overcoming alcoholism

7 Strategies You Can Use In Overcoming Alcoholism

Are you tired of your drinking habits? Do you want to quit drinking permanently? Or would you like to tone it down?

According to the 2015 National Survey on Drugs Use and Health, about 6.7% of adults who had Alcohol Use Disorder in 2014 received treatment. You too can overcome alcoholism if you take the right steps.

With this in mind, here are seven strategies you can use in overcoming alcoholism

1. Compare Benefits Against Costs of Drinking  

It is hard to quit alcohol when you don’t see anything wrong with it. Alcohol users need to think of all the benefits they will get if they stop drinking, and weigh them against the cost of consuming alcohol.

The list containing the advantages of drinking may look like this:

  • Consuming alcohol makes me forget my problems
  • It is my way of relaxing and unwinding
  • I’m fun when I drink

After that, you can write down the list of potential benefits of quitting drinking, for example:

  • I will save more money and invest
  • I will perform better in my job and maximize returns from it
  • I will not get into a fight with my family and other people

The list will make you see the reality and help you pick the best option. When you have strong reasons to quit, you will be motivated to stop drinking even if you don’t feel like it.

2. Set Goals for Overcoming Alcoholism 

This is the time to make clear, specific and realistic goals. You goals tell you what you truly want, make you believe in yourself, and hold you accountable for your failures. Your goals can be something like:

  • I will drink only on weekends starting from this date
  • I will drink water whenever I feel like drinking alcohol
  • I will drink only on the last Saturday of every month

Once you set your goals, it is essential to tell your family and friends. They can help you achieve them. They can remind you whenever you forget to follow through your goals. Also, be ready to seek help whenever you need it.

You must also keep off all the sources of temptations. Keep alcohol away from your home, avoid going to your favorite drinking joints, and stop spending time with your drinking buddies. 

3. Decide Whether to Cut Back or Quit Drinking Completely

Those who are not addicted to alcohol, i.e., those who can control their drinking, may want to opt for reducing the amount of alcohol they drink. In this case, you should set a limit on how much you want to tone down and keep track of your drinking.

However, it is advisable to quit even if you can control your drinking because even the little dosage can cause alcohol-related diseases.

Those who can’t control their drinking (alcoholics), should decide on quitting entirely.

4. Find All the Support You Need

When you are recovering, especially as an alcoholic, you need all the support you can get from the relevant people. Support can come from:

  • Friends, Colleagues, and Family

They can offer their moral support, give financial assistance, or keep you on your toes throughout the recovery journey. They can motivate you to keep fighting the battle to recovery even when you feel like giving up.

  • Rehab

Those who need medical supervision to help them withdraw safely from alcohol will require rehab. Here you will get treatment for your addiction. It offers a safe environment to detox, and you will get comprehensive therapy to help you recover from alcoholism and live the happy life you desire.

  • Therapists 

They can provide simple or intensive counseling depending on how severe your problem is. This will help you develop personalized strategies to get sober.

  • Self-Help Groups

The group’s members support and encourage one another to stay alcohol-free. The best known are 12 step programs. An example is Alcohol Anonymous.

5. Build a New Meaningful Life

Getting support from friends, therapists, rehab, and self-help groups is only the beginning. You need to build a new life where alcohol has no place. The following steps can help you start a new positive life:

  • Embrace a Healthy Lifestyle

Eat the right food, exercise (insert external), and get enough sleep to live a happy life. You’ll also help the body recover and develop a strong immunity after being subjected to alcohol abuse.

  • Develop New Life Goals to Achieve

This is the time to focus on those big dreams you’ve always wanted to achieve in life: Financial freedom, touring the world, starting your own family, going to the gym, and many more.

Whatever your dreams and aspirations in life are, focus on them since the new lifestyle will make you forget about alcohol.

  • Build New Social Connections

You won’t need your drinking buddies anymore. Build a new friendship that conforms to your new lifestyle. Many groups are dedicated to helping alcoholics recover, and you should feel free to join any that suits you. These new connections help you avoid relapse and improve faster. 

6. Manage Your Cravings and Triggers

It is easy to relapse to your old drinking ways if you give in to cravings and triggers. Avoid activities and places that make you crave for alcohol. You will have to lose some of your friends too if they interfere with your recovery.

In those moments when you crave alcohol, look for something that can distract you until the urge to drink disappears. You can call and talk to a friend, take a walk, drink water, or do any other thing apart from drinking.

7. Control Relapse and Setbacks in Your Recovery 

Quitting alcohol is a long journey. Sometimes you will slip back to drinking, but whenever it happens, aim towards preventing it from happening again. Talk to your therapist of self-help group if you struggle with regular relapses.

It is also important to remember what triggered your slip. It may be stress, financial constraints, or even meeting up with an old drinking buddy. Take measures to control these triggers and prevent future relapses in your recovery journey. 

Overcoming Alcoholism is Possible

The journey to overcoming alcoholism is long, and you need a helping hand to walk you step by step throughout the road to an alcohol-free life. However, it is possible to pull yourself out of the snares of alcohol addiction.

1st Step Behavioral Health’s caring and dedicated professionals are here to help. Contact us today to book an appointment.

psychoactive drugs

8 Psychoactive Drugs You Should Really Be Careful With

The greatest danger of a drug is not the toll it can take on your body, but the effect it can have on the mind.

A body can heal, but the mind may not even know it needs healing.

Psychoactive drugs can be some of the most dangerous drugs out there because of this.

Why? Let’s delve more into what you should be so wary about. 

The Types of Psychoactive Drugs

There are four major types of psychoactive drugs. While some of them have a bit of overlap in overall effect, the categories have distinct positives and negatives. 

The four types are depressants, stimulants, psychedelics, and opiates. While there are dozens, if not hundreds, of drugs in each group, below are the 8 common offenders that you may encounter.

Depressants

Depressants have major control over the speed of your nervous system. They slow down the overall activity of your nervous system, making your responses sluggish and delayed.

This can also affect your breathing and heart rate. This makes heavy use for depressants a dangerous task, threatening lapses into comatose states on the drastic end.

Depressants contain both alcohol and marijuana. They are not on the list here as they are a popular subject across the internet. For more information on either, read on here.

1. Valium

Valium is a prescription drug used to treat anxiety and nervousness. It often combats alcohol withdrawal and also works as a muscle relaxant and anti-seizure medication. 

Valium is often the last resort prescription and used only on severe anxiety. Dependency on it can lead to respiratory depression and coma.

2. Barbituates

Barbituates are a classification of depressant. They focus on lowering heart rate and blood pressure. They also help soothe anxiety, especially in regards to physical symptoms.

Overuse can lead to nausea and dizziness, among other physical symptoms. 

Stimulants

Stimulants have the opposite effect of depressants, which fits their name. They increase activity in the brain, giving their user a major increase in alertness.

While used in small doses to improve energy, they can get out of hand fast. Stimulants can increase heart rate and anxiety in great leaps. This makes it easy to slip from small use to overdose.

A major and common stimulant is nicotine, the dangerous and addictive chemical found in cigarettes. The dangers of nicotine and cigarettes are another talked about idea. You can find more information on them here

1. Caffeine

Caffeine is a chemical not many people think about when they think of dangerous drugs. 

Caffeine is a common drug in many soft drinks, energy drinks, and even some food products. Many market it as a safe additive designed to increase alertness and boost energy. 

In small doses, caffeine can be manageable. Its ability to boost energy and alertness does come with a boost to irritability, heart rate, and chemical dependency.

Using it as a replacement for rest or to extend hours of alertness is a dangerous route.

2. Amphetamines

Amphetamines are a class of stimulant that focuses on increasing the activity of the brain on a major level. 

The most famous amphetamine is the more potent form known as methamphetamines. Often shortened to meth, this potent drug has a high addiction rate and drastic side effects like malnourishment and psychosis.

Most take amphetamines for recreational use. Doctors prescribe the category in very rare cases and try to avoid it more and more due to increases in addiction.

Psychedelics

When people think of psychoactive drugs, psychedelics are often what they consider. Many psychedelics have drastic effects on the mind. 

While depressants and stimulants change the rate of brain activity, psychedelics change the very nature of the brain activity. Psychadelics deal in a lot of hallucinations and alterations to the senses. 

1. LSD

LSD, or Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, is a synthetic chemical crystal created from an acid found on a few forms of fungus. 

LSD has been one of the most potent mind-altering drugs of recent history. Often known as acid, it has major effects producing hallucinations. These effects can last for hours.

There is no agreed on medical use in the United States. The safety of the user can vary to a wild degree, as most people react to the substance with a large variation. 

2. PCP

PCP developed first as a surgical anesthetic. It creates a trance-like experience in its users, making for a strong dissociative effect. 

The major effects of the drug create major body awareness and have a small relation to alcohol intoxication. As doses grow, the intensity of the effects skyrockets. 

PCP has a major addictive effect. Its mind-altering sensation finds its way into a lot of drug circles. It can lead to major cases of memory loss, mood disorders, and depression.

Opiates

A specialist section used for the treatment of pain. Opiates started as modifications to Opium, though many examples are synthetic. 

Opiates are still used as prescription relief from pain and other hazardous effects. Under careful use and care, some opiates can be helpful and harmless. The addiction rate to opiates, though, makes unmarked use a quick downward spiral.

1. Heroin

Heroin is one of the most major and infamous drugs produced. Processed from Morphine, Heroin has a massive range of purity based on the producing process.

Heroin is a powerful anti-pain medication and leaves the user in a state of numbed euphoria. Heroin has a massive addiction rate.

The danger of Heroin comes from the usual lax nature of production, making for several dangerous impurities to come with the drug itself.

2. Morphine

Morphine developed from the seed pods of the opium plant. It is a natural pain relief medication, treating moderate to severe pain in a manner of minutes.

Morphine is still used in a large number of cases for a massive amount of pain in a patient. While it can be addictive, the production of the chemical gives medical professionals some control over the dangers.

Morphine still has a heavy effect on the body, creating an effect that can make a lack of the substance worse than the pain it tried to prevent.

Being Mindful of Your Mind

The powers of psychoactive drugs are hard to deny. The real danger comes from the subtle temptations of the drugs themselves.

Any of these drugs can have an initial positive reaction. Positive mind altering can lead to dependency and addiction.

Understanding what makes the substances attractive is a key line to breaking the dependency cycle. Replacing the effect of the dangerous drug with a safe alternative is key to being free.

If you or a loved one are looking for freedom from any of the above drugs, contact us today for more information on rehab possibilities.  

how to quit heroin

How to Quit Heroin and Change Your Life for Good

The United States is currently facing one of the worst drug crises in the country’s history. There are more than 900 deaths per week caused by opioid overdoses, and millions of more Americans suffer from heroin addiction. 

Because of the way it affects the human brain, heroin is the #1 most addictive substance in the world. 1 in 4 people who try heroin become addicted. 

If you or a loved is struggling with addiction, keep reading for advice on how to quit heroin and how to manage the aftermath of withdrawal. 

What Is Heroin?

Heroin is an opioid. It is derived from morphine, an extremely strong painkiller that is made from the seed of the poppy plant. Other opioid drugs such as Oxycontin and Vicodin can sometimes lead to heroin use due to their highly addictive qualities.

Like other opioids, taking heroin causes feelings of calm euphoria. However, this euphoric feeling only happens during the first couple time of use, before the body adapts. 

Once the body has adapted to heroin use, the high involved is less pronounced and becomes more of a heavy, oblivious feeling that ranges somewhere between sleep and consciousness. 

A regular heroin user is more likely to use heroin to alleviate the cravings caused by addiction and to avoid withdrawal symptoms than to actually enjoy the high. 

What Are the Dangers? 

In addition to being the world’s most addictive substance, long term regular heroin users risk liver and kidney disease. They also risk higher chances of contracting HIV, lung complications, mental disorders, sexual dysfunction, and death. 

Plus, the short term physical effects of using heroin are not known to be pleasant. Extreme itching, nausea, and vomiting are not uncommon immediately after using the drug. 

Heroin can be smoked, injected or snorted. A long term effect of injecting heroin is collapsed veins. Regular users will have exhausted the veins in their arms and will try to find any other ‘good’ vein to inject into. 

The dose required to get high off heroin is only one-fifth of the dose that can potentially kill you. Heroin overdoses account for almost 50,000 deaths in the United States per year. 

How to Quit Heroin

Because of the physical manifestation of heroin addiction, it is not recommended to quit heroin ‘cold turkey’. Heroin withdrawal symptoms include severe muscle pain, vomiting, insomnia, extreme anxiety, and paranoia.

Withdrawal symptoms and can last up to 10 days, more if the person has been a long term heroin user. The longer a person has used, the more severe and longlasting the withdrawal symptoms will be. 

There are two main ways to treat heroin addiction, and the best results come from using both methods in tandem. 

Pharmacological treatment (using medication) for drug detox and behavioral therapy (usually conducted in a supervised treatment facility) together can help anyone overcome heroin addiction, no matter how extreme. 

Pharmacological Treatment 

Common pharmaceutical medications used to treat heroin addiction are Methadone, Buprenorphine, and Naltrexone. All three of these medications are opioid antagonists. 

Methadone is a slow-acting opioid antagonist and is used when the patient has not responded well to other medications. It is addictive in itself and produces its own high when injected, so it’s now commonly administered orally. 

Buprenorphine is a partial opioid antagonist that relieves heroin cravings without the dangerous side effects of some other opioid antagonists. It was the first medication to be prescribed by doctors through the Drug Addiction Treatment Act. 

Naltrexone is another opioid antagonist that is not addictive or sedative. Naltrexone should only be used once the detoxification process is complete. This is due to its limited effectiveness if the opioid is still in the system. 

Behavioral Therapy

Using medication to treat heroin addiction is effective to relieve cravings, manage withdrawal symptoms and detoxify the body. However, it is not guaranteed to eliminate the addiction long-term.

In order to treat the addiction effectively in the long term, behavioral therapy is required. Often, treatment will happen in a supervised rehabilitation facility. Outpatient rehab can also work. 

Contingency management and cognitive behavioral therapy are effective ways to treat heroin addiction. Especially combined with medication.

Cognitive behavioral therapy re-programs the brain to help the addict cope with triggers that can lead to relapse.

Contingency management often involves the use of some sort of reward system. It works by allowing a person to accrue points or rewards for negative drug tests and making positive, healthy choices. 

Why Quit?

For many addicts, quitting after using for so long seems like more trouble than it’s worth. While a user might not see it, the long term benefits for quitting outweigh the short term relief of using.

Not only can quitting heroin strengthen relationships and improve your overall health, but it will also greatly reduce your chances of contracting HIV and potentially dying from an overdose. 

Quitting can also keep you out of legal trouble. Heroin is illegal to possess and sell in the United States and can lead to heavy fines and jail time. 

The Fentanyl crisis is another huge reason to quit. Fentanyl is an extremely powerful painkiller that has been found cut into heroin in recent years. The presence of Fentanyl dramatically increases the likelihood of overdose.

The Bottom Line

Heroin is the single most addictive substance known on this planet. It has ruined the lives of millions of Americans. 

If you think someone you love is using heroin, look for physical signs. Some signs are small pupils, rapid weight loss, shaking, being cold in hot weather, slowed breathing and nodding off when speaking. 

Other things you can look for are heroin paraphernalia like burnt spoons, plastic baggies, syringes, and small glass pipes. 

No one says quitting heroin is easy. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal are as unpleasant as the long-term effects of the drug itself. 

Fortunately, there are numerous resources to help heroin addicts and their loved ones overcome the addiction and get back to living a healthy, fulfilling life. Check out our addiction blog for more resources and advice on how to quit heroin.