Back to Work After Drug Rehab

an employee being welcome at work after drug rehab

Back to Work After Drug Rehab

an employee being welcome at work after drug rehabIf you’ve either taken time off work to go to treatment or are moving back into the workforce for the first time after a longer period of unemployment, it can be challenging.

Workplaces are stressful, often demand that we invest a considerable amount of time in something that we might not care about, and expose us to people, emotions, commute, and even substances. That’s especially true if you’re going back to a workplace where you used before or if you habitually used drugs or alcohol to cope with your job in the past.

Going back to work is intimidating. However, you can manage and you can go back to work after drug rehab while continuing to take care of yourself and to maintain your sobriety.

Go to Therapy

Most modern rehab treatment includes considerable aftercare and ongoing counseling and therapy – whether via one-on-one sessions, by connecting you to another therapist, or by telehealth. It’s important that you continue to invest in that treatment and self-care, especially as you move back into the workplace. Likely, you’ll need ongoing therapy as well as a self-help or support group like AA, NA, LifeRing, or SMART.

If you’re very worried, you might also want to opt into staying in a sober house in the interim. These “halfway houses” provide an intermediate environment, in which you’ll have support and accountability, social meals, and people to share with as you move back into the workplace.

Manage Stress

Managing stress is one of the most important steps to having a healthy and balanced life. While that can be difficult in a modern world, you can do it. Often, managing stress means taking care of yourself, taking care of your environment, and learning when to say no. For example, you might opt to take up a meditative practice, but it won’t do too much if you’re constantly stressed by other things in your environment. You need a holistic approach that starts with your basic life structure and extends to your job.

What does that mean?

Eat Well – Good nutrition helps you to maintain energy, improve health over time, avoid mood swings, avoid energy crashes, and even feel happier. Many people entering rehab actually struggle with nutritional deficiencies, so ensuring you eat well on average will also work to correct long-term feelings of being sick or feeling down – because nutritional deficiencies can have very similar symptoms to mental health disorders. Here, you don’t have to be perfect. Just try to make sure you eat a varied diet, eat enough fruit and vegetables, and meal-prep or buy healthy meals if you don’t have energy to cook when you get home.

Get Enough Sleep – Most people need anywhere from 6-10 hours of sleep in a day. Most of us have a good idea of how much sleep it takes to wake up feeling good. Often, building a consistent sleeping schedule, where you go to bed and wake up at about the same times every day will make it easier to consistently get the sleep you need to have energy and to avoid stress.

Exercise – 30-60 minutes of light to moderate exercise a day will reduce stress, improve your mood, and boost energy levels. That might be a walk at work during lunch, it might be biking to work, it might be playing sports with friends or going to the gym after work. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something you enjoy and that you can maintain because you’ll have to. Doing too much can cause you to crash so it’s also important to be careful here.

Avoid Caffeine and Sugar – We often go back to the workplace and then use caffeine and sugar to sustain energy levels throughout the day. That can be damaging, not just to your energy and stress levels but also to your sobriety. Why? Caffeine and sugar can react in the body in similar ways to other substances, you might find yourself leaning on either or both in the same way that you would have on drugs or alcohol. And, that will eventually lead back to relapse. Of course, neither are bad in moderation, you just shouldn’t be using either to get through your day.  

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Set Boundaries

a couple discussing important things, wife setting boundariesIt’s important that you have good work boundaries. That will sometimes mean choosing a workplace that offers support for having mental health problems, for not drinking, and for having problems that mean you sometimes have to stay home. Good boundaries mean:

  • Saying no when asked to work overtime or to do something that would cut into your energy or stress levels. Having time to yourself and time to enjoy living are important
  • Being able to stand up for yourself, to handle interpersonal disputes professionally, and to ask for help if there is conflict in the workplace, even with a superior
  • Being able to say no to drinking and to attending events in which alcohol is present

It may also be a good idea to discuss your former drug or alcohol use problem with your colleagues so that you can ask for assistance around that. People may be very willing to contribute and to help, to avoid alcohol around you, etc., but they can’t do that if they don’t know.

Take Steps to Accommodate Living Well

You should never have to hate your job. You should never have to dread any part of your day. While sometimes it’s unavoidable, such as if you’re in a very temporary position, you should never aim to force yourself to endure something awful every day. You can always look at which parts of your day that are difficult and work to improve them. Sometimes that will mean changing your work, changing the type of work you do, or even working less. In other cases, you can make simpler changes like looking for a better commute, changing how you commute, or moving closer to work (or getting a job closer to your house).

Similarly, you can look at any part of your day and take the same approach. Do you hate getting ready in the morning? Do most of the work the day before. Do you hate commute? Look for a job that allows you to work from home most days. Is cooking a stress factor? Meal prep or order food in bulk. If you can creatively look for solutions, you can improve specific factors you’re stressed about.

Of course, that’s not always as easy as it sounds. Sometimes you will just have difficulty with everything because of a mental health disorder. Sometimes you’ll be stuck in a situation because of money. The important thing is that you take steps to make your current situation as good as possible so you can cope with it.

Going back to work after an addiction can be challenging. You’ll have to reintegrate into the workplace, you’ll have to handle stress and commute, and you’ll have to manage your colleagues. That will mean getting to know people (again or for the first time), sometimes sharing your past, and investing in taking care of yourself and in managing stress and energy levels long-term.

Hopefully, you’ve learned most of this in rehab. However, knowing something and building long-term habits are extremely different things and taking the time to make those habits reality can be challenging. At the same time, they will help you to live and to enjoy life long-term. Good luck going back to work.

If you or your loved-one struggles from substance abuse please contact us today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors about our detox, partial hospitalization, and residential treatment programs. We’re here to help you recover.

7 Benefits of Residential Treatment for Addiction Recovery

7 Benefits of Residential Treatment for Addiction Recovery

photo of people from a self-help group during therapyWith some 40.3 million Americans estimated to have a drug or alcohol use disorder, substance abuse treatment and addiction recovery are increasingly necessary. Yet, in 2020, just 4 million people sought out help, and nearly 50% of those only through self-help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. Despite that low treatment rate, behavioral addiction treatment is the most effective form of treatment. And, for anyone with a moderate to severe addiction residential care shows more promising results and better short-term outcomes for quitting and withdrawing from drugs and alcohol.

While many addiction treatment programs shifted to virtual and telehealth services due to the Covid19 pandemic, there are still many reasons why you’d want to attend residential treatment instead. That’s why some 70% of treatment centers still provide residential care. If you or a loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, treatment options vary. But, it’s always a good idea to get a recommendation from a counselor when deciding.

1. Detox Services

Detox involves the medical monitoring and management of withdrawal. You cannot have full detox services in a non-clinical environment. While, in some cases, you can go to a detox clinic for only the detox period, most services are part of residential care facilities. This allows the medical staff in question to monitor your health when you quit drugs and alcohol and also over the immediate 30-90 days after – where you’re most susceptible to delirium tremens, PAWS (Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome) and other long-term side-effects.

Detox services mean you get the benefit of medical experts managing your physical and mental health during withdrawal. This can include medication to reduce the impact of withdrawal symptoms. It can also include emotional and psychological support to deal with the anxiety and cravings that come up during withdrawal.

2. Ongoing Guidance

In outpatient care, most people get one touchpoint with a therapist and doctor per day – sometimes per week. Those touchpoints can help you to get over addiction by offering you the support you need. But, in residential care, you’re living around the nurses, counselors, and therapists taking care of you. They are constantly observing your behavior, your progress, your lack of it, and where you’re struggling. That additional access to care can make a big difference to anyone who’s struggling in treatment.

It can also mean you get updates to programs or to treatment faster in response to setbacks, to behavioral issues, etc. And, most importantly, it allows your medical caretakers to see how you’re doing all the time, which makes it harder to put on a false front of doing well just when you go into treatment. That can be important, especially for women, who often resort to simply lying about their wellbeing to their doctors. 

And, that ongoing guidance means you have access to professional care when things get bad. If you’re having a bad night, cravings hit, or depression strikes, you can get support. That’s not something you can normally do outside of maybe having the option to call via phone in outpatient care. While it’s not necessary for everyone, it can be immensely helpful to many.

3. Letting Go of Stress

Stress is one of the major contributors to both addiction and relapse. Therefore, most people with an addiction can be expected to have major sources of stress in their life. Whether that’s family, work, trauma, or otherwise doesn’t matter. Attending outpatient treatment often means continuing to deal with that stress while getting help. And, that can create immense barriers to finding motivation, energy, and mental space to respond to treatment. For many people, coping mechanisms cannot be learned from a point of high stress.

That’s why many residential treatment centers take the approach of removing patients from their home environment completely. This reduces exposure to drugs and alcohol. It also reduces exposure to responsibilities, interpersonal relationship difficulties, commute, and work that might trigger that person. It allows you to build a base of coping mechanisms from the lowest stress environment possible. While no residential treatment center will be completely stress free, you will step outside of the stress caused at home, which can make a huge difference in treatment.

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4. Access to Peers

photo of an outpatient group during a therapyIn outpatient groups, you get some access to peers. In most cases, you’ll have most of your meetings with a group class. In inpatient care, you’ll spend at least some time living with your peers. That means sharing a room, sharing community areas, playing games, doing sports, and otherwise actively engaging in treatment and care together. That can give you more insight into addiction, into the motivations of getting clean and sober, and can give you more social accountability to get and stay clean.

Re-socializing is often and important part of addiction recovery. Substance use disorders push people into isolation. Many people push those around them away, avoid people they care about, and build up walls around themselves to avoid feeling guilt, shame, or accountability. Reversing that pattern often means investing in others and starting with people who are unlikely to judge you – your peers – is extremely helpful.

5. Access to Complimentary Learning

In outpatient care, you normally get a few hours of treatment per day. This is often taken up by group and one-on-one treatment with occasional music or art groups. In residential treatment, you have to fill the full day. That means moving back and forth between behavioral health treatment, group therapy, and complimentary treatment like stress management, art and music, exercise therapy, and more. These aren’t necessary as part of treatment, but they can help you to build the skills to better cope with life, responsibilities, stress, and cravings when you leave treatment. Residential treatment has the time to offer that.

6.  Privacy

For anyone concerned about their career, professional reputation, or personal reputation, going to outpatient treatment is often a bad idea. While there is some merit to being open and honest with your community and working to build a better version of yourself that way – that’s not always an option, especially for working professionals. Residential treatment is often remote or out of state, allowing you to attend treatment in complete anonymity.

7. Personalized Care

One of the largest benefits of residential treatment is that you get constant access to medical and psychological professionals. That close contact allows your caretakers to assess your wellbeing over the course of the program to deliver truly personalized care. And, depending on the facility, that might include changing up treatment, it might include offering motivational therapy, it might mean switching you on or off of medication assisted treatment. However, you will get updates to the treatment based on how you’re responding.

In addition, it also often means ongoing access to aftercare and sober living or even job placement, based on your condition when you leave the treatment facility. Your caretakers will get to know you and will be able to offer the insight and custom treatment you need to get the most out of your time in addiction recovery.

While residential treatment isn’t the right call for everyone, it can be a good choice for many. With reduced stress, options to get additional classes, and more points of contact with staff, and more personalization for programs, there are a lot of benefits.

Either way, getting into treatment is still the most important first step. Hopefully, you or your loved one can make a choice that works well for your needs.

If you or your loved-one struggles from substance abuse please contact us today to learn more about our detox and residential treatment programs. We’re here to help you recover.

Drugs and Alcohol on Campus

photo of male and female college students inside the campus

Going to college or university is, for many people, their first real time spent away from home, away from rules and restrictions of parents, and their first time on their own.

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7 Warning Signs of Alcoholism

photo of a male alcoholic drinking beer from glass at night, alcohol addiction

7 Warning Signs of Alcoholism

photo of a male alcoholic drinking beer from glass at night, alcohol addictionAlcohol use disorder, commonly as alcoholism, affects some 5.3 percent of the American population. That means 14.5 million Americans struggle with alcohol use disorder. At the same time, this disorder, which is characterized by seeking behavior, inability to quit, and uncontrollable drinking, results in over 95,000 deaths in the United States each year. While most of these are indirect, with alcohol resulting in road accidents, liver failure, and heart disease – others are direct, with an average of 6 people dying of alcohol poisoning every single day.

Alcohol is accepted, sometimes expected, and extremely common in social situations. It’s also an intoxicant which can cause addiction, mental health problems, and physical health problems. If you or a loved one is drinking too much, their life could depend on getting help. While the signs and symptoms of alcoholism can vary depending on the person, their health, their personality, weight, etc., alcohol is always bad for you and your health.

1. Tolerance Forces You to Drink More

Whether you’re drinking to have fun, drinking for stress relief, or drinking to be sociable, it’s important to pay attention to how much you have to drink. For example, if you find yourself having to drink more to achieve the same results, you might want to cut back. Tolerance happens when you have alcohol at a frequent enough pace that your body adjusts. If you keep having to escalate how much you drink to achieve a desired effect, you’re drinking too much. Of course, some tolerance is normal. Nearly everyone likely remembers the first time they had a beer and were tipsy. But, if you find yourself consistently adding more alcohol into drinks, you’re likely setting yourself up for addiction and physical health problems.

If you’re drinking regularly during the week, it’s probably a bad idea. Most adults should have more than half to a full beer a day depending on gender, age, and weight. If you’re drinking more than four servings of alcohol in as many hours, you’re binge drinking. And, if you’re doing so regularly, you’re definitely causing yourself health problems.

2. You Hide Alcohol Usage

Almost everyone in the United States drinks. It’s accepted, it’s common, and some people find it shocking when you don’t drink. So, if you find yourself hiding drinking, you’re probably drinking in ways outside the norm. That is always a bad sign for yourself and for your ability to put alcohol down.

For example, if you drink in the morning or during the day. If you drink and drive. Or, if you hide alcohol at work and drink to cope with stress there. You also likely have a problem if you find yourself engaging in behavior like refilling bottles, hiding bottles, or switching to cheaper brands of alcohol so you can continue affording your habit. The more you feel ashamed of drinking, the more likely it is that there is a very real reason for that – and the more likely it is you should reevaluate your drinking habits and consider quitting.

That also holds true if your loved one is hiding drinking. Drinking and then hiding the bottles is not part of normal alcohol use. That holds true whether it’s refilling bottles, so alcohol use goes unnoticed, if it’s hiding bottles behind a couch or another obstacle, or secretly purchasing alcohol and sneaking it into the house. This is not normal or healthy behavior and is almost always indicative of a problem.

3. You Can’t Quit

If you’ve tried and failed to quit, you have a problem. If you’ve considered quitting and keep putting it off, you probably have a problem. And, if you realize that your alcohol use is harmful to you or your relationships but keep finding excuses to keep drinking, you probably have a problem. Alcoholism normally means developing symptoms of substance seeking, compulsive drinking, and cravings. If you stop, you’ll find yourself picking up alcohol out of habit. You’ll experience cravings. Or you’ll keep finding reasons not to quit just yet – even if they’re trivial. E.g., you’ve’ been invited to an office party and you don’t want your coworkers to know you want to quit.

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4. You Drink More than Intended

photo of a woman sitting at the table and holding a bottle while pouring wine, binge drinking1 in 6 Americans regularly binge drinks. That’s inherently unhealthy. However, if you frequently find yourself binge drinking when you didn’t intend to, you likely have a problem. This is best exemplified by the idea that you go into a bar or into drinking with the intention to have a few beers or drinks and then go home. You eventually do not and drink significantly more than intended. You might black out or have memory gaps. If you do this consistently when drinking, it’s a very big sign that you want to get help.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with occasionally drinking too much. But those incidents should be once or twice a year at most.

5. You’re Preoccupied with Drinking

It’s normal to occasionally look forward to going out drinking with friends. But the alcohol should never be the primary attraction of doing so. If you spend significant amounts of time planning to drink, thinking about drinking, or craving alcohol, it likely means you have a problem. Normally, people will spend some attention on alcohol, especially if they are into craft or other special alcohol, and then will enjoy it, typically with friends. If you’re set on drinking, no matter what it is, that is a completely different story. For example, if you skip meals so you can drink more without impacting your diet or so that you get drunk faster. If you spend significantly more on alcohol than intended. Or, if you drive out of your way to acquire alcohol.

People with alcohol use disorders spend time thinking about alcohol when stressed, when at work, when in social situations, etc. People without alcohol use disorders will rarely think about alcohol during these situations.

6. You Allow Alcohol to Harm Your Life

Drinking is a social activity, and it should be a way to have fun or to relax when used correctly. If you find yourself drinking to the point where you’re experiencing negative consequences, that is unlikely to be the case. For example, if you drink to the point of having a hangover that impacts performance at work. If you drink at work or before driving. If you drink to the point where family and friends are upset at you. If drinking causes your mood to change, which impacts your relationship with family members.

Eventually, if you realize alcohol is negatively affecting your life and you continue drinking anyway, you have a problem.

7. You Experience Withdrawal Symptoms

If you fee hungover, sick, or down when you don’t drink, it’s likely withdrawal symptoms. People who drink regularly often confuse these symptoms with a hangover. Then, they drink more alcohol too quickly for symptoms to escalate or for them to notice the symptoms don’t go away. But, if you consistently experience general malaise, cold and flu symptoms, tremors, and anxiety when you don’t drink for any period of time – you have a problem. These symptoms require medical evaluation and often medically supervised alcohol detox. In fact, if there is a case in which you find it unusual that you don’t drink for any period of time, you likely have a problem. 

Millions of Americans struggle with alcohol use disorder. Millions more abuse alcohol regularly. If you’re struggling, there is help and it is accessible, covered by insurance, and available in formats designed to fit into your lifestyle. Alcohol abuse and alcoholism ruin lives, they ruin your health, and they create risks for you and your family. Getting help works – allowing you to get treatment for underlying problems, to build coping mechanisms, and to build a better and healthier life for yourself.

If you or your loved-one struggles from alcohol abuse please contact us today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors. Our alcohol treatment programs are modern and effective. We’re here to help you recover.

How to Live with an Addict in the House

How to Live with an Addict in the House

photo of man avoid looking or speaking to female after family conflictIf your loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, it can be devastating to your home and family life. That’s true no matter how old they are, whether you have kids, or what their relationship to you is. If you’re reading this article, chances are, you’ve also made up your mind to stay and to attempt to continue living with them as much as possible. While that won’t always be possible, taking the steps to make that work out in a way that is mutually beneficial and healthy is important.

Today, an estimated 18.5 million Americans struggle with drug and alcohol abuse. That means that 1 in 16 couples has a spouse who is addicted to drugs or alcohol. And, 1 in 8 children lives with a parent or parents with a substance abuse problem. If your child, parent, or partner is addicted to drugs or alcohol, you’re far from alone.

Hopefully, these tips get you started on making a healthier life for yourself with your loved one.

Making Space for Mental Health

Living with someone with a mental health disorder like a substance use disorder is exhausting, emotionally draining, and potentially traumatic. People living with others who struggle with a substance use disorder experience significant elevations in stress, mood disruption, increased housework and chores, and in domestic disputes. Someone with a substance use disorder is unlikely to hold to commitments, unlikely to be reliable, and highly likely to lie or manipulate. They’re also more likely to behave irritably and with anger, even to small provocations, making it more and more difficult to live in a way that is comfortable for either. In some situations, they may even blame their substance abuse on fighting or nagging them to stop using or drinking. All of this can result in significant stress and significant deterioration in mental health. Many people cope in different ways. For example, many people struggle with codependency, where they throw themselves into taking care of their partner and it becomes an addiction in itself. In other cases, you might be overwhelmed with trying to pick everything up for your partner and to continue “business as usual”. If nothing falls through the cracks, nothing is really wrong – even if you’re doing anything. That can be exhausting and can result in a burnout, without the constant drain of having someone in the way constantly. And, that’s even worse if you have children.

Making space for mental health means setting aside time to do nothing, it means learning to walk away instead of having fights, and it means to ask for help. You can do that by reaching out to a therapist and discussing your and their problems. You can also join and attend meetings by AlAnon or a similar group. Al-Anon is designed to provide support to the family members of addicts, so that you have an outlet, peers who understand experiences, third-party perspectives, and assistance should you need it.

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Setting Boundaries

photo of a father talking to his son who is suffering from substance abuseBoundaries are a crucial part of living with anyone. But, when your loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, it becomes more important. Individuals with drug or alcohol use problems are much more likely to engage in manipulative, abusive, and exploitative behavior. In fact, they may deliberately manipulate you to get you to continue staying with them while they use. They might also do so non-deliberately by lying but also while in denial to themselves.

Setting boundaries can help you to live in a way that is less stressful, that requires less work, and which puts less responsibility on you. For example, you might decide that you are not willing to accept being talked to in a certain way. You might decide you are not willing to pick up after their chores. You might decide you are not able to tolerate them spending rent or mortgage funds on drugs or alcohol. Boundaries should include hard and soft boundaries with repercussions, and when those boundaries are broken, the repercussions should happen.

Things to set boundaries around include:   

  • I will not spend money on you and I will get a separate bank account if we don’t have one already
  • You will transfer money you owe towards rent and bills immediately on receiving your paycheck
  • I will not lie for you nor will you ask me to
  • I will not tolerate being yelled at. If you approach me aggressively, I will leave the room. If you behave in an angry fashion, I will leave the house. The same applies to angry or aggressive behavior at children
  • You will not drink or use around children. If you take opioids, you will do so with Naloxone on your person
  • You will not bring friends home to drink or do drugs, or myself (and children) will stay at a hotel
  • If you do not handle your chores, you will hire a maid to take care of them so I do not have to

The idea is to remove stress from yourself, to limit behavior that causes hurt and upset, and to create repercussions when those boundaries are crossed. For example, if you have a clear alternative action when things are bad (e.g., go stay with parents), you have a way out that has been communicated and shared.

Ask them to Get Help

Chances are, you’ve already asked your loved one to get help. Make sure you keep trying. On your side, that often means committing to learning about addiction. It means checking with insurance and making sure your policy covers the drug addiction treatment you want. It also means researching a rehab clinic so that you know where to go and how to get your loved one there if they do decide to go.

Sometimes asking someone to get help will result in denial. That can mean lies, it can mean tears, it can mean manipulation. It can also mean anger and violence. Choose your time and your moment carefully based on what you know about them. And, if you have no luck on your own, consider staging an intervention with friends and family.

Take Care of Yourself First

Your mental health and safety should always take priority over taking care of your loved one. That’s important, both because only you can take care of yourself but also because if you burn out or start to struggle, neither of you have anyone to help. It’s important to stick to your boundaries, to make time for yourself, and to create opportunities to have fun and to enjoy life anyway. That can be immensely difficult when you’re literally watching someone you love fall apart. But, you have to take care of yourself in order to take care of them.

Living with someone with a substance use disorder is not easy. You may eventually decide to move out, even temporarily. You may also decide to ask them to move out, at least a few days a week. And, you should always have the option to ask for help, with housework, childcare, and with getting your loved one into treatment.  

If you or your loved-one struggles from substance abuse please contact us today and speak with one of our experienced and professional treatment team. We’re here to help you recover.

What is Naloxone (Narcan)?

photo of a bottle of naloxone

What is Naloxone (Narcan)?

photo of a bottle of naloxoneNaloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan, is a drug used to counteract the effect of opioids. It is most often used to reverse overdoses, giving people time to make it to the hospital and emergency care. Naloxone, which was first approved in the 1990s, is estimated to have saved tens of thousands of lives in the United States. It’s also available for free or at a low cost, via the drug’s distribution website and through many pharmacies. In most cases, you don’t even need a prescription.

An estimated 1.6 million people have an opioid use disorder. A further 10.3 million abuse prescription pain pills, heroin, and other illicit opioids. Naloxone exists to give those people the opportunity to recover from an overdose and to get the help they need to live. That’s crucial, considering over 70,000 people in the U.S. die from opioids each year. The CDC and the World Health Organization recommend Naloxone as first line treatment, marking it among the safest and most effective drugs in its type.

History of Naloxone

Naloxone or Naloxone Hydroxide was first patented in 1961. It quickly hit markets and was used in clinical trials of efficacy across North America. In a 20-year study, the drug reversed over 10,000 overdoses, giving patients time to get to the hospital. This study was crucial in opening Naloxone available to the “take-home” public, resulting in legislation that now allows families and addicts to pick up doses or order them online. In 2017, take home naloxone had been available for 20 years, with a consensus that it saved lives where available – but with too few people educated in using naloxone, more effort in education and availability would have to be done.

Today, Naloxone is available in most pharmacies and at most clinics for a low cost. In addition, you can get it for free at many shelters and drug shelters. Availability, of course, depends on region. However, you can always look for pickup options on the Narcan website.

What is Naloxone and How Does It Work?

Naloxone is an opioid agonist. It prevents opioids from binding to the brain. This means that when taken, the drug can actually cause the individual to go into withdrawal. That can be dangerous on its own, so it’s important to call 911, even if you have Naloxone on hand. In most cases, Naloxone is administered using a nasal spray which should successfully pull the individual out of an overdose within about 2-5 minutes. If it doesn’t, you’re recommended to give them a second dose.

Naloxone typically works for 20-30 minutes. After this, the individual may need a second dose. However, many people simply don’t call 911 for drug emergencies. While that often relates to the police showing up with ambulances, doing so could save a life. Currently, ambulances are called just 10-56% of the time during overdoses. Simply calling an ambulance after administering Naloxone ensures that the dose is enough, that follow-up treatment is handled, and that the person overdosing is monitored until they are out of the window of danger.

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Medication Assisted Treatment

photo of a man and doctor during Medication Assisted TreatmentWhile Naloxone is primarily used to reverse overdoses, it’s also used in Medication Assisted Treatment of MAT. Here, it is commonly administered with Buprenorphine. The idea is that someone using naloxone cannot get high off of an opioid. Buprenorphine includes a 1:20 mixture of Naloxone and Methadone. This allows the individual to take the methadone to relieve cravings and to reduce withdrawal symptoms, while preventing them from getting high. Naloxone is also poorly orally absorbed and is poorly absorbed through a patch. So, if the patient attempts to inject the methadone, the Naloxone takes effect, and they go into withdrawal instead.

This has allowed Buprenorphine to be used as a maintenance therapy, with little supervision by doctors.

Naloxone may also be used as a maintenance therapy on its own. However, in most cases it is not. In addition, taking Naloxone while addicted can cause significant problems, such as paranoia, cold and flu symptoms, and spasms. Therefore, it’s important to seek out therapy and behavioral treatment when starting Naloxone therapy.

Does Naloxone have Side Effects?

Naloxone, like any other drug, has a full list of side effects. They are:

  • Pain at injection site
  • Burning sensation at injection site
  • Hot flashes
  • Sudden onset withdrawal
  • Sweating
  • Arrythmia (low chance)
  • Allergies (low chance)

Naloxone is also completely non-addictive. Long-term users experience only slight increase in tolerance. However, with no other addiction profile, this drug is safe to take long-term with buprenorphine. However, buprenorphine is usually recommended for 3-6 months – so extremely long-term usage should never be a consideration.

In addition, with no overdose risk, Naloxone is safe to use, even by amateurs. In fact, if someone is not responding to a first dose, the recommendation is to give them a second one. And, if your ambulance does not show up within 20 minutes, it’s recommended to monitor the affected person and administer a new dose if symptoms of overdose start to reappear.

Essentially, Naloxone is one of the safest and most effective drugs for treating overdose, as listed by the World Health Organization.

Who Can Get Naloxone?

Naloxone is sold over the counter and for take-home use across most of the U.S.

It’s also FDA approved as a pill, a patch, an injection, and a nasal spray. The nasal spray is the most recommended, as it is the easiest to administer, even under stress. It’s also easier to use without complications than an intramuscular shot. However, both are readily available under two major brands. Narcan and EVZIO. Both are low-cost, widely distributed at pharmacies, shelters, and drug shelters, and easy to use. You can check online on Narcan.com to see where you can acquire the drug in your area.

Eventually, Narcan is a safety device. You have it on you to ensure that yourself or a loved one is safe in case of an opioid use disorder. If you’re already getting opioid addiction treatment, Narcan is a lifeline to prevent you from relapsing. In either case, the drug is safe, readily available, and it will help.

If you or your loved-one struggles from substance abuse please contact us today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors about the drug rehab admissions process. We’re here to help you recover.