substance abuse in Boston Massachusetts

Substance Abuse in Massachusetts

When you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, it can be difficult for you to accept it.  One important step toward getting help for addiction, whether it is your own or someone else’s, is to first understand how alcohol or other drugs affect you or your loved one.

Signs of a Substance Abuse Disorder

  • Lack of control and/or judgment
  • Neglect of work or home life responsibilities
  • Isolation from friends and loved ones
  • Deception, such as hiding how much alcohol or drugs were consumed
  • Loss of interest in formerly enjoyable activities
  • Risk-taking behaviors
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms even when not using alcohol or the substance of choice, such as anxiety, irritability, sweating, loss of appetite, nausea/vomiting.

Negative Consequences of Substance Abuse

Substance abuse can have many detrimental effects.  Over time, a person abusing drugs or alcohol can develop health issues, and prolonged substance abuse can also change a person’s brain and judgment capabilities.  Additionally, alcohol and drug use that develops into substance abuse can result in family and relationship problems, as well as financial issues and legal problems.

Alcohol

One commonly abused substance is alcohol.  Alcohol is a depressant which works by slowing down the body’s central nervous system.  Alcohol has an effect on how a person’s brain communicates with their body.  The use of alcohol can affect each organ in the body and also can harm a fetus in development.

Opioids

Opioids are another type of drug that is commonly abused.  These drugs are typically safe if taken for just a short period of time when prescribed by a doctor, but they carry the risk of being misused.  The misuse of opioids can result in overdose and even death.

If you or someone you love is suffering from substance abuse in Massachusetts, it is important to seek help and begin the addiction recovery process to avoid negative consequences from addiction.

Green Recovery House Sign

Alternatives to Twelve-Step Programs

When many people think of addiction recovery, one of the first things that come to mind is the group Alcoholics Anonymous (or AA) and the 12-step program for recovery.  While Alcoholics Anonymous and similar groups are typically thought of as treatment, they are more accurately defined as support groups.  Unfortunately, according to addiction treatment researcher Thomas McLellan, Ph.D., studies seem to indicate that only 25-35 percent of addicts who attend an AA meeting actually go on to continue with the program and attend meetings regularly.

Women for Sobriety

Women for Sobriety was created by Jean Kirkpatrick in the 1970s.  Jean Kirkpatrick held a doctorate in sociology and focused her program on the premise that women with drinking problems require a different recovery approach and plan than men do.  Women for Sobriety is an abstinence-based program which sets out to first tackle the emotional issues that may lead to addiction.

SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery uses a cognitive-behavior approach that encourages its members to first acknowledge the emotional and environmental factors for drug and alcohol use and then to respond to these factors in new and more productive ways.  SMART Recovery is abstinence-based; however, it does welcome individuals who are ambivalent about their recovery.  It has over 600 groups based in the United States, and it also has a youth program along with a Family & Friends program.

LifeRing Secular Recovery

LifeRing Secular Recovery was formed over a decade ago.  It has three main principles— sobriety, secularity, and self-help.  This group focuses on human efforts instead of divine intervention.  It also holds the belief that the key to recovery is within the individual and is based on their own motivation and effort.

Refuge Recovery

Refuge Recovery is a nonprofit, mindfulness-based addiction recovery organization. They provide a community that uses Buddhist philosophy to help people recover from addiction. Inspired by the teachings of the Four Noble Truths, Refuge Recovery places emphasis on being more empathetic and understanding.

Celebrate Recovery

Celebrate Recovery was founded by John Baker in 1991. Focusing on a Christ centered approach, Celebrate Recovery has spread to recovery houses, rescue missions, universities, and prisons around the world. To date over 35,000 Celebrate Recovery churches have been opened with over 5 million individuals having completed the Celebrate Recover’s Step Study, a program created to bring the healing power of Christ to those that are suffering, broken, and having life difficulties like as addiction.

Although Alcoholics Anonymous is not for everyone there are many other support groups available, such as the groups listed above.  These other groups may be more useful approaches if someone struggling with addiction does not find Alcoholics Anonymous to be the best approach.

Alcohol Abuse Side Effects Path in Boston Massachusetts

Alcohol Abuse and Side Effects of Withdrawal

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, nearly 87 percent of adults have had at least one drink during their lifetime.  While many addictive substances are illegal, alcohol is legal in the United States to those over the age of 21, and this substance is easily obtainable.

Many people are able to drink mild to moderate amounts of alcohol on a regular basis without any negative health consequences.  The Mayo Clinic has even published findings that drinking in moderation may even have some positive health benefits.  However, heavy drinking or binge drinking can lead to an alcohol problem.  Binge drinking is typically defined as drinking more than four drinks in a span of a few hours for a woman, or more than five drinks in a few hours for a man.

Additional Facts and Statistics Regarding Alcohol Abuse

  • It is estimated that approximately 16.6 million American adults had an alcohol use disorder in 2013.
  • One of every three visits to an emergency room is related to alcohol consumption.
  • Approximately 88,000 people die each year from an alcohol-related cause, making alcohol the third-leading preventable cause of death in the U.S.

Side Effects of Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal is generally thought to begin between six hours and 24 hours after the last drink was consumed, according to American Family Physician.  There are three major stages of alcohol withdrawal.

Stage One

Stage One of alcohol withdrawal typically includes mild symptoms, such as anxiety, nausea, stomach pain and/or vomiting, loss of appetite, mood swings, heart palpitations, and depression.

Stage Two

Stage Two of alcohol withdrawal includes more moderate symptoms, such as irregular heart rate, sweating, irritability, mental confusion, increased blood pressure, and increased body temperature.

Stage Three

Stage Three of alcohol withdrawal includes severe symptoms, such as fever, seizures, severe confusion, and hallucinations.

Tharros Sober Living House

Rehabilitation from alcohol abuse isn’t usually a quick process.  It requires effort, and it takes time.  Building a solid foundation will serve you for your entire life, which is the reason why we solely accept clients ready to put sobriety and recovery as their top priority.  To learn more about our approach and get answers to common questions, please visit http://tharroshouse.com/faq/.

Water Lily Sober Living Boston Massachusetts

Preventing Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) utilizes early intervention strategies in its efforts to reduce the impact of substance use and mental disorders in America.

Mental and Substance Use Disorder Statistics

Substance use and mental disorders can have a major impact on the health of individuals, along with their families and their communities.  Approximately 9.8 million adults aged 18 and older in America had a serious mental illness in 2014, and 1.7 million of these adults are classified as young adults, aged 18 to 25.  Additionally, about 15.7 million adults and 2.8 million youth (aged 12 to 17) reported suffering a major depressive episode during the last year.

Drug and alcohol use can lead to the development of other chronic diseases, like heart disease and diabetes.  Dealing with the impact of substance abuse is thought to cost Americans an estimated $600 billion dollars per year.

In 2014, about 22.5 million Americans that were 12 years old or older reported needing treatment for illicit drug use or alcohol.  These types of disorders are included in the top conditions that result in disability and have a high burden of disease in the U.S.  As a result, these disorders result in high costs to families, health systems, and employers.  It is estimated that by the year 2020, mental and substance abuse disorders will become a major cause of disability throughout the world, surpassing all other physical diseases.

Mental Illness and Substance Abuse Prevention

Selective prevention strategies focus on assisting people to develop the attitudes, knowledge, and skills necessary to make positive choices and change harmful behavior.  These strategies can be implemented in a classroom setting.

Universal prevention approaches incorporate the usage of environmental prevention strategies.  Environmental prevention strategies are tailored to local communities and address root causes of risky behavior by creating healthy environments.

Are you or a loved one dealing with substance abuse?

Sober living houses, like the Tharros House, can be a helpful place to begin your recovery process. Visit www.tharroshouse.com to learn more.

Alcohol Withdrawal Signs and Symptoms List

Alcohol Withdrawal Signs, Symptoms, and Solutions

Alcohol withdrawal is both uncomfortable and dangerous.  For those witnessing someone in a state of withdrawal, it’s often easy to tell that something is very wrong.  But it’s not uncommon for people who don’t know what’s going on in the person’s life, to miss the fact that these are signs or symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

What are some symptoms of alcohol withdrawal?

Alcohol is a drug.  While it does take significant alcohol abuse to develop a physical addiction to alcohol, alcohol addiction is very real, and medical treatment is often needed to avoid life threatening dangers that can result from withdrawal in a person who has alcohol dependence.  Some common symptoms observed during an alcohol detox are irritability, anxiety, agitation, tremors, and of course DT’s and seizures.

Alcohol facts:

It’s important to identify several facts about alcohol.  Excessive alcohol consumption on a regular basis can lead to alcohol dependence.  Continued alcohol intoxication leads to alcohol tolerance, which often leads to greater consumption.  Alcohol percentage in someone’s blood is identified as BAC, which is measured to determine the level of alcohol intoxication.  As people build a tolerance, it’s possible that they will not feel the effects of the drug, yet their BAC level will still be elevated.  This is a common contributor to drunk driving incidents.  It’s also possible to suffer from an alcohol overdose, which can be fatal.

As a person engages in more consistent alcohol consumption, the risks for alcohol dependence increase.  As the body and mind become addicted to the alcohol, the neurotransmitters are suppressed.  During withdrawal, the neurotransmitters become hyperactive, which leads to the symptoms listed above.  These symptoms are essentially the opposite of what alcohol does to someone when they use.

What are the solutions?

Alcohol awareness month is April.  Each year, The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) takes measures to educate people on the dangers of alcohol.  It’s important that family and friends are aware of the risks associated with alcohol withdrawal, as there are many fatalities each year that result from seizures related to withdrawal without medical supervision.

If someone has alcohol dependence, it’s probable that the signs will include shaking, sweating, irritability, anxiety, agitation, etc.  These symptoms show up when the person is away from alcohol for a period of time, and the body starts to enter withdrawal.  We have heard many stories in which initial symptoms were noticed first at family events, as the person with alcohol dependence does not want to drink when it’s not socially acceptable.  Depending on the level of alcohol addiction, the symptoms can show up in as little as two hours from the last drink.  When symptoms are present, it’s best to enlist medical help and seek out an alcohol detox.  Of course, if the symptoms become very severe, calling 911 is the best option.

There are many alcohol detox programs available.  Some are affiliated with alcohol and drug treatment centers, while others are independent detox facilities, or affiliated/connected to hospitals.

To learn more about alcohol addiction, signs, and symptoms, we encourage you to visit the CDC site dedicated to Alcohol Awareness Month at http://www.cdc.gov/features/alcohol-awareness/

Writing Alcohol Detox in Boston Massachusetts

Alcohol Detox – What to Expect

The terms alcohol detox and rehab, for an individual suffering from drug addiction or alcoholism, can be overwhelming and scary.  This holds true for both the individual and the family members involved. Many times family members of those suffering from alcohol abuse or drug abuse are unsure what steps to take once someone has an alcohol or drug dependency.

Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol and drug addiction are very hard to define, unless you are a person abusing the substance. Many times, family members and friends see an alcoholic or addict’s consumption as a problem, yet, until the user admits that they have a problem, undertaking treatment or entering a rehab facility, poses many challenges and produces very few good results.  Sadly, there are many individuals who are not able to come to terms with their addiction.  However, there are steps that family members can take to help an individual reach a place of willingness.  Support groups like Al Anon and Learn 2 Cope help families identify ways to stop the enabling behaviors that prolong substance abuse.

Alcohol Detox and drug detox

Once a person is dependent on a substance, it is important that the individual receives proper medical help to detoxify their body.  Many recognize the need for a medical detox from narcotics such as an opioid or benzo.  However, it’s important to recognize that alcohol is a drug too.  When an individual builds a high alcohol tolerance, their body can become physically dependent on alcohol.  Alcohol withdrawal and alcohol poisoning are two very serious medical conditions that require medical attention to avoid an alcohol overdose, alcoholic seizures or even death.

Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal differs for each individual as it is largely dependent on the amount of alcohol consumed.  After an alcohol evaluation is completed at a medical facility, alcohol withdrawal medication may be prescribed, and the patient is closely monitored.

Treatment and Recovery

Once an individual has detoxed from the substance(s), the real work of “recovery” can begin.  In most cases, residential or inpatient treatment is recommended.  Programs can range from two weeks to many months, and some as long as a year+.  Years of addiction and escaping feelings through substances cannot usually be healed overnight.  Recovery is the process of learning to live a full life, including good and bad feelings, without an escape.  The process is significant, but so are the rewards.

Alcohol Quiz

Addiction recovery starts with willingness to make changes.  That is the catalyst required to stop alcohol use disorder or any other addictive behavior.  If you’re not sure if you have a drinking problem, try taking some of the self-assessments like those offered by SMART recovery: http://www.smartrecovery.org/resources/library/Tools_and_Homework/Interactive_Tools/problem-drinking-test.htm

Remember, it’s okay to complete this kind of tool for a loved one, but it’s critical that the substance user acknowledges their issue with the substance.

There are many recovery fellowships.  The largest, and best known, is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).  If you’re thinking about participating, it’s good to try at least 3 different meetings.  Each meeting is different and it’s important to try a few before making a judgement.  With regards to the program offered in AA, here is a questionnaire offered on AA.org to help you decide is it’s the right choice for you.  http://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/is-aa-for-you-twelve-questions-only-you-can-answer

Alcohol detox and drug detox is the first step to building a life in recovery.  While it can be a scary concept, many detox centers make the process comfortable, while ensuring that your body is safely rid of the physical symptoms and dependency.  The rewards that come through real recovery are certainly worth any temporary withdrawal discomfort.