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!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: What Are Designer Drugs?

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!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Trauma Recovery and Addiction

Flexeril and Alcohol

Flexeril and Alcohol | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

Flexeril (cyclobenzaprine) is a muscle relaxer that works by blocking pain sensations sent to the brain. Flexeril is used to treat musculoskeletal conditions, including pain, injury, or spasms. Using muscle relaxers such as Flexeril and alcohol together can induce profound sedation, impaired cognition and motor function, chemical dependence, and accidental death.

Moreover, a person who uses these two substances is at an increased risk for respiratory depression and overdose, falls and injuries, auto accidents, seizures, and more. Both muscle relaxers and alcohol depress or inhibit activity in the central nervous system (CNS). This combined impact can lead to numerous risks, and under no circumstances should they ever be taken together.

What Are Muscle Relaxers?

Muscle relaxers (spasmolytics) are prescription medications that affect muscle function and decrease muscle tone. They may be used to relieve symptoms such as muscle spasms and pain, and to reduce muscle contractions in a variety of neurological conditions. They can help a person achieve greater mobility and, for some, provide relief from insomnia that results from these disorders.

The effects of muscle relaxers are caused by depression of the CNS and reduction of activity in the muscles. Muscle relaxers are not the preferred method for treating chronic disorders, such as low-back pain, due to their potential for misuse, dependence, and side effects. Instead, they are most beneficial when used for acute injuries.

Flexeril is among the most frequently abused muscle relaxers. However, the following are also commonly abused:

  • Carisoprodol (Soma)
  • Cyclobenzaprine (Amrix)
  • Dantrolene (Dantrium)
  • Metaxalone (Skelaxin)
  • Methocarbamol (Robaxin)
  • Tizanidine (Zanaflex)

Side Effects

The side effects of Flexeril will vary somewhat between different doses and from person to person, but, in general, they include the following:

  • Depression
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Impaired motor skills
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Impaired cognition
  • Hypotension
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Impaired vision
  • Rash

Muscle relaxers can make it challenging for a person to stay alert and think coherently, resulting in impairments to thought processes and decision-making capabilities. When used as directed by a physician, muscle relaxers are generally considered safe. However, when used in combination with alcohol or other drugs, they can have hazardous and sometimes life-threatening effects.

Flexeril and Alcohol | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

Alcohol Abuse

Although alcohol might initially make people feel more talkative and social as the result of an increase of dopamine, this stimulating effect is misleading and only temporary. When consumed in excessive amounts, alcohol can dramatically reduce activity in a person’s CNS and impede their ability to function correctly.

Alcohol abuse can result in the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Distorted vision
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Impaired cognition
  • Impaired motor skills
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Impulsivity
  • Poor decision-making
  • Memory problems
  • Sedation

Many of these effects are noticeably similar to those associated with the use of muscle relaxers. This similarity of effects is the main reason why it is so risky to mix these substances, as it results in an intensification of CNS depression.

Why Do People Combine Flexeril and Alcohol?

Muscle relaxers can cause feelings of relaxation and mild euphoria, effects which have compelled some to abuse their own prescription or someone else’s. Some people may also misuse these drugs as a method to self-medicate, induce sleep, or to alleviate the unpleasant symptoms that can occur with alcohol withdrawal.

These effects may occur when a person is using a muscle relaxer as prescribed and consumes alcohol with it, without realizing the potential for adverse interactions. It can also happen if a person has a drink a short time later before the medication has been eliminated from their system. The effects of most muscle relaxers endure for around 4-6 hours. Moreover, if a person begins drinking within a few hours after they use their medication, it will still be present in their system.

Muscle relaxers can be extremely powerful, and having just one drink in combination can cause uncomfortable and dangerous side effects. Still, a person may face even more severe risks when they deliberately abuse both drugs together to produce more intense and pleasurable effects.

When a person intentionally sets out to abuse a drug, he or she is far more likely to use it in large dosages. In these cases, “abuse” may mean that he or she takes doses in higher amounts or more often than prescribed. These behaviors raise the risk of overdose, dependence, and other detrimental health consequences.

The Risks of Combining Muscle Relaxers and Alcohol

Flexeril and Alcohol | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

The CNS depression and sedation produced by muscle relaxers can become hazardous when intensified by the effects of other intoxicating substances, such as alcohol, opioids, or benzodiazepines. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that consuming alcohol in combination with muscle relaxers may produce the following adverse reactions:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Increased risk of seizures
  • Increased risk of overdose
  • Slow or labored breathing
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Impaired motor control
  • Unusual or erratic behavior
  • Memory impairment

One of the greatest risks of this combination is severe motor impairment and loss of coordination and equilibrium. Together, the combined use of Flexeril and alcohol can make it difficult for a person to walk correctly and balance. This effect can result in a fall, especially when compounded by other symptoms such as dizziness and impaired vision.

Injuries that are caused by these effects can be very severe and even life-threatening. Motor impairment also makes it extraordinarily dangerous to drive a car or operate heavy machinery. Even when the two substances are used separately, they can slow a person’s reaction time and impair their perception, decision-making abilities, and cognition.

When Flexeril and alcohol are used in combination, these effects may become even more pronounced and intense. The profound sedation and respiratory depression that is caused by the combined use of these two drugs places an individual at a higher risk of overdose, a medical emergency that requires immediate assistance.

The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) reports that nearly one in five emergency department visits related to the misuse of muscle relaxers also involved alcohol. Overdose from Flexeril and alcohol can lead to death. If you suspect that you or a loved one is having an overdose, please call 911 immediately.

Treatment for Alcohol or Drug Abuse

Muscle relaxers such as Flexeril have the potential for abuse and addiction, as does alcohol. Abusing either of these substances places a person at risk of dependence, and abusing them in conjunction increases this risk even further.

When a person abuses one substance, their inhibitions are lowered, and their ability to reason is compromised. These are conditions that may make it more likely that they will abuse another substance and use it in higher amounts. Again, these are behaviors that heighten the risk of developing an addiction.

If a person is addicted to one or both of these drugs, treatment in a specialized rehab center should be sought to reduce the likelihood of future incidences of substance abuse and minimize all risks involved. Seeking treatment for the misuse of muscle relaxers and alcohol is essential to prevent further health complications and avoid life-threatening circumstances.

Recovery in Tune offers outpatient treatment comprised of evidence-based services clinically-proven to be vital for the recovery process. These services include psychotherapy, counseling, group support, health and wellness programs, aftercare planning, and more.

We are committed to helping our clients reclaim their lives and free themselves from the grip of addiction for good! Contact us today to discuss treatment options and find out how we can help!

Is It Safe to Combine Celexa and Alcohol?

Celexa and Alcohol | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

Is It Safe to Combine Celexa and Alcohol? – Celexa (citalopram) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), a class of antidepressants that are among the most commonly prescribed for the treatment of depression. Combining Celexa and alcohol is never recommended, and can increase the severity of side effects associated with Celexa, reduce its effectiveness, and also lead to other health complications.

What Is Celexa?

Celexa works on the brain to boost levels of serotonin in the brain, a chemical that helps regulate mood and emotions. Doctors often prescribe Celexa to treat mild-moderate depression, and it can take as long as four weeks for users to experience a noticeable difference in mood. In essence, Celexa rebalances the amount of serotonin in the brain—an imbalance of serotonin in the brain is believed the be a primary reason why people experience depression.

Should You Mix Celexa and Alcohol?

When a person starts using a medication, there is usually a range of potential side effects that occur as a result, and Celexa is no exception. Alcohol has many adverse side effects of its own, and consuming alcohol can further exacerbate the side effects of citalopram.

Celexa side effects may include the following:

  • Constipation
  • Nausea and upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased libido
  • Impotence
  • Difficulty having an orgasm
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Sleep problems (insomnia)
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased sweating
  • Frequent urination
  • Weight changes
  • Stuffy nose and sneezing
  • Sore throat and cough

Certain drug interactions or overdose may also cause serotonin syndrome—a serious and potentially life-threatening condition characterized by agitation, hallucinations, accelerated heart rate, dizziness, muscle tremors, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Celexa and Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol is a depressant, and using it in conjunction with other depressant drugs such as Celexa can have negative effects on one’s health. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends avoiding alcohol consumption while using Celexa.

Some of the risks of using Celexa with alcohol include:

  • Stupor
  • Intoxication
  • Impaired judgment
  • Feeling dazed
  • Lethargic
  • Increased risk of overdose

Long-Term Effects Of Combining Celexa and Alcohol

Alcohol can have powerful effects on a person’s physical and mental health. When alcohol is used with another drug, these adverse effects have a higher risk of emerging. Using Celexa and alcohol compounds the risk and severity of side effects associated with both substances.

Long-term effects of using Celexa with alcohol include the following:

  • Decreased effectiveness of Celexa
  • Increased risk of becoming chemically dependent on alcohol or developing an addiction
  • Increased risk of overdose, coma, and death

Celexa and alcohol side effects can also be heart-related and can cause serious issues that require immediate medical attention or hospitalization. For example, one of the specific Celexa and alcohol side effects that can occur is known as torsades de pointes, which is a severe irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that can lead to death.

Many people don’t realize that even a small amount of alcohol, when used with Celexa, can lead to an adverse reaction. If your doctor has prescribed you Celexa, consider taking an extended break from alcohol use in order to treat your depression appropriately with medication.

Alcohol and Depression

Celexa and Alcohol | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

Alcohol use has long been known to contribute to depression and even cause it. A person who has been prescribed Celexa will have been given permission to use this medication because they suffer from some level of clinical depression. For this reason, people who drink alcohol while using Celexa for depression will likely find that Celexa is not only less effective but that the effects of the alcohol itself serve to make their depression worse.

Celexa Withdrawal

While the side effects of combining Celexa and alcohol can be severe, it’s also vital that you don’t abruptly stop using this medication because you want to drink. Sudden discontinuation of Celexa can result in the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Rebound depression
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness and vertigo
  • Nightmares
  • Headache
  • Paresthesias

Treatment for Alcohol Abuse and Addiction

If you need addiction treatment for alcoholism, help is available. Recovery in Tune offers intensive outpatient and outpatient programs that include evidence-based services vital to the process of recovery, such as the following:

Intensive Outpatient Therapy

  • Group therapy
  • Individual counseling
  • Family counseling
  • Life skills training
  • Motivational training
  • Symptom management
  • Psychoeducation
  • Nutrition and wellness
  • Family dynamics education
  • Trauma recovery
  • Grief counseling
  • Drug abuse/relapse education
  • Co-occurring disorder treatment
  • Art and music therapy
  • Recreational therapies
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Yoga
  • Case management and aftercare
  • Legal assistance
  • Health and medical support
  • Employment/education support
  • 12-step programs
  • Psychiatric and medical services
  • Transportation for sober living

Outpatient Treatment

  • Evening group therapy
  • Individual counseling
  • Family counseling
  • Drug abuse/relapse education
  • Co-occurring disorder treatment
  • Life skills training
  • Motivational training
  • Trauma recovery
  • Art and music therapy
  • Recreational therapies
  • Case management and aftercare
  • Employment/education support
  • 12-step programs
  • Psychiatric and medical services
  • Transportation

People who enter our programs have either completed inpatient or partial-hospitalization programs or require scheduling flexibility that allows them to attend to personal obligations such as school, work, or family.

If you or someone you love is regularly consuming alcohol while using Celexa or any other antidepressant medication, call us today. Find out how we help people break free from the cycle of substance abuse for life!

How Long Does Oxycodone Stay in Your System?

How Long Does Oxycodone Stay in Your System? | Recovery in Tune

How Long Does Oxycodone Stay in Your System? 

Oxycodone is detectable for:

  • Urine test: 3-4 days
  • Hair test: 90 days
  • Blood test: 24 hours
  • Saliva: 4 days

The half-life of Oxycodone, which is the time required for half of the drug to be eliminated from the body, is between 3.5 to 5.5 hours. Despite only taking around a day for the body to rid itself of oxycodone, the process of breaking down the active ingredients creates byproducts called metabolites, which are detected by these tests.

The length of time oxycodone stays in a person’s system is determined by several factors, including the following:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Weight
  • Height
  • Body fat percentage
  • Body mass index
  • Presence of food in GI tract
  • Kidney and liver function
  • Dosage consumed
  • Duration of consumption
  • Presence of alcohol or other opioid drugs

Oxycodone Facts

As a prescription medication, oxycodone is indicated to treat short-term moderate to severe pain such as from trauma, injury or surgery, but has also been used to treat chronic pain such as that related to cancer or palliative care. Oxycodone may be taken by itself or in combination with another medication, such as aspirin or acetaminophen.

Oxycodone can be administered in many different forms, such as by tablet, capsule, liquid solution, injection, suppository, or intranasally (snorting).

Brand names for oxycodone include the following:

  • Tylox
  • Percodan
  • OxyContin
  • Percocet
  • Roxicet
  • Endocet
  • Percodan
  • Endodan
  • Roxicodone
  • Oxynorm
  • Endone
  • Proladone
  • Targin
  • Xtampza

How Does Oxycodone Work?

Opioid-based substances stimulate the production of beta-endorphins, mitigating pain. Alongside the analgesic effect, beta-endorphins repress the production of GABA. GABA, when released, inhibits the production of dopamine.
Therefore, opioids increase dopamine concentrations in the brain, inducing feelings of happiness and euphoria. These effects can cause users to become dependent upon and addicted to opioids.

Oxycodone Abuse Or Addiction

Compared to other opioids, oxycodone is moderately potent, but still carries a high potential for abuse and habit formation. Oxycodone abuse may not be immediately noticeable because it can be legally obtained by prescription and sans drug paraphernalia. Because of this, it is important to know and be able to recognize the immediate effects of oxycodone, which include the following:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Apathy
  • Drowsiness
  • Decreased attention span
  • Slowed breathing
  • Flushed appearance

Oxycodone has many useful medical applications that help many people. Still, the dangers associated with its misuse are becoming more and more apparent. The euphoria induced by oxycodone motivates repeated use, which in turn increases the likelihood the user will develop dependence. Likewise, as with other opioids, oxycodone dependence develops rather quickly, contributing to its potential for abuse and addiction.

Side-effects of oxycodone abuse include the following:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness or faintness
  • Tiredness
  • Confusion and poor concentration
  • Restlessness
  • Blurred vision
  • Stiff muscles
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Stomach ache, nausea, and vomiting
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Excess sweating
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty walking and poor motor coordination
  • Itchy skin/mild allergic rash
  • Vivid dreams
  • Seizures
  • Low blood pressure
  • Respiratory depression
  • Mood swings
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Dental problems
  • Swollen limbs
  • Heart failure

Alarmingly high overdose potential

Perhaps the most significant threat posed by oxycodone is its alarmingly high overdose potential. Oxycodone is a central nervous system depressant, and for this reason, abuse can result in seizures, cardiac arrest, coma, and death, especially when crushed tablets are snorted.

Furthermore, the probability of oxycodone overdose is dramatically increased when taken in conjunction with either alcohol, opiate/opioid, or another central nervous depressant.

Warning signs and symptoms of oxycodone overdose include the following:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Very slowed, stopped or labored breathing
  • Widened pupils
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Cold or clammy skin
  • Bluing of the lips, fingers, or extremities
  • Uncontrollable vomiting
  • Choking sounds
  • Extreme confusion
  • Marked impairments in thought, speech, and motor functions
  • Dangerously low blood pressure or heart rate
  • Fainting or unconsciousness
  • Limpness
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

Getting Help: Oxycodone

How Long Does Oxycodone Stay in Your System? | Recovery in Tune

Addiction to oxycodone is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical assistance. Patients typically begin treatment with the help of specialists who develop a plan for detox and long-term therapy counseling.

A clinical detox is a medically-supervised process that provides patients with around-the-clock supervision and mental/physical healthcare to lessen severe withdrawal symptoms and avoid complications. Detox can take several days to complete and should be following by inpatient in intensive outpatient treatment for a minimum of 30 days.

Inpatient or rehab treatment involves a residential stay at the center 24/7 for several weeks while participating in behavioral therapy, counseling, and support groups. These patients benefit from constant supervision and support in a safe environment free from substances and the possibility of relapse.

During intensive outpatient treatment or IOP, the patient lives at a personal residence or sober living home while engaging in therapy and counseling, and attending group support meeting several times per week.

An outpatient format is recommended for those who need more flexibility to attend to critical life responsibilities or who have already completed a residential stay. Moreover, after inpatient treatment, patients can continue to benefit from ongoing therapeutic/support services while in the transition back to their normal lives.

Patients can also take advantage of aftercare planning services which help them locate resources outside of the center, such as psychiatric services or 12-step programs for ongoing recovery and support. Our center also hosts alumni events that allow former patients to reconnect and enjoy continuous peer group activity throughout the year.

If you or a loved one live with an addiction to oxycodone, contact us today. Call and speak to a representative to learn how individualized treatment programs address addiction and any co-occurring mental health disorders.

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Oxycodone Effects and Symptoms

Health Risks of Combining Ritalin and Alcohol

Ritalin and Alcohol | Health Risks | Recovery in Tune

Health Risks of Combining Ritalin and Alcohol – Like most potentially intoxicating substances, Ritalin and alcohol both have risks associated with their use. When Ritalin is used as directed by a physician, the chances of severe side effects are slim—the same can be said for moderate drinking. When these substances are combined, however, the chances of encountering adverse effects increase exponentially.

What Is Ritalin?

Ritalin is a prescription stimulant drug that contains the active ingredient methylphenidate used to treat symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD is characterized by difficulty with focus and sometimes problems with impulsivity. While mild versions of these symptoms are common among children, those with ADHD experience more severe symptoms, tend to be hyperactive, and, if left untreated, often do not grow out of this behavior as they get older.

Ritalin Abuse

Ritalin is commonly abused for its stimulant effects, which include increased focus and alertness, decreased appetite, and intense feelings of well-being. When Ritalin is abused, it is often not obtained through lawful means.

Relatively few people who have ADHD and have legitimate prescriptions for it engage in misuse. In fact, the effects of Ritalin on people who have ADHD are different than those who do not have the disorder.

Instead, those who abuse Ritalin often obtain the substance from friends or family members with prescriptions buy buying them or stealing them. In some cases, people may visit doctors and falsify symptoms of ADHD to obtain prescriptions. Ritalin can also be purchased on the black market.

Ritalin abuse is most often seen among teens and young adults, and ADHD drugs, such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Modafinil, are commonly referred to as “smart drugs.” Students believe that the drug can increase attention and focus, thus allowing them to stay up all night cramming for a test or to finish a paper. Despite this popular belief, statistics suggest that those who abuse Ritalin and other prescription stimulants, for this reason, tend to perform less well academically than those who don’t use them.

Ritalin is not considered addictive when taken in the prescribed amount as directed. However, when a user increases the dosage or uses other forms of administration (e.g., crushing and snorting), the potential for addiction increases. Also, the addictive potential rises if a person who doesn’t have a legitimate medical need uses the drug for recreational purposes.

Alcohol Abuse

Ritalin and Alcohol | Health Risks | Recovery in Tune

Although alcohol is legal for purchase and use among people 21 and older in the U.S., it can have harmful effects on the brain. Effects include the following: changes in mood and behavior, reduced inhibitions, confusion, and motor function impairments.

Long-term, excessive abuse of alcohol can have severe effects on the body and result in a variety of health conditions, including the following:

  • Stroke
  • Liver disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased risk of several forms of cancer

An alcohol use disorder (AUD) is described as any type of problematic drinking, or when drinking affects a person’s life in adverse ways. This problem can range from binge drinking to full-blown alcoholism and physical dependence. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), at least 15 million adults suffer from an AUD, and more than 80,000 people die each year from alcohol-related causes.

Combining Ritalin and Alcohol

It is not safe to mix Ritalin and alcohol under any circumstances. Despite this, it is not uncommon for recreational users to combine the two because Ritalin is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant. Users may do so as a means to counteract the unwanted effects of either substance. For example, a person may use Ritalin to offset the depressant or sedative effects of alcohol, and this may allow him or her to party for longer and drink more.

Combining these two substances can lead to unpredictable effects, such as an increase in heart rate to dangerous levels and high blood pressure. Problems with irregular sleeping patterns and mood swings can develop from mixing Ritalin and alcohol as well. Some users of both substances also experience an increase in anxiety, which can drive further self-medication and perpetuate an increasingly dangerous and burdensome cycle of drug abuse.

Because Ritalin’s stimulant properties can counteract some of the effects of alcohol, this can lead to overdrinking to perilous levels and result in alcohol poisoning. Acute alcohol poisoning is life-threatening and can also cause other severe health complications. In addition, drinking alcohol can cause more Ritalin to be released into the bloodstream, and this higher concentration can quickly lead to dependence as the body adapts to the presence of higher amounts of the stimulant.

Once physical dependence develops, withdrawal symptoms will occur when the person tries to quit using the substance. The same level of physical dependence can also quickly develop with long-term alcohol abuse. In cases of dependence on more than one substance, withdrawal is more complicated, and medical supervision is always required.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), health providers should be cautious about prescribing Ritalin to any person who also has a history of substance abuse, including alcohol. Substance abuse tendencies can lead to overuse of drugs, such as Ritalin, as well as an increased tolerance for it.

Long-Term Effects of Ritalin and Alcohol

Ritalin and Alcohol | Health Risks | Recovery in Tune

While the short-term effects of combining Ritalin and alcohol are certainly significant, there are also chronic problems that can manifest as a result of co-occurring abuse. Nutritional deficits are common, as Ritalin often suppresses appetite and alcoholics often have deficiencies in key nutrients, such as thiamine. Liver disease can also occur mostly due to the consumption of alcohol and its damaging effects.

A loss of energy is also common for those abusing these substances, which can encourage a person to increase their consumption of Ritalin or other stimulants in an effort to combat fatigue and lethargy. Agitation, irritability, and erratic sleep patterns can also be encountered by those who mix Ritalin and alcohol.

Depression is another potential long-term effect of using both Ritalin and alcohol. Depression is a remarkably common and troublesome symptom of addiction, and it can contribute to further substance abuse. The link between depression and substance abuse has been well-documented, and this particular drug combination is not immune to it.

Treatment for Polysubstance Abuse

Ritalin and alcohol are both common substances of abuse and can be very dangerous even when abused alone. However, mixing these two substances places an individual at higher risk for dangerous complications, both in the short- and long-term.

Ritalin’s pervasiveness among young adults makes this combination particularly dangerous, as underage persons and binge-drinkers are among those at highest risk for alcohol poisoning. Ritalin’s capacity to mask the immediate effects of alcohol can also lead to the consumption of a dangerous amount, thus contributing to an overdose of either or both substances.

The abuse of Ritalin, alcohol, or multiple substances should be treated seriously. Professional treatment that includes evidence-based services, such as psychotherapy and drug counseling, is needed to address polysubstance abuse and co-occurring conditions, such as anxiety or depression.

Recovery in Tune offers comprehensive addiction treatment programs that can help those who are suffering from addiction begin their journey to recovery. If you or someone you love is abusing Ritalin, alcohol, or other substances, call us today to discuss treatment options!

Signs of Cocaine Addiction

Signs of Cocaine Addiction | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

Signs of Cocaine Addiction – It can require diligence to identify a cocaine abuse problem in a loved one, and knowing what signs and symptoms to look for is critical. These signs will gradually become more severe and apparent to others over time as the person descends further and further into addiction. Eventually, they will become impossible to ignore.

Cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant that produces a surge in dopamine, a feel-good chemical in the brain. This action results in a brief boost of energy, increased alertness, hyperactivity, and an elevated mood. These effects make cocaine extremely addictive, and persons who repeatedly use cocaine are at a high risk of becoming dependent.

Signs of Cocaine Use

Initial signs of cocaine use can be subtle when compared to full-blown addiction. Indeed, the physical and mental signs of cocaine use become more increasingly evident in proportion to the behavioral effects of addiction.

Several signs imply the presence of a substance use disorder involving cocaine, including the following:

  • Strange or abnormal behavior
  • Secretiveness and providing suspicious answers to questions
  • Social withdrawal or neglect of old friends in favor of new ones
  • Neglect of important responsibilities involving school, work, or family
  • Impulsivity
  • Manic, hyperactive behavior
  • New or worsening financial troubles
  • Legal problems
  • White powdery smudges on skin, clothing, or other belongings, particularly around the nose and face

Compared to many drugs, cocaine is relatively expensive. Therefore, a regular cocaine habit may require the person to engage in risky behaviors to afford it, including the following:

  • Taking side jobs
  • Taking out loans
  • Selling drugs
  • Repeatedly asking to borrow money
  • Stealing money or personal possessions from friends and family
  • Withdrawing funds from savings accounts, 401K, or retirement

Cocaine Addiction

A cocaine habit often hijacks the user’s brain and compels him or her to engage in compulsive drug-seeking behavior despite the incurrence of negative consequences. These outcomes are huge red flags, and may include the following:

  • Being suspended from or dropping out of school
  • Quitting or getting fired from a job
  • Extreme debt or bankruptcy
  • Strained or failed relationships
  • Ongoing legal trouble or incarceration

Cocaine abuse and cocaine addiction are two disorders on the same spectrum but are not the same thing. Addiction is characterized by dependence, tolerance, and drug-seeking behavior. Tolerance and dependence develop over time as the person continues to use cocaine and the brain changes and adapts to the substance’s persistent presence.

Cocaine tolerance begins to develop during the early stages of use and grows over time. Tolerance means that users will need increasingly higher doses to achieve the desired effect. Both cocaine abuse and full-blown addiction can cause physiological and emotional distress that may require emergency room visits, hospital stays, or psychological intervention to address.

Symptoms of Cocaine Use

Signs of Cocaine Addiction | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

Common symptoms related to cocaine use include the following:

  • Insomnia
  • Hypersomnia
  • Increased anxiety
  • Social isolation
  • Reduced attention span
  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Severe mood swings
  • Hyperstimulation
  • Hyperactivity
  • Elevated mood
  • Hypervigilance
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations

Due to the chemical instabilities induced by cocaine, erratic and explosive mood swings are common among users. When a loved one is struggling with a cocaine problem, they may act cold and distant, and become nearly unrecognizable from the person they once were. When this occurs, loved ones may be pushed away, sometimes too far to recognize the changes in the person’s behavior as they manifest. Unfortunately, the more these changes intensify, the more urgent the situation becomes.

Physical Signs of Cocaine Addiction

Physical symptoms caused by cocaine abuse and addiction can vary from mild to severe. Because every person’s body is different, cocaine doesn’t affect everyone in the same way. Regardless of whether these symptoms are mild or severe, however, the problem remains a serious one that has the potential to be life-threatening.

Common physical symptoms related to cocaine use include the following:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Excessive sniffling
  • Runny or bloody nose
  • Dry mouth and throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Twitching or shaking
  • Dark undereye circles
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Stomach aches
  • Nausea
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Accelerated heart rate

Once a person has developed a physiological dependence on cocaine, withdrawal symptoms manifest if the drug is abruptly discontinued.

Symptoms associated with cocaine withdrawal may include the following:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Seizures
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Intense drug cravings
  • Excessive sleeping

Cocaine is a very powerful substance that has side effects that may vary depending on how much of the drug was used, the person’s natural body chemistry, and other substances present in the person’s system. Cocaine may also be mixed with harmful adulterants or other drugs that can contribute to overdose or sudden death.

Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Use

The longer cocaine addiction continues, the higher the risk of damage to the brain’s ability to function. Sometimes, in addition to physicians, other specialists and therapists are needed to treat long-term cocaine users effectively. And, unfortunately, some of the adverse consequences induced by cocaine use are irreversible.

Long-term health consequences may include the following:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Lung damage
  • Chronic nosebleeds
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Seizures and convulsions
  • Nasal tissue damage
  • Reduced sense of smell
  • Profound weight loss
  • Malnourishment
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Impotence
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Bowel deterioration
  • Reproductive complications
  • Movement disorders

In general, the more a cocaine addiction becomes entangled into a person’s psychology, the riskier his or her lifestyle will become. As such, cocaine abuse may result in additional health risks, such as the following:

  • Unplanned pregnancy
  • Fetal cocaine exposure
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) from unprotected sex
  • Diseases from unsterile needles, such as HIV and hepatitis

Long-term cocaine use is also associated with deep psychological distress, such as paranoia and hallucinations. Some research has found that cognitive functions such as memory and motor control may be impaired by long-term abuse. Furthermore, cocaine abuse is closely linked to heart failure and premature death.

Signs of Cocaine Addiction | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

Signs of a Cocaine Overdose

Although cocaine use can be dangerous at any dose, the drug’s hazardous potential significantly increases when it is consumed at very high amounts. The addictive properties of cocaine make it easy to overlook the excessive amounts one is using to maintain a high, which is very short in duration.

If a person has developed a tolerance, this in of itself can contribute to life-threatening effects as they continue to increase their dose, chasing a high that has become more and more difficult to achieve. An overdose of cocaine is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment.

Signs and symptoms of a cocaine overdose can include the following:

  • Panic
  • Delirium
  • Delusions
  • Hyperthermia
  • Convulsions and seizures
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Heart failure
  • Cerebral hemorrhage
  • Shock
  • Kidney failure
  • Stroke
  • Coma

If an overdose is not treated immediately, the risk of heart failure and death significantly increase. Statistics have also revealed a strong correlation between cocaine overdoses and toxic interactions of cocaine with other substances.

For example, in 2015, more than half of known overdoses involving cocaine in the U.S. also included opioids. In fact, more than one-third (37%) of these deaths involved heroin—combining cocaine and heroin produces a very powerful and deadly mixture known as a speedball.

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine addiction is most effectively treated using a comprehensive approach to addiction. Recovery in Tune offers customized, evidence-based treatment that includes services vital to recovery, such as psychotherapy, drug counseling, group support, health and wellness programs, and aftercare planning.

Recovery from addiction is a lifelong process, but you don’t have to do it alone. We can help you break free from the chains of addiction and reclaim the fulfilling life you deserve!

Identifying the Signs & Symptoms of Addiction

Symptoms of Addiction | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

Identifying the Signs & Symptoms of Addiction – Many people begin experimenting with drugs or alcohol in response to peer influences, out of curiosity, or in a misguided attempt to cope with daily stress, mental illness, or a history of trauma. Others develop abusive patterns related to the use of prescription drugs, such as opioids and benzodiazepines, that have a potential for dependence and addiction, despite their legitimate therapeutic value.

Fortunately, not everyone who abuses drugs or alcohol will go on to develop a substance use disorder. Unfortunately, though, there is no way to predict if a person’s substance use habits will develop into an addiction. There are specific factors, however, that have been recognized as contributing forces in a person’s predilection toward addiction.

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

Risk Factors

Investigators have revealed several risk factors that can make a person more susceptible to developing a substance use disorder. Of note, the existence of one or more of these factors does not necessarily imply that addiction will develop, but their presence does increase the likelihood that it may occur.

Among the most common risk factors that indicate a person may develop an addiction include the following:

  • Having a close relative(s) who was diagnosed with a substance use disorder, especially if they are a first-degree relative (e.g., parent or sibling)
  • Being diagnosed with a mental health condition such as anxiety, major depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, etc.
  • A history of childhood trauma, such as poverty, neglect, and physical or psychological abuse
  • Early age initiation—the earlier a person begins using alcohol or drugs, the greater the potential that addiction will develop
  • A history of childhood aggressiveness, violence, or having poor social skills
  • A history of inadequate parental supervision in childhood
  • General availability of intoxicating substances
  • The type of drug used and the most common method of administration (e.g., a person who injects heroin is significantly more likely to develop a severe addiction versus a person who only smokes marijuana)

Physical and Behavioral Effects

Substance use disorders are hallmarked by a person’s patterns of drug or alcohol use, the effects this use induces, and an inability to control use despite the incurrence of a number of adverse effects.

Common physical signs and symptoms of addiction include the following:

  • Changes in one’s behavior, such as becoming unreliable and irresponsible, becoming less involved with or withdrawing from friends or family, and failing to fulfill important obligations
  • Physical changes, such as notable and unexplained weight loss or gain, skin sores, dental hygiene problems, nosebleeds, or an overall unkempt appearance
  • Neglect of appearance and personal hygiene
  • Red, bloodshot, or glassy eyes or chronic congestion
  • Basic lifestyle patterns that appear negatively altered, such as sleeping too much or not enough
  • Sudden and repeated complaints of feeling ill or experiencing flu-like symptoms (physical signs of withdrawal)
  • Requiring more of a substance to achieve the same effect that was once induced at lower doses (tolerance)

Emotional and Social Effects

Substance use disorders are characterized by a combination of both physical and psychological problems associated with the excessive use of drugs or alcohol.

Some of the psychological and emotional signs and symptoms of addiction include the following:

  • Mood swings, depression, irritability, agitation, and aggression
  • Intense cravings for drugs or alcohol
  • Resorting to substance abuse as a means to cope with stress or unwanted thoughts and feelings
  • Continuing to believe that one’s substance use is “normal” or not problematic despite the incurrence of multiple adverse consequences, such as financial or legal issues, tense relationships, poor academic performance, or loss of employment
  • Becoming defensive when confronted about substance abuse
  • Experiencing alternating episodes of unusual hyperactivity and overexcitement with depression and irritability
  • Experiencing periods of fatigue and exhibiting a lack of motivation
  • Having unexplainable episodes of high anxiety, intense fear, or paranoia
  • Experiencing feelings of severe depression, anxiety, and intense cravings that manifest after attempting to quit using a substance, and may be followed shortly by relapse (psychological signs of withdrawal)

Symptoms of Addiction | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

Other Warning Signs

Several clear warning signs may suggest that a loved one has developed a substance use disorder. While only a licensed health provider can formally diagnose a substance use disorder, concerned family members or friends can reference these signs and symptoms of addiction and urge their loved one to undergo a substance abuse evaluation and seek professional treatment if needed.

In addition to the previously mentioned physical and emotional signs, other red flags that loved ones can look out for include the following:

  • Abrupt and radical changes in mood or personality in combination with known drug or alcohol use
  • Unusual deception and secretiveness
  • Association with a new and possibly sketchy social circle that appears to glorify and engage in substance abuse
  • Frequent examples of significant problems involving family, friends, coworkers, and peers that didn’t usually occur before
Diagnosing a Substance Use Disorder

Formal diagnostic criteria that indicate the presence of a substance use disorder include the following:

  • Continuing to use a substance despite the incurrence of significant damaging effects related to work, relationships, health, education, and other areas of life
  • Frequently using more of the substance or for a longer period than was initially intended
  • Spending a significant amount of time obtaining drugs or alcohol and recovering from use
  • Experiencing persistent cravings for the drug of choice
  • The neglect of important obligations in favor of substance use
  • Using a substance in situations where it may be hazardous, such as driving while impaired, using the substance at work or school, and combining it with other intoxicating substances
  • Being unable to reduce or discontinue the use of a substance despite communicating a desire to do so
  • Developing a tolerance to a substance and encountering withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation of use

Finding Treatment

Symptoms of Addiction | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

Among the most enduring and harmful myths surrounding addiction is that a person should hit “rock bottom” before seeking help and entering a rehab program. In truth, however, the only thing required to begin an addiction treatment program is the motivation to take the first step. In general, the earlier one receives help, the easier it is to kick the addiction.

Despite what some might suggest, substance use disorders are considered to be very treatable conditions. Many people who receive appropriate treatment go on to enjoy sober, healthy, and fulfilling lives.

Approaches to addiction treatment vary depending on the person’s unique profile and the type of substance used. Effective professional treatment, however, typically consists of the following:

  • A comprehensive physical and psychological assessment employed to identify all problem areas, including mental health conditions and a history of trauma
  • Detox and withdrawal management that can be performed on an inpatient or outpatient basis
  • Targeted addiction therapy that helps identify the specific factors that contribute to substance abuse
  • Training to facilitate the development of coping and relapse prevention skills
  • Diagnosis and treatment for comorbid psychological or physical conditions in conjunction with substance use disorder treatment
  • Administration of medications, if prudent, to mitigate cravings and withdrawal symptoms, or manage the symptoms of a mental health disorder
  • Strong social support from loved ones through family therapy, friends, and peers who are also in recovery
  • Informed long-term aftercare planning that is designed to promote a lifestyle consistent with recovery

Harmony Recovery is dedicated to helping all clients we serve by providing them with the education, tools, resources, and support they need to achieve abstinence and experience long-lasting sobriety. Contact us today to discuss treatment options and discover how we can help you begin your journey to recovery!

Neurontin Abuse

Neurontin Abuse | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

Neurontin Abuse – Neurontin is the most commonly known brand name for gabapentin, a prescription drug approved for the treatment of neuropathic pain and epilepsy. As a relatively new drug, gabapentin’s precise mechanism of action and potential adverse side effects are still being researched.

Experts believe that gabapentin works by releasing a neurotransmitter in the brain called GABA, which functions as a minor tranquilizer that can produce a mild high in some users. It also promotes feelings of calmness, relaxation, and increased sociability, and may be misused by those who use multiple substances to compound the effects of other drugs or alcohol.

Side effects of Neurontin use may include the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of memory
  • Impaired coordination
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Viral infections
  • Tremors
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Fever
  • Erratic eye movements
  • Jerky body movements
  • Depression

Is Neurontin Addictive?

Neurontin can be habit forming but not typically in the same way as many other drugs of abuse. This difference is because, besides GABA, Neurontin does not appear to influence other neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine, unlike many other substances that affect the central nervous system (CNS), including opioids or alcohol.

For this reason, gabapentin is thought to have a lower potential for abuse and addiction, so it is not included in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of controlled substances in the United States. Despite a low potential for addiction, Neurontin does have some properties similar to other drugs of abuse and can induce mild psychoactive effects and result in withdrawal symptoms if a user tries to quit abruptly. Withdrawal symptoms are a telltale sign of dependence, a condition that occurs over time as a product of chronic, repeated drug or alcohol use.

Common gabapentin withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Teariness
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Irritability
  • Changes in appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Restlessness
  • Itching
  • Muscle pain or spasms
  • Stomach pain
  • Sweating
  • Seizures

Neurontin Abuse | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

When using Neurontin as directed by a doctor, side effects such as those listed above are not necessarily a sign of addiction. Symptoms related to Neurontin abuse may be more obvious and include addictive behaviors, such as the following:

  • Lying about symptoms or exaggerating their intensity to physicians in an attempt to get more Neurontin
  • Visiting multiple doctors or pharmacies (doctor shopping) trying to get more Neurontin
  • Switching doctors when the original physician denies the patient access to Neurontin
  • Adverse changes in friends, social behavior, or personal hygiene
  • Preoccupation with obtaining and using Neurontin
  • Refusal to quit despite negative social, financial, or legal implications
  • Multiple failed attempts to quit (relapse)
  • Development of tolerance (an increasing amount of the drug is needed to achieve the desired effect)

Who Misuses or Abuses Neurontin?

In a study conducted using data collected by six addiction treatment facilities, clinical researchers found that 22% of survey respondents reported abusing gabapentin and pregabalin (both gabapentinoids) in conjunction with methadone.

Another study revealed that rates of Neurontin misuse tend to vary depending on the population in question. For example, the incidence of Neurontin misuse among the general population is only about 1%. However, among those who abuse opioids, this rate is as high as 22%, and among people with Neurontin prescriptions, as much as 40-65%.

Neurontin Overdose

The likelihood of death from an overdose on Neurontin by itself is extremely low. However, as a CNS depressant, gabapentin can adversely and unpredictably interact with other drugs, such as opioids, and enhance their effects. These effects may be severe and result in harm to oneself or others, so you should never use Neurontin in conjunction with another substance unless directed by a doctor.

Symptoms of a drug overdose may include the following:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach cramps and diarrhea
  • Dizziness and loss of balance
  • Seizures
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Shallow or labored breathing
  • Stopped breathing
  • Visual disturbances
  • Congested snoring
  • Cyanosis
  • Unconsciousness
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Coma
  • Death

Treatment for Neurontin Abuse

Neurontin abuse is a potentially serious condition that should be addressed by medical or addiction professionals. People who misuse or abuse gabapentin often abuse other substances, including benzodiazepines, sedatives, opioids, or alcohol.

Also, many people who engage in prescription drug abuse suffer from co-occurring mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety. These disorders should always be addressed and treated in conjunction with substance abuse.

Treatment for Neurontin abuse involves specialized care, including comprehensive, evidence-based approaches that make use of psychotherapy, individual and family counseling, group support, health and wellness programs, and aftercare planning.

Our goal is to provide each client with the tools and support they need to achieve a full recovery, prevent relapse, and enjoy long-lasting wellness and sobriety. We employ highly-trained addiction professionals who deliver evidence-based, therapeutic services to our clients with care and expertise.

If you or someone you know is abusing prescription medications, illicit drugs, or alcohol, please contact us as soon as possible for a free consultation and to discuss treatment options. We are dedicated to helping people free themselves from the grips of substance abuse and addiction and reclaim the fulfilling and healthy lives they deserve!