Sleep and Addiction: Is Sleeping Too Much Okay?

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Anyone who has ever gone through an addiction to drugs or alcohol, or anyone who has ever watched a loved one struggle with one, knows firsthand just how difficult that journey to sobriety can be. An addiction, or substance use disorder, can wreak havoc on all areas of a person’s life. It can cause financial hardship, deterioration in health, loss of one’s job, homelessness, death, etc. Addiction can also have a devastating effect on a person’s sleep. Some people end up sleeping too much, which can result in other problems for your ultimate recovery from your addiction.

Addiction is often defined as “a brain disease brought on by chronic drug use that interferes with and makes changes to brain circuitry and chemistry, and these changes lead to compulsive drug using behaviors.” These changes in the brain are also what lead to both long-term and short-term sleep difficulties. The connection between drug use and sleep often goes both ways; substance abuse can hinder a person’s ability to sleep, and subsequently, difficulty with one’s sleep can also lead to an addiction or substance abuse problem as people turn to them in order to help them fall asleep.

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Sometimes, withdrawal symptoms from an addiction can cause problems with your sleep schedule, which can result in over-sleeping.

Unfortunately, once someone achieves sobriety, this problem doesn’t just go away. During the first week of sobriety, most people experience some level of withdrawal symptoms, some more severe than others. While the withdrawal symptoms that are experienced can differ depending on things like that type of drugs that were used, the amount of drugs that were used, and how long the person has been using those drugs or alcohol, problems with sleep remain the most common withdrawal symptom regardless of what substances were being used.

Tips for Getting Good Sleep in Sobriety

If you are like millions of other Americans who are new to recovery, then here are a few tips to help you get restful sleep while still maintaining your sobriety.

  • Stick to a Schedule- If you used drugs or alcohol shortly before bed, then it can be even more difficult to fall asleep once you get sober as your brain is no longer sure when it is time to go to bed. Creating a new, and healthy, sleep schedule is essential to getting good sleep while sober. Going to bed at the same time every night will help let your brain know when it is time to go to sleep.
  • Have a Nightly Routine- While this may be difficult for those who work odd hours or those who don’t have a set schedule, doing the same thing each and every night before you go to bed will help ensure you fall asleep faster. Try doing a light exercise 30 minutes before you go to sleep, or read your favorite book for an hour. This will also help train your brain when it is time to go to sleep.
  • Eliminate Screen Time- Research has shown that electronic devices, such as computers, phones, or TVs, can have a negative impact on the quality of one’s sleep. Cutting back on the amount of screen time you have, at least one hour before bed, can greatly reduce the chance of disrupting the quality of sleep.
  • Create a Space for Sleeping- Limit the amount of extracurricular activities you do while in bed, such as checking your phone, watching TV, or stressful conversations with your partner. This will help train your brain that the bed is where you sleep, not for everything else.

These are just a few tips you can implement to help increase the quality of your sleep, especially early on in recovery.

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Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to help you maintain sobriety, early in your recovery from an addiction.

Effects of Oversleeping

While sleep is essential early on recovery, there is still a chance that you could be sleeping too much. There is a difference between getting the right amount of sleep needed to recover and simply just getting too much sleep to begin with. It may sound absurd at first because whoever thought you could get too much sleep, but it is possible. The amount of sleep needed can vary depending on the individual, but most experts agree that anything above 10 hours for an adult is considered to be too much.

Oversleeping can be a sign of many underlying issues, such as depression and heart disease. The effects of oversleeping are much like the effects of not getting enough sleep to begin with. Getting enough sleep especially while undergoing withdrawal from drugs or alcohol is essential as the brain and body need this time to repair itself. However, a person can sleep too much. Here are a few side effects associated with getting too much sleep;

  • Higher risk of obesity
  • Higher risk of diabetes
  • Higher risk of heart disease
  • Depression
  • Increased pain
  • Impaired fertility
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Depression
  • Higher risk of overall mortality (death)
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Sleeping too much can become a problem in addiction recovery.

The importance of a healthy sleeping schedule in addiction recovery

Just like with anything in life, having a proper sleep schedule requires a good amount of balance. While it is important to get enough sleep to ensure a successful sobriety, it is also important to remember that there is such a thing as too much. We know that this can be a struggle for many Americans, as nearly 70 million people in the United States all suffer from a sleep disorder of some kind. There has long been a connection between sleep problems and substance abuse disorders, that is because many drugs and alcohol disrupt that natural circuit in the brain. Not only that, but there is also a link between poor sleep and the rate of relapse. For those in recovery, and anyone else who might be curious, we hope that this information was useful to you!

If you, or a loved one, are new to recovery and are having a difficult time with getting the right amount of sleep, then please reach out to an addiction specialist today. There is no shame in asking for help, especially when you need it! We know what a huge struggle trying to get enough sleep can be, especially early in the road to recovery, that is why we are here and we are always ready to help! We wish you the best!

 

(877) 228-4679

 

Does God Hate Drug Users?

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Being raised in the Christian faith allows the followers of Our Lord and Jesus Christ to learn important values that show us how to lead a moral way of life. While it is always our intention to never stray from the righteous path of Christianity, sometimes decisions in life can lead us astray and down a winding path of destruction. In the Bible, there are many sins that have befallen mankind; adultery, envy, greed, thievery, etc. Through Christ, our Savior, all of these sins are forgivable, as long as the sinner repents for their mistakes and for being tempted by the devil. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). As long as we confess to all of our wrongdoings, God is just and merciful.

Is developing an addiction to drugs, or alcohol a sin?

One sin that has become more of a problem in our society is an addiction to drugs or alcohol. An addiction is a chronic disease that is often characterized by the users inability to stop using drugs or alcohol even though they most likely have experienced some severe and negative consequences, such as ending up homeless or losing their job. When a person of Christian faith wanders from the path of righteousness, they are often concerned that God may now hate them or that they will never be forgiven. This is simply not true.

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God loves all of his children. Some people struggle with the demons of addiction and desperately need help.

Take into account the reason why Jesus was even sent to humankind in the first place. Along with spreading the holy word and teaching others how to live a moral life, he was sent here to deliver us from our sins, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). To say that God hates drug users would be like saying he hates every other person with or without Christian faith. It is the sinners that he cares most deeply about, as he wishes to offer each and every son and daughter a place in his eternal glory. He wishes to offer eternal life to those who believe in his power and mercy.

God’s intention is pure love.

While the problem of addiction may be relatively new compared to the teachings of the bible, it is both Our Lord and his son Jesus Christ’s intention to deliver us from evil. If you are a member of the Christian faith and have struggled with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, just remember that you are never alone. Christianity is the most practiced religion in all of the world. It is known to include many other denominations, such as Catholicism, Anglicanism, Lutheran, Protestant, and many others. Just like religion, addiction does not discriminate. It touches many different races, ages, classes, and genders. Today, in our country, more than 21 million people struggle with addiction.

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Finding God’s true love is a great way to help solidify your recovery from addiction.

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). This is to say that, even though you may have strayed from the correct path, God will always be there to save you. It is his teachings that will provide the way out.

How to find Christian, faith-based drug and alcohol treatment.

It is no secret that the only true way out of an addiction, or any immoral way of living, is through the teachings of Our Lord and Jesus Christ. This is the reason why the majority of drug and alcohol addiction treatment is based on the Christian faith and having to believe in a higher power. It is because of our Savior and the Lord that we are able to be forgiven for our sins and be restored to the proper way of life.

If you or a loved one happen to be struggling with an addiction and are wanting to restore or establish your faith and relationship with God, then there are many Christian faith based programs out there. Christian drug and alcohol rehab facilities provide standard drug treatment and have a much stronger emphasis on the Bible. The majority of Christian drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs include;

  • Bible study sessions and scripture readings
  • Faith based 12-step programs
  • Sermons that discuss addiction in the terms of Christian faith
  • Daily prayer and reflection sessions
  • Attendance of regular church sessions
  • Ministerial and pastoral counseling
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Recovery is entirely possible. Some people need professional help. 10 Acre Ranch offers a faith-based treatment program for addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Do not worry, there is always hope for recovery from an addiction to drugs or alcohol!

God is merciful and he will lift you up from the depths of addiction, as he has done to many others before you. We are all sinners, in one way or another, yet we are all still his children. It is through Christ our Lord that we are able to be forgiven.

“I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit” (Psalms 30:1-3). The road to recovery does not have to be walked alone. He will always welcome those who have strayed back with open arms, safe into salvation. For he loves all of us sinners, each and every one the same.

He does not wish to see us suffer, and has provided a way for us to have eternal life and salvation, in this world and up in Heaven. For those who follow His teachings, we know that the Bible and the Christian faith show us the true way of living. It is never too late to make amends and confess our sins to the Lord. He will always welcome us back with open arms, as it was his purpose to save sinners from evil. Rejoice in his mercy and his love!

 

(877) 228-4679

Why Do So Many Recovering Addicts Believe in God?

If you stop a recovering addict on the street and ask them how they did it, how they were able to leave their addiction behind and begin the life-long journey of sobriety, it is guaranteed that at least 9 out of 10 will tell you that they couldn’t do it without the help of God. Regardless of how they became sober to begin with, whether it is being jailed or experiencing and overdose, the majority of recovering addicts would never have been able to stay clean and sober without a firm belief in God.

Where you find spirituality is up to you. When you realize the higher power you ascribe to, you can truly have the strength to rise up from your addiction.

 

Reasons why so many recovering addicts believe in God

 

  • Gives you a sense of Purpose- Almost all human beings search for a purpose in life, which is why religion is so important to the majority of the population in the world, regardless of what they believe. A lot of people who develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol will tell you that they lost their sense of purpose in this world and that is one of the reasons why they turned to drugs in the first place. When people in recovery begin to develop their relationship with God, it restores their sense of purpose which gives them a reason to stay sober. 
  • Helps you feel like you are making a contribution- One of the most common teachings of Christianity is to help others, and research has shown that when helping others it actually makes us feel better about ourselves. When a recovering addict is able to help another addict on their journey to sobriety through the teachings of Jesus Christ and the word of God, they are able to feel better about themselves. Low self-esteem is a common factor for reasons why someone may have begun using drugs in the first place. 
  • Helps bring mindfulness to your recovery- Being mindful and practicing meditation is also a fundamental aspect of practicing Christianity and believing in God. These have long been shown to increase success in sobriety. Meditation relieves things like stress, muscle tension, decreases reactions in the nervous system, and reduces heart rate and blood pressure. A lot of these feelings are known to be triggers, or things that make a person in recovery want to use drugs or alcohol again. 
  • Connects you to something bigger than yourself- Having a belief in a higher power, or something that is bigger than yourself is the one of the first major steps on the road to recovery. This allows a recovering addict to feel as though they are not alone, whereas many before felt that they were. Many people will isolate when they are in an active addiction, causing them to withdraw even further. However, through their belief in God they know that He is always with them, no matter what.
  • Increases personal accountability- A lot of times when a person is active in the throws of addiction, they blame everyone and everything for all of the things that go wrong in their lives, even though it is because of their addiction. By establishing a belief in God and building that relationship, recovering addicts have a greater sense of morality and are aware of their higher authority. This helps to keep them honest with themselves and others for their own personal actions and accountability. 

 

These are just a few of the reasons why so many recovering addicts believe in God. If you have ever attended a 12-step program like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) then you know just how important having a belief in a higher power is. Although, there are few in these programs who choose to believe in a higher power that is not God and that is ok too, whatever works for you.

If you believe yourself or a loved one are struggling with an addiction, and are wondering how to get help, then we are here for you! Please do not hesitate in asking for help, either from a licensed professional or from our specialized treatment team today.

 

(877) 228-4679

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Can Spirituality Help in Addiction Recovery?

If you have ever struggled with an addiction to alcohol or drugs then you know firsthand just how hard it can be to get sober again and to lead a life of recovery. For those who know, addiction is now considered to be a disease that affects the functioning of the brain, and can potentially lead to permanent changes. This is part of the reason why it is so difficult for those who are suffering to simply just stop using drugs or alcohol without the help of an addiction specialist or having reached a rock bottom experience. Of course, there are those, very few of them in fact, who are able to pull themselves out of the wrath of addiction all by themselves, but it can not be done at all without at least the attribution towards something greater.

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Finding solace in scripture or a plan helps establish a good foundation for getting free from drugs.

 

 

What Does “Something Greater” In the 12 Step Program Mean Anyway?

According to the Oxford dictionary, spirituality can be defined as the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things, but how you define spirituality is entirely up to you. For most, however, spirituality is the belief in a higher power, something in this world that is bigger than you; a supreme being or deity. This could mean mother nature, Buddha, Christ, or whatever it is that you believe in. The common conception in the world is that there is something out there that helps explain why we are here. This is the fundamental basis for most drug and alcohol recovery and sobriety programs.

“And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:15-16).

In our world today, the most widely practiced religion is Christianity. Christianity encompasses a variety of different branches, such as; Catholicism, Protestantism, Anglicansim, and many others. The main thing in common between all the different branches of Christianity is the belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ as our savior, and God, our Lord and Father. Some may know him as Yahweh, Abba, or Cristos. Through the teachings of the Bible, many who have suffered from the grips of addiction have been saved.

You do not have to be religious in order to be spiritual. The most important thing is to feel the connection between yourself and something bigger. When someone is in an active addiction, the only thing that matters is feeding the disease, causing all sense of self worth to vanish. According to the majority of health professionals and addiction specialists, spirituality can restore your self worth and give you a new sense of purpose.

Spirituality can be a hard thing to grasp, especially at first. Even more so for people who have lost their sense of spirituality or have never had any to begin with. Developing a sense of spiritual individuality can take time, and there is no one size fits all. This is why those in recovery are urged to speak with others about their connection with their higher power. If you are new to recovery and are struggling to find your sense of spirituality, do not give up. Take the time to find what works best for you, there is no right or wrong way to develop a connection with something deeper and bigger than ourselves. 

Unfortunately, people begin using drugs or alcohol for many different reasons. Boredom, peer pressure, etc. A common experience among those who suffer from addiction is the inability to cope with the bad or negative emotions they might feel, so in order to avoid having these feelings they use drugs or alcohol to make themselves feel better. One major reason why spirituality is important is that it provides a much healthier and positive mechanism for coping with traumatic experiences or otherwise negative emotions.

Higher Sense of Purpose

Having a developed sense of spirituality, whatever that may mean for you, also gives a higher sense of purpose. Humans naturally search for a meaning in life, and the answer to that may be different for everyone, but what spirituality and religion help to provide is that sense of purpose. Several studies have shown that when a person has spiritual or religious qualities they are much more likely to succeed on their journey to sobriety, that is because they have a better sense of purpose. Just by being able to see the bigger picture, people are able to stay driven and motivated, making an incredible contribution to a successful sobriety. 

Either way, a big part of many recovery programs is based upon the belief in a higher power. The majority of 12-step groups are centered around the belief that there is something greater than ourselves. The most widespread and successful 12-step drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs are Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). For both of these programs the first 3 steps, if not all 12, are centered around this idea. The first step is “We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol–that our lives had become unmanageable.” The second step is “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” The third, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” 

So, if it weren’t for being religious, or having some degree of spirituality, most people who are now enjoying the benefits of sobriety would not have made it to where they are today. Regardless of what you believe in, there is hope for recovery. No person is ever too far gone to save. We all have a purpose in life, and if you are struggling with an addiction to any drugs or alcohol, we will help you find yours on the road to recovery! It does not matter what you believe, we are all worth saving.

5

What is Kratom? Cutting Edge Treatment, or Addictive Drug?

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UPDATED APRIL 14TH, 2020

 

As the opioid epidemic rages in the United States, the Food & Drug Administration has issued new warnings about kratom. Many people have begun talking about this widely used, natural supplement and its benefits and potential risks. Native to Southeast Asia and a member of the coffee family, kratom is seen by many as an all-natural supplement to help in a myriad of physical and mental ailments. Some of the purported uses include treatment for:

  • Pain-management
  • Opioid withdrawal symptom relief
  • Depression
  • Obesity & high blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • As an energy boost
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Is kratom dangerous? Many scientists and government agencies say yes.

But many scientists and the FDA disagree with these claims. In a statement from September 11, 2018, FDA chairman Scott Gottlieb, M.D. claims:

Science and evidence matter in demonstrating medical benefit, especially when a product is being marketed to treat serious diseases like opioid use disorder (OUD). However, to date, there have been no adequate and well-controlled scientific studies involving the use of kratom as a treatment for opioid use withdrawal or other diseases in humans. Nor have there been studies on how kratom, when combined with other substances, may impact the body, its dangers, potential side effects, or interactions with other drugs.”

While there may have not been adequate study to substantiate either side of these claims, many leading scientists and addiction specialists are championing the concerns as expressed by the FDA.

To begin, the agency claims that kratom contains opioids, which is not entirely true, yet the relationship is virtually undeniable. Mitragyna speciosa is a tree related to the coffee plant, which is not from the poppy family, but according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), some compounds found in kratom affect opioid receptors in the brain. Perhaps this is why many sufferers of opiate addiction swear by its usefulness in helping manage their withdrawal symptoms. Unfortunately, the reasons for this are certainly indicative of the strong potential for addiction to kratom. Because kratom affects the same brain receptors as opioids do, it is essentially like substituting one opioid addiction for another one.

Kratom exhibits a high potential for abuse and can lead to further opioid addiction.

In a study published by Addiction Biology in June of 2018, one of the two psychoactive compounds in Kratom, 7-hydroxymitragynine (or 7-HMG) has a “high abuse potential that may also increase the intake of other opiates”. The study showed that the other of the 2 psychoactive constituents, Mitragynine (MG) does not have a high potential for abuse and can actually decrease subsequent opiate intake. Since kratom is a plant, certain strains can be bred to intentionally have more 7-HMG than occurs naturally, so someone that uses kratom should be warned. The harvesting and extraction of the plant before it is packaged can also be adulterated to some extent. This could pose dangerous consequences to unsuspecting users of kratom extracts and supplements.

The safety of kratom is a major concern that has been taken into account by the FDA. In November 2017 the FDA claimed that kratom was responsible for 44 deaths since 2011. These reports hold true the assessment that kratom is an addictive drug, with a high potential for abuse that can create various health problems, including death.

These same government agencies are also warning that kratom can deter people from seeking medication-assisted treatment (MAT) such as buprenorphine, naloxone and methadone. These substance abuse treatment medications are scientifically proven to reduce opioid dependence in addicts:

“Patients who were using opioid agonist medications at the 18-month interview were more than twice as likely to report abstinence as those who were not (80.0 percent versus 36.6 percent).”National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

With this evidence aside, many people are currently using kratom as a self-administered, step-down treatment for opioid dependence. They might think this will help them steer away from opioid drugs like heroin, yet there is no research-based evidence to back up these claims.

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Many people claim an array of benefits from kratom, yet the research is limited.

 

Kratom is fairly unregulated in the US and as a result potential dangers associated with the product certainly do exist. For instance, nine of the 44 kratom-related deaths the FDA claims in their report, were from a string of overdoses in Sweden, where a mixture of kratom and tramadol (4) was the culprit.

While the FDA tries to classify kratom as an opiate, they may be only partially right. Compounds in the plant affect the same areas of the brain as poppy-based opiates do. The compounds in the plant have been shown to trigger respiratory depression, much like opioids do. This affects the brains’ ability to tell the lungs to breathe and is ultimately how many people die from opioid overdoses. They simply quit breathing, which can result in their untimely death.

Withdrawal symptoms associated with kratom further prove its addictive properties.

Just like most other drugs, kratom can result in a chemical dependency, when taken over a period of time. When a person quits using kratom, they can experience painful withdrawal symptoms. The side effects of kratom withdrawal can include: anxiety, aggression, nausea, vomiting, irritability, depression and even seizures.

Kratom is an absolutely harmful drug whose dangerous risks far outweigh any perceived benefits. Poison control center calls concerning kratom increased ten fold from 2010 to 2015. Just like other drugs, kratom must be taken in higher and higher doses to produce the desired effects over any period of use. Your body can develop a tolerance to kratom much like it can for opioids.

Since the market is relatively unregulated, different batches of kratom can be wildly different from the next, even when it comes from the same brand. This is why many kratom consumers themselves, actually advocate for better regulation of the supplement. They want whole, pure leaf supplements that are not adulterated with other compounds, as these mixtures can be extremely dangerous.

While kratom exhibits a potential for abuse and addiction, many people still make illegitimate claims on the benefits of the plant. Some people are led to believe that it can help treat opioid addiction, then they find themselves addicted to kratom. Hopefully with more research being done, we can fully understand the potential dangers of this natural supplement.

5

10 Ways to Fight Seasonal Affective Disorder & Drug Addiction

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This time of year can be very difficult, especially for those who suffer from addiction, as holidays and moments of celebration are often considered to be triggers for those in recovery because of the social aspects of casual drinking or drug use during the winter months. What can make it even more difficult to remain sober during this time is when a recovering addict also suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD or seasonal depression.

Addiction is characterized as a brain disorder and can often be coupled with other mental health diagnoses or mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). For people who live with both a mental health disorder and struggle with addiction, just know that you are not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 20 percent of people who are diagnosed with a mood disorder, such as SAD, also suffer from a substance abuse problem.

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People who suffer from mental health issues, are more likely to use substances, like drugs or alcohol to self-medicate.

Symptoms of SAD

If you are unsure whether or not you may be suffering from seasonal depression you can always speak with a mental health professional. Common symptoms of SAD include those of major depression along with several others. People who are suffering from seasonal depression may experience all or some of the following;

  • Depressed mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Lack of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in appetite and sleep patterns
  • Loss of pleasure in certain activities
  • Social withdrawal
  • Cravings for carbohydrates (unique to SAD)
  • Excessive daytime sleeping (unique to SAD)
  • Heaviness in arms and legs (unique to SAD)

Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Researchers and doctors are still unsure about the exact cause for seasonal affective disorder but some factors that attribute to this condition include;

  • Biological Clock (Circadian rhythm)- As the days grow shorter around the fall or autumn season, we begin to lose sunlight, which can disrupt your body’s internal clock, causing feelings of depression.
  • Serotonin Levels- The reduced sunlight can lead to a drop in the brain’s chemical that affects mood, the neurotransmitter serotonin.
  • Melatonin Levels- The seasonal change can disrupt the body’s natural production of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and moods.
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Changes in the weather can affect your mental health in very prominent ways.

10 Ways to Fight Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

            If you are one of many suffering from the symptoms of seasonal depression and are wondering how to treat SAD, then do not worry, there are many treatment options available that can help alleviate some of the symptoms.

  1. Know the signs and symptoms- Knowing what is happening with you and your body can help greatly in managing the symptoms. If you begin feeling sad during the autumn months, being aware of your seasonal depression can help keep you from spiraling down a hole that seems impossible to get out of, simply just by understanding what is going on.
  2. Try light from a box- Light therapy is reported to be one of the most effective treatments for the “winter blues”. There are specialty light boxes or lamps designed to produce effects similar to natural light, helping to restore your body’s natural circadian rhythm and production of melatonin. Research suggests that sitting in front of a light box first thing in the morning, everyday, during the fall and winter months for at least 30 minutes can greatly reduce the symptoms of SAD.
  3. Get outside as much as you can- Nature is a form of therapy for almost any mental health disorder. So, try to make it a point to go on a at least a 10 minute nature walk every day, or as often as possible, regardless of the weather. Studies have shown that even short walks increase mood, along with other mental and physical health benefits. Not to mention, the sunlight you get from being outside is much more beneficial than that from a window, helping to promote natural production of serotonin and melatonin. Going outside around noon when the sun is brightest can help reap the most benefits in a short amount of time.
  4. Exercise regularly- Aside from talking a daily break in nature , trying to exercise regularly is especially important for people suffering from SAD. Exercise is a proven treatment for many forms of depression. Try combining your daily exercise with going outside to help decrease the symptoms of seasonal depression.
  5. Take vitamin D- Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to SAD in at least one study, so doctors have begun urging patients to up their vitamin D intake, especially during the winter months.
  6. Caring for plants- Research has shown that gardening can help reduce feelings of depression. By caring for something small during the winter months, it can help alleviate some of the symptoms of seasonal depression.
  7. Stay Connected- Avoid the sometimes overwhelming feeling to remain reclusive during the cold months. Stay connected with your family and remain active in your support groups, such as AA, even when you feel like hibernating. Staying connected with your support group can help combat feelings of depression by getting you out of the house and by allowing you the opportunity to express out loud how you are feeling.
  8. Paint walls in lighter colors- Studies suggest that people who suffer from seasonal depression feel better when they are surrounded by lighter colors. Aside from the mood lifting ambiance, sometimes just doing the activity of painting alone can be a soothing process for someone with a depressive disorder.
  9. Keep a journal- Sometimes we have thoughts or feelings we are uncomfortable sharing with others, by writing them down we can begin to understand our emotions better. Writing down our negative thoughts or emotions gives us the opportunity to cope with them and feel as though we have gotten them off our chest, allowing ourselves the chance to fully process them. Plan on writing for at least 20 minutes a day, and try doing it before bed so that you can express the last 24 hours in as much detail as possible.
  10. Try aromatherapy- Essential oils can activate the same part of the brain that is responsible for controlling moods and our internal clock. Purchase an oil diffuser for your home or workspace, or try adding a couple drops in your bath.
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Understanding yourself and your mental health can greatly help you overcome the “winter blues”. Seek help before you become overwhelmed!

 

While all of these tips are useful, knowing when to get contact a professional for help is the most important. If you are having extreme thoughts of suicide or are having a difficult time with coping during the winter months, or in general, then there is nothing wrong with getting help. Speak with your doctor, who can potentially prescribe medications, or contact a counselor or therapist who can help you cope with the emotions of depression. If you are a recovering addict and find that you are struggling to stay sober, we are always here to help! Reach out to us today to begin specialized treatment.

 

(877) 228-4679

Can Brain Imaging Help Beat Drug Addiction?

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The word addiction itself comes from the latin phrase meaning “enslaved to” or “bound by”. Addiction is a disease of the brain that is characterized by the inability to stop using drugs or alcohol despite the user having experienced severe negative consequences throughout their everyday lives, such as job loss, relationship problems, or extreme poverty. People who suffer from this disease experience compulsive behavior related to using drugs and alcohol, they are unable to stop doing them even though they know it will cause further problems in life or keep them from bettering their situation entirely.

People with substance abuse problems have distorted thinking, behavior, and bodily functions. However, not everyone who uses drugs or alcohol will become addicted, there are many factors that can lead to someone developing an addiction, such as genetic predisposition, environmental factors like peer pressure, and dynamics in the family and home. When someone begins using drugs or alcohol, a surge of chemicals, mainly dopamine, are released inside the brain. Dopamine is often referred to as the brain’s reward and pleasure centers, this chemical is released naturally in the brain when we experience pleasurable moments like eating a delicious meal or participating in your favorite activity. When a person continuously uses drugs or alcohol, our brains begin to rely on this surge of chemicals and it needs them in order to function properly.

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Disease is any condition that changes the way an organ functions, much like how heart disease permanently damages the heart. With prolonged and repeated use of drugs and alcohol, the brain begins to change over time, creating new pathways for these chemicals to go back and forth between neurons. This ultimately causes changes to the brain’s structure and the way the brain functions, some of these changes are even permanent. Drugs and alcohol change the brain in many ways but there are 3 areas that are most heavily affected.

Areas of the Brain Affected by Drugs and Alcohol

  • Basal Ganglia- This area of the brain plays an important role in positive forms of motivation and our habit forming principles. This area of the brain allows us to feel pleasure and when it becomes inundated by drugs and alcohol it becomes less sensitive to the natural reward system, making it difficult to feel pleasure without the use of drugs and alcohol.
  • Extended Amygdala- The extended amygdala plays an important role in producing feelings such as anxiety, irritability, and overall uneasiness, which are typically synonymous with feelings of withdrawal. With repeated use of drugs and alcohol, this area of the brain becomes more sensitive, causing the user to seek drugs and alcohol again to avoid these negative feelings.
  • Prefrontal Cortex- Perhaps the most crucial of all, this area of the brain plays an important role in the ability to think, plan, solve problems, make decisions, and exert self control over impulses. This is also the last part of the brain to mature, making teens more susceptible to becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol. When drugs and alcohol are repeatedly used, it shifts the circuits from stress, to reward, to lack of impulse control, ultimately creating a situation where drugs and alcohol have taken over.

How Brain Imaging Can Help Fight Addiction

With the evolution of science, this has changed the model of addiction. What was once seen as lacking moral fortitude or the ability to control one’s actions, scientists and doctors now understand that it requires more than good intentions to fight this disease. Now widely recognized as a brain disease and cataloged as a mental health disorder, doctors and scientists have been conducting brain imaging studies in order to better understand how to effectively treat and manage this chronic disease.

Since addiction causes changes to the brain, there are differences when comparing brain image scans of a non addict to an addict. Areas like the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for decision making, show major differences that can be attributed to the lack of self control in addicts and their inability to stop using drugs and alcohol. Using brain scans to help treat addiction has shown significant promise to recovering addicts and their families. Aside from the medical standpoint, brain scans help in many ways when it comes to recovery.

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How Brain Scans Help Recovering Addicts

  • Brain Scans Don’t Lie- Brain scans clearly show toxic damage and exposure that is caused by drugs or alcohol. These illegal substances negatively impact areas of the brain that play an important role in being able to control one’s emotions and critical thinking abilities, brain scans show the damage left by drugs and alcohol.
  • Brain Scans Reveal Effects of Drugs- Seeing as how brain scans don’t lie, it is much easier to understand the correlation between drug and alcohol use and the visible damage caused by them. Substances like marijuana and nicotine cause significant changes in brain function and even everyday things like sugar can impact the way our brains operate on a daily basis.
  • Brain Imaging Shows That There is More Than One Addiction- Through brain imaging, we have been able to gain a deeper understanding into addiction. Now, addiction can be broken down into different categories.
    • Compulsive Addicts
    • Impulsive Addicts
    • Impulsive-Compulsive Addicts
    • Sad or Emotional Addicts
    • Anxious Addicts
    • Temporal Lobe Addicts

Researchers have gained valuable insight into how to effectively treat and manage multiple types of addiction, instead of grouping them all together.

  • Brain Imaging Helps to Break the Stigma and Shame- For years, decades even, addiction was treated as a lack of will power and moral discipline. With the advancement of technology, brain scans prove that drugs and alcohol alter the structure of the brain. An addict who is suffering may also feel as though it is all their fault, brain imaging helps show that addiction is a disorder of the brain.
  • Brain Scans Help Remove Denial- Many people with addictions are in denial that they even have a problem. When an addict is confronted with a brain scan image that shows visible damage from drugs and alcohol, it is difficult to deny that there is an underlying issue.
  • Brain Images Help Families Understand- Much like when an addict is shown their brain on drugs, when a family member is shown the scans of loved one it can help remove any blame they place on each other knowing that addiction is a result of chemical and structural changes to the brain, not something they did personally.
  • Brain Scans Can Reveal Co-occurring Disorders- Another benefit when using brain imaging as an additional tool to combat addiction is that it can also reveal co-occurring disorders, such as traumatic brain injuries, depression, or ADHD. In order to heal from addiction, these issues also need to be addressed.
  • Brain Scans Give Hope- Being able to see that your brain is toxic can be a great motivator. Brain scans also make it easy to track the progress of an individual throughout their treatment plan and their sobriety. Using before and after pictures can help someone stay motivated by being able to actually see the healing of their brain.

With a deeper understanding of addiction, we hope to remove the stigma surrounding it. There is no shame in asking for help, if you or someone you know are addicted to drugs, reach out to us for help today! We have many treatment programs available designed to fit your needs.

 

(877) 228-4679

Most Dangerous Synthetic Drugs in America

 

Drugs such as methamphetamines, marijuana, or heroin have long been a problem here in the United States as the war on drugs continue, even after decades of hard work, policing the illegal manufacturing, distribution, and selling of these products for illicit purposes. Synthetic drugs, however, are a newer problem that has swept across the county in recent history. Synthetic drugs, sometimes referred to as designer drugs or club drugs, are substances designed to mimic the effects of other drugs like marijuana or heroin, and they are chemically manufactured in a laboratory. They can be commercially manufactured for valid medical purposes and then diverted into illegal channels, or more commonly, they can be created in illegal clandestine labs with no chance to regulate the chemicals being used or the ability to determine the strength of the final product.

Synthetic drugs were first spotted here in America in December of 2008 when a large shipment of “Spice”, or synthetic marijauana, was seized and inspected in Dayton, Ohio. The majority of these synthetic drugs are created in foreign countries and then smuggled in through various avenues. The reason why these drugs are more difficult to detect is that many of the chemicals used in the illegal manufacturing process are made to circumvent standard tests for drug detection by law enforcement agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Foreign manufacturers are often able to alter the molecular structure of these compounds in order to bypass the laws regulating these substances, therefore masking their intended purpose and avoiding enforcement by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The reason why these types of drugs are more dangerous is because most of the side effects are unknown, as the difference in the chemical structure can have varying negative effects on the brain and the behavior of the user who is under its influence. Due to the illegal manufacturing of these drugs, the strength is unregulated and can cause an unexpected overdose as the individual taking them is unaware of how much they are ingesting. Low prices, availability and misconception of the harmless effects of synthetic drugs have likely led to its popularity and subsequent substance abuse problem.

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Finding the best inpatient drug rehab in SoCal is possible.

There are more than 300 newly discovered synthetic drugs on the market, with that number still rising, making it even more difficult to predict the side effects of each one. However, the most dangerous of these designer drugs that have been detected in America are listed as follows;

  • Fentanyl 

Fentanyl is the highest strength opioid on the market and is often used by dealers to dilute heroin on the streets. It is said to be 80-100 times stronger than morphine, making it a danger to someone who doesn’t know what they are using. It was first created as a skin patch for the pain management of cancer patients but now due to its high strength, it is also being cut down and sold as a super strength heroin. There is a high chance of overdose to unsuspecting users due to its potency and the unpredictable ingredients when manufactured and sold for illegal purposes. 

  • Synthetic Marijuana

Synthetic marijuana, also referred to as K2 or spice, are chemical compounds created to imitate the effects of marijuana. Synthetic marijuana strains, or cannabinoids, are perhaps the most well known across the country as its negative effects to users received widespread media attention. Made from dried and shredded plant materials that are then sprayed with chemicals, it is often colorfully packaged and sold as “potpourri”, a type of incense. It can be purchased from convenience stores, gas stations or glass pipe shops, making it easy to obtain and very misleading to the user as its readily available. There is a high chance of negative effects after exposure as many of these chemicals go unmonitored for the safety of human consumption. 

  • Synthetic Stimulants

Synthetic Stimulants, otherwise known as cathinones, are designer drugs like bath salts or molly. These substances were created to mimic the effects of other stimulating drugs such as ecstasy, MDMA, or methamphetamine. Bath salts, not to be confused with epsom salts, are chemically related to cathinone, a stimulating substance naturally found in the khat plant. The khat plant was once used to treat depression, diabetes, fatigue and various other ailments, but has since been banned from production in many countries due to its harmful side effects. Synthetic drugs containing cathinone are more lethal than the natural substance because of its increased potency and highly toxic side effects. Bath salts have been known to produce violent and psychotic behavior relating to self harm and cannibalism.

Molly is another synthetic stimulant that is more popular within night clubs or with members of the rave community. When the user is unaware of what chemicals are in the compound it becomes more dangerous when consumed with other substances such as alcohol or marijuana, and unfortunately in these settings it most commonly is. Sometimes this combination can even be lethal to the unsuspecting user. What was first confiscated as “pure MDMA”, cops have later found, more often than not, that the substance would test positive for varying amounts of cathinone. Thus, increasing the danger when using this drug.

  • Synthetic LSD

While LSD itself is chemically derived in a laboratory and induces powerful mood altering changes, there are still designer drugs created to replicate its effects. These chemicals are even more harmful when ingested. Also known as phenethylamine, and called N-bomb or smiles on the street, synthetic LSD has had many negative effects to the user as they are unaware that they are not taking LSD, making it even more dangerous to those who are inexperienced. These drugs can cause hallucinations, anxiety and even death, leading to unwanted overdoses due to the unknown ingestion of these harmful compounds. 

If you or someone you know is suffering from a chemical dependency to any of these substances listed above or are experiencing withdrawal symptoms of any kind, please contact a medical professional today to get help in managing the heavy detox and withdrawal symptoms. There is always hope for recovery and you do not have to go through this alone.

Who is to Blame for the Drug Crisis?

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If there’s one thing Americans of all backgrounds, religions and political affiliations agree on, it’s that the United States is in the midst of a drug overdose epidemic, one that is fueled, largely by opioids. While virtually everyone agrees that losing over 70,000 lives a year to the drug epidemic is a travesty, many people are looking to place blame where blame is due. Complicating things further it is no one person, place or thing that created the opioid epidemic. Many historical, socioeconomic and individual factors play a role in the crisis.

One reason people look to assign blame is they believe (sometimes rightfully so), that finding the one thing to blame is the first step to solving the problem. This may be partially true, but for an honest, successful solution to the drug overdose crisis, we need to look at every possible factor that plays a role in the growing problem. Being honest with the findings is the best way to address the multitude of issues that contributed to the crisis.

Illicit drug dealers and pharmaceutical companies are who most people automatically blame for the drug crisis.

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“Big Pharma” drug manufacturers most certainly played a role in the drug crisis, by overselling the benefits of opioids and downplaying the risks. Yet there are various other factors that contributed to the opioid epidemic in the United States.

Of course the first place people look to when placing blame for the opioid epidemic is the drug dealers and manufacturers. Since President Nixon declared the “War on Drugs” in 1971, our strategy for dealing with the problems drugs cause in society was to go after the supply chain. In the nearly 50 years since this war on drugs was declared, we are nowhere close to solving the problems drugs have created in our society.

Certainly, drug dealers and big pharma have played a major role in creating the drug crisis in the United States. Many companies (including, most notably Purdue Pharma), have been found in court to have lied about the safety and efficacy of their prescription drug products. In the late 1990’s, Purdue aggressively marketed Oxycontin to doctors, claiming the extended-release of opioids would prevent misuse of the drug. This formula allowed the giant pharmaceutical company to receive FDA approval to put more opioids in each pill and we all know how that turned out.

The reality of Oxycontin was that it is much more prone to be abused or misused. People who developed a dependency to opiates found that the extended release formula could be bypassed by crushing up the pills and either snorting the powder or injecting the drug directly into their veins with intravenous needles. Because the oxycodone pills are so powerful, an addiction to opioids could develop very fast. Once the prescription ran-out, the addicted patients were forced to move on to street drugs like heroin, just to avoid the excruciatingly painful opiate withdrawal symptoms.

Even when someone successfully quit using opioids, they are highly prone to experience a relapse. A 2016 study found that people who are in recovery from opioid addiction experienced at least a 30% to 70% relapse rate within the first 6 months of their recovery. Fortunately, as a response to this contributing factor, the same pharmaceutical companies developed medications to help treat opioid addiction. Medication assisted treatment (MAT) can greatly help ease painful withdrawal symptoms from opioid addiction and they can greatly lower the rate of further relapses into substance use.

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Are doctors, physicians and other medical professionals to blame for the drug crisis? While some doctors ignored the warnings others may have been intentionally misled.

Doctors who overprescribed opioids and other painkillers are also rightfully to blame for the drug crisis in the United States.

While it is certainly easy to blame drug dealers and multi-billion dollar corporations for the opioid epidemic, the problem equally rests in the interpersonal and professional relationships of patients and doctors in their local communities. A 2016 survey found that about as many Americans blame doctors for overprescribing opioids (34%) as they do the patients who abuse prescription painkillers themselves (37%).

Illicit drug dealers market street drugs like heroin, counterfeit versions of prescription opioids and various forms of fentanyl. However, according to SAMHSA data, fewer than 10% of prescription opioids are obtained from drug dealers or other strangers. Over 50% of the misused or abused pills come from family members or close friends, while only 25% are obtained with a prescription from a doctor or physician. While the problem of patients receiving multiple prescriptions from different doctors, this only represents 3.1% of the opioids obtained for non-medical use, whereas over 22% receive prescription opioids from only one doctor.

Our overall approach to pain management drastically changed in the 1970’s when pain became the “fifth vital sign”.

Before the 1970’s, the medical profession virtually ignored the importance of pain management in a patient’s medical care. The inclusion of the question: “was your pain adequately treated” on patient surveys brought about a sort of preoccupation within the medical community on how to provide adequate pain management. Pain became the “fifth vital sign” along with body temperature, blood pressure, pulse and respiratory rate.

As a doctor, you certainly don’t want to see your patients suffer with pain symptoms. With a newfound focus on pain management, physicians and hospital administrators began aggressively treating pain symptoms, which led to a massive increase in opioid prescriptions.

We have to admit that opioids do serve as effective pain relievers and, when used appropriately, they can benefit the overall quality of health care services available in our society. Opioids do serve to benefit people who have recently undergone surgery, experienced a major bone fracture, cancer patients and other severely painful medical events. We cannot simply prohibit doctors from prescribing them appropriately.

Various forms of alternative pain management techniques are available, yet many doctors aren’t taught them in medical schools. The pharmaceutical industry provides massive funding to most of the medical schools in the US. This problem is compounded by the health insurance companies’ reimbursement policies. These policies make prescription opioids a much cheaper option for patients than other, alternative approaches to pain management, such as acupuncture, physical therapy or chiropractic techniques.

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Opioid manufactures, over-prescribing doctors, insurance policies and patients themselves have all played major roles in the drug overdose epidemic. Now that we know, it’s time to start fixing the problem.

While it is easy for people to simply blame “big pharma” as the culprits of the drug overdose crisis in America, we think that is simply just the tip of the iceberg. Of course the Sackler family from Purdue Pharma, along with other pharmaceutical giants like Johnson & Johnson seriously downplayed the risks associated with their products.

Currently, over 2,000 court cases against opioid manufactures are pending in the US. These cases rightfully assert that “big pharma” may have intentionally misled doctors into prescribing more opioids, which most certainly played a role in the creation of the opioid epidemic. Yet opioid misuse is a much more complicated issue than that.

Drug abuse typically coincides with strong feelings of hopelessness, depression and despair. The states that are the worst-hit by the opioid epidemic also suffer from the highest rates of joblessness and economic turmoil. Until we address all of the underlying causes of the current drug crisis in America, we are going to be fighting an uphill battle.

Overcoming an addiction is never easy, yet there are people who do it every day. 10 Acre Ranch offers a full medical detox and recovery program that can help you, every step of the way.

Please call us today to speak with one of our addiction specialists and we can get you, your family member or loved one the help they need right away. We are available 24/7, 365 days a year. Call now:

 

877-228-4679

 

 

The Importance of Peer Support Systems in Addiction Recovery

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When someone enters our residential addiction treatment facility in Riverside, California, we strongly emphasize a ‘social model’ of recovery. Our treatment program is unique, in that we strive to help our patients get ready for life outside of a professional addiction treatment program. Our residential, inpatient alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs immerse the individual in a community of fellow people who have just began their road to recovery. This experience with peers in a supportive, compassionate environment helps our patients learn new skills to cope with emotional and social stress. The reactions to these situations are guided in a social atmosphere and are crucial to help our clients avoid potential relapse triggers that may occur later in their journey towards sobriety.

12 step programs and support groups still play a major role in modern addiction treatment.

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Men’s drug rehab in Riverside, California.

In recovery from substance abuse, 12 step programs like Alcoholic’s Anonymous or Narcotic’s Anonymous help create relationships, most importantly the relationship with a sponsor. This relationship will allow for a continuation of care and community support following a formal drug rehab program. These types of support structures help welcome newcomers and guide them through the early, sometimes turbulent stages of recovery.

Beginning 12-Step participation while in treatment, especially at group meetings held at the treatment program, and 12-Step attendance at the same time that one is enrolled in specialty treatment, are associated with better outcomes.”- NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information)

Consistent participation is the key when it comes to any attempt at alcohol or drug rehabilitation. Addiction is a disease and just like any other disease, addiction can be treated with both psychological and medical treatment methods. While evidence based medical approaches to care have advanced the addiction treatment industry into the 21st century, a strong foundation of interpersonal support is still a critical component in helping people abstain from further substance use. Ongoing, consistent social support is essential to a successful recovery.

Peer support and 12 step groups are most effective in helping people recover from addiction when coupled with behavioral therapy and applicable medical treatments as determined by a medical doctor. Long-term sobriety should be the ultimate goal of any reputable treatment program. While some people’s lives have been saved through the tenants of 12-step programs, it doesn’t always work for everyone, in every situation. A custom, personalized treatment plan should be developed on an individual basis to ensure the best results. Most often, these plans of action will incorporate a variety of treatment methods to address the unique needs of each of our patients.

Peer support is available, outside of traditional 12-step program environments.

In many ways, recovery is a very personal experience that is different for each individual. Upon entering a drug rehabilitation program, you begin to notice your inward reasons for using drugs and alcohol, while finding ways to rebuild your life into the one you want from sobriety. Although much of your recovery is dependent on your personal willingness to change, the benefits of outside social support should not be underestimated.

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Support groups will help you continue your recovery from addiction outside of a treatment center.

Your family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors can be helpful in your recovery, but it is important to sever ties with those who may have had a negative influence on your life. This can often be the most difficult part of recovery for many people. Finding supportive, understanding, compassionate peers and family members to help you through your recovery is important. Many proclaim this as one of the primary benefits of 12 step programs. Surrounding yourself with positive peer influences can greatly help you navigate through early relapse triggers and develop appropriate responses to challenging situations. 12 step programs are a valuable resource that can help you find positive social contacts who understand your situation.

While unhealthy people and situations contributed to and helped enable your substance abuse, positive, healthy relationships can help create a sort of positive peer pressure to help you overcome your addiction. It is very likely in a support group to find others who have been where you are and they may be able to offer advice on your journey to stay clean.

Addiction can be an isolating experience. Know that you are not alone in your recovery. 

Talking about your life, your choices and experiences with like-minded individuals can greatly help you overcome the underlying reasons you developed an addiction in the first place. Cognitive behavioral therapy, relapse prevention and other types of individual and group therapy sessions will allow you to talk through your problem and find solutions in a typical drug rehab setting. It is important to continue this work for a long period after you leave the care of an addiction treatment center. Research has shown a significant decrease in the risk of relapse among people who participate in peer support programs.

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Support groups in recovery from addiction can play a vital role in your successful sobriety.

Holding yourself accountable is another very important aspect of healing that will greatly lend to your sobriety. A support network can also help hold you accountable to your goals in recovery. These connections can be incredibly helpful through the everyday challenges you will face while attempting to maintain your sobriety. It should be very easy for you to be open and honest with your sponsor and other peers from a 12 step program. They will not approach your situations and challenges with judgment, so you can usually trust them. Even in the event of a relapse, your support group won’t give up on you. Relapse does not mean that you have failed at recovery. Addiction and mental health specialists now consider relapse to be a completely normal part of recovery from an addiction.

Finding professional help is a great first step towards a new life. Call us today to discuss your options and begin your journey. We are open 24/7 to take your call:

 

(877) 228-4679