. Fortunately, the symptoms are often relatively mild when compared to those of many other drugs of abuse, and can be effectively treated in a hospital or detox facility, without issue.

Getting treatment for you or a loved one who abuses a potent and dangerous drug like methylone is crucial. Recovery in Tune specializes in the treatment of substance abuse and addiction, and our programs include evidence-based therapies and services especially designed to be beneficial for those who struggle with drug or alcohol abuse.

If you or someone you love is ready to take the first step to a drug-free life, we urge you to contact us as soon as possible and find out how we can help!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Dangers of GHB and GBL Drug

Dangers of GHB and GBL Drug

Dangers of GHB and GBL Drug | Recovery in Tune

 

 

GHB and GBL are two closely related substances. Their euphoric effect has made them popular in club and party environments. GHB is also sometimes used as a “date rape” drug because of its profoundly sedating effects.

What Is GHB?

GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) exists naturally, but in small amounts, in human cells. It is a neurochemical and also influences other neurotransmitters, including GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and dopamine. At low doses, GHB represses dopamine release. But, in high doses, it prompts dopamine release. It also boosts serotonin and inhibits the release of adrenaline.

On the street, GHB is has many names, including Liquid E or Liquid Ecstasy. The drug was originally developed in the 1960s for use in anesthesia. However, due to adverse side effects such as seizures, it is rarely used for this purpose. It also sometimes used to treat narcolepsy and to help people recover from alcoholism.

In 1990, GHB was available in health food stores as a treatment for insomnia and for its growth-hormone-enhancing properties. But following several poisonings, GHB was promptly removed from the market and banned in 1991.

In 2000, the Drug Enforcement Agency classified GHB as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. This means that it has no approved medical purpose and a high potential for abuse. Still, at least one pharmaceutical product that contains GHB (Xyrem®) is available in some cases by prescription only.

Dangers of GHB and GBL Drug | Recovery in Tune

GHB Today

Today, GHB is most commonly thought of as a club drug or date-rape drug. As the former, users take small doses to lower inhibitions and induce feelings of well-being. Perhaps for these reasons, some say it acts as an aphrodisiac.

In excessive doses, however, GHB can cause extreme sedation and unconsciousness and also repress the formation of memories. This fact makes it very effective as a date rape drug. Additionally, it is usually sold in a tasteless and odorless liquid, making it easy to slip into an unsuspecting person’s drink.

As a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, it can prove fatal when taken in combination with alcohol or other depressants, such as opioids or benzodiazepines. The risk for this may be higher if a person has ingested the drug without their knowledge. And as with many street drugs, the composition and potency of GHB can vary. Moreover, there is often no way users can know just precisely how powerful a dose may be, which increases the risk of overdose and death.

Effects of GHB

The effects that GHB has on a user may be different from one person to the next. Factors like stomach contents, whether a person used other substances, and individual biology can cause the effects to vary. However, effects are usually experienced within 10–20 minutes, and about 45–90 minutes later, they will often begin to subside. Sleepiness or grogginess may occur for up to 12 hours after use.

The physical effects of GHB are highly dose-dependent, and each individual may have a slightly different response, a fact that makes GHB use even riskier. Fortunately, the number of people who report having used GHB in their lifetime has been gradually declining since around 2006.

But despite GHB’s illegal status, it is still manufactured in clandestine labs and trafficked around the world. Because the ban has made GHB somewhat more challenging to obtain, some people have begun to seek out GBL as an alternative.

What Is the GBL Drug?

GBL (gamma-butyrolactone) is a “prodrug” of GHB that has a variety of commercial and industrial uses. For example, it is commonly found in pain strippers, nail polish remover and stain remover as a solvent. Because of its chemical similarity, GBL, although a biologically inactive compound, metabolizes in the body to produce a drug. Furthermore, its effects are indistinguishable.

Unfortunately, however, GBL is also 2-3 times as potent as GHB, and its effects take place much more rapidly. This places users at an even higher risk of overdose than GHB, although the effects of either drug can be very severe and include life-threatening CNS depression, respiratory arrest, coma, and death.

In fact, an unintentional overdose of both substances is very easy. Even half of a millimeter of GBL or half of a dram of GHB in excess of a moderate dose can induce a deep sleep, where the person could potentially aspirate on their own vomit.

Also, due to memory-inhibiting properties, the danger of losing track of how much a person has ingested (especially because it can be administered unknown to the user in a drink) is much higher. This route of administration may lead to a greater likelihood of accidental overdose. One sip too many can be the difference between euphoric effects and debilitating unconsciousness.

Conversion of GBL into GHB

GBL can convert into GHB when the pH level changes from the addition of another product such as sodium hydroxide. However, converting GBL into GHB is unnecessary because the body will quickly metabolize GBL into GHB after consumption anyway. Because the effects of GBL onset more rapidly and its much greater potency, GBL itself may have a higher potential for abuse and adverse effects than GHB.

Dangers of GHB and GBL Drug | Recovery in Tune

Are GBL and GHB Addictive?

Both GHB and GBL have the potential for addiction, mainly if the substances are used frequently for weeks or months. Even two weeks of daily use can result in dependence, which tends to result in intense cravings, depressed mood, insomnia, and anxiety, unless the person uses the drug every few hours. These effects are related to withdrawal and are often unpleasant enough to compel the person to use more.

It is vital to understand that once a person is dependent on GBL/GHB, stopping use abruptly or “cold turkey” can result in severe health risks and even death. If a user experiences withdrawal symptoms such as feeling shaky, sweaty or anxious when they quit using the drugs, medical attention should be sought immediately. Other symptoms of withdrawal include insomnia, and, more seriously, confusion, delirium, and hallucinations.

Getting Help for Drug Abuse and Addiction

For those who abuse GHB or the GBL drug, medical detox and behavioral therapy intended to treat addiction are often required. Recovery in Tune offers programs that include these services, as well as others essential for recovery, including counseling, group support, and aftercare planning.

Also, people who abuse drugs like GHB and GBL often abuse other substances, such as opioids or alcohol. Our program addresses substance abuse, as well as co-occurring mental health disorders for a comprehensive treatment approach.

If you are ready to take the first step toward long-lasting happiness and wellness, we urge you to contact us. Discover how we can help!

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Is Addiction a Disease or a Choice?

Is Addiction a Disease or a Choice? | Recovery in Tune

Most major U.S. public health institutions now recognize addiction as a disease, , such as the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the American Medical Association. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that drug addiction is “a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking, continued use despite harmful consequences, and long-lasting changes in the brain.” 

Many people immediately think of addiction as a disorder related to substances. While many addictions are substance-based, there are other forms known as process or behavioral addictions, in which a person obsessively engages in a certain activity. These may include gambling, sex, shopping, or virtually any activity that produces a surge of feel-good chemicals in the brain.

Addiction symptoms can range in intensity from mild to severe, and, in many cases, they are chronic and can last a lifetime. Addiction, just like cancer or diabetes, is the result of many biological, behavioral, and environmental factors.

Many experts contend that genetic predisposition may account for about half of the likelihood that an individual will develop an addiction. Addiction, however, can also be a product of the many physiological and psychological changes that occur when a person experiments with substance abuse. 

Moreover, a person’s genetic susceptibility to addiction often combines with substance abuse and other factors, such as emotional distress. Process disorders are a bit different in that they do not involve the consumption of a chemical that interferes with the brain’s function. They do, however, involve an increase in neurochemicals that people respond to by engaging in an activity over and over again, despite incurring adverse consequences as a result.

Untreated addiction, in any form, can result in severe emotional, and sometimes physical health complications that tend to escalate over time. Other consequences, such as financial, legal, or social problems, are also more likely to occur. Addiction to substances can be life-threatening, and it’s not uncommon for a person to experience more than one.

How Addiction Hijacks the Brain

Is Addiction a Disease or a Choice? | Recovery in Tune

People feel pleasure or satisfaction when basic survival needs, such as hunger, are fulfilled. These pleasant feelings are related to the release of certain brain chemicals, such as dopamine and serotonin. However, addictive drugs and alcohol also cause the brain to produce abnormally large amounts of these chemicals, which induces a euphoric high, or feelings that far exceed everyday pleasure and reward. Behavioral addictions, such as those related to sex or gambling, operate similarly, but the effects may not be as intense without a direct chemical component to alter them.

Over time, the consistent increase in the release of these neurochemicals alters regions in the brain associated with reward and motivation. As these changes manifest, a person will become dependent on a substance and will begin to require the presence of that substance to feel normal. Similarly, a person with a behavioral addiction will continue to engage in the behavior as a means to increase their pleasure and boost the feel-good chemicals that are associated with an activity.

Due to the body’s tendency to diminish its response to mind-altering substances following repeated exposure, long-term use also typically results in the development of tolerance. Tolerance is a state in which the person begins to require an increasing amount of a substance to achieve the desired effects. Behavioral addictions also tend to escalate for similar reasons related to increases in chemicals such as dopamine.

A person experiencing addiction will likely neglect other responsibilities and formerly important activities in favor of substance abuse or engagement in an activity with which they are obsessed. In the most extreme cases, addiction can result in a person not caring about their own welfare or that of others.

These neurological changes usually persist for a prolonged period, and long after the person stops engaging in addictive behavior. These lingering changes may leave those with addiction particularly vulnerable to cravings and environmental triggers, which significantly increase the risk of relapse.

The Argument on Addiction: Disease or Choice?

A chronic disease is a long-term, persistent condition that, although usually incurable, can often be managed or controlled using various therapies, treatments, and techniques. Many people with addiction have a serious and long-lasting condition that adversely affects their lives in a variety of ways. For these individuals, addiction can be an accelerating, relapsing disease that requires intensive treatment and long-term maintenance to improve.

However, even the most severe and chronic forms of addiction can be managed, and many symptoms are reversible. This can be achieved through participation in a comprehensive addiction treatment program and the continued administration of professional therapies and support.

In nearly every sense of the word, the nature of addiction resembles that of other chronic diseases. The truth is that many other conditions that people suffer from were entirely avoidable if they had made healthier lifestyle decisions. Still, few accuse these individuals of choosing to have their condition. While their choices don’t often make them a target for moral platitudes, addiction, and the stigma that surrounds it, may do so for others.

Moreover, people can choose to experiment with substances, but they don’t choose to have an addiction. Even those who have behavioral addiction experience brain changes that are, at the very least, temporary. Such changes, also seemingly mostly mental and emotional, can be every bit as long-lasting and intense as diseases that are primarily physical.

The Myth of Willpower and Moral Failure

Is Addiction a Disease or a Choice? | Recovery in Tune

The decision to use a substance is indeed a person’s free and conscious choice. However, after the brain’s functioning has been altered by repeated drug use or the engagement in a certain activity, a person’s willpower becomes impaired. As a result, they will have lost nearly all control and restraint over their addictive behavior.

Moreover, people who experience an addiction should not be wholly blamed for it. All people make decisions about whether or not to use a substance or engage in an activity, but they do not control whether or not they will become addicted. Some people experiment with drugs or alcohol and can do so occasionally or decide it’s not for them. Others can gamble in Las Vegas while on vacation and not feel the need to do it on other occasions. 

But all people are unique individuals. Our brains and bodies react to things in different ways. While one person might become addicted to sex, another might become addicted to heroin. Some people will never be addicted to anything. Much of the time, people who become addicted to substances or behaviors are simply emotionally damaged individuals who suffer from untreated mental illness or have experienced some form of trauma in life. 

And, sadly, these people are often trying to self-medicate away distressing thoughts and feelings. In doing so, they end up making matters far worse for themselves and those who love them.

Is There Another Side to the Story?

As noted, most experts believe that the dramatic disparities between individuals, their biology, and their experiences are why some people can control their substance use or behavior, while others cannot. Nonetheless, there are many people who still believe that addiction reflects a person’s moral or social failings, and the choice to not use is the only problem.

This perception, however, is unhelpful and instead fosters the erroneous assumption that an addict could just stop it if they would simply make a choice to be “moral”. However, the truth is that an overwhelming majority of people with addiction find it nearly impossible to achieve and sustain long-term sobriety by leaning on a higher morality alone.

It is vital to note, however, that regarding personal accountability, one thing is true—people with addictions are responsible for seeking treatment and sustaining their own recovery. No one can do that for them. Just like a person with diabetes needs medical treatment, so do addicts. Both must be accountable for their health and be willing to do the work involved to foster the best outcomes for themselves.

Treatment for Addiction

Recovery in Tune offers comprehensive outpatient treatment programs intended to provide clients with the tools and support they to fully recover from addiction to substances and behaviors. Although there is no wholesale “cure” for addiction, it is, however, very treatable and can be effectively managed.

If you are ready to begin the recovery process, contact us as soon as possible! Discover how we help people free themselves from the chains of addiction and begin to experience the healthy and fulfilling lives they deserve!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Is Addiction a Mental Illness?

What Are Downer Drugs?

Downer Drugs | What Are They? | Recovery in Tune

Downer drugs are central nervous system (CNS) depressants that slow activity in the brain and body. These drugs work by increasing the production of the neurotransmitter GABA. This chemical messager functions to reduce the activity of the neurons to which it binds. This action results in effects such as relaxation and drowsiness and sometimes decreased inhibition. 

Historically, “downer” is a term that most often referred to barbiturates or hypnotic sleep aids, but it can refer to any drug that has properties that depresses the CNS. CNS depressants are effective at treating a variety of conditions, such as insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, pain, and seizures. 

Types of Downer Drugs

Substances that are classified as CNS depressants include the following:


  • Alcohol
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines (benzos)


  • Sleep aids
  • Muscle Relaxers
  • Antipsychotics


One thing that all downer drugs have in common is the ability to reduce activity in the CNS. However, there are key differences among substances within this class of drugs. Perhaps most significantly, some are considered to be safer and have less potential for abuse and addiction than others. That said, all can still be subject to misuse, and most can result in some level of dependence.

Alcohol

Alcohol is the most commonly used drug in the world. The amount of alcohol and the ABV (alcohol by volume) directly influences the degree to which the CNS becomes depressed. However, alcohol consumption can also increase the level of the feel-good chemical dopamine in the brain. This action can result in the drinker feeling more social, euphoric, and even energetic—at least initially.

For this reason, many people don’t realize that alcohol is fundamentally a depressant. Unfortunately, however, this temporary effect is eventually overtaken by alcohol’s depressant properties if the person drinks to excess. Instead of feeling good and relaxed, adverse emotional responses such as anger may develop. In extreme cases, this can be followed by life-threatening CNS depression and alcohol poisoning.

Excessive, long-term alcohol abuse often also leads to tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Those who develop dependence will then experience unpleasant and sometimes dangerous withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures, when they attempt to quit.

Downer Drugs | What Are They? | Recovery in Tune

Barbiturates

Barbiturates are a type of downer drug prescribed to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. Common barbiturates include phenobarbital, pentobarbital, and secobarbital. Barbiturates used to be considered a relatively safe depressant, but problems with misuse, addiction, and overdose rapidly began to surface after widespread use ensued. Perhaps most famously, actress Marilyn Monroe died from an overdose of barbiturates in 1962.

Barbarbiturates can induce feelings of euphoria and relaxation even when used in small doses, which can compel some to abuse them. Barbiturates also have a dramatic effect on sleep patterns that can result in suppressed REM sleep. 

Benzos are now generally regarded as less addictive than barbiturates and far less likely to cause an overdose. For this reason, the rate in which barbiturates are commonly prescribed has reduced dramatically. However, they are still sometimes used by treatment centers to treat alcohol or certain drug withdrawal symptoms.

Benzodiazepines 

Benzos are commonly prescribed to reduce anxiety and panic attacks, as well as treat sleep disorders and seizures. Common benzos include alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium).

Benzodiazepines are very effective at treating anxiety and insomnia due to their sedating effects. Although they are considered safe when used as directed for short-term treatment, long-term use or abuse can result in the development of tolerance, dependence, and addiction. 

As with other psychoactive substances, dependence results in withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation of use. Like alcohol, benzo withdrawal can be life-threatening, and seizures can manifest. For this reason, patients are often put on a tapering schedule in which their dose is gradually reduced over time.

Sleep Aids

Prescription sleep aids, which are also referred to as hypnotics, include non-benzodiazepine sedatives, such as Ambien, Sonata, and Lunesta. These medications have been specifically designed to treat insomnia and other problems related to sleep. Prescription sleep aids work differently than benzos or barbiturates in how they stimulate GABA production.

Unlike benzos, sleep aids do not directly relieve anxiety. They are thought, however, to have fewer side effects and a lower risk of addiction than benzos. Despite this, long-term use and abuse can still result in some level of dependence.

Muscle Relaxers

Muscle relaxers are commonly used to treat acute muscle problems, such as tension, as well as chronic pain conditions that involve muscle spasms. These medications work to reduce muscle tone, relax tight muscles, and relieve pain and discomfort.

Like sleep aids, muscle relaxers generally have a lower potential for addiction than many other depressants, such as benzos. That said, if they are used in conjunction with other downers, effects can be compounded and result in profound CNS depression.

Antipsychotics

Antipsychotics are prescription drugs indicated for the treatment of mental health disorders with symptoms such as psychotic experiences. These disorders include bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and Tourette’s syndrome. Antipsychotics may also be used to relieve severe depression or anxiety.

Antipsychotics have less potential for abuse and addiction than many other prescription downers and alcohol. Nevertheless, like muscle relaxers, using them in addition to other CNS depressants may be dangerous.

A Word on Opioids

Downer Drugs | What Are They? | Recovery in Tune

Opioids are technically classified as painkillers, but they also have some depressant properties. There are a variety of different opioids, including prescription medications, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, as well as illicit street drugs, such as heroin.

All opiates and opioids are chemically similar and, therefore, have similar effects. They do, however, vary tremendously in terms of potency and addictive potential. Although opioids are considered very effective at treating pain, there can be many drawbacks to using them. 

For example, many opioids, such as heroin and oxycodone, are highly addictive, and use or abuse can rapidly lead to dependence and addiction. What’s more, each year, opioid overdoses take the lives of tens of thousands of people in the U.S.

Effects of Downer Drugs

In addition to relaxation and drowsiness, downer drugs can also induce a variety of other effects, many of which are adverse. These include the following:


  • Low blood pressure and dizziness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Depressed breathing
  • Sleepiness or fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating


  • Impaired memory
  • Delayed reaction time
  • Slurred speech
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Impaired coordination
  • Impaired judgment
  • Blackouts


Chronic use can also lead to other negative effects, which depend on the type of depressant used and the intensity of the abuse. Long-term users of depressants often develop a tolerance and require increasing amounts to experience the desired effects. Other long-term effects may include the following:


  • Chronic fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Oversleeping
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Breathing and sleep issues


  • Depression
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Chemical dependence
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Addiction


Another potential complication of CNS depressant abuse is overdose. Excessive use of many depressants, especially in conjunction with other depressants, can result in profound respiratory depression, seizures, and death. Combining downer drugs with “uppers,” which are stimulant drugs, can be extremely dangerous as well and result in a life-threatening overdose.

Help for Addiction Is Available

Recovery in Tune is a licensed addiction treatment center that offers comprehensive programs in outpatient and intensive outpatient formats. Our programs are designed to address the underlying causes of addiction and teach people ways of better coping with cravings and the day-to-day stressors of life.

Those who struggle with addiction are urged to contact us as soon as possible to discuss treatment options. Are you ready to reclaim your life and be free from the abuse of drugs or alcohol? If so, we are here to help you begin your journey to long-lasting sobriety and wellness!

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Reverse Tolerance and Other Types of Tolerance

Reverse Tolerance and Other Types of Tolerance | Recovery in Tune

Reverse tolerance, also referred to as drug sensitization, is essentially the opposite of tolerance to drugs or alcohol. Tolerance develops when regular drinking or drug abuse induces changes in the brain’s structure and function, and metabolism adapts to the continuous presence of substances in the body.

This effect results in an individual requiring increasingly higher doses of the substance to achieve the desired effect. Conversely, reverse tolerance occurs when increasingly smaller doses of a substance are needed to become high or intoxicated.

Causes of Reverse Tolerance

When people use alcohol or certain drugs, their tolerance will usually increase. The liver itself, though, is not what becomes more tolerant of higher doses of substances such as alcohol. For this reason, over time, it may no longer produce the proper amount of enzymes. 

This effect is related to the fact that many of the cells needed to break down the alcohol have been destroyed. Therefore, a reduction in liver function results in a reduced tolerance and may be a sign of late-stage alcoholism in a long-term alcohol abuser.

Other Forms of Tolerance

Most people are not aware that there are actually several forms of tolerance to substances, each of which has some effect on the processes of addiction. It is true that tolerance often leads many people who are vulnerable to addiction to use increasing amounts of a substance to fulfill their needs. However, there is a bit more to it. The following describes the other six types of tolerance.

Acute Tolerance

Acute tolerance is a process in which the brain and central nervous system (CNS) enable processes to reduce the effects of a substance immediately. An example of one of the most common substances is nicotine. Nicotine use not only produces acute tolerance but in some cases, may increase tolerance throughout the course of a day for some who smoke. 

Other examples include hallucinogens, such as LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, Ecstasy, etc. During acute tolerance, in most cases, the effects of these substances will be mitigated by the reduction of receptor sites in the brain related to each specific substance and even possibly for particular classes of substances.

Behavioral Tolerance

Reverse Tolerance and Other Types of Tolerance | Recovery in Tune

People who are experienced drug or alcohol users may exhibit behavioral tolerance. This form is often characterized by adjustments in appearance and behavior to conceal the extent of their substance abuse. Some long-term, heavy users are able to abruptly appear sober when they encounter a threat, such as that posed by law enforcement. 

This improved state of functioning may then pass when the threat does. This effect can also manifest when an individual who is high or intoxicated encounters sudden and dramatic/traumatic circumstances. In this situation, the brain can rapidly refocus on the threatening event, and the high will be reduced or effectively eliminated.

These effects are reminders that the human brain is an extraordinary organ and is capable of rapidly adapting to different chemicals and circumstances. Behavioral tolerance appears to allow the brain to make use of regions unaffected by the substance in question to recover, at least for a time, from the effects of being under the influence of a psychoactive substance.

Dispositional Tolerance

The brain cannot dispose of drugs and alcohol on its own. In most instances, the brain depends on the interplay between neurochemicals and receptors, but certain substances interrupt this process, which results in the brain becoming unable to respond. 

During dispositional tolerance, the body is forced to take over this responsibility. It achieves this by accelerating metabolism so that the blood can circulate the extraneous substances more rapidly for elimination by the liver. This action mitigates the effects of the substance. Similar to what we think of as normal tolerance, this results in the user requiring more and more of the substance to achieve the desired effect.

Inverse Tolerance

Inverse tolerance is a phenomenon not wholly understood. This form of tolerance has two fundamental characteristics that make it more difficult to analyze and understand. Inverse tolerance is virtually the same thing as what is known as the Kindling Effect. This effect refers to changes in the brain and CNS regarding the manner in which chemicals are processed. 

The Kindling Effect is hallmarked by either sensitization or desensitization to a substance. As noted, sensitization might be caused by long-term alcohol use that results in harm to the liver and the body’s ability to process alcohol. Desensitization, on the other hand, occurs when the effects of a chemical become more intense.

Inverse tolerance can significantly impact relapses during recovery attempts, and lead to an increase in the duration and severity of symptoms associated with withdrawal.

Pharmacodynamic Tolerance

Pharmacodynamic is a form of tolerance in which the brain enacts processes intended to reduce the effects of a foreign substance. For example, nerve cells, reuptake and receptor sites, and transmission processes can be altered by the brain to increase desensitization to the substances. This can produce an antidote-like effect by increasing the amount of receptors required to distribute the chemical across a broader range of sites, which mitigates the effects.

Reverse Tolerance and Other Types of Tolerance | Recovery in Tune

Select Tolerance

Like inverse tolerance, select tolerance is not entirely understood. However, in general, it refers to the fact that, in some instances, the brain will reduce some of the effects a substance produces, but it may not reduce all of them. For example, some people who smoke marijuana for a prolonged period will become less able to experience euphoria. This occurs despite the fact that other parts of the body, such as the lungs, throat, and cannabinoid receptors, are unquestionably being affected.

This effect could be hazardous in cases in which higher doses of a substance are being used to compensate for the development of a select tolerance to a particular substance. Moreover, a heroin user may not be feeling the “high” they are seeking, although the drug continues to have severe effects on other parts of their body. 

To achieve the desired high, the user may consume more than usual. In doing so, they put themselves at a heightened risk for a life-threatening overdose because they are unaware that toxicity levels are higher than they actually are.

All Forms of Tolerance Can Be Harmful or Dangerous

The problem with most forms of tolerance is that they prevent the body from functioning as it should. As a result, addicts are compelled to consume more of a substance in an effort to circumvent the effects of tolerance. This pattern of substance use can perpetuate a dangerous cycle that must be halted as quickly as possible. 

And, unfortunately, even people who use legitimate pain medication, sleep aids, or other prescription drugs are susceptible to the development of tolerance as well as dependence and addiction.

Getting Help for Addiction

If you or someone you love are experiencing drug abuse and tolerance, please seek help immediately before the condition worsens. Addiction is a lifelong disease, but, fortunately, it can be effectively treated. Individuals who suffer need evidence-based, professional help in the form of behavioral therapy and counseling.

Recovery in Tune offers integrated outpatient treatment programs that address substance abuse issues as well as the underlying causes of addiction and other mental health issues. We aim to provide all clients with the tools and support they need to achieve a full recovery and foster long-term sobriety and wellness.

If you are ready to begin your recovery journey and reclaim the life you deserve, contact us today to find out how we can help!

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