Tag Archives: Addiction

Stages of Addiction

Stages of Addiction - Fight Addiction Now

Stages of Addiction

In 2017, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that 1 in 12 American adults suffer from a Substance Use Disorder (SUD). So what are SUDs and how does someone go from experimental use to a full blown addiction? While everyone may have a different story, the causes and stages of addiction can be generally categorized into a few recognizable steps. Being able to identify the steps can be crucial in preventing SUDs.

What is a Substance Use Disorder (SUD)?

Drug addiction or medically known as SUD, is a disease where an individual is unable to control their desire to use legal or illegal drugs. Drugs are anything that has a physiological effect when introduced to the body (such as snorting, drinking, smoking, etc). Some common drugs include alcohol, nicotine and marijuana.

Stage 1: Experimentation

Most addictions start with experimentation. It is not unusual to see experimentation occur early on in someone’s life. While it may not directly lead to an addiction, it does open the door for future use. According to a 2013 survey from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 3.841 million people tried alcohol for the first time between the ages of 12-20 years old. Experimentation may occur for a variety of reasons such as:

  • Peer pressure
  • Pure curiosity
  • Availability of drugs (opportunity)
  • Mental health issues

Most people who experiment with drugs are looking for the social benefits they have heard about, whether it is because a friend recommended it or media and culture presents it as a positive experience. For example, alcohol is prevalent in media and most cultures around the world. People usually view it as a fun substance that takes the edge off in social situations. Many teens and young adults likely see no harm in trying a few drinks. A lot of media depicts alcohol use while rarely showing consequences. You could even binge drink and still technically not move past the experimentation phase as college students and party goers will typically binge drink at parties and social atmospheres. 

Fight Addiction Now - Stages of Addiction

At this stage, there are no cravings and the desire to continue use may not even appear with some drugs. However, the possibility remains that further experimentation with other drugs occur. With certain substances, like alcohol impairing judgment, people are more open to risk. This is likely why a great number of people are open to trying other various substances. That is not to say alcohol use alone absolutely leads to experimentation or addiction to other substances. Simply it is a potential factor.

Stages of Addiction - Fight Addiction Now

Stage 2: Regular Use

At this stage, individuals will incorporate a drug into their daily routine whether they are aware of it or not. Everyday use may not occur but there is a pattern to your use. Even if it becomes a weekend-use drug or it is purely circumstantial (ex. you use it when you’re stressed or bored), it is still considered regular use. 

You may not be fully addicted at this point but it is possible for regular use to lead to addiction. 

Stage 3: Problem/Risky Use

With risky use, the drug has now become a negative influence in your life. It is possible this is because you are missing school or work or engaging in dangerous behavior such as driving under the influence. Your relationships begin to deteriorate and your behavior begins to change for the worse.

Stages of Addiction - Fight Addiction Now

Stage 4: Substance Use Disorder/Addiction

SUD is a chronic disease which means it is slow to develop and may be hard to notice at first. You begin to have desires and crave the drug and feel as if you cannot function without it. Depending on the drug, you will develop a tolerance which means you will not be able to use the same amount every time as the ‘high’ you experience decrease. This will cause you to use higher doses in order to achieve the desired feeling. Unfortunately, the risk of overdosing increases once you develop a tolerance because you will be chasing that first high experience. 

Psychological dependence will fully develop at this stage because you feel as if you cannot function or be happy unless you take the drug. Physical dependence will also develop at this stage in the form of withdrawals.

Criteria for SUDs

The American Psychological Association (APA) recently updated its manual on SUD diagnosis (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders- DSM-5) to help better understand what is medically considered as an addiction. It is divided into 3 categories with a list of traits which determine which category an individual would be considered under. 

Those who meet:

  • 2-3 criteria are considered to have a mild disorder
  • 4-5 criteria are considered to have a moderate disorder
  • 6+ criteria are considered to have a severe disorder

Some of the criteria includes:

  1. The substance is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
  2. There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful effort to cut down or control use of the substance.
  3. Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use the substance, occurs.
  4. Continual use of substance results in issues with significant obligations in work, school or home
  5. Use of the substance continues despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of its use.

More information is available in the APA DSM-5 guide. Knowing the criteria and the stages of addiction are helpful in recognizing one’s own problems or their loved one’s potential issues.

What causes addiction?

Addiction is often confusing at first glance because it is hard to wrap your mind around why you have desires to do things that you know are not good for you. It comes down to the chemistry of your brain. Our brain contains a chemical known as dopamine. Dopamine is known as the ‘feel good’ chemical. It releases in our body when we do things that are pleasurable such as eating, drinking or having sex. In our primitive days, it is what would motivate us to hunt, gather and produce offspring.

Drugs such as alcohol promote the release of dopamine in the body. Dopamine is responsible for a feeling of euphoria commonly associated with drug use. Our desire to feel a sense of euphoria or feel good in general will cause us to replicate or continue those actions which produce it- such as drinking alcohol. As our bodies develop a tolerance to a drug, our desire to chase that dopamine high will encourage the use of higher doses.

Treatment

The stages of addiction are not universal, nor are they complete for every individual’s experience. Nonetheless, knowing the stages of addiction is helpful for many people to be wary of substance use and abuse. Treatment for SUDs can be challenging but it is most certainly possible. The very nature of addiction means that relapse is not only possible, but likely. It is important for treatment to include a plan to prevent and manage relapse.

Completely curing an addiction takes time and dedication as well as a very fundamental change in the behavior of the individual. Addiction to multiple substances does make treatment more challenging. That is why it is more important than anything to find a competent treatment center equipped to handle all of your needs. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact us today.

 

Resources:

The National Council – SAMHSA National Survey on Drug Use and Health

SAMHSA – 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

National Institute on Drug Abuse – The Science of Drug Use and Addiction

What is the difference between Crack and Cocaine?

crack vs cocaine

Crack VS Cocaine

Crack vs Cocaine: Cocaine is a white powdered drug which originates from the coca plant and is native to South America. In contrast, crack cocaine, usually referred to as just crack, is a strong derivative of pure cocaine which is sold in a crystal rock form. Both drugs are highly addictive substances which have very negative side effects if abused. 

Overview of Cocaine and Crack

Cocaine is a very powerful stimulant chemical found in the leaves of the coca plant. Natives in the region would commonly chew on the leaves in order to extract the cocaine for thousands of years. Nowadays, cocaine is isolated and extracted from the leaf as cocaine hydrochloride. Cocaine is typically snorted or injected. The powdered street form of cocaine will often be ‘cut’ by dealers with other non-active substances such as cornstarch in order to boost their profits. However, there has been a recent increase in fentanyl-laced cocaine being sold which has caused a serious increase in overdoses over the past few years given the potency of fentanyl. For more in-depth information on cocaine and addiction resources visit here.

Crack (also referred to as freebase cocaine) is a potent derivative of cocaine which is obtained by mixing the powdered form with water and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). Boiling the mixture helps solidify it in to a hard rock form which also removes most of the addictive hydrochlorides found in pure cocaine- however it does not completely rid the drug of its other addictive qualities. Crack gets its name from the crackling noise made when smoking the drug- which is typically done using a crack pipe.

Cocaine is officially listed as a schedule II drug by the Controlled Substance Act. According to the DEA, a schedule II drug has a very high potential for abuse but may have some limited medical uses. Cocaine may be used by medical professionals as an anesthesia for some surgeries. Given that crack is a form of cocaine, it falls under the same scheduling, however, crack has no approved medical uses.

Effects of Crack vs. Cocaine

The intensity of any high with any drug is mostly related to the way in which it is consumed. Snorting cocaine will take more time to reach the brain as it has to be absorbed by the blood vessels in the nose, sent to the heart, pumped to the lungs to become oxygenated and then sent to the brain. Whereas smoking the drug allows it to skip passing through the heart and go straight to the brain- typically taking 10-15 seconds to reach the brain. Given that crack is difficult to snort or inject, most people opt to smoke the drug, creating an intense and fast-acting high. Other methods include:

  • Oral use: effects felt 10-30 minutes after use and will typically last up to 90 minutes
  • Intravenous use (injection): effects felt 5-10 seconds after use and will typically last up to 20 minutes

Crack and cocaine generally exhibit similar effects on the brain and body including

  • Euphoriacrack vs cocaine
  • Increased alertness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dilated pupils

FAQs for Crack and Cocaine:

Addictive aspects of crack vs cocaine -

Both versions of drug prohibits the release of dopamine causing the chemical to build up in the brain and amplifying the pleasurable and addictive effects of dopamine. This intense high is highly desirable and sought out by those who struggle with abuse and addiction. 

The high experienced by smoking crack is intense but only lasts around 5-10 minutes whereas snorting cocaine will last around 30 minutes. After the high wears off, the individual will experience a hard crash which will bring about extreme fatigue, anxiety, irritability and paranoia. With extended use, the drug can cause severe damage to the body including:

  • An increased risk of developing certain cancers 
  • Heart attack 
  • Stroke
  • Seizures

Both crack and cocaine possess a high risk of overdose.

How long does crack stay in your system?

Crack has a relatively short half-life of around 15 minutes which means it takes about 15 minutes for the drug to reduce to half of its initially ingested dose. However, crack can still be detected via blood, urine, saliva and hair follicle tests well past the last use. While it is dependent on usage crack can be detected in:

  • Blood, up to 12 hours after use
  • Saliva, up to 24 hours after useCrack vs Cocaine
  • Urine, up to 4 days after use
  • Hair 90 days after use 

A big factor in how fast traces of crack leaves your body is your history of useage. Someone who is a frequent user of crack can expect to have traces of the drug in their body longer than someone who has done it only once.

How long does cocaine stay in your system?

Cocaine has a half life of around 1 hour which means it would take around an hour for half of the drugs dose to leave the body. Depending on usage, cocaine can be detected in:

  • Saliva and blood around 12-48 hours after use
  • Urine around 1-4 days after use Crack vs Cocaine
  • Hair around 90 days after use

A big factor in how fast traces of cocaine leaves your body is your history of useage. Someone who is a frequent user of cocaine can expect to have traces of the drug in their body longer than someone who has done it only once.

What are some cocaine withdrawal symptoms?

Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can last as long as 10 weeks and can involve painful psychological and physiological side effects. Common symptoms include:

  • Strong cravings
  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Hyperactivity 
  • Insomnia
  • Poor concentration
  • Tremors
  • Depression

Given that it is a derivative of cocaine, crack shows similar withdrawal symptoms.

 

The extent and severity of your symptoms will vary depending on:

  • Your usage history (i.e. long time user, first time user, etc.)
  • The extent of your addiction
  • The use of other drugs (also known as polysubstance abuse)
  • Whether you have co-occurring disorders or other mental/physical health conditions


Why do people smoke crack?

Smoking crack can provide a much more intense high and rush. Smoking anything will typically reach the brain faster than snorting. When you smoke a substance, the chemicals do not have to pass the heart as oxygenated blood from the lungs are already being pumped to the brain. The intense high achieved from smoking crack is usually has a one time effect. The desire to experience a first time high can cause people to up their dosage in search of that high; however, rarely is it achieved.

 

If you or a loved one is need of help for crack or cocaine addiction, please reach out today.

Resources:

Chicago CBS – Dangerous Fentanyl-Laced Cocaine Linked to Overdoses

DEA – Controlled Substances

National Institute on Drug Abuse – What is cocaine?

 

Adderall and Weed

Adderall-and-Weed

Adderall

Adderall is the brand name for a mixture of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It’s use is to commonly treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. As a central nervous system stimulant, Adderall increases energy, blood pressure, heart rate and improves attention and alertness- which is why most people use the drug. Adderall use is pretty common in college and academic culture for its ability to boost attentiveness and focus. A study conducted at the University of Kentucky found that 30 percent of its student population had abused a stimulant such as Adderall in order to enhance their studying. Adderall is a schedule II drug as categorized by the DEA which indicates that the drug has certain medical uses but has a high potential for abuse. 

 Adderall boosts the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine in your brain. Dopamine is commonly referred to as the ‘feel good’ chemical. It occurs in the body when we do something pleasurable, such as eating, drinking or having sex. It is also released synthetically by drugs such as Adderall. Some people experience this also from smoking weed, which is why they might combine Adderall and weed. Norepinephrine is a stress hormone which is typically released in the body whenever we encounter a fight or flight situation. Therefore it is no surprise that the drug boosts attentiveness and alertness. 

Adderall Abuse and Addiction

Adderall abuse is different than addiction. Abuse is generally considered any use of drugs outside of a prescription which includes taking more than the recommended dosage. Whereas addiction is a chronic disease where users experience compulsive desires to take drugs. Adderall abuse is pretty common with college students. They see it as a helpful tool for cramming before exams. 

Adderall-and-Weed

So is Adderall addictive? It can be. Typically the addiction stems from a previous history of abuse. If the abuse is to achieve a recreational high, the body will build a tolerance to the drug which will require the user to up their dosage. At a certain point, their body will begin to crave the amphetamine. Without the drug, people who are addicted may feel like they lack focus or attentiveness at which point could be characterized as an addiction.

How long does Adderall stay in your system?

Adderall has a half life of 9 to 14 hours. This means that it takes around 9 to 14 hours for the drug to reduce to half of the initially ingested dosage. Generally, Adderall will clear out of your system completely in 3 days; however, traces of the drug can last well past that. Certain drug tests can discover Adderall use such as:

  • Saliva tests can detect Adderall from 20 minutes to 48 hours after ingestion
  • Blood tests can detect Adderall from 12 to 24 hours after ingestion
  • Urine tests can detect Adderall from 4 to 7 days after ingestion
  • Hair follicle tests can detect Adderall from a week to 90 days after ingestion

What is marijuana?

Marijuana- also known as weed- is derived from the dried flowers of the cannabis plant. It contains hundreds of chemicals, some of which have psychoactive mind-altering properties such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other non-psychoactive chemicals such as cannabidiol (CBD). Marijuana is one of the most abused illicit drugs in the world, but it can be used to treat some medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, appetite loss, cancer, and mental health issues such as PTSD or schizophrenia to name a few. Marijuana is a very popular recreational drug as it can relieve anxiety and reduce pain depending on the strain taken.

There is a lot of debate over whether marijuana is harmful, and how harmful if so, and whether it is even addictive. Research is limited as marijuana is illicit in most countries, until a few countries and states within the U.S. legalized use in recent years. While marijuana use it not going to lead to addiction that looks like meth or heroin addiction, there is always the potential for someone to abuse it just as with any other substance. Certain studies have shown possible negative effects from chronic, long-term use, though those may also be tied to users smoking tobacco which is known to be very harmful. Further, it’s possible for illicitly obtained marijuana to be laced with other substances which is where significant danger can come in.

Why do people use marijuana?

Many perceive marijuana as a ‘safe’ drug with no harmful impact on the body. While it is much less harmful than most other schedule I drugs, it still has some negative side effects and is illegal in some jurisdictions even for medical purposes. So why do people smoke marijuana? Well, surveys show that “relaxation” is the biggest reasons people smoke weed. Further a study reported that “cannabis significantly reduced ratings of depression, anxiety and stress.”

How long does marijuana stay in your system?

It is hard to pinpoint exactly how long traces of weed will stay in your system as that is largely circumstantial. In general, weed will show up in a drug test via:

  • Saliva up to 48 hours after use
  • Urine up to 21 days after use 
  • Blood up to 36 hours after use
  • Hair up to 90 days after use

This varies by individual factors and length of use.

Mixing adderall and weed

Adderall is a stimulant. However, weed’s properties and varying effects on individuals makes it harder to characterize. For example, some people may feel more relaxed and calm after smoking which presents more depressant effects. However, others may experience paranoia, increased heart rate or anxiety after smoking. Weed can also be characterized as a hallucinogen given the altered state of mind one will experience. While many characterize it as such, some people do not experience such effects. The effects of marijuana use vary widely and this also varies by method of consumption (e.g., smoking a joint, using a pipe, using a bong, eating edibles, etc.).

Adderall-and-Weed

So what would happen if you mixed Adderall and weed? It’s hard to say for the reasons listed above. Some users will mix the drugs in hopes that the Adderall will negate the depressive effects of the marijuana. It’s best to avoid the mixture. Effects can produce harmful outcomes such as shallow breathing and increased heart rate. Further, the mixture of a stimulant and marijuana can alter your state of mind which could encourage users to take risks or express behaviors which could be dangerous. Overdose is unlikely unless the Adderall dosage is high enough or other substances are mixed that interact dangerously with Adderall.

Treatment for Adderall and Weed Abuse and Addiction:

Treatment for Adderall or weed  abuse addiction can be tricky to tackle individually. Both drugs have different effects on the body and mind. Further, both are abused for different reasons and there is no one-size fits all treatment plan. Therefore we recommend contacting us for professional help and treatment if you or a loved one are dealing with abuse or addiction.

Resources:

CNN – College students take ADHD drugs for better grades

The Washington Post – 11 Charts that show marijuana has truly gone mainstream

Journal of Affective Disorders – A naturalistic examination of the perceived effects of cannabis

 

Tramadol and Alcohol

Tramadol-and-Alcohol

 

What is tramadol?

Tramadol is an opioid pain killer which is used to treat mild to moderate pain in individuals. It is considerably weaker than most common opioids such as heroin or morphine and therefore is often used with patients who suffer from a strong dependency as a means to taper their addiction. Pharmaceutical companies sell it under several brand names such as Ultram, Ultram ER and Ultracet. 

What is alcohol?

While most people probably understand what alcohol is, it is still important to understand the effects it has on your body. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant which slows brain function. However in low doses, alcohol is considered a stimulant. A few drinks typically allow people to ‘loosen up’ by elevating mood and can make people feel good. However, in higher doses, it demonstrates depressive traits such as slowed breathing, heart rate and cognitive function. An individual’s reaction to alcohol really depends on their drinking history and body composition. Generally, those who have a higher body mass will be less affected by alcohol and vice versa.

Mixing tramadol and alcohol:

Tramadol and alcohol are both central nervous system (CNS) depressants. Depressants slow brain and nerve activity which causes a feeling of relaxation. The major issue with combining two CNS depressants is that they collectively enhance the effects of the other drug. In essence, the alcohol will make the tramadol more potent and vice versa. This combined synergistic effect can slow brain and muscle function drastically, ultimately causing breathing to slow down or completely stop. Slowed breathing is bad for obvious reasons, but it can also cause permanent organ damage to areas such as the brain as it won’t receive the oxygen it needs, putting it into a hypoxic state

Further, the extended release form of tramadol (Ultram ER) contains a higher dose of tramadol. This design works to release into the body over a longer period of time. It’s primarily prescribed to individuals who are dealing with chronic, moderate to severe pain and those who need long term consistent relief. However, mixing it with alcohol may cause the extended-release mechanism of the drug to fail, therefore releasing the full dosage of the drug at a faster than intended pace. Furthermore, the higher dosage entering the body can cause an overdose and potentially death.

Ultracet is a combination of tramadol and acetaminophen. As previously explained, taking tramadol with alcohol is a bad idea in the first place but adding acetaminophen can further increase the risk of bodily harm. The liver processes acetaminophen and alcohol and it’s possible for the combination to cause severe liver damage. While the actual dosage of acetaminophen present in Ultracet is significantly lower than the max recommended daily dosage, it’s still an additional factor which can further the damaging effects and uncertainty of mixing tramadol and alcohol and therefore should be avoided. 

How long does tramadol stay in your system?

Tramadol has a half life of around 6 hours. In other words, it will typically take around 6 hours for the drug to reduce to half of its consumed dosage. Keep in mind, this is heavily dependent on body composition and can also vary if you took an extended release form. While you can expect the full effects of normal tramadol to wear off after 12 hours, the drug will likely still be detectable via urine, hair, blood or saliva tests. It’s possible, of course, for this to vary by person based on factors unique to them.

It’s possible to detect Tramadol in:

  • Urine for up to 2-40 hours
  • Blood for up to 12-24 hours
  • Saliva for up to 48 hours
  • Hair follicles for up to 90 days                                                                                                                Tramadol

How long does alcohol stay in your system?

 

A fully functioning, healthy liver can typically process one drink per hour. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), one drink is defined as:Tramadol-and-Alcohol

  • 12-ounces of beer (5% alcohol content)
  • 8-ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content)
  • 5-ounces of wine (12% alcohol content)
  • 1.5-ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor 

However, this is heavily dependent on body composition. Furthermore, with alcohol it’s possible to detect via urine, hair, or blood tests for much longer. Each individual is unique and this will vary.


Alcohol can be detected in:

  • Blood for up to 24 hours
  • Urine for up to 80 hours 
  • Hair follicles for up to 3 months

Treatment

Tramadol and alcohol are highly addictive substances. There is significant danger in mixing them. For anyone with a prescription, it is important to discuss how tramadol interacts with any substance. Abuse of any drug can cause serious health problems. If you or a loved one needs help, please reach out today. 

Xanax and Alcohol

Xanax-and-Alcohol

With Xanax (a brand name for Alprazolam) one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S., it’s understandable that it’s mixed with other substances.  Some people do so without knowing how substances interact, while others are hoping to intensify effects or offset certain side effects. For example, Alcohol depresses the Central Nervous System (CNS), and while it can provide an initial buzz it also eventually causes drowsiness. Subsequently, people will mix it with stimulants, like cocaine to offset feeling sleepy. Polysubstance abuse is the abuse of 3 or more substances, often involving alcohol. It’s common for people to mix Xanax, alcohol and a third substance if not more. Neither substance is necessarily a bad thing, but they are both frequently misused and together can cause negative effects.

Alcohol is a popular drink around the world. The general acceptance of alcohol use, and heavy alcohol consumption, makes it difficult for a lot of people to recognize when use has turned to abuse, dependence, and addiction. As not everyone fully understands the negative effects of alcohol, they might not realize how dangerous it can be to mix Xanax and alcohol.

What is Alcohol?

The type of alcohol that humans drink is ethyl alcohol.The history of human’s interactions with alcohol is long and complicated. While the way it’s made and how it affects people has changed, it’s something that’s been around for thousands of years. Over time, as people learned more about the dangers of alcohol, there have been periods where it was banned, like Prohibition in the U.S. Some countries ban the use of it entirely or specific groups within countries ban the use. In a lot of countries today alcohol use is widespread and socially acceptable. Many recognize the dangers, but few realize how little it takes to experience dangerous effects or for it to turn to abuse. 

A lot of people know that it’s possible to have an addiction to alcohol. Still, they tend to have the image of the stereotypical drunk in mind: someone unable to do simple tasks, falling over in public, and generally incoherent. Furthermore, a lot of young people tend to engage in binge drinking with the assumption that they’re just young and doing what young people do. The 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), defines men’s binge drinking as five or more drinks on the same occasion on at least 1 day in the past 30 days. For women, it’s considered four or more drinks on the same occasion on at least 1 day in the past 30 days. Taking those numbers into consideration, the study also found, “In 2017, about 1 in 4 people aged 12 or older were current binge alcohol users.”

Effects of Alcohol Use

Many people know that alcohol is a depressant, which they understand to mean it causes depression. That is a possible side effect, but it is also a central nervous system depressant. 

This can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Impaired cognitive function and coordination 
  • Lowered inhibition
  • Respiratory Depression
  • Coma 
  • Death

Xanax-and-Alcohol

Given the pervasiveness of alcohol consumption, and risky drinking in particular, it’s unfortunate that a lot of people don’t fully understand how it can negatively affect them. The National Cancer Institute cites strong scientific consensus showing clear evidence between alcohol consumption and various types of cancer. Furthermore, it’s possible for drinking excessively to lead to a weakened immune system leaving someone vulnerable to diseases. In addition to impairing cognitive function, the ability to think clearly and use coordination, it also causes issues with the heart, liver, and pancreas. 

In moderation, alcohol is not going to cause these symptoms and some believe there are benefits to occasional consumption. However, a lot of people, particularly starting in their youth, consume more than they should. Alcohol impairs decision making, which likely contributes to people’s decisions to mix substances. Others possibly consciously choose to mix substances in an attempt to enhance the experience of each substance.

Xanax Recreational Use

Xanax is a legal prescription drug for short-term use under medical supervision. It often treats anxiety and insomnia. Many providers consider it to have a high risk of misuse, due largely in part to dependence and addiction setting in quickly for a number of people. Xanax works by calming down an over-excited CNS and increasing dopamine in the brain. This provides a “Xanax High”, or a euphoric feeling that people desire when misusing Xanax. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) found that Xanax is one of the top three prescription drugs diverted to the illegal/illicit market. Most people using Xanax recreationally likely do not realize the serious long term effects of Xanax use. 

With Xanax, the brain adjusts and finds it difficult to adjust without it. Someone misusing Xanax is more likely to end up taking increased doses. They do so to continue to feel the same effects and to feel the euphoria or Xanax High they are chasing. Suddenly stopping often results in severe withdrawal symptoms, making it difficult to quit without professional help. It’s possible for withdrawal symptoms to last for months after ceasing use, making relapse more likely. Xanax depresses the CNS, often causing drowsiness, impairing motor and cognitive function, and slowed breathing. This is incredibly dangerous if mixed with other depressants.

Mixing Xanax and Alcohol

Mixing Xanax and alcohol isn’t going to result in overdose or death every time. Still, it’s a risk that isn’t worth it. Both can cause serious side effects apart from overdose or death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), analyzed data from 2010 showing alcohol was involved in 27.2% of emergency department visits related to benzodiazepine (benzo) abuse. Further, of 1,512 benzo-related deaths that year, 324 also involved alcohol. Any death is clearly one too many.

Xanax-and-Alcohol-FAN

Both Xanax and alcohol are CNS depressants, which makes them dangerous when mixed. Some use Xanax and alcohol for sleep separately, but also try using them together. They both cause respiratory depression, or slowed breathing, which significantly increases the risk of overdose and death. Many people use alcohol as a means to help calm anxiety. It also can provide a euphoric high, or even simply an overall feeling of peace and happiness. A number of people will likely want to enhance the effects of Xanax and alcohol. They’re looking to feel something of a “Xanax and alcohol high”. Increasing consumption of both substances increases the risk of permanent damage, or of overdose or death. Adding any other substances further increases this risk. It’s unfortunately common for people to take opioids with benzos. This is a dangerous mix on its own and made even more dangerous with alcohol.

Treatment

For anyone using Xanax and alcohol, they likely need professional help. Xanax withdrawal is potentially severe and too difficult to do without proper help. Depending on severity of abuse and addiction, alcohol withdrawal is one of the few types of substances where withdrawal can result in severe complications or death. Anyone with a dependence or addiction to either substance, or especially both, should seek professional help. Reach out today for resources, support, and any help you might need.

Adderall and Xanax

adderall-and-xanax-fight-addiction-now

Mixing Substances – Adderall and Xanax

With substance abuse and addiction, it is common for people to use multiple substances. It’s possible for this to include someone using their own legally prescribed drugs, as well as many people illicitly using legal and illegal drugs. Abusing three or more is polysubstance abuse. Often, mixing substances heightens the negative effects of the other. In particular, if two substances are sedatives where side effects are commonly slowed or suppressed breathing this is especially dangerous. It’s important for people to always communicate with their medical providers any substances they are taking to be as safe as possible.

Unfortunately, many people abusing multiple substances do not communicate with medical professionals nor do they fully understand the risks of combining substances. A number of people use substances as a way to cope with problems or to chase a certain “high” they get, and possibly both. Adderall and Xanax are some of the most commonly prescribed prescription drugs. They are also frequently abused, with many people dealing with unintended consequences.

Xanax: Xanax Recreational Use and the Xanax High

Xanax is one of the brand names for the drug alprazolam, which is a benzodiazepine. It’s primary use is to treat anxiety and panic disorders. This is accomplished through suppression of the Central Nervous System (CNS). Dopamine is a naturally occurring chemical in the body and it is part of reward and motivation; Xanax works to increase levels of dopamine in the body. Subsequently, people are able to feel calm and peaceful. Many people feel a heightened sense of euphoria, or the “Xanax High”. This feeling is something that a lot of people want to recreate to the point where they begin to misuse Xanax. 

Xanax is a fast-acting drug: it’s processed quickly and leaves the body quickly. The Xanax High that users feel will not last long, which will leave them needing more, increasing the dosage, to continue feeling the same euphoria. It’s possible for addiction to set in quickly with Xanax, even under proper medical supervision. Dr. Philip R. Muskin states that addiction is possible within even the first week of use. According to one study, in 2013 there were 48 million prescriptions of alprazolam dispensed, despite most prescribers considering the misuse liability to be high. Furthermore, the study reveals that withdrawal is severe, even following guidelines, and is more severe than other benzodiazepines. Because of the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms, many people are unable to stop use without professional help.

Adderall

Adderall is a stimulant made from amphetamine, which is the parent drug of methamphetamine. It primarily treats attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It helps people concentrate, and is often abused by people seeking to use it to enhance concentration and performance. Like Xanax, people misuse it for the ability to experience a euphoric feeling. As with a number of prescription drugs, people make the assumption that misuse isn’t that bad if the drug is legal. According to Dr. Ramin Mojtabai, use “…can also cause sleep disruption and serious cardiovascular side effects, such as high blood pressure and stroke.” Adderall should only be used when prescribed and under medical supervision. 

  Side effects can include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Headache
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feveradderall-and-xanax-withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Body aches

 

 

Mixing Adderall and Xanax

For some, their Adderall and Xanax use might start out with a prescription and then turn to Adderall or Xanax recreational use. For others, they only ever use it illicitly and may do so desiring to feel the Adderall or Xanax high. 

Often, people snort substances to feel the effects faster and stronger. With recreational use, snorting Xanax is something some turn to in order to feel it faster and attain a stronger high. However, snorting Xanax, or any substance, is harmful to the human body. According to Time, “Snorting powder of any kind can lead to inflammation of the nasal lining, infection in the lungs and blockages of respiratory tracts and nasal airways.” Just as with Xanax, snorting Adderall is something that users will do to drastically increase one’s performance and concentration. Snorting Adderall may also increase the euphoric feeling (“Adderall High”) that some users seek.

stimulants-and-depressants

Stimulants and Depressants

Adderall and Xanax on their own, used under medical supervision, are meant to help. Still, even used properly they do have a high risk of misuse. It’s important for patients and their providers to take this into consideration. Misuse of substances is more likely to lead to tolerance, where someone then needs more of the substance to feel the same effect. With increased use, this is where someone is at risk for dependence, addiction, and overdose. Mixing substances heightens the negative effects of each substance. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), mixing stimulants and depressants can increase “…risk of death from stroke, heart attack, aneurysm, or respiratory failure.” Furthermore, with illicit use there is a high possibility substances are mixed with unknown substances. In recent years, there has been an increase of synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, which further increases the risk of overdose and death.

Treatment

Both Adderall and Xanax have a high risk for misuse and addiction. While severity will vary, it’s important to seek professional, medical help. Withdrawal can be severe, which makes it difficult to do so without proper help. After continued misuse, someone will likely be increasing the dosages to maintain the same effects which leads to more dangerous consequences. A lot of people use Adderall and Xanax, legally or illegally, intending often to feel the benefits like less anxiety or increased concentration. Not everyone understands the inherent risk of using each drug, even with proper use. Because of this, they may find themselves dealing with abuse and addiction without realizing it.

If you or a loved one needs help, reach out today.

FAQs

How long does Xanax stay in your system?

Xanax is a short-acting drug, which means it will enter the body quickly and leave quickly. The effects of Xanax are immediate and can last up to 11 hours. This can vary depending on the prescription and amount taken. It’s possible to detect Xanax through testing for up to a week after use, though this can of course vary depending on length of use, dosage, and other factors unique to each person. The type of testing will also determine whether it’s possible to detect it.

Can you overdose on Xanax?

Generally, overdose on Xanax alone is not common. However, increased dosage or mixing substances does increase the risk, which varies depending on what the effects of other substances are. Alcohol and Xanax, for example, are both depressants that can suppress breathing which is incredibly dangerous. It’s important to discuss with your care provider about how substances interact with Xanax.

What does Xanax feel like? What is the Xanax High?

Xanax works to depress an over-excited central nervous system, which is why it’s so effective in short-term treatment of anxiety and panic disorders. It also increases dopamine, which provides what many call the “Xanax High”.

How to taper off Xanax –

If you or a loved one is using Xanax legally, it’s incredibly important to follow a medical professional’s instructions for tapering off. Even if someone is using it in a recreational manner, it’s still best to seek professional help. Suddenly stopping use can cause severe side effects and withdrawal symptoms that make it difficult to quit on one’s own.

How long does Adderall stay in your system?

Generally, the effects of Adderall last for up to 6 hours, though extended-release can last for up to 12 hours. It’s possible to detect anywhere from a few days up to a week, depending on the type of test used. This can also vary for a variety of factors including dosage, length of use, and other aspects unique to each person.

Meth vs Adderall: Are they the same? Are they related?

Adderall is an amphetamine, the parent drug of methamphetamine (meth). They are both stimulants and have been used to treat similar health issues like ADHD. However, meth carries a much higher risk for addiction. Because of this, medical use is strictly monitored and infrequently prescribed.

Can you overdose on Adderall?

With proper use, an Adderall overdose is not likely. However, misuse and increased dosage raises the risk. Furthermore, mixing substances is potentially dangerous as they tend to heighten negative effects of the other. Anyone with a prescription should be sure to communicate with their provider if they use any other substances, legal or illegal.

What is the Adderall comedown like?

It’s important that anyone with a prescription does not suddenly stop without a medical professional’s care and instructions. Anyone using illicitly may also likely need professional help. Sudden cessation can cause withdrawal symptoms that include: anxiety, cravings, depression, and fatigue.

 

 

Polysubstance Abuse

Polysubstance Abuse and Dependence

Someone with polysubstance dependence is using three or more substances, with at least one of the substances commonly being alcohol. As alcohol is one of the oldest and most widely used psychoactive drugs, a lot of people fail to realize the dangers of mixing it with other substances. Furthermore, it’s common for people to drink heavily or binge drink without even realizing it. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) defines binge drinking as, “5 or more alcoholic drinks for males or 4 or more alcoholic drinks for females on the same occasion (i.e., at the same time or within a couple of hours of each other) on at least 1 day in the past month.” 

Although drinking has gone down in the United States in many groups, the drinking culture is still prevalent. This is particularly the case for young people in certain settings like schools, universities, or various social events. Many people who consume alcohol are also using other substances, illegal and legal. They do so without realizing the negative effects of mixing the substances they are using. When someone engages in binge drinking the risks increase significantly. Alcohol is a depressant, which many people understand to relate to mood and depression. That is a possible effect, but it also means that it will depress the central nervous system (CNS), which causes actions like suppressed or slowed breathing and impaired motor and cognitive function.

Alcohol and Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines (benzos) are primarily used to treat anxiety, panic disorders, seizures and they are even sometimes used with alcohol withdrawal. They are meant for short-term use, however not only are prescriptions increasing, long-term prescriptions have increased as well. It’s possible for someone to develop dependence early with use, with the possibility of psychological dependence and physical dependence. The longer use continues, the increased likelihood of dependence and addiction. 


Possible side effects of use includes:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Slowed breathing

Experiencing these side effects will vary from person to person. What is more, the severity of the side effects will also vary. It is dangerous to combine the use of these drugs with alcohol, for example: Xanax and alcohol and Valium and alcohol. It’s possible for this to contribute to what is known as combined drug intoxication. Death usually occurs as a result of some combination of the substances suppressing breathing. The combined substances typically increase the toxicity or negative effects of the other and alcohol can significantly increase the severity of symptoms.

Alcohol and Opioids

Opioids are one of the most commonly prescribed prescription drugs. Prescriptions seemingly flooded communities before most people realized how addictive they are. Most people in America are now aware of the opioid crisis. While a lot of public attention and resources are now dedicated to fighting it, there is still a lot of work to be done. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Every day, more than 130 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids.” Just like alcohol and benzos, a possible side effect of opioids is also suppressed breathing. This makes the combination of alcohol and opioids incredibly dangerous. Further, alcohol, benzos, and opioids increase the risk of overdose even more. 

The CDC warns against prescribing both benzos and opioids if can be helped. Despite this, they are frequently prescribed together and NIDA found, “More than 30 percent of overdoses involving opioids also involve benzodiazepines…” Alcohol, benzos, and opioids are all sedatives and a possible effect is suppressed breathing. Even just alcohol and opioids is a dangerous mix, with the CDC also stating that there is no safe level of using both substances. Unfortunately, many people do not know or understand the full dangers of alcohol use. It doesn’t take as much as people would think for alcohol to begin to negatively affect someone. When you add in other substances, including substances beyond just opioids and benzos, you are drastically increasing the risks of all substances involved.

Causes Behind Polysubstance Abuse

For a number of people, they use alcohol to cope with issues like anxiety. When someone is also using benzos for the same purpose, it seems normal to combine the use of two drugs. If both help with anxiety, then what’s the harm? As previously stated, opioids and benzos alone are a potentially dangerous combination, yet they are frequently prescribed together. Opioids are known most commonly as being used for pain relief. It’s possible many people dealing with significant pain are also dealing with anxiety, where they are then prescribed benzos as well. With benzos and opioids carrying a serious risk for addiction, someone might reach a point where they are not worried about being careful of mixing alcohol. There are an incredible number of substances beyond just the three mentioned above which also potentially cause serious health risks when combined.

For most people, they start out using these substances with good intentions. They want to treat and manage health problems, which is normal and understandable. NIDA explains that in the 1990s, pharmaceutical companies assured the medical community that patients wouldn’t become addicted to opioids. Because of this, doctors prescribed opioids at higher rates. Furthermore, NPR found that many primary care doctors are prescribing benzos do so without proper guidelines.

Treatment

Each person is unique and while there are common effects and interactions from substance use, the reaction each person has will not necessarily be the same. Alcohol and drugs cause different reactions in people depending on a number of factors. Because of this, someone might be okay (meaning at least they aren’t at risk of overdose or any initial complications) using a substance, or mixed substance. However, then the next person has a serious reaction or is at risk for overdose. It’s also possible for the purity of substances to impact how someone reacts. Very likely, especially with polysubstance abuse, people see others mixing various substances and assume they will likewise be alright. 

Addiction is complex and the reasons behind it are just as complex. A lot of studies are just now beginning to help us understand the many different factors. There are many other substances aside from the substance substance mentioned above, including many that are illegal, that also play a part in polysubstance abuse. Someone using multiple substances likely needs professional help. If you or a loved one needs help, reach out today.

How to Tell the Difference Between Depression and Short-Term Sadness

Differences Depression vs short-term sadness

Many people mistakenly assume that “depression” simply means a period of intense sadness. However, there is a distinct difference between clinical depression, a diagnosable medical condition, and short-term sadness. The symptoms of depression vary from person to person, but the reality is that feelings of sadness are only a small part of the effects of this condition.

Understanding True Depression

A person with clinical depression or a depressive disorder generally has trouble managing very basic tasks due to feelings of worthlessness, anxiety about the possibility of failure, and general lethargy. So what is clinical depression exactly? It is a long-term mental health disorder, typically a chronic one that has drastic effects on a person’s physical, mental, social, and emotional health. It can interfere with daily tasks, make work feel impossible, and may limit a person’s opportunities for social interaction. Many people mistakenly attribute periods of sadness as signs of depression.

Symptoms Of Clinical Depression

Differences Depression vs short-term sadness - fightaddictionnowSymptoms of clinical depression can persist for years and increase in severity over time without proper treatment. Some of the most common symptoms reported include:

  • Persistent feelings of intense sadness
  • Poor self-image and low self-esteem
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Agitation
  • Difficulty with sleeping
  • Eating problems — over-eating or having very little appetite most days
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Deep feelings of guilt without a tangible reason for those feelings to exist
  • Persistent feelings of worthlessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or wishing for death.
  • Persistent feeling of being a burden to others, or that others would be better off if the depressed person wasn’t around
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed hobbies or activities
  • Social disengagement, cancelling plans, or avoiding social interaction
  • Suicide attempts

Many people experience sadness of everyday life events or traumatic experiences and may suffer with some of these symptoms for a while, but this is not indicative of clinical depression.

Seasonal Depression

Some people suffer from a seasonal depression disorder that causes adverse symptoms at certain times of the year. For example, many people with seasonal depression report that the winter months cause them the most trouble. They may feel daunted at the upcoming stress of holiday parties, family gatherings, gift-giving, or holiday travel. Shorter days also mean less sun exposure, and vitamin D deficiency can easily contribute to seasonal depression symptoms.

Occasional Bouts Of Sadness

Sadness can arise from countless possible situations. The loss of a job, the death of a loved one, an injury, an argument with a spouse, and countless other possibilities may create occasional fits of sadness. This does not mean the person experiencing these feelings has clinical depression. Overcoming typical sadness simply takes time and self-care; the process is different for everyone. A person with actual depression cannot simply distract him or herself away from symptoms and hope they go away over time. Clinical depression occurs from a natural chemical imbalance in the brain that requires medication or intense therapy to manage.

Sadness vs. Depression

The average person has coping mechanisms for dealing with sadness. A person may try to distract him or herself with hobbies, social activity, sex, good food, or a number of other possibilities. For a person with clinical depression, most of these ideas aren’t even an option. It’s common for people with clinical depression to struggle to find the motivation to even complete basic tasks. Making a cup of coffee in the morning can feel like an insurmountable challenge. A person struggling with temporary sadness will still be able to find motivation to carry on with daily life.

This is part of the reason why substance abuse is such a major risk for people with clinical depression. Without appropriate treatment, a person with depression will invariably turn toward self-medication with alcohol or illicit drugs to overcome their negative feelings or simply to be able to function day to day.

Are You Depressed Or Just Sad For Now?

Clinical depression treatments generally involve psychotherapy and medication. Many antidepressant medications carry a significant risk of abuse, however. Additionally, some people may not want to use medication as they believe it simply creates “artificial happiness” and does nothing to address their root issues. However, proper application of antidepressants may help a person overcome the symptoms keeping them from honest self-reflection and may provide enough motivation to make serious changes in his or her outlook on life.

Finding Support And Avoiding Substance Abuse

People suffering from depression often feel as though they cannot voice their concerns to others because it simply makes them feel worse than they already feel. Coming out to friends and family about depression can trigger even greater feelings of failure and worthlessness, but this is a necessary step on the road to recovery. Additionally, talking about the symptoms of clinical depression can help people avoid substance abuse. One of the major driving factors behind addiction is isolation; a person who feels as though he or she has no one to turn to for support will cope however he or she can, most often involving drug use.

Join The Conversation And Find The Support You Need

Fight Addiction Now is a community of people who have experienced substance abuse firsthand. Many of our members have dealt with mental illnesses like depression and know how these conditions influence addiction treatment. Our community includes substance abuse treatment professionals and researchers, survivors, and the friends and family members who have seen addiction firsthand.

Reaching out for help is an incredibly difficult but crucial step in finding relief. Take our online quiz to see if you have any of the symptoms of clinical depression and think of ways you could contribute to the discussions in the Fight Addiction Now community.

Why Getting Off Your Ass Can Help Prevent Addiction Relapse

Why Getting Off Your Ass Can Help Prevent Addiction Relapse

Physical activity is an essential part of any healthy living plan, but exercise holds distinct benefits for people recovering from substance abuse. In some cases, physical activity is necessary to rehabilitate the body after severe drug abuse, but the benefits are clear and measurable for any patient. Getting off your ass is one of the best things you can do for yourself in recovery.

Exercise For A Healthier Future

Substance abuse takes a tremendous toll in the body and mind, and repairing that damage is a long and complex process. Physical activity improves the health of the body, which in turn improves the health of the mind. Learning new ways to exercise and stay fit can also provide the foundation for building better habits in recovery. Exposure to past triggers, stressors, and bad influences are the leading causes of relapse. Physical activity can not only provide a constructive outlet for handling cravings, but also limit the risk of exposure to potentially dangerous elements of one’s environment.

Exercise And Physical Therapy In Rehab

Prevent Addiction Relapse Many drug-addiction recovery centers offer a range of physical therapies and holistic treatments that offer relief from the physical effects of addiction, such as yoga, massage, and acupuncture. Exercise therapy is another way to combat the symptoms of withdrawal and empower a person throughout the recovery experience. Some addiction treatment programs include regular workouts to help their patients recover more fully, and these experiences can also influence life after rehab.

Exercise influences behavior in that it causes dopamine release*. Dopamine is the brain’s naturally occurring “reward” neurotransmitter that causes pleasurable feelings after meeting a need or performing a satisfying action. People inherently seek out behaviors that trigger dopamine releases.

Dopamine release is a major factor in addiction because using illicit drugs or alcohol can trigger a dopamine release, but the person will require more and more of the drug to achieve the desired effects over time. This dependency creates a pattern of addictive behavior that ultimately leads to full-blown addiction. If a person in recovery starts experiencing a craving to relapse, he or she may be able to offset this by exercising and triggering a natural dopamine release that satisfies the craving.

Exercise is a healthier alternative because it not only fosters a more natural and healthy dopamine cycle in the brain, but also requires the person to work for it. Achieving goals and building a structured life is a major facet of sober living after rehab. Exercise and physical activity should play a role in any person’s life after completing rehab, and there are countless possible ways to work physical activity into a regular routine.

Physical Activity After Rehab

The average person will likely experience several types of physical therapies and exercise-based treatments during rehab. Some people may find value in running or walking, while others discover they enjoy lifting weights or playing team-based sports. Carrying these experiences into life after rehab can be beneficial in more ways than just improved physical health.

A few ways a person fresh out of rehab can incorporate physical activity into everyday life in recovery include:

  • Exploring activities learned in rehab to a deeper level. For example, if you enjoyed yoga sessions in rehab, consider joining a weekly yoga class.
  • Learning a new skill. If you have ever considered learning a new skill such as a martial art, archery, or rock climbing, making time to enjoy these activities on a weekly basis provides structure, goals, and a sense of achievement, along with physical benefits.
  • Daily exercise. Some people may not be physically able to go to the gym every day or run for miles on end, but there are many ways to incorporate exercise into a daily routine. Walking or jogging for as little as 20 or 30 minutes a day can help a person feel balanced for work and other obligations throughout the day.
  • Team sports. Joining a local team or sports club can offer structure and group support in recovery. You’ll get regular physical exercise, while also achieving goals and participating in healthy competition.

Building Better Habits While Living Sober

Nutrition and diet play major roles in the rehab process, but they are also important considerations for life after rehab. Fast foods, processed foods, and sugary foods can all cause physiological changes that can trigger an addiction relapse. For example, many addiction recovery programs recommend avoiding caffeine and all refined sugars because these substances can have habit-forming qualities and cause a “crash” that triggers withdrawal symptoms in a person recovering from substance abuse.

Healthy foods are more accessible than many people think. Shopping, buying, and preparing fresh foods may seem like more work, but this is ultimately a good thing for a person who just finished rehab. Prior to recovery, he or she may have simply eaten fast food or only eaten when absolutely necessary while in the grips of a severe drug addiction. Creating a new routine of procuring healthy foods and eating better in general offers much-needed structure in recovery. Building a physical activity routine around a better diet offers even more opportunities to make healthier choices and stay on track with sobriety.

Preventing Relapses

It is not realistic to expect to return to your life exactly how it was before rehab and avoid a relapse. Stress can easily trigger an alcohol relapse. Visiting familiar friends and places may tempt a drug relapse. There are countless possible variables in your old environment that could trigger a relapse, and it’s essential to remove dangerous influences from your life and develop a new routine that encourages sobriety.

Learning Healthy New Coping Strategies

A major part of relapse prevention is stress management, and everyone has different coping strategies to manage periods of acute stress. In recovery, these stressors are even more dangerous than usual. Rehab can teach a person new coping methods, but it is ultimately up to him or her to put them into practice. This is much easier with a healthy body. Fatigue, blood pressure changes, sleep problems, and many other factors can cause cravings to relapse. These issues are far less frequent when you make exercise and physical activity a part of your regular routine.

If you are concerned about the expense of joining a gym or fitness club, there are many low-cost options for physical activity. Look for a safe running route near your home or develop a callisthenic routine you can do each morning. Eventually, you will find new opportunities to enjoy regular physical activity.

Join The Conversation With Fight Addiction Now

Fight Addiction Now is a wide network of other people struggling with addiction, people living sober for months or years, substance abuse treatment professionals, advocates, and loved ones of people who have struggled with addiction. We invite our readers to take part in conversations about relapse prevention and share their stories and advice with others.

Preventing Relapses With Community Support

The Fight Addiction Now community can offer advice for adding workouts to your daily or weekly routine and provide support and encouragement after rehab. Returning to “the real world” after rehab is incredibly stressful without support, and some people may not have anyone nearby to depend on when cravings strike or relapse triggers appear. Some people may relocate after rehab to avoid bad environments and bad influences.

The Fight Addiction Now community offers support to anyone who needs it regardless of where they live. Visit us online to learn more about relapse prevention after rehab and think of ways you can join the conversation.

Does Gaming Addiction Increase the Risk of Drug Relapse?

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Does Gaming Addiction Increase the Risk of Drug Relapse - Fight Addiction Now

Video games have become one of the most popular entertainment mediums on the planet over the past few decades*. In 2017 alone, Americans spent more than $36 billion on video game products and more than 60 percent of U.S. households have at least one video game system. Games used to only appeal to a niche crowd, but significant leaps in technology allow modern developers to create realistic worlds on an unbelievable scale, which interest a broader range of players.

It can be very easy to feel “sucked in” to some of the environments and worlds created by modern game developers, and video games are capable of causing physical and psychological problems when players become fixated and neglect real-world responsibilities. Anyone in rehab or returning to everyday life after rehab may find video games a great way to relax, but it’s important to acknowledge their potentially addictive properties.

Understanding Video Game Addiction

Video game addiction isn’t physically addictive like most habit-forming substances, but developing a psychological attachment to games can be damaging. Video game addiction typically entails neglecting responsibilities to play games, spending inordinate amounts of money on gaming, and even neglecting physical health to play more. Some people only sleep a few hours each night to get more game time into their schedules, and some players have lost their life savings due to video game addiction.

Links To Substance Abuse

Gaming drug relapse dangers - Fight Addiction NowVideo games have many good aspects that can turn detrimental in some circumstances. Ultimately, if a person leaves rehab and starts using video games as a distraction, he or she may eventually develop a stress-inducing fixation.

It’s vital to avoid replacing one addiction for another in recovery. Video gaming can’t become an addiction per se, but it can easily lead to compulsive behavioral patterns similar to sex addiction or exercise addiction**. Some of the behaviors that resonate with addiction that video games can create include:

  • Preoccupation. Just like a person with a substance abuse problem may be preoccupied with thoughts about using again, video games can lead to fixation that persists throughout daily life and may even interfere with everyday responsibilities, such as work.
  • Tolerance. Someone with a compulsive gaming disorder or who replaces substance abuse with video games may start seeking out more complex, challenging, or expensive games.
  • Withdrawal. A person with a compulsive gaming habit may feel restless or agitated when he or she cannot play games.
  • Inability to reduce. Someone who plays video games too much may start to feel as though he or she should reduce the amount of time spent playing, but be unable to do so.
  • Deception. A person may recognize his or her gaming fixation and lie to others about the time or money spent on video games.
  • Continuation despite negative impact. A person who continues playing video games after suffering negative consequences from gaming addiction likely has a compulsive gaming disorder.

These are just a few ways that demonstrate how video games may become an unintentional replacement for substance abuse. A person in recovery may turn to games as a distraction from cravings and then start to replace the rush of using drugs with the rush from playing games. Playing games triggers dopamine release*** similar to drug use, so creating the same type of cycle of dependency can be very dangerous. On the flip side, games can also be a constructive outlet that allows people in recovery to handle stress in a healthy way. The key is balance.

Different Types Of Games Have Different Effects

Gaming drug relapse dangers - Fight Addiction Now

Video game addiction may eventually cause withdrawal symptoms that push a person in recovery back into substance abuse. There is a vast amount of research indicating very positive effects of playing video games, such as increased neuroplasticity and activating parts of the brain that govern spatial memory, visual acuity, and attention. Video games could potentially become a valuable part of treatment and offer a healthy outlet that helps a person overcome urges to use drugs or alcohol again. It’s important for each individual to find games that are suitable and interesting, but to play them in moderation.

Different types of games require different skills, and there is a wide selection of titles, genres, and formats for playing games. Different types of games also carry different positive and negative possibilities, including:

  • Adventure games such as World of Warcraft and The Witcher. These games allow players to explore expansive fantasy worlds and do things they cannot do in real life. These games can offer stress-free relaxation to some, but other players may become fixated on uncovering hidden areas of a game world, finding in-game collectibles, or character progression. These games can also be incredibly time consuming, so a person may start to neglect real-world responsibilities to make progress in a fantasy world.
  • Puzzle games such as Candy Crush and Words With Friends can help keep the mind sharp and are available on smartphone devices, which can make it easy for a person to neglect real-world responsibilities when he or she is glued to the smartphone. These games typically also push micro-transactions which could lead to unhealthy spending habits.
  • Shooter games, such as Counter Strike and Halo require great hand-eye coordination and twitch reflexes. They offer the thrill of outplaying another player, but they can cause stress when players focus too much on winning rather than having fun.
  • Team-based games such as League of Legends and Overwatch offer a great environment to play with others toward common goals, but the communities of these games are notoriously toxic and random players often go out of their way to ruin games for others. This can lead to frustration and stress for players who just want to enjoy the game.

These are just a few examples of the potential benefits and drawbacks of different types of games for people in recovery. Cultivating new hobbies, making new friends, and building a larger support network are all important steps to living sober after rehab, and video games can potentially help or harm these efforts.

Cultivating New Hobbies and Support Networks

Video games certainly carry a potential to cause compulsive behaviors, especially in people who have struggled with substance abuse in the past and may be prone to replacing one addiction for another. It’s crucial for people living in recovery after rehab to make mindful choices about their lifestyles. If video games play a role in a person’s life, there is nothing inherently wrong or unhealthy about this unless the person starts neglecting self-care or real-world responsibilities for games.

Take Part in the Conversation on Fight Addiction Now

The Fight Addiction Now community includes professionals, researchers, and other ordinary people who have experienced substance abuse firsthand, either personally or through a loved one with an addiction. If you have had positive or negative experiences with video games post-rehab, we invite you to share your experiences with others in the Fight Addiction Now community.