Tag Archives: addiction research

12 step program

Why the 12-Step Program Works

The 12-Step Program Works for Many. Find Out Why…

If you are battling a drug or substance addiction and want to make positive changes so that you can put your problem in the past, you are likely curious about the benefits of the 12-step program. When you realize you need help and decide to seek treatment, the program will help you make it past the most difficult parts of recovery to give you the best odds of reaching your goal.

A trained and caring expert will learn about you and your addiction to put together a treatment plan that’s right for you. Not only will you learn to accept the problem you are facing, but you will also realize how turning your life to God will give you the power to break free. 

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You Will Learn Acceptance

Denial is the worst enemy of addicts because it prevents them from taking the right steps to cure their problem. In simple terms, you need to know that an issue exists before you can have any hope of solving it. Addicts often read self-help books or watch videos online so that they can get rid of their addiction, but those methods rarely work.

The help of a professional, caring support staff and faith in God are the elements that lead to recovery from addiction, but you must accept that you are in trouble before you can find an answer. When you come to our addiction treatment program, we will utilize the 12-steps as a way to help you celebrate the fact that you are powerless to overcome your addiction alone.

You Will Take a Realistic Look at Your Choices

Many people stay trapped in addiction because they refuse to take a realistic look at their choices and how they have impacted others. Looking at the truth can be a painful experience at first but will get easier with time. Taking inventory of the decisions you have made as a result of your addiction can motivate you to make better choices in the future. Desert Cove Recovery’s addiction treatment program will inspire you to forgive yourself for everything that you have done, but we will also encourage you to make things right.

You Will Repair the Damage

When addicts try to fix their lives and repair their relationships, the guilt of their past often haunts them, which can cause further stress and depression. Some people will then return to drug use to combat the negative feelings, allowing the cycle to repeat. We believe that an effective addiction treatment must address all of the problems and emotions caused by the addiction.

Our team will invite you to make a list of each person you harmed because of your addiction and encourage you to reverse the damage. For some people, this means apologizing for past mistakes and promising not to repeat them. For others, making things right can involve repaying money they might have borrowed. Only you can decide what path is right, and you will know in your heart what you must do.

You will Learn That You Are Not Alone

Guilt, shame and feelings of worthlessness are common among addicts who feel as though their addiction is a sign of failure. One of the best ways to overcome negative emotions is to realize that you are not alone in your problem. Knowing that others have faced your battle and made it to the other side will give you the inspiration you need to keep pushing yourself forward.

You will get the chance to speak with people who are going through addiction and to understand that you are not the only person with these thoughts and feelings. The sense of unity that you will get from our program will give you the strength and courage to turn your life around.

You Will Monitor Your Progress

In addition to looking at your past choices and how they have affected others, you will also learn to monitor your progress. Each decision you make will either move you toward your goal or away from it, and keeping that fact at the front of your mind will enhance your odds of success. You will take inventory of your life every day and correct your path when needed, and you will know that you are doing the right thing.

Being Proactive

Each minute that an addiction remains untreated makes it a little harder for the addict to reverse the damage, so you won’t want to waste time. You can reach out to us right away to learn more about our program and what we can do to help. Addiction is a disease that impacts the mind and clouds judgment, but working with caring professionals and putting your life in God’s hands will enable you to escape from the struggle of addiction.

No matter your situation or the length of time for which you have been addicted, our proven system can give you the answer for which you have been searching. Your addiction does not need to define or control you anymore. We are excited to work with you and invite you to pick up the phone and give us a call, as soon as possible.

most addictive substances

The Most Addictive Substances

What Are the 5 Most Addictive Substances?

While use of any psychoactive substance with pleasurable effects may lead to psychological addiction, certain drugs come with a heightened potential for both physical and psychological addiction. Physical dependence compounds the psychological aspects of addiction as both body and mind crave the drug, resulting in difficult withdrawals. Drugs with these properties have earned notoriety as the most addictive substances in the world.

Using an addictive substance does not guarantee that a pattern of drug abuse will follow. Whether a person becomes addicted to a substance depends on complex factors such as genetics. Repeated use of a highly addictive drug will put the user at a higher risk of developing a habit that requires treatment, particularly if the user is turning to the substance as a coping mechanism.

A scale developed by drug researcher David Nutt and his colleagues is commonly referenced in lists that rank the most addictive substances. The published report assesses how dangerous each drug is based on its potential for dependence, physical harm and social harm on a scale of zero to three. The dependence score takes into account pleasure, physical dependence and psychological dependence.

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most addictive substances

So, what are the most addictive drugs? Here are five that are high on the list:

Opioids

Heroin, an opioid, earned the highest mean score on Nutt’s dependence ranking with a 3.00. It also ranked as the most dangerous drug overall once physical and social harm were taken into account. All drugs in the opioid class, which contains heroin and legal painkillers alike, act similarly on the brain, binding to opioid receptors and increasing dopamine levels. Opioids are depressants that provide pain relief and a feeling of relaxation and euphoria. Because opioids are highly addictive, it’s not uncommon for those who are prescribed painkillers to become dependent and start seeking out heroin on the street. Between 26.4 million and 36 million people are estimated to abuse opioids worldwide.

Cocaine

Cocaine has a significantly lower potential for physical dependence than opioids, but it comes second to heroin on Nutt’s dependence scale with a 2.39 because its ratings for psychological dependence and pleasure are high. Both crack and powder cocaine are included in the rating. This stimulant drug influences the behavior of the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin, resulting in euphoria and a perceived increase in confidence and energy. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), young adults have the highest rate of cocaine use. In the survey, 1.4 percent of adults ages 18 to 25 reported cocaine use within the past month.

Methamphetamine

Similar to cocaine, methamphetamine is a stimulant that floods the brain with the pleasure-inducing neurotransmitter dopamine. Known as crystal meth on the street, this drug may be snorted, smoked or injected. Meth use results in increased heart rate, appetite suppression, insomnia and paranoia. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that methamphetamine abuse is on the rise with a 30 percent increase in overdose deaths from 2014 to 2015.

Alcohol

Unlike many other drugs, alcohol is universally legal for recreational purposes and is widely accepted by the mainstream. It is frequently cited as the most commonly used addictive substance. Because alcohol is both highly ubiquitous and addictive, a vulnerable person can easily become exposed to it and then addicted. In the US, one in 12 adults is addicted to or dependent on alcohol, which gets an overall addictiveness score of 1.93 according to Nutt’s rating system. Alcohol is classified as a depressant, but its initial effects are more like those caused by a stimulant. Users typically become more talkative and outgoing prior to experiencing alcohol’s sedating effects.

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are a class of prescription drugs that act on the neurotransmitter GABA and depress the central nervous system. Due to their sedating properties, they are frequently prescribed for anxiety and insomnia, but unfortunately, some patients end up abusing them. Benzodiazepines are also commonly sold on the street for recreational use and known as benzos. They have a mean dependence score of 1.83 on Nutt’s scale. They are notable for their significant potential for physical dependence and their risky withdrawals that can cause seizures. Benzodiazepines become more dangerous when combined with opioid drugs, and a study reported on by CNN found that 75 percent of benzodiazepine overdose deaths also involve opioid use.

Seek Addiction Treatment to Overcome Abuse of Highly Addictive Substances

Drug abuse is a serious problem all over the world as people from all walks of life turn to psychoactive substances to cope with their struggles, and the more addictive a substance is, the greater the risk.

If you or a loved one is battling addiction, know that you are not alone and that treatment is available. Placeholder is a drug rehabilitation center that provides treatment for addiction to the substances mentioned in this list. Contact an addiction counselor today to learn more about your addiction treatment options.

Sources:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673607604644

https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/legislative-activities/testimony-to-congress/2016/americas-addiction-to-opioids-heroin-prescription-drug-abuse

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-scope-cocaine-use-in-united-states

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db273.pdf

https://www.ncadd.org/about-addiction/alcohol/facts-about-alcohol

http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/18/health/benzodiazepine-sedative-overdose-death-increase/index.html

high sugar diet and opioid addiction

Research Indicates Link Between High Sugar Diet and Opioid Addiction

New research from the laboratory of behavioral neuroscience at the University of Guelph has suggested a possible link between diet and risk of opioid addiction. Specifically, children and adults may be more vulnerable to opioid addiction when high amounts of refined sugars are consumed.

There has been a lot of press recently about the current opioid crisis — and for good reason. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that provisional counts for the number of deaths has increased by 21 percent in the period 2015-2016. Drug overdoses are now claiming lives at double the rate of motor vehicle accidents and firearms combined.

Sugar Activates Reward Centers in Brain

Research studies have revealed that refined sugar activates the reward centers in the brain in the same manner as addictive drugs. Opioid abuse has also been linked to poor diet, including a preference for foods that are high in sugar. Based on this link, researchers had questions about whether there was a connection between a diet with an excessive amount of refined sugar and an increased susceptibility to opioid addiction.

How Research Was Conducted

The research team looked at whether an unlimited level of access to high fructose corn syrup changed laboratory rats’ behavior and responses to oxycodone, a semi-synthetic opioid. High fructose corn syrup, a commonly used food additive in North American processed foods and soft drinks, was selected for this study.

In one study conducted by doctoral student Meenu Minhas, the rats were given unrestricted access to drinking water sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. The sweetened water was removed after about a month. After a few days where the rats didn’t have access to any sweetened water, researchers evaluated the rats’ response to oxycodone.

The researchers found that when the rats consumed high levels of corn syrup, they may experience less rewards from the oxycodone. As a result, the rats may be looking to take higher amounts of the drug.

High Sugar Diet May Contribute to Opioid Addiction

The results indicate that a diet high in sugar may dampen the pleasure that someone may get from taking drugs such as Percocet, Percodan, and OxyContin at lower doses. Since these sedative drugs normally make a user feel more relaxed shortly after being ingested, someone who isn’t getting these results is likely to take a larger dose to get the desired results.

Higher doses of sedatives and painkillers can be dangerous. At high levels, they can interfere with central nervous functioning and slow down breathing, leading to coma or respiratory arrest. When combined with alcohol, their effects multiply since alcohol is also a depressant drug.

This research is another good reason to eat a balanced diet, including lean meats, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. There is a place for sweets, but in moderation.

vaccine for cocaine addiction

Research Continues on Cocaine Addiction Vaccine

Dr. Ron Crystal, a researcher at Cornell University’s Weill Cornell Medical College, is working on a vaccine to treat cocaine addiction. The inspiration for the project came to Dr. Crystal in an unusual way: As he was walking by a new stand, he happened to see a copy of the magazine, “Newsweek,” with the words, “addiction vaccine” printed on its cover.

The idea took hold with Dr. Crystal. He started thinking about the possibility of linking an addictive molecule, such as cocaine, to a cold virus or certain parts of a cold virus. If successful, he thought, there was a potential to “trick the immune system” into thinking that the addictive molecule was a cold virus. The body would respond by developing an immunity to the cocaine.

How the Vaccine Works

The vaccine induces antibodies in the body. When someone snorts cocaine, the antibodies bind it up and prevent it from reaching the brain. As a result, the user doesn’t experience the “rush” or sense of euphoria associated with cocaine use.

The vaccine would render cocaine ineffective as a way to get high. Without the physical and psychological rewards associated with cocaine use, it may be easier to stop using the drug.

Cocaine Vaccine Wouldn’t Stop Cravings

The cocaine vaccine wouldn’t stop cravings that an addict experiences. A person would still need to undergo addiction treatment to learn strategies for coping with them.

Human Trial Starting Soon

The cocaine vaccine has already been successful in animal trials. Dr. Crystal commented recently that experimental animals can be given a shot of cocaine “and it doesn’t touch them at all.”

Dr. Crystal and his research team are currently recruiting people for a human clinical trial, which will involve 30 participants. This part of Dr. Crystal’s research is expected to be completed next year. If the first human trial proves successful, it will still be a number of years before a vaccine for cocaine addiction is available on the market.

Is a Vaccination for Cocaine Addiction a Viable Solution?

Without more research, it’s difficult to say whether a vaccination will actually help those with cocaine addiction. In the meantime, those struggling with addiction should reach out for help. If you or a loved one are addicted to cocaine, or another substance, contact a professional at Desert Cove Recovery today.

Study Identifies Three Ways to Reduce Risk of Opioid Overdose in Addition to Treatment

reduce risk of opioid overdoseThere are three new helpful recommendations for doctors to follow in order to reduce deaths associated with prescription painkiller overdoses. While some of it is common sense, other parts are simple measures that can save lives. Researchers at the RAND Corporation have found that not prescribing opioids or anti-anxiety medication to patients with opioid dependence problems, ensuring that patients received psychosocial counseling and keeping up with quarterly doctor visits greatly reduced the chances of opioid-related deaths.

Researchers were able to come to these conclusions after observing the care that over 30,000 Veterans received through the VA health system. This at-risk population often sees a large amount of opioid abuse, and researchers were anxious to see what was effective within this vulnerable group. This is also the first study that has looked at developing quality measures to assure against potential opioid overdose deaths. This was important because another group of researchers have recently released data that shows the number of people dying from opioid overdoses is likely not going to reduce for several years unless some drastic changes are enacted.

These changes would be different from, or in addition to changing other prescribing habits, physician education programs about opioid abuse and prescription drug monitoring programs. It also presents another set of guidelines that can be easily checked.

“This is a very large drop in mortality and we need to conduct more research to see if these findings hold up in other patient care settings. But our initial findings suggest that these quality measures could go a long way toward improving patient outcomes among those who suffer from opioid addiction,” commented Dr. Katherine Watkins, lead author of the study.

These three recommendations have been published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, but researchers are hopeful that the information is more broadly dispensed because of the potential life-saving information to physicians everywhere.

Hormone Research May Provide New Avenues of Treatment for Alcoholics

hormone treatment for alcoholicsThe brain has increasingly been a point of interest for researchers when it comes to studying addiction. In the last several years it has been discovered that areas of the brain responsible for self-control and rewards are most affected by addiction. Scientists have also found evidence of the long-lasting effects of drugs and alcohol on the biology of the brain. And now, a team of researchers from multiple universities and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) have released information about a potential cause for alcoholism.

One of the major functions of the brain is to release and regulate hormones. Hormones are an essential component of life, dictating to the body when it is time to grow, eat, sleep, and even think. One major hormone is called aldosterone. Aldosterone is an essential hormone because it regulates kidney function and ensures that the body maintains a water and salt balance. There are two parts to a hormone pathway, the hormone itself and the receptor it binds to.

The researchers of this study found that there could be a link between the aldosterone receptors and alcohol use after it was observed that the receptors for the hormone are located on areas of the brain traditionally linked to alcohol use disorders. The amygdala and the prefrontal cortex are areas of the brain that have proven to be associated to alcohol use disorder and therefore the researchers are indicating that aldosterone and its receptors could be beneficial for future medicinal trials to prevent or treat alcoholism. The findings can be seen in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

“We believe that this target might be particularly promising for those individuals who drink excessive amounts of alcohol to cut their stress and anxiety – this is technically what we refer to as the ‘withdrawal/negative affect state,’ [and] it is a domain for which we do not have approved targeted medications,” commented Lorenzo Leggio, MD, PhD and one of the authors of the study.

Other research indicates that increased drinking produces a higher level of aldosterone levels in the body. Upon closer examination, patients with higher aldosterone levels and history of alcoholism report stronger cravings, according to the study.

The research has not yet produced any new medication geared to aldosterone receptors as a way of handling alcoholism, but scientists are hopeful that this next step will be taken soon.

Study Cites Benzo Use as Cause for Brain Changes

benzo useA new research study has shown that benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, Valium, Ativan and Klonopin, actually change the structure of the brain. This discovery could lead to further research regarding benzodiazepine addiction that can be explained by altered brain chemistry.

The study, which will be published in the August edition of Psychiatry Neuroimaging, shows that long term use of benzodiazepines can change the caudate in the brain. The caudate is responsible for the reward system, a function of the brain that is often linked to addiction.

The study, which was conducted in Finland, gathered data from MRI scans of 38 people diagnosed with schizophrenia. The MRIs were taken when the subjects were 34-years-old and then again when they were 43-years-old. Comparing the MRIs showed distinct changes in the brains of those that were using benzodiazepines. In order for a study to be valid, researchers have to take into account age, illness, and medication dose, yet even with these adjustments, benzodiazepines still seem to have a major effect on the brain.

Because this is the first study that has analyzed the potential of benzodiazepines to change the structure of the brain, researchers are anxious to further their understanding of this new development.

“There is a need for understanding the mechanisms behind antipsychotic – and benzodiazepine – related structural and functional changes in the brain. Further studies should also focus on how medication-related structural alterations correspond to cognition and functioning,” explained the authors of the study. They also understand that there will need to be a more large-scale population to gather enough data to back up their initial findings more thoroughly.

However, the study is interesting because it may answer questions about the potential for benzodiazepine addiction. Medications like Xanax or Valium are highly addictive and oftentimes abused by people who do not have their own prescription for the drug. Traditionally prescribed to those that suffer from anxiety disorders, these drugs are oftentimes sold on the street to people looking for the high that benzodiazepines can provide.

It can also garner further insight into how to treat benzo addictions in terms of helping to rehabilitate the brain and repair lost function from the drugs.

Anti-Seizure Medications Linked to Opioid Overdose Deaths

Anti-Seizure Medications Opioid OverdoseNew research indicates that one of the factors in the increase in the opiate-related deaths includes another class of prescription drugs. It was found that a recent rise in the number of prescriptions for the nerve medications pregabalin (Lyrica) and gabapentin (Neurontin) has directly correlated to the rise in opiate overdose deaths in some areas. Further investigation has shown that, in addition to opiates, users are also abusing the anti-seizure medication, causing an increase in accidental overdoses.

Drug users have discovered the calming effects of anti-seizure medication and are incorporating these drugs into their daily use. This particular study focused on parts of England, where the numbers show that there were about a million prescription for the two drugs in 2004, but that number soared in 2015, with a total of 10.5 million prescriptions written for pregabalin and gabapentin.

This discovery, which appears in the latest issue of the journal Addiction, illustrates two things. One is that addicts will continue to seek out drugs that they feel enhance the euphoria brought about by their drugs of choice, and that the medical community needs to evolve with the trends. This means that drugs that previously weren’t considered as having a high potential for abuse now need to be policed more thoroughly, and prescriptions for these types of drugs need to remain checked in order to prevent abuse or misuse.

“Poly-drug use is very common amongst drug users. We need more multi-disciplinary studies like ours which seek to combine evidence from laboratory experiments on how drug act, with accounts of what users experience and information on the pattern of drug use and drug harms – in order to make health care workers and drug users aware of the dangers of combining specific drugs,” asserted Graeme Henderson, Professor of Pharmacology and Neuroscience of the University of Bristol.

One possible solution to avoiding the combining of opiates and anti-seizure medication is that medical professionals increase their screening for abuse and prescribe non-addictive alternatives to patients that are in need of anti-seizure medication. This could help prevent future abuse and help save the life of someone who might be showing signs of mixing the two drugs.

How Volunteering Could Help Prevent Substance Abuse

Prevent Substance AbuseCollege student athletes are under tremendous pressure. They usually follow strict guidelines, workout times and game schedules while still having to maintain a passing GPA. Additionally, due to the nature of their physical activity, they are also more likely to sustain injuries that require medical intervention. Because of these stressors, this group can often become more susceptible to use and misuse drugs. In an effort to combat this phenomenon, researchers from the University of Missouri looked into what could help prevent student athletes avoid substance abuse and addiction problems.

The specific group these researchers decided to focus their study on was female student athletes. So, in a five-year study, female Division 3 student athletes were asked to self-report on their substance use, social, work and sports life, as well as any other stressors they were experiencing. At the end of the five years, researchers were able to conclude that the participants who spent part of their time volunteering or helping others in some other way were less likely to use drugs.

“Female student-athletes experience increased demands while in college from coaches and professors to family and friends. Because student-athletes occupy multiple roles simultaneously, they could be at an increased risk for substance abuse to cope with stress. Our findings suggest that community service might be a tool to reduce substance abuse among female student-athletes,” explained Alexandra Davis, one of the leaders of the research team.

The researchers went on to point out that these conclusions have an impact on colleges throughout the country. As part of the ongoing effort to reduce substance use on campus, colleges may want to look into volunteer programs for their students, providing them with an opportunity to help others and reduce their own odds of misusing drugs and alcohol.

Although this study was specifically focused on females, the results are likely similar if applied to other specialized populations as well. Scientists, religious leaders and scholars have continually demonstrated the power of giving, and this is yet another application of how it helps to enhance lives.

Good News for People Who Stop Using Cocaine

In addition to psychosis, intense cravings, risky decision making, paranoia and depression, cocaine has been shown to greatly increase the risk of coronary artery disease. But, a new study from researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine shows that reducing or abstaining from cocaine use can likely reverse the disease. Although some people feel that much of the damage caused by drug use is irreversible, this seems to validate that our bodies have an innate ability to heal many maladies over time.

Oftentimes when it comes to addiction, the gravity of health, money and family problems looming in the future make it difficult for addicts to remain sober. But, research like this shows that life can get better when cocaine is not in the picture.

“In the past, there hhas been excellent work to uncover the consequences of drug use However, few studies have revealed what happens after drug use stops. Studies of this kind give people hope for a healthier life after stopping drug use,” reported Dr. Shenghan Lai of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Coronary artery disease, or coronary artherosclerosis, occurs when the arteries harden. This prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching the heart. This condition occurs over many years, and is prevalent among long-term cocaine users. Researchers found that in subjects who significantly reduced or stopped cocaine use altogether, levels of the protein ET-1 began to subside. ET-1 is a causes inflammation and subsequently artherosclerosis. In this long-term study, researchers witnessed the reduction of this protein in all heavy cocaine addicts who stopped consuming the drug.

Research like this is positive news for someone who has struggled with a cocaine addiction and is facing continued health problems because of the drug. Improving the outcome of someone’s dire health prognosis can be an effective way of helping them maintain sobriety. You can read about this and other studies in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

If you have a loved one who is in need of treatment for cocaine addiction or any other kind of substance abuse, contact Desert Cove today to find out more about our services.