Managing Withdrawal Symptoms in Early Recovery

Managing the Symptoms of Withdrawal

After the very important decision to move forward in your recovery has been made, the first of your many battles toward victory begins. Many report that the most difficult battle occurs in the beginning, as both your body, and your consciousness, fight against making the change that your heart knows is for the best. Being equipped with the knowledge of what is to come – and being armed with the right kind of support system – can make your transition to a life of sobriety go much more smoothly.


Physical Symptoms of Withdrawal

The type of physical response that the body has to withdrawal depends on what substance, or substances, you are needing to rid your body of. Physical symptoms range from headaches and insomnia, to risk of violent seizures. A reputable substance abuse treatment program will be prepared with information about the physical withdrawal symptoms that are specific to the substances you are weaning yourself from.

What is going on, physically, with nearly all withdrawals is that the brain is freaking out. Over time, the natural chemicals that the brain produces toward regulating bodily functions are replaced by the substance. The brain becomes lazy, in a sense, and learns to wait for the foreign chemical to do the job. Because it has taken time for the brain to learn that it can stop producing certain hormones and chemicals, it will take time for it to learn to start up again. Removing the influence of the foreign substances is the first step that is required for the brain to recognize that it needs to get back on the important task of regulating our biology. This period of the brain re-learning to fully function can be physically intense.

Patience is the key when it comes to allowing our brains the time to get back toward normal functioning. While some may choose to sweat out the process by going cold turkey, others may find the option of reducing discomfort, through medical means, more appealing. Drug treatment centers often offer substitute substances as a means of taking the edge off of the physical withdrawal. These medically approved substances can be tailored to make the withdrawal experience less of a shock to the system, with the goal of eventually not needing them.



Cognitive Symptoms of Withdrawal

When we speak of cognition, we are referring to thoughts. While thoughts do occur in the brain, they are different from the chemical production and electrical impulses which comprise our physical biology. Thoughts are the way that we see the world, and the way that we interpret events.

When we are operating under the influence of an addictive substance, we are not able to access our full range of cognition. With many addictive substances, our ability to accurately assess the consequences of our actions is impaired. We are not able to consider the future in a realistic way. We tend to dwell in the past, or to use the substance as an artificial means to stay only in the present.

Once the cognitively impairing effects of the drug have begun to wear off, our thoughts may begin clear. Because the drugs have often prevented us from properly processing and working through issues, our thoughts of the future can look like a dead end. We may begin to replay experiences of past trauma and failure, like watching a tragic movie for the 50th time. We may bemoan our lost time and opportunities. We may be tempted to regret our choices.

All of these self-defeating trains of thought can tempt us back toward escaping the discomfort through our addictions. It is important, during recovery, to surround yourself with knowledgeable people, who can help to guide you toward new ways of thinking. Just as the brain takes time to relearn to properly function, positive thinking takes time to properly root.



Emotional Symptoms of Withdrawal

Emotions can be tricky, as they are able to be initiated by both our bodily chemistry – such as through hormones – and by our thoughts.  Emotions often work as a respondent to other things that are going on.  Other times, we don’t know why we are feeling what we are feeling, we only know that we don’t feel positive.

Those who have spent a long amount of time using substances may find the experience of sitting with emotions very uncomfortable. Substances have a way of numbing us toward facing emotionally distressing issues. Some will even use substances for exactly the purpose of avoidance of emotional discomfort. Ceasing the drug and alcohol dependence means that these uncomfortable sensations will need to be fully experienced.

Emotions, by themselves, are innocuous. They don’t have any ability to genuinely harm us, or control us, no matter how powerful they may present themselves. The power of emotions comes from us allowing them to influence our thoughts and actions. When our emotions are prompting us to act in a positive way, it is a beautiful thing. When they inspire us toward going back into self-destruction mode, they are not working as an ally.

While working through your recovery, prepare to experience a wide range of emotions. Initially, you may experience a series of positive emotions, which can be related to the idea of hope and freedom that accompanies your resolve to make changes for the better. As the withdrawal goes on, these emotions are likely to shift. Chemical changes within the brain may suddenly withdraw the feel-good chemicals, leaving your emotional state in a wreck. You may feel scared, angry, and hopeless. What you decide to do with these feelings – through subsequent thoughts and actions – can make or break your success in recovery.

One useful approach toward managing the negative emotions which accompany withdrawal is to engage in mindfulness techniques. Inspired by Eastern meditation practices, mindfulness involves learning to just exist in the moment. With mindfulness, we are able to observe that we are experiencing negative emotions, but we are not allowing our mind to put any stock into it. We can acknowledge that we are feeling poorly, but not place any pressure on ourselves to do anything about it. The negative feeling just is – for the moment – and it will pass, in another.

Tips for Staging a Successful Intervention

Supporting an Intervention

Sometimes, when you love someone very much, it’s easy to look past their faults and forgive them when they make hurtful mistakes. But when your loved one becomes addicted the mistakes can pile up and become more than just hurtful – they become destructive and often dangerous. It’s important to recognize when a harmful habit turns into a dangerous addiction – and it’s important to recognize the power of an intervention when that happens.

An intervention is often your best shot at helping your loved one, especially when they fail to acknowledge their own behavior. But there are a lot of differences between a good intervention and a bad one, and staging a successful intervention is not necessarily easy.


Make Sure You’re All on Board

An intervention is not a discussion between two people, but a conversation between an addict and all their loved ones and close friends. Ideally, you need to get together everyone who loves them very much but has been affected by their drug habit.

Addiction is painful not only for an individual but for the individuals whose lives they touch, from friends and family to more distant relatives and workmates. It’s not meant to be a free-for-all – keep the group small and unintimidating, but make sure to bring several people, at least three or four.

If they need convincing, convince them that this is their best shot towards helping their loved one get the treatment they need to get better and move on with their lives, free from addiction.


Practice and Plan Together

An intervention is best planned together. Thankfully, we live in a modern age where internet communication makes conversations happen instantly across countless miles. If you can’t get together to discuss the intervention physically, do so online in a private group with an unassuming title or name that wouldn’t point toward the planning of an intervention.

It’s best, however, to do the planning together in the same room. Discuss what you want to get off your chest, what concerns you, what you think needs to be addressed the most, and then find a way to list everything that you all feel needs to be brought up and find the best order in which it should be brought up.

The right order is important. The person whom your loved one feels closest towards should open up and start the intervention, and it’s important that you are all prepared for disbelief, lies, derision or angry remarks. Press on, stick to the topic at hand, continue listing the points that you feel are important, and do not let your loved one derail the topic or turn it into an awkward and messy fight.


Know What to Say, What to Do

Knowing what to say and what to do – and more importantly, what not to say and not to do – is crucial to a conversation like this. Even the subtext of hostility or judgment can send the intervention spiraling out of control. It’s important to be clear with your words, not just your message. The way you convey your thoughts and emotions is just as important as the actual thoughts and emotions you have. This means employing language that is not judgmental or attacking and utilizing body language that is warm and open. Here are a couple examples:

  • DO use your own voice to describe your own feelings and experiences.
  • DO NOT speak for everyone else.
  • DO emphasize that you love them and want to help.
  • DO NOT tell them they’re failures or have been failing.
  • DO tell them that treatment works, and they’ll get better.
  • DO NOT use insults or call them names.
  • DO use open body language, like keeping your arms uncrossed.
  • DO NOT look away from the person or keep your hands clenched.


Pick A Good Time & Place

It’s hard waiting for the right opportunity to step in and intervene, but you must. There’s little point in scheduling an intervention when your loved one is high. Drugs have a powerful influence on the mind, and they can render a constructive conversation pretty much impossible. Try to find a time when your loved one is most likely to be sober or almost sober.

Finding the right place matters, too. Somewhere incredibly public is a very bad idea. But it’s just as bad to schedule it in someplace too comfortable. A room at the local community center, a friend’s therapists office, or the local church are just a few examples of an acceptable middle ground where you can all be in a private room yet remain in neutral territory where your loved one cannot simply retreat into their room or order you out of their home.


Expect Anything

The intervention may or may not go as planned, and while having a script and an idea of what to say helps, it’s important to understand that this is more of an improv performance than a scripted play. There may be crying, high tensions, flying tempers, and lots of emotion. You cannot control or preempt what your loved one will do. But you can plan around it and set ground rules for everyone to work off. For example:

  • Do not stray from the topic.
  • Do not lose your temper. Ever.
  • Do not let your loved one redirect the conversation.

Past that, it’s up to you and those working with you to think about how your loved one may react, and what you could do to bring the situation back under control. They may lie, leave, or become incredibly angry/sad.


It Could Take More Than Once

Interventions aren’t magic – they’re carefully structured and prepared conversations meant to open an addict’s eyes to the reality that they’re struggling with a habit they can’t control, and that that habit is hurting others. However, the mind is a powerful thing, and the ability to perform “mental gymnastics” is vastly improved under the continuous influence of drugs.

It may take some time and several talks until your loved one agrees to get treated, and even after that, recovery can take months to years. In some ways, it takes a lifetime. Relapses are wont to happen, and it’s important to know what to expect – and not to be angry if things don’t go smoothly. Continue to love, continue to support, and continue to help guide them back onto a less self-destructive path – it’s up to your loved one to get better, but you can do a lot to help them get there.


The First Steps After A Relapse

First Steps After Relapse

You finally check into a treatment facility and take the first steps towards a new kind of living after a relapse. You have come to terms with the reality of your condition, gone through the program to get better, and you know the road ahead and have a taste of its many possibilities. Sometimes the future looks bleak, and sometimes it looks promising – but you know that, at the end of the day, there is a future.

But then a relapse kicks in. It happens to many people in recovery, and it’s always a painful experience. More than just the physical trauma of going through withdrawal again and reaching that same point that previously took you months to achieve, a relapse feels like a failure to most people, an inability to stick to recovery and a confirmation of all your worst fears and biggest worries.

But it is not. To take an analogy out of sports, people see relapses as bone-breaking and career-ending injuries, when they are in fact just stumbles in a long and possibly fruitful journey. It’s important to remember, above all else, that it isn’t the relapse that kills a person’s chances at living a sober life – it’s giving up on sober living.


A Relapse Isn’t The End

Before we get into the how of recovering from a relapse, it’s important to understand the why. Relapses can be demoralizing and the idea of going through it all again just to potentially face another one can cripple anyone’s motivation to stay strong and keep going. But it’s important to realize that a relapse isn’t just a forced reboot – it can be a chance to learn, and more importantly, you can turn it into something positive for your long-term sobriety, rather than a painful setback.

Perspective is important in life, and in recovery. The way you approach problems determines how you handle them, and if you handle them effectively. By understanding that a relapse is an opportunity to learn and grow, rather than a waste of time and effort, you can prepare yourself for a new kind of recovery, one marked by an experience that helps you better understand yourself and your addiction, rather than being stuck in a cycle that feels inescapable.


Learning From Our Mistakes

Relapses are triggered. Sometimes the trigger is internal, and most of the time, it’s external. People in early recovery will always be plagued by temptations from old memories, places, and people. Learning to live with these temptations and shut them out is central to permanently overcoming addiction.

The first step is to remove yourself from potential triggers as much as humanly possible. For most people, the idea of completely uprooting just isn’t feasible – but there is a lot you can do to change the way you live, from taking a different route to work, to taking the necessary steps to remove yourself from relationships that you know are harmful to your recovery and your long-term sobriety.

Beyond that, however, it’s also important to learn to manage your stress. Relapses are not just triggered by memories, but they can also be triggered by a need to self-medicate under extreme stress. If you find yourself needing an outlet and immediately think of release through drugs, then you’re on a bad path. Get help, call someone, and learn to cope with difficult times and stressful situations by adapting healthy and constructive coping mechanisms, such as exercise and art.

When relapses do happen, they’re an opportunity for you to think back and reflect on what caused them to begin with. Was it a particularly stressful episode in your life? Was it someone, or something? Think back to what exactly pushed you over the edge and made you think that everything you had done prior to that point was worth erasing over the ecstasy of another hit.

Sometimes, it does not have to be particularly profound. Addiction can affect thinking and decision-making, thus leading people who struggle with their sobriety to be prone to risk-taking. However, thinking back to what led you into a state of mind where relapsing became possible can help you identify how to change your recovery.

Following the exact same treatment and changing nothing about your recovery plan is not the correct response to a relapse. Instead, analyzing where things went wrong and adjusting can help you fortify yourself from that same mindset, and better prepare yourself for temptations and stressful situations in the future.


Recommitting And Moving On

The hardest thing to do after a relapse is accept what just happened and decide to soldier on. Even if you manage to point out to yourself that this can be a learning experience with which you can further build your sober life, it’s impossible not to feel a little bit compromised. However, life is not about guarantees. It’s about chances, choices, and circumstances. If you’re struggling with addiction and are fighting to live a sober life, then your circumstances have many odds stacked against you. But through your treatment, you’ve got the chance and you’ve made the choice to get better.

After a relapse, embracing your newfound ability to choose outside of addiction and recommit to staying sober for yourself and your loved ones means embracing that life has no guarantees, and it’s on you to lead your life in the right direction. You made a mistake, because you’re only human. But it doesn’t make you a bad human, or a failure. Instead, it’s another pivotal moment where life gave you the choice to give up or keep moving forward – and as long as you keep moving forward, you’re on the right track.


Overcoming Your Fears

The fear of  relapse is a very real thing. Fear as a psychological concept can be a tool or a hindrance. The fear of death can drive us to live in the direst of circumstances, to survive even against terrible odds. However, fear can also paralyze us and keep us from living. If you fear something excessively, then it keeps you from moving past it.

The fear of death kicks in when your life is truly in danger. But the fear of a relapse only keeps you fixated on the possibility of relapsing again, instead of allowing you to embrace the confidence you need to put relapses behind you and focus instead on living each day committed to sobriety and your own happiness.

Relapses are painful and can be difficult to overcome. It’s not easy to get clean again and recommit. But it’s possible – and if you want to get sober, it’s necessary. It will get easier to resist temptations and ignore cravings with time, and with a little help from friends and family, you can keep on the right track even on the bad days.

Why It’s So Easy To Transition From “Recreational Use” To Addiction

recreational use of drugs | Transcend Texas

It’s hard to draw the line between drug use, and drug addiction. There is no such thing as a one-hit addiction – addiction happens over repeated usage. And while using a drug can prime your brain for more of its usage, the cycle of addiction does not begin until a behavior has already been established, which takes time. However, that time may be over faster than you might think, and so called “recreational use” can quickly turn into addiction. It’s important to make a distinction between the two, and understand that no one is immune from addiction just because they feel like they’re in control over their usage. A drug is a drug, and it’s always dangerous.


The Difference Between Recreational Use And Addiction

Addiction and recreational use are differentiated by the ability to stop at any time. Someone who is addicted can’t stop without a great amount of effort and, often, some help. Someone who attempting to practice recreational use, on the other hand, could be asked to stop and probably would be able to without much of an issue.

There would be signs of withdrawal, but they would be minor, and the difficulty of stopping wouldn’t be that of addiction, which involves intense cravings and irritability.

Drug addiction and recreational use can also be differentiated by the effect they have on a person’s lifestyle and personality. For example: someone who uses a drug recreationally at first may not have a problem with incorporating it into their life. However, addiction often implies that the damage being caused by a person’s drug use is becoming increasingly unavoidable, and more troubling. Someone struggling with addiction might burn through their relationships, lose their job and even end up in the emergency room more than once because of their habit.

Someone practicing recreational use might have the ability to see when their usage is beginning to be a problem, and curb it to avoid getting caught, or to lessen the effect it has on their life, though that is never guaranteed to be the case.


The Key to Preventing Addiction

Substance addiction can only be prevented in one way: by not using drugs. Recreational use is only one step on the path to addiction, and the only way to keep that from happening is to stop using altogether. And if you find that you can’t, then you may already be on the path to a long and tough addiction.

We have all heard about how alcohol can be used “in moderation”. While alcohol is a drug, it is different from other more dangerous and potent substances, such as prescription medication, illicit substances like heroin, or even potentially deadly drugs like fentanyl.

Alcohol can be addictive, and thousands of Americans struggle with alcoholism every day. To them, the only answer towards long-term sobriety is to never have a drop, ever again. But for the millions of other Americans who do drink responsibly, the idea that addiction can only be prevented through abstinence seems contradictory.

Coffee is a drug. Caffeine is psychoactive, and going from heavy caffeine use to a caffeine intake of zero can lead to intense drowsiness, headaches and other withdrawal issues for several days. However, you can “recreationally” drink coffee.

The key is understanding the difference in addictiveness across the spectrum of psychoactive substances, so you know what to stay away from at all costs, and what to be aware of. Caffeine isn’t inherently dangerous in coffee and tea, but drinking copious amounts of coffee with milk and sugar can lead to unnecessary calories in your day, and interfere with your sleeping cycle. Processed caffeine sources, like energy drinks, can even affect your heart and worsen existing cardiac conditions – and in very rare cases, contribute to your death.

A drug like fentanyl requires little more than a few specks inhaled through the air to cause serious damage, and send you to the medical room. Crack cocaine and methamphetamine are incredibly addictive, and can cause brain damage. Also prescription drugs like anti-depressants can kill you. There is no such thing as “recreational use” when it comes to these kinds of substances.


Why Teens Use Drugs More Often

There is a reasonable explanation as to why teenagers are more susceptible to recreational use of drugs than adults, and why they tend to struggle with addiction for years. On one hand, teenagers are going through tough times. They’re learning to deal with their emotions, their bodies, their peers. It’s frustrating, and difficult.

While children generally seek approval, and nurturing from their parents, teenagers often revolt from their parents influence to gain independence. Sometimes, their behavior can be downright nonsensical, outside of the point of view of “rebellion”.

Beyond that, teenagers struggle to understand long-term risk. They are more likely to engage in risky behavior to impress their peers, often ignoring the potential dangers involved in that behavior. Sometimes, impressing your friends might mean taking something. Many teenagers aren’t secure enough to pass up on a challenge that might solidify their standing among peers.

Of course, teenagers are not the only people using drugs, or getting addicted. But they are more susceptible to it, for these factors and others.


Why Addiction Is So Hard To Break

The defining difference between addiction and recreational use is the inability to stop. But why is addiction so hard to break? That’s a question many people have, and it does not have an easy answer.

There are several reasons, some tied to a person’s brain, others tied to their emotions and psychological state. Sometimes, people have a tough time breaking from an addiction because of the protection afforded by being high. In other cases, their brain has rewired itself to crave the substance, and they must deal with thinking about it day and night.

Breaking an addiction always takes a lot of time. And it’s always up to you to ultimately dedicate yourself to your own recovery long enough to avoid a relapse. But it’s much easier to fight this fight with others helping you along the way, keeping you motivated during the worst of times, and encouraging you to keep improving and working on yourself during the best of times. Recovery can last a life time – but that doesn’t mean you can’t spend it well, enjoying yourself and making beautiful memories along the way.


What Makes Opioids Addictive?

makes opioids addictive | Transcend Texas

There are few drugs that are as devastating or addictive as heroin – and that’s truer today than ever before. As our country is facing a massive opioid problem, we must understand what opioids are, which opioids are most dangerous, what makes opioids addictive, and why they’re central to the problem that’s taken so many lives in the past few decades.

Opioids have innocent beginnings. All opioids can chemically be traced to the poppy flower, either as part of their production or as a chemical analog to opium.

Opium comes from the sap of the poppy plant. Opiates are opium derivates, including codeine, morphine and heroin. Opioids include all drugs that act on opioid receptors in the brain, including synthetic opioids which are commonly used in pharmaceutical drugs.

The poppy and its milky latex juice have been a potent painkiller for humans since the dawn of civilization. The Sumerians, the world’s oldest and earliest complex civilization, first cultivated and used opium over five thousand years ago.

Since then, science has helped us refine and further narrow down the chemical compound that gives opium its addictive and pleasurable properties that makes opioids addictive. Even as a natural plant product, opium was a dangerous force for addiction. Its history is equal parts good and bad, as a revolutionary tool in medicine and a catalyst in wars, conflicts and cultural crises like the Opium Wars.

The Silk Road expanded the distribution of opium to the rest of the world’s empires, kingdoms and civilizations – as it has done even recently. And ever since, opium and its derivatives have been used to kill pain, and dull the senses. How exactly the drug achieves this is part of how all addictions begin – by entering the bloodstream, and interacting with special receptors in the cells of your central nervous system that makes opioids addictive.


How Addiction Works

Addiction has several mechanisms, and it’s hard to pinpoint one mechanism as being the sole reason for a person’s condition. While neurological changes are always present, they’re not only the result of foreign substances. Behaviors, such as gambling and gaming, can illicit an addictive response. Emotions play a part in how addiction develops as well. But for the most part, addiction is related to the brain, and how we perceive pleasure.

So, in a way, addiction is a flaw in how we think and feel, one that can be exploited through our reward system. Drugs like opioids are especially effective at exploiting this system. The chemicals in opium products enter the bloodstream and make their way to the brain, where they bind with proteins called opioid receptors. The receptors induce a feeling of euphoria. While doing so, they severely dull pain. The appeal is obvious – but beyond that appeal, the brain can very quickly develop a reaction to opioids.

Opioids’ painkilling effects aren’t solely to blame for their addictiveness. Acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol, isn’t addictive – but it blocks pain. The same goes for ibuprofen (Advil). There’s more to it in an opioid.


The Science Of What Makes Opioids Addictive

Opioids are addictive because they exploit the brain’s reward system. We’re complex creatures, but in many ways, we’re also quite simple. We seek pleasure, through things like sex, food, and even attention. These things trigger the release of dopamine in our brain, and make us happy. This creates a cycle that incentivizes us to keep looking for ways to pursue the things that make us happy. Though part of what makes opioids addictive, that’s not quite enough to create an addiction. Most people like sex, and donuts, and hugs from their loved ones. But most people aren’t addicted to these things.

Drugs like opioids also create a system of tolerance and withdrawal. Because the euphoria triggered by opioids is not part of the brain’s natural reward response, your cells develop a tolerance to the drug. However, the memory of the pleasure of those first few hits remains, and it drives you to take a higher dosage. Stopping, on the other hand, triggers withdrawal, which is an adverse reaction to a lack of opioids in the system caused by your body “normalizing” your usage of opioids.

Withdrawal can be painful, and both physiologically and psychologically difficult to deal with. But tolerance also puts your addiction on a timer, increasing the dangers you might go through to find more opioids, and increasing the risk of an overdose death.

What makes opioids addictive is because they’re extremely potent. Drugs like heroin and fentanyl are very, very addictive, and very, very deadly. They’re also a natural step in progression for someone addicted to prescription opioids, like oxycodone, which is less potent than heroin.


America’s Opioid Problem

The growth of opioids as a problem in America originated in a combined effort from many healthcare organizations to combat chronic pain through an increased prescription and sale of powerful controlled painkillers. This over-prescription led to America being the world’s biggest consumers of opioids – and it led to an excess of nonmedical use, and the beginning of a new wave of opioid addiction cases and overdoses.

Today, the problem has evolved beyond prescription drugs. Due to stricter regulations, these are harder to find than heroin, which has recently become more popular throughout our 50 states.

Fighting a heroin addiction is famously difficult – but not impossible. There are several misconceptions around heroin, including the idea that it’s so potently addictive that a single hit is enough to hook someone for life.

Not only is that impossible, but it doesn’t make sense given the medical use of powerful opioids like morphine during surgery or after major physical trauma. However, drugs like heroin are still very potent and there is plenty that makes opioids addictive. That said, there is abundant treatment for heroin addiction, and many people are living proof that treatment works.


Seeking Opioid Treatment

There are medical treatments for opioid addiction, including weaning people off heroin with methadone, or through opioid antagonists. But that’s only part of the solution. Opioid treatment also requires the development of a new lifestyle without the drug – and that means living a better, sober life and with new friends.

Men’s and women’s sober living facilities in Houston are perfect for people who struggle to stay clean initially, making them ideal for former heroin addicts, because of the drug’s relapse levels. However, medical rehab is a better first step due to what makes opioids addictive beyond most other drugs, especially to transition through a painful withdrawal phase.

For those who first got hooked to opioids through a medical need for painkillers, the biggest factor in effective treatment is finding an alternative against the pain. This isn’t easy – but alternatives do exist.


Exploring The Long-Term Health Consequences Of Drug Abuse

Consequences Of Drug Abuse | Transcend TX

In the short term, consequences of drug abuse can pose a serious health risk. There are dangers surrounding illegal drug use that don’t even begin to touch any drug’s long list of possible side effects and medical complications – risks such as arrest, dying due to drug-related violence, or getting into an accident due to intoxication.

Even on the legal side, the consequences of drug abuse can be immediate. Too much alcohol or prescription drugs can easily lead to an overdose and a combination of both speeds up the process. There is no shortage of ways to ruin your life with a drug or two, in the short term.

In the long term, drugs pose a considerable health risk both physically and mentally. They leave scars, scars that can take decades to fix, and in some cases the consequences of drug abuse are irreversible. Exactly what happens and how, depends on the drugs you take, and even how and when you take them. However, it is safe to say that anyone struggling with a bona fide addiction will have found themselves in a situation sure to add some weight and volume to their medical files.


How Drug Use Can Affect the Body

The human body can handle quite a bit of stress and pressure. Physically, our joints are up to the task of helping us move an immeasurable amount of weight over the course of our lifetime. Athletic achievements have helped us push the boundaries of what it means to be human, and we’re continuously testing the limits of how far we can push those lines with science.

We live longer today than ever due to medical advancements, and the longer we live, the more problematic living can become. Dementia and arthritis, hearing problems and failing vision. Yet just like any other machine, the rate at which our bodies break down generally depends on just how much wear and tear any given part has sustained.

Someone who spent their days as a computer engineer staring at CRT monitors for decades is more likely to struggle with ocular health problems than someone who worked as a farmer. On the other hand, they may not have the advanced joint and spine problems that come from years of heavy lifting.

The consequences of drug abuse is a little bit like accelerating that wear and tear process on any given affected part of your body, forcing it to break down and reach an old age faster than the rest of you. Heavy drug use hits the liver hard, forces the heart to struggle, and messes with the integrity and health of your brain. It can damage your lungs, your pancreas, and your kidneys. Drug use can waste your muscles and skin. When you take drugs, you’re ingesting a poison – in some cases, the body actively treats it as a toxin such as in the case of alcohol, and in other cases, it simply wears the body down far more than it is meant to be, causing long term health complications unseen in most people in the same age.


Consequences Of Drug Abuse And Different Drug’s Effects

Drugs are bad for you, but there needs to be a little more context to that statement. A single hit of cocaine will not destroy your liver, or rend your heart to pieces, or make you an addict for life. However, the consequences of drug abuse is made dangerous not only by its health effects but by its health effects coupled with the risk of dependency. Yes, excessive sugar can lead to major health problems including heart disease and obesity – but a sugar addiction cannot hold a candle to alcoholism.

Aside from the constant risk of overdose, here is a quick guide to the consequences of drug abuse to be expected from long term drug use, for several different types of drugs.

Alcohol: Long term alcohol usage causes severe liver cirrhosis and fibrosis, heart damage and high blood pressure, and a collection of cancers. Long term intoxication also affects your immune system, leaving you open to disease.

Stimulants: Overuse of stimulants like cocaine and meth lead to heart damage and a much higher potential of heart disease, due to wear and tear. Cocaine usage (and other stimulants) also elevate your risk of a stroke significantly.

Opioids: Long term usage of opioids such as OxyContin and heroin leads to liver damage, and hypoxia (opioids interfere with your breathing, which is their primary cause of death).

Benzodiazepines: Benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax can cause brain damage when overused. These drugs are minor tranquilizers, essentially interfering with the way the brain works and causing serious potential harm in the way of diminishing cortical function and overall intelligence.

Inhaled Drugs: Stimulants, tobacco and marijuana alike can all cause serious lung damage over time when inhaled, due to the nature of inhaling anything burnt. Crack cocaine is especially dangerous because of this, combined with its incredible addictiveness. Some tobacco and marijuana users have taken to electronic cigarettes for this very reason, although the jury is still out on what the long-term effects of “vaping” may be.

There is no such thing as a healthy drug. If it’s an object of addiction, then there will always be risk involved, no matter what form it takes. Addiction is a terrible disease.


There Is a Healing Process

For every consequence of an addiction, there is a path to healing. The extent to which you’ll heal, however, depends on the damage and your ability to overcome it. Research shows that drug-related brain damage – such as deteriorating faculties due to meth use – can actively be reversed through a better, healthy lifestyle.

Most liver damage can be reversed with time and a little medical intervention – the liver is an extremely hardy organ. Other organs can improve with the right diet and lifestyle, but it will always depend on the damage that has already been done. Some people will always be at a higher risk of certain diseases later in life than others due to their drug use, such as heart disease or cancer.

Beyond the physical, part of overcoming addiction means finding a way to be at peace with the consequences of drug abuse. And with time, you can be.


The Benefits Of Sobriety In Your Life

Benefits Of Sobriety | Transcend Texas

Sobriety isn’t just a blessing – it’s something to earn, and be proud of. There are plenty of reasons to choose the benefits of sobriety over the haziness of addiction, aside from being physically healthier and more likely to keep you living to a ripe old age.

Sobriety isn’t just about not using anymore – it’s about being content with life, and having clarity in life. In this sense, clarity and this feeling of contentment refer to being in a place in your life where you’re happy with the way things are. Before you reach this point, you may still be in the emotionally turbulent area of early recovery. Sometimes, people quit drinking and remain “dry drunks”, struggling with many of the same emotions of anger and cynicism without any of the “benefits” of being drunk.

Obtaining the benefits of sobriety is more than just a matter of time – it takes demanding work. Some people must rededicate themselves to what’s most important in their life, after first discovering what that is. Others must transform themselves in a meaningful way, seeking out a new kind of person within themselves by discovering new things, making new friends and enjoying new experiences. And yet others realize that their life is great without drugs, and all they really needed to do was make amends and resolve old grudges.

If you need any motivation to get you to make the leap towards lasting sobriety, then look no further – here are a few benefits of sobriety that you’re unlikely to ever get while addicted.


The Benefits Of Sobriety – Living Life

The first benefits of sobriety is that you get to enjoy life again – and not just a shell of what it once was, but the fullest definition of life you can imagine. Life is bad and good, up and down, hot and cold. It’s hard and it’s easy, and it’s harder for some and easier for others. But it’s always interesting, different and full of opportunities to meet new people and take entirely new directions towards different paths.

Beating an addiction will free you up to the possibilities of dealing with many other problems in your life. Struggling with a terrible job you despise? Find another one. You don’t have to throw all caution to the wind and go after your dream at the expense of everyone you love, but ignoring the toxic aspects of your life is what led you to addiction in the first place. Sobriety teaches you to remove yourself from these situations, and put yourself and everyone else in a better place.


You’ll Make Better Memories

If there’s anything that addiction does well, it’s addle the brain. Methamphetamine and alcohol are some of the worst culprits – one causes brain damage while the other is prone to causing blackouts and memory loss. For many people struggling with alcoholism, not remembering most nights is normal. To keep up appearances, alcoholics will sometimes try and figure out what it is they might have done by making careful statements and watching subtle cues to figure out what happened.

When you’re sober, you not only remember your nights (and days, and mornings), but you remember them more clearly than ever. You’ll also make better memories; memories of enjoying a night out with friends without copious amounts of alcohol or other substances, and you’ll know exactly where you were the night before instead of waking up in a stranger’s apartment.

When was the last time you went to a social occasion that didn’t involve drinking, at night? When was the last time you took a walk outside and looked over the night sky, and the skyline? When was the last time a day felt like its full 24 hours and not a few hours with sharp cuts and memory loss in-between?

Not everyone struggling with addiction will have severe memory issues, but enough people do – and the differences can be staggering. The benefits of sobriety aren’t just about emotional clarity, but it’ll help you see things more clearly, and remember things as they were.


You’ll Relearn What It Means To Feel

When you’re addicted, it can be hard to feel “the right way.” Addiction not only clouds your judgment and messes around with your sense of pleasure, but it acts as a constant buffer against real emotion. Many people use drugs to deal with powerful and painful thoughts – when you first quit, those thoughts burst out of you like a cracked dam, and the result can be catastrophic at first, then enlightening, and then catastrophic again. Some people experience severe mood imbalances when going through recovery – others just plummet into depression, or maintain a manic disposition.

But once all that is over and the benefits of sobriety fully kick in, you’ll remember what it means to feel again – to feel sadness, joy, anger and all the other emotions at appropriate levels and at appropriate times. Life is meant to be experienced with all aspects of its spectrum, and when you cut out parts of it – such as numbing yourself through the constant artificial pleasures of addiction – the consequences to your sense of emotion are severe. Undoing that damage will give you an entirely new outlook on life – and it can help you fall in love with sobriety even more than ever before.


You’ll Understand What It Means To Cope In A Healthy Way

We all need to find ways to cope with stress – that is a natural part of life, and in many ways, it’s a necessary component of mental healthcare. Today, we need to be upfront with people about the realities of mental health issues and their link to extreme stress, and we need to offer solutions that don’t involve therapy and medicine – specifically, coping strategies that people can use to regulate their stress levels and prevent the onset of severe symptoms and conditions, including addiction.

The first thing you need to do is cut out all the unnecessary sources of stress. This may mean cutting back on work responsibilities, moving someplace quieter, or ending a relationship with a particularly toxic individual. When you have done all, you can in that regard, it’s time to learn to cope with what’s left.

Addiction is a coping mechanism, but it is known as a maladaptive coping mechanism – instead of helping you deal with your problems constructively, it makes them worse. Art on the other hand can be an adaptive coping mechanism – instead of making things worse, it allows you to both relieve stress and adapt to the situation in a way that teaches you to be less stressful. The key with finding a healthy coping mechanism is to find a balance between stress and peace. You need your challenges and difficulties, but you also need to catch a break. Too much of one or the other can lead to mental health problems.

Being sober teaches you to control your stress levels through stress management tips and tools – and this helps you prevent relapses, and further eliminate the need for any drugs in your life.


Celebrities With Addiction Issues

Celebrity Addiction | Transcend Texas

15 Celebrities Who Have Experienced the Challenging Life of Addiction

We tend to believe that celebrities have easy lives, that because they have fame and fortune, why would they turn to drugs to avoid their problems? But sadly, regardless of the success, money, and fame they have, celebrities also find themselves addicted to drugs and alcohol. In fact, sometimes it is because of the success, money, and fame that they drink and use drugs. Perhaps with too much freedom, there are more temptations.

The following is a list of 15 famous actors, singer, and other celebrities who have experienced the challenging life of addiction:

  1. Heath Ledger – Ledger is an Australian actor who died of a prescription drug overdose in 2008. There was a combined toxicity of oxycodone, hydrocodone, doxylamine, and other drugs.
  2. Joan Rivers – She was an American comedian who died because of an overdose to prescription drugs. She was 81 years old and died just last year in 2014.
  3. Philip Seymour Hoffman – He was an actor who died at the age of 46 from a heroin overdose. Although the cause of death has not been confirmed in the media, most speculate that he died because of his heroin addiction. He died last year in 2014.
  4. Michael Jackson – This pop star was well known around the world. He died of a cardiac arrest and acute propofol intoxication because of an addiction to prescription drugs.
  5. Billy Holiday – She is an American jazz singer and songwriter who died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1959. She was 44 years old when she died.
  6. Lenny Bruce – He was an American comedian who died of an accidental drug overdose using illegal drugs, including morphine. He was 40 years old when he died in 1966.
  7. Russell Brand – Brand played a major role in the movie The Guardian. He admitted that he used heroin to neutralize his pain and that eventually he lost power to say no to heroin as his addiction developed.
  8. Steven Tyler – The lead singer of Aerosmith wrote in his autobiography that he was spending over $2000 a week on heroin, cocaine, and alcohol.
  9. Eric Clapton – This famous musician and songwriter was addicted to heroin in the early 1970’s, but with the support of friends he was able to quit in 1974.
  10. Samuel L. Jackson – Jackson is an actor who has played a variety of roles in movies. He admitted to overdosing on heroin two times in his life. He said that it was a bad time in his life and that he was not happy with who he was then.
  11. Corey Feldman – Feldman has been an actor since a young age. Sadly, he was arrested in 1990 for possessing heroin, and later he told a major news magazine that heroin was the only drug that really took him down fast.
  12. Ozzy Osbourne – This American rock star struggled with heroin for many years, and he went in and out of rehab to get sober.
  13. Nicole Richie – This supermodel once admitted that she was using cocaine before the age of 18. Sadly, soon after she got involved with pills and then heroin.
  14. Robert Downy Junior – This American movie star was arrested many times for drug charges, including heroin possession. He got sober and has had a flourishing acting career since.
  15. Angelina Jolie – Jolie is an American actress who admitted on a 60 Minutes TV program that she tried almost every drug out there, including heroin.

Fortunately, some of these celebrities were able to get help and get sober. Like Robert Downey Jr., life after addiction can be successful and meaningful. If you’ve lost your power to drugs and alcohol, seek out addiction help today.


Read HERE about other celebrity addictions

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