Tag Archives: Drug Rehab

Substance Abuse vs Addiction

Substance Abuse vs Addiction

Substance Abuse vs Addiction

All too often, the phrase “substance abuse” is used interchangeably with the word “addiction.” Abuse and addiction take similar physical, psychological, and social tolls for those who are suffering. However, it is important to understand the difference between substance abuse vs addiction. Learning about each will help you identify if an individual is casually abusing drugs or alcohol or in serious need of assistance to break an addiction.

Recognizing Substance Abuse

Substance abuse and addiction are not actually the same thing. On the surface, substance abuse may not look like extreme or dangerous behavior. In fact, it may not stand out as abnormal at all. If drinking or recreational drug use has become normalized in your social circle, you could even be abusing substances without knowing it. 

Substance abuse involves using a substance, whether it be alcohol, prescription drugs, or illicit “street” drugs, to a point that becomes a hazard to your health. This includes using medications in ways other than prescribed.

When Substance Use Starts to Affect Your LIfe

Substance abuse also includes using substances to a point where doing so starts to affect your ability to live your life as you had prior to using. This point can come far quicker than many people realize. As soon as you start using your substance of choice to cope with emotions, thoughts, stress, or living situations, you are abusing that particular substance. This is true even if you have not experienced any consequences yet as a result. 

For example, consider alcohol consumption. According to the USDA, a safe and moderate level of alcohol consumption is no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Someone who drinks more than this is abusing alcohol by definitions, even if their consumption does not appear excessive to others. It has been shown drinking past the recommended daily limit increases the risk alcohol will affect your health, put at risk for DUIs, and other undesirable outcomes. 

Most individuals who abuse substances but are not yet addicted, feel like they can stop whenever they want to. Some people abuse substances intermittently instead of regularly. This can mask the fact that there is a problem. Substance abuse is still a widespread issue causing problems in many people’s lives. The CDC notes that more than 10 percent of people over the age of 12 have used some type of illicit drug in the past month. While not everyone who abuses drugs will go on to develop an addiction, many will. 

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Substance Abuse vs Addiction

When Substance Abuse Becomes Addiction

Addiction is a more serious problem than substance abuse. While substance abuse can be situational, addiction is a pervasive problem affecting every aspect of a person’s life. Substance abuse is a negative behavior that a person chooses whereas addiction is a disease of the brain. Many people are able to stop abusing substances on their own, but recovering from addiction is a significantly more complex task usually requiring outside help. 

The main hallmark of addiction is physical dependency. After a person abuses drugs or alcohol for a long enough period, their brain starts to change physically, making it difficult for the person to feel normal without their substance of choice. Drug or alcohol use causes a rush of dopamine in the brain. Eventually, the brain acclimates to the euphoria and begins to demand more, building a tolerance and creating an addiction.

When an addicted person does not have drugs or alcohol in their system, the lack of dopamine beings to show ill effects. Addicted individuals will start to experience withdrawal symptoms like tremors, nausea, and hallucinations (withdrawal symptoms vary from substance to substance). Essentially the person loses their ability to function normally when not drunk or high. 

Is Addiction a Choice?

Substance abuse may be a choice, but addiction rarely is. One of the defining traits of addiction is the inability to stop using drugs or alcohol, despite the negative social or health consequences. To an addicted person, seeking out and using their substance of choice is the most important thing in life.

Addiction will cause users to lie, steal, and sneak around to use drugs or alcohol. It is not that they are inherently bad people. It is simply their illness has hijacked the decision-making parts of their brain, leading them to take actions unfathomable prior to developing an addiction. 

Addiction is widespread with more than 15 million adults in the United States addicted to alcohol, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Further, addictive behaviors cost the U.S. more than $740 billion every year in health care costs and lost productivity. The good news is addiction is treatable, although only about. Unfortunately, only about 10 percent of those addicted actually receive treatment. 

Are You Dealing With Substance Abuse or Addiction?

If you are wondering whether you or a loved has a problem with drugs or alcohol, the odds are likely that you may indeed have a problem. Whether or not the substance abuse has progressed to the level of addiction, it is important to seek help as soon as possible before the problem gets worse.

You or a loved one may be addicted to a substance if any of the following are true: 

  • You use drugs or alcohol alone.
  • You lie to friends or loved ones about your substance use.
  • You feel out of control and cannot stop drinking or using even when you want to.
  • You experience physical withdrawals when you cannot use your substance of choice.
  • Your drinking or drug use is affecting your relationships, job, or academic performance.

Seeking Help and Getting Sober

It is never too late to seek professional guidance when it comes to substance use. Substance abuse versus addiction is indeed an important question. However, most important is finding the help you or your loved needs.

If you or someone you know may be struggling with either substance abuse or addiction, let them know specially trained professionals are here to help, in addition to their friends, family, and the community they live in. Contact a professional at Desert Cove Recovery today for more information.

 

nerve stimulator for opioid withdrawal

FDA Approves Nerve Stimulator for Opioid Withdrawal

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given its approval for a specialized tool that will be used to help US patients addicted to prescription pain medications and get them off opioids.

The newly-approved device delivers electric pulses to the area behind the patient’s ear. This electric pulse triggers a current which travels to the person’s occipital nerves (the ones reaching from the spinal cord to the back of the neck) and cranial nerves. It functions as a PNFS (Percutaneous Nerve Field Stimulator) device system and stimulates the patient’s brain to mask opioid withdrawal symptoms.

This medical device has been named the NSS-2 Bridge (NSS stands for “Neurostimulation System”.) Research shows that when used over a five-day treatment period, the process can be effective. The device is used during the period when an opiate-dependent person is likely to experience the most intense pain, as well as body tremors and sweating, during withdrawal.

Seventy-three patients were involved in the trials to determine the device’s effectiveness. Close to one-third (31 percent) of the participants noticed a reduction in symptoms within half an hour of getting the device. The trial found that 64 of the patients got relief and were ready to move forward to medication-assisted therapy after using the device. This represented a success rate of 88 percent after the five-day trial. However, other applications may include permanent abstinence rather than switching to a maintenance drug.

The FDA has decided to approve the device, even though the results of the study are limited. Further trials will be undertaken to evaluate its effectiveness in various settings.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb stated in his reasons for approving the new device that there is a need for finding new ways of helping people who are addicted so that they can achieve sobriety with “medically assisted treatment.” He went on to say that while research is continuing to find better medicines to treat opioid use disorder, medicine also needs to look to devices to help as well.

Finding alternative methods of treating opioid dependency is a major topic of discussion regarding dealing the epidemic our nation faces. In addition to helping people get off these drugs, it is imperative to find more ways to reduce or avoid using these highly addictive substances.

immigration drug abuse

Immigration Does Not Cause Surge in Drug Abuse or Drug Availability

In light of many heated debates regarding immigration and its impact on the United States, a research group out of University of Wisconsin-Madison conducted a study to determine what, if any, effect immigrants had on the drug problems in this country. After gathering data from the Center for Migration Studies and Pew Research Center, they were able to determine that immigration does not actually effect drug use and drug availability in the United States.

“This is an area where public and political debates have far outpaced the research. And central to this debate is whether undocumented immigration increases drug and alcohol problems, or crime more generally. There are good theoretical reasons to think it could have increased substance abuse problems in recent decades. But the data just doesn’t show it,” commented Professor Michael Light, lead researcher of the study. The results of his research appeared in the American Journal of Public Health.

The researchers were able to come to this conclusion after comparing undocumented immigrants to the four major criteria that is most affected by drug use – drug crimes, driving under the influence arrests, drug overdose deaths and drunken driving fatalities. They found that undocumented immigrants are actually not engaging in these types of activities, and in fact are actually responsible in bringing down the national statistic. When the population is increased by 1% due to undocumented immigrants, there are 22 fewer drug arrests, 42 fewer drunken driving arrests and 0.64 fewer drug overdoses.

One possible explanation for this, it called the “healthy immigrant effect”, where it has been found that undocumented immigrants actually lead healthier lifestyles then people born in the United States.

Regardless of why undocumented immigrants are using less drugs and committing less crimes than Americans, the point of the study was to dispel some of the most common myths surrounding undocumented immigrants and their connection to illegal drugs. In an effort to better understand the drug problem in this country, it is important to focus on actual problems, rather than perceived problems.

benzo use brain changes

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.