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Many people drink alcohol in moderation without experiencing problems. They know their limit and stop when they’ve had enough. They drink in a safe environment at socially appropriate times when it will not get in the way of work or personal obligations.

Moderate alcohol consumption is not considered to be alcohol abuse. The trouble starts when alcohol use interferes with an individual’s ability to live a normal life. Alcohol abuse is essentially defined as drinking too much and too often.

This can be difficult to measure, as alcohol affects people differently depending on their body mass index, age, tolerance level and gender. Generally, moderate drinking is two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women. A single drink is five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or 1.5 ounces of liquor.

Anything over this amount may impair someone’s judgment, memory and coordination to the extent that they cannot perform tasks like making responsible decisions, working or driving.

An individual may be struggling with alcohol abuse if they:

  • spend a lot of time drinking or recovering from alcohol
  • use alcohol regardless of negative effects on their relationships
  • miss obligations like work, school or social functions because of alcohol
  • engage in dangerous behavior while drinking
  • binge drink (four drinks for a woman or five drinks for a man in two hours)
  • continue drinking despite health problems or pregnancy

Alcohol abuse like binge drinking may be socially acceptable in certain groups. This is especially true among teens and young adults. However, there is a thin line between having fun and having a dangerous and unhealthy lifestyle.

Often, alcohol abuse begins as a way to deal with stress. While some people can have a single glass of wine at the end of a long day to relax, others consume much more, and may turn to alcohol any time they feel the slightest stress. Prolonged alcohol abuse can lead to many negative physical and mental consequences, including dependence and addiction.

Questions About Treatment? Call now to be connected with one of our compassionate treatment specialists. (888) 506-7996
The Dangers Of Alcohol Abuse

Dangerous behavior like drunk driving, unsafe sex and aggression that may accompany alcohol abuse can pose a significant risk to the intoxicated individual as well as to those around them.

Long-term alcohol abuse can also harm the body and mind, as alcohol causes dehydration, vitamin deficiencies and may contribute to poor nutrition. Without adequate water and a healthy diet, a person may suffer from dry skin and inflammation, which can lead to other problems like migraines, muscle tension and arthritis.

Cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) often occurs with heavy long-term alcohol consumption. As the liver tries to process so much alcohol, it develops scar tissue. The more scar tissue there is, the harder it is for the liver to function normally.

Alcohol abuse can lead to hypertension (high blood pressure), which is the cause of many heart problems. Excessive alcohol use can also cause an irregular heart rate, heart attacks and congestive heart failure (difficulty pumping blood).

Alcohol poisoning is a serious condition which can occur if someone consumes too much alcohol at once. It can result in slowed breathing, low body temperature, coma and death.

A person may black out if they drink too much and not remember what happened while they were intoxicated. Prolonged alcohol abuse can have long-term effects on the memory as well, and may make it harder for someone to form new memories in the future.

Alcohol causes certain brain chemicals to be more active, and the brain becomes dependent on alcohol to feel good rather than naturally relieving stress. This can result in worsened depression and anxiety, which often causes people to drink more.

Taking other drugs along with alcohol (polysubstance abuse) increases the risk of overdose. Central nervous system depressants like heroin and prescription opioids are very dangerous to mix with alcohol because the combination of substances can cause severe respiratory depression that may be fatal.

With regular drinking over time, the body requires more alcohol to feel the same effects. If a person is consuming alcohol frequently enough to develop a tolerance, they may be at risk of becoming dependent or addicted.

Signs Of Alcohol Dependence

When a person is dependent on alcohol, they experience physical withdrawal if they stop drinking. Symptoms of this uncomfortable process may be shakiness, difficulty sleeping, nausea, sweating, fever, seizures or hallucinations. Alcohol withdrawal can also cause delirium tremens, a condition marked by tremors, anxiety and disorientation.

Once physical dependence develops, the body needs alcohol to function normally. Because of this, the withdrawal process can be dangerous and it is difficult for an individual to go through alone. An individual suffering from alcohol dependence is likely to be addicted to alcohol as well.

Signs Of Alcohol Addiction

Addiction is a chronic mental disease in which a person cannot control their drinking. They consume more alcohol than planned. Even if they want to cut back or stop drinking, they cannot. Their brain craves alcohol to feel good or even to feel normal. They continue drinking despite negative consequences like health problems, job loss and deteriorating relationships.

A person who is struggling with alcohol addiction may put alcohol above anything else in their life. They may act secretive if they are trying to hide the addiction, but often the signs are obvious. Slurred speech, frequent hangovers, financial strain and social isolation can all be signs of alcohol addiction.

Treatment For Alcohol Abuse And Addiction

Most treatment programs for alcohol addiction begin with detoxification to rid the body of alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol dependence may be life-threatening. Medically monitored detox programs keep an eye on someone’s vital signs while they go through withdrawal to ensure their safety.

Once the alcohol is out of someone’s system and withdrawal symptoms are alleviated, the physical desire for alcohol may be manageable. Treatment for addiction is very difficult when the body is telling the individual to consume alcohol. Once the physical dependence is overcome, a person has more control over their mind and can focus on healing.

Inpatient alcohol rehab programs provide a therapeutic community away from everyday life. This can be incredibly beneficial since the home environment often supports alcohol abuse in some way. Inpatient treatment plans may be individualized and combine therapies like art, recreation, nutrition and counseling for a well-balanced approach to recovery.

At Addiction Campuses, we aim to prevent relapse by healing the whole person. To learn more about alcohol abuse, addiction and treatment options, contact one of our specialists today.

Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Alcohol and Public Health
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism — Drinking Levels Defined
U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse

The post The Definition Of Alcohol Abuse appeared first on Addiction Campuses.

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Substance abuse can lead to addiction, or a substance use disorder (SUD), which is defined by compulsive drug use despite harmful consequences. Obesity is a disorder involving too much body fat, or being substantially overweight, and affects nearly a third of all American adults. Both disorders are prevalent diseases associated with social stigma and discrimination.

Researchers and scientists are beginning to understand the relationship between substance abuse and obesity. Both disorders are related to how the brain responds to reward. When people use drugs or alcohol, they temporarily feel good or experience pleasure. The same is true for when people eat food. While each disorder is different, they both affect areas of the brain that make it difficult to stop overeating or abusing drugs or alcohol.

What Is The Relationship Between Obesity And Substance Abuse?

While it’s unclear if obesity leads to substance abuse, or vice versa, there is a complex relationship between the two. Research shows there is a connection between substance abuse and obesity in the following areas:

  • biology and genetics
  • brain functioning
  • environmental/developmental risk factors
  • health risks
  • intense urges and cravings
  • social circumstances
  • poor quality of life
  • social stigma and discrimination

The unfortunate truth about both substance abuse and obesity is the harsh stigma attached to each disorder.

The Stigma Of Obesity And Addiction

Both obesity and addiction are stigmatized and dismissed as disorders of poor self-control. People chalk up these conditions as self-inflicted bad choices. But do people suffering from addiction want to be addicted to drugs or alcohol? Do people with obesity want to be obese?

No one chooses to suffer from these debilitating and life-threatening disorders.

The stigma regarding obesity and addiction ignores one simple fact: to exhibit self-control, certain parts of the brain must be working properly to regulate our behavior. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), compares addiction and obesity to driving a car without brakes. No matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to stop.

Substance Abuse, Obesity, And The Brain

The brain is a complex, machine-like organ that determines everything we do. From behavior to feeling, the brain dictates our every move, thought and action. Brain functioning is similar for obesity and addiction because both disorders increase dopamine in the brain. There are profound similarities in the reward centers of the brain, for example, between an obese individual and an individual addicted to cocaine.

Dopamine is a chemical that signals reward in our brains. Whenever a person uses drugs or eats tasty food, dopamine levels go up. This surge in dopamine also affects other areas of the brain relating to self-control. When suffering from these disorders, the ability to control strong urges relating to food or drugs is compromised.

Our brains are hardwired to respond to rewards, which motivates our behavior and actions. For humans, gaining rewards is an essential function of survival. We eat food to maintain health and energy, and the taste of food is rewarding. Sex is pleasurable, but also produces children and is essential for human survival. Without reward, survival is compromised.

Sugary, Fatty And Salty Foods Are Like Drugs

Food, or the prospect of food, is everywhere. Just seeing a donut or smelling a hamburger causes the brain to predict you will eat a hamburger soon, increasing dopamine levels in anticipation of the reward. Just seeing it, smelling it, or being near it makes you want to eat it.

Once you eat, you feel full and satisfied, and eating more is no longer rewarding.

But, the problem is many of the foods we’re bombarded with don’t create that satiated feeling of fullness and satisfaction. Foods rich in sugar, fat, and salt can trigger compulsive eating in almost any person, and severely mess with the dopamine levels in the brain.

Highly rewarding foods, like many substances of abuse, produce short-lasting and intense feelings of pleasure. This increase in dopamine affects the ability to control strong urges to eat tasty and delicious foods, or to abuse drugs or alcohol. Obesity, like drug addiction, disrupts the systems in the brain that balance immediate reward and need with what we need to survive.

Diet, Withdrawal, And Relapse

Dieting usually requires abstinence from eating high-calorie foods. Unsuccessful dieting often leads to excessive amounts of overeating or bingeing on foods with high fat or sugar. This pattern is similar to withdrawal and relapse caused by substance use disorders (SUDs).

Certain triggers, like underlying stress or major life events, can lead to relapse. This is true for both overeating during a diet and for those in recovery from substance abuse and addiction. Compulsive behavior, like overeating or using drugs, cycles between withdrawal and relapse, which suggests similar brain functioning.

Because similar functioning occurs in the brain for people with obesity and substance abuse problems, they also share similar risk factors.

Risk Factors Of Addiction And Obesity

While it’s impossible to predict the causes of these conditions, the following factors increase the risk of developing each disorder:

  • Genetics: The genes that people are born with, or their biology, can increase the risk of addiction if there is a family history of substance abuse or mental illness. For obesity, genetics affect how much body fat can be stored and where it goes in the body, also playing a role in how the body burns calories and converts food into energy.
  • Social Circumstances/Environment: Peer pressure, sexual assault or abuse, stress and parental guidance can increase the likelihood of substance use and addiction. Children born from obese parents may imitate similar eating habits or a lack of physical exercise, with general family lifestyles increasing the risk of obesity.
  • Developmental Track: The earlier a person abuses drugs or alcohol, the more likely they are to develop an addiction because their brains are still developing. As a person grows up, a less active lifestyle, as well as hormonal changes, can lead to obesity. As a child develops into adulthood, the interaction between genetics and social circumstances increases the risk of both obesity and substance abuse.
The Co-Occurrence Of Addiction And Obesity

The co-occurrence of addiction and obesity is unclear and requires more research. Some studies show it’s unlikely for stimulants, like cocaine and amphetamines, to co-occur with obesity. But other substances of abuse, like alcohol, are more likely to develop into an addiction in obese persons.

Obesity And Alcohol Abuse

Excessive alcohol use and obesity are among the leading causes of death in the United States. The connection between alcohol abuse and obesity is complex and under-researched, but heavy drinking, and binge-drinking is more likely linked to obesity than moderate to light alcohol use.

After drinking heavily, people may eat more. It’s unclear whether alcohol abuse leads to eating, but heavy drinking has shown to cause more intense cravings for food. Alcohol intoxication can change someone’s perception of appetite, meaning they may think they’re hungry when surrounded by options for food.

It’s also unclear whether alcohol abuse directly leads to weight gain. Studies have produced conflicting results, as some studies suggest long-term alcohol use may lead to obesity, while others saw no evidence to support such findings.

Overall, obesity is a complex condition determined by multiple factors, and it’s very difficult to determine if alcohol, or other substances of abuse, can lead to this condition.

Health Risks Of Obesity And Substance Abuse

Both obesity and substance abuse are major health concerns. To avoid the health risks associated with each condition, it’s imperative a person enter treatment or call for help.

Health risks of obesity can include:

  • cancer
  • fatty liver tissue
  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • kidney disease
  • pregnancy issues
  • type 2 diabetes

Health risks associated with substance abuse and addiction may include:

  • cancer
  • heart disease
  • hepatitis B and C
  • HIV/Aids
  • lung disease
  • mental health problems
  • oral health problems

People suffering from addiction and obesity are more at risk of developing serious health problems than the general population. Plus, struggling with both disorders can lead to a low quality of life.

Low Quality Of Life

Both addiction and obesity, whether comorbid or otherwise, can lower the overall quality of life. A person addicted to drugs or alcohol may make using substances their top priority, neglecting responsibilities at home or work. A person suffering from obesity may not be able to enjoy activities they once loved and avoid public places.

Both substance abuse and obesity can lead to:

  • depression
  • disability
  • feelings of shame or guilt
  • problems fulfilling responsibilities
  • sexual/relationship problems
  • social isolation

When a person suffers from both obesity and substance abuse, it’s important to seek treatment. Treatment can improve a person’s quality of life and help avoid further health risks.

Questions About Treatment? Call now to be connected with one of our compassionate treatment specialists. (888) 506-7996
Treating Obesity And Substance Abuse

Behavioral therapies, medications, and support groups may all be used to treat obesity or addiction. While treatment for each person is likely to differ and be based on individual needs, the following treatments may be used to treat each condition.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy is the most common form of addiction treatment and aims to change a person’s thinking and attitudes towards drugs. Common behavioral therapies used to treat addiction include:

  • 12-step facilitation therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Contingency management/Motivational incentives
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • Family therapy
  • The matrix model

While many of these therapies are designed for substance abuse and mental illness, some are relevant for treating obesity as well. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), while not directly attributed to weight loss, can reduce instances of binge-eating. Perhaps the most effective therapy for treating obesity involves nutritional counseling programs that target physical activity and eating behaviors.

Medications

For certain addictions, medications may be used to alleviate unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal, lessen physical dependence, reduce drug cravings and help people engage in and complete treatment. Addictions to both opioids and alcohol involve the use of government-approved medications.

Prescription medications used to treat obesity generally work in two ways: to reduce hunger (or feel more full) and to make it harder for the body to absorb more fats from food. Like medications used in addiction treatment, prescription drugs are used in combination with other therapies and treatment. For example, physical exercise, fewer calories and modifying unhealthy behaviors will likely coincide with medication.

Support Groups

Support groups, like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), are often used to supplement therapy and medications during addiction treatment. These groups can be effective for relapse prevention and peer support, which is essential for overcoming addiction.

Like addiction, obesity is also served by support groups. Overeaters Anonymous (OA) is a 12-step program for people with shared experiences relating to obesity and overeating. While this group isn’t a treatment for obesity, it can help people remain healthy in recovery and offer support for those struggling to lose weight.

Inpatient Rehab For Comorbid Obesity And Addiction

The best course of action for an obese person suffering from addiction is likely entering inpatient rehab. Inpatient rehab takes place in a residential setting and is effective because it provides around-the-clock medical care and observation, as well as a multidisciplinary approach to treat both substance abuse and obesity.

Co-occurring health conditions, like obesity, may complicate treatment, so it’s essential a person enters a facility capable of addressing both disorders. Many inpatient rehab centers are staffed with a variety of healthcare professionals who can collaborate to provide an integrated approach and the highest level of care.

Contact us today for more information on the relationship between substance abuse and obesity and find help now.

Sources

Mayo Clinic—Obesity
National Institute of Health—Health Risk of Being Overweight, Prescription to Treat Overweight and Obesity
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)—Addiction and Health, Understanding Drug Use and Addiction, Behavioral Therapies
NIDA For Teens—Obesity and Drug Addiction
U.S. National Library of Medicine—The Treatment of Obesity and Its Co-Occurrence with Substance Use Disorders, Alcohol Consumption and Obesity

The post The Relationship Between Substance Abuse And Obesity appeared first on Addiction Campuses.

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Whether it’s a broken bone, perpetually scraped knees or a healthy fear of the dark, no one leaves childhood unscathed. At some point, we were all faced with events in our past that left us scarred, scared or both. These events, though frightening at the time, help the body and brain development and mature. Unfortunately, some children suffer from far more traumatic experiences than others. As children are exposed to things like neglect, abuse or addiction in the home, these adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can cause lifelong stress, pain and suffering. Children struggling to cope with ACEs often grow into adults who abuse substances to numb the pain of their past.

“Trauma plays an incredibly huge part in addiction,” states Maeve O’Neill, Vice President of Compliance at Addiction Campuses. “There are people that would say that’s the root of addiction.”

With approximately 35 million children in the United States suffering from at least one traumatic childhood event, it’s more important than ever to understand how easily childhood trauma can turn into an addiction.

What Are Adverse Childhood Experiences?

Childhood experiences, both positive and negative, have a tremendous effect on lifelong health and happiness. Due to this, significant time and resources have been poured into the study of how early life events impact adults, specifically how adverse childhood experiences influence future behaviors.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adverse childhood experiences have been linked to:

  • risky health behaviors
  • chronic health conditions
  • low life potential
  • early death

The more a child is exposed to traumatic events, the higher the likelihood is of them experiencing one of these unfortunate outcomes.

Adverse childhood experiences can be single, acute events or repeated trauma sustained over time. These events occur any time before the age of 18. A child does not need to remember a traumatic childhood experience to suffer from the effects of it.

ACEs can include any number of the following events:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Neglect
  • Witnessing physical or mental abuse at home
  • Witnessing substance abuse at home
  • Mental illness at home
  • Parental separation or divorce
  • Incarcerated family member
  • Death of a parent
  • Community violence
  • Living in poverty

While children who suffer through these events are more likely to face the negative effects of ACEs, there isn’t a definitive way to know what type of experience will cause lifelong trauma for a child.

Questions About Treatment? Call now to be connected with one of our compassionate treatment specialists. (888) 506-7996
What Is The ACE Score?

In 1998, the stunning results of The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study were published. The report uncovered a definitive link between childhood trauma and chronic diseases and mental illnesses that people develop over time as an adult.

With this new information, the study’s researchers then designed a test to determine a person’s ACE score. An ACE score is made up of 10 questions that cover everything from physical and sexual abuse to divorced parents to the incarceration of a family member. For each type of traumatic event listed that a person suffered through before the age of 18, they are assigned one point. The higher the ACE score, the greater the risk of future medical and emotional problems.

While the ACE score can be a great diagnostic tool, it cannot predict the future, nor does it take into account positive events in a person’s childhood that may have offset their traumatic experiences or helped them build resilience.

How Does Trauma Affect A Child?

Some stress is normal and can even be beneficial to a child’s development. However, the type of stress that occurs when a child experiences ACEs can be toxic. When the body is forced to live in fight or flight mode for a prolonged period of time or respond to an acute traumatic event without the buffer of a supportive, protective adult, children will find an alternative way to cope.

“When those ACEs happen, we try to find ways to make that pain feel less hurtful,” says O’Neill. “Children will exhibit risky or bad behaviors as a way to cope with what they’ve been through.”

O’Neill also notes that experiencing trauma at a young age completely changes the brain and stunts emotional growth. If a person has an adverse childhood experience at the age of five, parts of their brain may become stuck at that age—unable to make progress in their coping skills, emotional intelligence or ability to manage stressful events in the future.

According to a study published by a group of pediatric doctors at Harvard University, chronic exposure to stress during childhood will actually shrink the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for processing emotions, creating memories and handling stress. Children with ACEs also show weaker connections from one part of their brain to the other, which means they are at a greater risk of developing mental illnesses like anxiety and depression.

The effects of ACEs can extend beyond just stunting mental growth. They can also be physically harmful. Adverse childhood experiences erode the protective caps at the end of DNA strands, causing people to age faster, develop diseases more easily and die sooner.

Children exposed to traumatic events often become adults with unhealthy coping mechanisms, limited emotional capacity and a decreased ability to deal with everyday stress. Due to this, adults who have adverse childhood experiences often turn to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism.

Adverse Childhood Experiences And Addiction

“Adverse childhood experiences are the root cause of many addictions,” explains O’Neill. “We often see people in our treatment facilities that use drugs and alcohol to numb the pain and not deal with the past.”

As O’Neill points out, it’s not uncommon for those with adverse childhood experiences to start using substances at earlier ages to deal with their traumatic past. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that ACEs increase the likelihood of lifetime illicit drug use, drug dependency and self-reported addiction up to four times. They also increase the chances of early alcohol, prescription drug and tobacco abuse.

When adults use drugs and alcohol as a means to cope, especially when they start at an early age, their coping mechanism can quickly spiral into an addiction. The more they use substances to numb their emotions, the more damage they’re causing to their brain and body. As substance abuse and ACEs work in tandem, it’s an incredibly difficult cycle to break.

The more adverse childhood experiences a person suffers through, the higher their chance of developing an addiction becomes. According to one study, for each additional ACE score, the number of prescription drugs used increased by 62 percent.

“In the early 1990s, when I was treating children for trauma-related issues that came from fragmented, dysfunctional homes, I had up to three years to provide care for them. Steadily, that was broken down to six months and then to three months,” explains Vinnie Strumolo, CEO at The Treehouse, Addiction Campuses’ Texas facility. “Fast forward 20 years later, and I’m seeing them in rehab.”

The unfortunate reality is that while addiction can happen to anyone, adults who suffered from trauma at a young age are more at risk for developing an addiction.

The post Can Adverse Childhood Experiences Cause Addiction? appeared first on Addiction Campuses.

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Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Addiction Campuses.

7 Things You Should Know About The Addicted Person’s Family

If you’ve never loved someone who struggles with addiction, you’re lucky. You’ll never know the horror of waiting for that one phone call. The one that tells you the person you love is gone forever.

You won’t know how it feels to stand by helplessly and watch the child you gave birth to self-destruct or what’s it’s like to wonder if this night is their last.

You won’t know what it’s like to say ’I do’ to the man or woman of your dreams only to find out they have a new love, one that is greedy, toxic and killing your relationship.

You won’t know how scary it is to see mommy or daddy passed out and not able to care for you.

You won’t experience what it’s like to walk on eggshells every day or hold your breath for fear of saying the wrong thing.

You won’t know how lost you get in loving someone who struggles with addiction, or how you will grieve for the person they once were.

You can’t possibly imagine the anxiety families feel or how exhausted and heart-broken they really are.

Questions About Treatment? Call now to be connected with one of our compassionate treatment specialists. (888) 506-7996

Addiction is defined as a disease by the American Medical Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine. However, many are baffled by addiction because it’s a disease that acts like no other. Most people don’t understand this illness. Those struggling with addiction don’t understand it any better than their families do.

Families get up each and every morning with one thing on their mind – how to save the life of their addicted loved one today. They are not weak-willed or push-overs. They love deeply and hurt badly. So before you judge them, here are seven things you should know.

Families with addiction are people like everyone else.

One in seven families will experience addiction. They’re your neighbors, your co-workers and your friends. All families have their cross to bear. Some have cancer, other diabetes, some divorce, and some have disabilities you can’t see like mental health issues or addiction.

It’s not the families fault.

While families can influence susceptibility through the environment, they can’t cause someone to have an addiction. Just as many addicted persons come from loving, nurturing families as they do from abusive, neglectful ones. Addiction is a brain disease. The changes in the brain’s wiring are what cause people to have intense cravings for the drug and make it hard to stop using. Brain imaging studies show changes in the areas of the brain that relate to judgment, decision making, learning, memory and behavior control. Simply put, addiction is a disease that if left untreated can be terminal.

Families beat themselves up.  

Loving a person struggling with addiction is one of the most difficult things you will likely ever face in your life. You ride an emotional roller-coaster of ups and downs. Your well-being becomes tied to your addicted loved one’s health and happiness. Families try everything in their power to save, fix, rescue or control their sick loved one and when they can’t, they feel ashamed and beat themselves up.

Families also have addicted behaviors.  

When you love someone struggling with addiction, it’s normal to feel concerned. Left unchecked, concern crosses the line into all-consuming obsession. What once was healthy worry becomes an obsession. Families fixate on ‘helping’ their sick loved one get well by softening their blows. They do this through enabling behaviors. Enabling means you support the addict in a way that removes the consequences of their actions. Enablers feel guilty when they say no. They find it easier to give in and say yes than feel their feelings of guilt and unease. Addicted persons use drugs and alcohol for relief and enablers say yes for the same reason.

Families get sick, too.

To stay in a relationship with someone struggling with addiction you must make compromises. Things you once said you wouldn’t live in, become your new normal. You make excuses for abusive and neglectful behavior. Families live under extreme stress resulting in physical, emotional and psychological breakdown. Families may also experience PTSD symptoms. Without support, families can become equally as sick as their addicted loved ones.

Families want the addicted person to get well, but don’t always look after themselves.

Families struggle to be in control. They give their addicted loved one the best advice in the world, but unfortunately, they don’t always follow it. Families can become lost in addiction. They are so focused on their loved ones decline, they don’t always notice their own.

Families are afraid of being judged.

Deep down families have feelings of shame and guilt. Due to this, many don’t talk about their loved one’s addiction because if they do, they may be told to leave their family member or kick them to the curb. Unless you’ve been in their shoes, you can’t understand how difficult and complex this situation really is. The public points fingers at them. Their children are called junkies or losers. Families are afraid of being judged and may keep addiction a family secret.

Although you can’t make your sick loved one well, you can greatly influence the outcome by starting your own healing journey. Addicted persons whose families are educated and in recovery too have a far greater chance of succeeding.

Even with addiction in the family, a beautiful life is possible. If you know a family struggling with addiction you can help them through listening and by encouraging them to reach out for support.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance. 1-888-614-2379.

The post 7 Things You Should Know About The Addicted Person’s Family appeared first on Addiction Campuses.

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Substance abuse and addiction have long been associated with violence in society’s mind. Research does show that the presence of addiction increases the likelihood of violent behavior, however that connection is affected by multiple factors.

Do Drugs And Alcohol Cause Violent Behaviors?

Since drug and alcohol use can weaken self-control, it’s not uncommon to see people who are under the influence engaging in behavior they usually wouldn’t if they were sober. The effects of substance use on behavior lead many to believe that there is a strong correlation between acts of violence and drug or alcohol use—and research agrees.

A study published in 1995 in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved found that violent behaviors and substance abuse often go hand-in-hand. The article described the connection between addiction and violence as a relationship between “cause and consequence.”

According to an article published in Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, more than 75 percent of people who seek treatment for drug addiction report having performed acts of violence, including mugging, physical assault and using a weapon to attack another person.

Another study released in 2010 found that people who suppress negative feelings like anger or frustration are more likely to drink to the point of intoxication and exhibit violent behaviors. Researchers involved in the study suggest that those with pent-up rage might act violently because drinking alcohol can result in loss of self-control and make someone more likely to act on their anger.

Several other studies have reported a cyclical and disturbing relationship between violence and addiction. While using drugs or alcohol does not always produce violent behaviors, it can in certain situations and in particular people. Researchers and medical professionals continue to strengthen their understanding of how substance abuse and violent behaviors work together—and why.

Stimulant Drugs and Aggression

Drugs like meth and cocaine can bring out violent behaviors in people who use them. Displays of aggression, belligerence, and violence are not uncommon when using stimulant drugs, partially due to loss of impulse control and feelings of paranoia—a volatile phase known as tweaking.

Although tweaking does not always involve violent behaviors, they are often a part of the process. Hallucinations while tweaking can feel so vivid that it causes people to act violently toward themselves and others.

Questions About Treatment? Call now to be connected with one of our compassionate treatment specialists. (888) 506-7996
Alcohol, Drugs And Violent Sex Crimes

Substance abuse can lead to an increase in aggressive behaviors, particularly violent sex crimes. According to a study performed by the University of Amsterdam, 50 percent of incarcerated sex offenders have a history of substance abuse, and 25-50 percent were under the influence at the time of the offense. This suggests a connection between addiction and violent sex crimes.

Drugs such as methamphetamine and cocaine can lead to heightened feelings of arousal. When hyperarousal is combined with low impulse control, those who are under the influence of meth or cocaine are more likely to act on these urges. They may engage in high-risk, violent or aggressive sexual acts, including rape and sexual assault.

Alcohol and Sexual Assault

Alcohol can also cause people to act sexually aggressive toward others. According to a paper published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 25 percent of women have been sexually assaulted, and half of those assaults involved alcohol.

This percentage is even higher for women in college, where alcohol use is more widespread. Research shows that 50 percent of college women have experienced some form of aggressive sexual assault, and half of those assaults also involved alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, the victim or both.

However, when alcohol is a factor in a sexual assault, it isn’t always that the alcohol led to the assault. For instance, the pre-existing desire to commit sexual assault can lead to alcohol consumption.

The results of these studies make one thing abundantly clear: the presence of substance abuse increases the likelihood of violent sexual acts.

Addiction And Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is one of the most common behaviors influenced by drug and alcohol addiction. Domestic abuse can include hitting, punching, hair pulling, slapping, and sexual abuse, but it’s not limited to these physical actions. Domestic violence also encompasses emotional and physiological abuse. These behaviors can include:

  • Blackmail
  • Physical threats
  • Gaslighting
  • Attacks on a person’s self-worth
  • Intimidation
  • Stalking
  • Name calling
  • Withholding resources and necessities
  • Excluding a person from meaningful events or activities
  • Blaming the victim

While these actions are not physically aggressive, they are considered a violent attack on the mind. The target is often left unable to defend themselves or fight back.

While there is not yet a consensus on the exact nature of the connection between addiction and domestic violence, researchers have noted an unmistakable relationship between excessive alcohol use and domestic violence. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, substance abuse is a factor in 40-60 percent of domestic violence incidents.

Can Violence and Trauma Lead To Addiction?

Being a victim of violence and violent behaviors can be a precursor to addiction because of the way traumatic events affect the brain. Trauma makes the mind work in overdrive, causing near-constant fear, anxiety, and stress. A person who survives a traumatic experience may constantly function in a fight-or-flight survival mode. The brain may even continuously replay the memory of the traumatic experience, forcing the person to involuntarily relive the event.

Experiencing these feelings all the time can be overwhelming and incredibly distressing for someone trying to recover from a violent crime or abusive relationship. Many survivors of trauma turn to drugs or alcohol to find relief.

The longer a person goes without addressing their experience of violence or trauma, the worse their emotional pain will become. This can lead people to self-medicate with even higher doses of drugs and alcohol.

Unfortunately, if trauma survivors continue to rely on substance use to cope with these negative emotions, their body and brain will become dependent on drugs or alcohol in order to function normally. If they continue to use drugs to cope, it can quickly spiral out of control and into addiction.

The post The Connection Between Addiction And Violence appeared first on Addiction Campuses.

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National Prevention Week is held every year in order to increase public awareness of and action around addiction and mental health. Hosted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), National Prevention Week focuses on community involvement, partner engagement and resource sharing to distribute their message. As this year’s National Prevention Week comes to a close, what can we all do to help prevent addiction and is it even possible to do so?

How Can You Help Prevent Substance Abuse And Addiction?

Raising awareness about addiction is one of the best ways that you can reduce the stigma and prevent others from falling into the cycle of substance abuse. In order to do so, here are some steps you can take:

Educate Yourself And Others

Addiction can be a scary disease, but understanding how it develops and how you can help those struggling puts the power back in your hands. Once you have a solid understanding of addiction, share your knowledge with your community. Teach them that substance abuse and addiction isn’t a choice, but a disease – and show them how they can help.

Additionally, when you educate people about substance abuse, it gives them the knowledge to make smarter and more informed decisions about their drug and alcohol consumption. Citizens that make intelligent decisions based on evidence-based research and facts can lower their risk of substance misuse.

Talk About It

For a long time, addiction has been a disease that’s hidden in the shadows because of the shame associated with it. Unfortunately, this way of thinking has only perpetuated the stigma of addiction.

Instead of hiding your struggle from loved ones, speak up. Having an honest conversation about addiction can be enlightening and inspiring for both of you. If you think that someone close to you is struggling with addiction, talk to them about it. While it may be difficult to start the conversation, don’t wait – it could save their life.

The more comfortable communities are talking about addiction, the more those struggling with it will feel confident that their request for help won’t be met with judgment.

Learn The Warning Signs Of Addiction And Who’s At Risk

Addiction is a progressive disease, meaning it gets worse over time. Being able to identify the warning signs of addiction is critical to catching the disease in it’s beginning stages when it’s easier to treat. Early intervention and treatment can be essential to long-term recovery from addiction.

Part of early intervention is knowing who’s more at risk for developing an addiction than others. While addiction can happen to anyone, those with a family history of addiction, a pre-existing mental illness, past trauma or chronic pain are more at risk for developing an addiction. Although you can’t change the fact that you may have a family history of addiction, seeking treatment for the existing conditions that you can treat may alleviate some risk of substance abuse.

Watch Your Language

Using derogatory words like “junkie”, “addict”, or “alcoholic” will never prevent someone from experimenting with drugs or alcohol. Instead, these words preserve the stigma of addiction and all of the negative connotations the go along with this illness. These false generalizations can further shame a person and prevent them from getting help – and research agrees.

According to a study published by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in 2015, the language we use to describe addiction can perpetuate the stigma of addiction and keep people from getting the help they need. However, the language you use can also encourage someone to seek addiction treatment if it’s compassionate and kind.

Next time you hear someone use hurtful labels to refer to a person with an addiction, correct them. Making small changes every day will lead to big changes over time.

Encourage Community Involvement

Changing the whole world is an unimaginable task, so start with just your community. Teach them about addiction, show them how to help people seek treatment, encourage compassion towards those struggling, make a mental note of those that could use your assistance and be an advocate for better addiction treatment options in your area.

If you turn your community into a place of compassion and understanding for those struggling with a substance use disorder, it will encourage people to seek treatment instead of hiding in shame. A community that sees addiction as a disease and not a moral failing is on the right track for helping those currently struggling, supporting those in recovery and preventing future addictions.

Questions About Treatment? Call now to be connected with one of our compassionate treatment specialists. (888) 506-7996
Can You Prevent An Addiction?

Educating communities and raising awareness for substance abuse are all positive steps towards helping people make smarter and more informed decisions about drug or alcohol use. Unfortunately, even if you take these steps to educate your family, friends, and community about the dangers of substance abuse, there is no definitive way that you can prevent someone else from developing an addiction.

Addiction can happen at any time to any person, and that’s part of what makes it such a scary disease. You can follow all the steps to help prevent addiction from happening to you or someone you love, but it can still happen. These discouraging and straightforward truths can leave you wondering: why do we even take measures to prevent addiction at all?

Communities work to raise awareness and educate others about substance abuse not only to help others make smarter choices but also so that people can recognize the early warning signs of addiction and intervene early when someone needs help. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSAH), early intervention and treatment are some of the best ways to help those who are on a path toward addiction regain balance in their life before spiraling out of control.

In this way, you may not be able to prevent everyone from forming an addiction, but you can still make a difference by helping those struggling get the help they need before it’s too late, hindering other at-risk individuals from experimenting with drugs or alcohol and reducing the stigma of addiction.

The post How Can You Prevent Substance Abuse? National Prevention Week 2018 appeared first on Addiction Campuses.

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Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Addiction Campuses.

7 Things You Should Know About People Who Struggle With Addiction.

If you’ve never struggled with addiction, you’re lucky. You will never know the horror of being addicted, or of wanting to stop and not being able too. Imagine something so powerful that it uses you. It’s like that for those of us who are susceptible to addiction.

We voluntarily take our first drink or drug and then it takes over. We develop a psychological dependency – an emotional and mental process that goes hand-in-hand with addiction. Our inebriated state becomes our brains new normal.

Our body becomes physically dependent. We need higher and higher doses to create the same euphoric effect. As tolerance builds, signals are sent to our mid-brain, over-riding our frontal lobe – the area of our brain responsible for executive functions such as planning for the future, judgment, decision-making skills, attention span, impulse control and inhibition. The mid-brain is the area responsible for survival. It’s our fight or flight responses. The signal it receives says ‘get high or die.’  

The susceptible person’s brain responds differently to chemical stimulation than non-addicts do. The majority of people will be able to use drugs and alcohol with few consequences. They don’t over-indulge because they don’t like feeling out of control. However, for those of us struggling with addiction, we don’t feel out of control when we use. We feel in control, maybe for the very first time in our lives.  

When we’re sober, we’re uncomfortable. We stand in a crowd but feel lonely, separate and different from the people around us. We’re observers – outsiders, looking in. Something is missing. We try and fill this void with food, shopping, relationships, work, exercise, gaming, porn, or drugs and alcohol. Our first experience with substance or other mood-altering behaviors will change the way we feel about ourselves and our perception of the world around us. The feelings of euphoria and happiness are so powerful that we will chase this feeling for the rest of our lives.

Questions About Treatment? Call now to be connected with one of our compassionate treatment specialists. (888) 506-7996

As a person in long-term recovery who works with substance abusers, there are seven things you should know about those struggling with addiction:

  • Addiction lies in your own voice: Becoming addicted is easy because no one knows that’s what they’re doing. We tell ourselves we’re having fun. We need it to relax. We minimize the severity of our addiction by focusing on what we still have, not on what we have lost. For example, I have a roof over my head. I still have a job. The alcoholic says I only drink beer. The cocaine abuser says I don’t use meth. The meth addict says I only smoke drugs, I don’t inject them. The pill-popper says at least I don’t use heroin.  Addiction denies itself in the scariest voice of all – your own.
  • Addiction is not a moral failing or weakness: Those struggling with addiction aren’t bad, although they do bad things to maintain their habit. They are just very sick. Addiction is a brain disease that rewires the cerebral cortex resulting in poor judgment and impulse control. It manifests in compulsive substance use in spite of harmful consequences. It’s progressive in nature ending in jails, institutions, death or recovery.
  • Those struggling with addiction need an enabler to help them stay sick: The enabler aides in their loved one’s addiction by making excuses for them. They clean up their messes, loan them money and keep their secrets. The enabler believes they know their sick loved one better than anyone else but in reality, they’re usually the easiest person in the family to manipulate. This one-sided relationship allows the addicted person to under-function in all their affairs and focus solely on their relationship with drugs or alcohol. 
  • Shame is their second skin:  An addicted persons experience high levels of shame. They are not comfortable in their bodies. They may mask this with sarcasm, jokes, or with a grandiose attitude of entitlement. They have a love-hate relationship with themselves and their drug of choice. They love the way they feel when high but hate the things they do to achieve this feeling. They judge themselves harshly, calling themselves a loser, junkie or a waste of space. They may believe they’re too weak to quit using and their family would be better off without them.
  • Love won’t make them better: You’ve nursed them back to health. You’ve watched over them as they slept. You’ve loved them when they weren’t very loveable. You’ve done everything in your power to help them get better. Instead of thanking you for it, your addicted loved one pushed you further away. Now you’re exhausted and left wondering if you did something wrong. While you may have made mistakes, please know you didn’t cause their addiction and you can’t love them well.
  • Addiction is a family illness:  When one family member struggles with addiction, it affects the whole family. Trust is broken, hurt accumulates and builds, exploding in an eruption of emotions and regrets. You may find yourself protecting the addicted person, or blaming them for your own unhealthy behavior. Parents may turn on one another in their frustration. The family walks on egg-shells around the substance abuser, fearing they may upset them. In healthy families, everyone can get their needs met. In addicted families, the only one getting their needs met is the substance abuser.
  • If you’re doing the right thing your addicted loved one will probably be mad at you: The hardest thing you’ll ever do is love an addicted loved one without enabling their illness. Boundaries keep you safe. They tell your loved one what you’re okay with, and what you’re not. When you say no to enabling behaviors, you threaten their addiction. They’ll be mad at you and may pull away, but say no anyway. Learning to set boundaries is the best way to maintain your health and ultimately, help your addicted loved one.

Please know addiction is a highly treatable illness. The key to recovery is breaking the code of silence by reaching out for help and connecting with safe, supportive people.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance 1-888-614-2379.

The post 7 Things You Should Know About People Who Struggle With Addiction appeared first on Addiction Campuses.

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Motherhood is filled with unexpected challenges and stressors. While most new moms will experience some feelings of sadness or fear in the days after childbirth, the baby blues normally wear off after a few days. However, for around 20 percent of new mothers, the baby blues are a far more serious and long-lasting condition known as postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression can make moms feel unable to connect with their new child, causing anxiety for both. The demands of motherhood combined with societal expectations and untreated postpartum depression are increasingly leading new mothers to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, a mother’s simple solution to feelings of inadequacy can quickly slip into dependency and addiction.

What Is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression is recognized as a subtype of major depression that can affect women who have given birth. It can begin anywhere between two weeks to a year after the birth of a child. This type of depression specifically affects new mothers.

The symptoms of this condition closely resemble the symptoms of major depression and are thought to be caused by existing depressive tendencies, new anxieties related to being a mother, hormonal changes, lack of sleep, nutritional deficiencies or lack of spousal support.

According to the Centers For Disease Control, around 20 percent of mothers will experience symptoms of postpartum depression after childbirth. These symptoms can make new mothers unable to cope with everyday life, and especially unable to take care of their child adequately.

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Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression

Most new moms experience the “baby blues” shortly after giving birth. This term refers to feelings of worry and tiredness that comes from taking care of a child. These feelings affect upwards of 80 percent of mothers and can be particularly stressful for first-time moms.

However, unlike symptoms of postpartum depression, the feelings associated with the baby blues are mild and typically go away on their own in a matter of weeks. Mothers suffering from postpartum depression experience much more severe symptoms that can last for up to a year after childbirth.

Some common symptoms of postpartum depression are:

  • Avoiding friends and family
  • Experiencing trouble bonding with the baby
  • Doubting ability to take care of the baby
  • Thoughts about harming oneself or the baby
  • Severe mood swings
  • Worrying constantly
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Crying more often than usual
  • Feeling sad, empty, hopeless and overwhelmed

Signs of postpartum depression typically begin within the first four weeks after the birth of a child and can severely disrupt the relationship between mother and child.

In extremely rare cases, women can experience hallucinations and delusions associated with postpartum depression.

Postpartum Depression And Addiction

Being a new mom is challenging. Babies require constant attention and care, causing stress, lack of sleep and anxiety for their mothers. While all of these reactions are normal, they can take an emotional toll on a woman.

Additionally, postpartum depression can make it difficult for a mom to really connect with her child, or take care of the baby properly. All of these pressures, combined with fulfilling the expectation of motherhood, often push women to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.

“I celebrated the end of breastfeeding with a lot of wine, and then slowly, carefully, and sneakily, my drinking grew and grew like my children,” wrote author and mother of three, Heather King, who suffered from postpartum depression and addiction after giving birth. “Fast and slow all at once. By this time, I had two beautiful boys and I loved them deeply. I spent my days with them and continued to feel depressed and anxious. I didn’t talk about it, I just moved through the hours that felt like quicksand, and I drank too much every night to escape.”

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, as many as 15 percent of women diagnosed with postpartum depression engage in binge drinking within a year of giving birth. Additionally, roughly nine percent of this group also admitted to abusing drugs along with alcohol. These rates are higher than women who did not give birth or who did give birth but were not diagnosed with postpartum depression.

As new moms increasingly rely on drugs and alcohol to cope with the stresses of parenthood, the more dependent their body and brain will become on these substances in order to function normally. Not only can this new habit cause friction between mother and baby, but it can also quickly turn into an addiction.

How Do Alcohol And Drug Use Affect A New Baby?

Mothers who drink heavily or use drugs while breastfeeding also put their children at risk. According to La Leche League, alcohol can pass from the mother to their child via breastmilk, causing babies to take less milk and stunt their growth.  Due to this, doctors recommend that mothers who breastfeed drink in moderation and wait two to three hours after the last drink to feed their baby again.

In a report produced by the American Academy of Pediatrics, researchers found that certain drugs can cause severe side effects for babies who breastfeed from mothers who are actively addicted.

Some side effects that babies can experience from their mother’s drug use are:

  • Amphetamines: Trouble sleeping and irritability
  • Cocaine: Seizure, irritability, diarrhea and vomiting
  • Heroin: Tremors, vomiting, restlessness and trouble feeding

Due to the severity of side effects that breastfeeding children can experience from their mother’s drug use, it is recommended that mothers struggling with addiction use formula instead of breastmilk.

Postpartum Depression, Alcoholism And Mom Wine Culture

Over the past few decades, popular parenting culture has touted alcohol as the easiest and best way to unwind after a full day of dealing with children. This is particularly true for mothers, who are often served messages via joking coffee mugs and teeshirts that the best cure for the demands of their children is a generous glass of chardonnay, pinot noir or cabernet.

“Wine has become normalized, expected and then reinforced by popular culture, social media, advertising,” says author Gabrielle Glaser of mom wine culture. She believes that social media is partly to blame for the increase in popularity of mom wine culture. As mothers scroll through their social feeds filled with seemingly perfect images of what motherhood should look and feel like, it can leave them feeling inadequate.

Instead of reaching out for help to treat the underlying cause of these feelings, such as postpartum depression, mommy wine culture is the alternative way that mothers are dealing with the pressures of parenthood – alone and without any social or medical support. Some researchers estimate that the untreated feelings of incompetency are partly to blame for the fact that over seven million children are currently living in homes where at least one parent has a drinking problem.

“The illusions we embrace around drinking include ideas like it’s ‘just wine.’ An addictions counselor refers to that mentality as minimizing its significance. It’s the same mindset that dictates wine is safer than ‘hard liquor’, when in truth it is the same drug in different forms,” explains Jim LaPierre LCSW, a substance abuse counselor based in Maine.

Additionally, when children grow up in homes where drinking is the norm, they are unable to see the dangers of drinking alcohol every day and multiple times a day. These misguided ideas can lead them down a dangerous path when and if they begin experimenting with alcohol.

As expectations of motherhood grow more demanding and mom wine culture becomes the norm, it’s important for parents to recognize the symptoms of postpartum depression. Knowing the signs of postpartum depression will increase the chances of women getting the medical intervention they need before turning to drugs and alcohol to cope. Not only will this provide the best quality of life for a mother and her child, it will prevent new moms from falling into a cycle of substance abuse and addiction.

The post The Link Between Postpartum Depression And Addiction appeared first on Addiction Campuses.

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Alcohol is toxic to humans. Drinking too much alcohol causes decreased coordination, impaired decision-making, memory loss and extreme dehydration. If alcohol can cause this much damage to a grown adult, imagine how much harm it can cause to an unborn baby.

Fetal alcohol syndrome is a condition that occurs when a fetus is exposed to alcohol. FAS can happen at any time during pregnancy, and it can cause debilitating changes to a baby’s intellectual capacity, physical appearance, and growth rate.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Defined

Fetal alcohol syndrome is characterized by a variety of physical deformities and mental defects in a child, caused by exposure to alcohol during the mother’s pregnancy. While the symptoms and severity of this condition vary from child to child, they are irreversible. Fetal alcohol syndrome is the most severe fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Causes of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal alcohol syndrome occurs when a woman drinks alcohol during her pregnancy, harming the unborn child in the process. When a pregnant woman has a glass of wine or bottle of beer, the alcohol enters her bloodstream and is carried to the placenta, the organ that supplies nutrients to the growing fetus. The alcohol then passes through the placenta wall to the fetus.

A fetus cannot process alcohol the same as a grown adult. When a baby is exposed to alcohol in utero, it damages neurons, disrupts cell formation and causes cell loss in the brain. Drinking during pregnancy can prevent the fetus from getting vital nutrients and oxygen needed to grow properly.

While some women have more of a genetic predisposition to drink than others, this does not mean that FAS is a hereditary condition. It is completely preventable if a woman does not drink alcohol during her pregnancy.

What Are The Types Of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders?

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders encompass a number of conditions. Each type is characterized by unique behavioral and cognitive problems and physical deformities.

The four most common types of FASDs are:

  • Alcohol-Related Birth Defects: Babies born with ARBD will experience problems with how some of their organs were formed and how they function. They may also suffer from other fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
  • Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopment Disorder: While people with this disorder do not show physical symptoms, they may exhibit various neurological problems due to the way their brain and nervous system were formed. These individuals may have intellectual disabilities, behavioral and cognitive problems or brain abnormalities.
  • Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Those diagnosed with pFAS do not meet the full criteria for fetal alcohol syndrome. However, their history of prenatal alcohol exposure may have caused facial abnormalities, slower-than-average growth rates or cognitive disabilities.
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: FAS is considered the most severe fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. The symptoms of this condition are unique and based on specific measurements and irregularities in facial features, growth rate and central nervous system problems.

FASDs are incurable, and some children with these disorders will require round-the-clock care. However, research has shown that early identification of the disorder and a comprehensive treatment program can significantly increase the quality of life for a child with any type of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

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Physical Deformities Caused By Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal alcohol syndrome is characterized by very particular signs. One of the most noticeable signs of this condition is abnormalities in facial features, including:

  • Short palpebral fissures (horizontal eye openings)
  • Thin upper lip
  • Smooth area between the nose and upper lip

These three facial deformities are the most consistent visual indications of fetal alcohol syndrome and are used for diagnosing the condition in newborns and children. Other features consistent with FAS are:

  • Flat midface
  • Small head
  • Upturned nose
  • Flattened nose
  • Underdeveloped ears
  • Curved pinky finger
  • “Hockey stick” crease on the palm
  • Drooping upper eyelid(s)

While there are many visual clues that could indicate fetal alcohol syndrome, there are also many less-obvious signs and symptoms of this condition.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Signs and Symptoms

Many children with FAS experience slow growth rates, exhibiting below-average weight and height for their age group. Those with fetal alcohol syndrome may also present various structural, neurological and functional problems due to how their central nervous system was affected by alcohol.

The central nervous system is a complex structure used to control the day-to-day activities of the body. When not formed properly, it can result in abnormalities such as:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Delay in social skills
  • Hearing or vision problems
  • Poor coordination
  • Speech difficulties
  • Impaired judgment
  • Learning disabilities
  • Below-average IQ
  • Heart problems
  • Mood swings
  • Seizures
  • Decreased brain size

Symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome vary based on the amount of alcohol a fetus was exposed to and at what point in the pregnancy they were exposed to it. Alcohol appears to be the most harmful to children within the first three months of pregnancy but can cause damage at any point.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Stigma and Prevention

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, as many as 30 percent of women admit to drinking during their pregnancy. Rates of fetal alcohol syndrome have tripled since the disorder was first recognized in the early 1970s.

Much like alcoholism, those who are impacted by fetal alcohol syndrome may experience social stigma. This stigma and shame surrounding alcoholism and alcohol consumption during pregnancy can negatively affect prevention and diagnosis. Some people may blame the birth mother of an individual with FAS or assume that she intentionally harmed her child during pregnancy.

The National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome states that mothers who drink during their pregnancy do so for only a few reasons. One of the most common reasons is that some women suffer from the disease of alcoholism and cannot control their drinking—even during pregnancy. In such cases, the mother does not intend to harm her child with alcohol, but she is also incapable of abstaining from it.

A woman who suffers from alcoholism during her pregnancy should never be shamed for her behaviors. This discrimination will not help to prevent future cases of FAS, but it will hinder mothers from reaching out for help for themselves and their child.

Instead of passing judgment, the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome suggests that doctors educate their patients about the risks of prenatal alcohol exposure. Doctors should screen all women of childbearing age for alcohol use and refer them to appropriate treatment as needed.

Helping women who suffer from alcoholism before they have children is the most effective way to prevent future cases of fetal alcohol syndrome and reduce the stigma associated with alcoholism and FAS.

To decrease the number of children born with this condition, doctors recommend that pregnant women abstain from alcohol for the full duration of their pregnancy. Unfortunately, this can be particularly hard for women suffering from alcoholism.

The post What Is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome? appeared first on Addiction Campuses.

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Rates of depression have been increasing rapidly in the last few years, making it one of the most prevalent mental illnesses in America. Despite the rapid growth in the number of people diagnosed with depression, research from Cambridge University suggests that there are fewer treatment options than ever before. Instead, the study indicates that those struggling with depression are increasingly turning to drugs and alcohol to cope with their mental health.

As those struggling with depression continue to self-medicate with substances, they put themselves at great risk for addiction – another mental illness that can have fatal consequences. When these two conditions begin to act simultaneously, the dangerous cycle can be difficult to live with, and even more difficult to overcome.

What Is Depression?

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders. According to the National Insititute of Mental Health, approximately 16 million Americans suffer from some type of depression.

Often characterized by extreme bouts of sadness, irritability, and hopelessness, depression can affect how a person feels and thinks, and how well they handle daily activities like sleeping, eating or working. While anyone can be diagnosed with this mental illness, depression is more common in women – particularly among middle-aged women 40 to 59-years-old.

Despite there being no known cause, researchers believe that depression is the product of genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors. Risk factors for depression include personal or family history of depression, significant life changes or trauma, and certain physical illness and medications.

Signs Of Depression

While there are a number of symptoms that could indicate depression, the disease can be hard to diagnose because many of the signs resemble everyday emotions. Due to this, those who believe they may have depression must be experiencing a combination of symptoms nearly every day for two weeks in order to be clinically diagnosed.

According to the National Insitute of Mental Health (NIMH), the following are common symptoms of depression:

  • Persistent sad or unhappy moods
  • Feeling “empty”
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Moving or talking slower
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Physical aches, including headaches and muscle soreness

Not everyone will experience the same combination of symptoms. The severity of these symptoms will depend on the type of depression, the individual’s overall health and how long they have been struggling with the disease.

Types of Depression

Depression presents itself differently in different people. The variety and severity of symptoms can differ significantly based on the type of depression a person is diagnosed with.

Some of the most common types of depression are:

  • Persistent depressive disorder: This condition is characterized by symptoms of depression lasting at least two years. A person with this disease may go through periods of major depression.
  • Major depressive disorder: Those suffering from a major depressive disorder with experience chronic feelings of sadness and indifference.
  • Postpartum depression: Women diagnosed with postpartum depression experience depression during or after birth. Feelings of sadness, anxiety, and tiredness make it difficult for mothers to provide daily care to themselves or their child.
  • Psychotic depression: Psychotic depression occurs when a person has been diagnosed with major depression and some form of psychosis. Their delusions or hallucinations usually covey a depression subject matter, such as illness, poverty or death.
  • Seasonal affective disorder: This disorder is characterized by the onset of depression during the winter months. The depression usually lifts during the spring and summer. The condition is cyclical and occurs each year when there is less sunlight.

No matter the type of depression, these conditions can greatly affect a person’s quality of life if not treated properly. However, very few people suffering from depression actually seek the help they need. Instead of seeing real medical help, some choose to self-medicate.

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Self-Medicating Depression With Drugs And Alcohol

Although depression is one of the most prevalent mental illness in America, only about one-third of the people suffering from depression seek professional help for their condition. According to the Mental Health America, many people with depression feel as though their illness isn’t severe enough to warrant a doctor’s visit. Unfortunately, this way of thinking can be dangerous.

Given the possible symptoms, it should come as no surprise that those suffering from depression will often use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate or numb the side effects of this mental illness. A recent study by the University of Manitoba in Canada noted that self-medicating with substances is an increasingly common behavior among those with depression. As many as 25% of their subjects admittedly used drugs or alcohol to alleviate the symptoms of their depression.

Using substances as a means to cope with depression is one of the most distinctive signs of substance abuse or addiction. While this might seem obvious to those of sound mind, individuals suffering from a mental health disorder cannot always see how misguided and dangerous this way of thinking can be.

According to a study published in Psychological Medicine, the rising rates of depression are in line with increases in drug use, deaths due to a drug overdose, and suicide.

The longer the cycle of self-medication continues, the more dependent a person’s body and brain will become of substances to cope with their depression and everyday life. Over a period of months, self-medication can easily spiral into addiction.

How Does Depression Affect Addiction?

The comorbidity of depression and addiction is common, and often, the two conditions feed off of each other. Depression can make the symptoms of addiction drastically worse, and vice versa.

While many with depression use drugs and alcohol to help them feel happy, most of these substances are doing the exact opposite. Drinking may make a person momentarily happy, but as alcohol enters the brain, it slows down activity and makes users lethargic and depressed. This is also true of opioids, including heroin, benzodiazepines, and barbiturates.

As a person continues to feel more depressed, they’ll increasingly reach for drugs or alcohol to cope, causing both conditions to worsen simultaneously.

On the other hand, the isolation, guilt, and shame of addiction can easily cause a person to become depressed. The risk of depression is still prevalent even for those in addiction recovery. Research suggests that depression is one of the most common relapse triggers.

Although it’s not always clear whether depression or addiction came first, when the two mental illnesses begin working simultaneously, they will feed off each other and create a destructive cycle.

As depression and addiction share an increasingly close relationship, it’s becoming more important to provide accessible education and treatment options to those suffering from these mental illnesses. Without these basic necessities, addiction and depression could easily be a fatal combination.

The post The Cycle Of Depression And Addiction appeared first on Addiction Campuses.

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