Does Cannabis Really Help with Hangovers?

cannabis

Does Cannabis Really Help with Hangovers?

cannabisIf you drink often enough to deal with hangovers, you’ve probably heard all sorts of tips on how to get rid of them. Often, from raw eggs to drinking more in the morning, those cures range from the gross to the outright dangerous. While it’s true that taking an ibuprofen in the morning will help with your headache, very few “hangover cures” are actually cures. Instead, you get, at best, a short-term solution with painkillers.

That’s also true with cannabis, which is touted as a way to help hangovers. You’ll see people all over Reddit claiming to cure hangovers with weed – and that unfortunately often means self-medicating with another drug while you should likely be at work and sober.

Of course, there are truths behind the concept that cannabis can help with hangovers. We’ll look at those, as well as what’s really going on, and give you the information you need to make the healthy decision.

First, What Causes a Hangover?

Most people are aware that a hangover is a result of drinking too much alcohol. But, you can get a hangover from any kind of drug abuse. In fact, hangovers are a combination of dehydration and congeners, or built-up chemicals left over from metabolizing drugs and alcohol. These alcohol byproducts stick around, sometimes for as long as two days, leading to fatigue, headache, light and sound sensitivity, and sometimes even nausea. And, the more you drink the worse they get.

What else? Alcohol and many other drugs are inflammatory, which means they cause inflammation across the body which can lead to muscle and joint pain and fatigue.

Finally, as a diuretic, drinking a lot of alcohol can mean you’re short on liquids and electrolytes.

That’s a lot to go wrong for a single night out.

Where does Cannabis Come In?

Cannabis isn’t completely useless at helping with hangovers. In fact, cannabis has been shown to be an anti-inflammatory drug – much like paracetamol, although it’s less good at being an anti-inflammatory than paracetamol or ibuprofen. However, this result is entirely linked to CBD and CBG and not to THC. This means that if you smoke a joint, you’re primarily taking in something that does not actively help with your hangover. What’s more, the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis are comparable to those of garlic, meaning you could just eat a lot of garlic, or take an Aspirin.

What’s worse, is that cannabis can actually cause a hangover. If you take in enough THC< you’ll experience hangover effects. That normally means hangover, cotton mouth, and delays in functioning.

However, Cannabis can also help with nausea. In one study, THC was actually shown to have greater nausea reducing effects than CBD. 96.4% of users smoking joints reported reductions in nausea. This means that many people use cannabis to try to reduce or get rid of nausea after a hangover.

What else? Cannabis is a muscle relaxant, which means it can help you go back to sleep. That’s one of the reasons it’s not safe to use if you’re driving or going to work. However, it can help patients to relax and to go back to sleep, which can “help” with a hangover.

Finally, a lot of people get downright cranky when they have a hangover. If you want to improve  your mood, there’s nothing like drugging yourself to get that result. Cannabis is calming and soothing, meaning that crankiness and irritability can disappear, making you much more tolerable to be around for your family, friends, and coworkers. It’s not a cure, and you’ll probably feel worse when it wears off, but it will prevent you from snapping at people.

Cannabis can also help with hangover in some unexpected ways. For example, if you have a variety that causes the munchies, it can encourage you to actually eat food, which will generally just help with the nausea. Once you get something in your stomach, the rest of the symptoms seem much less pressing, and cannabis can help you do that.

Get Your Questions Answered

Our expert & caring staff on site are available 24/7. Call us today.

Does Cannabis Cure Hangover?

man with hangoverCannabis can temporarily relieve head pain and muscle pain by relieving inflammation. However, cannabis only tackles one of the causes of a hangover.

Hangovers are caused by:

  • Inflammation
  • Dehydration
  • Chemical buildup
  • Electrolyte imbalance

So, can you drink a Gatorade with your joint and be fine? Yes and no. Once you’re suffering from a hangover, taking steps to restore hydration and electrolyte levels are important for feeling better more quickly. You can also use anti-inflammatories to reduce head pain and improve focus if you’re struggling.

However, in most cases, unless you’re staying home, it’s not recommended to use something intoxicating, like weed. Instead, over the counter anti-inflammatories are cheap, safe, and effective.

Some people refer to cannabis as helping the headache, killing the nausea, and putting them back to sleep. Unfortunately, that might be effective on a case-by-case basis, but mixing cannabis with alcohol can cause worsening nausea in many users.

What Helps with a Hangover?

The best cure for a hangover is prevention. That means:

  • Eating before you start drinking
  • Drinking plenty of water alongside alcohol. A glass of water per 2 beers is a good rule of thumb.
  • Managing your alcohol intake

If it’s too late for that and you’re already suffering from a hangover while you read this article, try some pain relief options:

  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, like an aspirin or two
  • Drink a sports drink, like Gatorade, to rehydrate and rebalance electrolytes
  • Go for a walk and engage in light activity to help your body speed up metabolization
  • Eat something. Even if you start with fries or leftovers, getting food in your stomach will help with nausea.
  • If you have nausea, Pepto Bismal or a similar product can help a lot

If you don’t have to go to work, consider going back to sleep and sleeping it off, after you drink some water. If you do have to go to work, don’t forget your sunglasses, extra painkillers, and maybe an apology to your coworkers.

Eventually, if you’re drinking to the point of needing a hangover cure on the regular, chances are, you should be cutting down on alcohol consumption. There’s nothing wrong with drinking to the point of having a hangover a few times a year. And, if that’s the case, you can try self-medicating with cannabis the morning after to see if it helps. It will mostly help you relax and go back to sleep and you’re probably better off with Aspirin. But, you can safely try it. Just make sure you’re not still drunk, because cannabis and alcohol can mix badly together. However, if it’s more than a few times a year and you’re looking into hangover management as a normal part of your life, you probably want to step back, talk to your doctor, and look into getting help with managing alcohol consumption. Looking into regular drug use is not the solution and cannabis will result in further headache and hangover, especially if you’re stacking it on top of alcohol use.

What’s the verdict? Cannabis can help your hangover symptoms in a variety of ways. At the same time, it’s not a cure. It’s also dangerous to smoke before work or driving a vehicle. And, you can often get the same or better results by drinking something, getting some food, and going for a walk.

Supporting a Loved One Coming Home from Addiction Treatment

Supporting a Loved One Coming Home from Addiction Treatment

Supporting a Loved One Coming Home from Addiction Treatment

Supporting a Loved One Coming Home from Addiction TreatmentIf your loved one is in treatment, they’re taking the steps to change their life for the better. Whether that’s after a long and hard battle to get them there or a sudden decision on their part doesn’t matter. Chances are, you want to support them and to provide the kind of help and support they need to continue to get better at home. That can mean taking steps to get therapy yourself, to change how you talk about and see substance use disorder, and to provide the kind of support they need.

It’s natural that you want to help. Chances are, offering support will also make a lot of difference to your loved one and how they feel coming out of addiction treatment. At the same time, they need to be in charge of their recovery and that means they set the pace. You can’t decide things for anyone, instead, you can only provide the emotional support they need to keep moving forward. Sometimes that will be difficult, especially if your loved one is struggling, appears to be backsliding, or is too caught up in dealing with their own problems to notice the help.

Addiction Treatment Doesn’t Mean Complete Recovery

In an ideal world, your loved one would go to treatment and come back completely recovered, with no more substance use disorder. Unfortunately, nothing ever works that way. Even if you were to send your loved one off for surgery for a broken bone, they’d still have months of recovery to follow – and you’d have to support them as they struggle through healing. Addiction treatment is the same, as you’ll have someone who’s been handed tools and a means of changing their life, but who still has to figure out how to apply that and if that application fits their life or if they need further support.

They will still experience cravings, they will have mood swings, they will revert to behaviors from addiction, they may even relapse a few times. The important thing is that they always stop and recognize negative things and get back on track, because healing is very rarely linear. If you need extra help with that, going to support groups like Al-Anon can actually help a great deal

It’s also important to keep in mind that nothing is bringing the “old” them back. Most of us send our loved ones off to treatment expecting to get the “them” they were before addiction happened back. That’s never going to happen, and setting expectations for it will only lead to disappointment. You’re going to have to get to know your loved one as they are now, with the impact of everything that’s happened since they started using, with the impact of substances on their brain, and with the impacts of therapy and treatment. They won’t be the same as before – but chances are, you’ll like the new version of them just as much as you did the old one.

Understanding what Support Looks Like

It’s also important to consider what supporting your loved one actually looks like. That means stepping back and looking at which factor. In most cases, that means:

  • Having the ability to make informed decisions to support physical and emotional well-being
  • Having a stable and safe place to live
  • Having a meaningful and independent life with resources to participate in society
  • Having support, love, friendship, and family through relationships and social networks

You can often help with that in several ways. For example, you can help by listening, by providing a stable place to live, by offering respect, and by continuing to engage with them even when they are struggling. Support can look different depending on your relationship and for example, will take dramatically different forms depending on whether your loved one is living with you or not after treatment.

Committing to Healing Relationships

family members having relationship problems because of substance abuseIt’s important to keep in mind that substance use disorders often very significantly damage relationships. Often, you will build patterns of negative behavior and responses that can carry over, even after your loved one is in recovery. This means you may have to deal with your own negative emotions and being bitter, angry, or disappointed. Your loved one is not going to tackle those right away and may not even realize it has to be done. Putting the focus on their recovery first and working to build a relationship so you have the grounds to talk about the past is an important part of commitment.

  • It’s not about you, their focus on their recovery should be the most important thing for the first months out of recovery
  • It’s critical to set healthy boundaries and to say no when you cannot or do not want to do something or be involved with it
  • Setting guidelines on stepping out of situations where either of you is behaving or responding in a negative fashion is important.
  • Deciding to actively acknowledge and work around past behavior and patterns will be important, especially if you find yourself easily fighting, dismissing each other, etc.

Setting good boundaries can also help you to ensure that you behave in a healthy manner around your loved one. E.g., by ensuring that you aren’t enabling them or pushing them back into a pattern of substance abuse.

Get Your Questions Answered

Our expert & caring staff on site are available 24/7. Call us today.

emotiona-support-for-a-loved-one-to-help-her-get-clean

Create a Safe and Welcoming Environment

It’s important that you take steps to create a safe and welcoming environment for your loved one. That means:

  • Practicing acceptance of who they are now, with all faults and problems
  • Accepting that they aren’t recovered and are instead in recovery
  • Making space for mental health problems
  • Accepting that they will not be fixing your relationship right away
  • Accepting that substance use disorders are a behavioral disorder or an illness and not a personal choice

It also means taking steps to make your loved one feel like they are accepted, welcome, and wanted. That means:

  • Treating your loved one like a member of the family even when they can’t contribute to the family
  • Involve them in plans, events, etc.
  • Plan around their obligations and needs. E.g., having parties that are alcohol-free, taking their therapy or 12-step obligations into account when making plans, etc. Simple things like going “We can’t go out to dinner at Thursday at 5 PM because X has their 12-step meeting then, why don’t we do it Wednesday instead?” can make a lot of difference to people feeling like their needs are being taken into account.

A history of substance use disorder can mean there’s a history of avoidance, negative emotions, and not including people in plans. Changing that is one of the easiest ways to show that you accept they are trying and that they are part of the family.

Talk and Listen

Going into recovery and treatment often means that you’re basing your entire life around treatment. At the same time, your loved one is changing as a person. They’re learning new things, picking up new skills, picking up new hobbies, and making new friends. They’re in a state of enforced change and that can be difficult and traumatic. Making space to talk about that, about what they are learning, about what they are doing, about life goals, etc., is more important than talking about addiction, cravings, and getting better. Why? It makes your loved one feel supported, like you see that they are trying, and that you acknowledge they are a person beyond their substance use disorder and recovery from it.

Seek Out Family Therapy

people during a family therapyIn many cases, it’s going to be important to go to therapy and treatment yourself. That’s either by yourself or with your loved one. Family therapy can help you to improve your relationships, to undo old patterns, and to build new behavioral patterns with your loved one. It can also allow you to get support in figuring out how to be there for your loved one. That also often means having third-party insight into what your loved one is saying and what that means for you and for your family.

Family therapy can help you to work on healing relationships, to understand how your negative behavior patterns impact each other, and to see your relationship from their perspective as well as your own.

Building a Relationship

Moving forward from addiction means putting in a lot of work. It means accepting your loved one for who they are and as imperfect. It also means giving them autonomy, freedom, and privacy to make their own decisions. That means building trust and rebuilding a relationship based on who they are now. That can be difficult, especially if the past hasn’t given you the grounds to do so, but will give you a baseline to have a healthy and positive relationship with your loved one moving forward.

Rehab or addiction treatment gives your loved one the tools to move forward and to fix their life. It’s what they do with it as they leave rehab that counts. The most important thing you can do to support that is to make them feel loved, like part of the family, and like they are being seen for the effort they are putting in.

7 Characteristics of a Good Drug and Alcohol Rehab

mental health expert at a drug and alcohol rehab

7 Characteristics of a Good Drug and Alcohol Rehab

a female client inquiring on a drug and alcohol rehab centerIf you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, getting help and going to rehab is the best way to get started turning your life around. Unfortunately, even choosing a rehab center can be a challenge. In 2022, there were 17,353 registered substance use disorder treatment facilities in the United States. This means you’ll have to navigate a large number of options, look at different treatment methods, and put in work to find the treatment center that works for you.

Those facilities also vary considerably in treatment options, luxury, treatment type, and treatment delivery. For example, you can go to a simple outpatient program where you visit the clinic daily. You can also go to a high-end luxury resort that looks and feels like a vacation with therapy on top. There’s also a large range of options in between, which is the best fit for most people. Whatever you go to, the following 7 characteristics of a good drug and alcohol rehab are crucial for your treatment.

1. They Accept Your Insurance

Substance abuse treatment can be extremely expensive, especially if you’re going to an inpatient treatment facility. Having the surety that your program is covered by your insurance allows you to get the help you need without adding on extra financial stress. In addition, if your treatment facility accepts insurance, that means it’s offering medically recognized treatment, has gone through the process of being locally licensed and certified, and meets the standards for quality set by whatever region it is in.

Of course, that’s not always the case. Some insurance programs simply won’t cover inpatient care. Others require that you go to outpatient care first and only cover inpatient care if you relapse after an outpatient program. So, your rehab center not being covered by your insurance provider may be about policy rather than about the rehab facility being part of an established medical network. However, in general, it’s best to work with rehab centers that work with medical providers, that are part of your network, and that can share data and medical files to your doctor and vice-versa, so you get the best possible care.

2. The Facility and Staff are Licensed

It’s important to check who you are working with and who is providing treatment as part of your rehab program. For example, are you working with registered nurses for your detox program? Are counselors licensed? Is there a psychologist or psychiatrist on the team? How much interaction will you have with those people?

Depending on the drug and alcohol rehab team, you’re likely to work with a mix of counselor, nurses, and doctors. You’ll want to see what staff are like and how qualified they. The best programs largely rely on skilled specialist counselors with therapists and doctors to back up those programs, so you get a mix of treatment.

3. The Facility Offers Personalized Treatment

Whether it’s called personalization, trauma-informed care, or a program that’s adjusted to your needs as you move through it, you want to look for personalization. This means that the facility adapts your treatment to you and your needs. This is important because many people going into addiction treatment struggle with unique problems like trauma, co-occurring mental health disorders, and behavioral problems. If you’re having trouble motivating yourself to believe in therapy, therapy should adapt to offer you a motivational program. If you’re struggling to commit to treatment because you’re feeling suicidal, therapy should adapt to address that first.

Personalized treatment means you get the care you need, when you need it, instead of being forced through a cookie-cutter program. That will improve your outcome and will ensure you get the support you need as you need it. However, it can also mean programs last much longer, as you might have to delay treatment to address other symptoms or slow down treatment to your pace.

Get Your Questions Answered

Our expert & caring staff on site are available 24/7. Call us today.

4. Low Patient to Staff Ratios

mental health expert at a drug and alcohol rehabThe more one-on-one time you get with staff and counselors, the more value you’ll get from the treatment center. Of course, you also benefit a great deal from interacting with your peers and from group therapy. That’s why basically every treatment option incorporates group therapy as a baseline. It’s good for you to see and experience how others are going through and have gone through addiction, it’s good for you to understand your peers, and it’s good for you to be able to see which aspects of your personality and behavior are you and which are “just” addiction. At the same time, the best drug and alcohol rehab centers maintain a low staff to patient ratio.

In general, ratings are:

  • 14+ patients per staff member – High
  • 4-14 patients per staff member – Average
  • 4 or less patients per staff member – Low

It’s also important to keep in mind that the lower staff to patient ratios are, the more you’ll pay for treatment. However, you’ll also get more direct attention, more personalization, and more insight into your own personal needs. And, that can be extremely valuable, whether you’re going to an inpatient or an outpatient program.

5. Diverse Treatment Options

Most people are aware that there are dozens of ways to treat substance use disorders. Here, you want to look for a program that uses multiple treatment options so that they can adapt your treatment and your program to your needs. For example, if your treatment center is only offering counseling, it might not be a great resource for you.

A good mix of treatment options looks like:

  • Diverse behavioral therapies like CBT, DBT, and EMDR
  • Counseling
  • Group Therapy
  • Motivational Therapies like ACT
  • Complementary therapies like music therapy, nutritional therapy
  • Exercise and fitness programs

Essentially, you want a program that uses a mix of resources, so it can offer you what you need, when you need it.

6. Aftercare Programs

The dream is that you go through rehab and you walk out the other side, a new person, ready to recover. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case. Most people end up needing aftercare including ongoing therapy and counseling. Sometimes that’s to give you the support you need to stay clean and sober. In other cases, it’s to give you the support you need to go back to recovery after a relapse. However, any good rehab program will realize that you need this aftercare. Aftercare can mean sober homes, ongoing support and counseling, telehealth support, fast-track readmission in case of a relapse, an outpatient program, checkups and key dates, etc. The important thing is that it’s there, that you discuss with your rehab center what you need and why, and that you have the tools to get that ongoing support.

7. Support for Co-occurring Disorders

More than half of all people with a substance use disorder also have a co-occurring mental health disorder. Many of those include disorders that require medication and treatment. You need to ensure that your facility has the tools to help you manage co-occurring disorders, to help you treat the symptoms of substance use disorders around mental health disorders, and that address how substance use disorders impact your vulnerability to substance abuse and to relapse.

There’s a lot that goes into choosing a drug and alcohol rehab program. Often, you should start by talking to your doctor, decide what you’re looking for, and then figure out where you’re looking for treatment. From there, it’s easier to narrow down treatment options – and you may find that there are only a few that meet the criteria you’re looking for. Hopefully, you can find a great rehab center that meets your needs and helps you take the next step towards recovery.

The 7 Most Commonly Abused Drugs in College

alcohol, drugs, pills on a wooden background

The 7 Most Commonly Abused Drugs in College

alcohol, drugs, pills on a wooden backgroundFor many college students, going to college is the first point in life when they have to be alone, self-sufficient, and responsible for themselves. That also means that for many, college is a time of self-exploration, creating and setting boundaries, and dealing with high levels of stress at the same time. As a result, nearly all college students will experiment with drugs at some point. For most, that means trying cannabis or even trying something like Ritalin. And, for many, it ends there. For others, that goes on to become a long-term problem.

College students drink and use drugs for a lot of reasons. Those include peer pressure, with students in sororities more likely to drink and binge drink and also more likely to have alcohol abuse problems later in life. They also include for stress management, with many college students using drugs to “self medicate” stress, to sleep despite stress, or to reduce anxiety. Others use “study drugs” like Ritalin to try to boost exam results. As a result, more than 22% of college students regularly use drugs and another 55% regularly drink, and heavily.

The following data covers the 7 most commonly used drugs in colleges.

Marijuana

Marijuana or Cannabis is one of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States. That’s partially driven by the fact that many people don’t see it as harmful. In other cases, it’s because students use it to self-medicate and reduce stress. At the same time, in 2016, 20% of full time college students used cannabis regularly. In 2021, 11% of college students reported using cannabis daily, up from 6% in 2011. This means that cannabis is more popular in colleges than ever, with more and more students using it every single day. Cannabis is most-often used to control anxiety and to de-stress. However, some students also use specific strains as a study drug, although this is less common.

In addition, while cannabis has a low abuse profile compared to some drugs like opioids, it’s still highly addictive, with an estimated 1 in 4 daily users suffering from addiction. 

Ritalin

Ritalin is so well-known as a study drug that it’s sometimes more associated with college students and abuse than with ADHD treatment. Today, somewhere between 5 and 30% of all college students have used or are currently using the drug. This prescription stimulant is intended to reduce the symptoms of ADHD and ADD. However, college students use it to increase alertness, to improve focus, and to stay awake during study, lectures, and tests.

While not highly addictive, Ritalin is illegal to use outside of a prescription. It can also cause heart irregularities and may increase risk of heart attack. And, when mixed with alcohol and other drugs, Ritalin can significantly increase the risks of overdose.

Adderall

Adderall is another prescription stimulant that’s rapidly becoming more and more popular among college students as a study drug. This means that students are very likely to use it in the same capacity as Ritalin, as they are a very similar drug. Adderall lasts for either 6 hours or 14 hours, which means it’s more likely to still be active when students start drinking or using other drugs. In addition, college students are 3% more likely to use Adderall when age matched to non-college student populations.

Adderall is also illegal to use without a prescription. However, the risks are virtually identical to Ritalin.

Get Your Questions Answered

Our expert & caring staff on site are available 24/7. Call us today.

Hallucinogenic

MDMA, LSD, ecstasy, and other hallucinogenic drugs remain extremely popular on campuses across the United States. Often, this means these drugs are taken as party drugs. However, microdosing is also increasingly popular, as students take tiny doses of the drug to boost performance, reduce stress, or create subtle psychedelic effects. Most students think of microdosing as safer than taking a full dose, but over the course of the day, often build up higher levels of hallucinogenic in their system than by taking a single dose at once.

While the addiction profile for hallucinogenic is low, these drugs are still dangerous. Many have a risk of causing psychosis, months-long symptoms, and extreme reactions like vomiting that can be life-threatening. As a result, ER-related visits have gone up by close to 4.7% since 2011.

college students and cocaineCocaine

Cocaine was the fourth most commonly used drug on college campuses in 2017. In one study, 4% of full-time college students used cocaine. In others, cocaine is shown to be much more common, with as many as 13% of students in some universities using it. Cocaine is primarily used as a party drug, which is popular for being relatively safe and for wearing off quickly. However, cocaine still exposes users to significant risks including hypertension, mental health disorders, hyperactive disorder, heart problems, increases in paranoia, and increases in anxiety. As a result, students use the drug thinking it’s a relatively harmless party drug but end up facing significant side-effects and cravings at the same time as high stress and peer pressure.

Opioids

Today, an estimated half a million college-aged adults have an opioid use disorder. This means that 1.2% of all people in this age group are addicted to opioids, with many more using them. Changes in how opioids are prescribed to young people have also resulted in increasing reliance on street drugs like heroin and fentanyl, including mixes of fentanyl and Adderall, which pose significantly high risks of overdose. Opioids are primarily used as a party drug or self-medicating drug, with people using them to destress, to feel better, and to escape from the stress of college life. At the same time, these drugs pose a significant risk of addiction as well as of physical and mental health complications.

Alcohol

Alcohol is the single most abused drug on college campuses. While not traditionally though of as a drug, this intoxicating substance is abused by more than 55% of all college students. In fact, 39% of college students report binge drinking. Men in sororities are most vulnerable, with increased risk of binge drinking, substance use disorder, and later life substance use disorder. Alcohol creates risks of addiction, mental health problems, and physical health problems. For many students, it also makes it harder to study, harder to focus and stay alert in class, and harder to have the mental energy for study.

This means that alcohol abuse can significantly sabotage study and your ability to feel good around college. It can also mean making impulsive decisions like drinking too much, not doing homework, and staying up too late, which makes the rest of study harder.

Getting Help

If you or a loved one is struggling with drugs or alcohol, it’s important to reach out and get help. Today, most college campuses offer resources for students who need help. For example, you can often get therapy, work towards enrollment in a rehabilitation program, and get therapy right from campus. However, it’s also important to talk to your doctor, to figure out the underlying causes behind substance abuse, and to work towards building coping mechanisms and skills that will allow you to navigate college without turning to drugs and alcohol. For many college students that means going to therapy, getting longer-term treatment and support, and ensuring that you have a good support network in place, even when going off on your own to a college.

The Many Triggers that Precede Relapse

The Many Triggers that Precede Relapse

The Many Triggers that Precede Relapse

The Many Triggers that Precede RelapseIf you’re moving into recovery, you know that relapse is an ongoing threat to your health and your progress. Unfortunately, the risk of that will always be a problem, which is why many people in recovery continue to get help, go to aftercare, and continue to seek out both nonprofessional (self-help) and professional (counseling, therapy, sober homes, etc.) help. While it’s important to ensure that you have ongoing care and resources to reach out to in case something goes wrong, it’s also important to understand what can cause a relapse, how to recognize an impending relapse, and how to reach out for help.

That often starts out with understanding your triggers. Here, it’s important to keep in mind that triggers are unique and personal. Yours might be very different from what’s on this list. Therefore, managing yourself and your recovery will almost always include some amount of self-awareness, logging when you feel cravings, and figuring out what makes you crave drugs or alcohol. You can work on that with a counselor or therapist. However, many people experience some variation of the following triggers, which may help you to recognize and react to your own.

What Are Triggers?

Triggers are incidents which push your brain into a response to use drugs or alcohol. In some cases, the trigger is to directly drink or use. In other cases, the trigger is something that sets off a chain reaction that eventually results in relapse.

Triggers are things that most people think of as negative. For example, we’re all used to hearing about triggers for PTSD, where traffic jams can cause someone to relive the experience of a car accident or how fireworks may cause a veteran to relive an experience of gunfire or bombing. Yet, triggers can also come from positive events. A promotion may trigger you into feeling like you should get to celebrate and have a break and that might end up in a relapse.

It’s also important to keep in mind that triggers don’t have to kick off an immediate reaction. You could experience something that sets things in motion, resulting in a relapse in 2 months. However, the trigger remains the thing that kicked it off. Learning to recognize those triggers and cope with them in healthy fashions will help you prevent the relapse.

Triggers can be anything. They also vary per person. The things that cause you to drink or use won’t be the things that cause your peers to drink or use. However, there will be overlaps.

Get Your Questions Answered

Our expert & caring staff on site are available 24/7. Call us today.

What Are Some Common Relapse Triggers?

There are hundreds of things that can count as “triggers”. In fact, there’s no real limit on them. However, the following items include some of the most common triggers that precede a relapse.

woman feeling stress1.  Stress

Stress is the most common relapse trigger. It’s also one of the most common triggers for addiction. This means that stress management should be your number one priority in recovery. If you feel like you have to escape from life, you’re setting yourself up for a relapse. Learning stress management strategies, taking stress to directly reduce stress in your life, and proactively learning how to handle situations and incidents in a manner that mitigates stress will all help you to stay clean and sober. Taking steps might mean stepping to a less stressful job, trying to reduce commute, hiring a babysitter, working to live in a quieter area, getting rid of tasks that cause you a lot of stress, learning mindfulness or meditation techniques, improving how you dela with situations, and much more. The important thing is that you take active steps to reduce stress so that you don’t find yourself triggered into drinking or using. Here, talking to your doctor will be an important step.

2. Feeling Bad

Feelings of negatively such as anger, grief, sadness, loneliness, and boredom are all triggers for substance abuse. In fact, if it makes you feel like you want to get away from it, it’s probably a trigger for you. That’s especially true while you’re in recovery, because you’ve already trained your brain that drinking or drugs is a way out of whatever you’re feeling. If you feel bad for example because of a breakup, difficulties at work, a traumatic event, or even just feel lonely and sad, you’ll probably feel a lot of internal pressure to use. And, that can mean that you will be triggered to relapse because you’ll have pushed the buttons that lead to drinking or using again – providing you don’t find healthier coping mechanisms in the meantime. The bad news is that negative emotions are an unavoidable part of life. You’re going to want to start working on healthy ways to manage and cope with negative emotions, and the sooner you do it, the easier staying in recovery will be.

3. Feeling Good

It’s unfair that feeling good can also be a trigger, but it can be. Here, many of us associate good times with substance abuse. That can mean you are triggered into using by good times. For example, you get married, you get a promotion, a new car. What do you want to do? You want to celebrate. And, what do you associate with celebrating? Substance abuse. Being aware that this is a risk can help you to mitigate it. However, you’ll also want to make sure you have people to talk to, that you have a good idea of how to have fun without relapsing, and that you can figure out how to feel like you’ve had a party and an outlet without substance abuse.

4. Re-exposure

man drinking alcohol

The most common trigger that most people run into is exposure. However, that can be very multifaceted. For example, re-exposure can mean:

  • To Substances – If you’re not used to being around a substance you might find that even being able to smell it is a trigger. People with alcohol problems can relapse after smelling old beer in a cup. For this reason, most people eventually want to try to expose themselves to substances to ensure they can stay in control and that they learn to cope with cravings under the supervision of a therapist or counselor. If you do that, it should be after discussion and agreement with your therapist. However, sudden exposure to a substance can mean you end up facing unexpectedly strong cravings, don’t even think before using the substance, or otherwise just react and end up relapsing. Habit can take over but so can strong cravings.
  • Locations – You might be surprised to walk into a room where you used to get high or drunk and find that you’re experiencing cravings or worse just reacting without thinking but it’s a common experience. It’s important to watch yourself around places you used to abuse substances in, places you used to buy substances in, and places where you used to hide substances. For example, most people are aware that a liquor store is going to be a problem if they have an issue with alcohol. Most people don’t realize that taking the route home from work past the liquor store can trigger an automatic reaction to park their car in the lot and get out. Those kinds of automatic reactions can be surprising, and they can result in relapse because you’re just following habits without thinking.
  • People – People can be triggering in multiple ways. For example, if you used to abuse substances with them. Or, if they resulted in you using to begin with. People who caused trauma that resulted in escapism, people who were around a lot when you were using, and people who cause a lot of stress can all result in a triggering experience. Here, you’re typically better off working towards exposure therapy and learning to cope with these triggers, because you can’t always avoid people.

In every case, re-exposure can put you at risk of a relapse.

Getting Help 

Moving into recovery means dealing with yourself, your cravings, and your triggers. It means working to understand yourself, what makes you tick, and what makes you want to escape. It means talking to addiction treatment professionals and trying to work towards finding healthy coping mechanisms. And, it means having accountability so you can check in, have people help you when things are starting to go badly, and get support. Recovery is often not a straightforward path, you may have setbacks, you may need additional treatment, and you might slip up. It’s important that you have the support system in place to ensure you can get that help when you need it.

If you or your loved-one struggles from alcoholism or other substance abuse please contact us today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors about our alcohol rehabdetox, partial hospitalization, and residential treatment programs. 10 Acre Ranch also has specialty tracks like our pet friendly drug rehab and couples substance abuse treatment programs. We’re here to help you recover.

Fentanyl Withdrawal: Symptoms, Dangers, Treatment

Hand with pen drawing the chemical formula of fentanyl

Fentanyl Withdrawal: Symptoms, Dangers, Treatment

Hand with pen drawing the chemical formula of fentanylFentanyl is rapidly becoming one of the most common recreational opioid drugs on the market. That’s both because it’s commonly sold as a strong and cheap alternative to opioid painkillers and because it’s used in counterfeit and cut versions of other drugs. Fentanyl is found in everything from heroin that’s cut to reduce costs to faux Xanax pills – meaning that millions of people are using fentanyl even when they aren’t aware of it. It’s also used as a prescription painkiller after surgery, where you might have a patch or a slow-release pill or even fast-acting pills after significant surgery and advanced-stage cancer treatment. In any case, fi you’ve been using fentanyl more often, it will have a withdrawal phase, and that withdrawal phase can be significant and even dangerous.

Fentanyl is currently considered to be one of the most dangerous opioids on the market. It’s responsible for about 70% of all opioid-involved overdose deaths. And, at up to 100 times the strength of morphine, it’s easy to overdose on because even a tiny amount is too much. This means that withdrawing from it and getting clean can be critical to ensuring your safety. However, getting clean can be dangerous in and of itself and it is important to approach fentanyl withdrawal and detox carefully.

What Happens When You Withdraw from Fentanyl?

Fentanyl withdrawal starts within 6-12 hours after your final dose of the drug, or about 24-48 hours if you have a slow-release formula. Here, symptoms largely map to those of regular opioid withdrawal, but can be somewhat more severe as fentanyl is one of the strongest opioids you can take.

Here, you might not notice a difference between fentanyl withdrawal and a severe case of the flu. All of your symptoms will typically start out light and then will increase in severity. In addition, they may come with symptoms of anxiety, panic, and distress, which don’t come with a normal cold or flu. Here, you can expect symptoms of:

  • Sweating
  • Shaking or tremors
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Cravings for more fentanyl
  • Abdominal cramping and stomach problems
  • General malaise/muscle pain
  • Agitation
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Fatigue and lethargy

These symptoms start out light and can increase to be very severe over the 1-2 weeks of symptoms. It’s also important to manage side-effects, as leaving them alone can result in increased risks of dehydration, choking, and even seizures. This means ensuring that you drink enough, putting in effort to sleep on your side, and ensuring that you’re investing in health at the same time.

man having fentanyl withdrawal symptoms

Get Your Questions Answered

Our expert & caring staff on site are available 24/7. Call us today.

How Long Does Fentanyl Withdrawal Take

thoughtful manWithdrawing from fentanyl typically takes anywhere from 14-20 days. However, if you are taking a slow-release version of the drug, it can take much longer. In addition, many of the mental side effects and symptoms can take significantly longer to go away. This means you’ll have to manage your mental health and treatment over the longer term.

If you’re withdrawing from fentanyl in a treatment center, you’ll typically receive medication to speed up this process and to reduce the symptoms and the severity of the symptoms.

3-24 Hours – Early onset withdrawal means that withdrawal symptoms kick in. This normally happens in 3-6 hours with normal fentanyl. However, if you have a slow-release version of the drug it can take much longer. Therefore, you’ll have to adjust your timeline based on what kind of fentanyl you’re using. Early withdrawal typically starts out with anxiety, cravings for more of the drug, and the start of early cold and flu feelings. Here, you’ll most likely want to invest in self-care and either go back to bed, ivnest in light exercise, and ensure that you drink enough water.

Day 1-4 – Withdrawal symptoms normally kick in fully after the first 24 hours although it can be as long as 48 hours if you have a slow-release version of the drug. Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms normally start with sweating, chills, runny nose, and sometimes a cough. Most people will also start to experience nausea and potentially diarrhea or vomiting right away as well. Your mood will drop and you’ll feel anxious, low, and cravings will intensify. For most people, this means you’ll want to ensure that you have good social and emotional support in place. You’ll also want to ensure that you are taking care of yourself, drinking enough water, eating well, and getting light exercise. After the first few days, you’ll also be at risk of respiratory problems and breathing difficulties, you might have muscle shaking and spasming, and tremors. Most people do need medical attention here and having a nurse or a doctor to monitor your condition is important.

Day 5-22 – In most cases, your symptoms will plateau and then start to balance out after the first 5 days. If you’re on a slow-release version of fentanyl, it may take up to 14 days to reach this phase. From there, you’ll need another 10-15 days for symptoms to gradually go away. Here, your existing symptoms should stay the same but should gradually fade over time, meaning you will feel physically better every day. However, mental symptoms may not fade and you may require therapy and counseling to deal with those symptoms before they actually fade.

In most cases, fentanyl withdrawal will take about 15-24 days total no matter what kind of fentanyl you are using. This means you can expect symptoms to last about 2 weeks on average.

Dangers of Fentanyl Withdrawal

Fentanyl is one of the strongest opioid drugs on the market. Often, this means that you’ll face two major risks when withdrawing from the drug. The first is that side-effects can be dangerous. Here, you might face tremors, potential seizures, and muscle shaking which can cause medically significant risks. You might also experience risks of dehydration and the significant danger to your organs and your health that go with. People can also risk choking when vomiting, nutritional deficiencies, and other potentially severe side-effects of normal flu symptoms. Anyone who withdraws from fentanyl also faces the significant risk of relapse, where you are at risk of giving in to cravings. This puts you at increased risk of overdose, because your tolerance can drop significantly even in a very short amount of time. This means that the same dose you used before withdrawing can result in an overdose after withdrawing. Therefore, you might be putting yourself at risk just by using your normal dose.

Getting Treatment

people during group therapy for fentanyl treatment

If you or a loved one is struggling with fentanyl use, it’s important to get help. Here, you can get treatment and assistance during the detox and withdrawal phase. This very often means that you’ll receive a medication assisted treatment program, where you get methadone or suboxone to help you manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce their severity. These drugs also reduce the risk of relapse, which significantly reduces the risks associated with withdrawing from fentanyl. Professional treatment for fentanyl addiction also means getting behavioral health support, counseling, and group therapy for drug addiction, all of which will work to give you the tools to manage life without fentanyl so you can stay clean over the longer term.

Fentanyl is one of the most dangerous opioids on the market. If you or a loved one is using it, you’re putting yourself at risk. At the same time, withdrawing from fentanyl without medical support is also dangerous, because symptoms and side-effects can be severe and because the risk of relapse can be significant. It’s important that you get treatment and support to ensure you stay safe. Good luck with getting clean from fentanyl.