Tag Archives: stress

Drug Abuse Linked to Financial Problems

Unemployment can be a very unstable, scary time for people. Without the promise of work, many fall into a depression that is difficult to get out of. And now a new study shows that illicit drug use is also more common for people who are unemployed. Despite not having income, drugs are still being purchased and used at higher rates than people who have steady work.

A new study released by researchers in the Netherlands shows that they psychological stress of not having a job is more powerful than reduced or no income, and the stress is what causes people to seek out drugs and alcohol. The researchers focused on 17 different types of reports from several different countries. Ten of the reports were composed of information from the American workforce. After reviewing all the data, the team was surprised that the psychological factors were a more powerful motivator for drug use than lack of money was for deterring a person from using drugs. And in extreme cases where money was an issue, many users simply switched their drug of choice to a cheaper alternative, but still maintained their drug-using lifestyle.

“In our literature review, we were particularly interested in the mechanisms that explain the relationship between unemployment and illegal drug use. We found supportive evidence for one of the mechanisms that we hypothesized. It seems that unemployment increases psychological distress and that distress increases illegal drug use,” explained Dr. Gera Nagelhout, the lead author of the study that was published in the International Journal of Drug Policy.

Nagelhout suggests that more funding and research focus on the psychological effects of unemployment so as to better help those who find themselves without employment. Forging a new path between unemployment and better mental health could be imperative in preventing these people from leading a life of drug use and addiction. As the country continues to struggle with ways to prevent the painkiller and opioid epidemic from claiming more lives, this is one area where more research and understanding is needed.

Turning Off Stress-Induced Relapse

Stress-Induced RelapseSobriety can be an elusive thing for many recovering drug addicts. Oftentimes addicts will undergo a period of treatment or abstinence and then seemingly out of nowhere, a relapse occurs. These sometimes-frequent spells of returning to drug use can plague an addict and their loved ones until long-lasting sobriety is hopefully achieved. What is it that causes these relapses? And do they have to be part of recovery?

In order to answer these questions, a team of researchers at Brown University and the University of Wyoming created a study that would examine the biology of a relapse. They began by focusing on the kappa opioid receptors (kORs). These receptors are located on the surface of the brain and are the ultimate target of opioids when they enter the body.

Next, researchers moved to a different part of the brain – the ventral tegmental area. This area of the brain reinforces behaviors related to fulfilling basic needs. Basic needs can include eating and sleeping. But in the brain of the addict, this basic need also can include drugs. Through extensive research, the scientists were able to see that stress can induce this part of the brain to excite the kappa opioid receptors, thus causing the person to seek out drugs.

So, while stress is oftentimes a precursor to relapse, there may be hope. That is because these scientists expanded their experiment to show what happens when certain medications are administered to a person who is experiencing stress. After administering norBNI to rats that were abstinent from opioids for some time but in the midst of experiencing stress, the researchers observed that the kappa opioid receptors were disengaged, no longer producing a craving within the rats.

While this research is still new, it does confirm previous studies that have showed that stress is a problem for maintaining sobriety, but these researchers have taken it a step further with the introduction of a potential medicine for treatment. “Ours is the first demonstration of experience-induced changes in constitutive activity of these receptors,” explained the authors of the study.

In addition to treatments like the one above, many more people are also opting for different approaches to dealing with stress in recovery. One growing movement is rooted in mindfulness-based practices, where there are many forms of exercises and meditations that help people become more consciously aware moment to moment, thus having greater control over their actions.

Dangers of Easing Travel and Stress with Anxiety with Drugs

travel stressAs the holidays have come to a close and the new year begun, many people are finally easing back into the routine of their daily lives. Oftentimes the holidays are filled with work parties, family parties, frantically running around to different stores collecting presents, cooking, cleaning and traveling. Experiencing varying levels of anxiety is normal, however some people rely heavily on prescription drugs to ease some of this anxiety. The danger of doing this is that anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax and Klonopin can also be very addictive.

In addition to the potential of abuse, there are other side effects of the drugs to watch out for. Even though the holidays are over, there are many people who now are doing a lot of traveling for work again and still find themselves in stressful situations.

“Travel and holiday stress have a lot to do with expectations. So keeping your expectations realistic is important. It is ok to say no to people when you think you have taken on too much to make sure you don’t go crazy trying to make sure all the decorations are perfect or all the presents you bought are perfect, that everything in your home looks perfect. It is really a time to slow everything down and try to remember that most people don’t really care about that stuff,” explained John Tsilimparis, MFT.

Experts also warn that people who rely on anxiety medication like Xanax may be using too much and once the holidays are over they develop a tendency to keep taking more often, resulting in a dependency. Addiction to these types of drugs, called benzodiazepinnes, oftentimes requires severe medical intervention because the medication is so harmful to the body, especially when there is an abrupt cessation of the drug. People going through benzo withdrawal can experience hallucinations, insomnia, extreme anxiety, cravings, mood swings and seizures.

Those who take benzodiazepines to travel may accidently take too much and suffer from lapse in consciousness and/or judgment, experts warn. The drugs have the potential to cause people to act in ways that they never would otherwise, and any type of behavior or mood swings while traveling can be dangerous for the individual as well as others around them.

These drugs should be reserved for people who have more severe problems, and many advocates recommend other ways to reduce stress from things such as the holidays, travel, work and family obligations. These can include practicing mindfulness techniques, breathing exercises, meditation and other calming activities.

If you have a loved one who is in need of help for abusing anti-anxiety medications or any other types of drugs, contact us today to find out more about successful treatment options.