Why Does My Therapist Ask Me About My Family?

Although there are commonalities among people who suffer from addiction to drugs like amphetamine, just as there are commonalities among people with heart disease or cancer, it is important that treatment be individualized and based on each patient’s unique needs. In addiction treatment, therapists will seek to learn as much as possible about their patients and their life circumstances. Knowledge about both an individual’s family of origin and current family situation can help in tailoring a treatment plan.

Understanding a Patient’s Family of Origin

Family of origin is a term sometimes used to describe the family in which someone was raised.  Therapists may ask questions about parents, siblings and other immediate family members. Sometimes it is helpful to understand family dynamics across multiple generations. Therapists may work with their patients to draw family trees or genograms, which map relationships and patterns.

One reason that it is helpful to look at family history is that addiction to drugs like amphetamine has a genetic component. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that an estimated 40 to 60 percent of someone’s vulnerability to addiction may be related to genetic factors.[1] Sometimes, seeing a pattern of substance abuse illustrated in visual form, or even just discussing it, can help provide patients with an extra level of motivation to stay sober. It can help patients who are ambivalent or unsure about whether they are truly addicted to see their situation more clearly.

Family of origin issues are also important because children learn by example. When people grow up in a family where negative emotions are not dealt with in a healthy way, they may fail to develop good patterns themselves and can be more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with life’s challenges. They may also learn to associate drugs like amphetamine and alcohol with socializing or having a good time if they grow up watching parents connect them. Therapists who understand these dynamics can help patients work to identify and change associations and develop new skills for addressing negative emotions.

Researchers have determined a number of risk factors involved in the development of substance abuse. These include factors in the individual, peer, family, school and community domains. A government website notes the following family-related risks:[2]

  • Substance abuse by family members
  • Lack of time spent together
  • Low level of parental supervision and monitoring
  • Lack of clear rules and consequences regarding substance use
  • Parental acceptance of substance use
  • Inconsistent expectations and limits
  • Job loss
  • Conflict
  • Abuse

Understanding a Patient’s Current Family Situation

A patient’s current family situation is also important for a therapist to understand. Therapists may help their patients to both identify family stressors that may need to be addressed and family strengths that can be drawn on to help in the recovery process. Sometimes they will involve family members and incorporate family therapy in the treatment process.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) notes that families act as systems in which the actions of one affect the others.[3] Other family members adapt to the actions of the one with substance abuse issues and develop patterns and coping mechanisms in an attempt to maintain balance. Unfortunately, these adaptive mechanisms can sometimes turn into enabling behaviors which need to be addressed.

SAMHSA notes other aspects of a family system. They explain that families possess nonsummativity, meaning that the whole is more than simply the sum of its parts. They also have their own pattern of verbal and nonverbal communication. The adaptation of members to the actions of others can lead to circular causality in which the behaviors of one prompt changes in another, which leads to subsequent changes in the person who originally initiated an action.

SAMHSA notes that when people begin to understand how substance abuse treatment can affect an entire family’s functioning, they often have increased motivation to work at recovery. Therapists may address family issues for this reason. They may also seek to understand more about family dynamics because it may be in a patient’s best interest to detach from family members who abuse drugs like amphetamine or alcohol or who otherwise may impede a patient’s recovery efforts.

Are You Ready?

Are you ready to begin a recovery journey? If so, give us a call. Our toll-free helpline is available 24 hours a day and is staffed with caring and knowledgeable individuals who understand the issues and want to help you find healing. They can even check your insurance coverage for you if you wish at no cost or obligation. No matter your family history or current family situation, recovery is possible. Take the first step today.


[1] “Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction,” National Institute on Drug Abuse, July 2014, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drug-abuse-addiction (February 24, 2016).

[2] “Risk and Protective Factors,” Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/substance-abuse/providers/prevention/risk-and-protective-factors.html#family (February 24, 2016).

[3] “Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy,” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2004, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64269/ (February 24, 2016).

The Benefits of Journaling in Recovery

There are multiple tasks involved in rebuilding a life after addiction to drugs like amphetamine. Journaling is a tool that can serve various purposes, and many people find it to be a very helpful habit to develop in recovery. People can choose the frequency, focus and mode that best suits their needs.

Types of Journal Writing

There is no one right way to keep a journal. Some people enjoy the actual act of writing in longhand. Others prefer to type. There are physical journals and online journals. Online journals that are password protected are a good choice for people worried about privacy. Some people don’t write at all but record themselves, on either video or audio. The type of content recorded may also vary. Types of journaling include the following:

  • Recording events – Sometimes people keep a journal just to have a record of their activities and to help maintain memories. This sort of journaling can be helpful when people are trying to develop new habits, such as those related to eating, sleeping and exercising. Looking back over past entries can help people see their progress in meeting specific goals. It may also be possible to identify patterns, such as poor eating habits on the weekend, that need to be addressed and changed.
  • Free writing – Journaling can help people identify thoughts, emotions and beliefs that exist under the surface of consciousness. These can often be accessed by free writing or writing for a set period of time without stopping and with no particular topic in mind. The longer the writing time, the more likely it is that layers will be peeled away and new insights will emerge.
  • Expressing gratitude – It can be very beneficial to emotional health to spend time on a regular basis focusing on life’s positives. One type of journaling focuses on writing down things for which to be grateful. Regularly recording positive aspects of life can help people begin to see them more clearly and frequently. A 2015 Psychology Today article reports that keeping a gratitude journal can help develop attention, determination, energy and enthusiasm.[1]
  • Focusing on specific issues – Sometimes people focus their journal writing on a specific issue. People with anger issues may choose, for example, to record things that made them angry and how they addressed the situation. Others may want to focus on spiritual development or family relationships.

There is no need for people to limit themselves to one particular type of journaling. It is possible for one journal to contain various types of writing. It is also possible to have multiple journals. Some people may choose, for example, to have an easily accessible journal for logging daily events and another password-protected online journal for free writing purposes.

How Journaling Can Be a Recovery Asset

Research has shown many benefits to journaling. A 2015 Huffington Post article reports that journaling can help people achieve goals, improve communication skills, boost memory and possibly increase IQ. It relieves stress and by doing so can help people lower their anxiety and improve their sleep.[2] It can even improve the immune system. Journaling about positive experiences and achievements can help people increase their self-confidence.

Specific benefits may be related to the type of journaling. A study reported in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine compared journaling focused on emotional expression with journaling based on both emotional expression and cognitive processing.[3] Those who focused on cognition were better able to see the positive benefits of stressful events they wrote about.

Journaling Frequency

Although many people enjoy writing in a journal every day, it isn’t necessary to make it a daily habit. The Psychology Today article reports that writing in a gratitude journal weekly can increase levels of optimism. There are benefits to journaling regularly and often, but it is also best if writing doesn’t start seeming like a chore. Often, once the habit is developed and people begin to reap the rewards, they look forward to their time of writing and want to do it as much as possible. Incorporating the practice in to a regular routine can help to develop self-discipline, an essential recovery task to keep away temptation o use drugs like amphetamine.

Your Journey Can Begin Today

If you are ready to start a recovery journey apart from drugs like amphetamine, give us a call. Our helpline is toll-free and available 24 hours a day. We understand your concerns and questions and will help you understand your treatment options. We can even check your insurance coverage if you would like us to at no cost or obligation. Every journey begins with a first step. Why not take that first step now and give us a call?


[1] “The Grateful Brain: The Neuroscience of Giving Thanks,” Alex Korb, Ph.D., Psychology Today, Nov. 20, 2012, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/prefrontal-nudity/201211/the-grateful-brain (January 1, 2016).

[2] “10 Surprising Benefits You’ll Get From Keeping a Journal,” Thai Nguyen, Huffpost Healthy Living, February 13, 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thai-nguyen/benefits-of-journaling-_b_6648884.html (January 1, 2016).

[3] “Journaling About Stressful Events: Effects of Cognitive Processing and Emotional Expression,” Philip M. Ullrich and Susan K. Lutgendorf, Annals of Behavioral Medicine, August 2002, http://link.springer.com/article/10.1207/S15324796ABM2403_10 (January 1, 2016).

How to Accept Good With the Bad

It has been said that life is less like a hike through mountains and valleys as it is a journey by train, with one rail representing life’s positives and the other the negatives. Joy and pain will both always be part of the human experience. Learning to see blessings in seasons of pain and accept challenges during times of joy is an important skill to master.

How Negativity Bias Affects Outlook

When people are experiencing difficulties, it is easy for them to color every aspect of life. This is due in part to something known as negativity bias. The bias refers to the fact that negative experiences, thoughts and feelings tend to have a stronger impact on people’s psychological well-being than do positive experiences, thoughts and feelings of equal strength.

Negativity bias manifests itself in multiple ways. As time approaches for a planned experience, for example, people tend to dread a negative experience more than they look forward to a positive one. They also tend to give a negative interpretation to an experience with a roughly equal number of positives and negatives. Language reflects the bias, with more terms generally used to express negative emotions than positive ones.

One theory to explain negative bias is that negative experiences generally require more mental resources to address. People experiencing challenging situations, like recovering from amphetamine abuse, must process and analyze them in order to minimize the consequences and avoid similar situations in the future. Because negative events require more cognitive processing, they also demand more attention and focus.

Overcoming Negativity Bias

Addressing negativity bias involves focusing more intentionally on the positives of life. Psychologist Rick Hanson states that the brain is like Velcro for negative experiences but like Teflon for positive ones. He explains that specialized circuits in the brain record negative experiences immediately but that most positive experiences are recorded by the brain’s standard memory systems. In these standard systems, for something to be transferred from short-term to long-term memory requires holding it in awareness for a period of time. For positive experiences to balance the negative ones, people must savor and focus on the positive ones for enough time, a dozen seconds or so, to be fully recorded.

In addition to focusing more fully on positive experiences that come as a matter of course, it is also wise to intentionally add small moments of pleasure to life. Pleasurable experiences differ for different people but can involve such things as watching a funny movie, listening to music, taking a bubble bath or eating a favorite meal. Balancing pain with pleasure doesn’t always have to involve an experience but can also be simply a mental process. Recalling a favorite memory or joke can quickly change a mood.

Another helpful tool for focusing on joy is to keep a record of pleasant moments. Keeping a gratitude journal is wise. People may also choose to keep a file of correspondence or pictures that remind them of positive experiences.

Experiencing Mixed Emotions

Focusing on life’s positives is an important skill, but it is possible to take it too far. An article in Scientific American notes that attempting to suppress unpleasant thoughts can have negative consequences.[2] Negative emotions help us evaluate our experiences, which leads to personal understanding, growth and a sense of meaning. They help identify problems which need to be addressed.

Acknowledging a full range of emotions also leads to enhanced psychological well-being. The article reports on a study of people undergoing psychotherapy. Before their sessions, patients completed questionnaires and wrote narratives about their lives. People who reported mixed emotions, feeling both fearful and hopeful, for example, experienced improvements in well-being over the next week or two. The study authors note that experiencing the emotions together may help detoxify the negative ones.

It is also important to be realistic about potential obstacles when pursuing goals. A Huffington Post article recommends a strategy called mental contrasting, which involves comparing a desired future outcome with current reality.[3] People are most likely to be successful when they focus on both a goal to be achieved like sobriety from drugs like amphetamine and the potential obstacles they may need to overcome. Thinking about potential obstacles allows people to develop plans to counteract them.

We Can Help

Learning to view challenges both optimistically and realistically is an important part of addiction recovery from drugs like amphetaime. If you are ready to start an addiction recovery journey, give us a call. Our helpline is toll-free and available 24 hours a day. We can help you understand and identify your treatment options and can even check your insurance coverage if you wish at no cost or obligation. You can be free. Why not call now?


[1] “Overcoming the Negativity Bias,” Rick Hanson, Ph.D., https://www.rickhanson.net/overcoming-negativity-bias/ (February 10, 2016).

[2] “Negative Emotions are Key to Well-Being,” Tori Rodriguez, Scientific American, May 2013, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/negative-emotions-key-well-being/ (February 10, 2016).

[3] “The Surprising Downside of Looking on the Bright Side,” Carolyn Gregoire, Huffington Post, October 2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/02/downside-of-looking-on-the-bright-side_n_5901162.html (February 10, 2016).

How Continued Drug Use Leads to an Overdose

People begin taking drugs like amphetamine for a number of reasons. Sometimes drugs are originally prescribed by a doctor to treat a medical condition. Sometimes people begin using drugs to manage negative emotions and to escape from the difficulties of life. Often, people originally begin using drugs out of curiosity or a desire to be part of a group.

Whatever the reason, the first use of a psychoactive drug is often a very powerful experience. People may feel euphoric or extremely relaxed and comfortable. The experience is generally rewarding enough to prompt further use.

Neurotransmitters and Drugs of Abuse

Different drugs act differently in the body, but their primary effects tend to be related to the way in which they affect neurotransmitters in the body. Neurotransmitters are body chemicals that help cells communicate with each other. A nerve releases a neurotransmitter which travels across the synapse, or gap between cells, and a receptor on a nearby cell receives it.

Scientists have identified more than 100 neurotransmitters, but a handful seems to be responsible for the majority of drug effects. These include GABA, serotonin, norepinephrine, glutamate and endogenous opioids. Dopamine is the body’s primary feel-good neurotransmitter, part of the brain’s reward system, and all drugs of abuse appear to affect it.

How Drug Tolerance Develops

The human body is an intricate machine with much innate wisdom. When it senses that things are out of balance it adapts, in an attempt to maintain homeostasis or balance. When drugs like amphetamine raise neurotransmitter levels abnormally, for example, it attempts to compensate, generally by producing less of a given body chemical or by making receptor cells less sensitive. As the body adapts to a drug’s effects, tolerance begins to develop. When people develop drug tolerance, they need larger amounts of the drug to achieve the same effects a smaller dose once produced.

Any given drug may produce different effects in the body, and tolerance to these effects may develop in different ways and at different rates. The Merck Manual notes that tolerance often develops because liver enzymes involved in metabolizing a drug become more active, and metabolism of the drug speeds up.[1]

They also note that the number of cell receptors may decrease or that strength of the bond between the receptor and the drug may diminish.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes that tolerance to the painkilling effects of heroin or morphine develops rapidly.[2] At first, when the drugs bind to receptors, a particular enzyme involved with firing impulses is inhibited. After this has happened repeatedly, the enzyme adapts, and cell firing is no longer changed.

Chasing the First High

People who use drugs like amphetamine often talk about chasing their first high. They try to re-create the euphoria and other effects they first felt. Unfortunately, because the body can begin to adapt to a drug’s effects quickly, people often find themselves rapidly escalating the amount of drugs they consume and their frequency of use.

Chasing a high is generally related to falling dopamine levels. Dopamine is naturally released by the body in response to activities that ensure the survival of the human race, such as eating and procreation. Drugs of abuse hijack this reward system. NIDA notes that drugs of abuse can cause the body to release two to 10 times the amount of dopamine that natural rewards do.[3]

Given this fact, it is not surprising that the body adapts. The Addict Science website reports on a study finding that monkeys allowed to consume cocaine for a year were found to have 15 to 20% fewer dopamine receptors. The brains of alcoholics have also been found to contain significantly fewer dopamine receptors than found in the non-alcoholic population.

Drug Tolerance and Overdose

The fact that people develop tolerance to a drug’s rewarding effects means that they tend to increase the amount they consume. Unfortunately, however, tolerance to a drug’s rewarding properties does not mean tolerance to all of its effects. This means that someone can take a drug like amphetamine in an amount that causes only a moderate high or simply causes them to avoid withdrawal symptoms, and the effects on other body systems can be enough to cause a serious or even fatal overdose.

Overdose reactions are related to the type of drug consumed. Most fatal overdoses are caused by the depression of breathing and other body processes. This risk is greatly increased when multiple drugs that depress the central nervous system (CNS) are consumed together or combined with alcohol. Stimulant drugs have different effects and may cause heart attacks or stroke.

A New Life Is Waiting

If you are ready to address an addiction to drugs like amphetamine, give us a call. Our helpline is toll-free and available 24 hours a day. We can answer your questions and assist you in finding a treatment program that best meets your needs. If you wish, we can even check your insurance coverage for you at no cost or obligation. Why not call now? A new life is waiting.


[1]  “Tolerance and Resistance to Drugs,” Daniel A. Hussar, PhD, Merck Manual, Consumer Version, https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/drugs/factors-affecting-response-to-drugs/tolerance-and-resistance-to-drugs  (January 17, 2016).

[2] “The Neurobiology of Drug Addiction,” National Institute on Drug Abuse, January 2007, http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/neurobiology-drug-addiction/section-iii-action-heroin-morphine/6-definition-tolerance (January 17, 2016).

[3] “Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction,” National Institute on Drug Abuse, July 2014, http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drugs-brain (January 17, 2016).

Does My Addiction to My Depression Meds Count as a Dual Diagnosis?

Dual Diagnosis is a term applied to the condition of suffering from both a mental health condition like depression or anxiety and an addiction to drugs or alcohol. When people have a Dual Diagnosis, the best treatment outcomes are seen when the conditions are treated concurrently, in an integrated manner and preferably within the same treatment facility. People who have been diagnosed with depression are often prescribed medications, and it is common to develop some degree of dependence on them.

Developing Tolerance to and Dependence on Antidepressants

The human body is equipped with the ability to adapt in order to maintain biochemical balance. When people begin to take medication on a regular basis, the body’s adaptations can lead to tolerance, in which a drug loses its effectiveness and larger doses must be taken to achieve the results a lower dose once produced. The Merck Manual explains that drug tolerance is often related to liver enzyme levels. As a drug continues to be consumed, the enzymes involved with metabolizing it become more highly activated, and the drug is metabolized more quickly.[1]

Drug tolerance may also be related to adaptations in the way in which the drug binds to cell receptors in the body. The body may reduce the number of receptors available or decrease the drug’s bonding ability. A particular type of rapid onset drug tolerance is known as tachyphylaxis, which is generally due to depletion of neurotransmitters involved in producing a drug’s effects.

Drug tolerance can lead to physical dependence. Physical dependence occurs when the body adapts to the presence of the drug to the extent that certain body chemicals and processes are only in balance when the drug is present. When drug levels begin to fall, the out-of-balance biochemistry can lead to withdrawal symptoms.

The most commonly prescribed depression medications are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. Harvard Health notes that tolerance to the drugs may develop after years or only months.[2] They report that discontinuing the medications can lead to a long list of symptoms, including insomnia, dizziness, blurred vision, fatigue, vivid dreams, tingling, burning and loss of coordination. Less frequently, people may experience flu-like symptoms, nausea, diarrhea, anxiety, irritability and crying spells.

Addiction to Antidepressants

True addiction often, but not always, involves physical dependence, but they are not the same thing. When people are addicted to a substance like amphetamine, they lose control over their consumption of it and continue to use it compulsively, despite experiencing negative consequences. Although people may develop psychological dependence or addiction to a wide range of substances and even activities, the current medical consensus is that depression medication is less likely to produce true addiction than many other substances are.

The idea that people generally do not get truly addicted to depression medication is not without its detractors. Scientists associated with the Nordic Cochrane Center, for example, note that discontinuation of SSRI depression medication can cause 37 of the 42 symptoms associated with discontinuation of benzodiazepine drugs, which are considered to have high addiction potential.[3] The authors believe that categorizing the drugs differently is illogical.

Drugs with high addiction potential generally raise levels of dopamine in the body. How depression medications affect dopamine is not entirely clear. The medical website WebMD states that the way in which antidepressants improve depression symptoms is not fully known but that it is widely believed that they exert their effects by affecting brain circuits and neurotransmitters including serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.[4] The antidepressant bupropion, commonly sold under the brand name Wellbutrin, directly targets the reuptake of dopamine. Other classes of antidepressants may affect dopamine levels in less direct ways.

Reducing or Ceasing Use of Antidepressants

Whether or not people who have become physically dependent on antidepressant medication are diagnosed with true addiction, they need help dealing with both the depression and the medication dependence. Doctors may help patients slowly taper off of a drug while monitoring symptoms. They may prescribe a drug in a different class or experiment with dosage levels. Sometimes a patient who wishes to discontinue antidepressant use will be switched to a similar drug with a longer half-life before the dosage is lowered.

Give Us a Call

If you would like to talk to someone about treating both depression and a medication dependence or addiction like to amphetamine, give us a call. Our helpline is toll-free and available 24 hours a day. We can answer your questions and help you understand your treatment options. We can even check your insurance coverage for you if you wish at no cost or obligation. Help is available. Why not call now?


[1] “Tolerance and Resistance to Drugs,” Daniel A. Hussar, PhD, Merck Manual, Consumer Version, https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/drugs/factors-affecting-response-to-drugs/tolerance-and-resistance-to-drugs  (January 27, 2016).

[2] “What are the Real Risks of Antidepressants?” Harvard Health Publications, June 2009, http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/what_are_the_real_risks_of_antidepressants (January 27, 2016).

[3] “Scientist: Antidepressants Cause Addiction,” Kristian Secher, Science Nordic, May 2013, http://sciencenordic.com/scientist-antidepressants-cause-addiction (January 27, 2016).

[4] “How Different Antidepressants Work,” WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/depression/how-different-antidepressants-work (January 27, 2016).

Why Finding Funding for Treatment Is Worth It

Addiction treatment is funded in a variety of ways. Often, health insurance covers a significant portion of the costs. Frequently, patients use more than one source to pay for their treatment. The 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that about 53% of patients surveyed used two or more sources of funding. These included private insurance, public assistance programs like Medicare or Medicaid, gifts or loans from family members, personal savings or earnings, and payment through military health care, the court system, or an employer.

Addiction Treatment Is a Good Investment

No matter how it is paid, addiction treatment is a worthwhile investment. It is worth the effort to find funding for the following reasons:

  • Addiction tends to worsen over time. The American Society of Addiction Medicine notes that the condition is chronic and progressive. They report that without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction may result in disability or premature death.
  • Addiction is costly. Although there is a cost associated with treatment, there are also significant costs associated with addiction itself. Many of these costs are difficult to quantify. They include such things as broken relationships, lost reputations, and missed opportunities. When there is legal trouble, addiction can cost people their freedom. There are also financial costs. The most basic is the amount of money spent on drugs or alcohol, which can be significant. Money may also be spent on healthcare and legal fees. In addition, addiction may affect finances by impairing people’s ability to work.
  • Treatment works. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that the majority of people who enter and remain in treatment stop their use of drugs and improve their functioning socially, occupationally and psychologically. Although relapse is never welcome, it is simply an indication that treatment should be adjusted and does not mean patients will not ultimately be successful. As NIDA notes, the relapse rates for addiction are about the same as those for other chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma and hypertension.
  • Treatment is cost effective. NIDA reports that addiction treatment reduces health and social costs by far more than the cost of the treatment itself. They estimate that the savings to cost ratio can exceed 12 to 1.

Insurance Coverage for Addiction Treatment

Insurance coverage for addiction treatment varies according to policy. Patients’ out-of-pocket costs are influenced by numerous factors. These may be determined by reading the Summary Plan Description and Evidence of Coverage sections of the policy information.

Often, coverage is influenced by network considerations. If plans are associated with health maintenance organizations (HMOs) or preferred provider organizations (PPOs), then coverage will vary depending on whether the treatment provider is within the network. For PPOs, out-of-network care is generally covered at a lower rate. In many HMOs, out-of-network care is not covered at all.

Insurance policies may also cover some types of addiction treatment, but not others. They may cover outpatient treatment, for example, but not residential care. They may cover detox services for some substances of abuse but not others. It is also common for policies to limit the number of days of treatment they will cover. Some have a fixed rate, while others require continuing evidence of need before additional days will be allowed.

Addiction Treatment and Budget Considerations

Patients concerned with budget restrictions have options for care. Outpatient programs, for example, generally cost much less than residential treatment options because patients are paying for treatment only, and not for lodging and food. Although outpatient programs are a good option for many patients, those with more longstanding or severe addictions are generally better served in a residential facility.

There are many other factors that influence treatment cost. Some facilities, for example, provide more luxurious accommodations than do others. These are likely to be more expensive. The geographical area of the country is likely to affect cost, as well. The type of staff at a facility may affect costs. Those that employ medical personnel are likely to be more expensive than those without such employees.

Addiction often co-exists with a mental health condition like post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety or depression. The best treatment outcomes come from treating all conditions simultaneously, preferably within the same treatment facility. Programs that do this are likely to be more expensive. Patients with co-occurring disorders, however, may also be able to tap into additional insurance coverage for the second diagnosis.

Treatment facilities understand financial realities. Many use a sliding scale based on income to determine costs. They are also generally able to work with patients to structure a payment plan that fits within a patient’s budget.

We Can Help

If you are struggling with amphetamine addiction, we can work with you to help you find a treatment program that fits your physical and financial situation. If you wish, we can check your insurance coverage for you, at no cost or obligation. Our helpline is toll-free and available 24 hours a day, so there’s never a wrong time to call. Why not call now?  A new life is waiting.

Reviewing EMDR

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapy originally developed to treat post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It was developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro, who made the observation that when upsetting thoughts came to her mind, her eyes began moving rapidly. She theorized that it was the brain’s mechanism for dealing with unwelcome memories and noticed that when the memories were recalled later, they had lost a great deal of their power. Dr. Shapiro began studying the phenomenon, and in 1989, published a study of the successful use of EMDR on 22 trauma victims.

Although the mechanism of action of EMDR, like that of most psychological therapies, is unclear, it is thought to affect the way in which the brain processes information. It is believed that EMDR helps the brain process memories in the same way that rapid eye movements do during sleep. It may break the neurological bonds between memories and the trauma associated with them. After successful EMDR treatment, memories can still be recalled, but the emotions associated with them are no longer disturbing.

Phases of EMDR Treatment

There are eight phases of EMDR treatment, as follows:

  • Phase 1: The therapist asks for the patient’s history and develops a treatment plan. Memories and currently distressing situations are identified and targeted for EMDR therapy. The therapist and patient work together to determine if there are any skills that need to be strengthened or developed.
  • Phase 2: Skills for handling emotional distress are taught. These may include imagery-based protocols and stress reduction techniques.
  • Phases 3-6: The following phases involve helping patients to identify visual images associated with memories, negative beliefs about themselves, and emotions and body sensations associated with the beliefs and memories. Patients are also asked to develop positive beliefs and to rate the intensity of both the positive beliefs and the negative emotions.

The heart of the therapy involves patients focusing on negative images, thoughts, and sensations while undergoing EMDR processing. This most commonly consists of eye movements, but can also involve tapping or listening to tones. Eye movements are generally elicited by asking patients to track the therapist’s hand.

Patients are then instructed to notice whatever comes to mind. This will help focus the next round of treatment. Once patients no longer experience distress associated with targeted memories, they are asked to focus on the positive belief they identified earlier. A positive trauma-related belief may be something like, “I survived and am strong.”

  • Phase 7: During Phase 7, patients are asked to keep a written record of their trauma-related thoughts and the self-calming activities used when necessary.
  • Phase 8: The final phase is one of evaluating progress.

Clients are guided through these eight stages with a skilled clinician who can tailor each session to the client’s unique needs.

The Effectiveness of EMDR

Because it is a relatively new treatment modality, EMDR has not been studied as extensively as older therapies. It appears, however, to be effective for a wide range of issues. The medical website WebMD notes that it has been used to treat addiction, anxiety, eating disorders and panic attacks. The site notes that the therapy has no apparent negative side effects and that researchers have shown the treatment’s effectiveness in reports that consolidated data from multiple studies.[i] EMDR has been recognized as effective by organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the Department of Defense, and the World Health Organization.

EMDR and Addiction Treatment

EMDR is generally used as an adjunct therapy in combination with other treatments. It is becoming more widely used to treat addiction, partly because it is not uncommon for people with addiction issues to also have PTSD. A 2006 article in the journal Psychiatric Services reports that up to 80 percent of women seeking substance abuse treatment have a history of assault, and that rates of PTSD in the population range from 30 to 59 percent.[ii] Sometimes, people with addiction issues haven’t been diagnosed with PTSD, but simply have negative thoughts and memories that prompt them, consciously or subconsciously, to escape through substance use. EMDR can address these thoughts.

EMDR may also be helpful for reprocessing memories related to the addiction itself. These include memories related to preparing the drug, its effects, and loss of control. A 2008 article in the Journal of EMDR Practice and Research reported on a study involving patients with chronic alcohol dependency. Those who participated in two sessions of EMDR showed a significant reduction in craving for alcohol immediately and one month after treatment.[iii]

Give Us a Call

If are struggling with an addiction to amphetamine or other substance of abuse, give us a call. Our toll-free helpline is available 24 hours a day and is staffed with trained admissions coordinators able to answer your questions. They can help you understand your treatment options and can even check your insurance coverage for you if you wish, at no cost or obligation. A new life is waiting. Why not call now?


[i] “EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing,” WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/emdr-what-is-it (November 14, 2015).

[ii] “Treatment Outcomes for Women With Substance Abuse and PTSD Who Have Experienced Complex Trauma,” Lisa R. Cohen and Denise A. Hien, Psychiatric Services, January, 2006, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3688835/ (November 14, 2015).

[iii] “EMDR Reprocessing of the Addiction Memory: Pretreatment, Posttreatment, and 1-Month Follow-Up,” Michael Hase, Sabine Schallmayer, and Martin Sack, Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 2008, http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/springer/emdr/2008/00000002/00000003/art00001 (November 14, 2015).

How Does Treatment Get Me from Addiction to Recovery?

Addiction is a multi-faceted condition that needs to be addressed in a comprehensive manner. Quality treatment programs recognize this and focus attention on multiple areas of need. Although no one program is the right choice for every individual struggling with addiction, there are commonalities among effective treatment programs.

Undergo Detox and Withdrawal

Addiction treatment helps people to accomplish the steps needed to fully recover. The first step in this process is always managing detoxification and withdrawal symptoms. Effective treatment helps individuals withdraw from substances safely. Most drugs of abuse, such as amphetamine, cause the body to develop tolerance and physical dependence. This occurs because the substances affect neurotransmitter levels, often by increasing their production or by making receptor cells more sensitive. Because the body is always attempting to maintain balance, or homeostasis, it adapts by reducing the production of the involved neurotransmitters or by altering receptor cells.

As the body adapts, it needs larger amounts of the drug to achieve the affects once achieved by a smaller dose. This is known as tolerance. If an individual continues to consume drugs or alcohol, the body continues to adapt until neurotransmitter levels are only in balance when the drug is present in the system. This is physical dependence. When the substances are not in the body, withdrawal symptoms are experienced.

Detoxification, or detox, is the process of undergoing withdrawal under medical supervision. Symptoms are monitored and treated, and patients are made as comfortable as possible. Although detox is an important first step in addiction treatment, it does not constitute treatment on its own. lists the components of detox as evaluation, stabilization, and the preparation of patients for substance abuse treatment.

Address Ambivalence and Understand Addiction

It is common for people to enter the treatment process with ambivalent feelings about giving up their substance of choice. Change is generally a process that includes pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance. Counselors help patients recognize where they are on the spectrum and move to higher levels.

It can also be very helpful for people to begin to understand what is happening within their bodies and what to expect as healing progresses. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines addiction as a brain disease that changes both the structure of the brain and the way that it works. Patients can learn how to care for their brains as they heal. They can also learn about protracted withdrawal symptoms that they can expect to experience during the healing process.

Learn Relapse Prevention

After detoxing and beginning to understand the root causes of addiction, patients will need to begin identifying and understanding their relapse triggers. Relapse triggers can be both external stimuli, such as sights, sounds, and smells associated with substance use, and internal states, such as stress, boredom, or anger. Although some triggers are almost universal, there are others that are particular to individuals because of their personal history. Counseling that helps people identify patterns and recognize their personal drug use cues can be very important.

Individuals will then learn relapse prevention practices, including techniques such as urge surfing or distraction and recognizing and addressing negative emotional states. Anger management can be useful, as can relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation. Patients in addiction treatment will build a toolkit of skills that can be used when circumstances require them.

Identify and Address Co-occurring Disorders

It is very common for addiction to co-exist with a mental health condition such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or anxiety. The National Alliance on Mental Illness states that more than half of all drug abusers and about a third of alcohol abusers also experience a mental illness. The best treatment outcomes are seen when the conditions are treated at the same time, in a coordinated and integrated way, and preferably within the same treatment facility.

At this time patients can also explore the use of supportive medications to treat both mental illness and addiction. Although medications do not exist to treat every type of addiction, in some situations, medications can be used and can be a helpful adjunct to other aspects of treatment. People addicted to opiates or opioids may be prescribed methadone, buprenorphine or naltrexone. Methadone and buprenorphine help relieve cravings and naltrexone blocks opioids from attaching to receptor sites. Individuals addicted to alcohol may use naltrexone, acamprosate or disulfiram. Medications are being developed for addiction to other substances.

Build Accountability and Support

Finding a substance-free social and support system is an important recovery task. This often begins with group sessions within the treatment program. When people travel to attend rehab, they may not maintain the same support group after completion of the program, but learning to be open and accountable to others is a skill that is often developed during treatment.

Give Us a Call

If you are addicted to amphetamine or other substance and ready to begin the journey from addiction to recovery, give us a call. Our helpline is toll-free, and available 24 hours a day. We understand the issues and are always ready to answer your questions and help you find the treatment program that is best for you. We can help you identify your options and can even check your insurance coverage for you if you wish, at no cost or obligation. The recovery journey can begin today. Why not call now?

Choosing Treatment: Why You Need to Call Rehab Centers for Information

There are many types of addiction treatment programs. Methods and therapies differ as do treatment philosophies. In a research-based guide to effective addiction treatment, the National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that no one treatment program is the right choice for every patient. They stress the importance of matching treatment to each individual’s unique needs.[i]

Things to Learn about an Addiction Treatment Program

Before beginning treatment, it can be a wise time investment to call various rehab centers to find the one that seems to be the best fit. Questions to ask include the following:

  • Is the program licensed and accredited? There are various national and international accreditation agencies, such as the National Committee for Quality Assurance, the All-States program, the Joint Commission and the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. State governments also license programs, and the requirements vary between them.
  • Does the program offer outpatient or residential services? Residential programs offer meals and lodging in addition to treatment. Outpatient programs offer treatment only, and patients live elsewhere.
  • If the program is an outpatient facility, what are the hours of service? Some programs are offered during the evenings and on weekends so that people can maintain employment and other responsibilities. Some programs meet during the day. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration notes that programs designated as intensive outpatient programs last for at least 90 days and offer services from between six and 30 hours per week.[ii]
  • Who is on the staff and what are their qualifications and credentials? A program’s staff will vary depending on the services they offer. In addition to addiction counselors, there may be physicians, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, chaplains, family therapists and nutritionists. Counselors may have a variety of certifications, including LPC (licensed professional counselor), CAC (certified addictions counselor). LADC (licensed alcohol and drug counselor) and CCDP (certified co-occurring disorders counselor).
  • What types of addictions does the program treat? Sometimes programs specialize in the treatment of specific addictions and do not treat other types.
  • Does the program provide detox services? Detoxification, or detox, is the first stage of addiction treatment. It involves undergoing withdrawal under medical supervision. Some programs include detox as part of their services while others expect patients to undergo detox before beginning treatment.
  • Does the program address co-occurring disorders? It is very common for mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder to co-exist with addiction. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that more than half of all drug abusers report experiencing a mental illness.[iii] The best treatment outcomes are seen when disorders are treated in a coordinated and integrated way, preferably within the same treatment facility.
  • Does the program offer specialized tracks for specific populations? Sometimes people prefer to receive treatment with others who share certain characteristics. There may be programs specifically for adolescents, women or veterans, for example.
  • What is the typical treatment length? Ideally, treatment length is determined by patient needs, but is often determined by financial considerations. Some programs, however, have a minimum stay or offer a program that lasts a predetermined amount of time that is standard for a typical patient.
  • What is the patient to staff ratio? Generally, patients will receive more individualized services when the ratio is low.
  • Is there a specific type of counseling that is offered? Counseling is the mainstay of addiction treatment, but there are many counseling approaches. Cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy are common. Family therapy may be part of the program, especially for adolescent patients.
  • Does the program use medications? Medications have been approved to treat certain addictions. For opioids and opiates, methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone may be used. Medications to treat alcohol addiction include naltrexone, acamprosate and disulfiram.
  • Does the program offer any non-traditional therapies? These may include things like art, music, drama or animal therapies. Programs may also offer certain types of bodywork, such as massage, acupuncture, hydrotherapy or sauna treatment.
  • Is the program covered by your health insurance? If you are covered by a preferred provider or exclusive provider policy, it is important to verify that the program is within your network.
  • What are the provisions for aftercare? It is important to transition from active treatment and not to simply stop services abruptly.

We Can Help

If you would like help evaluating and identifying your addiction treatment options, give us a call. Our helpline is toll-free and available 24 hours a day. We can answer your questions and can even check your insurance coverage for you if you wish, at no cost or obligation. Why not begin your recovery journey now?


[i] “Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition),” National Institute on Drug Abuse, http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment (November 28, 2015).

[ii] “Quick Guide for Clinicians Based on TIP 47, Substance Abuse: Clinical Issues in Intensive Outpatient Treatment, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2006, http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA07-4233/SMA07-4233.pdf (November 28, 2015).

[iii] “Dual Diagnosis,” National Alliance on Mental Illness, https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Related-Conditions/Dual-Diagnosis (November 28, 2015).

6 Ways to Guard Against Relapse when Transitioning Back to Living Alone

People who have been in residential treatment centers for amphetamine addiction often have mixed emotions about returning to life on their own. They may be excited about moving on and putting their new skills into practice, but it is also natural to be nervous about the possibility of relapse. Planning ahead and preparing for success is important. Some of the ways in which people can guard against relapse when returning home include the following:

  1. Prepare Your Home for Success

Substance-use cravings can be triggered by environmental cues. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that this may be due to activity in an area of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. Substance use cues may initiate a response that makes neurons more sensitive to certain incoming signals and leads to an impairment in the ability to compare alternative courses of action.

The most obvious cue is the sight of something associated with the prior use of drugs or alcohol. This can be things like wine glasses and drug use paraphernalia, but could also be a chair that was frequently used. Other sensory input can also trigger cravings.

Sometimes it is wise for people to start a new sober life in an environment not associated at all with prior substance use. When people decide to move to a new home after rehab, it is important to be intentional about choosing a location. An apartment or house located near a liquor store is probably not the best choice, or one in a neighborhood where drug use is common.

When people decide not to move, it is wise to change the home environment to minimize substance use reminders. This may involve re-arranging or changing furniture pieces. When the environment looks different, it can be a cue to the subconscious mind that things have changed.

  1. Initiate New Rituals

Substance use often has associated rituals, such as those involved with acquiring and preparing a drug. It can be helpful for people in recovery to initiate new rituals associated with healthy habits. The Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network notes that positive rituals can improve the functioning of brain structures that help balance our stress systems.

Rituals in recovery may involve such things as meditation, exercise, journaling and creative pursuits such as drawing or playing a musical instrument. It is important that they be enjoyable and engaged in habitually. Some people suggest involving as many senses as possible when creating rituals to displace substance use. The sense of smell may be involved by diffusing essential oils or preparing a fragrant drink such as coffee or cinnamon tea. Drinking coffee or tea can also involve the sense of taste, as can sucking on a mint. The sense of sight may be engaged by setting out flowers, photos, or other things that produce a sense of joy or peace. Hearing is involved when music is played, and the sense of touch can be invoked by such things as a relaxing bath or kneading dough.

  1. Develop Accountability

During rehab, accountability to counselors and fellow patients is an important element of treatment. It is vital that a degree of accountability be maintained after the active phase of rehab has been completed. Regularly attending addiction support groups is an obvious way to help address the issue and it is also wise to have regular contact with a support group sponsor or mentor.

  1. Find a Comfortable Level of Activity

Both stress and boredom can be relapse triggers, so finding a degree of activity that avoids both is important. It may take some experimentation and trial and error to find sober, enjoyable activities, but finding them, and a sober social support network, is vital.

  1. Take Care of Your Physical Body

Addiction is a disease that damages the body and brain, and both need to be healed. Caring for the body involves being intentional about nutrition, sleep, and exercise.

  1. Plan Ahead for Cravings

There are relapse prevention skills that can be used when craving hits. It is important to be well versed in these skills and to have a plan for combatting times of temptation. Urge surfing involves understanding that most cravings last less than 30 minutes and may increase in intensity like a wave, but then subside. A 2011 Psychology Today article reports that smokers who received brief training in urge surfing cut back their cigarette usage by 37% during the next week. Distraction can also be a helpful tool for combatting cravings. It is important to think through options for various scenarios. Is there someone, such as a sponsor provided through an addiction support group, who can be called in the middle of the night?

We Can Help

If you are struggling with amphetamine addiction and are ready to start your recovery journey, give us a call. Our helpline is toll-free and available 24 hours a day. We understand the issues and can help you find a treatment program that meets your needs. We can also check your insurance coverage for you if you wish, at no cost or obligation. You can change your life, and we can help.

6 Benefits of a Recovery Lifestyle

Substance addiction to drugs like amphetamine is a disease with wide-ranging consequences. When people become addicted to drugs or alcohol, almost every area of life is touched in some way. Conversely, when people address addiction and begin to recover, life improvements are also seen in multiple domains. Benefits of living a substance-free life in recovery include the following:

  1. Improved health – Drug and alcohol abuse is hard on the body. In addition to living with the risk of a potentially fatal overdose, people suffering from addiction may have health problems in multiple organ systems. The National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that health problems associated with drugs include cardiovascular disease, hepatitis, stroke, lung disease, cancer and HIV/AIDS. Alcohol is associated with damage to the liver, heart, brain, pancreas and immune system and with at least five types of cancer.

Health improvements associated with recovery come both from the cessation of substance use and from the development of healthy habits. A 2013 survey conducted by Faces and Voices of Recovery reports that use of emergency rooms decreases ten-fold when people transition from active addiction to recovery.[3] The survey also found that as recovery progresses, people increasingly engage in behaviors that maintain and improve their health, such as eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.

  1. Increased emotional balance – Because the brain is housed in the body, many healthy behaviors that are part of a recovery lifestyle improve both physical and emotional health. In addition, people generally learn techniques in addiction treatment that help them recognize and manage their negative emotions. These include practices such as cognitive reframing, anger management, meditation and breathing exercises. Journaling can also be helpful. Attending regular support group meetings helps with many recovery goals and provides mentors and friends with whom to share struggles. The Faces and Voices survey states that in recovery untreated problems related to emotional and mental health are four times less than when addiction to drugs like amphetamine is ongoing.
  1. Greater financial stability – When people are suffering from addiction, a great deal of money often goes to purchasing drugs and alcohol. In recovery, that money is no longer being spent to feed the addiction. The rate of paying bills on time and paying back personal debt doubles. As time in recovery increases, people are more likely to report having good credit and less likely to report owing delinquent taxes. Addiction also interferes with the ability to hold a job. In recovery, the rate of steady employment increases by over 50 percent.
  1. Better interpersonal relationships – Addiction is hard on relationships. As drugs or alcohol increase in priority, other things fade in importance. People begin to feel neglected. Trust is eroded and people under the influence of psychoactive substances may act in violent ways or say things they wouldn’t otherwise say. The survey reports that in recovery, participation in family activities increases from 68% to 95 percent and the rate of domestic violence decreases dramatically.
  1. Decreased concerns about the future – When people are addicted to drugs like amphetamine or alcohol, it is often difficult for them to see beyond their immediate desires and needs. In recovery, it becomes possible to take a longer view. The rate of saving for retirement and otherwise planning for the future almost triples. People are also twice as likely to engage in job training or furthering their education. As time in recovery increases, so does the rate at which people start their own businesses. Worries about legal trouble are also eased. In recovery, involvement in illegal activities and involvement with the criminal justice system decreases about ten-fold.
  1. A stronger sense of purpose and involvement – A fulfilling life generally involves turning attention outward and focusing on the needs of others as well as personal ones. Faces and Voices reports that in recovery volunteering in the community almost triples. People are also much more likely to vote.

Every Journey Begins With a Single Step

Every journey, including the journey of addiction recovery from drugs like amphetamine, begins with a single step. Why not take that first step today? Call our toll-free helpline, and let us answer your questions. We can assist you in identifying your treatment options and finding the one that best meets your needs. We can even check your insurance coverage for you if you wish at no cost or obligation. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, so why put it off? Call now, and begin your new life.

[1] “Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse,” National Institute on Drug Abuse, December 2012, http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/medical-consequences-drug-abuse  (December 16, 2015).

[2] “Alcohol’s Effects on the Body,” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/alcohols-effects-body (December 16, 2015).

[3] “First-Ever Nationwide Survey Documents Dramatic Improvements in All Areas of Life for People in Recovery from Addiction,” Faces and Voices of Recovery, April 25, 2013, http://www.facesandvoicesofrecovery.org/press/releases/2013/04/first-ever-nationwide-survey-documents-dramatic-improvements-all-areas-life (December 16, 2015).


4 Reasons Addiction Is Considered a Disease

Although addiction was once considered a matter of character or morals, it is now understood to be a disease and classified as such by most medical and research associations. The American Medical Association, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the World Health Organization all agree that addiction is a chronic yet treatable disease that affects the brain and body. Addiction is considered a disease for many reasons, including the following.

  1. Addiction Changes the Structure and Function of the Brain

Advances in brain imaging and other research tools have led to a greater understanding of the ways in which the brains of people who suffer from addiction are affected. These include changes in multiple brain regions.

The World Health Organization notes that drugs and alcohol produce immediate effects in neurotransmitter systems, but that there are also many short- and long-term changes at the cellular level. They note that long-term effects are usually associated with changes in gene expression and synthesized proteins. The proteins alter the function of neurons and lead to changes in behavior.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains that drugs use the brain’s communication system to disturb the way that nerve cells process information. They can do this in various ways. Some drugs, such as marijuana and heroin, imitate the brain’s natural chemicals and fool the brain into sending abnormal signals. Other drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, cause the release of abnormally large amounts of neurotransmitters.

The neurotransmitter most often associated with the development of addiction is dopamine, part of the brain’s reward system. When the reward system is overstimulated, a reinforcing pattern is put into place. The brain adapts to the surges in dopamine by producing less or by reducing the number of receptor cells, which leads people to use larger and larger amounts of their drug of choice.

The glutamate system is also affected. Glutamate is associated with learning, and when the concentration is changed, cognitive function can be altered. NIDA reports that in drug-addicted individuals, there are changes in areas of the brain associated with decision-making, memory, learning, judgment and behavior control. NIDA concludes that while the initial decision to take drugs is voluntary in the majority of cases, the brain changes caused by substance use severely affect an addicted individual’s ability to exercise restraint.

  1. There Is a Strong Genetic Component to Addiction

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence estimates that about half of the risk of developing addiction comes from genetic factors. Studies of adopted children and twins raised apart have confirmed that the tendency of addiction to run in families is not solely due to environmental considerations such as parental modeling.

  1. People Vulnerable to One Addiction are also Vulnerable to Others

Because a predisposition to addiction is due to brain changes, any potentially addicting substance or activity can become a problem. It is not uncommon for people to replace one addiction with another or to relapse on their drug of choice because use of another substance affected the same brain regions involved in the primary addiction. The tendency towards cross-addiction can also be seen in families where there is a strong history of addiction, but not always to the same substances.

  1. Addiction Can Be Effectively Treated with Medications

Medications have not been developed to treat every addiction, but for those suffering from addiction to opioids, opiates, or alcohol, pharmaceuticals can be a very important addition to a treatment protocol. Medications are currently in development to treat addiction to other substances as well.

Medications for addiction alter the way in which neurotransmitters affect the body by binding to receptor sites. Drugs that mimic the action of natural neurotransmitters are known as agonists. Other drugs, known as antagonists, bind to receptor sites, but do not activate them. In that way, they block the actions of other drugs on the same receptors. Drugs approved to treat addiction to opiates and opioids like heroin and prescription painkillers include methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. Medications for alcohol addiction include naltrexone, acamprosate, disulfiram and topiramate.

You Can Take Back Your Life

Addiction is a serious disease, but one that can be treated effectively. If you or a loved one is ready to overcome an addiction to amphetamines, give us a call. Our helpline is available 24 hours a day and the call is toll-free. Our employees are compassionate and knowledgeable and understand the issues involved. They can answer your questions and help you understand your treatment options. They can also check your insurance coverage for you if you wish, at no cost or obligation. Don’t let addiction take any more of your life from you. Call now and begin to take it back.

Learning to Believe in Yourself During Addiction Treatment

There are many factors that contribute to success in meeting goals such as recovery from addiction. Motivation is important, as is a sober support network. One important characteristic is people’s belief that they have what it takes to overcome challenges. This is sometimes known as self-efficacy.

The American Psychological Association defines self-efficacy as the belief that people hold that they are capable of doing what is necessary to produce given results. They note that people’s evaluations of their capabilities influence the setting of goals and the amount of energy spent on them. They also affect the likelihood of reaching the goals that have been set.

Self-Efficacy in Addiction Recovery

A 2015 study reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse  examined factors associated with recovering from addiction. The study identified variables that helped patients become abstinent and those that helped them remain abstinent for an extended period of time. There was overlap between the lists, but they were not identical.

One personal characteristic that appeared on both lists was self-efficacy. Patients with higher self-efficacy were confident in their ability to use the skills they had been taught in treatment. Patients currently in outpatient treatment who were still using cocaine were interviewed. Those with high self-efficacy had a 35 percent likelihood of being abstinent at the next interview, compared to almost no likelihood for those with low levels. Among patients who were already abstinent, those with high levels of self-efficacy had more than an 80 percent chance of remaining abstinent for the next interview, compared to 40 percent for those with low scores.

Developing Belief in Yourself

Self-efficacy is thought to develop in a number of ways. The website Education.com explains that the psychologist Albert Bandura developed self-efficacy theory. He posited that beliefs come from mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, social persuasions and physiological reactions.

Mastery experiences involve the interpretation of past success. Performing a task successfully builds confidence that future attempts will also be successful. Vicarious experiences, or social modeling, involves drawing confidence from the successes of others. Social persuasion is the encouragement individuals get from other people, and physiological reactions are the moods and feelings that are the backdrop for the way in which people interpret events.

Ways to build self-efficacy include the following:

  • Build on small successes. Make a small, manageable change in order to boost your confidence. Set another small goal, and when it is reached, set another.
  • Remember past achievements. Taking time to remember when past goals were met can build a sense of confidence and belief in yourself. It is especially helpful to think of times when goals were accomplished that initially seemed too difficult or unreachable.
  • Follow someone’s lead. Finding role models with whom to identify can help build a sense of possibility. If others who share characteristics with you can overcome challenges, it can bolster the belief that you can do it, too.
  • Find ways to boost your mood. Take time to relax and do things you enjoy. Address any mental health issues such as anxiety or depression.
  • Pay attention to your support system. Some people are more naturally encouraging than others. Try to spend more time with people who encourage than with those who don’t.
  • Acknowledge and address negative thought patterns. It is natural to have periods of self-doubt, but all thoughts don’t need to be accepted as truth. Acknowledge the thoughts, examine their validity and counteract them.

The Support of Others

Self-belief may develop somewhat differently in males and females. A 2005 article in the American Journal of Community Psychology reported on a study of social support and self-efficacy for patients recovering from substance addiction. The study found that time in treatment related to increased self-efficacy and to decreased support for alcohol and drug use. The authors found, however, that for women, social support mediated the link between treatment and increased self-efficacy, but the same was not found for men.

There are a number of practices that therapists may use to help their patients build belief in themselves. One is motivational interviewing (MI). A motivational interviewing assessment notes that MI is intended to help patients resolve ambivalence. Treatment providers aim to express empathy, develop discrepancy, roll with resistance and support self-efficacy.

We Can Help You Begin a Recovery Journey

If you are ready to begin an addiction recovery journey, we can help you get started. Our toll-free helpline is staffed 24 hours a day with knowledgeable consultants who can answer your questions and help you understand your treatment options. They can also check your insurance coverage for you if you wish, at no cost or obligation. There is nothing to lose by calling, and much potentially to gain. Why not call now?

How Stress Management Can Aid Rehab

Stress and substance addiction are closely related. Stress can contribute to the development of addiction and is a significant relapse risk. Learning to manage stress in a healthy way is an important recovery goal.

The American Institute of Stress notes that stress is a subjective concept that is difficult to precisely define. It was originally defined as the response of the body to any demand for change. Over time, it became synonymous with strain or tension or with demands that overwhelm personal resources. The Institute notes, however, that there are elements of stress that can be helpful. To a point, increased stress results in increased productivity, but there is a level at which the trend reverses. The tipping point differs for each individual, however, so paying attention to early warning symptoms of stress overload is vital. If you are struggling with an amphetamine addiction, learn how stress management can help you succeed in rehab.

How Stress Contributes to Addiction

Stress and substance abuse interact in multiple ways. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism explains the way in which stress can contribute to an increased risk of alcohol relapse. They note that alcohol can cause dysfunction in stress responses. Both chronic abuse and acute withdrawal are associated with increased activity in the brain’s stress systems. This involves higher levels of stress hormones in specific areas of the brain.

Chronic alcohol use can also change the brain’s reward pathway. This altered pathway can increase alcohol craving when people are exposed to alcohol-related stimuli, and also when they are under stress. In other words, people suffering from addiction may have both an overactive stress response and a tendency for stress to increase substance use cravings.

Stress may increase the addiction and relapse risk directly or indirectly, through its effect on other variables. A 2008 article in the journal Pain reports on a study indicating that stress can affect pain tolerance. Substance abuse sometimes begins as an attempt to address pain.

A publication by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) entitled Managing Chronic Pain in Adults with or in Recovery from Substance Use Disorders notes that chronic pain and addiction frequently co-occur.

Higher levels of stress also correspond to an increase in negative emotional states. A 2010 article in the journal Personality and Individual Differences examined stress in adolescents. A strong association was found between stress and negative emotions such as depression and anxiety.

Managing Stress

Dealing with stress can take many forms, including the following:

  • Addressing conflicts – Some degree of stress is inevitable, but recurring conflicts that cause higher than normal stress levels can often be addressed and resolved. Relationship issues, especially within the family, are common contributors to increased levels of stress. Family or couple’s therapy can be very beneficial.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – CBT involves becoming aware of the beliefs and thoughts than underlie emotions. Stress can sometimes arise from or be intensified by unhelpful or untrue beliefs, such as “Things never work out for me” or “No one likes me.” CBT involves examining beliefs for their truth and counteracting or discarding those that are harmful. Viewing a situation from a different and more positive angle is sometimes known as reframing.
  • Breathing exercises – Focusing on breathing when the stress level begins to rise can turn down the body’s stress response. When under stress, the body tends to take quick and shallow breaths. Taking deeper and slower breaths can communicate to the body that there is no danger. It can lower heart rate and blood pressure. Breathing exercises can vary. One common technique is to breathe in slowly, hold the breath for a defined period of time, then slowly exhale.
  • Muscle relaxation – Muscles tense when stress levels rise. A helpful relaxation technique can be to focus on one muscle at a time, tense it, and then let it fully relax. Receiving a massage is another way to address muscle tension.
  • Music – Listening to any enjoyable music can be pleasurable, but there are certain musical styles that have been shown to lower the stress response. Classical music can be very calming. There are also music-based audio programs using music based on binaural beats, which can slow brain waves.
  • Mindfulness – Mindfulness is the practice of focusing fully on the present moment, becoming aware of physical and emotional states without judging them. Stress can often be heightened by a focus on the future or the past, and focusing on the present can release unnecessary tension.
  • Gratitude – Becoming consciously aware of and thankful for circumstances, relationships, belongings and other positive aspects of life can be very powerful. Gratitude has been shown to lower stress and improve sleep.
  • Exercise – Physical exercise can boost endorphins, the body’s feel-good chemicals, and help counteract stress. Even moderate or low-level exercise can be beneficial.
  • Meditation – Meditation can take various forms. A common technique is to choose a positive affirmation, such as “I am at peace” and to slowly repeat it to yourself, either out loud or silently. This is often timed to coincide with taking slow, deep breaths.
  • Laughter – Laughter can lower stress hormones and increase endorphins. Taking time to watch a humorous movie or television show or deciding to read a funny book or webpage can enhance wellbeing.

By incorporating a few of these techniques into your daily routine you can learn to cope with stress in healthy ways.

Give Us a Call

If you are struggling with amphetamine addiction and are ready to start an addiction recovery journey, give us a call. Our helpline is toll-free and available 24 hours a day. We can help you understand your treatment options and find the one that is best for you. We can also check your insurance coverage for you if you wish, at no cost or obligation. Addiction is a treatable disease and we can help you find your road to recovery. Why not call now?

7 Reasons to Have an Intervention

It is often difficult for friends and family members of people who suffer from addiction to know how best to help their loved ones. One option is to hold an intervention. There are many good reasons to consider the possibility.

The Benefits of Addiction Intervention

If your loved one is struggling with amphetamine addiction, you may want to hold an intervention for the following reasons:

  1. Addicted individuals may deny or fail to realize the existence or extent of the problem. Denial is a hallmark of addiction. Once thought to be simply a psychological defense mechanism, it is now believed to be caused by the effects of drugs or alcohol on the brain. A 2009 article in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences states that more than 80 percent of addicted individuals fail to seek treatment on their own and that this may be due to impaired recognition of the severity of the addiction. The authors postulate that the impairment is related to malfunction of brain networks associated with self-awareness and insight. An intervention can help people dealing with addiction to see the situation more clearly.
  1. People struggling with addiction may not understand the effect of their addiction on their friends and family members. Even people who recognize their own addiction may think of it as a personal issue that doesn’t influence others in a significant way. An intervention is often a time when people’s eyes are opened to the many ways in which the issues they face can affect their friends and family members.
  1. People struggling with addiction may not know how to find treatment. Addiction can be all consuming, and people may spend large amounts of time sourcing, acquiring, and using their substances of choice. It is often difficult for people in that situation to find the time and initiative to research treatment options. If a treatment program is located and arrangements made as part of an intervention, it makes the process much easier logistically.
  1. The sooner that treatment is sought, the better. Addiction is a progressive condition with potentially serious consequences. Consequences can be physical, emotional, social, financial and legal. They can be long lasting or even permanent. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that incentives and sanctions from family members and others, such as those that may be presented in an intervention, can significantly increase the rates of treatment entry. They also affect the rate at which people remain in treatment and their ultimate recovery success.
  1. Friends and family members may need help in dealing with the issue. Although it is possible for friends and family members to hold interventions on their own, it is often wise to hire professional interventionists. Although training and experience vary, many interventionists were once counselors or social workers. They may be certified by the National Association of Drug and Alcohol Interventionists or by another organization. Interventionists not only have the training and experience necessary to manage interventions, but they can also be objective. Friends and family members often have too many strong emotions tied to the addiction issue to handle interventions successfully.

When addicted individuals have a history of violence, either to themselves or others, it is always wise to hire professional interventionists. It is also prudent to bring in professionals when people have co-existing mental health conditions. The strength of the addiction should be considered, as well as whether individuals are addicted to multiple substances. Bringing in a professional is also indicated if there has been a previous, unsuccessful intervention attempt.

  1. Intervention letters are something that addicted individuals can read over and over again. Having the thoughts of their family members in written form preserves them for future use. They can be used after treatment to help prevent relapse. When interventions are not successful, and addicted individuals choose not to enter treatment, the letters may help them decide to enter treatment later.
  1. An interventionist can help with follow-up, whether the intervention was successful or not. Interventionists vary in the services they offer, but many will monitor the progress of individuals who decide to enter treatment and help develop aftercare plans. They can help family members learn how to help their loved ones during the recovery process. If the individuals choose not to enter treatment, interventionists can help family members and friends determine how best to proceed.

If your loved one is struggling with an addiction to amphetamine or other substance, holding an intervention can help him to get his life back on track and make a full recovery.

Find Addiction Help Today

If you have questions about planning an intervention or hiring an interventionist, or you would like to talk about addiction treatment, give us a call. Our helpline is toll free and available 24 hours a day. Our caring and knowledgeable consultants can help you understand your treatment options. They can even check your insurance coverage for you if desired, at no cost or obligation. We can join your team. Why not call now?

3 Determining Factors for Choosing Gender-Specific Treatment

The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that there is no one right path to recovery that is the best choice for every individual. It is important to consider individual characteristics when making treatment decisions. For some people, the best treatment program is one that is gender-specific.

If you are ready to recovery from addiction to amphetamines, some possible reasons to consider gender-specific treatment include the following.

Emotional Comfort

For a variety of reasons, people may simply feel more comfortable in a same-gender environment. Sometimes this is due to a history of abuse. When people experience abuse at the hands of someone of the opposite sex, it can affect their view of the opposite gender and their ability to fully relax in a mixed-sex group. This can be addressed in treatment, and addressing it within the context of same-gender treatment may be the best approach.

Sometimes, no abuse is involved, but other elements of personal history make people feel more comfortable among others of the same sex. This may be simply due to family makeup, such as having all brothers, but no sisters, or attending an all-female or all-male school. Recovering from addiction takes focus and emotional energy. If people feel that their emotional energy will be drained by being in a mixed-gender environment, they may choose a gender-specific program to avoid that.

Gender-related Physical and Emotional Needs

Women may have specific needs related to childbearing or childcare. Women who are pregnant may benefit from a program that focuses on specific pregnancy-related concerns. Those with infants may want a program that provides for childcare and the ability to continue nursing a baby during treatment.

There are physical differences in the ways that men and women metabolize and are affected by drugs and alcohol, and some people may wish to choose a gender-specific program that recognizes and focuses on these differences. A 2013 BU Today article notes that alcohol abuse decreases the white matter in brains of both men and women, but that the area of the loss differs. For men, the corpus callosum is affected, while the cortex is more affected in women. The article also notes that there are gender differences in the rate of brain healing, with women recovering more rapidly than men.

Men and women may also abuse substances for different reasons, and understanding these can help focus treatment. Gender-related reasons for abusing substances may be due to physical, emotional and social differences. A 2014 article in the Hartford Courant reports on a study finding that the neurotransmitter dopamine is activated in both male and female smokers, but that in women, the part of the brain associated with habit formation is affected, while in men, it is the part of the brain that reinforces psychoactive effects.

A publication by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration notes that substance abuse among women is often related to interpersonal relationships. They are often introduced to drugs or alcohol by friends, boyfriends, or family members and view shared substance use as a way to maintain ties. Women are more likely than men to relapse as a result of interpersonal conflict and to relapse in the presence of a significant other.

Less Distraction in Rehab

For heterosexual patients, same-gender rehab programs may reduce romance-related distractions. When people become abstinent from drugs and alcohol, there is often a tendency to fill newly available time with romantic relationships. For a number of reasons, most recovery experts recommend against forming new romantic relationships during rehab and early recovery. While people are learning new habits and skills, it is wise to maintain focus, and a new romance can steal time and energy from the goal.

Romantic relationships formed during rehab may not be as healthy as they could be, because the people involved are still working on issues raised during treatment and have not had enough time to resolve them. Emotions also tend to be unstable during early recovery. It is not uncommon for people to experience depression or anxiety as part of withdrawal, and episodes can continue for a while as the brain heals and regains balance. When people have been in recovery for a while and are emotionally stronger, they make better romantic partners. When relationships are formed too soon, there may be a degree of volatility and pain that is counterproductive to the recovery process.

Begin to Break Free

If you are ready to overcome addiction to amphetamines or other substance and would like to identify and discuss your options, give us a call. Our helpline is toll-free and available 24 hours a day. Our consultants are knowledgeable and compassionate and understand the issues involved. They can answer your questions and can even check your insurance coverage for you if you wish, at no cost or obligation. You have nothing to lose by calling—and much to gain. Call now and begin to break free.

Why Patience Is Important in a Loved One’s Rehab

Patience during rehab is an important attribute for both the patient and the patient’s family. Although society in general is accustomed to quick results and instant gratification when it comes to life’s changes and challenges, patience can protect family members from discouragement and frustration while their loved one is going through rehab. Patience helps all of those involved in the process gain a greater understanding of what it means to adopt the one-day-at-a-time philosophy necessary for successful recovery.

A Look at Amphetamines

Amphetamines are drugs used as appetite suppressants and stimulants. Certain weight-loss drugs as well as drugs used to treat the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are examples of amphetamines. Amphetamines are highly habit forming. Addiction can develop when the body and brain become dependent on the feelings the drugs produce. Tolerance to the drugs build up over time and the body needs more of the substance to produce the same level of symptom control or desired results. Amphetamine addiction requires treatment in a drug rehab facility in order to be successful. Treatment programs can be either inpatient or outpatient, depending on your insurance coverage and specific situation. You or your loved one’s intake counselor can help you understand your individual coverage and benefits where drug treatment is concerned.

The Importance of Patience

Patience helps families and their loved ones in rehab keep expectations under control. Unrealistic expectations about the time it takes to get clean and sober and how difficult it can be to stay that way can cause unnecessary frustration and anger and lead to depression in both the person being treated and his or her loved ones. Patience helps families grasp what recovery looks like and the life-long commitment to sobriety it requires. Patience during recovery also helps control the need to judge, blame and expect more than is reasonable when and if relapse happens. Understanding the step-by-step, one-day-at-a-time philosophy so important when it comes to rehab can create and nurture patience where it did not exist before.

Finding Help for Amphetamine Addiction

Using amphetamines in larger amounts or for longer periods of time than prescribed by a physician can lead to addiction. Getting proper treatment for amphetamine addiction involves understanding how addiction treatment works and the patience you need to see it through. If you or a loved one struggles with amphetamine abuse, we are here to help you. Call our toll-free helpline 24 hours a day to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options.

Therapy, Reprocessing and Healing from Trauma

The American Psychological Association  (APA) defines trauma as an emotional response to an event like an accident, rape or natural disaster. The website Helpguide.org  explains that traumatic events are generally those that shatter people’s sense of security and cause feelings of helplessness and vulnerability. The site notes that trauma is often experienced when there is a threat to life or safety, but that other types of overwhelming situations can also be traumatic, and that the subjective emotional experience is more important in defining trauma than the nature of the actual event. Trauma is more likely if an event happened unexpectedly, repeatedly, in childhood or if the person who experienced the trauma felt powerless to prevent it. People may be exposed to trauma from a wide range of experiences, including surgery, car accidents and other types of injuries, relationship breakups, the sudden death of a loved one, the discovery of a disabling or life-threatening illness, or humiliating or deeply disappointing experiences.

An event that would not be experienced as trauma under one condition may be experienced as traumatic in another. People already under heavy stress are more likely to experience a new stressor as traumatic. A history of childhood trauma, which can lead to an underlying feeling of helplessness, can also contribute to the experiencing of trauma in adulthood.

Physical and Emotional Symptoms of Trauma

Traumatic experiences can cause people to undergo a wide range of emotional and physical symptoms. The APA lists some of these as shock, denial, flashbacks, unpredictable emotions, headaches and nausea. People may feel disconnected from their emotions or they may experience anxiety, hopelessness, shame, overwhelming sadness or a sense of being in constant danger. They may find it difficult to trust others and therefore withdraw from relationships. Tension may manifest in physical symptoms such as fatigue, muscle tightness and achiness, insomnia, nightmares, a racing heart and being easily startled. People are often edgy and agitated and may experience confusion and difficulty concentrating.

Sometimes people gradually recover from the effects of a trauma without professional help. Other times, however, people get stuck and symptoms do not improve on their own. Professional help may be necessary when people find that their symptoms are interfering with their daily functioning or they are dealing with them in unhealthy ways, such as through the use of alcohol or drugs.

Trauma Treatment

Treatment for trauma often involves both focus on physical symptoms and on the emotions and beliefs that underlie them. Therapies include the following:

  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) – During EMDR sessions, patients recall traumatic memories while rapidly moving their eyes back and forth. A 2012 article in Scientific American reports on a number of studies validating the therapy’s effectiveness. The article notes that EMDR has been endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and the Departments of Defense and of Veterans Affairs.

Despite the effectiveness of EMDR, its precise mechanisms of actions are not fully understood. One theory is that EMDR interferes with memory reconsolidation. When people recall memories, they are changed subtly before being filed away again. When patients move their eyes while recalling an event, the eye movements may compete for space in their working memories. This may allow the event to be re-filed in a changed form and be less intense when next recalled.

  • Somatic experiencing (SE) – During somatic experiencing, the focus is on the physical body. Patients learn to recognize trauma-related tension and sensations and release them. The theory is that trauma symptoms are based on a malfunctioning autonomic nervous system. The developer of SE modeled the therapy on the way in which animals in the wild deal with excess energy.
  • Psychomotor therapy – During psychomotor therapy, patients are led to give names and voices to their memories and to re-write them in a more positive way. It may involve role-play and group interaction. A 2014 article in the New York Times Magazine describes a session in which a patient recreated a trauma and asked other people to play certain roles. The participants responded to the trauma patient in the way he needed, by forgiving, apologizing or validating his feelings.
  • Prolonged exposure (PE) – People who experience traumatic memories often try to avoid recalling them as much as possible. In exposure therapy, the memories are consciously recalled in an attempt to reduce their power. The therapy involves learning about trauma reactions, intentionally relaxing through breath exercises and other techniques, talking through the trauma, and intentionally practicing real-world exposure to triggering events.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – CBT involves identifying and addressing thoughts that prompt feelings and behaviors. For trauma-related events, CBT is often used in conjunction with other therapies.

Integrated Treatment for Trauma and Addition

Trauma and addiction often co-exist and are best treated in an integrated and coordinated manner. If you would like to find a treatment program that integrates trauma and addiction treatment, give us a call. Our helpline is toll-free and available 24 hours a day. We can help you identify your treatment options and can even check your insurance coverage for you if you wish, at no cost or obligation. Why not call now?

Journaling’s Effect on Wellness in Recovery

Throughout history, people have made a habit of writing down their thoughts, activities, goals, and other mental processes in a journal or diary. The fact that the practice has endured throughout time speaks to its power. More recently, researchers are discovering ways in which journaling can improve physical and mental health. If you are struggling with an addiction to amphetamine or other substance, learn how journaling can be an effective recovery tool.

Benefits of Journaling

Benefits of journaling include the following:

  • Identifying thoughts and emotions not fully brought to consciousness – All of us have thoughts and feelings that affect our behavior without us being fully aware of them. Journaling, especially the form called “free writing,” can help us identify these thoughts and emotions. Free writing involves writing whatever comes to mind for a given period of time without stopping to re-read or think about what is being written. The thoughts and emotions identified in this way can then be evaluated and addressed.
  • Expressing gratitude – A 2012 Psychology Today article emphasizes the power of thankfulness. The author notes that gratitude has been linked to increased optimism and a decrease in physical ailments. It is associated with better sleep and lower levels of anxiety and depression. The article points out that the brain cannot easily focus on both positive and negative stimuli at the same time. Journaling thankfulness and gratitude can be a powerful tool for improving mental outlook.
  • Reducing the power of strong emotions – The University of Rochester Medical Center states that one way to deal with overwhelming emotions is to express them in a healthy way. They note that journaling can help in that process. Writing about stressful events can even provide physical benefits. A 2002 article in the journal Monitor on Psychology reports on studies showing that writing about stress and emotions can boost immune functioning in people dealing with illnesses. The article reports that suppressing trauma-related thoughts can compromise immune functioning and that people who write visit the doctor less often.
  • Identifying patterns – When people keep journals for a period of time, patterns may begin to emerge. People may notice that they regularly feel angry or depressed after being with certain people, or that urges to use substances are stronger when they are tired. Identifying patterns can help people change them.
  • Helping to prioritize issues – Journaling can help people recognize when certain emotions or problematic behaviors are occurring more regularly. If people begin to realize that they are feeing angry more often than they are feeling depressed, for instance, they may want to focus on learning anger management skills.
  • Setting and achieving goals – Journaling can help identify desires and areas in which to set goals and objectives. It can also help people reach those goals. A 2015 Huffington Post article notes that writing something down signals to the brain that it is important. The reticular activating system then helps identify opportunities and tools to achieve the goal.
  • Promoting mindfulness – Mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment while being non-judgmentally aware of feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. The Huffington Post article notes that there is a strong connection between happiness and mindfulness and that journaling can help people achieve a mindful state.
  • Improving communication and relationships – The skills developed in journaling may translate into better communication with others. This can improve personal and business relationships. Writing about disagreements can also sometimes help people see all sides of an issue and better understand the point of view of those with whom they are in conflict.
  • Providing an outlet for self-congratulation – Positive reinforcement for achievements is a strong motivator. Sometimes, for various reasons, others don’t provide the positive feedback that people in recovery need. Often, others are simply unaware of the victories or fail to recognize their importance. It is not always a good idea for people to verbally congratulate themselves for achievements, but writing them down in a journal can provide positive reinforcement.
  • Practicing self-discipline – Becoming disciplined in one area can help people build confidence and skill in self-control and can lead to increased self-discipline in other areas, as well.

There are many ways to journal. Some people prefer to use a computer or other electronic device and some prefer pen and paper. Some people like to write whatever comes to mind and others find it helpful to answer a given set of questions or follow another structured form. The most important thing is to write as often as possible and to set up a routine that makes it easy.

Change Can Begin Today

Recovery begins with the decision to make a change. If you are struggling with amphetamine addiction and are ready to recover, give us a call. Our helpline is toll-free and available 24 hours a day. Our consultants are caring and knowledgeable and can answer your questions about addiction treatment. They can help you identify the treatment option that best meets your needs and can even check your insurance coverage for you if you wish, at no cost or obligation. Addiction is treatable. Call today and begin your journey to freedom.

Common Withdrawal Side Effects and How Not to Be Afraid of Them

Withdrawal symptoms occur because of the human body’s natural desire to maintain homeostasis, or balance. When something within the body is outside of normal parameters, the body attempts to compensate. Most psychoactive drugs work by affecting the levels of certain neurotransmitters, usually by raising them, and the body reacts in various ways, such as by reducing the amount produced or by making receptors more sensitive.

When people begin consuming drugs like amphetamine, the body quickly begins to adapt and push back against the effects. The adaptation is the basis for drug tolerance, in which larger amounts of the drug must be taken to achieve affects once achieved with a lower dose. As an individual continues to abuse the substances, the body begins to see their presence as normal, and in some ways is only balanced when the drug is in the system.

The drug’s effects and the body’s pushback act as opposing forces. When the drug is not present in the body, the user will feel the body’s reaction intensely, which is experienced as the symptoms of withdrawal. The New Zealand Drug Foundation describes it as two balanced people playing tug of war and one person dropping the rope and sending the other person flying.

The Nature of Withdrawal Symptoms

Because withdrawal symptoms are caused by the body’s adaptations to a drug, they are generally opposite in nature from a drug’s primary effects. This means that for drugs that depress the central nervous system, withdrawal effects are generally stimulatory. For stimulating drugs, withdrawal symptoms generally depress the body. There are also withdrawal effects that are common to many psychoactive substances, such as cold and flu-like symptoms.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence lists the following common withdrawal symptoms: headaches, fatigue, sweating, insomnia, loss of appetite, anxiety, depression, irritability, trembling, nausea and vomiting. They note that in severe cases people may experience seizures, fever, agitation, confusion and hallucinations. Severe symptoms require medical attention.

How quickly people begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms depends on personal metabolism and on the nature of the substance. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that withdrawal from crack cocaine can begin within hours of the last use. Alcohol withdrawal can begin 24 to 48 hours after the blood alcohol level drops, and heroin withdrawal within 24 hours of last consuming the drug.

Medically Supervised Detox

Detoxification, or detox, is the process of undergoing withdrawal until the body is clear of the addicting substance. It is always wise to do this under medical supervision. Detox can be undertaken in different ways and in different settings. Sometimes, an outpatient detox is possible. At other times, the best choice is for patients to undergo treatment in a hospital, freestanding clinic, or addiction treatment facility.

Sometimes an insurance company will cover residential detox for some substances, but not others. This is due to the fact that withdrawal from certain substances is considered more medically dangerous. Often, withdrawal from sedative substances like alcohol and benzodiazepines is most problematic.

How Withdrawal Symptoms Are Treated

Although it is natural to be leery of undergoing withdrawal, medical personnel work very hard to make detox as safe and comfortable as possible. Symptoms are monitored and addressed as needed. A SAMHSA publication entitled “Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment” lists the following possible interventions.

  • Alcohol – For alcohol withdrawal, slowly metabolized benzodiazepines may be given. The drugs may be given intravenously or orally. When patients are stabilized, the benzodiazepines are slowly tapered over the next few days. Other medications that can be used include barbiturates, beta-blockers, antipsychotics and anticonvulsants.
  • Opiates and opioids – Withdrawal from opiates like heroin and opioids like prescription painkillers is often treated with methadone or buprenorphine. In addition, patients may be given medications to counteract gastrointestinal symptoms like stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Clonidine may also be used, along with drugs to treat insomnia, headache, and bone and muscle pain.
  • Benzodiazepines and Other Sedative-Hypnotic Drugs – Patients who have abused short-acting benzodiazepines may be switched to longer acting drugs in the same class. Phenobarbital may also be used.
  • Stimulants – Withdrawal from stimulants like cocaine and amphetamine is often treated symptomatically. People may be very hungry and in need of large portions of nutritious food. Headaches may be evaluated and treated. Drugs that have been used for stimulant withdrawal include amantadine, modafilinil and mirtazapine.

Although the duration of detox varies, undergoing the process is always a matter of facing short-term discomfort for long-term rewards. The price of continuing in addiction is much higher: physically, emotionally, socially, and financially.

Give Us a Call

If you are ready to begin your recovery journey, give us a call. Consultants who staff our toll-free helpline are ready to answer your questions and help you understand your treatment options. They can assist you in finding the detox and rehab option that best meets your needs. They can even check your insurance coverage for you if you wish, at no cost or obligation. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, so there is never a wrong time to call. Call now and begin a new life.

5 Ways to Create Sober Routines in Recovery

Part of recovering from an addiction to amphetamine or other substance is developing new routines that will support physical and psychological health and aid in the maintenance of sobriety. Routines help people practice behaviors until they become habitual. When routines are in place, making healthy choices about how to spend time and energy becomes easier.

Focus on Recovery Goals

Your recovery goals may change slightly as recovery progresses, but core issues will remain constant. Goals may include physical and neurological recovery, developing a recovery support system, avoiding relapse triggers, restoring relationships, and developing new, substance-free leisure activities.

With goals in mind, make a list of behaviors that help you achieve them. Physical healing, for example, can be supported by waking and sleeping at regular hours to make sure you get adequate rest and eating at regular times to make sure nutritional needs are met. Some sort of regular exercise is also helpful. Regularly attending support group meetings is a logical way to develop a support system and avoiding relapse triggers can involve spending time with sober friends, and staying away from places where you used to use. Romantic relationships may be strengthened with a regular date night and developing new leisure activities can involve joining a club or finding a new hobby.

Some activities will serve multiple purposes. Many recovery support groups provide not only support, but also education and social gatherings. Activities involving aerobic exercise can help with physical healing, emotional regulation, and also relapse prevention. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports on 2012 animal studies finding that aerobic exercise reduced cocaine-seeking behavior. Making sure to get adequate sleep is also helpful for both physical healing and relapse prevention. A 2007 article in the Journal of Addictive Diseases reports that sleep disturbances increase the relapse risk in people recovering from alcohol dependence.

Make a Plan for Behaviors and Activities

When activities are selected, decide how frequently they need to be practiced. Some elements of a personal routine, such as those associated with eating and sleeping, need to be practiced daily. Some things may become part of a weekly routine, such as attending a service to promote spiritual growth or shopping for healthy food at a farmer’s market. You may decide that some activities, such as working out at a gym should be engaged in a few times a week. Because both fatigue and boredom can be relapse triggers, it is important to find the balance between too much free time and being overscheduled.

Make Your Routine Easy to Follow

This means taking care of logistical details in advance. If support group attendance, for example, requires transportation or childcare, make sure that has been arranged. It may be easier to follow a sleeping and waking routine by adding blackout blinds to the windows or utilizing white noise.

Especially in the beginning, when new routines are being established, it is wise to utilize reminders. These may include visual cues, such as dates and times written on a calendar, or digital aids, such as smartphone alarms. Accountability can be helpful, as well. Telling a mentor to call you when you miss a support group meeting, for example, can keep you on track.

Evaluate Your Progress

Frequently ask yourself how you are doing at keeping your routines. Are they helping you to reach your goals? Because people who have suffered from substance addiction may be more likely to develop process or behavioral addictions, evaluating progress should include making sure that activities such as eating, exercising, or playing video games are not becoming obsessions. Red flags include obsessive thoughts about the activity and the development of negative consequences associated with the behavior. Almost any activity can become problematic. A 2010 article in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse discusses tanning as a behavioral addiction.

Be Flexible and Make Changes when Necessary

As healing progresses and basic routines become habitual, new goals can be set and new routines added to support them. New goals may be related to such things as educational or vocational pursuits.

Interests may also change and develop. Sometimes, when people’s lives have been consumed with addiction, they discover that they have forgotten or never developed interest in other things, and it can take a while to find new hobbies and activities that are enjoyable and the right fit. Anhedonia, or the inability to enjoy normally pleasurable activities, is also very common in early recovery. This is due to the depletion of dopamine and other neurotransmitters. Patience is needed as the brain and body heal, but at some point people may decide that a new way to meet recovery goals would be a better fit for them.

We Can Help

If you or someone you love is struggling with amphetamine addiction and ready to start a recovery journey, give us a call. We understand the issues, can answer your questions, and can help you find the treatment program that is the best fit for you. We can even check your insurance coverage for you if you wish, at no cost or obligation. The helpline is toll-free and available 24 hours a day. Call now and begin your journey to freedom.

Five Reasons to Tell Your Kids Why You’re Sober

People in recovery make choices about how much of their past addiction to disclose and to whom. Decisions may be based on how much of the history is already known or guessed, or on the strength and nature of relationships. It is important to discuss the use of drugs and alcohol with children, and sometimes a parent’s own history becomes part of that discussion. At other times, a child already knows or has lived through a parent’s addiction, and a discussion about sobriety is a chance to begin to deal with the consequences and restore damaged relationships.

Although how much to say is a personal decision, and every parent must decide whether there are subjects that would be better to avoid, it is often wise for parents to discuss their addiction history and recovery with their children, for the following reasons:

  1. You are an important source of information and your opinion about drug and alcohol use matters. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence reports that kids who discuss alcohol and drug use with their parents and learn about the dangers are 50 percent less likely to use substances than those who do not discuss the issues. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration notes that about 80 percent of children believe that their parents should have a say in whether or not they drink alcohol.

People who have walked through addiction and emerged on the other side understand the nature of the disease. It can be helpful to share the scientific understanding of addiction, but also the personal lessons learned. Sharing how and why you began using substances and the growing problems you encountered can help your children relate to and accept the reality of the issue. For people new to recovery, it can also be helpful to share the nature of the recovery process and to explain that it takes time for the brain to heal and for new skills to become habits. It is wise to inform your children that you are committed to the recovery process, but to be aware that progress is rarely a straight line.

  1. You can provide an important warning. Children of people who have struggled with addiction are more likely to face it themselves. This can be due both to genetic factors and to the powerful effects of modeling. Whether or not they lived through the addiction, they are at higher risk of developing dependence themselves. When kids make their decisions about whether to use drugs or alcohol, it is important for them to be aware that their addiction risk is higher than it is for those without a family history of the disease.
  1. It is important to model and demonstrate honesty. Addiction is a multifaceted disease with biological, psychological and social components. For many people, a significant contributing factor is the desire to escape negative emotions through drug or alcohol use. Often, people are not fully aware they are doing this, because they have not completely acknowledged and been honest with themselves about their thoughts and feelings. For this reason, learning to face challenges honestly can be an important part of the recovery process.

Although it is important to share age-appropriate information with children, it is also important to be truthful, both for the sake of personal integrity and for the example set for the kids. Children often know when a parent is obscuring the truth, and it impedes and negatively affects the relationship. Honesty can help begin to rebuild relationships hurt by addiction. When you are honest with your children they are more likely to be honest with you. Being honest does not always mean answering every question, but it does mean choosing not to lie. It is sometimes appropriate to answer a question with a response like, “I don’t feel comfortable discussing everything I did while using drugs. I did a lot of things I’m not proud of.”

  1. It is important to model and demonstrate accountability. Another important skill to master in recovery, both for personal growth and for setting an example for children, is accountability for past mistakes. Addiction is a disease of denial, and facing the truth of the disease and its consequences is a sign that recovery is progressing. Accepting responsibility is the first step in asking for forgiveness, and asking forgiveness is often an important part of restoring relationships. Whether or not your children are fully aware of it, if they were alive when you were going through it, your addiction affected them in negative ways, and acknowledging that can help counterbalance some of those negative effects.
  1. Open conversation can break bonds of shame. Both those who have experienced addiction and their children may have shame to address. Consciously or unconsciously, children often take responsibility for the actions of their parents. The National Association for Children of Alcoholics advocates teaching children with a mnemonic device called The Seven Cs. The first three are “I didn’t cause it,” “I can’t cure it,” and “I can’t control it.” An important part of explaining addiction and recovery to children is explaining that their actions did not contribute to the parent’s problems and releasing them from any blame or shame they may have taken on. Having open conversations can also help people in recovery to break the power of their own shame, which often flourishes in silence and secrecy.

Begin to Heal

If you need addiction treatment, call our toll-free helpline, which is available 24 hours a day. We can help you identify your treatment options and can even check your insurance coverage for you if you wish, at no cost or obligation. Begin your journey of recovery today.

Why Is Controlling My Emotions So Important in Rehab?

The impact emotions have on our actions and our overall health cannot be overstated and are frequently misunderstood. Many people mistakenly equate the word “emotion” with “feelings.” The belief, then, tends to be that emotions can be easily over-ridden by the rational brain. “Get over it,” this thinking tells us.

The truth, however, is that emotions are much more powerful than most people realize. Certainly, emotions are involved in the processing of feelings and moods, but there is much more to it than that. In fact, the brain uses a person’s emotional system, which is essentially an intricate network of biochemical neurological signals and responses sparked by various congenital and external triggers, to manage the following critical functions:

  • Forming new habits (learning)
  • Feeling tired, falling asleep and waking up
  • Exercising self-control despite powerful cravings
  • Forming and recalling memories selectively
  • Feelings of self-worth and optimism for the future
  • Motivation to exercise or work hard
  • Relational bonding
  • Sexual attraction and function

The mind constantly works to move repeated behaviors from the conscious area of the brain into the subconscious. This allows people to focus their conscious attention on critical decision-making exercises instead of routines, but often results in detrimental behaviors becoming hard-wired into a person’s psychology. Whether it is an addiction issue or another mental health problem such as depression or anxiety, any behaviors that have moved into to the emotional part of the brain are extremely difficult, or even impossible, to reprogram without professional help. Regardless of how intensely an alcoholic wants to stop drinking, for instance, the emotional or psychological compulsion to drink will be stronger than the rational desire to quit. Thus the key to recovery is to cause non-addictive, healthier methods of relief to be established in the emotional center of the brain. This takes significant time and effort but it is possible with the proper help.

The Emotions of Rehab

Rehab is definitely an emotional journey. Individuals in the process of overcoming psychological disorders will experience a wide range of emotions, including the following:

  • Shame
  • Denial
  • Hopelessness
  • Determination
  • Frustration
  • Excitement
  • Fear
  • Euphoria
  • Optimism
  • Confidence
  • Disappointment

One of the primary functions of drugs and alcohol is the numbing of emotional or physical pain. Addicts medicate their emotions by getting drunk or high. Thus when an addict stops using substances he or she will experience a rush of emotions that feel intense and even overwhelming. Everything feels more extreme for the recovering addict. The lows are extremely low and the highs are dizzyingly high. One of the most important jobs of recovery support staff members is to help the addict to navigate these extreme emotions without self-medicating. This requires the cultivation of improved mindfulness skills and healthier coping techniques. The following techniques are often included in the most effective recovery programs:

  • Individual counseling and life coaching
  • Support group meetings
  • Coping skill instruction and emotion management exercises
  • 24-Hour accountability
  • Empowering educational experiences that increase mindfulness and understanding
  • Medically supervised detox
  • Family counseling and support

One of the greatest benefits of inpatient rehab programs is that counselors and support staff are available 24 hours a day and are ready to help you navigate every emotional extreme. The process of recovery continues long after the residential phase, though. Learning to be mindful of your emotions and to lean on friends and supporters when temptations arise will be the difference between continuing healing and relapse.

The Importance of Aftercare

It is common for amphetamine addicts to feel extremely confident in themselves as they complete their stint in rehab. This often leads to unwise, reckless choices. Recovering addicts frequently overestimate their ability to resist temptation and underestimate the emotional power of various experiences and circumstances. Long-term aftercare programs help maintain sobriety for months or even years by re-connecting the addict to the people, ideas and disciplines that he or she experienced during rehab. Maintaining these connections is especially helpful when the addict’s emotions are triggered by the following experiences:

  • Relationship problems
  • Loneliness
  • Boredom
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Trauma

Successful recovery requires that the individual learn to recognize the early signals of the kind of emotion shift that can place his sobriety in jeopardy. The longer a person waits to reach out for help, the less likely it is that he will. As emotions become heightened, either positively or negatively, the psychological process that takes place in the brain makes it more difficult for the individual to think rationally. The result is often an emotional outburst in which the addict reverts to habitual methods of coping, like amphetamine use. Learning to control your emotions – instead of being controlled by them – is absolutely essential for your successful recovery.

24-Hour Recovery Helpline

If you would like more information about the role of psychological health in the process of addiction, or would like to be referred to a recovery program that can help you learn more effective ways of controlling your emotions, please call our toll-free helpline today. We are available any time of day or night with free, no-strings-attached, advice and answers. It may seem that you are helpless to control your emotions, but you are not. There are ways to learn how to regain control of this powerful psychological process. We can help. Call now.

Why Are People Drawn to Abuse Amphetamines?

Amphetamine is a drug primarily used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Other drugs are chemically similar and also known as amphetamines. These include dextroamphetamine, levoamphetamine and lisdexamphetamine. Prescription drugs that contain amphetamine or metabolize into it include the ADHD drugs Adderall, Dexedrine Dextrostat, Desoxyn, ProCentra and Vyvanase and the diet drug Didrex. The most well-known street drug in the amphetamine class is methamphetamine, commonly known as meth. Amphetamines are stimulants which produce a range of physical and psychological effects.

Effects of Amphetamine Drugs

There are many reasons that people may abuse amphetamines including the following:

  • Euphoria – Like most drugs of abuse, amphetamines affect levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, one of the body’s primary feel good chemicals. Dopamine is part of the body’s reward system, and levels are raised in response to activities that ensure the survival of the species, like eating and procreation. Drugs of abuse can hijack this system and produce dopamine in amounts many times greater than what is produced by natural rewards. Because people learn to repeat actions that raise dopamine, a drug’s effect on the neurotransmitter plays a role in the development of addiction.

Amphetamines increase the amount of dopamine in the synaptic gap, the tiny space between nerve cells, through multiple mechanisms. Because the drugs are similar in structure to dopamine, they can enter cells and force dopamine molecules to be released. They may also be able to reduce the rate at which dopamine is taken back into cellular storage. People abusing amphetamines for their euphoric effects may take the drugs orally or may crush the pills to snort them or mix with water and inject.

  • Energy and alertness – Amphetamines may be abused because they give users increased energy. The website Drugs.com notes that the mechanism by which amphetamines and other central nervous system (CNS) stimulants exert their effects is not fully known. An online medical dictionary notes that some stimulants are chemically similar to the body chemical norepinephrine and can stimulate the body’s fight-or-flight system. Stimulants can open breathing passages, constrict blood vessels and increase heart rate, blood pressure and glucose levels. The energy and alertness produced by amphetamines may be sought by a variety of people including those who work night shifts or drive long distances.
  • Mental focus – Amphetamines are often prescribed to treat ADHD, and because of this, the drugs are frequently abused by students and others who believe they will give them a mental boost when studying. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports, however, that despite the widespread belief that the drugs can provide cognitive enhancement, studies have found that they do not improve learning or thinking ability in people without ADHD. NIDA further notes that students who abuse prescription stimulant drugs actually have lower grades in high school and college than those who do not.
  • Weight loss – Amphetamines suppress the appetite and for this reason, they may be abused by people who want to lose weight.

Consequences of Amphetamine Abuse

Unfortunately, amphetamine abuse can have serious consequences. NIDA reports that abuse of prescription stimulants can lead to serious cardiovascular problems including stroke. They can also cause hostility and paranoia and contribute to malnutrition.

Amphetamine overdose symptoms include rapid breathing, aggression, panic, restlessness and shaking or seizures. There may also be gastrointestinal effects such as vomiting or diarrhea. Stimulant psychosis may occur, which includes visual and auditory hallucinations, confusion, delusions and extreme agitation. Usually stimulant psychosis resolves within a week or two, but a small percentage of people will continue to experience intermittent symptoms for months or even years.

Amphetamines also have significant addiction potential. When people become physically addicted to the drugs, they suffer withdrawal symptoms when they are not consumed on a regular basis. Withdrawal symptoms are a result of the body’s adaptations as it pushes back against a drug’s effects and are generally opposite in nature to them. For stimulant drugs like amphetamines, withdrawal symptoms include fatigue, increased appetite and depression. Early withdrawal symptoms include excessive sleep, but that may be followed by a period of insomnia. Occasionally, a condition known as amphetamine withdrawal psychosis occurs.

We Can Help You Find Treatment

If you or a loved one has developed an addiction to amphetamines or any other substance, let us help you find the treatment you need. Our helpline is toll-free and staffed with caring and knowledgeable consultants who can answer your questions and help you identify your options and find your recovery path. They can even check your insurance coverage for you if you wish at no cost or obligation. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, so there is never a wrong time to call. Why not call now?

How Drugs Affect Women’s Brains

Although both men and women use and abuse drugs and alcohol, their experiences may differ in significant ways. Biological factors may influence the way in which substances like amphetamine are processed and subsequently their effects on the brains and bodies of users. Hormones, body composition, and metabolism may all contribute to the differences experienced.

Gender Differences in Drug Processing

Differences in the ways that men and women process drugs include the following:

  • Binding capacity in the bloodA 2014 article in Scientific American notes that women have less binding capacity in their blood than men do. Binding capacity is the ability of blood proteins to contain foreign substances. Because of this, drugs may potentially cause more side effects in women.
  • Hormone levels – Hormonal differences affect the way that women experience the effects of opioid painkillers. Women receive a higher degree of pain relief from the drugs due possibly to the effect of estrogen, which modulates the body’s pain response. Woman have a harder time quitting the habitual use of painkillers and are more likely to relapse after addiction has developed. Relapse is most likely during the middle of the menstrual cycle, when glucose in the brain, which is necessary for self-control, is lower.
  • Neurotransmitter binding – Men and women may differ in the way in which neurotransmitters bind to receptor cells. Younger women tend to have higher mu-opioid binding potential than men do, but in postmenopausal women, the levels are below those of men.
  • Stomach acidity – Women tend to have stomachs that are less acidic. This means that certain drugs may be absorbed more quickly. Lower stomach acidity may cause women to feel the effects of antianxiety drugs more rapidly and strongly, and the drugs may be more toxic to them.
  • Body composition – Many drugs are designed to dissolve in lipids in order to cross the blood-brain barrier. Women tend to have higher levels of body fat, and this can trap medications for longer periods of time.
  • Liver function – Most drugs are processed by the liver, and men’s bodies do this more quickly than women’s bodies do. This means drugs tend to stay in women’s systems longer. Different liver enzymes, however, may work at different speeds. Scientific American notes that the liver enzyme CY P3A4 is especially active in young women and that this may make some drugs less effective.
  • Kidney function – Men’s kidneys also operate more quickly than women’s do at filtering out drug compounds. This also contributes to the fact that drugs may stay in women’s systems for longer periods of time.

Differences in Drug Toxicity and Subjective Experiences

Because women tend to metabolize drugs and alcohol more slowly, their effects on the brain and other organs may be magnified. A 2004 report by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that women who suffer from alcohol addiction develop nerve damage, cirrhosis and damage of the heart muscle more rapidly than their male counterparts. Their brains may also be more vulnerable. A study utilizing tomography of the brain found brain shrinkage in both males and females addicted to alcohol. The women, however, reported drinking excessively for only about half as long as did the men. A further indication of brain vulnerability in women is that despite the fact that men drink more heavily and often, the genders experience equal rates of blackouts.

The differences in the way that substances like amphetamine are metabolized leads to differences in subjective experiences. A 2006 article by the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports on a study of men and women addicted to both cocaine and alcohol. After consuming the substances, men and women were asked to rate their levels of various feelings, both positive and negative. No differences were found when alcohol was consumed alone or when alcohol and cocaine were combined, but when cocaine alone was consumed, women reported higher levels of combined mental and physical well-being.

The article notes that the study parallels animal studies, which have found that female rats demonstrate higher levels of motivation for cocaine than do their male counterparts. Conversely, previous studies have shown that women report greater levels of anxiety than men do when cocaine is consumed. The authors note that the finding is significant because cocaine is the drug most often found by medical examiners in the bodies of female decedents and that it underscores the need for adequate addiction treatment.

We Can Help You Find Treatment

If you are looking for quality addiction treatment, we can help you find it. Our helpline is toll-free and available 24 hours a day. We can help you identify treatment options and find the one that best meets your needs. We can also check your insurance coverage for you if desired, at no cost or obligation. Your journey to recovery can start today. Why not give us a call?

A Guide to Different Types of Therapy

In a research-based guide to effective drug addiction treatment, the National Institute on Drug Abuse states that no one treatment is right for every patient. They note that patient and drug characteristics affect the appropriateness of treatment settings, interventions and services. For this reason, there are a large number of potentially helpful interventions. Treatments can be broadly categorized as psychotherapy, medication-assisted treatment or alternative therapies.


Psychotherapy, or counseling, which may include individual, group or family sessions, is the most common type of addiction treatment. Patients work with counselors to understand what triggers their desire to abuse substances and ways to combat it. They learn relapse prevention skills and work on motivational enhancement. If there are co-existing mental health disorders like depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), these are addressed as well. A 2003 article in the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry reviewed studies of psychotherapeutic treatments for addiction and concluded that they consistently proved to be helpful. Types of psychotherapy include the following:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – CBT focuses on identifying thoughts that underlie feelings and actions. The thoughts are examined for validity and helpfulness, and patients are taught to confront and discard them if they are not constructive and are leading to self-destructive behavior.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – A related treatment to traditional CBT, DBT adds the element of validation. Validation involves affirming that a patient’s feelings, thoughts and behaviors are logical in some way. DBT balances the acceptance of these with the goal of change.
  • Psychodynamic therapy – Behavioral therapies tend to focus on the present and on specific targeted behaviors. Psychodynamic therapy is more open-ended giving patients an opportunity to free-associate and discover unconscious relationships between current challenges and past experiences. It is also known as insight-oriented therapy.
  • Interpersonal therapy – Interpersonal therapy focuses on relationships and interpersonal skills. Patients learn to identify the emotions they experience when in conflict with others and healthy ways to express them. Patterns of isolation or aggression are identified and addressed.

Medication-assisted treatment

Medications for addiction to drugs like amphetamine are not generally used alone but may be used in addition to psychotherapy. Withdrawal symptoms may be treated with drugs, and for some addictions there are also medications to help with relapse prevention. These include the following:

  • Opiates and Opioids – There are a number of medications available to treat addiction to natural opiates like heroin and morphine and their synthetic counterparts, opioid painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone. Medications include methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. Methadone and buprenorphine reduce withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) notes that the drugs have been shown to increase retention in treatment. Naltrexone reduces the relapse risk and SAMHSA notes that it may be especially helpful for people exiting a treatment setting where abstinence has been enforced.
  • Alcohol – Alcohol addiction may be treated with acamprosate, naltrexone and disulfiram. Acamprosate reduces protracted withdrawal symptoms. Naltrexone reduces cravings. Disulfiram affects the way in which alcohol is metabolized leading to unpleasant physical reactions when alcohol is consumed.
  • Tobacco – Some addiction treatment professionals believe that treating tobacco addiction will help patients overcome other addictions as well. Medications to assist the process include nicotine, bupropion and varenicline.

Alternative Therapies

Alternative or complementary therapies may be added to an addiction treatment protocol. Possible treatments include the following:

  • Nutritional therapies – Optimizing nutrition can include both dietary interventions and the consumption of vitamin supplements. Drug and alcohol cravings can be linked to imbalances of nutrients and neurotransmitters. Physical conditions such as hypoglycemia, adrenal fatigue, oxidative stress and inflammation can also contribute. Although a nutritional program should optimally be individualized, recommendations generally include avoiding caffeine and highly sweetened, salted or processed food and consuming adequate amounts of protein, fiber and healthy fats. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory supplements can be helpful as can natural energy-producing aids such as B vitamins.
  • Bodywork – Therapies based on movement or manipulation of the body include acupuncture, yoga, exercise programs and massage. A specific type of acupuncture using 5 points on the ear may be used to treat drug cravings during withdrawal.
  • Animal programs – Programs involving the care of and interaction with animals, such as equine or canine therapies, can lower stress, increase self-esteem and provide an external focus. Patience and communication skills can also be improved.
  • Meditation – Meditation, often combined with breathing exercises, can lower stress and help people become more aware of thoughts and feelings that may contribute to substance abuse.

Give Us a Call

If you are looking for addiction treatment for drugs like amphetamine that is right for you, we can help you find it. Our toll-free helpline is available 24 hours a day and staffed with knowledgeable consultants who can answer your questions and help you identify your treatment options. They can even check your insurance coverage for you if you wish at no cost or obligation. Call now, and begin a new life.

How to Stop Self-Medicating

How to Stop Self-Medicating

Self-medicators are at risk for choosing incorrect dosages that lead to addiction and overdose

For decades, there has been considerable research on the relationship between mental health disorders and substance abuse. An ongoing inquiry continues as to whether a mental health disorder causes substance abuse or vice versa, but there is full agreement that the two issues have a direct correlation.

What Is Self-Medicating?

According to the National Institutes of Health, self-medication is using medication to treat symptoms apart from a doctor’s instruction.

People who self-medicate issues often rationalize their behavior by thinking they are taking an active role in their own health. In other words, if a mental health disorder causes such discomfort that it interferes with daily life, then you may self-medicate that problem with drug abuse, which you will justify by thinking you need the drug to function.

Mental Health Disorders Often Involved in Self-Medicating

Many mental health disorders cause such pain that people seek temporary relief through alcohol and drug abuse. The following mental health disorders are often associated with self-medicating:

  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety

SchizophreniaIf people with mental health disorders self-medicate their pain, they often want to relieve emotional upheaval. Such people often abuse alcohol, marijuana and medications like amphetamines.

Risks of Self-Medicating

People who self-medicate pain are at risk for incorrectly diagnosing their ailment, which means they may use a variety of substances to find the one or several that provide relief. The greatest risk in this situation is that various substances can interfere with each other to cause harmful effects. In addition, such drug users are at risk for choosing incorrect dosages that lead to addiction and overdose.

Another risk of self-medicating is that you delay appropriate medical care, which delays the recovery you truly need.

How to Stop Self-Medicating

If certain symptoms lead you to believe that you have a mental health disorder, then seek a medical professional. Healthcare providers can ascertain whether you have a mental health disorder or not, and they can prescribe and monitor medication use to evaluate the causes of your disorder. In other words, doctors can find healthy ways to deal with your emotional problems. Some doctors may even suggest Dual Diagnosis treatment, which treats substance abuse and mental health disorders simultaneously. These programs are quite effective, because patients collaborate with treatment teams to customize the care they receive.

Get Help for Drug or Alcohol Addiction

Self-medicating can complicate your healing, so call our toll-free helpline now to address your problems safely. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you have about treatment for substance abuse and mental health disorders.

How to Let Go of Bad Habits in Rehab

How to Let Go of Bad Habits in Rehab

Some people find they can replace a bad habit, even drug addiction, with another behavior, like exercising

Addiction is a disease based in habit and routine. The connection between addiction and habit is so strong that one can be confused or misinterpreted as the other. This leads to the minimization of addiction as a problem or allows for continued misconceptions of addiction as a choice. As the New York Times explains, “Addiction is brought about by the repeated pursuit of highly attractive goals and corresponding inattention to alternative goals” (“Addiction Is a Bad Habit That Can Be Unlearned,” February 17, 2014). This does not negate addiction’s status as a disease, but it does show how habit and routine contribute to addiction. Since these factors help build amphetamine addiction, they need to be addressed in rehab for long-term recovery.

Replacing Old Habits with New Hobbies

Rehab does more than provide a place to overcome the past. It offers excitement and interest in the future, and it often does so by helping patients replace old habits associated with amphetamine or other drug use. As the National Institute of Health’s News in Health shares, “One way to kick bad habits is to actively replace unhealthy routines with new, healthy ones. Some people find they can replace a bad habit, even drug addiction, with another behavior, like exercising” (“Breaking Bad Habits,” January 2012). Quality rehab programs will help you find new, healthy behaviors or rekindle old interests and hobbies. They may offer a variety of fitness classes including yoga or dance. They will encourage patients to pursue artistic outlets such as writing, drawing or painting. Rehab professionals will listen to patients to determine what their interests outside of drug use may be, and they will offer opportunities to explore these interests and let go of bad habits by replacing them with positive, enjoyable activities.

Let Go of Bad Habits to Move Forward in Recovery

Do not stay stuck in the routine of drug use and addiction. You can break free from bad habits associated with amphetamine and other drug abuse, but doing so requires professional help. Many rehab programs offer the therapy, activities and support needed to replace or negate old habits, but finding the right one of these programs can seem overwhelming. Let us manage the confusion and stress of finding treatment for yourself or helping a loved one address addiction. We are here 24 hours a day, and our caring and confidential admissions coordinators are passionate about matching individuals to the right rehab program for their specific situation. All calls and phone services are free, so please let us help today.

How Do I Know if My Parent Is Addicted to Amphetamines?

How Do I Know if My Parent Is Addicted to Amphetamines?

Unexplained sweating is one of the physical signs of amphetamine addiction

While a parent might be able to hide his amphetamine addiction from coworkers, friends and extended family, he will likely be unable to do so forever. Living in the same house means you will see your parent at his worst and best, so you may not recognize the symptoms of addiction at first, especially if the addiction forms slowly. However, as the addiction progresses, you will notice the signs in his behavior, physical appearance and emotions.

Physical signs of amphetamine addiction include the following problems:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Weight loss
  • Poor hygiene
  • Dry skin
  • Loss of coordination
  • Unexplained sweating
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Flushed face and neck
  • Dental problems
  • Mental confusion

Behavioral signs of amphetamine addiction are as follows:

  • Missing work because of illness
  • Losing a job
  • Inability to complete tasks like cooking or cleaning
  • Acting confused
  • Taking a higher dosage than prescribed
  • Taking amphetamines more often than prescribed
  • Reacting defensively when asked about drug use
  • Having materials related to lawyers and court
  • Staying awake for long periods and a decreased need for sleep

Psychological signs of amphetamine addiction include the following list:

  • Euphoria
  • Increased confidence in social situations
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Extreme anger and hostility/aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions

A parent who has only few of these symptoms may not be an addict, but having most of them is a red flag. Get help immediately for your parent if she is addicted to amphetamines.

Amphetamine Addiction Treatment

The best source of help for amphetamine addiction is rehab. These facilities staff professionals from both the medical and addiction field to help people overcome addiction. Their methods show results, and they will provide either inpatient or outpatient care (you and your parent must determine which option is best for your financial, work and living situation).

In both inpatient and outpatient treatment, your parent will first undergo detox, the process of flushing drugs from the body. He will likely experience some withdrawal symptoms, which the doctors and other staff members can manage. In the second part of addiction treatment, your parent will examine the factors that led to addiction, the changes he must make to avoid relapse and what problems may trigger drug abuse. He will also learn skills to help him live drug-free.

While your loved one is in treatment, it is important for you to get help for yourself as well. Likely, the relationship between your parent and you has been damaged because of the addiction. Learn ways to move forward in the relationship to help restore your relationship.

Help for Parents with Amphetamine Addictions

If you recognize the signs of amphetamine addiction in your parent, we can help. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline anytime to talk with one of our admissions coordinators; together, you can determine how best to help your parent. Amphetamine addiction is a serious problem, but help is available, so call now.

How Do I Know If I Need Immediate Treatment for Amphetamine Abuse?

How Do I Know If I Need Immediate Treatment for Amphetamine Abuse?

While starting treatment sooner is always better, some amphetamines addicts may require immediate treatment

The sooner you receive treatment for addiction the better, but at what point does the need for treatment become immediate? In cases where the user experiences severe physical or psychological effects or the user is in life-threatening danger, it may be important to access treatment as soon as possible. Urgent treatment may prevent further complications and help the user avoid problems such as suicide or other fatal situations.

Am I Addicted to Amphetamines?

Considering whether you have an amphetamine addiction is often the first sign that you have a problem. But there are other signs you can look for that will give you a better idea if addiction has developed. When you first started taking amphetamines it may have taken one pill to get high, but have you developed a tolerance since then? If you require more amphetamines to get high, you may have developed a tolerance. If you continue using more amphetamines because of this tolerance, you can become dependent. If you are dependent on amphetamines you will experience withdrawal symptoms when you don’t take more. Withdrawal symptoms may include sweating, headaches and anxiety. Another sign of amphetamine addiction is continuing to use amphetamines when they interfere with your life. If you continue getting high despite amphetamines causing problems at work or in your relationships, you may have a problem.

Do I Need Immediate Amphetamine Addiction Treatment?

While some amphetamine users may have relatively minor addictions that require treatment but are not as disruptive, others are unable to function without amphetamines and are faced with imminent danger if they do not seek treatment. Amphetamine addiction is not the same for everyone, but if you experience thoughts of self-harm, engage in risky behavior or are having physical effects such as heart problems as a result of amphetamine abuse you may need immediate addiction treatment. Speak with a therapist or counselor today about your situation to determine if you need immediate treatment.

Get Help for Amphetamine Addiction

Stop putting off treatment and get the help you need for amphetamine addiction by calling our toll-free helpline today. A trained addiction expert is here to speak with you 24 hours a day about your addiction and the benefits of amphetamine addiction treatment. We can even help you determine if your health insurance will help pay for rehab and will provide more details about the types of treatment available. Call now for more information so you can begin your recovery today.