How to Stay Clean and Sober Over the Summer

sober friends on road trip during summer

How to Stay Clean and Sober Over the Summer

sober friends on road trip during summerIf you’re in early recovery, you know that recovery is a journey, you have to keep working for it. That can seem intimidating around things and events where you’d normally party or drink and use drugs or alcohol. For many of us, summer is about vacations, time off from school and work, and getting to party. For some of us, that can be intensely triggering. In other cases, it can mean facing the prospect of a “boring” summer, without the usual outlets of getting to let go and party.

The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to have a great summer without drugs and alcohol. However, you might have to put in time to plan that summer. You might have to figure out what you can do, explore fun things to do, and look into ways you can feel social, get excitement, and enjoy being around others without drugs and alcohol. The closer you are to having been in recovery, the harder that might be. However, you can take steps that will ensure you stay clean and sober over the summer and hopefully enjoy yourself as well.

Mindset is Everything

It’s interesting how much of relapse is about mindset. For many of us, relapse is forwarded by finding ourselves reminiscing about the “good times” and getting to let loose, to party, to feel good. The minute you find yourself thinking in that way, it’s time to stop and reevaluate your mindset.

After all, it may be easier to let go of your inhibitions and go dancing or sing karaoke after a few drinks, but how much of it do you remember? How much of what is said is genuinely you? Do you get to make genuine connections with others? And what about the morning after when you wake up tired, dehydrated, and feeling bad? What about that? Most of us conveniently forget that drug and alcohol binges come with at least twice that amount of time of feeling bad. Correcting yourself by thinking about those bad times, thinking about throwing up, needing friends to get you home, passing out in places, being uncomfortable, having a headache – that’s all important too.

Glamorizing drugs and alcohol as part of your lifestyle is not going to get you a fun summer. However, you can actively confront your mindset when you do and make sure you remember the bad times as well.

And, having a summer without those bad times probably sounds pretty good right?

Make Sure You Understand Yourself

two friends chatting near the oceanIt’s important to know what triggers you. Chances are, if you’ve been going to therapy or addiction treatment, you’re already working on that. Understanding what is likely to trigger you means you can better plan having support networks around you when those triggers occur. You can also think about avoiding those triggers.

For most people, triggers look like:

  • Being around drugs or alcohol
  • Seeing people you used with
  • Being put in situations of stress
  • Being in situations that would previously have resulted in drinking or using
  • Being at parties or around others using
  • Being in certain environments like a beach, a bar, etc., that you might associate with getting drunk or using

For example, if you used to go to a resort in Mexico to get drunk and high over the summer, you probably don’t want to go to a beach in Mexico this summer. That will probably trigger you a great deal, and it will be difficult to avoid being surrounded by people who are heavily drinking.

Understanding your triggers means you can take steps to plan your vacation around those triggers and to have support when you can’t avoid those things. E.g., you’re going on a city trip and you know you can’t avoid bars, so you bring a sober friend you can talk to so you know you’ll get support even if you’re feeling cravings.

Here, it’s also a good idea to plan in how to react to cravings. That means figuring out how to take 15 minutes to do something with your hands, talk to a friend, solve a Rubik’s cube,

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Plan Sober Fun

two friends chatting near the oceanKnowing what to avoid is only half the battle. You also have to know what you think is fun, what you can do for fun, and where you’ll find enjoyment. You still want your summer to be enjoyable, relaxing, and entertaining. You still want to feel like you’ve had a good time. That often means planning in sober fun. What is “sober fun”? That depends on you and what you like. For most people, “fun” works out to:

  • Social time where you get to engage with others, including people you know and strangers
  • Challenge
  • Games
  • Feeling like you’re contributing or making a difference
  • Adrenaline

Not everyone will like all of these things. However, most people like at least some of them. You can work that out to:

  • Sober parties and social outings, like dance classes, where you get to engage with others without alcohol. Don’t be afraid to throw your own parties. But, keep in mind there are sober events in most areas.
  • Physical activities, especially group activities. Think dancing, skating, bouldering, and other similar activities. Swimming might be less fun because it’s less social on average unless you’re playing water polo. Hiking is a great choice whether you’re traveling or staying home.
  • Challenging activities, like bouldering, escape rooms, chess, or board games, are a great option.
  • You’ll still want to feel excitement, so do things that are exciting. That can mean taking spontaneous trips, going on rollercoasters or water slides, going skydiving, or asking people to dance. The point is that you want to feel excitement because that’s an important part of having fun.
  • Volunteering, helping out with friends, and contributing to your self-help group or family are also an important part of having fun. Especially as you move further into recovery, you’ll find that fun and enjoyment is more about building moments that are enjoyable and creating a life that is worth living, and that means giving back. You’ll find that volunteering is extremely rewarding, if not “fun” in the most classic sense.

If you’re traveling, it’s also important to make time to experience food, culture, and sights. That means hiking, eating, local music, and city trips as part of your planned fun.

Don’t Give Up Self Care Routines

Most of us learn significant self-care routines as part of rehab. That means you’ll have a routine of wake up at a specific time, eat something healthy, work out, clean a bit, do your therapy or maintenance homework, go about your day, come home, eat something healthy, clean up, have a bedtime routine, go to bed at about the same time every night. The order of that can differ a lot but all of those elements should be in it.

Here, it’s important that you stick to that routine as you go about your summer. It doesn’t matter that you might not be going to college or to work, you might be in a different location, etc., but you should still maintain the self-care routines. That normally means that you should exercise about 80% of days, you should eat healthy meals about 80% of the time, and you should go to bed at the same time about 80% of the time. It’s okay to give that up for 2-3 days of short vacation, but other than that, you should stick to your routines so you can maintain your self-care and your mental health.

If you think you’re struggling or you’re not sure about getting through the summer clean and sober, it’s always a good idea to ask for extra help. That can mean signing up for a self-help group at your destination, it can mean signing up for telehealth therapy, it can mean going into treatment over the summer. It’s important that you ask for the help you need so you have the support you need to get through your summer clean and sober.

The Differences and Similarities Between Meth and Crack

Various-colorful-pills-and-syringe-on-black-background

The Differences and Similarities Between Meth and Crack

Various-colorful-pills-and-syringe-on-black-backgroundRecreational drug use is at an all-time high in the United States, with an estimated 48.7 million Americans struggling with a substance use disorder. Crack or crack cocaine and meth are two of the most common of those drugs, although both fall well behind opioids, sedatives, and tranquilizers like heroin, sleeping medication, prescription pain pills, and benzodiazepines in popularity. Crack and meth have many similarities on a surface level. For example, both are sold as “crystal” and both are called “rock” in some street language. And, both are often smoked using a glass pipe but can be injected. In fact, if you don’t know what you’re looking at, it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two when you catch someone using.

For many parents, crack was the concern when they were kids. Today, methamphetamine is the new drug of choice for kids, often because it’s accessible and cheap, rather than because it’s cheap. At the same time, it’s important to understand the differences, because both have different effects, different risks, and require different strategies to use safely.

What is Crack Cocaine?

Cocaine is a processed product from the coca plant, which is made by processing the leaves into a paste and then further processing it with ammonia to remove the pulp to create pure cocaine. Crack is cocaine that has been processed a third time with solvents to further remove any non-active ingredients, creating a hard, rock-like substance that is sold in chunks known as “rocks”. It’s also generally mixed with sodium bicarbonate, which allows it to be smoked at a lower temperature (cocaine doesn’t start to smoke until almost 400 degrees Fahrenheit, which also destroys the drug but bicarbonate smokes at 208 F, which doesn’t destroy the drug).

The result is a highly concentrated form of cocaine that offers a significant high and euphoria. Unlike cocaine, crack is also highly addictive. And, unlike cocaine, smoking it means it results in significant physical health risks including burns, damage to the lungs, tooth loss, and more. Cocaine also only lasts about 15 minutes, meaning that users frequently consistently pass a pipe around to stay high – resulting in increased risk of overdose and danger.

What is Meth?

Meth or “crystal meth” is an illicit drug that’s sold in a number of ways but most famously as crystals or “rock”. Methamphetamine is an amphetamine drug, similar to what you get if you buy Ritalin or Adderall. However, meth has more of the psychoactive amphetamine salt, meaning that it creates a more intense high, more euphoria, and more risks of side-effects.

Meth is typically made illicitly by distilling the active ingredients out of other products, such as cold and cough medicine. However, in other cases, it’s synthesized directly. In either case, the drug is typically sold as powder. In some cases, it’s solidified and sold as crystal meth, or dry rocks known as “rock”, “crystal” and sometimes “shatter” (although the latter is more often reserved for hash and concentrated THC products from marijuana.

Like crack, meth is a stimulant. However, it lasts 4-16 hours. In addition, it can be more noticeable than crack, as users may not sleep for the entire period they are high. For people who continue to smoke while high, that can mean periods of 32+ hours of being awake. Meth is also more common, with almost twice the number of regular users as crack cocaine.

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What are the Similarities Between Meth and Crack Cocaine?

Asian-men-are-drug-addicts-to-inject-heroin-into-their-veins-themselves.Flakka-drug-or-zombie-drug-is-dangerous-life-threatening,Thailand-no-to-drug-concept,The-bad-guy-drugs-in-the-desolateMeth and crack cocaine have a lot in common. For example, they are both stimulant drugs. This means that both impact the central nervous system causing a high, euphoria, and feelings of being powerful. People using crack or meth will show signs of hyperactivity, wakefulness, and restlessness. They might not be able to sit still, talk at a normal pace, or they might talk with nervous energy or jitters.

  • Crack – Users are likely to experience euphoria and a high, with paranoia, hallucinations, anger, psychosis, and some hostility or aggression towards others.
  • Meth – Users are likely to experience euphoria and a high with paranoia, hallucinations, anger, psychosis, and some aggression and hostility towards themselves and others.

Crack cocaine and meth are also both schedule II-controlled substances. This means that they’re both illegal to poses or use in the United States. They’re classified as dangerous, and addictive and it can be a crime to be caught with either drug in your possession.

Crystal meth can also look very similar to crack cocaine. However, “standard” meth is more likely to be sold as a powder.

As stimulant, both also have similar long-term effects. For example:

  • Cracked and blistered lips from smoking
  • Weight loss
  • Tooth decay
  • Paranoia and psychosis

A heavy crack user will look similar to a heavy meth user in many ways. Both also have similar overdose risks and similar risks of cardiovascular and heart failure.

  • Both can be smoked or injected
  • Both are often consumed from glass pipes
  • Both cause a euphoric high with nervous energy

What are the Differences Between Meth and Crack Cocaine?

Crack and meth are very different drugs. As a result, there will be many differences. However, you’ll most often notice them in how long the drug acts and what the long-term side-effects are. Here, meth mostly stands out by lasting for longer. Users are also less likely to sleep and more likely to start showing ticks and psychosis over time.

  • Meth lasts for up to 16 hours while crack only lasts for about 15 minutes
  • Meth tends to result in a more haggard appearance over time and weight loss may be more extreme – because it causes more loss of sleep
  • Meth highs tend to result in sugar and junk food binges
  • Meth tends to result in more symptoms of psychosis over time, meaning that individuals are more likely to twitch, show paranoia, and to show side-effects even when not high.

Eventually, both meth and crack cocaine are dangerous drugs that can result in mental and physical health problems including overdose, death, and addiction. Of the two, methamphetamine is more popular. Today, an estimated 1% of the population use meth. About 0.4% of the population use crack cocaine. Therefore, if you’re not sure, you can generally assume that methamphetamine is more than twice as common.

Getting Help

Both crack cocaine and meth are dangerous, addictive, and potentially deadly drugs. Both cause long-term side-effects to mental and physical health. And both can have markedly similar side-effects and risks. Eventually, if you or a loved one is using either, it’s important to realize that you are putting yourself at risk every time you use. Stepping back and looking into getting help, detox assistance for getting clean, and long-term support and rehab to help with substance abuse recovery can be an important step. Here, modern drug addiction treatment means counseling and behavioral therapy to help you identify the underlying causes behind substance abuse, to find coping mechanisms for cravings, and to build life-skills that allow you to navigate life in a happy and healthy way without drugs.

Meth and crack are both extremely dangerous and addictive drugs. If you’re using them, it’s important to talk to your doctor, get help if you need it, and make sure you’re doing everything you can to stay safe.

Why Long-Term Addiction Rehab Produces Better Outcomes

a man from a long term rehab center looking at the camera

Why Long-Term Addiction Rehab Produces Better Outcomes

a man from a long term rehab center looking at the cameraFor most people, rehab means a 28-30-day stint in a recovery clinic. That standard care often feels like a long time for many of us, especially when we have to take time off of work, away from childcare, and away from other life responsibilities and goals. At the same time, modern medicine and research increasingly shows that 30 days is not enough to offer the full term of support and care that most people need. For that reason, long-term addiction rehab, or rehab that extends up to 6 months, is increasingly available. Here, long-term addiction rehab facilities often adjust the treatment model to the patient. This means that you receive care for as long as your doctor and provider thinks you need it.

The 30-day treatment model still offers convenience and an alternative to those who can’t afford a longer term of care. However, continuing with outpatient treatment after an inpatient stay is still recommended. There are many reasons why long-term addiction rehab produces better outcomes than the traditional model. If you’re considering investing in longer care for you or your loved one, it’s important to understand why, and what the differences are. 

Based on Biological Recovery

Most people are aware that recovering from the physical impacts of addiction can take a very long time. Few of us are aware of just how long. For example, the early impacts of addiction on the reward system typically fade within 30-90 days depending on the individual. After 30-90 days of treatment, your brain will be at a semi-permanent state of “recovery” for the next 12-24 months. From there, you’ll continue to heal, but more slowly.

For many people, it does take 1-2 years before your brain resembles a “control” subject of someone who hasn’t been addicted to drugs or alcohol. For example, it typically takes about 14 months for your brain to show levels of dopamine transporters at levels similar to those of persons who have never been addicted. Brain imaging from persons who were abstinent after alcoholism also showed that the longer individuals were abstinent, the better brain recovery was. For example, individuals who were abstinent for 10 months were significantly more likely to show normal volumes in areas of the brain related to executive control, salience, and emotional processing than individuals who were sober for 1 month.

On the other hand, your brain may never fully recover from addiction. The earlier you start using or drinking, the more permanent changes will be. For example, adolescents who heavily drink are likely to never have a brain that functions the same as a control subject who never had an addiction. Still, that just means you’ll need more ongoing support, rather than that you can’t live without drugs or alcohol.

Essentially, your body takes a long time to recover from addiction. Spending one month in rehab can help you to overcome the worst of cravings. For many others, that process takes up to 90 days. From there, you’ll still have a long uphill battle as your brain slowly returns to normal.

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Benefits of Long-Term Drug Rehab

people during group therapy a long term rehab centerLong-term drug rehab is typically delivered in one of several ways, depending on your resources and time. These include:

  • A longer stay of 90+ days in a rehab facility where you’ll receive full support and ongoing care in a facility, followed by aftercare when you leave
  • A 30-day stay in residential treatment followed by 6+ months of outpatient treatment
  • A 30-day stay in residential treatment followed by a stay in a sober home and 6+ months of outpatient treatment

Here, you’ll normally get a therapy and counseling schedule that’s very similar to what you’d get in a shorter-term rehab. However, it will extend for longer. You’ll also get additional tracks of long-term self-care, physical health, mental recovery, social recovery, etc., to help you rehabilitate back into your life, rather than just helping with the immediate pressing issue of the substance use disorder.

Building Structure – The longer your stint in rehab, the more time you’ll have to build the structure and habits that allow you to live in a healthy way. For example, most people are aware of the “24 days to build a habit” maxim. Few of us are aware that in reality that scales from 14-90+ days. The longer you have to repeat habits like daily exercise, cleaning, self-care, meals, etc., the more you’ll be able to make those routines a normal part of your life, without extra effort. Therefore, spending more time in rehab means you’ll have more time to make structure a normal part of your life. You’ll also have more time to benefit from structure set up by someone else, so you don’t have to worry about or think about things like ensuring you’re eating well, that you’re getting enough exercise, etc. You’ll get the healthy lifestyle while having the headspace to focus on your recovery, managing your mental health, and working through counseling and therapy.

Ongoing Care –Traditional rehab means you get a few weeks of detox followed by a few weeks of intensive therapy and care. With long-term rehab, you get detox and then as much ongoing therapy as you need. This means that your program is completely scaled to meet your needs to help you work through pressing issues as they come up and then to continue to help you build healthy coping skills, healthy life skills, social skills, etc.

A Focus on Life Rehabilitation – Long-term drug rehab means you can shift the focus of mental healthcare away from triage and focusing on immediate issues like cravings and addiction and towards helping you build the skills for a healthy and happy life. That means skills to cope with cravings, time management, emotional regulation, learning to build healthy and fulfilling social relationships, introducing self-care, learning to manage mental health, etc. That will, eventually, mean you’re set up to be much more stable and healthy when you do go back to your life.

Support as Long as You Need It – If you’re staying in rehab as long as you need it, you can get the care you need. That means continuing each part of your track until you’re actually ready to graduate. That means you can focus on recovering from and dealing with cravings for as long as you need. When you’re ready to move on from that, you can do so. You can spend as much time as you need to learn how to manage stress, emotional regulation, and anything else that comes up during the course of your treatment. That will, eventually, give you a much better baseline to deal with and manage yourself and your life. Recovery at your own pace also means you can get treatment for years on an outpatient basis, and you don’t have to stop going to care until you’re ready to do so.

Aftercare – It doesn’t matter how long treatment is, you should always get aftercare. That means options to restart treatment and to have checkups, ongoing sessions with counselors, and meetups with your peers. Long-term addiction rehab typically provides that as a standard part of treatment, meaning you know that when you graduate from care, you’ll have follow-up sessions to ensure you’re still doing well, you’ll have opportunities to reconnect with people, and you’ll have opportunities to give back where you want to.

Long-term addiction rehab is an investment because it takes more of your time and for longer. However, it provides you with a baseline to build a healthy life, to get treatment at your own pace, and to stay in care for as long as you need it. It’s not the right solution for everyone, but for many people, it means you’re opting into long-term support and structure, so you get what you need to stay clean and sober.

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.

I Found Out I’m Dating an Addict – What Should I Do?

couple having trust issue because of drug addiction

I Found Out I’m Dating an Addict - What Should I Do?

couple having trust issue because of drug addictionFor most of us, the picture of an addict brings up someone who doesn’t function, who perhaps doesn’t have a home, and who doesn’t have a job. So, learning that people in your life, including people you are dating, are struggling with addiction can be a massive shock.

Addiction is a normal part of life for 48.7 million Americans. That means that 17.3% of the population, or nearly 1 in 5 Americans, has an “addiction”. It’s perfectly normal to work with, date, and be intimate with people who have drug and alcohol addictions.

At the same time, figuring out what to do with that knowledge is a harder step. Do you break up with them? Do you try to get them into treatment? Is it your responsibility to take care of them? Should you be creating as much distance as you can? Unfortunately, there are no easy answers, but you can take a lot of steps that take both yourself and your partner into account.

Stay Safe

The first thing you should keep in mind is that people facing addictions can be unpredictable. If you aren’t sure how your partner is going to react, you should be careful. You should also take steps to ensure you’re taking care of your own mental health. That means:

  • Making space for yourself and your feelings
  • Not turning into a caretaker
  • Not making yourself uncomfortable for the sake of your partner
  • Not agreeing to lie or hide substance abuse for your partner
  • Taking time and space out when things get stressful
  • Breaking up if you feel uncomfortable dating an addict
  • Seeking out therapy and trauma therapy and thereby recognizing that this is a traumatic experience for you

If you find yourself over extending, taking on all of the responsibilities in the relationship, or constantly being unhappy because of your partner, it’s okay to break up. Even if you love them, you shouldn’t be ruining your life for someone else.

It’s also important to keep in mind that addiction changes people. Once someone goes to therapy and gets help, they are going to be a different person. Holding out for getting someone you used to know back or expecting that your partner is the same before and after therapy is only going to result in self-harm.

Understand Your Boundaries and Capabilities

a couple resolving issues togetherYou’ll have to set boundaries with your partner, decide if you want to stay with them, and decide if you can even be fair to them in a relationship. Before you do, you should figure out answers to questions like:

  • What are you comfortable with around drug and alcohol use?
  • Can you approach substance abuse from a perspective of nonjudgement? E.g., seeing it as a disorder and something that needs medical treatment?
  • Can you take an approach of harm reduction (my partner will use x substance so the important thing is that they use it as safely as possible until they can get treatment)
  • Decide how much addiction and the resulting behaviors make you uncomfortable

That can mean realizing that you see addiction as a shameful personal choice and that you can’t change that, and therefore can’t date this person. It can also mean realizing you don’t have the mental health or the stability to deal with someone who will be an emotional rollercoaster who needs a lot of extra support and care. It may mean realizing that you invest too much into caring for people and it’s not healthy for you. It may also mean realizing you have to set very good boundaries that may mean seeing your partner less or even breaking up with them.

Whatever that leads to, it’s important that you go at it from a perspective of understanding yourself and what you need and then figuring out how that works with what your partner needs in that time.

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a female talking to her boyfriend about his addictionTalk to Your Loved One

It’s important to talk to your loved one and set boundaries and expectations. That won’t be easy. It may also involve confronting your loved one with their addiction. That can be difficult, and it can end up being a very emotional and even confrontational conversation. At the same time, you need that conversation to decide what to do.

  • Set boundaries and state what you can take and why. Try to be gentle but be firm and clear about your needs. Set hard boundaries where you can follow up on them. E.g., if you say “I need you to not come home completely drunk” you have to be able to follow up and step out of the situation if your partner comes home completely drunk. Good boundaries look like “I need X to be able to be comfortable and happy”. E.g., “I need to have a partner I can rely on, and that means I need you to follow through on promises when you make them, if you can’t do that, I will stop accepting promises from you”.
  • Set communication guidelines. That can mean siting down and talking, sharing when your partner is off using or drinking, avoiding heated conversations, avoiding name-calling, etc.
  • Share any steps you are taking to protect yourself. E.g., “I won’t share finances with you”, or “I don’t feel you can be reliable with chores so I won’t share them with you or live with you”.
  • Try to be clear about what your wants for the future are, ask those from your partner, and try to create a plan for the future.
  • Try to stay calm. People who are addicted to substances can be avoidant, violent, moody, and irritable. They can respond to what seem like perfectly reasonable statements by being completely unreasonable. It’s important that you

Sitting down to have a discussion will help you both understand what to expect from the other. However, it’s important to keep in mind that addiction can make honesty around that difficult. You might find that you set clear expectations with your partner and they don’t follow up or act as though the conversation was never had.

Seek Out Help

man getting into treatmentTaking time to understand addiction, how it works and what help looks like is important if you want to stay with your partner. Even if you’re casually dating, you’ll want to know what addiction is and what treatment looks like. That means taking time to learn about addiction, to learn about treatment options, and to try to talk to your partner about them.

At the same time, it’s not your responsibility to get your partner into treatment. You also can’t make them make better choices or get help. You can offer to help, you can be supportive, and you can be nonjudgemental, but you can’t make them motivated to get clean or sober.

You’ll also want to consider getting help for yourself. Living with or dating someone with a substance use disorder can be highly traumatic. It’s not easy to invest in someone who can’t invest fully in you. Seeking out therapy, attending groups like Al-Anon, and otherwise working towards ensuring you have space for your own mental health will be important if you stay dating your partner.

Addiction is a behavioral disorder that legally qualifies as a temporary disability. The person you’re dating is very sick. You don’t have to stay with them, you don’t have to take responsibility, and you should make sure you take care of your own mental health and wellbeing if you stay with them. Dating an addict can be difficult and traumatic, however, there are no right answers except to try to approach the situation with nonjudgement, to make sure you’re taking care of yourself as well, and to ask for help for yourself and your partner wherever you can.

7 Traits of an Addictive Personality

a man with an addictive personality

7 Traits of an Addictive Personality

a man with an addictive personalityIf you’re struggling with a substance use disorder then you’ve heard the term “addictive personality” in the past. For many of us, that can lead to immediate clicks, that sounds like me. But, what is an addictive personality disorder? What does it look like in actuality? And is there a difference between an addict and someone with an addictive personality disorder?

In short, an addictive personality is boiled down into “someone who is prone to substance abuse”, because they are very likely to very quickly become hooked on a behavioral stimulation like gaming, internet, a new crush, a substance, or anything else that makes them feel good. It’s also important to keep in mind that addictive personalities are hypothetical, they haven’t been proven to exist. Instead, we use the term as a convenient way to refer to a collection of traits that are likely to increase the risk of addiction. In medical terminology, these traits are referred to as “vulnerabilities” and never as “an addictive personality”. Therefore, you’ll have to switch language when talking to your therapist or counselor. However, for yourself and for your friends, the “addictive personality” name can be an extremely useful way to talk about personality traits that can increase your vulnerability to addictions of almost any kind.

1. Impulsivity

Impulsive people are more likely to use and abuse substances. That’s one reason why many people who self-define as having an addictive personality actually have attention disorders like ADD or ADHD. If you’re impulsive, you’re more likely to do things without thinking. You’re more likely to do stuff for fun. You’re more likely to chase sensations and feelings without thinking about their repercussions or long-term impacts. The less you are able to control your attention span, the more likely you are to lose track of how much time you spend with that thing, which also leads to reckless and heavy use.

So, if you’re impulsive, you’re more likely to take risks. That can be easy to see risks like running across the highway. It can also be risks like taking drugs, drinking before getting in a car, or to use substances to cope with stress. It doesn’t mean you will become an addict. However, it does mean that your chance of exposure to risk factors, like using drugs and alcohol, realizing how much you’re using, and how much you seek out chemical pleasure will be increased.

2. Seeking Behavior

People who exhibit seeking behavior, especially sensation seeking, are more likely to struggle with substance abuse and substance use problems. You can also see sensation seeking in parts of life that don’t involve substances. For example, people who need outlets like going out, who like to smash things when angry, who love food or soda, who like sleeping in but staying up late, who engross themselves in games, etc. The more you are the type to seek out fast and instant gratification, the more you are at risk of substance abuse. That sounds like a lot of people right? That’s because most people fall into this category, although some more than others. Instead, finding slower gratification is a learned trait and often one you’ll want to work on even if you think you have an addictive personality.

3. Trouble Fitting In

a woman feeling anxious because of many peopleThe more trouble you have fitting in, the more you’ll likely fall under the “addictive personality” umbrella. This means people who don’t easily communicate with others, who don’t make friends easily, who don’t fit in with the popular crowd, who aren’t like everyone else. That can mean a lot of things but often means that people with mental health disorders, people on the LGTQI++ spectrum, and people with behavioral problems are significantly more likely to have an addictive personality. For example, some traits that point to likelihood of addictive personality include:

  • Social alienation or not being part of a group
  • Feelings of loneliness even in a group
  • Few or no close friends
  • Trouble with the law
  • Poor relationships with parents
  • Poor relationships with social morals and values

Each of these contributes to the need to find pleasure and satisfaction in things outside of normal social contact and relationships. It also means you’re less likely to respect social norms that say you shouldn’t use drugs or alcohol. And, it means you’re more likely to want or need a release or an escape because nothing else is making you feel good. In its earliest form that often results in internet and video game abuse but may also result in alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and addiction.

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Seven Traits of an Addictive Personality4.  Stress

Everyone experiences stress but we all manage it in different ways. For some of us, how we manage stress puts us at risk of addiction. Healthy coping mechanisms for stress mean finding a way to ground, to find positive things, and to let go of stress. Unhealthy coping mechanisms for stress often mean finding ways to distract yourself and escape. That often results in over consumption of media, using substances to relax, and otherwise ignoring the issues. If you fall into the latter category, it is one of the traits of an “addictive personality”. However, everyone does suffer from stress. Learning how to manage and cope with stress in a healthy fashion should be a normal and healthy part of being an adult. It’s important that you look into getting help and learning how to do so, because otherwise it will always be a risk factor for addiction.

5. Mental Health Disorders

Having a mental health disorder can now significantly increase your risk of behavioral addiction. People with disorders ranging from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder to depression and PTSD will all exhibit similar symptoms of relying on sensation seeking and escapism to cope with problems. That’s often because you are sick and it means that you are using your resources on other things. Reaching out and getting therapy and help to learn healthy coping mechanisms will improve how you’re able to cope with and manage your disorder so that it’s less likely to put you at risk of an addiction. However, having a mental health disorder increases your vulnerability to substance use disorder and other behavioral addictions by over 200%. It’s a significant and impactful part of your life and can contribute to what is known as “addictive personality disorder”.

6. Chronic Illness

If you suffer from chronic or long-term pain, you’re more likely to want to rely on sensation seeking and escapism to feel better. You’re also less able to have the willpower and self-control to do otherwise, because like with mental health problems, chronic illness typically means that you are spending your energy elsewhere. Therefore, chronic illness will significantly increase your vulnerability to addiction. Chronic illness can also be majorly isolating in that it prevents you from doing a lot of things with friends and peers and reduces your energy levels. At the same time, it will make you more lonely and less self-sufficient, because you’ll be less able to do things on your own and therefore cut out of doing things on your own as well. That can greatly increase your vulnerability to substance use disorders – meaning that it’s important to seek out professional help and learn management techniques and get support if you want to stay as healthy as possible.

7. Mood Issues

If you frequently find that your mood is low, that you don’t feel good, that you crash, or that you’re exhausted, you’re probably more at risk to addiction and substance abuse than the general population. Here it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not normal to experience sudden mood swings, sudden strong emotions, or to go from one emotion to the next. Learning healthy coping mechanisms and emotional regulation will help you to improve your life. However, having these kinds of mood issues will increase your risk of substance use disorder and are one of the key traits of what people call “addictive personality”.

Eventually, addictive personality is a term that is used to refer to a series of traits that increase your vulnerability to sensation seeking and substance abuse. Both of those increase your risk of substance use disorder. In any case, it’s important to work towards healthy coping mechanisms and towards improving your life. The danger of calling something part of your personality is that you may decide you can’t do anything about it when often you can take steps to learn healthy ways to deal with your emotions, your impulses, your mood, and your social life. Eventually, that will help you to stay clean and sober, while improving your quality of life.

Does Meth Cause Heart Damage and Cardiovascular Disease?

does-meth-cause-heart-damage-and-cardiovascular-disease

Does Meth Cause Heart Damage and Cardiovascular Disease?

does-meth-cause-heart-damage-and-cardiovascular-diseaseMethamphetamine or meth is one of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States. In fact, with an estimated 2.5 million Americans using the drug, it’s extremely likely that you or someone you know uses it. In addition, some 1.6 million Americans are addicted to meth, which means they heavily use and go through withdrawal if they stop using it. Meth is well-known to cause myriad health issues, ranging from horrifying weight loss to rotting teeth and hair loss. Most people are also aware of the significant slips in personal hygiene, personal care, and care of social responsibilities associated with meth. However, fewer people are aware of the fact that meth can have a significant impact on your heart and your cardiovascular health.

In addition to causing significant problems to your mental health, your social life, your financial life, it can significantly stress your heart, cause permanent heart and cardiovascular damage, and can even kill you. It’s the second most common cause of death in methamphetamine users, following accidental overdose. There’s no safe way to use meth, so if you or your loved one are using it, you are putting yourself at risk.

Heart Risks Caused by Methamphetamine

man thinking if he Avoid Heart Damage with MethMeth can significantly damage your heart and your cardiovascular system. It can also indirectly cause to both indirectly by preventing you from cooling down properly. Here, it’s important to know that methamphetamine is a stimulant that causes increases in heart rate, blood pressure, and the production of dopamine, serotonin, and even adrenaline. It’s an “upper” and many people who use it won’t sleep until the dose wears off – which can be over 36 hours.

  • Heart Attack – Methamphetamine users are significantly more likely to suffer from a heart attack than non-methamphetamine users. This happens through two mechanisms. The first is that meth is a stimulant and causes increased blood pressure and increased activity. Users may also continue using, taking multiple hits over the course of a day and may stay at this state of heightened arousal for 12+ hours. This can result in significant strain to the heart and eventually in a heart attack. However, methamphetamine can also cause cardiotoxicity, which may result in a heart attack. Here, catecholamine builds up in the heart and may cause heart muscle death, resulting in heart failure or a heart attack.
  • Cardiotoxicity Catecholamine activity is responsible for modulating the heart rate and blood pressure. Excessive catecholamine activity results in high blood pressure and high heart rate. This can eventually lead to heart muscle death, heart attack, and heart failure. It can also cause narrowing of the blood vessels and spasms of the blood vessels, both of which can result in other complications.
  • Stroke – Methamphetamine causes increased risks to the heart, which means that you are at a significantly higher risk of stroke. Here, you’re at the highest risk if you’re over the age of 45. However, anyone is at risk and it’s usually a mix of increased heart activity and heat. Therefore, you can reduce risks by keeping cool and not overextending activity beyond what you would do while clean and sober.
  • Cardiovascular Damage – Meth causes significant strain to the cardiovascular system which can result in semipermanent and permanent damage. Here, spasms, narrowing of the blood vessels, clots, and strain are all likely side-effects. Cardiovascular damage can result in needing surgery. It can increase your risk of heart complications. It can also result in brain damage when a blood vessel bursts, clots, or hemorrhages.
  • Weight Loss – many people taking methamphetamine end up losing a lot of weight. That’s because the drug increases your metabolism and reduces interest in food. However, this can create a lot of extra strain on your heart, especially if that weight loss is rapid. Maintaining your nutrition levels and physical weight is important for your heart health. Heart strain from weight loss or from being too thin can cause heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.

In each case, the longer you use methamphetamine, the more built-up strain that it causes. This means that using meth for longer results in increased risks, longer term damage, and more built-up damage over time. However, if you’re at risk of a heart attack, have a history of heart disease, or have a risk of heart strain, then you’re at use every single time you use the drug.

All of these health problems can vary in severity depending on your sensitivity, genetic profile, weight, gender, physical health, and starting point. Someone with a high risk of heart problems is more likely to have problems with meth. However, someone who is already underweight when they start meth might over-strain an already weak heart and immediately cause health problems or death. Eventually, without a thorough health panel upfront to see if you are at risk, you have no way of knowing how you’ll respond to using meth every single time you use the drug.

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Can You Avoid Heart Damage with Meth?

Methamphetamine also known as crystal methUnfortunately, there’s no way to avoid potential heart damage from meth if you are using it. However, if you are using the drug anyway, taking steps to reduce heart damage can make it safer for you. That means:

  • Using less of the drug at once
  • Sticking to a few hits and then taking breaks. The longer you’re high, the worse heart strain gets
  • Getting plenty of sleep, typically no more than about 18-20 hours apart from the last time you slept
  • Eating well to maintain your physical weight to reduce strain on your heart
  • Talking to a doctor about your usage and how to make it as healthy as possible

Unfortunately, there’s no way to make methamphetamine use safe. You’ll always take on risks and you’ll always increase heart strain, risk heart damage, and risk cardiovascular disease. The longer and the more you use meth, the worse those risks will get. That’s even true if you’re a casual user and not struggling with addiction or dependence. You’ll always be putting yourself at risk of physical health problems including long-term and permanent heart damage. The best way to mitigate that damage is to not use meth at all. However, if you’re already using, getting help with quitting, detoxing in a healthy manner rather than going “cold turkey” without support, and ensuring that you move safely through detox is the best start you can make to getting your health back.

Getting Help

If you or a loved one is using meth, it is not safe. Methamphetamine always creates a risk of heart damage, heart attack, overdose, and psychosis. There is no safe way to use the drug. Getting help can mean getting assistance with detox and withdrawal, so you can get off of the drug without causing additional health risks. It can also mean getting support and mental health treatment, so you can get started with recovery and with learning the skills to stay in recovery rather than relapsing.

Meth is extremely common. However, it’s also dangerous for your body and for your mental health. The sooner you get help, the easier it will be to recover and the less likely you are to deal with long-term side-effects. Good luck getting treatment.