Addiction Treatment

What is Methamphetamine (Meth)?

Methamphetamine is a synthetic stimulant that is highly addictive and can cause multiple health problems and death. Meth, unlike many drugs, is not derived from plants. Instead, it is made from a variety of store-bought chemicals. One compound seems to be found in all methamphetamine creations: pseudoephedrine, an ingredient found in cold medicines. Other chemicals that are used to create methamphetamines can be paint thinner, ether, Freon, acetone, ammonia, iodine crystals, red phosphorus, drain cleaner, battery acid, and lithium from inside batteries.

There is currently a new form of meth being created known as P2P meth. The principal chemicals are phenyl-2-propanone, aluminum, methylamine, and mercuric chloride.

How is Methamphetamine Made?

These ingredients are then cooked together in make-shift labs or illegal labs. Most people do not understand that cooking these chemicals together creates a dangerous, explosive, and highly toxic environment. Sadly, the fumes from cooking Meth are poisonous, and often these small labs are in people’s kitchens, cars, garages, and basements, where children are regularly exposed. The impact on children exposed to the cooking process of Meth is severe, and parents who are making Meth (and usually using the drug simultaneously) often neglect their children.

Currently, the Mexican Drug Cartels are the largest manufacturer of methamphetamines. They have the super labs, though ice meth is finding its way into the US from China.

How is Methamphetamine Used?

Meth comes in many forms and can be smoked, snorted, injected, or taken orally. Smoking and injecting meth help the drug enter the bloodstream and brain quickly, producing an intense rush. Snorting or orally ingesting the drug creates a euphoria that is not as intense as the rush.

Meths Impact on the body

Meth negatively impacts the central nervous system. This system connects the brain and the spinal cord, and then the peripheral nervous system, which connects the brain and the spinal cord to the rest of the body. As the name implies, the central nervous system is the body’s processing center. Meth as a stimulant that is highly addictive. Yet, like other addictions, regular use requires more of the drug to induce the sense of euphoria that accompanies the first usage. Beyond the need or craving for more of the drug, there are clear signs that a person has been using meth regularly. Long-term use can produce:

The effects of long-term use have been documented by brain imaging which shows how meth changes the brain; these changes, from long-term use, are seen in the dopamine system as reduce motor coordination and verbal learning.

Other signs of long-term use include:

Like other stimulants, one can experience a binge and crash pattern to methamphetamine use. Sometimes, an addict will go on a “run” during the binge phase forgetting to eat or sleep and continue taking the drug. Overdose is possible, especially during a binge and crash phase.

“In 2017, about 15 percent of all drug overdose deaths involved the methamphetamine category, and 50 percent of those deaths also involved an opioid, with half of those cases related to the synthetic opioid fentanyl. (CDC Wonder Multiple Causes of Death—see #42 on Meth RR.) It is important to note that cheap, dangerous synthetic opioids are sometimes added to street methamphetamine without the user knowing.”

Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Sexual Dysfunction While Using Methamphetamines

Those who use and share needles to inject meth are at a greater risk of contracting and transmitting HIV and Hepatitis B and C. People who use meth by other means than injection run the risk of contracting other sexually related diseases because meth leads people to engage in risky behaviors, including unprotected sex.

According to the National Institute on Drug Addiction, meth is a stimulant that impacts the libido, increasing risky sexual behavior. However, the irony of addiction to meth is that long-term use “may lead to reduced sexual functioning, at least in men.”

Meth users with HIV on antiretroviral therapy to treat the HIV condition are at greater risk of developing AIDS (perhaps associated with poor medication adherence). Additionally, there seems to be “greater neuronal injury [nerve damage that interrupts communications from the brain to the muscles and organs] and cognitive impairment due to HIV, [for meth users ]compared to those who do not misuse the drug.”

Increase Usage in the US of Illegal Methamphetamine

According to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report of 2020 (issued by the CDC), “During 2015–2018, an estimated 1.6 million U.S. adults aged ≥18 years, on average, reported past-year methamphetamine use; 52.9% had a methamphetamine use disorder, and 22.3% reported injecting methamphetamine within the past year. Co-occurring substance use and mental illness were common among those who used methamphetamine within the past year.” In 2020, there were 2.4 million adults admitted  using methamphetamine on the national survey.

Compromised Immunity and Meth Use

At a time when pandemics are circulating around the globe, methamphetamine users are working against their body’s immune system. The innate (present at birth) and adaptive (acquired over time) immune systems become compromised. The use of meth alters the production of antibodies and “reduces the ability of highly specialized cells, known as lymphocyte T-cells, to fight off pathogens [diseases and viruses].”

Additionally, the lungs and heart are adversely impacted by the use of methamphetamine. It is known that meth increases the risk of heart disease, irregular heartbeat, and the body’s ability of the heart to pump blood. Meth can cause inflammation of the lungs which can cause pneumonia, fluid in the lungs, and high blood pressure.

You can stop the cycle of binging and crashing. You can break the pattern of endless days of sleeplessness, paranoia, and self-starvation. Treatment does work. The body has profound healing qualities. But, to break the cycle of addiction and accompanying mental illness, appropriate help is needed. One of our specially trained staff can answer all your questions and put your fears to rest. Every conversation is confidential. You or your loved one can get “on the road” to recovery quickly. Call now and begin life anew.

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The Body and Brain on Substances (Drugs and Alcohol)

“Health is defined as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Social health is considered a dynamic balance between opportunities and limitations; the constant changes in life, society, and the environment bring endless restrictions and challenge people’s ability to adapt to this state.”

Over timethe use of substances changes the brain’s ability to communicate successfully with the neurotransmitters in the brain and the brain’s ability to send messages to the body (cells, muscles, organs, nerves, etc.). While the complexity of the function of addiction, the brain, and the body requires extensive discussion, this blog will focus on the changes that occur physically, emotionally, mentally, and socially, and how exercise can stop cravings, improve mood, and many other positive personal transformations.

When a person consumes drugs, the neurotransmitters release a chemical known as dopamine. “Addictive drugs…can release two to 10 times the amount of dopamine that natural rewards do….” The irony is that while the first experience or the first few experiences of drug use will produce an intense sense of pleasure, the neuro receptors become overwhelmed within a short time. “The brain responds by producing less dopamine or eliminating dopamine receptors….” In time, the body requires more and more drugs to chase the initial feeling. The memory of the sensation is stored, and the body seeks to find the source of the good feeling–the drugs/alcohol. This seeking of a drug(s) is known as cravings. Other aspects of brain function associated with dopamine that are disrupted by drug and alcohol use include learning, stress, decision-making, and self-control. Substance abuse negatively impacts these cognitive functions. Environmental and emotional cues can set off cravings even when a person has stopped using substances. These cravings can lead to relapse if the sober person has not done the work of recovery.

How Can a Variety of Exercise Formats Help People in Recovery?

There is not one approach to recovery that works for everyone. Moving through detox, getting into treatment, and maintaining sobriety requires an individualized plan. Several therapeutic approaches may be used during treatment and aftercare. Exercise is one element of a comprehensive drug/alcohol treatment approach among the many modalities employed. It complements therapies, life-skills training, mental health education, and medication management. This approach provides the recovering substance abuser with several pathways to relearn and learn new behaviors.

Exercise has been studied for several years, both on animals and humans. In rats, the addicted animals who are provided exercise will reduce the number of self-administered drug doses. In humans, it is known to be effective in treating mood disorders, including those depressive disorders that have been medication resistant.

For the recovering addict, finding new activities that replace drugs and alcohol and replace people, places, and things associated with substance use is imperative.

Benefits of Exercise During SUD Treatment and After

Exercise, especially aerobic exercise, releases natural dopamine in the brain. The aftereffects of the natural release of dopamine last longer. It improves blood sugar regulation, reduces the risk of heart disease, and weight management while also improving cognitive functions (including mental abilities, learning, reasoning, problem-solving, decision-making, and attention).

Exercise helps people feel part of a community: group running, weight-lifting sessions, yoga, and other forms of exercise that people tend to do in groups. The feeling “part of” helps combat the tendency to isolate from people and/or feelings developed during substance abuse.

Healthy habits are necessary for maintaining sobriety and mental health. Exercise provides structure and discipline to a person’s life and builds self-esteem. Because of the habit formed through regular exercise, including hiking, biking, and distance swimming, a recovering addict will develop a routine that will translate into the body’s desire to exercise.

Yoga is a mind-body exercise that focuses on breathing, being present, and strength building, and is a form of meditation. The ability to quiet the mind and focus on the here and now benefits everyone. It is part of what is now known as mindfulness.

According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise helps depression and anxiety:

Other studies demonstrate that being in nature (regardless of whether that is a city park, a forest trail, the beach, or a garden) profoundly impacts our emotional, psychological, and physical health. “Research shows that people who are more connected with nature are usually happier in life and more likely to report feeling their lives are worthwhile. Nature can generate many positive emotions, such as calmness, joy, and creativity, and can facilitate concentration.” Being in nature, such as in a meditative garden environment, has also been proven to help people suffering from PTSD.

The involvement in exercise, regardless of the type of exercise, provides the recovering person with the opportunity to learn new behaviors, reduce stress, improve sleep, boost self-control, reduces symptoms of withdrawal, improve nutrition, increase energy and motivation, and improve quality of life.

The profound impact of exercise on a person’s well-being is acute (immediate) and long-term. One study found that “engaging in a physical activity program during treatment can contribute to reduced dropout rates, thereby increasing the success rate of therapy.”

Treatment for SUD Works

Treatment for SUD works if one receives the appropriate treatment plan. Regular treatment plan evaluations addressing all issues that may arise during the treatment process is considered best practice. Best practices include attending a licensed facility that utilizes the expertise of addiction physicians, nurses, and certified supporting staff. Studies have demonstrated that an addict who participates in exercise therapy during treatment is more likely to complete the treatment and stay sober.

If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction to drugs/alcohol, call now to speak with a trained staff member. Our caring staff will help answer all your questions and guide you to the best treatment options for your needs.

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What is Recovery for an Alcoholic?

While there are several modes of treatment for alcoholism, there is not one defining definition for alcohol recovery. “Best practices” supported by research help to shape quality alcohol recovery, and treatment programs. In general, recovery from alcoholism relies, at its foundation, on the cessation of using alcohol. Research is now looking into how people achieve and sustain remission and long-term recovery.

But the essence of recovery is more than whether a person completely abstains from alcohol. In most quality treatment programs, the focus of treatment examines issues surrounding: what alcohol does to the body and brain, self-care (life skills), taking responsibility for one’s actions, the ability to care about others (empathy), mental health, physical health (all part of self-care), spiritual health, personal growth, making necessary changes in behaviors that produce negative consequences, positive social interactions, etc.

Recovery treatment protocols generally utilize a variety of therapies, including but not limited to the following:

Not all treatment programs use the same therapeutic modalities, but quality programs will have a range of therapies conducted by a licensed therapist that consist of “best practices”. 

In a study, Elements That Define Recovery: The Experiential Perspective, researchers found that six elements most endorsed by >90% included: “essential recovery” (being honest with myself, handling negative feelings without using drugs or alcohol, being able to enjoy life without drinking or using drugs like I used to) and three elements of “enriched recovery” (a process of growth and development, reacting to life’s ups and downs in a more balanced way than I used to, taking responsibility for the things I can change).”

What are triggers?

Addiction to alcohol or drugs or both is a multidimensional condition that includes economic status, social status, educational status, health status, psychological status, physical status, genetics, past trauma, and a host of other contributing factors. Layers upon layers blend together in the development of Substance Use Disorder (SUD).

When a client is in treatment, whether outpatient or residential treatment, he/she/they are subject to a range of challenges that may not decrease when he/she/they are out of treatment care and living a “sober” life. Stressors may challenge a person in recovery regularly or intermittently. Stressors can be referred to as triggers; by definition, a trigger is an external stimulus that induces a reaction. The intensity of a trigger is dependent upon many factors. The response may start as a psychological stressor but can become a physical stressor, commonly known as a craving.

Resilience is one aspect of recovery that is crucial in managing stressors and takes time to develop, including acquired life skills, a healthy support system, healthy habits, etc. 

While there is a saying in 12 Step programs, “ you are only as far away from a drink as the length of your arm,” which applies to everyone in Alcoholic recovery, triggers may present as more intense in early sobriety than at other times. 

Alcohol-free beverages that seem like beer or wine can be a trigger to start drinking. In some of the non-alcoholic beers, there are trace amounts of alcohol. These can have a psychological impact on a person in recovery.

The act of drinking a non-alcoholic beverage may occur in a familiar spot where drinking alcohol occurred. Indeed, in some individuals, the sensation of being drunk may occur after consuming a non-alcoholic beverage.

Situations (people, places, things) can set off triggers. Perhaps you arrive at a family gathering. You know there will be alcoholic beverages, so you bring your non-alcoholic drink instead of tea, coffee, or soda. But, not only the beer-like substance in this environment can trigger you. Bringing a non-alcoholic beverage, while its intention may have been healthy, adds levels of stress to a difficult situation. The family dynamics can profoundly impact your sobriety: it may be trying, at the very least.

Hosia Keene (M.A., LMHC) integrated provider at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation treatment Center is quoted as saying, “anything can be a trigger if a person associates it with past drinking—the smell, the taste, the location, who’s there, the occasion or social setting. We know we can’t avoid it all. So what we try to do is help to understand and then anticipate which ones are going to be problematic…”

Cope with triggers you can’t avoid

It’s not possible to avoid all tempting situations or to block internal triggers, so you’ll need a range of strategies to handle urges to drink. Here are some options:

For those in early recovery, it is best to avoid non-alcoholic beverages. There are too many variables that can become triggers. Sobriety is worth the effort, and getting your life back is the reward–do not risk it for non-alcoholic beer or wine.

If you need help, call Recovery Bay a drug and alcohol rehab center designed to help men recover from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. Speak to a specialist now and find the path to regain your life. Living with active addiction consumes every aspect of one’s life; it causes pain and hardship to those who love you. Call now for help.

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What are Co-Occurring Disorders?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (published by the American Medical Association), co-occurring disorders include two or more substance use disorders AND mental health disorders. Any combination of illnesses can be seen as co-occurring disorders.

These conditions include:

According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), substances often used with the disorders mentioned above include:

This list will also include many of the street drugs that are illegal and manufactured in illegal drug labs. 

Often a person with an underlying mental health disorder will try to self-medicate to manage the feelings associated with the condition. The term dual diagnosis is often used to describe a person suffering from a mental illness and substance use or abuse simultaneously. “More than half of persons who have a serious mental illness also have a substance use or abuse disorder. Dual diagnosis is sometimes referred to as co-occurring disorders or comorbidity.” The use of substances can sometimes exacerbate an underlying mental health condition, or the drugs can create a mental health condition. Either way, whatever mental health illness is present along with the drug or drugs used requires that both or all conditions be treated simultaneously. It should be noted that drug addiction can occur even if a physician has prescribed a drug. This usually happens when the drug is not taken as directed! But addiction can also happen if the drug is powerful, sometimes the body quickly develops a need for the drug.

“The combination of mental illness and substance abuse is so common that many clinicians who work with the mentally ill now expect to find it. Studies show that 50% of persons with mental illness also have a substance abuse problem. And more than half the persons with a substance abuse diagnosis also have a diagnosable mental illness.”

Before the discussion of dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders can proceed, we should understand that the medical community, based on years of brain and behavioral research, now considers drug addiction a disease of the brain. And, yes, dual diagnosis or substance addiction and abuse combined with mental health disorders can be treated!

The old approach to solving drug abuse, “Just Say No,” doesn’t work, nor can it be considered a moral flaw. These old perspectives toward substance abuse, addiction, and mental health disorders are harmful and ignore the reality that changes in the brain are caused by drugs. Changes in brain function caused by drugs, including neurotransmitters’ ability to send messages, lead to compulsive drug seeking and use. Compulsive drug seeking occurs despite the harmful consequences that proceed drug use. 

“Addiction affects multiple brain circuits, including those involved in reward and motivation, learning and memory, and inhibitory control over behavior. That is why addiction is a brain disease…[D]rug abuse and addiction increase a person’s risk for a variety of other mental and physical illnesses related to a drug-abusing lifestyle or the toxic effects of the drugs themselves. Additionally, the dysfunctional behaviors that result from drug abuse can interfere with a person’s normal functioning in the family, the workplace, and the broader community.”

According to a National Institute of Drug Addiction research report on comorbidities: 

“Data show high rates of comorbid substance use disorders and anxiety disorders—which include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Substance use disorders also co-occur at high prevalence with mental disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), psychotic illness, borderline personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. Patients with schizophrenia have higher rates of alcohol, tobacco, and drug use disorders than the general population.”

What causes addiction and mental health disorders?

Various aspects contribute to substance abuse and mental illness: Genetics, environment, family dysfunction, trauma (physical, emotional, and cognitive), social pressure to explore drugs, and untreated and undiagnosed mental health issues. There are a host of other influences that can lead to co-occurring disorders. Sometimes the use of drugs can lead to a mental health disorder because drugs, whether prescribed by a physician or taken illegally, can alter the brain’s ability to function correctly.

What treatment is required for dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders?

The first step toward any treatment is detox. Often, withdrawal can set off more severe mental health issues while also being physically dangerous. A team of addiction specialists and physicians trained in addiction medicine needs to be able to control the withdrawal of a person from multiple drugs or one drug accompanied by a mental health illness. The team must also make a FULL and comprehensive assessment so that proper medication can be administered to ease the withdrawal symptoms. 

Detox is NOT drug treatment; it is the process of ridding the body of the drug. It is a managed process of cleansing the body and brain so that treatment can follow. Detox does not address why a person took drugs, nor does it explore mental illness, etc. 

It is best practice (established after research has shown what works best) for a person going through detox followed immediately by drug treatment. Usually, the easiest transition from detox to treatment is made at a facility that offers the continuation of treatment. Regardless, there should be no time between detox and the start of drug treatment as the likelihood of using again, or relapsing, increases.

Once the detox process is completed, and the person enters drug rehabilitation, another assessment will occur. These assessments should occur regularly throughout treatment. It is in drug rehab that the work of recovery happens. The longer a person has used drugs and has detoxed multiple times, the longer the term of treatment is recommended.

The term now being used to treat co-occurring disorders is integrated interventions. Integrated interventions mean that all disorders receive treatment simultaneously. It also means that treatment plans must address each individual’s needs. One size fits all treatment programs do not work. Quality treatment programs will use a variety of therapies in addressing a person suffering from co-occurring disorders. For example, a person suffering from heroin addiction and psychosis needs to learn how to manage drug triggers and cravings, as well as manage the symptoms of his/her/their mental health disorders. That means that the approach required for that individual will not necessarily work for a person who is suffering from bipolar disorders and cocaine. Without a comprehensive approach to all disorders, a person can go through drug rehabilitation and relapse if his/her/their mental health issues are not addressed and vice versa. 

Qualified, licensed therapists understand the dynamics of mental health disorders and drug addiction. For information on how you or a loved one can gain control over his/her/their life and learn how to live in sobriety and mental health, call one of our trained staff members now. Coastal Detox is dedicated to helping people recover from addiction and mental health disorders.

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What is Substance Abuse or Substance Use Disorder (SUD)?

Substance abuse or SUD is considered a medical brain disorder because substance(s) used inappropriately alter brain function. When a person overuses a drug or alcohol to the point of addiction, whether legal or illegal, it is considered substance abuse or SUD. As an obvious example, we will use a person who continually smokes cigarettes and has trouble stopping; that person is addicted to smoking cigarettes. 

Substance abuse or SUD alters a person’s behavior, attitudes, and perspective, and that he/she/they spend a good amount of time getting and using the substance. It can mean ignoring everyday obligations to the point of bankruptcy or homelessness or substance-related legal problems. The obsession with the drug or substance is continues despite the known health risks and the potential loss of a job or family and friends.

The process of addiction to a substance can happen quickly or slowly. As a person uses a drug, whether prescribed or obtained illegally, the body grows tolerant and to experience a similar high as that felt initially the body begins to require more of the substance(s). The tolerance level increases according to the amount of substance regularly used. Sadly, the more the person uses, the greater the body’s craving for more.

What are the Signs of Substance Abuse?

The following are a few examples of symptoms:

Detox is the First Step in Moving Toward SUD Treatment

Once a person decides to stop using and to get help for the addiction, whether independently or through an intervention, the person checks into a detox. A medically supervised detox is the safest. Determining whether a client needs inpatient or outpatient detox is also determined by the types of substances abused, the length of the abuse, and the mental health of the addict. Some drug combinations make it physically and psychologically dangerous for a person to go through detox without medical supervision. 

A general misconception is that detox is a drug abuse treatment. Detox is just the process by which there is a controlled removal of substances from a person’s body. A medically supervised detox includes monitoring the psychological impact of withdrawal on the person. A quality detox facility will be licensed and medically staffed. At the end of the detox, the medical staff and addiction specialists will develop a treatment plan to follow. Moving directly from detox to treatment is considered best practice and provides the best way toward successful recovery.

What is a Comprehensive SUD Treatment Plan?

Individualized treatment plans consider many realities: the person’s home obligations, work or school obligations, mental health status, and physical considerations, as well as financial considerations. Many addicts are dually diagnosed or have co-occurring conditions. That means the addict has a mental health disorder(s) in addition to an alcohol and/or drug addiction. All aspects of a person’s life must be managed and addressed during treatment to ensure that a SUD treatment is successfully.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “9.5 million U.S. adults experienced both mental illness and a substance abuse disorder in 2019. After the COVID pandemic, that figure jumped to 40.3 million people aged 12 or older. This figure included 28.3 million who had alcohol use disorders and 6.5 million who had both alcohol and SUD.

Treatment options must include appropriate medication to stabilize one’s mental health and counseling to address underlying mental health disorders and substance abuse issues. Education classes are needed to teach the addict what addiction is, the signs of relapse, and what triggers may challenge the addict in the future. Mental health classes are required to teach the addict about his/her/their mental disorder and how to manage it. Medication management education is necessary for those with co-occurring disorders. Depending upon the treatment facility, several different counseling modalities may be used, including individual and group counseling. The types of therapies range from

A person hoping to be successful in recovery must learn about honesty and personal responsibility (without shame or guilt). Life skill classes are needed to provide the addict with methods to manage life stressors and strong feelings as they arise. Regular treatment plan evaluation is based on the individual’s progress and response to treatment elements and current stressors.

Treatment programs should also provide physical activities (yoga, running, or other aerobic activities). These types of physical activities increase the brain’s positive effects and build new healthy habits that create increased endorphins. Endorphins are involved in the body’s ability to experience pain and pleasure. Exercising also helps reduce stress. Some studies have found that individuals involved in group exercise will experience an endorphin boost because of the group energy. Additionally, addicts also need to learn about nutrition and the role healthy eating plays in keeping the mind positive and the body fit.

This concept is scary for the addict. There are a variety of programs that will help the addict learn how to live without drugs and alcohol. Such programs, based upon research, include mindfulness training, meditation, learning to listen to others and empathize, and setting achievable workable goals. An addict must also learn about the signs and symptoms of relapse to prevent falling back into substance abuse.

Once a person moves through the levels of SUD treatment and has made significant progress, he/she/they may be ready to move into a structured halfway house (a home with supervision, community meetings, 12 Step meetings, drug testing, and work obligations).

After-care programs allow addicts to address the stressors that are attending to everyday life, including ways to deal with these stressors in real-time. When released from treatment, the treating staff and the addict will develop a comprehensive after-care plan. Sometimes this plan requires the individual to attend individual counseling and/or group counseling a certain number of hours a week. Sometimes the staff recommends attending a 12 Step program. Assessments during treatment can provide the treating team with a road map that will assist the addict in living a sober and productive life.

Coastal Detox can address both your detox needs and your treatment needs. We can provide a seamless transition from detox to treatment without you having to wait days or weeks to get into treatment. (A detox that does not have the facility to move the addict directly into treatment increases the likelihood of the addict relapsing.) Additionally, Coastal Detox can provide you with residential therapy if that is what is required. Whatever your needs Coastal Detox can address them. Call now to discuss your first step toward recovery.

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What are Muscle Relaxers?

Muscle relaxers, or muscle relaxants, are used to alleviate short-term joint pain and muscle spasms. Muscle spasms are often temporary, involuntary contractions in the muscles that administer an immense amount of pain and discomfort.

There are two main types of prescription muscle relaxers prescribed to ease the aches that result from muscle spasms— antispastic drugs and antispasmodic drugs. Typically, these fast-acting drugs act as a central nervous system depressant, working to prevent pain signals from reaching the brain. More specifically, antispasmodic medication helps to regulate muscle spasms found specifically in the gut. Often, medical professionals prescribe antispasmodics for symptoms related to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The second type, antispastic drugs, is primarily prescribed for muscle spasticity—stiffness or tightness in the muscles that suppress one’s motor skills. 

A common and ideal side effect is the sense of relaxation and relief that circulates through the body to calm spastic muscles. In addition, these medications often result in sedation and sleepiness. For this reason, individuals are recommended to consume their prescription muscle relaxers when it is approaching their bedtime, making it effortless for them to fall asleep.

How Do Muscle Relaxers Make You Feel?

Due to the sedative effects elicited by muscle relaxers, people tend to feel drowsy and sluggish after taking their medication. Most are pleased with the sedative side effect because it puts them to sleep and provides them with a brief reprieve from their discomfort.

With that being said, a potential downside of this effect could be the prolonged drowsiness one feels when they wake up in the morning. The effects quickly take place and shouldn’t last much longer than 4-6 hours, however, the dosage amount, type of medication, and body mass can prolong the side effects. A young female taking the same recommended dosage as an older male will likely feel the effects more intensely than the man. When planning to take your muscle relaxer, make sure that you have an ample amount of time to relax—more than likely, that’s all you’ll be able to or feel like doing. 

Common Side Effects of Muscle Relaxers

The side effects of muscle relaxers aren’t always adverse, however, the dosage can and will impact the extremity of how someone experiences them.

Types of Muscle Relaxers

The most common types of antispasmodics—medications for muscle spasms— are carisoprodol (Soma), tizanidine (Zanaflex), methocarbamol (Robaxin), and cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril). Further use of muscle relaxant medications should not be necessary following the initial 2-3 weeks of you taking them. The most prescribed Antispastics— medications for muscle spasticity— are Baclofen (Lioresal), Diazepam (Valium), and Dantrolene (Dantrium). 

Tizanidine is widely-prescribed clonidine that reduces spasticity in doses, resulting in less hypotension than that of clonidine. Diazepam (Valium), for muscle spasticity, produces a rather strong sedative effect, whereas Baclofen is just as effective but generates minimal sedation.

Carisoprodol, the generic form of “Soma”, has become a prevalent alternative for people addicted to opiates such as Fentanyl, Vicodin, and Oxycontin. Substituting alternative medications due to addiction and/or dependency can often open the door to another addiction for most individuals.

Cyclobenzaprine’s most common brand, Flexeril, is a prescription muscle relaxer widely used for physical therapy, relief from short-term skeletal muscle ailments, and rest. Flexeril is commonly associated with misuse and abuse due to its amplified effects compared to other muscle relaxers. This is a cause for concern because adverse effects of Flexeril are also amplified and can often be detrimental to the person abusing the drug. In fact, an overdose of Flexeril can produce severe health complications—cardiac arrest, seizures, depression, heart attacks, and even death.  

How Long Do Muscle Relaxers Stay in Your System?

The side effects associated with muscle relaxers will typically last anywhere from 4-6 hours, whereas some might not fully wear off for up to 24 hours. The question remaining is, does it leave your system once the effects have worn off? No, not entirely. 

Common muscle relaxants can be detectable in urine up to eight days following consumption. The half-life of muscle relaxers can amount anywhere from four to eight days or even weeks, depending on the type of medication. To clarify, the half-life of a drug is the time that it takes for the activity in the body to reduce by half. In general, the lasting effects of muscle relaxers factors into an individual’s body mass index (BMI), age, physical health, medical history, dosage, etc. 

Determining how long muscle relaxers stay in the system (blood, urine, saliva, and hair) depends on the person’s unique system but also on the type of muscle relaxer being prescribed.

For example, these estimates are in reference to the prescription medications Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) and Carisoprodol (Soma):

Prior to performing a drug test, individuals should inform their provider of any prescriptions, more specifically any prescribed muscle relaxants, as this could interfere with the results. 

Are Muscle Relaxers Addictive?

The sole intention of a muscle relaxer is to provide relief for those that struggle with muscle aches and pains. Many people who regularly experience physical pain due to muscle spasms often become dependent on these medications in order to achieve any sense of normalcy. Unfortunately, needing medication to function can result in the person building a tolerance through repeated use. Once tolerance is built, the individual no longer receives the same level of relief, causing them to seek out a higher dose or abuse their medication.

On top of this, people may view the relief resulting from a muscle relaxant as addicting in nature. Due to the immense toll that pain can take on the mind and body, those suffering from lingering pain may believe that their prescription is their hope of a pain-free life which can lead to abuse and addiction. That being said, a typical prescription for muscle relaxers does not exceed more than 2-3 weeks. 

Addiction to muscle relaxers often begins when people take more than the prescribed dosage, which unfortunately is not uncommon. Most people who depend on muscle relaxers become addicted to the side effects and the feeling it gives them. Concerns and dangers arise when a person is unable to function normally without their medication. One of the most common struggles people face after tapering off of muscle relaxers is being able to fall asleep on their own—which is often where dependency happens. Additionally, muscle aches and spasms can feel heightened in those who have stopped taking medication as they adjust back into their normal routine.

So the question remains, are muscle relaxers addictive? The answer is that muscle relaxers can be addictive depending on the individual. Factors such as the medical condition, severity of pain, BMI, and the symptoms following treatment can all affect the potential for misuse, abuse, and forming of an addiction.

Dangers of Muscle Relaxer Abuse

When a doctor or medical professional prescribes someone with muscle relaxers, it is typically for the short term. With this in mind, muscle relaxers are not intended for regular consumption. In contrast, over-the-counter painkillers like Ibuprofen or Tylenol allow for regular use due to their minimal risk of harm. That being said, nonaddictive pain relievers are limited in their ability to reduce severe, recurring discomfort. Those suffering from consistent or intermittent muscle pain may require muscle relaxers in order to power through the beginning stages of physical therapy to regain strength without debilitating pain. The issue arises after the routine use of muscle relaxers because the euphoric effects can lead to addictive behaviors. Those who take muscle relaxers habitually will often develop a dependency on the substance. As a result, these individuals commonly struggle to successfully taper off of the medication once their treatment plan comes to an end. When tapering off of a drug due to dependence or addiction, withdrawal symptoms are likely to occur. Some people cannot bear the absence of their substance and will indulge in it even more than usual—this can often lead to an overdose. Abusing muscle relaxers can lead to seizures, severe anxiety, hallucinations, irregular heartbeat, and possibly death.

Symptoms of Withdrawal 

Withdrawal from a substance might look different for everyone depending on their BMI, drug of choice, and intake. 

The most common symptoms of withdrawal from muscle relaxers can include:

Withdrawal is the uncomfortable experience of suffering a combination of mental and physical side effects following quitting or reducing substance intake. Unfortunately, the discomfort of withdrawal often pushes people back into their old routines of substance abuse. An overdose can occur when tolerance is built, lowering the level of relief provided by the medication. As result, people who consistently consume muscle relaxers often become increasingly dissatisfied with the medication’s results. This dissatisfaction leads them to take more than their prescription dictates in an attempt to alleviate discomfort. Taking more than the doctor-recommended amount of a pain killer can result in harmful side effects, an overdose, or death.

Symptoms of Overdose

Overdose is what happens when a person takes an excessive and lethal amount of a substance. While not all overdoses result in death, it is never a risk that you want to take. It is common knowledge that the symptoms of withdrawal are uncomfortable, however, overdose symptoms are ten times worse. 

Overdose can be prevented altogether when you accept your situation and seek out help for muscle relaxer addiction. In doing so, people who endure the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms can successfully remove their mental and physical dependence on painkillers. 

Moreover, those who are willing to recover from their addiction or dependence on muscle relaxers can find comfort and compassion within a seamless transition into treatment. If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction, drug rehab for addiction treatment could be the safest, most comfortable place to detox and fully recover in a healthy, reliable environment.

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Connor Barton
Connor Barton
2022-06-03
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2022-06-03
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2022-05-20
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I struggled with alcohol addiction for most of my life. After many tries nothing worked.It was my 43rd birthday and I wasn't gonna see 44 if I didn't get help. I called around and found Coastal. So glad I did. I am so grateful for EVERYONE there. This beautiful facility is not just a detox. They actually have programs to help you learn to live a sober life and enjoy being yourself again! Entire staff is awesome! (Ms Diana ❤️ and Mrs Karen ❤️)They really understand how your feeling as most are in recovery also. If your looking for some help please give them a call. I give them 10+stars. Five months sober now!!! Thank you Coastal!!!
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2022-05-04
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2022-05-04
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2022-03-21
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2022-03-07
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2022-02-26
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2022-01-29
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Great place . Helped me so much I am a 64 year old woman and this place got me sober with dignity and kindness. I highly recommend it plus the food is incredible. Rooms are really well laid out. 2 guys to a room . Each bed has its own t.v with head sets so you dont bother your roomate. Take an extra pillow and comfort blanket from home. At least 3 pairs of pj’ s sock and shoes and comfortable clothing fit. You do your own laundry there. I will send you the link to look at. After thinking all morning this is hands down the place for you. Lots of young people and fantastic therapists. For my wonderful son who suffers. From addiction the way I do.

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