What are Benzodiazepines?

What are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines are psychoactive drugs. They are the most prescribed drug in America. These drugs are especially common in the senior population. Still, the popularity of teenagers on benzodiazepines has exploded. Benzodiazepines have been around since the 1960s and they work to help manage sleeping disorders, seizures. People also use them to reduce anxiety and help with alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These drugs are prescribed because they can prompt a tranquil chemical in the brain and they produce tranquilizing effects. They work on the central nervous system and block the excessive activity of the brain.

Also known as benzos, benzodiazepines are prescription drugs. People can certainly use them for medical reasons. However, many individuals use benzos recreationally, which can be extremely harmful and dangerous. Some even mix benzodiazepines with other drugs or alcohol. While they produce “pleasurable” effects, these combinations can be lethal. If your teenager is battling anxiety and uses benzos (whether medically or recreationally), please contact us at 1st Step Behavioral Health.

More About Benzodiazepines

Benzos are thought to be effective in treating psychological and neurological disorders. This is due to the way benzodiazepines help the neurons that trigger stress. People use benzos to treat the following disorders:


This type of medication is used for anxiety disorders. This is not for the natural stress of life. It is for a person who struggles with anxiety and the debilitating effects associated with it. Benzodiazepines are used for anxiety because it induces a relaxed state. Some common drugs for this condition are: Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, Ativan, Librium.


Another disorder this drug is used for is insomnia, which is the inability to sleep. These strong medications have a sedative effect which helps the individual get more sleep. These are only to be used under the care of a physician. Some common benzodiazepines used for insomnia are Halcion and Restoril.


Seizures are another medical disorder that benzodiazepines are prescribed for. Seizures are when your body shakes uncontrollably. Some benzodiazepines that treat this condition are Clozepate and Tranxene.

Alcohol Withdrawal

This drug may help with the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol. The benzodiazepines used to help with the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol are Clozepate and Tranxene.

Panic Attacks

People may also use benzos for panic attacks. Clonazepam is a common form of benzodiazepines used for panic attacks.

Benzodiazepines and Teenagers

Being a child, especially a teen, can certainly be very stressful. Some teenagers suffer from anxiety; some kids worry obsessively. Some common symptoms teens experience include sleeplessness, trouble with social situations, and negative thoughts.

There are so many stresses in a teenager’s life today. One of these stresses is social anxiety. Some teens who have anxiety receive a prescription for benzodiazepines to help with their symptoms.

Over 10% of Americans use benzodiazepines. One study shows that 5 out of 10 of the most abused drugs are benzodiazepines. When benzos first came out, people thought that they were safer and less addictive than barbiturates. But, the truth of the matter is that benzos can be very dangerous, especially when individuals use them outside of their proper usage. Unfortunately, this misuse can occur in the lives of teens who use benzos.

Are Benzodiazepines Addictive for Teenagers

Many of the teenage population develop both physical and psychological dependency while taking benzodiazepines. The danger that presents itself for teenagers is that they think it is better for you since it is prescribed by physicians. Many younger individuals have no understanding of the addictive qualities of the drug. So, if your teenager is using benzodiazepines for any reason, it can lead him or her to depend on these drugs.

Benzodiazepines and Teenagers: The Dangers of Early Use

There is a common problem with teenagers and children sharing drugs with their peers. Benzos have the potential of being very addictive and they can have qualities of physical dependency. If a preteen or a teenager starts using the drug early, they can experience long-term effects like depression and memory loss. It’s important to remember that benzodiazepines are for short-term use only; the recommendation is only from 2 to 6 weeks. 

Long-term Effects of Benzo Use in Teenagers

Long term use of benzodiazepines can have side effects such as:

  • Sleepiness
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Trembling
  • Confusion
  • Tremors
  • Headaches
  • Sweats
  • Suicide
  • Muscle cramping
  • Vision impairment

Other Medications for Teenagers

When a teen suffers from anxiety, it is very serious and can have lasting effects on that child. Some of the physical effects of anxiety include the following: nausea, aches, pains, and extreme tiredness. It’s important to seek professional help in dealing with anxiety.

Usually, benzodiazepines are not the first course of action for teenagers. The first line of defense for anxiety for a child or a teenager is antidepressants. Antidepressants work for 24 hours and have a lot less risk for addiction than benzodiazepines. The side effects of the antidepressants go away within a few weeks. The antidepressants that are usually used and are safer than benzodiazepines are:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors also known as SSRI is an antidepressant usually given to teenagers. This medication improves mood. The common side effects include the following: sleep issues, stomach issues, and headaches. These can last from a few days to a few weeks. When getting off this medication, it’s important to do so under a physician’s supervision. Abrupt discontinuation can lead to flu-like symptoms (withdrawal). Some common medicines prescribed are Prozac, Paxil, and Luvox. These medications help teenagers with obsessive-compulsive disorder, separation anxiety, and the fear of social situations. 
  • Another antidepressant is serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors or SNRIs. These may take up to several weeks to work. Some of the side effects are sleep issues, stomach issues, and headaches.
  • A less common antidepressant prescribed is tricyclic antidepressants. The common tricyclic antidepressant is Clomipramine. Side effects for this drug are cardiac issues, bowel issues, and heavy sedation. People on this medication may require EKG’s on a steady basis.

Even if your teen is not using benzos to treat anxiety, remember that there could be negative side effects when using other medications. In some teenagers, antidepressants may increase thoughts of suicide and thoughts about harming oneself. So, it’s important to communicate with your child’s physician to prevent any problems from occurring when your child is taking medication for anxiety.

Precautions for Benzo Use

There are some precautions you should be aware of before using benzodiazepines, even for medical reasons. Tell your teen’s physician if your child has any of the following:

  • Glaucoma
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Seizures
  • If they are battling depression
  • If they have thoughts of suicide

Benzodiazepines, Alcohol, and Teenagers: A Dangerous Combination

As we mentioned earlier, some people “experiment” with various combinations when using benzos. Mixing benzodiazepines with other substances, such as alcohol, can heighten or intensify the drug’s effects. So, many people, including teens, may attempt to experience these effects by mixing benzos with other drugs or alcohol. But, this is not only a harmful practice, but it can also lead to fatal results.

If your teen has to use benzodiazepines for medical purposes, it’s important that you have a conversation about the effects of the drug. They need to know it can be an addictive substance. Explain the dangers of sharing this drug with their peers. Of course, you should also mention that they should avoid mixing benzodiazepines with alcohol as this can be a lethal combination.

Alternatives to Medication Use

There are other natural alternatives to help with anxiety. For some teenagers, these might be a help instead of starting on a drug like benzodiazepines. Some of these natural alternatives are:

  • Exercise is a great alternative to using substances in treating anxiety. Exercising naturally releases endorphins and helps with mood. It helps you feel good about yourself.
  • Meditation is another natural alternative. It has been used for thousands of years and in a variety of countries to help ease the pain of anxiety and to calm the brain.
  • Muscle relaxation is another way to help manage anxiety. You can do muscle relaxation through stretching or even massage therapy. Either way, it will help ease the individual’s anxiety and help them feel relaxed.
  • Music therapy is another way to relax and is also known to help with anxiety.
  • Aromatherapy is another natural alternative to drugs. This has also been done for thousands of years in several areas of the world.

The Dangers of Abruptly Ending Benzo Use

It is very dangerous to stop benzos abruptly, or “cold turkey”. This needs to be stressed to the teenager who is taking benzodiazepines. Stopping abruptly can cause life-threatening seizures, cramping of the muscles, tremors, emotional stress and even death. Make sure when your teenager is ready to get off benzodiazepines, medical advice and supervision are in place. With benzodiazepines, it is necessary to come off the drug slowly. Also, have a doctor or psychological professional explain some of the withdrawal symptoms that may be about to happen. 

Questions to Ask Your Teenager’s Physician

Before putting your teenager on benzodiazepines, here is a list of questions you may want to ask their physician:

  • When will the medicine be effective?
  • What are the common side effects?
  • How long do the side effects last and will they eventually stop?
  • What will happen when discontinuing the substance?

In some instances, your teenager’s physician may want your teenager to get a genetic test to see which medication would be the most effective. Some physicians feel that this would provide a generalization of which medication would be the best option for them. It would have some indication if the teenager is prone to addiction and other qualifying markers that can help determine the right course of action. 

Finding Help and Hope at 1st Step Behavioral Health

If your teenager or a teenager you know is in need of help with substance abuse, here at 1st Step Behavioral Health we provide a caring environment to help them through recovery. You may contact us by calling our professional and compassionate team today.

Stages of Relapse

What are the 3 Stages of Relapse? What Treatment Options are Available?

Relapse can be broken down into three stages: emotional, mental, and physical. It is commonly believed that relapse happens quickly, but in reality, it’s a gradual process that begins weeks or even months before an addict begins using again after completing a treatment program. To prevent relapse, you must understand each of the three stages of relapse. By knowing what to expect, you can prevent relapse from happening at all and keep on your path to recovery. We’ll explain each of the three stages of relapse and their warning signs, as well as how you can prevent relapse altogether.

Stage 1: Emotional Relapse

Emotional relapse is the first of the three stages of relapse. Although individuals are not actively thinking about using at this point, their negative behaviors, thoughts, and emotions may be precursors to a relapse.

Signs of emotional relapse include:

  • Isolation from family and friends 
  • Not going to support meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous
  • Bottling up emotions
  • Poor sleeping and eating habits
  • Lack of self-care
  • Mood swings
  • Not having sober fun
  • Focusing on other people’s problems instead of your own

During the emotional stage of relapse, it is not uncommon to feel angry or anxious or be in denial. It may be helpful to ask yourself questions or talk out your feelings and emotions with a therapist while going through this stage of relapse.

Some questions you can ask yourself are:

  • Are you getting caught up in life?
  • What coping skills are you using?
  • Are you starting to feel exhausted again?
  • Are you being good to yourself?
  • How are you managing stressors each day?

You can try some deep breathing techniques or meditation when you are going through these confusing feelings and emotions. These practices can help you reflect and think about the answers to each of the above questions.

If you can observe the warning signs of emotional relapse early on, it can be easier to prevent physical relapse. However, if these emotions continue to take over, they can lead to the next stage of relapse: mental relapse.

Stage 2: Mental Relapse

The mental stage of relapse is more difficult to come back from than the emotional stage. When recovering individuals begin lying, keeping secrets from loved ones, and failing to take care of themselves, their emotions can give way to ideas that are more specifically related to drug or alcohol use.

Signs of mental relapse include: 

  • Thinking about things, people, and places associated with past substance use
  • Thinking of ways to control using
  • Dishonesty and secrecy
  • Hanging out with old friends who use substances
  • Glamorizing past drug use
  • Cravings or psychological/physical urges to use
  • Experiencing symptoms of HALT (hungry, angry, lonely and tired)
  • Planning a relapse

If you are going through this stage of relapse, think hard about the consequences of using substances again. You may believe that you will be able to control your usage and dosage this time, but this is a dangerous card to play. Cognitive therapy can play an important role in curbing these emotions, and we’ll expand on this later in this article.

Stage 3: Physical Relapse

The final stage of relapse, physical relapse, is when a person uses drugs or alcohol again. The goal is to not get to this final point, which could begin a path of destruction and possibly lead to death.

When you first relapse, you may think that only taking a small amount will be fine for your body and your health. However, having a taste of what made you previously go into a spiral may induce your cravings, possibly leading to uncontrolled use.

How Can I Avoid a Relapse?

There are several mindfulness tactics you can practice to avoid a relapse.

  • Cognitive therapy: Rather than focusing on past experiences and behaviors, cognitive therapy focuses on present thinking and communication. A major key to avoiding relapse is centering your thoughts on how you feel right now versus how you felt when you were using drugs.
  • Redefine fun: Before you received treatment for your addiction, using drugs or alcohol was your way of having fun with your friends. However, when addicts are stressed, they can reminisce about their previous drug use and even romanticize it. Since becoming sober, you have been trained to evaluate fun in a different light, but conflicting emotions make this difficult. 
  • Know your triggers: Being around friends who use, as well as being in specific places and situations related to use, can lead to relapse. 

While going through the emotional stage of relapse, individuals may believe that not using substances will increase the feelings of boredom or depression that they tried to escape. At the same time, this will make them think that using again won’t be harmful, but that it will be a comfortable, pleasurable experience.

Just because you are sober and have gone through rehab doesn’t mean that cravings simply go away. Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was sober for more than 20 years before he picked up drugs and alcohol again. In an essay for Vogue in 2017, his partner, Mimi O’Donnell, shared that reaching middle-age, the death of his longtime therapist, and falling out with friends from Alcoholics Anonymous were a few of the reasons for Hoffman’s relapse.

How Can I Recover after the Three Stages of Relapse?

If you do relapse, it is crucial to get support from friends, family, loved ones and a therapist or counselor. When you do this, make sure to admit your missteps and apologize for any hurt that you may have caused.

It is also important during this period of recovery to look at your relapse not as a failure, but as another step on your road to complete sobriety. It is not uncommon for addicts to relapse, and everybody experiences setbacks in life. You may even consider going back to treatment during this time. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 40-60% of people who have been treated for substance use disorders relapse within one year.

However, you also don’t want to get caught in “revolving door syndrome,” which refers to a pattern of repeated relapse and rehab. When addicts are caught in revolving door syndrome, they aren’t 100 percent committed to recovery and sobriety.

Although recovery is hard work, addiction is even tougher to deal with. Recognizing the warning signs of relapse before it happens can greatly reduce the chances of it ever occurring. 

What Relapse Treatment Options Are Available?

1st Step Behavioral Health has various treatment options available for people who have gone through the three stages of relapse. After someone goes through a life-altering event like this, they need to accept and seek help to avoid using again.

Below are a few of the treatment options that we provide:

  • Drug Detox: Our medical detox center helps addicts safely go through withdrawal symptoms with trained professionals. 
  • Addiction Therapy: Once the detox program is complete and an individual has been weaned off drugs and alcohol, they can begin addiction therapy. People who go to therapy can speak with a licensed counselor are committed to their recovery and 
  • Intensive Outpatient Program and Outpatient Rehab: Our intensive outpatient program is comprised of regularly scheduled sessions of mental health counseling and addiction treatment.
  • Inpatient Rehab: Inpatient rehab is designed for patients who need more intensive care than that provided in outpatient. 
  • Residential Treatment: In a home-like environment, patients can go through recovery with semi-private rooms and shared recreation areas. A residential setting can be beneficial for certain patients
  • Treatment for Professionals: People who work during the day can also take advantage of our programs in the event of a relapse.

Sobriety requires dedication and commitment every single day. Our staff of trained counselors and medical professionals at 1st Step Behavioral Health can help guide you through the process of weaning off drugs and alcohol.

Dual Diagnosis and Relapse

If you have a mental illness as well as an addiction, there is a much higher chance of you going through a relapse. Triggers that are associated with past drug use can very well be associated with depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder. Dual diagnosis treatment helps curb this by treating the mental illness in conjunction with a substance use disorder, such as alcoholism or drug dependence. 

It is important when having both an addiction and a mental illness that both are treated simultaneously, this way the illness is removed as an influence on your drug or alcohol dependence. After treatment is complete, there will be many temptations and possible triggers that can lead you to relapse, especially with an existing mental condition. This is why you must practice mindfulness and identify safe situations in these moments.

Get Help Now

Relapse is a difficult experience to recover from, but here at 1st Step, we are committed to helping our patients through every step of recovery. Each of the relapse stages can be avoided with the guidance and support of our trained staff. If you have relapsed or are afraid that you might, contact us today.


Fentanyl Facts: 10 Facts About Fentanyl Use in South Florida

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is an opioid that is prescribed for pain. It is usually prescribed to patients who are battling cancer or for individuals after surgery. Fentanyl is approximately 100 times stronger than morphine. 

Unfortunately, fentanyl has had devastating results across America with South Florida being one of the states leading the way. If you or a loved one is addicted to opioids, we can help through this trying time of your life here at 1st Step Behavioral Health.

There has been an exponential rise in opioid deaths since the late 1990s. The main 3 reasons for this rise in opioid-related death are as follows:

  • One reason is the increase in prescriptions. 
  • Another reason is that, by 2010, there was a fast increase in deaths involving heroin.
  • Beginning around 2013, there was an increase in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

About Synthetic Fentanyl

What makes fentanyl even more dangerous it has been illegally imitated. This synthetic form of opioid is tremendously less expensive and easier to produce. There is no more need to harvest poppy plants to produce opioids. In some cases, the narcotic is mixed with heroin and cocaine. This exponentially multiplies its potency.

Another problem that arises is that, if a person overdoses on fentanyl, he or she may require a higher dose of naloxone (the reverse drug) to counter the effects of the overdose.

10 Facts About Fentanyl Use in the State of Florida 

1. According to the SunSentinel, in 2018, the opioid drug fentanyl killed more people in Palm Beach County than any other district in Florida.

2. Another interesting fact of Florida and fentanyl is that even as the opioid deaths go down nationally, Florida deaths from the narcotic continue to accelerate.

3. According to the Sun Sentinel, fentanyl was the cause of 41% of accidental deaths in Florida.

4. Florida’s law enforcement has made fentanyl a murder weapon in addition to knives and guns.

5. In 2016 in South Florida, almost 1,700 people died because of opioids.

6. Authorities took the liberty of shutting down an internet website used by some Floridians to buy fentanyl.

7. Former Governor Scott of Florida signed a bill to help prevent patients from getting hooked on the narcotic. The bill limits prescriptions that physicians can write. The bill limits the opioid to a three day supply. Another stipulation of the bill states that the physician’s office will have to check a database for monitoring the drugs and the possibility of abuse. 

8. In November of 2019, the Sun Sentinel reported that there had been 274 fentanyl overdoses to date, surpassing the 245 fentanyl overdoses that occurred in 2018.

9. The Palm Beach Post reported that fentanyl was the top killer among drug-related deaths in Florida.

10. In 2018, fentanyl was found in the bodies of over 2,700 individuals who passed away from drug-related issues. 

More on the Dangers of Fentanyl

Fentanyl is extremely dangerous which is increased since you cannot smell or taste it. This drug is known for its addictive qualities. Fentanyl is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine. This narcotic can reduce or even stop your breathing. The part of the brain that controls breathing is the same place where the opioid receptors are found. Fentanyl is quickly absorbed into the brain because of the major fat solubility. 

It is well known that only about 2 milligrams can kill a person. Frequently, other drugs like heroin or cocaine are laced with Fentanyl. If a person abuses this substance, it can lead to addiction, overdose, or it can even be lethal. 

Fentanyl is the cause of about half of the deaths related to opioids in America. In some cases, it is showing up laced in anxiety medications like Xanax. Unsuspecting individuals may think they are taking a prescription drug to help their anxiety but they’re actually taking fentanyl without their knowledge or permission. 

More About Fentanyl

A fact from the Drug Enforcement Agency claims that 1 kilogram of fentanyl can be purchased in China for about $4,000. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, this can produce revenue of one to two million dollars through illegal sales in America. Fentanyl has similar qualities to morphine. More Americans pass away from drug overdose than from car crashes. The rates per day of overdoses are over one hundred. About 28,000 people died from synthetic opioid overdoses in 2017. 

Fentanyl is created inexpensively in a lab. According to the police, much of the opioid overdose is from illegal fentanyl. People who stop illicit drugs then return back to the drug have a higher tolerance for that particular drug. This leads to addiction and is more prone to overdose. Ultimately, the drug can be lethal. 

A large number of states are reporting double-digit amounts of fentanyl confiscated each month across the United States of America. This leads the way for law enforcement to crack down on this illicit drug.

Increasing the awareness of fentanyl was the high profile story about the death of American pop singer Prince. This prompted politicians to increase the punishment for the sale of fentanyl and for having it in your possession.

Fentanyl Facts: Teenagers and Drug Use

With so many deaths in America, it is imperative to have discuss the dangers of this drug with teenagers. Unbeknownst to them, they can take fentanyl believing it is a medically-prescribed medication. Teenagers are at more risk of developing drug addictions. Sometimes, younger individuals “experiment” with drugs and even begin to mix them with other substances. In many cases, people mix drugs with alcohol to intensify the effects of both substances. But, when combined with alcohol or different narcotics, opioids can be lethal. Prevention of this drug is essential to correcting this epidemic. 

The Effects of Fentanyl Use

There are some negative effects of fentanyl, including:

  • Difficulty in concentration
  • Abdominal issues
  • Not wanting to eat
  • Slowed breathing
  • Constricted pupils
  • The sweating profusely
  • Overdose
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Death

Many people use fentanyl in order to experience its euphoric effects. But, it can do more harm than individuals may realize. Sometimes, people may stop breathing when they use an excessive amount of fentanyl. This can lead to permanent brain damage or even death. So, it’s important to avoid abusing this drug.

Mental Health and Drug Abuse

Many in the mental health community are advocating for supporting behavior health to help in the treatment of addiction. Fentanyl is used to amplify the brain’s bliss chemicals. This is why it is so addictive and so deadly. 

People who abuse drugs like opioids could possibly have an underlying mental health issue. This is known as a dual diagnosis. Both needs should be addressed for a full and complete recovery. If you or a loved one is dealing with a mental health issue, let us help here at 1st Step Behavioral Health.

Reach Out to Us For More Information

Whether a person is suffering from fentanyl abuse or another substance use problem. There is hope. Many people who find themselves struggling with drug addiction or alcoholism experience feelings of hopelessness. Often, people feel helpless when they’re in this condition. It can be hard to talk to others about what is happening. The fear of misunderstanding or vulnerability often keeps people from opening up about their struggles.

But, it’s important to seek help if addiction is affecting your life or the life of a loved one. Through a professional treatment program, individuals can find healing and freedom from substance abuse. Addiction is a disease, but it’s a treatable one. But, attempting to fight it alone can be dangerous. So, it’s best to get help from professionals who understand your needs.

If you or a loved one would like more information on getting help with mental health or opioid addiction, contact us at 1st Step Behavioral Health and let us help you to overcome substance abuse.

adult woman struggling with anxiety disorder

What is Psychological Dependence When it Comes to Addiction? Can it be Broken?

Addiction is defined by the continued use of a substance that alters a person’s mood in spite of negative consequences/behaviors. To understand what addiction is, you need to be aware of the difference between physical and psychological addiction. Both come into play if someone suffers from drug or alcohol dependence, and both can certainly be broken.

What is Physical Dependence?

Let’s use opiate addiction as an example. If you take opiates for an extended amount of time, you’ll build up a tolerance to the drugs. Receptors within your brain will become less sensitive, and you’ll need higher and higher doses of the drug to get the same effect. 

Soon, the body will be unable to make enough natural opioids to satisfy the tolerant receptors and will become dependent on the drugs you’re taking. This is an example of physical dependence. Some symptoms of physical dependence may include:

  • Memory loss
  • Blackouts
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Disorientation

What is Psychological Dependence?

The definition of the word “psychological” directly relates to the emotions or mind. Psychological dependence is when you become mentally dependent on substances or the behaviors you display as a result of the psychological addiction. 

If you have a psychological addiction problem, you have an emotional or mental attachment to a substance. This can be more dangerous than a physical dependence because it leads to constant use and a toxic mental state. This kind of dependence can also be explained as an internal battle.

The symptoms of psychological addiction can be severe and intense. They include:

  • Appetite loss
  • Denial
  • Appetite loss
  • Intense substance cravings
  • Inability to imagine coping without the substance
  • Feeling restless when you’re not using the substance
  • Being mentally obsessed with getting more of the drug
  • Insomnia that related to not being able to use a drug
  • Anxiety when thinking of not being able to access the substance

A More In-Depth Look At Psychological Dependence

Most people refer to psychological dependence as the cognitive and emotional aspects of addictive behaviors or the withdrawal process from drugs or alcohol. Psychological dependence on drugs or alcohol is the main reason as to why people have such a hard time breaking free from addiction. An addict not only becomes physically addicted but mentally as well. There’s a misconception that solely detoxing will be enough to drop an addiction.

However, physical dependence is only a small part of the recovery process, meant to prepare a foundation for recovery. Alcohol and drug treatment programs aim to support an addict during the mental and emotional challenges of the recovery process.

Understanding how psychological dependence on a substance develops and how severe it can be is crucial to recovery. The science behind addiction helps to put matters into a more objective light. There’s an explanation as to why you may want to stop very badly but can’t seem to shake the addiction. 

Once you understand how the brain works, the willingness to take suggestions gets much easier, and you can begin to recover. Addiction therapy aims to lessen and eventually eliminate the psychological dependence an addict feels.

How Does Psychological Dependence Begin to Form?

Our biological processes are a part of who we are. There are primitive traits inside of us that we carry every day, even if we don’t realize. Essentially, every species of animal has a pleasure-reward system brain for survival. This helps us survive by remembering where to find food when we’re hungry or water when we’re thirsty. Through repetition of action, our habits (both good and bad) get stronger.

This cycle is called the “habit loop”. It can be broken down into three separate parts:

  • Trigger
  • Behavior
  • Reward

The trigger is what makes you tick. For example, a stressful day at work makes you feel like you need to drink. The behavior is the drinking itself. The reward is a temporary relief from your pain. 

Eventually, the brain connects that drugs can curb a negative emotion. Although drugs are dangerous with fatal consequences, the brain just relies on the reward. Once this happens, any time an individual with an addiction experiences something negative, the brain tells them to use the substance.

Early Recovery Is Challenging

Habits continue to grow, the more we repeat them. This is why long-term care can have such incredible results at rehab. The structure and support of residential treatment teach responsibility and helps break a psychological dependence. Sadly, many people relapse when they try an outpatient or IOP first. When you repeat a positive set of actions for an extended period, they tend to begin to stick. 

A psychological dependence signals to your brain that abusing a substance is the only way to feel well. The longer you spend in this cycle, the harder it can be for your brain to break this habit. Inpatient treatment centers around the concept that sobriety is a skill. It can gradually get stronger through the right training.

Recovering early is not realistic for most addictions. It takes time to get better. Setting realistic expectations helps our patients be patient with themselves throughout the process. 

Co-Occurring Disorders with Psychological Dependence

Dual diagnosis treatment focuses on treating co-occurring disorders. A co-occurring disorder is the presence of mental illness as well as an addiction. For some people, the trigger to begin using drugs or alcohol was a symptom of mental illness like anxiety, depression, ADHD, or PTSD. 

Because addiction and many mental health conditions have similar symptoms, proper diagnosis of either condition can be challenging. Due to the difficulty in diagnosis, one disorder might be treated while the other is left undiagnosed. Consequently, this leaves the patient vulnerable to relapse or worsening mental health. Therefore, each diagnosis must be made and treated simultaneously.

Co-occurring disorders are tragically common. About 7.9 million adults in the United States had co-occurring disorders in 2014. No matter how alone you may feel, you’re not. People are working through similar challenges as you. Being connected with these people at rehab is a powerful tool in the recovery process.

Symptoms of Co-Occurring Disorders

You may be able to recognize co-occurring disorders if you keep an eye out for certain symptoms. Each person is unique in the signs they display. However, generally speaking, there are symptoms that most people may experience. 

Those symptoms include:

  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Social isolation
  • Using substances under dangerous conditions
  • Risky behavior
  • Loss of control over how much they use substances or drink alcohol
  • Needing more and more of the substance to achieve the desired effect (tolerance)
  • Displaying intense, painful withdrawal symptoms
  • Cravings for the substance, and the belief that they need the substance to function.

Psychological dependence typically leads to co-occurring disorders. This is almost inevitable. Recognizing the early signs of co-occurring disorders can stop addiction in its tracks.

The most common co-occurring disorders with substance abuse fall into five categories:

  1. Mood disorders
  2. Anxiety disorders
  3. Psychotic disorders
  4. Personality disorders
  5. Eating disorders

Recovery for Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-occurring disorders directly correlate with psychological dependence. When you take the time to address the underlying roots of addiction, you’ll start to notice breakthroughs within yourself. Therapy is a key component in treatment when addressing these issues. Our treatment program offers a variety of resources for psychological dependence within the entirety of the treatment plan.

Psychological dependence can get in the way of someone’s ability to function normally. Fortunately, rehab can help you on the road to recovery. Our facility offers a variety of programs with different levels of care. 

When it comes to psychological dependence, some of the many options we offer are:

  • Residential treatment programs. This is also known as inpatient rehab. This kind of treatment offers medical supervision 24/7. One of the biggest benefits is that the patient is away from any harmful triggers. Instead, they reside in a sober and supportive community.
  • Outpatient treatment options. If you have serious obligations outside of rehab, then this program may be a perfect fit for you. Whether it’s childcare or career-related, outpatient treatments work to create a flexible schedule that meets your needs. 
  • Individual therapy. Therapy directly targets psychological dependence on any substance, Individual therapy for co-occurring disorders focuses on building motivation, identifying self-defeating thoughts, and learning positive new behaviors. 

Seek Help Today and Call 1st Step Behavioral Health 

We aim to create a supportive environment where our patients feel safe and encouraged. From our professional medical staff to comfortable amenities, we offer what’s best to help you to feel right at home. Recovery is about the journey, just as much as the final destination. We are willing and ready to walk on this journey with you.

With the right treatment, you’ll notice your psychological dependence subside. With the help of therapy, you’ll be able to begin replacing toxic habits with positive ones. As time goes on, you’ll develop a new outlook on life. Call 1st Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126 or contact us here for more information about available programs.



Do I Need Rehab?

Do I Need Rehab? 8 Indications You Might Need Professional Help

If you or somebody love is struggling with addiction, rehab can be the difference between life or death. Rehab allows people to heal not only their addiction but also their inner wounds as well. There is tremendous power in taking that first step towards recovery

There are many warning signs that one can look out for when deciding whether or not rehab is the right choice. Recognizing the signs and taking early action is key in overcoming addiction. Whether it’s your loved one struggling with addiction, keep your eye out for the following signs: dependency, withdrawal symptoms, negative consequences, tolerance, concerned friends, failed attempts to quit, co-occurring disorder, secrecy.


Do you depend on a substance, such as alcohol, to get you through the day? Do you often find yourself wondering when you’ll be able to use a certain substance? One of the biggest warning signs to look out for is a dependency on the substance. When somebody becomes dependent on his substance their day-to-day lives Will become centered around their use.

You may find yourself not being able to get to the day without using it. Although this dependency may only seem only physical, it is a sign that your body has now grown a chemical dependency on it. Another sign of dependence is withdrawal symptoms. 

If you stop using the substance for a certain amount of time, you may notice physical symptoms such as fatigue and headaches. These physical symptoms can become dangerous if not acknowledged and treated. Stopping cold turkey can even have fatal consequences. If you find yourself wondering whether or not you should attend rehab, these physical symptoms are a major sign you should seek help. 

Withdrawal Symptoms: Continued

Physical signs aren’t the only symptoms you should look out for. Irritability, depressive behavior, and aggression are some of the mental withdrawal symptoms one can experience. It is important to understand that each person’s symptoms vary based on their circumstances and addiction. 

One may have extreme cases of withdrawal, while others have more subtle signs. These withdrawal symptoms occur when the person is not using the substance. It’s your body’s natural way of responding when it becomes accustomed to the substance. 

We encourage you to give us a call or send us a message if you have any questions about withdrawal symptoms. 

Negative Consequences

Dealing with negative consequences because of addiction is another warning sign that you may need rehab. If substance abuse is starting to affect your life, seek help. These negative consequences can include the loss of a job or damaged relationships.

You may find that your life has negatively changed since you’ve become addicted. It is important to be honest with yourself and think about where substance abuse has led you. Another major warning sign is if you’ve had any kind of legal consequences because of the substance abuse. 

When assessing your life it’s easy to fall into the trap of shaming yourself. However, please understand that everyone makes mistakes and goes through their own set of obstacles. No matter what stage you’re in, it’s possible to get better. Seeking help by attending rehab is a sign of strength and a step in a positive direction.


Tolerance is another sign that it’s time to consider rehab. You may notice that you need increased amounts of the substance to achieve the same high. This tolerance occurs when your body becomes used to the drug and needs more to feel the same effects. Although it may seem harmless at first, this can be one of the most dangerous signs. 

Constantly taking more to feel that same high can lead to a fatal overdose. For example, heroin is a depressant that can slow your heart rate drastically. An increased heart and pulse rate can lead to a coma or even death. No drug is worth losing your life over. Rehab can make the difference between an overdose and a chance to start fresh.

Friends Expressing Concern

If your loved ones have noticed significant changes in how you behave, then it’s time to take a step back. Often those close to us can notice things that we don’t. Your friends and family may have already expressed their concern regarding your substance abuse.

It’s important to understand that your loved ones want what’s best for you and are trying to help. We can sometimes get into the habit of convincing ourselves that we’re okay even when we’re not. We want to emphasize that seeking help is not a sign of weakness. It means that you’re brave and feel like you’re ready to turn your life around. 

It’s easy to find yourself in a mental debate wondering if you should go to rehab. When the people around you are expressing concern and have noticed patterns in your behavior, then rehab may be something to look into.

Tried to Quit on Your Own With No Success

If you’ve tried to quit on your own and keep falling back into the habit of addiction, rehab can help. Addiction is a serious disease that often consists of more than one relapse. It’s a process that requires patience and effort. One of the many benefits of rehab is that it provides a safe space and supportive community for recovery. 

It is also an environment that is free of triggers that can make one fall back into substance abuse. It is not uncommon for addicts to use drugs with other addicts. You may find yourself stuck in the community you no longer want to be a part of. Have you ever heard the saying, “You are who you surround yourself with”? 

This is especially applicable in a situation like this. Attending rehab allows you to free yourself from a toxic environment. Rehab offers stability and a structured program that is solely centered around your goal of long-term sobriety. The structured program helps to provide you tools for a sober and healthy life. The structured programs consist of medical care, as well as therapy and support groups to target mental health concerns.

You Have a Mental Health Condition 

Co-occurring disorders affect about 8.9 million people nationwide. For those struggling with addiction, this can also mean suffering from mental health disorders. For example, you may have had depression and then started using alcohol to treat it. 

For some, these mental health disorders can develop over time and through continued substance abuse. Mental health disorders can be anything from PTSD to general anxiety disorder, to bipolar disorder. We put a strong emphasis on treating the person as a whole, not just their addiction. 

There are often many emotional and mental underlying routes as to why someone is addicted. This is why it’s so important to treat the person as a whole. If you find yourself struggling with a mental health disorder, rehab can help treat you from the inside out. Ignoring the symptoms of a mental health disorder will only make them worse over time.

You Hide the Addiction From Others

As mentioned above, one of the most important steps to recovery is being honest with yourself. Addicts may find themselves hiding drugs or paraphernalia from those around them. For example, an alcoholic may hide bottles throughout the house. Concealing addiction makes it more dangerous for not only yourself but those around you too.

Once again we urge you not to feel ashamed. We understand that it’s never easy admitting that you have a problem or taking those first steps in recovery. However, rehab Will make you come to terms with the truth and take the necessary steps to get better.

Treatment at Our Facility

At 1st Step Behavioral Health, we combine calming holistic therapies under medical supervision to create a safe and serene atmosphere. We treat all kinds of substance abuse from alcoholism, to cocaine and heroin addiction. We also provide detox services to rid your body of toxins accumulated through substance abuse. 

We offer key components to treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy, trauma therapy, relapse prevention, and motivational interviewing. However, we also offer much more than just your standard levels of treatment. For example, our facility offers massage therapy, chiropractic therapy, and many other benefits. 

We also offer different levels of care depending on the severity of the addiction. This ranges from residential treatment (also known as inpatient treatment) to a more flexible program such as outpatient treatment. No matter what stage of addiction you’re in, we have a treatment program for you.

Call Us Today

Our trained medical staff will make sure to properly supervise you and provide the treatment you need. From support groups to the comfort of our facility, we offer many amenities for a high-quality treatment program.

If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to give us a call. Call 1st Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126 or contact us here for more information about available programs.





Molly and Alcohol: Learn More About This Lethal Polysubstance Abuse

Substance addiction forms when a person becomes both mentally and physically dependent on a type of drug or alcohol. The body gets accustomed to functioning under the effects of the substance, causing severe withdrawals when that substance is taken away or no longer being used regularly.

While addiction is often thought of as being the dependence of one substance, there are many cases where the individual is addicted to more than one substance at once. This is known as polysubstance abuse/addiction, and those suffering from this dangerous condition are typically addicted to being high in general rather than to one specific drug. 

Let’s explore the common polysubstance abuse molly and alcohol.

Understanding Polysubstance Abuse 

Addiction of any kind is a danger to both the body and the mind. With a long enough duration of substance abuse, addiction can become life-threatening. The combination of two or more drugs at once or alternating between different types of substances is classified as polysubstance abuse disorder. This type of addiction is not only dangerous but harder and more complex to treat. Polysubstance poses an even greater risk, as the combination of drugs and their side effects are often too much for the body to handle. 

There are many different risk factors that play in polysubstance abuse. In many cases, the individual will have built up a tolerance to one substance, and require the combination of others in order to feel a real “high”. In other cases, the combination of drugs creates a completely different kind of high or a stronger one. Another common scenario is using one substance to offset the negative side effects of another substance, while still getting the desired high. 

Who is at Risk for Polysubstance Abuse?

Those with a history of addiction are at risk for polysubstance abuse, especially if they experiment with new drugs often. There are however some factors that make certain people even more likely to develop this condition. Some of them include:

  • Individuals taking pain medication 
  • Individuals taking  Anxiety or Depression Medication
  • Individuals who experiment with drugs often
  • Individuals with Mental Health Disorders  

These factors lead to an increase in the chances of not only trying a combination of drugs but also thereafter becoming addicted. Many pain or anxiety medications cause a high when taken with other substances, even alcohol. In many cases the intention was not to get high, but once the feeling is experienced it becomes addictive. 

Why are Molly and Alcohol A Dangerous Combination? 

Molly, otherwise known as MDMA or Ecstasy is a stimulant drug often used for increasing mood and energy. Alcohol, on the other hand, is a depressant. This means the body and nervous system will slow down while under the influence of alcohol. The combination creates a massive confusion and dangerous state of being on the mind and the body. 

Additionally, those suffering from a dual diagnosis of both drug addiction and mental health disorders already likely already have impaired cognitive and emotional function. Adding this dangerous combination of drug use adds fuel to a fire that’s difficult to put out. 

How Does Molly Affect the Body?

Molly is a drug often found being used at nightclubs or parties due to the energy increases and euphoric effects it produces. In more recent years it has made its way into the mainstream world and everyone from teens to working adults have access to this drug. 

Taking molly creates a release of the “happy” brain chemicals and these chemicals determine everything from your mood, your thoughts, and your behaviors. Taking molly speeds up both your nervous system and your brain activity. Other Side effects of Molly include:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Feeling of Euphoria
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling cold
  • Impaired balance/gait
  • Heavy legs
  • Jaw clenching/tight jaw
  • Lack of appetite
  • Perspiration
  • Extreme Thirst
  • Restless legs
  • Jitters

When taken regularly, your body becomes dependent on the ingestion of this drug to release happy chemicals. In other words, if you stop taking molly after abusing the substance, your body forgets to release happy chemicals which results in anxiety, depression, and nervous system disorders. 

How Does Alcohol Affect the Body?

Unlike Molly, Alcohol is a depressant. This means that using alcohol causes the body to slow down and enter a state of sedation. When under the influence of alcohol, brain activity, and cognitive function is impaired. Other side effects of alcohol use include:

  • Sedation
  • Loss of memory and lack of comprehension
  • Delayed cognitive and motor function
  • Balance problems
  • Blurred vision and sensation impairment
  • Slowed Breathing 
  • Depression

Alcohol is one of the most dangerous addictions, as withdrawing can be fatal if not done under the strict supervision of professionals. Adding another layer to this already dangerous condition can be lethal. 

Why Alcohol and Molly is a Lethal Combination? 

Molly and alcohol are essentially on opposite sides of the drug spectrum. They create opposite effects, alcohol being a downer and molly being an upper. For every side effect, molly has on the body, using alcohol will attempt to counteract it. This creates extreme confusion for the brain on how it should function. 

Additionally, both of these substances have a direct effect on mood chemicals and hormones. When both are being taken at the same time, the brain goes haywire and no longer understands how to function properly. 

Extreme Dehydration and overdosing are common under the influence of these two substances, as brain function is so low you may not realize how much you’ve taken. 

Treatment For Molly and Alcohol PolySubstance Abuse

Treatment for polysubstance abuse calls for the highest level of quality of care. This form of addiction is more complicated than being addicted to one single substance. Each substance needs to be addressed individually so that the body is properly detoxed and the emotional aspects of both are equally cared for. 

Treating one disorder alone will not address the individual as a whole, and recovery will likely not be successful. On top of addressing each substance separately, mental health conditions need to be addressed and cared for. Many people suffering from addiction have co-occurring mental health disorders. Dual-diagnosis conditions need specific treatment plans that address each aspect of the person, their addiction, and mental health. Attempting to treat addiction 

Treatment Options

Treatment options for polysubstance abuse are similar to that of regular addiction, but address both addictions at the same time.

 The first step in a successful treatment is a full detox. This is the most important step in drug rehab as the body needs to be completely flushed of any substances or toxins related to the substance. Without a successful detox, the body will still be functioning to some degree on the substance.  Detox should be completed in a medical facility under the supervision of professionals. Alcohol and Molly withdrawals can be fatal, so do not attempt to withdraw at home. 

Treatment options such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or ACT therapy are very effective options for helping people overcome their habits and thinking patterns that lead to substance abuse. The ability to rewire the brain’s way of thinking and perceiving situations will offer powerful tools to cope with difficult situations and remain drug-free for good. Other forms of therapy include group counseling and talk therapy. 

Counseling of any kind should be incorporated into treatment for molly and alcohol polysubstance abuse. Additionally, adding holistic treatment options such as art therapy, acupuncture, yoga, and mediation will help address the individual as a whole. 

Seeking Professional Help 

Seeking treatment at a professional rehabilitation center will offer the individual the benefit of all the services needed to recover in one place under the supervision of licensed professionals.  And one of the biggest components of a successful substance abuse treatment plan. Alcohol and Molly can create a lethal addiction condition, and treatment should not be attempted at home without professional help. Some of the services you can expect to receive in treatment for polysubstance abuse include:

  • Behavioral counseling
  • Medication
  • Medical devices and applications used to treat withdrawal symptoms or deliver skills training
  • Evaluation and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues such as depression and anxiety
  • Nutritional Counseling
  • Acupuncture/ Yoga/ Meditation
  • Coping Skills Courses 
  • Long-term follow-up to prevent relapse

Stop The Addiction Now: Take the 1st Step to Recovery

Addiction can feel like it will never end like there is no way out. Even with polysubstance abuse, there is always another option. Properly addressing both the physical and mental aspects of substance abuse and getting into the right treatment program has been proven to effectively treat molly and alcohol addiction. 

There are plenty of options for getting help for polysubstance abuse, and you should never be afraid to ask for help. Researching the best treatment centers in your area and getting yourself enrolled in a program as soon as possible with increase your chances of a successful recovery and healthy life. 

Addiction doesn’t need to rule your life, there is always a way out. If you or a loved one is struggling with polysubstance abuse with molly and alcohol, it’s time to find treatment and take back your life. Call (855) 425-4846 to speak with one of our addiction treatment specialists today! You can also contact us here.  

signs of adderall abuse

Adderall Abuse: Who’s Abusing it More?

Adderall addiction is yet another drug issue hurting communities nationwide. More specifically, our students. From high schools to college campuses, Adderall is becoming the drug of choice for many young people, and many end up needing addiction treatment for this substance.

Students rely on Adderall to help them get school work done. It’s a drug that temporarily increases focus and productivity. Thus, it’s even more dangerous for these students as they believe that Adderall correlates with success.

Recognizing the signs of Adderall abuse can help stop addiction in its tracks. Keep reading to learn more about how Adderall abuse is hurting students across the nation. 

What is Adderall? 

Adderall is a prescription medication that contains two drugs: amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Adderall works by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the central nervous system. Norepinephrine impacts your brain’s response to events. More specifically, it affects how the brain pays attention and the speed at which it reacts to outside stimuli. 

Adderall produces unnaturally high levels of dopamine. Dopamine is the body’s “feel good” chemical which also creates a rewarding effect. These are the kind of effects that can make Adderall highly addictive. The brain of an addicted person relies on Adderall to stimulate a focused and productive state.

Using Adderall for an extended amount of time means that the user will develop a tolerance to the drug. Developing a tolerance means that functioning without the substance will become difficult. Without Adderall, addicted individuals often feel fatigued and mentally foggy.

It’s important to become aware of the signs of Adderall abuse. If you or a loved one is addicted to Adderall, you can seek help today for a better future.

What is Adderall Addiction?

Adderall addiction is when the individual grows a severe dependency on the drug. The user will take Adderall every day, often more than they were prescribed. If Adderall is being used recreationally, then the individual will eventually need to use more to feel the same effects. Using Adderall recreationally is just as dangerous as using it when prescribed and developing an addiction.

Addiction affects thousands of people in thousands of communities. It hurts individuals, families, and those around them. Adderall addiction can be spotted by becoming aware of the signs of Adderall abuse. 

The symptoms of Adderall abuse are simple to spot if you’re paying attention. Don’t let addiction rob you of another day.

Signs of Adderall Abuse

Adderall has a high potential for abuse. Recognizing the signs of Adderall abuse early on is crucial. The worst-case scenario of any addiction is a fatal overdose. The best way to avoid an overdose is to become aware of the signs of Adderall abuse. Once you’re aware of what’s happening, the road to recovery can begin.

As with any chemical dependency, subtle changes in personality and behavior may go unnoticed. Concerned individuals should look for the following signs in themselves or their loved ones:

● Loss of appetite

● Unusual talkativeness

● Excitability

● Withdrawal from normal social interaction

● Financial issues

● Uncalled for aggression

● Changing sleep patterns

● Secretive behavior

● Exhaustion

● Significant weight loss 

● Incomplete thoughts & memory loss

●Problems maintaining relationships 

● Lack of personal hygiene

● Disorientation, mania & impulsive behaviors

Abusing Adderall can quickly lead to addiction and overdose. As tolerance increases, more of the substance is taken to achieve the same effects. In another case, let’s say someone stops taking Adderall cold-turkey. 

If they return to using the drug at the same level, they may experience a reduced tolerance followed by an overdose. The signs of Adderall abuse are equally as important to understand as the symptoms of an overdose. 

Symptoms of Adderall overdose include:

● Anxiety & panic attacks

● Hallucinations

● Hyperventilating

● Irregular heartbeat

● Loss of consciousness

● Severe confusion

● Tremors

● Vertigo

Adderall Abuse Across the Nation

Adderall is a drug that’s being abused across the nation. Statistics reveal a scary truth to us all. Students are severely affected by this, especially those in college and high school. These early on-set habits have the potential to turn into full-fledged drug addiction. 

Did you know that between 2006 and 2011, nonmedical use of Adderall and emergency room visits involving the drug increased significantly, while treatment visits stayed the same? This shows us that many Adderall users don’t see themselves as having a problem. Adderall misuse rose 67 percent, and ER visits went up 156 percent, with family and friends serving as the primary source. 

Young adults (age 18-25) made up 60 percent of those using Adderall for nonmedical reasons, as stated by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

To make matters worse, the number of adults filling a benzodiazepine prescription increased 67 percent (from 8.1 million to 13.5 million) between 1996 and 2013. The total quantity filled more than tripled. During this same period, the overdose death rate for benzodiazepines more than quadrupled, according to the American Journal of Public Health.

As we break down these statistics, it helps to understand the demographics affected. Signs of Adderall abuse can be spotted more easily when we’re aware of who is affected the most.    

High School Students

Steve Pasierb, President, and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, said it best:

“The rates of Adderall misuse and abuse among high school seniors remain unacceptably high and the new data makes it very clear: the abuse of all prescription medicines is an immediate threat to the health of America’s teens.”

Furthermore, the Monitoring the Future survey revealed that usage of Adderall among high school seniors in 2015 reached 7.5 percent – among the highest usage levels for prescription, over-the-counter and illicit drugs other than marijuana. 

Adderall addiction is posing a major danger to our students early on. High schoolers then bring their Adderall use to college. It’s a toxic cycle that creates generations of Adderall users. 

It’s even more dangerous when these students encounter other students using Adderall the same way they are. Addiction becoming normalized is another major threat that’s being posed.

College Students

Adderall is the most commonly prescribed amphetamine. When it comes to college students, the goal of using Adderall is to increase productivity. Many students feel that they work significantly better when on Adderall. 

According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, full-time students abuse Adderall at twice the rate of their peers who don’t attend college. On college campuses, it’s the second-most common drug of abuse. The only other drug that’s more popular is marijuana.

National research also shows that full-time college students between the ages of 18 to 22 years old are twice as likely as those who are not full-time students to report using Adderall. College students are abusing Adderall at an extremely high rate. To make matters worse, college students don’t feel like using Adderall is particularly dangerous. 

In 2016, a national survey indicated that 38.5 percent of college-age individuals (19 to 22 years old) reported that regularly taking these drugs for nonmedical purposes did not pose a “great risk” of harm.

Graduated College Students

Our college students are facing a serious problem with Adderall addiction. Unfortunately, recognizing signs of Adderall abuse is nearly impossible if they’re not even aware that there’s an issue at hand. 

This early dependency on Adderall creates a bad habit for many. So much so, that it can even be continued in the workplace. 

In 2010, a student by the name of Raphael was a first-semester college freshman struggling to get through finals. He then decided to try Adderall. After all, it seemed like that’s what most of his friends were doing to get by. Raphael noticed a major difference in his productivity which turned him on to more frequent use. 

This more frequent use then started to follow him into the workplace. Alan Schwarz is an author of ADHD Nation: Children, Doctors, Big Pharma, and the Making of an American Epidemic. He talks a lot about how millennials are graduating into the workplace, and many of them are continuing to use prescription stimulants as job-performance enhancers. 

“It stands to reason that if you feel as if you succeeded in college partly because of these drugs, you’re more likely to feel as if you need them to succeed in the workplace,” Schwarz says.

Schwartz conducted a lot of studies to get to the bottom of who exactly is using Adderall in the workplace. Turns out, it’s not reserved for one industry. Schwarz spoke to a glassblower, a yoga teacher, a beer-warehouse stacker, newspaper reporters, bartenders, professors, dentists, doctors, and truck drivers who all acknowledged taking Adderall to power through their work.

This reveals a truth to us all: Adderall abuse and addiction can affect anyone. However, there is a trend taking place. College students using Adderall is far more than just a way to get through finals. It’s the beginning of an addiction that caries itself into other areas of their lives. 

Adderall Addiction Doesn’t Have to Last: Get Help Today

There is a way out of Adderall addiction. Recognizing the early signs of Adderall abuse can save you from an addiction early on.

At 1st Step Behavioral Health in Pompano Beach, Florida, you can begin the road to recovery. With proper treatment and care, you can get better. Call us at (866) 319-6126 to learn more about available Adderall addiction treatment programs at 1st Step Behavioral Health. You can also contact us here.







5 stages of addiction

What Are the Five Stages of Addiction?

The five stages of addiction are first use, continued use, tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Addiction affects millions of Americans in the United States every day. Did you know that 21 million Americans (aged 12 and up) required treatment for substance abuse in 2016?

By definition, The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that addiction is a “chronic relapsing brain disease”. It can also be defined by compulsive drug seeking, no matter how painful the consequences are. Addiction can be destroying your life, but you feel like you just can’t stop.

It is important to recognize the severity of addiction and its effects on the community. Not only does it cause the user pain, but those close to them as well. The fight against addiction can only be won if we’re honest with each other. Keep reading to learn more about the 5 stages of addiction.

Signs of Addiction

The five stages of addiction (first use, continued use, tolerance, dependence, and addiction) will all depict signs of addiction in their own way. It’s crucial to understand the cycle of addiction and its stages so medical professionals, friends, and family can step in. 

Mental health, family history of addiction or social environment are all factors that can come into play. Addiction can take form in a variety of different ways. Recognizing the signs early can help you get a head start on the road to recovery. Remember, brighter days can still be ahead.

Some of the first signs of addiction can include:

  • Sacrifices: Experiencing addiction often means giving up hobbies that once brought you joy. Or, not attending fun events or hangouts because the substance won’t be there. In other words, you’re replacing what could have enriched you with a substance.
  • Physical changes in appearance: Depending on the substance of choice, the physical effects may vary. However, almost all addicts look drained. They may look pale and tired, rather than refreshed and awake. With a substance like heroin, addicts may pick at their skin and develop lots of wounds on their faces. 
  • Being secretive: In many cases, a person with a substance use disorder may use the substance alone or in secret.
  • Denial: Those with the most severe problems may not even realize they have one. They might be aware of physical dependence on a substance but refuse to seek treatment.
  • Financial difficulties: Even if the individual didn’t have a lot of money to begin with, this can still be an issue. The addict will find ways to buy the drug or alcohol, despite financial consequences. They make take money from their savings or even resort to stealing.

The Five Stages of Addiction

The stages of addiction are first use, continued use, tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Although each situation is unique, addiction can generally be divided into five segments. These stages of addiction allow us to get a better understanding of what the patient is experiencing. Below, is a more detailed look at each stage. 

1. First Use

Using for the first time can be a result of experimentation or a medication that was prescribed by a physician. It’s rarely something you can expect. It can catch you and your loved ones by surprise. 

During this stage, the individual will now have an understanding of what this particular drug makes them feel like. The first use is like a hook; it pulls you right in. Although one’s intentions may be to never get addicted, that doesn’t always end up being the case. 

Someone may begin using because of mental or emotional issues they must address. During treatment, we’ll assess your reason behind using. Then, we’ll think of solutions on how to target these issues through medical care and therapy. 

2. Continued Use

Continued use can also fall into two categories. Continued use can be a result of taking the medication prescribed as a requirement. Florida has a major problem when it comes to the prescription of opiates. Those who would have never tried the drug are now using it to medicate themselves for physical pain. Sometimes they don’t realize that addiction is taking place.

On the other hand, it can be out of interest in using the substance recreationally. Continued use is when it starts to become a habit.

In the continued use stage, a person may also notice that their recovery time becomes longer. Their high is followed by their brain trying to figure out what just happened. It takes the brain longer to chemically repair itself and balance back out during this stage of addiction.

3. Tolerance

Tolerance is often the first warning sign of addiction. Tolerance is when the brain and body have become adjusted to the substance. Now, it takes, even more, to feel the same effect one felt when taking less. Tolerance is typically experienced after the drug has been used for an extended amount of time.

For example, let’s take someone that’s developed a tolerance to a prescription painkiller their doctor prescribed. They may begin to realize that the same dosage no longer alleviates their pain.

4. Dependence

Dependence is a dangerous stage of addiction. At this point, intense withdrawal symptoms may begin. The user will feel the physical effects when the drug isn’t used. In other words, your body builds up a dependency on drugs or alcohol.

Chemically, the brain has become used to the drug or alcohol. This makes the user feel like they “need” it. This is important to understand because, at this point, it’s largely biological. Your body is reacting a certain way that you must learn to cope with.

Withdrawal can even include flu-like symptoms with opiates, or sweats and shakiness with alcohol.

These symptoms may temporarily go away when the substance is back in the picture. With dependence on any substance, one doesn’t feel “normal” if they’re not using. This stage is a sign that addiction is starting to take place.

5. Addiction

Addiction is the last of the five stages. Addicts find it nearly impossible to stop using, despite the severe consequences of the addiction itself. They may even go back and forth between recovery and relapse. 

On the other hand, an addict may also be in denial. They may be completely unwilling to get help in the first place. This is a tough place to be in. However, we want to emphasize that it doesn’t have to stop here.

Things can get better. There’s hope for a better tomorrow. Take control back into your hands today and let us guide you through recovery.

The Five Stages of Addiction Doesn’t Have to Take Over Your Life

To reiterate, the five stages of addiction are first use, continued use, tolerance, dependence, and addiction. We convince ourselves that we’re broken and things are hopeless. However, we can’t assure you that this isn’t the case. There is a tremendous amount of beauty that can come from the most painful part of life. 

From pain comes growth and that growth can catapult you into a much happier life. No matter how hopeless you feel now, you can make a lasting change in your life. 

This is Strictly a Guide

Here at 1st Step Behavioral Health, we believe in each patient being unique. As with all chronic diseases, there are variations within the stages. For example, a heavy drinker may develop a dependence but never an addiction. It does depend on the person and the unique situation.

If you need more clarity on the five stages of addiction, don’t hesitate to ask our caring specialists. We understand that learning all of this information can be overwhelming. However, just by choosing to read this you’re already taking a step in the right direction.

Take the First Step With Us Today

We’re ready to guide you through it all. You don’t have to be alone and you certainly don’t deserve to suffer. If we can help you or a loved one in any way, contact us at 1st Step Behavioral Health today. You can also call us at (866) 599-4920.

The five stages of addiction do not have to be part of your or a loved one’s life anymore. Where there is a will, there is away.



freebasing cocaine

What is “Freebasing” Cocaine? What are the Dangers Associated?

Freebase cocaine is a dangerous and much more potent version of cocaine. Freebasing is the act of smoking this substance, highly increasing the user’s risk for a fatal overdose. It is really important to understand the dangers of freebasing so you or a loved one can make informed, smart decisions. We are here to guide you through what freebasing is and how we can help.

What Is “Freebasing” Cocaine?

Freebase cocaine isolates the substance from additives. This then results in an almost entirely pure form of cocaine. Cocaine in its purest form is potent and highly addictive. There are detrimental health effects regarding freebase cocaine, as well as an even higher risk for a drug overdose. 

It is important for us to walk you through the dangers and harsh reality of freebasing cocaine. Drug abuse and addiction are no easy obstacles to overcome, but they are most certainly overcomeable. The more informed you are on the problem, the more measures you can take to make sure you’re making smart decisions. 

Freebase cocaine is also a solid form of the drug. In other words – it’s base form. In these cases, cocaine is smoked as a solid which is labeled as crack cocaine. “Freebasing,” allows users to experience the drug in its purest form, resulting in life-threatening effects.

It’s a dangerous drug and that’s why we want to make sure you’re informed.

If you or a loved one is struggling with a cocaine addiction, please know that you can seek help. Begin your road to recovery by contacting us here today. 

Our staff is here to help.

Why “Freebase” Cocaine?

After the base of cocaine has been freed, taking away the additive, what’s left is a pure form of the drug. The low melting point is what makes it smokeable. 

When a substance is smoked, the effects tend to be felt more immediately regarding any type of drug. This also applies when it comes to smoking freebase cocaine. For a drug user that’s looking to feel the effects as quickly as possible, freebasing may be something they choose to do without realizing how dangerous it really is. 

What are the Effects of Freebase Cocaine? 

This results in a feeling that can be described as a euphoric rush. The effects of smoking this type of cocaine are felt seconds after. It is very short-lived, usually lasting less than 30 minutes. The intensity of this rush is what gets people hooked. 

The high can be described by having an immense amount of energy, clear focus, as well as hypersensitivity to light, sound, and touch. The feeling after the high is classified as the come-down. Not only does it last longer, but it is just as intense and far less pleasant. Although the high entices people to try this, the low is far worse and completely reverses any positive feelings felt during the high. 

These are the extreme feelings that can be felt during a cocaine comedown: 

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Depression

These feelings are severe enough to keep people from every freebasing again. This intense switch in emotions is dangerous and can lead to serious issues in the abuse and addiction to cocaine. Chasing the high that freebasing gives creates a toxic cycle. 

Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Freebasing

Malnourishment and lack of appetite are common effects. During a binge, a person abusing cocaine may take dose after dose to continue feeling the high that it creates. Since effects are short-lived, users end up binging the drug not realizing how much they’re actually taking. The long-term effects of freebasing cocaine are unavoidable.

Binges can be dangerous due to the risk of overdose from a large amount of cocaine in the body all within a small time frame. Also, cocaine abuse can cause someone to be irritable and restless, as well as extremely paranoid.

Paranoia may be one of the more detrimental effects of cocaine abuse. It happens especially after binges, and can even result in delusions and hallucinations. Abusing cocaine for an extended amount of time can also damage nerves, affecting movement, and may even lead to Parkinson’s disease.

Consequences of Extended Cocaine Freebasing

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains, “repeated use of cocaine can cause long-term changes in the brain’s reward circuit and other brain systems, which may lead to addiction.” Developing an addiction occurs when somebody uses a substance for an extended amount of time, thus developing a dependency on it. Freebase cocaine is severely addictive with serious consequences.

Addiction changes the way a person’s brain responds to feelings of pleasure (reward). Abusing freebase cocaine leads to an excess buildup in the brain of the chemical dopamine. The brain eventually adapts to this change, no longer responding to the drug’s effects. In other words, one may adopt a tolerance to the drug thus needing much more to get the same effect. It is a dangerous rabbit hole to go down that leads to nowhere good. 

Because the brain so enjoyed the first and any subsequent rush feelings associated with abuse, it craves that feeling. Cravings can become so intense that they disrupt your daily functioning. Life with addiction becomes all about seeking a way to fulfill and ease the cravings. The dependency takes over your emotional and mental state, clouding your thoughts and judgment.

When people try to ignore these cravings or have no access to cocaine, withdrawal occurs. This process can be physically challenging, as the body responds to the brain’s urges. 

Cocaine withdrawal may be characterized by:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle pain
  • Thoughts of self-harm
  • Unpleasant dreams
  • Slowed thought process
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Depression
  • Fatigue

To alleviate the troubling process of withdrawal, those who are addicted may begin taking more frequent and/or higher doses. This can lead to overdose, which can end up being fatal.

Risks Of Cocaine Overdose

When somebody overdoses, the outcome is often fatal. A nearly pure form of cocaine can be significantly more dangerous. Many types of the drug are mixed with something which then makes the substance less potent. Freebase cocaine is both pure and smoked which enables people to feel the effects quicker. Feeling the effects quicker with such an intense onset increases the user’s risk of overdosing.

In cases when a person is addicted and starts increasing doses or dosage frequency, this is especially true. It could be easy to accidentally take too much of the drug. Also, people who typically take crack cocaine or the powdered form may not understand how strong freebase cocaine is. When switching to smoking freebase, the user may take way too much the first time because they’re not aware of how significant the effects are. 

Overdose is a medical emergency which means it must be treated that way. Symptoms of cocaine overdose consist of convulsions, increased heart rate, hyperventilation, and coma.

The health consequences of cocaine abuse and overdose include irregular heart rhythm, heart attacks, seizures, and strokes, according to the NIDA.

Treatment For Cocaine Abuse

There are currently no specific medications available for the treatment of cocaine abuse. However, multiple kinds of therapy have proven effective. According to NIDA, one of the best forms of treatment available is cognitive-behavioral therapy.

This evidence-based method helps addicted individuals free themselves from the stagnancy and routine of addiction. Once a person’s life adapts around their drug abuse routine, it is often hard to break that cycle. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps people build clean, healthy lifestyle habits.

Other treatment approaches for cocaine abuse may include:

  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Gender-based treatment
  • Adventure therapy
  • Wilderness therapy
  • Dual diagnosis

Aftercare is also important in treating cocaine abuse and addiction. Seeking out support groups, taking part in 12-Step programs, and living in drug-free, residential communities are all viable aftercare options for those recovering.

Cocaine Abuse And Addiction Statistics 

The United States has been experiencing an opioid crisis for decades now. Although most of us may know this; the nation is dealing with another, lesser-known rise in substance use. In recent years, national rates of cocaine use have increased. There are serious consequences in cocaine use that we must become aware of. 

Cocaine-related overdose deaths are on the rise, too, and opioids are largely at fault. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics states that the number of overdose deaths involving cocaine almost doubled in two years — jumping from 5,892 in 2014 to 11,316 in 2016.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 2018 National Drug Threat Assessment, the rise in cocaine use is partly due to its rise in accessibility. The assessment further focuses on the increase in the supply and production of Colombian coca and the production of cocaine.

“Record levels of coca cultivation and cocaine production in Colombia, the primary source for cocaine seized and tested in the United States, has widened the cocaine market, leading to increased domestic abuse,” the report explains. 

“Increased availability levels and concurrent lowered domestic prices will likely propel this trend through the near-term.”

Although these statistics may seem a little overwhelming, they are here to show you how serious of a problem freebasing is. Nonetheless, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. 

We’re Here to Help You

If you have watched someone you love and care for fall deeper into the cycle of addiction, you understand the struggle of breaking free. Treatment can help pull you or your loved one out of the habit of abuse and into a new, much healthier lifestyle. 

Contact us today and let us help you or a loved one begin the road to recovery. You can also call us at (866) 319-6126.





teenagers on drugs

Teenagers on Drugs: 7 Reasons They Start Using

For teens, it can start as experimenting with drugs or alcohol at a party. Then it turns to addiction and abuse later on in life. As 90% of people who struggle with substance abuse started using before they turned 18 years old. 

The reasons adolescents start using can be genetics, their environment, or social pressures. Teenagers on drugs also have a higher risk of developing an addiction.    

Read on to learn the main reasons teenagers turn to drugs and how to help them. 

1. Peer Pressure

A peer pressure definition includes teens getting influenced by friends or family members. This happens with teens trying drugs or alcohol to impress people in their social circle. It gets done as a way to fit in, rather than a personal choice. 

Social pressure can also happen with someone the teen is dating or from an older sibling. Peer pressure often takes place when teens choose to attend parties or social events. This is where drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and ecstasy are popular. 

Teens may start out by getting pressured with gateway drugs. Nicotine, alcohol, and marijuana are often seen as being less high risk by teens. 

Yet, this can sometimes lead to using more illicit drugs, like cocaine and heroin. These drugs pose extreme health risks and often lead to dependence and addiction.  

2. Unstable Mental Health 

The age of adolescence can be a fragile and emotional time. Many teens struggle with mood swings and changing hormones as their bodies develop. 

Some teens also have mental health disorders, which drugs and alcohol can make much worse. Here is more on the connection between depression and alcohol abuse and how it can affect a teen. 

During teen development, they often experience an imbalance of hormones. This lets in feelings of anxiety and depression. So teens may turn to drugs and alcohol to help them relax and control stress triggers.   

Using drugs can also affect an adolescent’s brain functions and development. An even scarier effect is that using drugs and alcohol can also lead to an increased risk of suicide.  

In these cases, a teen may need professional counseling or rehab. As this may reduce their risk of turning to drugs and alcohol. 

3. An Enabling Environment 

A teen’s environment can also impact the likelihood of them trying drugs and alcohol. Teens look to older siblings and parents as the people who help to shape their lives. This has a big effect on how the teen will view drugs and alcohol. 

An enabling environment also happens when teens don’t get reprimanded for their actions. This includes skipping classes or letting their grades slip. Engaging in risky behaviors is another sign that a teen may be acting out. 

Teens with missing parental guidance or a mentor may be more at risk. Problems at home, abuse, and neglect can also turn the teen towards substance abuse. Parents may also ignore or fail to notice the warning signs of alcoholism or drug abuse in their teen. 

4. A Family History of Addiction 

Genetics often comes into play for increasing one’s drug and alcohol addiction risk. Teens with addicted families are more likely to develop problems with substance abuse.

This can happen with one alcoholic parent or both parents struggling with addiction. The teen may also have an addictive personality that runs in the family. This can lead them to substance abuse problems. 

5. Having Easy Access to Drugs 

Teens that have drugs available to them can also get influenced in their decision to use. The type of neighborhood or community they live in can increase their exposure.

This also includes which school they go to and the school’s control over and policy on drugs. Some communities have a high amount of opioid abusers. This can increase prescription drugs getting sold in schools.  

If parents have controlled substances in the home, it helps to keep an eye on the medicine cabinet. Internet browser controls are also important. As some teens even turn to the internet to buy illegal drugs. 

6. An Experimental or High-Risk Personality

Teenager personality characteristics can make them more likely to try drugs. Some teens go through an experimental stage or use drugs to relieve boredom.

These type of teens who use drugs are often chasing a dopamine release. Using drugs and alcohol will also affect the teen’s decision-making process.  

These teens may also exhibit risky, curious, or thrill-seeking behaviors. This includes drinking and driving and having unprotected sex. Teens may also mix drugs and alcohol to enhance the effects. 

Those who drink energy drinks also have a higher chance of using drugs and alcohol. This is due to their personality traits and behavior patterns. 

7. Going Through a Tough Transition 

Some teens turn to drugs to help them deal with a big life transition or trauma. This often starts as a situational habit that turns to a coping mechanism. This is how addiction and dependence form in young adulthood.   

A personal loss, like the death of a loved one, can spur this. Changing schools or having parents go through a divorce are also hard on teens. 

Bullying and social media pressure may also be to blame for a teen who chooses to use drugs. Some teens may also be having a hard time figuring out their sexual identity. This can cause them to use drugs as an escape or a means to cope. 

The stress of getting into college may also cause the teen to turn to substance abuse. The teen may also show signs that their grades are slipping. They may also show a loss of interest in academic and extracurricular activities. 

A teen going through a difficult time does not always guarantee drug use. But it may involve a combination of different factors, including struggling with change. 

Teenagers on Drugs, Getting Them the Help They Need  

These 7 situations are the most common reasons that cause teenagers to begin using drugs. Remember that teenagers on drugs will often display some warning signs. It helps to pay attention to the symptoms and encourage support. 

There are also many options to take to begin the recovery process for yourself or a loved one. Counseling services and professional treatment programs have helped many teens struggling with addiction.  

Learn more about how 1st Step Behavioral Health can help with the road to recovery.