Posts tagged "depressants"

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Damien’s Story of Alcoholism, Madness and Recovery

March 12th, 2019 Posted by Blog, Featured Alums, Treatment 0 comments on “Damien’s Story of Alcoholism, Madness and Recovery”

The day that Damien arrived at Serenity Springs, he was near rock bottom and looking for any kind of answer to get his life back on track. Today, after a long road back, Damien is approaching a year and a half of sobriety from drugs and alcohol. He is an alumnus of Serenity Springs, where he was able to find healing in the mind, body and spirit.

Drinking & Struggling Became Alcoholism & Madness

Damien’s journey through addiction was a slow progression. It started in high school at the age of seventeen, when he was a member of the party-goer crowd. At that time, his family didn’t recognize himself as having an addiction.

“They didn’t notice until I was about 20 because I was just drinking like everyone else.”

Then Damien started to realize he was going harder and longer than most of his friends. He recalls being the last one to stop drinking, to the point where he passed out. This alcoholic behavior became daily alcohol abuse or alcoholism. It was in 2010 that Damien went to recovery for the first time, but it was seven more years of struggling before he found a real, long term answer in Serenity Springs. There was no fear of detox or treatment itself.

“I did it not because I wanted to but because I thought I would get in trouble otherwise.”

He described his alcoholism as having evolved to a level of madness. His only friends at the time were those who were involved in it as well. He saw that he had gone down a dangerous path, but like many struggling with addiction, it took a true breaking point to bring him to truly open his eyes. For Damien, that moment came one night watching his mother.

“I had moved back into my Mom’s house at age 40. I saw her praying on her knees at 2 A.M. and I had the feeling she was praying for me”

Serenity Springs Solution

When asked what he liked most about Serenity Springs, Damien referred to his introduction to Alcoholics Anonymous as one of the most valuable benefits he gained from his time here.

“Serenity Springs offered me a real solution to my problem, which I came to find out was actually me.”

This was something he had not been able to find in past recovery attempts a step-by-step roadmap to real recovery and a long term solution. However, it was not all easy breezy during his time at Serenity Springs. The road to recovery can often have roadblocks and setbacks to overcome. The initial challenge for Damien was realizing the truth of his situation.

“Admitting I was an alcoholic was the hardest part about Serenity and the recovery process… because I had to finally start accepting it.”

After leaving Serenity Springs in November of 2017, Damien was somewhat reluctant to participate in Serenity’s Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). Today, he realizes that it helped him out during his transition from rehab to the real world. Our IOP program has a unique approach. We provide services such as acupuncture and yoga while continuing to focus on the idea of healing mind, body, and spirit (three-part disease of addiction). It was in this program that Damien continued to work through things that he found most difficult during recovery.

“It was hard training myself to stop doing what I was taught before recovery. I felt weird when I was doing things in recovery like I was wrong.”

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Freedom from the Chains of Addiction

Today, Damien is living in Daytona Beach and enjoying his new life of sobriety and freedom from the chains of addiction. As an alumnus, he is always trying to give back what Serenity Springs gave to his life. When asked what the most rewarding part of his recovery, Damien explained that he now has an understanding of what peace of mind really means. Sobriety has allowed him to find and keep relationships that are not centered around alcohol or other negative influences. Like many of our alumni, Damien has a desire to help others that feel the hopelessness that he once knew too well. Serenity gave him a way out, a viable and lasting solution. If Damien could quickly describe what he has been doing after his time here at Serenity Springssimple-living.

Damien says he has continued to employ the habits and techniques he learned while he was there that have allowed him to remain sober and happy.

“I focus on prayer and meditation, as well as regularly attending meetings to keep myself on track.”

Serenity taught him viable alternatives to alcohol when feeling the urge, including a reliance on God and being open with others about his struggle. Unlike many recovery centers, Serenity goes beyond just helping one heal physically and get away from the addiction. Our recovery plan also focuses on the mind and spirit, because believe recovery must be all-encompassing to truly break free from it.

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How Drugs Affect the Brain: Stimulants & Depressants

October 17th, 2018 Posted by Blog 0 comments on “How Drugs Affect the Brain: Stimulants & Depressants”

The science of addiction spans across multiple areas of the body. When we explore how drugs affect the brain, we have to consider the various types of substances people abuse and how each of them impacts different areas of the brain and central nervous system. Understanding the effects of drugs on the brain and health can put addiction into perspective and encourage people to re-evaluate their choice to use.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly 28 million Americans over the age of 12 used illicit drugs in 2016. Approximately one in 10 of those individuals had used illicit drugs in the past month.

With so many people around the country using drugs, it’s important to understand how they affect our health and ability to make the right choices for our own well-being. Just because a drug is legalized, for example, doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

The Different Types of Drugs and Their Effects

No two drugs are the same. Before we cover the different ways drugs affect the brain, we must define the different types of drugs people use. Here is an overview:

Depressants

how drugs affect the brain

Often called “downers,” depressants suppress brain function, inhibit communication, and leave people feeling relaxed. Popular depressant drugs include alcohol, barbiturates like Amytal, and benzodiazepines like Xanax.

Depressants sedate and slow down the central nervous system, leading to feelings of drowsiness and tranquility. Many people who abuse depressants were originally prescribed a sleep aid, sedative, or antipsychotic drug but ended up developing substance use disorder (SUD). Although their medication was prescribed by a doctor, people with SUD develop a tolerance for a drug and require higher quantities to achieve the desired effects.

Over time, the dependence on the medication leads to issues at work or school and negatively impacts personal relationships. The calming sensation brought on by depressants alleviates many of the symptoms of anxiety and depression, so people become addicted to the sleepy, dream-like state. Many people who have been prescribed a depressant are shocked to find themselves requiring treatment for drug addiction later on.

Stimulants

ADHD medications like Adderall and Ritalin are often abused by people who want the hyper-focused concentration and attention levels that come from abusing stimulants. Other drugs like crack cocaine, methamphetamine (crystal meth), and MDMA trigger a “rush” of energy and euphoria that makes people feel more alert, attentive, and sensitive to their environment.

Many college students abuse stimulants to help them study and meet important deadlines. Non-prescriptive use of stimulants can lead to chemical imbalances that result in depression, insomnia, and even seizures and heart failure.

Psychoactive Drugs

Drugs that change a user’s perspective of reality are called hallucinogens. When people go on a “trip,” they are prone to seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there. Common types of hallucinogenic drugs are:

  • LSD
  • Mushrooms
  • Ecstasy
  • Marijuana (in high doses)
  • Mescaline

Hallucinogens are dangerous and unpredictable. The mood, setting, and emotions of a user will impact their experience, and it’s not uncommon for people to have a “bad trip” that leaves them feeling paranoid, panicked, anxious, or out of touch with reality. People on a trip are less likely to understand the consequences of an action and take risks that can endanger their lives and others.

Narcotics

The list of medicinal or prescription drugs that are often taken for non-health-related purposes includes narcotics. A few of the most frequently abused narcotics are heroin, opium, codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, and morphine.

In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared opioid abuse a national health emergency. According to the HHS, 11.4 million people abuse prescription drugs, and an estimated 2.1 million have an opioid use disorder.

Prescription drug abuse is only second to marijuana use in the United States. The rise of addiction must be addressed by providing greater resources, information, and services to people who find themselves struggling with SUD.

Areas of the Brain Affected by Drugs

There are three areas of the brain most affected by substance use: the cerebral cortex, the brain stem, and the limbic system. The cerebral cortex is the main operating center of the brain. It is divided into areas that support unique functions and control our senses as well as our ability to think clearly and solve problems. The cerebrum is the part of the brain that houses the cerebral cortex and limbic system. It makes up 85 percent of the brain’s weight.

The brain stem controls our most innate functions, including our breathing and heart rate. The brain stem also regulates sleeping patterns. In addition, it connects our brain to other parts of the body. When people are high on drugs, many of the physical side-effects, such as a rapid or slowed heart rate, respiratory changes, and issues with balance and coordination, originate in the brain stem.

The limbic system houses the brain’s reward center. Multiple structures in the limbic system work together and help people experience pleasure. Positive and negative emotions are also regulated in the limbic system. A chemical imbalance brought on by drug use can result in unexpected and unpredictable mood swings and lead to worsening mental health issues.

Many drugs trigger the internal reward system and create feelings of overwhelming pleasure and euphoria. Over time, however, overuse causes the reward system to weaken. People develop drug dependencies and have to take higher doses of a drug to feel the same effects.

How Depressants Affect the Brain

Depressants affect people mentally and physically by repressing the central nervous system (CNS). When someone takes a depressant, they usually want to achieve a drowsy, relaxed effect. Depressants speed up the movement of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

GABA blocks certain impulses between nerve cells and the brain. People who have taken a depressant will experience reduced brain function, fatigue, lower blood pressure, slurred speech, slower pulse and breathing, and general sluggishness and lack of coordination.

In high doses, depressants can cause people to fall unconscious into a coma. A high enough dose can slow the breathing and stop the heart. Depressant abuse has also been linked to depression, chronic fatigue, and breathing problems.

How Stimulants Affect the Brain

While depressants slow the brain function down, stimulants speed it up. Enhanced attention, concentration, and greater focus are some of the reasons people begin using stimulants. Stimulants are also the drugs responsible for the rush of euphoria and happiness we think of when we envision a “high.”

As mentioned earlier, stimulants include ADHD medications like Adderall and Ritalin, which are often abused in an academic setting. These substances are also abused by professionals who work in high-stress environments that require ultimate focus.

Other common stimulants include crack cocaine, methamphetamines, and even everyday chemicals like nicotine and caffeine. While a cup of coffee a day won’t likely have negative effects on your health, abusing drugs that overstimulate the brain can ultimately lead to depression and put you in a dangerous position. Stimulants trigger the rewards center in the limbic system and cause the body to be flooded with a rush of dopamine.

Dopamine, often referred to as the “feel-good hormone,” is responsible for humans’ ability to feel pleasure and find enjoyment in things. Prolonged stimulant use results in a dopamine imbalance that leaves people chasing the energized high of being on drugs. Without elevated levels of dopamine in their system, stimulant users are more likely to feel depressed.

How the Brain Gets Addicted to Drugs

Drugs change the way our brains process information. Just like with anything in life, our brain develops certain associations with drugs in our system and learns to only produce certain effects and reactions when specific chemicals are present. Nerve cells no longer send and receive information the same way once drugs have been thrown into the mix. Over time, the natural balance of the brain’s chemistry is affected.

Our own natural needs are diminished as the brain becomes fixated on receiving pleasure. Dopamine levels surge and then plummet after we use drugs that promote this feeling of pleasure in our brains. Over a period of time, the brain adapts to the process and begins to crave the same feeling over and over again.

Some people become addicted to drugs after only a few times while others may use for weeks or months before they develop an addiction. When learning about how drugs affect the brain, it’s important to also understand how long the effects last.

The Brain’s Recovery from Drug Addiction

Drug addiction destroys brain cells. Memory loss, learning difficulties, and emotional problems are often reported by people who are in the midst of recovering from an addiction. Healing the brain after drug use takes a lot of time, but thankfully, it can be done. The brain is a powerful organ that is known for its plasticity.

Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to change and develop over time. Even when parts of the brain are damaged or neural pathways have been destroyed, the brain is capable of functioning on its own while simultaneously repairing the damage. Because so many of the brain’s functions are spread throughout different areas, brain damage from drug addiction can still occur even as other parts of the brain evolve and readapt to perform different jobs.

The first step toward healing the brain from drugs is eliminating them from your system. Drug withdrawal has many mental and physical side-effects that are best handled by a professional. Depending on the severity of an addiction, withdrawal can even be life-threatening, which is why we don’t advise anyone to quit on their own. Having the support and resources you need to deal with substance use disorder is vital in the recovery process.

Addiction isn’t cured overnight, but learning about the recovery process and various treatment options available is the first important step toward getting sober. During the initial detox period, the brain may struggle to regain proper functioning without the help of drugs. However, over time, the brain is able to become strong and healthy on its own, and you will be able to go on and live a life free from the burden of addiction.

Healing Your Brain After Drugs

Research has found that alcoholics who quit drinking were able to grow new brain cells for years. People once believed that brain cells are only developed early in life, but now we know that adults can also grow new brain cells. In fact, they can continue to develop throughout the course of a person’s life even if that person has been addicted to drugs.

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Is Drinking Ruining Your Relationship?

October 1st, 2018 Posted by Blog 0 comments on “Is Drinking Ruining Your Relationship?”

The reasons why people drink alcohol are as varied and numerous as the individuals themselves. Some drink socially while others drink to relieve stress or chronic pain. Regardless of the reason why people drink, it can have an effect on the relationships with those they love. The foundation of any successful relationship is built on love and trust. When relationship problems start, it can be difficult to see the connection between drinking and the relationship difficulties.

If you are wondering if alcohol consumption may be related to the relationship problems in your life, this guide will help you understand the connection better and when it may be time to get help.

 

What is Alcohol Addiction Treatment?

Since the 1930s, the definition of what constitutes an alcohol problem has changed. Models that define alcohol use disorder have grown beyond the number of drinks you have or how often you have them. Now, the definition of alcohol use disorder takes into account how alcohol affects your life. Nearly 14 million Americans are considered to have alcohol use disorder.

The most important thing to understand is that alcohol use disorder occurs along a continuum. For some people, it can mean binge drinking on the weekend but does not have a significant effect on their ability to maintain a job, have a relationship or affect other areas of their life. For others, it can be a significant part of a relationship that is headed for the rocks. The relationship problems only compound a myriad of other issues. In its most serious form, alcohol use disorder can lead to:

  • Financial difficulties
  • Marital conflict
  • Partner violence
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • Jealousy
  • Infidelity
  • Divorce

The emotional scars of a relationship affected by alcohol use disorder can last a lifetime, even long after the relationship has ended. It has an effect on any children in the family too. Many couples fail to recognize the role that alcohol plays in their relationship problems. Alcohol use disorder has its own set of problems, but recognizing its role in a relationship can mean the difference between having a loving support system and additional stress and conflict. Here are some of the signs that alcohol is affecting your relationship.

Forgetting the Relationship

Keeping the connections that we feel for others requires work and does not happen automatically. If you have chosen to drink over spending time with your loved one or keeping promises to them, this is one of the first symptoms that alcohol is affecting your relationship. If you have ever had to cancel plans because you were hung over, or you’ve forgotten a special date or anniversary due to drinking, this is a warning sign that alcohol may have become more important to you.

One of the symptoms of alcoholism is impulsiveness when you drink. If you have ever been out drinking with your buddies and suddenly decided to cancel a date with your significant other, it will have an impact on your relationship. If you promised to be home at a certain time and then don’t come home for hours or all night because you were drinking, this is another sign of an issue. From the other person’s perspective, you are giving them the signal that they are not the top priority in your life anymore.

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Your Activities Have Changed

When alcohol begins to take control of your life, you may lose interest in other activities and things that you used to enjoy. This applies whether you are in a relationship or not, but if you are in a relationship, the other person may wonder why you no longer do the things that once had meaning in your relationship. Alcohol can affect your sex drive, which is another sign that alcohol may be affecting your relationship. Doing things as a couple plays an important role in keeping the spark alive. Love is not a one-time occurrence; doing things that you enjoy together as a couple can build the connection and keep it alive.

Going on dates together and doing things that you enjoy can keep your relationship stable when life’s troubles try to get in the way. If you are missing out on the things that you used to enjoy as a couple, it may be time to consider whether alcohol is playing a role in your relationship troubles.

Personality Changes

This can be a difficult one to spot in yourself. If you become a different person when you drink, it could have a significant impact on your relationship. For instance, if alcohol makes you violent, or perhaps you tend to fling insults at your partner when you drink, it can lead to serious trouble. You may think that what you are doing is all in fun and not having an effect, but these little insults and injuries add up over time and can destroy a relationship.

Your partner may or may not tell you that what you are doing when you drink hurts them, but this doesn’t mean that they are not hurt. Some people feel that they become more sociable and likable when they drink, but not everyone sees it the same way. Your partner may not say it directly, but the way you become when you drink could make them feel uncomfortable to be around you. If your partner has become disinterested in going places with you when you will be drinking, it may be time to consider that this is a sign they do not like who you become when you drink.

Red Flags

If your partner has ever said to you directly that they do not like who you become when you drink, you should take it to heart. Another sign of more serious relationship problems is if you have started hiding your drinking from your partner. If you have ever hidden money that you spent for alcohol or actions that you took while you were drinking, it may be one of the signs that there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

Relationships are built on trust, and the other person needs to be able to trust that you will not do things that could place them in financial jeopardy or make them feel emotionally vulnerable. There are many different elements to building and keeping trust in a relationship. Unfortunately, once this trust has been broken, it can be difficult or impossible to recover.

When to Get Help

If any of these scenarios sound like you, it may be time to take a serious look at how alcohol is affecting your relationships and the other areas of your life. Most people focus on relationships with a spouse or significant other, but alcohol also affects relationships with family and close friends as well. If any of your relationships seem like they are in decline and you cannot seem to figure out the reason, you need to take a serious look at whether alcohol could be the culprit. If this is the case, getting help sooner rather than later is the key to getting your life back on track and repairing damaged relationships.

Can the Relationship Be Saved?

If you have had the realization that alcohol may be ruining your relationship and it is time to get help, the next question you’re probably wondering is whether the relationship can be saved. First, there is no easy answer that will apply to every situation. It can depend on the dynamics of the relationship before alcohol was involved, how long the problem has been going on, how far the problem has progressed and other factors that may affect the ability to recover. The amount of damage that has already been done and the personalities of the two people will be keys to determining whether the relationship can be repaired.

The worst thing that you can do is become involved in the blame game. It is easy to lay the blame on the other person and to see them as the reason for your own actions. This is the road to a failed relationship and must be stopped before it gets started if the relationship is to stand a chance of being saved. Regardless of how it seems, the problems are usually not the result of one person. It takes two to make a relationship, and it takes two to break it.

The only thing that’s certain is that the problems will not get better until the underlying issues are addressed. You will have a better chance of recovering your relationship if your partner sees that you have taken responsibility and are getting help for the problems in your life caused by alcohol. Even if the relationship is too far gone to save, getting help to move on and rebuild a stable life is an important part of the recovery process for both of you.

The Recovery Process

It is important to understand that even if the both of you decide to continue the relationship, you cannot expect to go back to the same relationship you had before the damage occurred. Many times, the best that can happen is to build a new relationship built on communication, trust and new skills that you both learned through the recovery process. Regardless of the outcome, couples therapy, individual therapy and treatment for alcohol use disorder are all a part of the recovery process.

You did not get where you are now overnight, and you cannot expect for all of the problems to simply go away immediately. Recovery and rebuilding relationships will take hard work from the both of you. Repairing relationships is an important part of the recovery process from alcohol use disorder. Having a support network of people that you can trust is a predictor of a successful alcohol abstinence program.

If you feel that alcohol is having an effect on any of your relationships, the most important thing that you can do is call for help and take the first steps in the recovery process. Many people try to do it alone, but alcohol is a harsh taskmaster; there is no reason why you should ever feel that you have to do it alone.

Engaging the help of a professional who understands addiction recovery and how to prevent alcohol from ruining your relationships can help give you insight that will help not only you but also those you care about. If you feel that alcohol is having an effect on your life and relationships, the act of simply reaching out may bring a sense of relief. Talking to someone who has the answers can help you see the path to recovery and taking back your life.

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