7 Reasons Why People in Early Recovery Relapse

The disease of addiction can happen to anyone under a number of different circumstances. For some, the precursor to addiction involves abusing medication prescribed for legitimate conditions, rendering the medicine less effective as the body becomes increasingly dependent.

Others become curious about recreational substance abuse, which leads them to embark on a journey of increasingly frequent intoxication and the development of physical dependency. No matter how it occurs, alcohol and drug addiction take hold of a person, and it can be difficult for him or her to break free.

Fortunately, individuals in active addiction can overcome the chronic, progressive disease through treatment. Addiction treatment will vary from one person to the next, depending on each individual’s recovery needs, but most addiction treatment programs include counseling and psychotherapy, group sessions, life skills therapy, support groups, and any number of complementary or holistic treatments.

However, although rehabilitation has allowed many to return to sobriety, treatment is not a cure-all for addiction and its many effects. In fact, it’s often said that the real work and effort individuals put into their recovery actually begins after completing a treatment program and returning home.

Early recovery relapse is an ever-present danger, requiring the strength of will and conviction as well as a support network and other essential resources. When relapse occurs, it’s often found to have been preventable with sufficient resources. As such, here are seven common reasons that individuals give when they go through an early recovery relapse.

1. Stress & Anxiety

One of the most common triggers for relapse at any point in recovery is stress. When individuals in recovery experience hardships—difficulties at work, financial trouble, family problems, and so on—they often recall all those times of using alcohol or drugs as a way to cope. Using addictive substances as a coping mechanism for years or even decades can be an incredibly difficult habit to break. As such, an important part of recovery is learning effective, healthy alternatives to substance abuse and ways of dealing with stress and anxiety, such as meditation and other calming techniques.

2. Socializing with Substance Abusers

People in active addiction tend to mostly socialize with other substance abusers. It’s common for those who develop an addiction to stop socializing with their previous, non-addicted friends in favor of individuals they associate with alcohol or drug abuse. In some instances, these new friends can be sources for obtaining substances of choice.

However, after completing an addiction recovery program, it can be difficult to simply cease contact with the individuals that comprise most of one’s social circle. Unfortunately, individuals in early recovery sometimes try to socialize with their old, substance-abusing friends, which puts them in situations where they are tempted to have an early recovery relapse.

3. Complacency in Recovery

There’s a common misconception that completing an addiction treatment program means one has finished recovery and is safe from falling back into the throes of addiction. The pretense of this misconception is that recovery is a task that one starts and finishes like any other task, which can result in complacency after graduating from a treatment program.

Individuals who have become complacent in recovery underestimate many risks and fail to keep up with their continued recovery, becoming increasingly absent at support groups and psychotherapy. As such, it’s important for individuals to remain aware that they must put ongoing effort into recovery to continue their success.

4. Becoming Extremely Tired or Overworked

When in active addiction, exhaustion is a common trigger for substance abuse, much like feelings of stress and anxiety. In recovery, feeling tired and overworked often remains a trigger, putting individuals at risk for relapse. Much like children, being extremely tired can make people emotional and impulsive, prone to making poor or regrettable decisions. It’s important for those in recovery not to overwork themselves or push themselves too far, especially to the point where they feel fatigue.

5. Boredom

Much like the saying goes, idle hands can sometimes be prone to poor decisions. In fact, substance abuse often starts as merely something to do and a way to kill time while blowing off steam. When people in addiction recovery regain their sobriety, feeling bored can evoke memories of the times when they’d alleviate their boredom with alcohol or drug intoxication.

As such, individuals in early recovery should pursue interests and develop hobbies outside the realm of substance abuse, allowing them to occupy their downtime with enjoyable pursuits that aren’t harmful to themselves or others.

6. Holidays

To an addicted person, there’s never a bad time for substance abuse. Individuals who have alcohol or drug dependency often abuse mind-altering substances during times of celebration: birthdays, Christmas, Independence Day, anniversaries, and many other occasions. Unfortunately, many individuals begin to associate celebration with intoxication during active addiction, which can be a difficult association to break.

As such, remaining sober during the holidays can be difficult for those in early recovery, especially since these individuals have likely not experienced sobriety during a holiday gathering in some years. However, having someone else who is sober attend holidays gathering with the individual in early recovery has proven to be especially helpful. Those in early recovery must simply learn, or relearn, that one mustn’t be intoxicated to celebrate.

7. Isolation

Similar to how boredom can lead to early recovery relapse, being isolated and lonely can make individuals susceptible to relapse as well. Feeling isolated can make individuals feel like they don’t matter or that nobody cares about them. Connecting with others can be an important part of maintaining sobriety. In fact, developing a support network is considered an essential part of lasting recovery. When feeling isolated, individuals in early recovery should contact a sponsor or loved one or perhaps attend a support group meeting to refrain from relapsing.

Help Avoid Early Relapse with Arete Recovery

Relapse is an ongoing risk when in early recovery. However, it’s a risk that can be prevented in many effective ways. If you or someone you love is battling with addiction and would like to explore recovery options, Arete Recovery can help you today. Call us now at 855-781-9939 or connect with us online to speak with one of our recovery specialists who can match you or your loved one to the right treatments to return to a life of health, sobriety, and fulfillment.

 

What You Should Know About Benzo Detox

Benzodiazepines, known as “benzos” for short, are medications that depress the body’s central nervous system. Commonly known as sedatives or tranquilizers, they are prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and even severe withdrawal. Occasionally, benzos may be used as an anesthetic before surgery as well.

The benzodiazepine class of drugs includes:

  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • Halcion (triazolam)
  • Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
  • Oxazepam (sold under the brand name Serax)
  • Valium (diazepam)
  • Xanax (alprazolam)

This list is not exhaustive, as about 2,000 benzos have been produced, but only about 15 have been FDA-approved, according to WebMD.

Benzodiazepines enhance the functioning of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is how this type of drug gets its sedative, hypnotic, anticonvulsant, anxiolytic, and muscle relaxant properties. Benzos can be either short-acting, intermediate, or long-acting, making them a flexible type of medication for different treatment conditions.

Handle With Extreme Care

Despite their therapeutic use, benzos are dangerous drugs and should be handled with care. Benzodiazepine addiction is a cause for concern. Data show that benzodiazepine prescriptions have increased considerably in the US, according to an April 2016 study, as well as overdose mortality involving the drugs.

Benzo misuse and abuse is also an issue. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 5 million people age 12 and older in the US had misused benzos in the past year.

Prolonged benzo use can lead to physical and psychological dependence and addiction. This can be the case, whether the user was prescribed the drug by a doctor or abused it recreationally for its sedative effects. The more the drug is taken, the higher the tolerance is for it, and some users’ bodies will adjust to the higher doses.

Once dependence sets in, getting off benzos is difficult. Here are four things to know about the benzo detox and withdrawal process.

Benzo withdrawal can be dangerous

Strong or severe dependence on benzos is not safe. For those who wish to stop their use, be prepared to experience withdrawal symptoms. According to studies of benzo dependence, benzo withdrawal can range from mild-to-severe and can be relatively brief or protracted, depending on factors such as one’s dosage history, the length of time spent taking benzodiazepines, body size and type, medical history, and other characteristics.

Many of the symptoms that emerge during benzodiazepine withdrawal are similar to the symptoms of which the benzos were initially described; benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome can include such symptoms as:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety with or without panic attacks
  • Body aches, pains
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and loss of appetite
  • Dizziness and disorientation
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Hot and/or cold flashes
  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizures

 

In the most severe instances of benzo withdrawal, individuals could potentially experience convulsions, a form of delirium tremens, hallucinations, psychosis, urges to shout to lash out, and suicidal ideations.

Benzo withdrawal rarely causes serious illnesses or death, but these medications can be dangerous and deadly if taken with alcohol or other substances. Life-threatening seizures are the biggest risk for people in benzo withdrawal.

Never quit benzos cold turkey

Regular benzo users who want to stop using are strongly advised to a) avoid quitting the drug abruptly, a process known as going cold turkey, and b) seek professional detox treatment to manage withdrawal symptoms.

Serious withdrawal symptoms can include rebound symptoms that made the person take the drug in the first place; those symptoms often return in greater severity, unfortunately.

Detox treatment under the care of licensed health care and mental health care professionals is highly recommended. A monitored withdrawal ensures clients are kept safe and comfortable and that their needs will be met throughout the process.

Tapering has helped some recovering benzo users

For those with a severe benzo dependency, medical personnel might choose to gradually and slowly wean them off the drug, a process called tapering, rather than abruptly cease one’s dosage as part of one’s benzo detoxification treatment.

Although it often takes longer than simply stopping the dosage, tapering allows one’s body to slowly adjust to the gradual decrease and elimination of benzodiazepines from the body without pushing recovering benzo users into immediate, severe withdrawal symptoms that could risk or even threaten their lives.

There are different kinds of tapering methods, and the length of the process may depend on how long the drug has been taken and whether the drug is short-acting, such as Xanax, or long-acting, such as clonazepam (Klonopin). Consult with your health professional to find the one that is right for you or your loved one.

It can take years to work through benzo withdrawal

Some people who have experienced benzo withdrawal say there is nothing quick about it. It depends on the person, but post-acute withdrawal (PAWS) symptoms, which are the emotional and psychological symptoms some recovering users experience after withdrawing from a substance for a prolonged time, can last for years.

Some of these PAWS benzo symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Energy changes
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Sleep disturbances

Get enough rest and pay attention to your diet during this time because some foods can trigger withdrawal symptoms or make them worse. These foods include alcohol, artificial sugars, and caffeine, among others. Professional support, as well as support from friends and family, can help recovering benzo users as they manage these symptoms.

Call Arete and Start Your Recovery

To ensure safety and minimize discomfort, it’s important for people with benzodiazepine dependence or addiction to complete a benzo detox under the care of medical professionals. If you or someone you know is suffering from benzo addiction, call Arete Recovery at 855-781-9959 for a free consultation and assessment. We can walk you through your treatment options and help you start your recovery today.

How Prescription Painkiller Addiction Affects Pregnancy

Over the past 15 years, the United States has seen an increase in pregnant women addicted to painkillers. A recent study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the first of its kind, revealed the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic on families across the U.S., including on the very youngest and most vulnerable. Another point that was mentioned in the study is that untreated opioid use disorder during pregnancy can lead to heartbreaking results.

Opioid use among pregnant women represents a significant public health concern due to the overwhelming negative consequences that can occur. In 1999, the rate of women arriving at hospitals to deliver babies with an opioid disorder was 1.5 per 1,000 per deliveries, and that number rose sharply to 6.5 in 2014.

This largely is in part due to the overprescribing of opioids over the past several years. In an effort to curb this very serious epidemic, doctors have been prescribing fewer painkillers with the hopes of slowing this problem down. As of today, however, more than 115 people in the United States die from an opioid overdose every single day.

One of the issues is that even with the reduction in prescriptions, those already addicted are passing this on to their newborn children. When children are born to addicted mothers, not only do they have to fight a battle of withdrawal as infants but they risk medical problems for the rest of their lives as well as a potential drug problem of their own later on in life.

What are Prescription Opioids?

There are a variety of prescription opioid painkillers ranging from codeine to morphine. Each serves the primary purpose of controlling pain. These could be prescribed by your health care provider after you’ve suffered an injury, after a surgery, or if you’ve had dental work done. There are several types of prescription opioids including:

  • Buprenorphine
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone
  • Hydromorphone
  • Meperidine
  • Methadone
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone
  • Oxymorphone
  • Tramadol

The specific type prescribed is decided by the type of injury or the severity of the surgery. This is left at the doctor’s discretion in order to help alleviate the pain and symptoms. The problem though is that even after injury, individuals will exaggerate the symptoms in order to be prescribed these medications. There have also been reports that some doctors who accept perks from companies that make opioids are more likely to prescribe them. This will only continue to exacerbate an already lethal problem.

What Makes Opioids Dangerous during Pregnancy

According to the Mayo Clinic, opioids used during pregnancy might cross the placenta and enter the baby’s central nervous system. With that said, while occasional use isn’t linked to major concerns, it is still something that could affect the child. With more extensive use, the pregnant woman faces passing on what is called a Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), which is a group of conditions caused when a baby goes through withdrawal from drugs they are exposed to in the womb before birth. This is commonly caused during pregnancy and addiction to painkillers. There are many complications that can be attributed to prolonged opioid use in conjunction with pregnancy such as:

  • Placental problems, including placental abruption and placental insufficiency
  • Premature rupture of membranes
  • Preterm labor and premature birth
  • Fetal growth restriction
  • Preeclampsia
  • Miscarriage or fetal death
  • Postpartum heavy bleeding
  • Inflammation of the fetal membranes

Because of these risk factors, adverse and uncomfortable symptoms can be passed onto the baby after birth. The use of prescription painkillers can cause the same effects on the baby that the mother experiences. With extended use, the baby, like the mother, will develop a tolerance to the drugs. Once the baby is delivered, they will immediately go through painful withdrawal symptoms that can range from:

  • Tremors
  • Jitteriness
  • Diarrhea
  • Uncoordinated sucking reflexes leading to poor feeding
  • Irritability
  • High-pitched cry
  • Poor sleep
  • Seizures

Withdrawal in babies can last an entire month before symptoms start to subside. This can result in a lengthy hospital stay for the baby. Babies that experience NAS will also exhibit symptoms such as low birth weights and respiratory problems.

Infants born with NAS typically need treatment with anticonvulsants such as phenobarbital, or opioids like morphine to reduce the probability of seizures and ease withdrawal symptoms. In more extreme cases, birth defects of the heart, brain, and/or spine have been reported. There are also reports of problems in utero that don’t allow a baby to ever grow to its intended size.

With all of the symptoms mentioned, the National Institute on Drug Abuse points out that these cases are more prominent in lower-income communities.

Suddenly Quitting Prescription Painkillers While Pregnant

Expectant mothers don’t always intend to get pregnant—some want to take the proper steps to quit and ensure the safety of their baby. So the question is: it safe to suddenly quit prescription painkillers during pregnancy? The answer is no. While the intentions are for the baby are good, there are recommended procedures set in place to aid in the detox process. Quitting cold turkey could have catastrophic consequences for the baby including:

    • Placental abruption: This is an uncommon yet serious complication of pregnancy. Placental abruption occurs when the placenta partially or completely separates from the inner wall of the uterus before delivery. This can decrease or block the baby’s supply of oxygen and nutrients and cause heavy bleeding in the mother. It often happens suddenly, and left untreated can endanger both the mother and baby.
    • Premature birth: A premature birth is a birth that takes place more than three weeks before the baby’s estimated due date. In other words, a premature birth is one that occurs before the start of the 37th week of pregnancy.
    • Growth Problems: Babies born to mothers with an addiction to painkillers during pregnancy have been noted as not growing to their full potential beginning in utero. 
    • Stillbirth: Stillbirth is the death of a baby in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Breastfeeding & Opioid Use

After giving birth, one of the most beautiful acts of bonding in nature is the ability to nurture a child that you created, but it may not be the best choice. It has been said if the baby was born with NAS, breastfeeding may help make the withdrawals less severe, requiring less medicine and a quicker hospital exit.

However, if you must return to opioid use after pregnancy to manage chronic pain, know that some opioids can cause life-threatening problems for the baby through breastfeeding. Make sure that you speak with a medical professional for instructions on whether or not you should continue breastfeeding. Consider an alternative if using any of these medications:

  • Codeine
  • Hydrocodone
  • Meperidine
  • Oxycodone
  • Tramadol

These can cause adverse side effects in the baby, and it is recommended that pain relievers such as Advil or Tylenol be used as an alternative during breastfeeding.

Opioid Statistics

  • Roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them
  • Between 8 and 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder
  • About 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids
  • The Midwestern region saw opioid overdoses increase 70 percent from July 2016 through September 2017
  • Opioid overdoses in large cities increased by 54 percent in 16 states

Recovery From Addiction to Prescription Painkillers

The addiction specialists at Arete Recovery understand opioid addiction recovery and how frightening withdrawal can be. We view detox as a critical part of recovery from substance abuse and addiction, so we want to equip you with the resources you need to quit using opioids while protecting the life you carry.

Call us today at 855-781-9939 or contact us online to begin your life to sobriety. Our addiction professionals will provide you with a free assessment and consultation. We’ll also connect you to the treatment that you need to get started on the road to recovery today.

5 Dangers of Using Diet Pills & Stimulants for Weight Loss

While many dietary supplements are essentially harmless to your overall health while promoting weight loss or curbing your appetite, it’s still important to stay informed about the diet pills you choose to take and the risks and side effects they can carry.

New weight loss medications are popping up every day, with many getting banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nearly just as quickly due to the dangerous and potentially fatal effects they can have on people who use them.

This is doubly important when it comes to taking stimulants, as many people will use drugs like Adderall for their unintended or “off-label” weight loss effects. While Adderall may sometimes be prescribed by a doctor for off-label use, it is still easy to accidentally abuse and could lead to using other, illicit drugs with similar effects, such as cocaine.

Before choosing to use stimulants or diet pills to supplement your weight loss, make sure you know the possible dangers that come with them so you can avoid taking any unnecessary risks and lose weight safely.

1. Serious Heart Problems

Many weight loss medications claim to increase your metabolism, reduce your appetite, and give you more energy. However, there are some that do so through the use of stimulants. Some may use amphetamines, while others will have a combination of caffeine, guarana, or other amphetamine-derived ingredients.

These stimulants cause a sharp increase in your blood pressure and heart rate, which can lead to conditions such as tachycardia, or, if you already have a heart condition, can make it worse and put you in danger of severe cardiovascular problems.

Misusing or abusing these pills can lead to:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Rapid breathing
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Seizures

Before being banned by the FDA in 2004, many diet supplements contained ephedra, an herbal stimulant that was deemed too dangerous, as its use resulted in heart attacks, stroke, and even death. Despite this, some diet pills will illegally use ephedra, which is why it is crucial that you buy any weight loss medications from a legal and reputable source.

2. Digestive Issues

While the aim of taking diet pills is, of course, to shed pounds, they can unfortunately also cause uncomfortable and sometimes severe gastrointestinal problems. The problem is that many diet pills work by blocking or reducing fat absorption in your body, which changes your digestive process can cause a wide range of side effects, from mild to severe:

  • Increase in gas
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Anal leakage
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting

In order to avoid these side effects as much as possible, make sure to monitor your dosage levels carefully, never take more than what is prescribed or recommended, and avoid greasy or overly fatty foods, as these will usually agitate these symptoms. Since you’re trying to lose weight, you ought to be staying away from those foods anyway!

3. Increased Anxiety and Other Mental Health Issues

While it may be surprising to learn, diet pills and stimulants can affect more than just your body. Many of them can also have a strong negative impact on your emotional state and mental wellbeing.

The stimulants in certain weight loss pills as well as in amphetamines like Adderall can cause agitation and irritability, mood swings, and nervousness. Amphetamine-derived drugs, in particular, carry an increased chance of extreme feelings of anxiety and paranoia if they are misused.

Another thing that you should always keep in mind when taking any supplements or medications is how they will interact with any mental health disorders you may have. If you already have a history of anxiety or depression, regular use of diet pills can worsen the symptoms they cause, leading to panic attacks or suicidal thoughts.

We all want to be our healthiest selves and that includes mental health as well as physical. While diet pills and certain stimulants can help you attain your ideal body, it shouldn’t come at the cost of your mental and emotional wellbeing.

4. Insomnia

As previously mentioned, the stimulants in some diet pills will give you more energy and increase metabolism. Depending on the amount you’re taking and your sensitivity to stimulants, this heightened level of energy can feel like drinking an excessive amount of coffee or energy drinks, which makes sense since they contain many of the same ingredients.

With that in mind, it’s easy to see why sleep-related problems are a common side effect of weight loss medications. The increased energy and elevated heart rate can lead to restless sleep and bouts of insomnia.

The potential side effects of anxiety, paranoia, and nervous thoughts also contribute toward keeping you up at night and unable to relax enough to fall asleep. This sleeplessness is not only frustrating but also causes:

  • Significant daytime grogginess (which can be very dangerous when driving or performing other activities that require concentration to be safe)
  • Feelings of depression and irritability
  • Increase in appetite
  • A desire for more pills or stimulants to perk you back up

The problem with taking more stimulants, whether it’s more pills or just more coffee, is that it will usually only make your insomnia worse. Many people will instead turn to sleep aids to counteract these effects, like Lunesta or Ambien.

Using more drugs to manage the effects of other drugs is a slippery slope that can very easily lead to the abuse of multiple substances as you try to juggle your drug use and cancel outside effects.

5. Addiction

This is mainly a concern for amphetamines, with more people turning to traditional ADHD medications like Adderall for its secondary weight loss effects, and typically at higher doses than someone who has been prescribed Adderall for ADHD. However, even taking Adderall at the prescribed dosage carries a risk of psychological and physical dependency and, as the FDA states, has a high potential for abuse.

Apart from Adderall, many diet pills also contain or are derived from amphetamines and come with strict guidelines for small doses and short-term use. Regular long-term misuse means not just becoming dependent on the drug, but also developing a tolerance, which means that you start needing more of it to achieve the same effects as before. This opens up even greater risks for developing all of the symptoms and side effects listed above.

People who have become addicted to diet pills or stimulants and grown tolerant to their effects are also more likely to seek out stronger, illicit stimulants like cocaine or methamphetamines, the use of which carry far more deadly consequences.

Do You Need Help?

A large part of being healthy is being informed about what you put into your body, not just when it comes to food but also the supplements and pills you might take to help lose weight. Knowing the dangers involved in taking certain diet pills and stimulants means being able to make smart decisions and keep your body safe as well as healthy.

Call Arete Recovery at 855-781-9939 to connect with a caring and educated addiction specialist who will point you toward the right treatment for you or your loved one. Call now or contact us online to get on the path to recovery!