Adderall vs Meth – What’s the Difference?

Adderall vs Meth - What’s the Difference

Adderall vs Meth - What’s the Difference?

Adderall vs Meth - What’s the DifferenceAmphetamines are one of the most common drugs in the United States. In fact, in 2021, Americans had some 41.4 million prescriptions for prescription and generic Adderall. That number of prescriptions is at an all time high, up 10% from 2020, and up almost 10 million from 2017. Adderall is also famous as being “just like meth”, and if you or a loved one is using it, you probably have concerns.

However, Adderall and Methamphetamine are very different blends of the same substances. Adderall is a mix of amphetamine salts. It’s identical to Mydayis and a number of generic drugs, which are mostly used to treat ADD, ADHD, and other attention disorders. But, as it’s made up of two of the active ingredients in Methamphetamine, the effects at very high doses can be quite similar. And vice-versa. Methamphetamine is sometimes used to treat ADD.

Today, the widespread availability of Adderall has led to its being abused in recreational settings. People use it as a study drug, with some 4.4% of `12th graders admitting to doing so. Others inject it, looking for the same highs as with methamphetamine. And, some 3.7 million people abuse prescription stimulants like Adderall each year.

What are the Differences Between Adderall and Methamphetamine?

Amphetamines are all remarkably similar drugs and Adderall and Methamphetamine are both amphetamines. This class of drug is made up of active ingredients known as “amphetamine salts”. Here, dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine are the two most common of these salts. Each of these two salts has a different reaction in the brain, meaning that different amounts of each can produce remarkably different results.

Adderall – Adderall is a 3:1 mix of dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine. This mix is used in Myadis, Adderall, and Adderall RX, as well as generic versions of each of these drugs. It also balances the effects of each to produce a profile that is tilted towards increasing focus and attention. The effects of amphetamine drugs like Dexedrine and Evekeo, which only use dextroamphetamine, are markedly different. However, that’s not the only difference. All authentic Adderall is made in a lab, under regulated conditions, and packaged in regulated doses of 5-30mg. These pills contain regulated inactive ingredients, most of which are cellulose or sugars or salts. With Adderall, providing you buy authentic pills, you always know what you’re getting and that the other ingredients are safe.

Methamphetamine – Methamphetamine is a 1:1 mix of dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine. The higher dose of levoamphetamine adds increased impacts to wakefullness, concentration, decreased appetite, decreased fatigue, and weight loss. For this reason, levoamphetamine is sometimes sold as a narcolepsy treatment. Levoamphetamine and dextroamphetamine was also commonly used in nasal decongestants, such as Vicks and Robitussin, meaning that drug-dealers could simply purchase over-the-counter cold medicine, distill it down, and have methamphetamine. Today, these drugs are much more likely to be manufactured separately. They can often be sold as “Adderall” except the pills are made somewhere other than a lab, without regulation, and dosage may vary significantly. In addition, many are made with fentanyl, an opioid with 100 times the strength of morphine, because it’s cheaper.

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woman holding a glass of water taking adderall as medicineDosage – Every Adderall pill contains 25% Dextroamphetamine Saccharate, 25% Amphetamine Aspartate Monohydrate, 25% Dextroamphetamine Sulfate, and 25% Amphetamine Sulfate, with cellulose and salt fillers to increase the size of the pill. A methamphetamine dose is neither predictable nor guaranteed not to contain fillers like chalk or baby powder.

Salt Mix – Methamphetamine is a 1:1 mix of dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine. Adderall is a 3:1 mix of dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine. Because levoamphetamine is considered to produce more euphoric results, methamphetamine is easier to abuse.

Safety – Adderall is regulated, produced in clean labs, and uses safe fillers. Methamphetamine and fake Adderall pills don’t have that safety guarantee. However, no abuse of an amphetamine is “safe”, it’s just safer to use a drug that you know doesn’t contain toxic additives, other drugs, or a higher dose than expected.

What are the Effects of Amphetamines?

Amphetamines are “uppers” or “stimulants” which affect the central nervous system. Here, amphetamines affect the central nervous system, dopamine neurotransmitters, and norepinephrine transmitters. Someone taking the drug feels increases in confidence, wakefulness, focus, and attention. Dopamine affects normally result in the person having more motivation to complete tasks, and therefore more ability to focus on them. It also increases body temperature and heart rate, increasing feelings of energy and wakefulness. In high doses, increases in dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain can cause feelings of power, confidence, and even euphoria, making amphetamines extremely popular party drugs.

Of course, those same effects can result in very negative side effects.

Heart Problems – Long-term use of amphetamines in high doses stresses the heart, and can result in heart problems. Someone with a weak heart can have a heart attack.

Exhaustion – People who don’t feel tired don’t rest, and as a result, meth users can stay awake for days. The result is normally crashing for several days at a time when the high wears off. This increases risks of stress and heart attack.

Reduced Dopamine Production – The brain reduces dopamine production to cope with high amounts of dopamine in the brain. The result is that someone who frequently uses amphetamines may feel blunted or unable to feel emotions or motivation when not using.

Paranoia – Increases in dopamine and norepinephrine can cause increases in anxiety, paranoia, and psychosis. Heavy users typically become extremely paranoid and may scratch at the skin, believing insects or bugs to be crawling there. However, some people can experience visual hallucinations at even small doses, meaning this drug is never safe to take without medical supervision.

Is Adderall Safe?

More than 40 million Americans have an Adderall prescription, which they use to manage attention disorders. Adderall is an extremely useful drug, which can help people to go about their lives, to go to work, and to focus on school, their careers, and their hobbies. It’s safe to take while you take it in accordance with a prescription. However, even with prescription usage, many people experience withdrawal symptoms when quitting.

On the other hand, Adderall is never safe to take without a prescription. Having medical monitoring is important to ensure there are no negative side-effects, like paranoia, muscle twitches, or addiction. In addition, if you’re sourcing Adderall illegally, you’re exposed to dangerous fake versions of the pills, which may be contaminated with other drugs, which may be contaminated with toxic filler agents, and which may be significantly higher in dose than you expect. In addition, taking too much Adderall can cause significant symptoms of toxicity. People who use large doses of Adderall see constant cold and flu symptoms, muscle shakes, sweating, mood swings, weight loss, loss of interest in relationships and hobbies, and increasing paranoia and anxiety.

There are differences between Adderall and Methamphetamine highs. However, when taken in high doses, those differences vanish and the effects are much the same. Adderall is somewhat safer because it’s unlikely to be contaminated and very likely to be a standardized dose. However, abusing any amphetamine is unsafe, simply because the drug is not safe to use in large doses.

If you or a loved one is struggling, it’s important to reach out and get help. Drug addiction treatment and behavioral therapy can help you to tackle the underlying causes behind drug abuse and to find better coping mechanisms.

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 detox, 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.

Can Cocaine Kill You? Yes, and Here’s How

cocaine or other drugs cut with razor blade on mirror. hand dividing white powder narcotic

Can Cocaine Kill You? Yes, and Here’s How

cocaine or other drugs cut with razor blade on mirror. hand dividing white powder narcoticAccording to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, some 478,000 new people try using cocaine each year. Most of those go on to be occasional users, turning to cocaine for social use and parties.

Cocaine is often seen as relatively safe, because of its light addiction profile and the fact that millions of people use it. But, this drug is listed as a Schedule II Drug under the Controlled Substances Act because it can be dangerous. Yet, about 5 million Americans, or 2% of the population, use cocaine.

Those dangers include addiction, health risks, and mental health risks – each of which can vary significantly depending on the individual, their genetics, their metabolism, and their existing health. Cocaine’s euphoric effects on the body can quickly turn to paranoia, anxiety, insomnia, sleeplessness, and heart problems – but few people talk about that when initiating use. Cocaine can kill you, and it will always be dangerous to use.

How Can Cocaine Kill You

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that takes just a few seconds to affect your brain. The drug also affects nearly every part of your body, from dopamine production to the amount of air in the cellular walls of the heart. This can result in significant side-effects to the body. 

Heart Attack

Cocaine usage elevates the heart rate and blood pressure, which puts stress on the heart. If you have a weak heart, even a small amount of cocaine can elevate your heart to the point of causing too much stress. Long-term cocaine usage can also cause the heart problems that result in having a heart attack after a small amount of cocaine usage. In addition, cocaine usage patterns result in continuing and ongoing stress to the heart. For example, short-term effects of cocaine mean that people are very likely to keep using throughout the night. This means the heart is under a large amount of stress for a longer amount of time, with continuous spikes of stress – rather than a single spike and then a plateau. This means you’re more likely to experience heart abnormalities with cocaine than with a stimulant that you only take once.  In addition, because cocaine has a half life of about 60 minutes, people typically increase the amount of cocaine in their system with each follow-up dose, even if they don’t intend to.


Cocaine is a significant contributor to stroke, although the mechanism of how is poorly understood. However, it causes increased blood pressure and stimulates the central nervous system. This can result in a stroke which may result in partial paralysis or even death.


Cocaine was involved in 1 in 5 overdose deaths in 2019. While it pales in comparison to heavier drugs like fentanyl, cocaine can be significantly dangerous. In fact, some 16,000 Americans died in 2019 with cocaine in their system. Often, those cocaine-related overdoses included either very large amounts of cocaine or a mixture of cocaine and another drug. Of these, cocaine and alcohol is the most common, as both of these drugs are common. However, mixing cocaine with another drug can increase the potency and the bad side effects of each, meaning it’s much more likely to suffer an overdose.

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Toxicity or Poisoning

Cocaine-induced cardiotoxicitywoman poisoned by cocaine overdose happens when too much cocaine collects in the heart and cardiovascular system. The result is quite-often sudden death. This happens because cocaine permeates the membrane tissues of the cardiovascular system, forcing oxygen out. If you use too much, it can result in reduced oxygen in the heart and sudden death. Most importantly, there is not a way to actually predict that happening before it does.

However, cocaine can also cause more traditional toxicity and poisoning if it is cut with toxic material. For example, some dealers will cut cocaine with baby powder or talc. Consuming small quantities of this won’t really harm you. However, in larger doses these and other substances can cause significant toxicity, which can result in shock and even poisoning.

Other Dangers of Cocaine

Cocaine can be significantly dangerous, even when it doesn’t kill you. This means it’s important to be careful with cocaine even in small doses. In addition, cocaine can cause significant and lasting damage to your mental and physical health, which can decrease your quality of life.


An estimated 1.4 million people or almost 30% of all cocaine users have a cocaine use disorder. This means that they are mentally and physically addicted to the substance, show signs of withdrawal, and show seeking behavior – where they prioritize cocaine over responsibilities, family, friends, and other things they care about. That behavioral addiction often requires significant therapy intervention to treat and if left alone, can mean years of spiraling substance abuse.

Paranoia and Anxiety

Cocaine usage affects dopamine reuptake in the brain. This often means that dopamine production raises significantly in the short term and the body responds to this by producing less dopamine. As a result, long-term users may start to experience side-effects of anxiety, paranoia, anxiety attacks, and even panic attacks. These symptoms are often a result of chemistry changes in the brain, meaning they can be persistent and can last for years or permanently, even if you quit using cocaine.

Cardiac Complications

Cocaine usage can result in long-term side-effects and damage to the heart. Here, common cardiac complications include arrhythmia, acute myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathy, and coronary artery disease. Each of these diseases is not fatal on its own. However, they do increase chance of early death, decrease quality of life, and increase need for medical care over your lifetime. In addition, they increase the risks of further cocaine usage, because they weaken your heart, meaning you’re more likely to have heart problems.

Getting Help

Cocaine is never safe to use recreationally. The drug causes short-term euphoria and can make you feel good, energetic, and even powerful. Yet, it causes physical harm to your body, increases your risk of death, increases your risk of mental and physical health problems, and decreases your quality of life. If you are using anyway, you are putting yourself at risk, and knowingly. That often means you can benefit from therapy and help getting off the drug, treating the underlying reasons behind substance abuse, so you can recover and get your life back.

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 detox, 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.

How to Pass a Drug Saliva Test

How to Pass a Drug Saliva Test

How to Pass a Drug Saliva Test

How to Pass a Drug Saliva Test If you or a loved one is facing a drug test at work or at school, or worse, while on probation, it can be nerve wracking. If you’ve recently used, passing a drug saliva test is likely to be difficult. That’s true whether you’re being tested for cannabis or heavier drugs like opioids or amphetamines. Oral swab tests are popular as “on the spot” tests everywhere because they’re cheap, easy to administer, and almost anyone can give them correctly. In addition, you can use a dipstick test to see results in about 5 minutes – although they’re normally sent off for lab analysis, which is more accurate and more specific. So, your employer or your parole officer could spring them on you and you might see results in as little as a few minutes, giving you very little time to prepare.

Still, if you’ve recently used, you likely want to know how to pass the test without being flagged as not being clean. Unfortunately, that can be complicated and there’s no guaranteed way to pass the test other than to not use long enough in advance. However, there are some methods you can use to try to get a false negative result.

Steps to Take to Pass a Drug Saliva Test

If you’ve smoked cannabis or used another drug in the last 24-48 hours, passing a saliva drug test is very likely to be a problem. Depending on the drug and your habit of use, you can expect saliva tests to show positive for 1-3 days following your last usage.

This happens because the drugs bind to the molecules in the saliva, normally from the saliva production glands in the cheeks. For this reason, swabs normally swab the back of the cheek where the saliva glands are. This also limits the efficacy of using a gum, drinking, or brushing your teeth to remove chemicals left by drug use.

However, there are a few methods you can try:

  • Brush your teeth well, and often, leading up to the drug test. E.g., every 2-3 hours before the test
  • Chew on gum the full day before the drug test 
  • Use mouthwash, especially a medical or dental mouthwash after brushing your teeth 
  • Don’t drink anything to dehydrate your body to decrease saliva production 
  • Decrease saliva production in another way, such as by eating spoonful’s of peanut butter just before the test 
  • Eat fatty foods before the test. E.g., thc and some other drug molecules bind to fat, which means less will be in your mouth. A burger or similar fatty meal will likely help. 
  • Drink soda with bubbles which could bind to the drug residue and move it out of your mouth faster

Unfortunately, none of these options are guaranteed to work. You could chew gum all day and still come up positive for a test. In addition, chewing a spoonful of peanut butter right before a mouth swab might be a lot suspicious – and it still might not help you pass the test.

There’s also another tactic that some people use. Here, you leverage a false positive to try to hide the actual positive. This also might not work and it might backfire, because the person doing the test might decide for a more intensive blood or urine test. However, it might help.

  • Take ibuprofen every few hours before the test (marijuana, benzodiazepines)
  • Use hay fever remedies or nasal decongestants (amphetamines)
  • Start taking diet pills (amphetamines)
  • Bring poppy seed snacks to work (opioids)
  • Bring hemp products to work (marijuana)

Depending on where and why you’re being tested, a false positive might result in a more intensive lab investigation. However, if your workplace is doing a quick check without lab intervention, you might be able to use your false positive to get around having a “true positive”. Still, you’re likely to get caught if the test ends up going back to the lab.

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Do Detoxes and Special “Toxin Clearing” Gums Work?

man doing toxin clearing gums and mouthwashes to use before taking a testYou can often buy detoxes and “toxin clearing” gums and mouthwashes to use before taking a test. Do these work? They might, but not any more than using any of the options listed above. For example, mouthwashes normally contain fat and acids, which are intended to remove all of the detectable THC or other drug residue from your mouth immediately. In addition, because it’s intended to be done just before a test and typically includes something like 9 minutes of rinsing your mouth, it can be effective. On the other hand, there are no tests showing that you won’t get the same results by eating a bag of potato chips and then rinsing your mouth with normal mouthwash for the same period.

Other cleanses are detoxes intended to flush drugs from your system over a period of several days. These are less useful for saliva tests, which are usually given by surprise or “next day”. They can also include diuretics, intended to force liquids through your system faster to clear up your saliva. Here, you might use a diuretic in combination with a large quantity of water to attempt to “flush” your system. There’s also no evidence that these work any better than drinking a larger amount of water or soda in the period – which isn’t a tactic that works – although it can help.

How Long Do Drugs Show Up on a Saliva Test?

If you’re taking a saliva test, it’s important to understand when you’re likely to test positive. Most roadside, workplace, and police tests check for marijuana, methamphetamine, and opioids. Some will also check for other drugs like MDMA and LSD. However, drug tests can show:

  • Alcohol
  • Amphetamines (including meth)
  • Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Ativan, etc.)
  • Cocaine
  • THC
  • Opioids (pain pills, fentanyl, heroin)
  • PCP

For any of these substances, an oral swab test shows positive results for 5-48 hours after the last use. In addition, duration of positive results depend on where in the mouth is swabbed. E.g., swabbing the saliva glands may produce positive tests for longer as does swabbing the tongue, but many people administering tests are not experts.

Eventually, if you’re facing a drug test and you don’t think you’ll pass, it’s probably a problem. That’s not just because it may affect your driver’s license, your career, or your probation. Instead, if you’re using a substance when you know that it can endanger things you care about, you’re prioritizing that substance over your life. That may mean you’re struggling with a substance use disorder, that you’re using substances to deal with your life, or that you’re at risk for addiction. It’s important to reach out, talk to your doctor about substance use, and to make informed decisions about continuing substance use. If you’re struggling, there is help.

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 detox, 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.

What Does It Mean to Be Sober Curious

Sober Curious

What Does It Mean to Be Sober Curious?

Sober CuriousIf you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to live without alcohol, you’re sober curious. Whether you’re questioning why alcohol is everywhere and at every event, why people drink so much, or why so many people, perhaps even yourself, seem to have an all-or-nothing approach to drinking, sober curious is an approach that might work for you.

The basic premise is that you don’t have to quit alcohol to improve your approach to it. As someone who is sober curious, you question your approach to alcohol, you decide if you want to be sober in the moment or not, and you use judgement based on the situation rather than social pressure to make the decision for you, in that moment. You don’t have to quit alcohol to be sober curious. Instead, you have to approach your usage of alcohol mindfully.

If that sounds like something that might be interesting, keep reading.

Everyone Drinks, So I Should Too?

Today, an estimated 65% of the U.S. population over the age of 21 drinks. If you drop the age to 18, that drops to just 64%. Most people drink. And, if you raise it to people who sometimes drink socially, that number goes up to 85%. Often you show up at parties or social events and there’s nothing to do but drink. Sure, there are the occasional party games, but most rely on drunken camaraderie to even be fun. And, drinks for anyone not looking for alcohol can be as simplistic as an option of coke or diet coke. Everyone drinks, so you should too? Right? Questioning that premise is a large part of what being sober curious is about.

  • Do I want to drink right now?
  • Do I feel like having alcohol? Would I prefer a beverage without alcohol?
  • Do I have fun getting drunk? What if I just have one drink?
  • Are my friends fun when they are drunk? What if I’m sober at the same time?

Normally, people don’t ask any of these questions before drinking. They show up at an event, people are drinking, so they join in. But, you don’t have to. People might pressure you to drink if you’re not, but if they are, they’re not good friends.

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Taking a Break from Alcohol

a young man taking a break, floating in the oceanSober curious can also mean “trying out” sobriety, with the intention of it not being permanent. For example, many people use “Dry January” to experiment with sober curiosity. However, if you really want to try out being sober, you have to skip drinking for 3-6 months or even longer. Taking 6 months to a year to commit to not drinking will show you what you and your brain are like without alcohol. And, making the period that long will give you very good insight into how alcohol affects your judgement and whether or not you actually struggle with not drinking. If you don’t set a defined period and go for “I will stop drinking for a bit”, you’ll only get some of the insight.

  • Committing to staying sober for a period of 6-12 months means you’ll have to stay sober for that period and if you don’t, you’re likely struggling with alcohol use.
  • It takes 6+ months for most brains to recover from the effects of alcohol usage. This means you’ll be able to make the decision to continue staying sober or to start drinking again from a fresh slate of as recovered as you will be without spending 2 years sober.
  • Setting a defined period means you can check in with friends, you can join others in trying out sobriety, and you’ll have guidelines to your sobriety

Trying out being sober can be a great call if you find that you drink more or more often than you’d like. For example, if you drink every time you go out, drink to the point of blacking out, or frequently drink more than is recommended, trying out being sober may be a great call.

Intentionally Sober Outings

Sober curious is a concept that gives you the opportunity to experience events and meetups with a clear mind. For example, “Sober Curious” is a trend on Tinder because it allows people to experience a first date with a clear mind. Committing to not drinking for the first few days means you get to experience each other sober, to make sober judgement calls, and to experience each other without the euphoria caused by alcohol. That can be important for dating. But, it can also impact other types of social events. For example, you may want to intentionally decide to experience a work event with a clear mind. You may decide to do the same at a social event like a fundraiser or an auction or a wedding. Intentionally choosing to stay sober means you want to experience this event without alcohol, whether for the memories, the experience, or for your capability to contribute to that event.

Sober Curious is a term that comes from the 2018 book by Ruby Warrington, “Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol”. Her definition of sober curious was trying out sobriety with the intention of eventually being sober. That’s a very good approach. However, you don’t have to intend to or ever quit alcohol to be sober curious. You may simply want to know what it’s like, how it affects your life, how it changes your social outings, how it affects how you feel on the weekends, if it changes your sleep and your health, etc. Sober curious is about curiosity and wondering what being sober would be like.

And, once you’re curious, you should be able to try out being sober without pressure, without expectations, and while being able to set guidelines, goals, and expectations for yourself. And, even if you find out that life really is better sober, you don’t have to keep drinking completely. Cutting back to almost sobriety can be a great compromise. Drinking one or two drinks on the weekends is also a great approach. Plus, full sobriety can be as interesting as drinking – because there are plenty of interesting beverages you can try that don’t have alcohol.

If you’re sober curious, go ahead and try out what it’s like to not drink.

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 detox, 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.

How Does Alcohol Affect Your Immune System?

a woman drinking alcoholic breverage

How Does Alcohol Affect Your Immune System?

a woman drinking alcoholic breverageAlcohol is one of the most common intoxicants on the planet. In fact, 65% of all Americans over the age of 21 drink regularly. But, alcohol, like other drugs, is actually bad for you, and even in minimal doses, can cause significant damage to your immune system, your gastrointestinal system, and your energy levels. However, the more you drink, the worse those side-effects get.

Alcohol will almost always affect your immune system, because it is, in essence, a very mild poison. Alcohol toxicity happens when you drink too much, and that means that at any dose, alcohol is toxic. Let’s go over the details and the science in the article below.

What is the Immune System?

The immune system is comprised of white blood cells and immune cells spread throughout the body – especially in the lungs and the gut. This system responds to and fights off infection, disease and toxins.

It also comprises two parts, including the innate immune system, or the cells that directly respond to attackers and the adaptive immune system, which remembers previous infection and responds to that. So, the innate immune system always responds, but after you catch a cold, your body responds to that mutation of the virus and may prevent you from getting it or reduce the effects of catching it the next time.

Drinking affects both of these systems. For example, it impacts the innate immune system directly. Your body responds to the toxics that are alcohol by inflaming. That’s why many people experience stomach upset after drinking. It’s also why you may feel fluish the day after binge drinking.

It also affects the adaptive immune system, because your body remembers the last time you drank alcohol and produces an immune system response. This means your body is put to work every time you drink – and your immune system is less prepared to fight off an actual infection. And, there’s nothing you can do to stop this process.

Immune System Suppression

Drinking alcohol suppresses the immune system over the short-term. In fact, drinking 5-6 alcoholic drinks in a single session will suppress the immune system for up to 24 hours after the last drink. This happens because alcohol is a toxin and it directly inflames the intestines and the immune system. This means your immune system is less prepared to react to a virus or another illness. You drink, your immune system responds by inflaming and activating cells, and then your immune system is not prepared to fight off another attacker. In addition, you’re likely under slept, undernourished, and possibly even dehydrated after a night of drinking. All of that adds up to make you significantly more susceptible to getting sick than you would normally be.

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Immune Cell Damage

man drinking alcoholPeople who drink frequently start to experience immune cell damage, especially in the gut and in the lungs. This happens because the immune cells constantly inflame and are exposed to toxins. The result is that they can experience irreparable damage, meaning that your immune system is permanently worsened. For this reason, people with alcoholism are more likely to develop inflammatory bowel diseases such as Chron’s, IBS, and etc.

You’re also more likely to develop chronic lung conditions, as damaged immune cells are ill-prepared to fight off attacks in the lungs. This means that heavy drinkers are significantly more likely to develop pneumonia and bronchitis, even from a normal head cold infection. Here, you are likely more vulnerable to a first infection, or what is known as a head cold. However, you’re significantly more vulnerable to a secondary infection, where the cold moves to the lower respiratory system of the lungs and bronchial tubes – which can be a significant and serious condition.

Of course, “more likely” does not mean “guaranteed”, but it does significantly increase risks. And, the more you drink and the more often, the greater those risks become. Most studies indicate that heavy drinking increases risks of lower respiratory infections by 3-7 times.

Long-Term Immune System Damage

The more and more often you drink, the larger the impact to your immune system will be. That will impact your life and your quality of life. A weakened immune system means:

  • Illnesses, even the common cold, last longer
  • You get sick more often and illness is more severe
  • You’re more prone to infection and may need special care after surgery
  • You’re more tired or fatigued when sick and may not be able to do anything at all while sick
  • Small cuts and scratches are more vulnerable to infection and may require medical attention
  • You’re more prone to stomach upset, diarrhea, and stomach inflammation

Those issues can be significant, especially when you do get a major illness.

Getting Help

There is no safe amount of alcohol consumption that does not disrupt the immune system. However, drinking fewer than 10 drinks per week and no more than 4 in a setting, or preferably no more than 1.5 servings of alcohol per day for women and 2 servings of alcohol per day for men will reduce risks as much as possible – except for not drinking at all, which is, by far, the healthiest option. But, if you’re drinking every day and drinking more than four drinks in a sitting, your risks are significantly higher. In addition, heavy alcohol consumption increases your risks of organ damage, including to the liver and kidneys, as well as to the intestines, all of which will go on to affect the immune system further.

If you or a loved one is drinking heavily, there is help. That help can range from strategies to reduce drinking with support. It can also include rehab and behavioral therapy to help you develop new coping mechanisms or healthy alternatives to drinking. And, if you try to cut back or to stop drinking and find that you can’t, that therapy and help is necessary.

Alcohol is everywhere and most of us drink at least occasionally. But, that doesn’t mean it’s safe and it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have side effects. Alcohol can significantly impact every aspect of your health, mental health, and your life, so if you’re struggling, it’s important to get professional medical help

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 detox, partial hospitalization, and residential treatment programs. We’re here to help you recover.

My Loved One Refuses Addiction Treatment. Now What?

loved ones holding each other's hands discussing about going to addiction treatment center

My Loved One Refuses Addiction Treatment. Now What?

loved ones holding each other's hands discussing about going to addiction treatment centerIf your loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol, you’re not alone. Today, an estimated 46.3 million Americans have a substance use disorder, meaning that almost 1 in 4 of us has a close friend or family member with a substance abuse problem. When your loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol, getting them into addiction treatment is a logical first step. But, what happens when they don’t want to go? Or if they won’t go?

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that just 4.1 million people, or less than 10% of the total number of people with a substance abuse problem, received addiction treatment in 2021. Most people aren’t getting help – although reasons for not getting help are diverse. Understanding some next steps, you can take will allow you to continue supporting your loved one and hopefully eventually get them into treatment as well.

Be There for Them

It’s important to try to avoid enabling behavior, such as paying for your loved one’s rent, lying to their boss, or otherwise making decisions that are likely to enable them to continue using. It is true that any kind of support and care will do this to some extent, however, you can be there for someone to help them stay safe without helping them to use.

Being there for someone might look like:

  • Picking them up at any time of night, no questions asked, providing they sleep on your couch after
  • Giving them access to sleep on your couch or in a guest room if they have to
  • Taking time to listen and offering emotional support
  • Offering to help with things like cleaning up (rather than doing it for them)
  • Offering to go to the doctor, to AA or NA meetings, and to other treatment

If you live with someone, it’s important that you don’t take on all of their responsibilities. However, you can offer to help, you can listen to them, and you can try to make it known that you’re trying to support them without overloading yourself.

Keep Learning

Addiction is a complicated behavioral disorder that can stem from a vast number of causes and vulnerabilities. Taking time to learn about addiction, doing so with your loved one where possible, and discussing what you learn with them can be helpful. For example, you can learn the basics of how addiction works, you can read books about recovery, and you can read about different types of therapy and treatment. You might not be able to get through to your loved one in this way. However, you will show them that you care, that you’re continuing to invest time and energy into them, and that you want what is best for them.

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Be Nonjudgmental

 a couple holding hands on top of the mountainBeing nonjudgmental can be extremely difficult. Most of us are raised with old-fashioned ideals about addiction as a personal failing, as poor choices, and as a disease, which is incurable. None of these ideas are correct. Instead, addiction is a behavioral disorder that’s often complicated and very often resulting from a complicated range of addiction risk factors including mental health, social situation, physical health, social standing and social behavior, stress levels, epigenetics, genetics, and other factors. People become addicted for a variety of reasons but it’s never a choice.

Understanding that your loved one isn’t flawed and that they can get better is an important part of approaching addiction nonjudgmentally. However, it’s also important to let go of what other people might think, to show concern for your loved one and not for other people’s opinions, and to invest in your loved one’s health not in whether or not they drink or use drugs. That can take a significant mindset change from you as well because you may have to let go of bias you might not even realize you have.

Why should you work on being non-judgmental? It will help your loved one to realize they can still have a relationship with you, that they have people who believe in them and continue to believe in them, and that they are more than an addiction.

Detaching with Love

Detaching with love is the process of stepping away from over-investing in someone who doesn’t have the capacity to give back or to not hurt you because of your investment. It does not mean dropping your loved one or cutting them out of your life. Instead, it means to expect nothing and to accept failure. That might mean refusing to stay up or hold dinner for someone who is habitually late. It might also mean expecting that your loved one will be drunk, even if you don’t think they have alcohol. It might mean expecting that they won’t come up with their portion of the rent, or that they will slack at their chores.

If you understand that someone is going to fail at their obligations and responsibilities, you can better prepare yourself for that. And, it’s also important that you don’t take up the slack for them, that could increase stress and push you to burnout. However, it is important that you don’t invest in your loved one changing, in them doing the things they say, or in things suddenly improving. If you can’t accept your loved one as they are now, you should probably be stepping further away until you can.

Continue Working Towards Addiction Treatment

Just because your loved one won’t go to addiction treatment now doesn’t mean that they will never go to addiction treatment. Instead, it means they have to have the motivation, the understanding of why they are going, and they have to be ready for change. Building those may require understanding that people in their life are there for them and they have a reason to get better. It may require understanding that addiction isn’t permanent, and they can change. It may mean learning about how addiction works. It might also be about them understanding that addiction treatment is about them, their health, and their future and not about their family and what their family thinks.

Over 10% of the U.S. adult population needs addiction treatment. Most of us never get that help. Still, it’s important to work with your loved one and continue to ask them to move into recovery, to get better, and to work on getting their life back. It might not succeed immediately or at all, but you can help your loved one to find motivation to get their life back.

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 detox, partial hospitalization, and residential treatment programs. We’re here to help you recover.