When Detox Turns Deadly

Detox, also known as detoxification or withdrawal, occurs when one abruptly stops or reduces heavy, long-term use of alcohol or drugs. Detox happens when toxic substances leave the body over hours, days, or weeks, and may include a variety of non-life-threatening symptoms, such as distress or discomfort. But, sometimes detox can turn deadly.

In the case of opioids, benzodiazapines, and alcohol, detox can cause serious complications and even death. Most people are not aware of the dangers of detoxing off off these addictive substances, nor the importance of seeking medical care during the withdrawal process. Here are the facts:

Continue reading “When Detox Turns Deadly”

Do You Know the Signs & Symptoms of Substance Use Disorder?

The term “substance use disorder” is frequently used to describe misuse, dependence, and addiction to alcohol and/or legal or illegal drugs. While the substances may vary, the signs and symptoms of a substance use disorder are the same. Do you know what they are?

First a few definitions: Signs are the outwardly observable behaviors or consequences related to the use of the substance. Symptoms are the personal, subjective experiences related to the use of the substance. A substance use disorder (or SUD) is a clustering of two or more signs and symptoms related to the use of a substance.

The Recovery Research Institute recently published the signs and symptoms of SUD cited by the American Psychiatric Association. These include:

  1. Problems controlling alcohol use, drinking larger amounts, at higher frequency, or for longer than one intended.
  2. Problems controlling alcohol use despite:
    • The desire to cut-down or quit
    • The knowledge that continued alcohol use is causing problems such as:
      • Persistent or reoccurring physical or psychological problems
      • Persistent or reoccurring interpersonal problems or harm to relationships
      • The inability to carry out major obligations at home, work, or school
  3. The development of:
    • Cravings: A powerful & strong psychological desire to consume alcohol or engage in an activity; a symptom of the abnormal brain adaptions (neuroadaptations) that result from addiction. The brain becomes accustomed to the presence of a substance, which when absent, produces a manifest psychological desire to obtain and consume it.
    • Tolerance: A normal neurobiological adaptation process characterized by the brain’s attempt to accommodate abnormally high exposure to alcohol. Tolerance results in a need to increase the dosage of alcohol overtime to obtain the same original effect obtained at a lower dose. A state in which alcohol produces a diminishing biological or behavioral response (e.g. an increasingly higher dosage is needed to produce the same euphoric effect experienced initially).
    • Withdrawal symptoms: Physical, cognitive, and affective symptoms that occur after chronic use of alcohol is reduced abruptly or stopped among individuals who have developed tolerance to alcohol.
  4. Alcohol use that leads to risky or physically hazardous situations (e.g. driving under the influence)
  5. Spending large amounts of time obtaining alcohol
  6. Reducing or stopping important social/occupational/recreational activities due to alcohol use

If you or a loved have experienced the signs and symptoms of a substance use disorder, and need help, call The Council on Recovery at 713-942-4100 or contact us online.

Pediatricians Can Do More to Prevent & Reduce Adolescent Substance Use

Adolescent substance use has begun to boil over in many parts of the country. Concerned parents, spurred-on by tragic stories from the opioid epidemic, are desperate to turn down the heat and protect adolescents from harm.

Among the adults searching for answers is one important group who can do more to prevent and reduce adolescent substance use: Primary care physicians and, more specifically, pediatricians.

Pediatricians routinely see patients for annual checkups, often treating the same children from birth to high school graduation. During these regular visits, they have both the opportunity to talk with adolescents and an existing relationship with them that can make conversations about substance use seem natural and easy. As such, adolescents can feel comfortable talking to pediatricians about drinking and drug use because anything they say is just between them and their doctor (unless the patient is in imminent danger).

During such confidential discussions, pediatricians have an invaluable opportunity to give their young patients information about drinking and drug use, and how it can affect their health. A quick chat about the effect of alcohol and drugs on the developing adolescent brain can greatly influence teenage decisions to either abstain or seek help if substance use is an emerging problem. In those cases, pediatricians can immediately refer them any help they need, such as putting them in touch with a mental health professional or treatment provider.

Research shows that these types of conversations between pediatricians and young people are an effective means of reducing substance-use rates. The Council on Recovery strongly supports making it standard practice for pediatricians to discuss substance use with their adolescent patients.

The Council on Recovery provides a wide range prevention and education resources aimed reducing substance use, especially among adolescents and young adults. For more information about The Council’s Prevention & Education Programs , please call 713-942-4100, email education@councilonrecovery.org  or contact us online.

Infographic: 11 Myths About Narcotics Anonymous (NA)

Here are some of the popular misconceptions about NA that contribute to a lack of attention to the organization as a recovery support resource:

The Council on Recovery believes that Twelve-Step programs, patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), play a vital role in the recovery process. We strongly recommend attendance of Twelve-Step meetings to our clients. However, the meetings and groups themselves are entirely autonomous and are not affiliated with The Council beyond our provision of space for them to hold their meetings.

For a complete listing of Twelve-Step meetings held each week at The Council, including Narcotics Anonymous, click here:

If you or a loved one has an alcohol or drug problem, and need help, call The Council on Recovery at 713-942-4100 or contact us online.

E-cig Use Associated with Cardiovascular Disease & Other Medical Conditions

Ever since E-Cigarettes (E-cigs) were first introduced in 2007, their use (also known as “vaping”) has been advertised as a safer alternative to smoking. However, new research by the University of Kansas School of Medicine shows that E-cig use, like smoking, delivers ultra-small aerosol particles which may be associated with cardiovascular disease and other medical problems.

The Study

The study, based on a review from the National Health Interview Surveys, analyzed health outcomes for E-cig users vs. non-E-cig users and smokers vs. non-smokers for a variety of medical conditions. These included myocardial infarction, hypertension, diabetes, depression/anxiety/emotional problems, circulatory problems, and stroke.

The Results

Though E-cig users had a lower mean age than non-E-Cig-users (33 vs. 40), E-cig users still had higher odds of having myocardial infarction (MI) and stroke. Depression/anxiety/emotional problems and circulatory problems also appeared higher in the study. E-cig users had lower odds of having diabetes and there was no significant difference between the two groups on the odds of hypertension.

The Conclusion

As one of the more recent studies on the health effects of E-cig use, this research supports the need greater public awareness about the higher odds of myocardial infarction, stroke, depression/anxiety/emotional problems, and circulatory problems facing those who vape. Both the study’s author and the American College of Cardiology recommend additional research to better establish causation linkage between E-cig use and these serious medical problems.

With a 14-fold increase in sales of E-cigs over the past ten years, the use of and addiction to vaping is rapidly becoming a major public health concern. Read the U.S. Surgeon General’s report about E-cigarette use here.

When combined with the misuse of alcohol or drugs, the consequences of vaping can turn deadly. If you or someone you know needs help, call The Council on Recovery at 713-942-4100 or contact us on-line.

8 Shocking Statistics About Underage Drinking

Whether or not parents and educators want to admit it, underage drinking is rampant. Although the statistics are disturbing, it is imperative for parents to educate themselves on this pressing matter. Often, parents look toward outward signs such as grades, extracurricular activities, and other factors as reassurance their children are not partaking in alcohol in their free time. Yet recent data from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)  show otherwise:

  • By the age of 15 approximately 33% of teens had at least one drink and by age of 18 the number jumps to 60%
  • Even though the legal drinking age is 21, individuals from the age of 12 to 20 account for 11% of all alcohol consumed in the U.S. and, more shocking, 90% is consumed through binge drinking
  • 3 million teens stated they indulged in binge drinking on five or more days and occasions over the past month
  • 8% of youth drove after consuming alcohol and 20% rode with a driver who had consumed alcohol
  • Teens who drink alcohol are more likely to experience issues at school, including failing grades and higher absence rates, and these teens may also abuse other drugs and experience memory problems
  • Excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,300 deaths per year among underage drinkers
  • Alcohol use during the teenage years can interfere with normal adolescent brain development and can also contribute to grave consequences due to impaired judgment, such as sexual assaults, injuries, and death
  • Individuals who began drinking before the age of 15 are more apt to abuse alcohol or develop alcohol dependence later in life than those who abstained from drinking until the age of 21

Awareness and understanding of the causes of underage drinking is the first step in prevention. Warning signs of underage drinking include, but are not limited to: Changes in mood (i.e. anger, irritability), problems concentrating or remembering, changing of friend groups, rebelliousness, less interest in self-care or activities, and academic or behavioral issues in school. Through education, parents and teachers can gain knowledge, discuss this issue with their youth, and in turn possibly prevent underage drinking.

If you or a loved one has an alcohol or drug problem, and need help, call The Council on Recovery at 713-942-4100 or contact us online.