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. 











7 Essential Elements of a Good Aftercare Program for Addiction

Did you know that only about a third of people who are abstinent for less than a year after a treatment program will remain abstinent? 

Upon leaving an acute rehabilitation program, individuals face numerous challenges and temptations that can lead to a setback.

And those setbacks can subsequently lead to a relapse.  

That’s why an aftercare program is vital to the success of those in recovery. They provide individuals with ongoing assistance and support to greatly increase their chances of long-term recovery.

But not all aftercare programs are the same. 

What Elements Make an Aftercare Program Effective?

While relapse prevention is a high priority, it cannot be the only goal for an aftercare program.

An effective aftercare plan serves first as a guide to help individuals identify every possibility of relapse. From there, it empowers them to cultivate a healthy, productive and meaningful life.

The fact is, recovery is an ongoing and lifelong process. For addicts, life after treatment is built upon the progress they’ve made.

In order to achieve this, a successful aftercare program should do the following:

1. Make It Easy to Participate

Life in recovery is complicated enough without the added stress of figuring out how to fit aftercare into the schedule.

An effective aftercare program is one that individuals can attend with little or no disruption to other activities or responsibilities.

This is why social support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, for example, have proven so effective. Meetings are regular, frequent and are held in locations that are easy to access.

2. Offer Comprehensive Treatment 

In the past, getting addicts to stop using and usher them through the withdrawal period was considered enough. There was no consideration for other variables that could spark a relapse.

Aftercare treatment programs need to consider the individual at all levels. That means making accommodations for an individual’s medical history, cultural background, age, gender, education, social situation, and other issues.

Another important issue that must be considered is co-occurring mental health disorders or cognitive issues.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that roughly 7.7 million adults struggle with a co-occurring substance use disorder. Known also as a dual diagnosis, this is when addiction is accompanied by some form of mental illness.

In treating just one diagnosis, there is the chance that the co-occurring issue will worsen. And this could result in relapse. 

3. Teaches Accountability

One of the biggest lessons addicts must grasp is that they’re accountable for their behavior. This can be difficult for individuals who have relied on a substance for much of their life.

An effective aftercare program will, therefore, stress that the individual is accountable for not just attending therapy sessions or social support group meetings, but also for actively applying the principles learned in treatment to everyday life.

And in that crucial first year of recovery, there should be an objective measure to ensure that the individual is remaining abstinent. This includes the use of breathalyzer tests or urine analysis for drugs or alcohol administered by a therapist, physician, or other qualified individuals.

4. Lays out a Relapse Prevention Plan

After exiting a treatment program – whether outpatient or residential – it’s not unusual for a people to believe they’re out of the woods. And they have every right to be proud of the progress they’ve made.

But this feeling can make it difficult for individuals to consider what they’ll do when faced with the possibility of a relapse. And they’re often remiss in making a plan that will either help them actively work to prevent relapse, or what they’ll do should it happen.

Aftercare programs make it clear that the possibility of relapse is a major part of recovery. They help those in recovery to identify their triggers and warning signs, why they decided to get sober, and what they need both physically and mentally to maintain sobriety.

5. Offers a Support Network

Success in recovery relies on having a reliable support system. It is simply not something that can be done alone.

Because without a network of supportive friends, peers, and even family who understand your situation, the call to return to substance abuse can be far too tempting. 

A component of recovery is recognizing that certain people, places, and situations are no longer beneficial. Going back to those familiar places and faces can cause a relapse.

Those in recovery need others around them who are committed to helping them stay sober.

6. Teaches Healthy Coping Strategies

Working with a therapist or case manager can be the difference between relapsing and continuing to make progress.

Just because an individual completes treatment, it does not mean that he or she will be clear of cravings. These can persist for years or even decades after treatment. 

In tandem with a support network of friends and peers, a therapist or case manager helps individuals build healthy coping skills – such as having a sponsor or a list of people to call when feeling shaky or tempted.

7. Provides Ongoing Contact 

Continued assessment is crucial for recovery. 

It’s not unusual for individuals to enter a 12-step program and want to blow through all 12 steps in record time. But that’s just not the reality.

In the first year after treatment, it’s beneficial for those in recovery to maintain contact with their treatment professionals. Regular check-ins allow them to assess their progress.

After that, continued participation in social support groups, therapy, or complementary and alternative treatments, should continue for a minimum of 5-7 years after treatment. It’s at that point that the probability of relapse significantly drops.

And even then, there’s no guarantee.

Those who remain sober and involved in treatment-related activities for 5-7 years are often considered to be successful in their recovery. Even so, there are more than a handful of cases where individuals have relapsed after a decade or longer of abstinence.

So keeping vital connections with others in the community enables individuals to apply the principles learned in recovery over the course of their lifetimes. And it greatly reduces the possibility of relapse.

Find the Best Program Today

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and is ready to receive help, now is the time.

Please don’t hesitate. Contact us today to start taking those first important steps toward recovery.

And remember, there is life after treatment! With treatment and an effective aftercare program, life is SO worth living.






how to do an intervention

5 Pitfalls of Interventions and How to Do an Intervention That Works

In 2016, the Surgeon general released a report stating that one in every seven Americans will face a substance addiction in their lifetime. 

That same report found that only 10% of people with addictions receive treatment. Treatment offers an opportunity to live a normal life, and it’s an important part of recovery for any addict.

Knowing how to do an intervention can increase the chance of getting a loved one the help that they desperately need. There are five reasons why interventions fail and avoiding these will help make your intervention more successful.

Keep reading to find out what an intervention is and how to do an intervention that works.

What’s An Intervention?

An intervention brings together family and friends of an addict. As a group, they share their concerns about the addict and discuss the effects of their behavior on family and friends. Usually, they itemize a list of consequences that will result from their continued substance abuse.

The purpose of doing this is to change the context in which the addict has been living and operating. The consequences for their continued use following the intervention means that they’ll no longer be enabled to use by the friends and family present.

In this way, interventions are a way of encouraging an addict or alcoholic to admit to their problem and get the treatment they need. They don’t always work, but there are ways to avoid those pitfalls. We’ll discuss those in the next section.

How to Do an Intervention: What to Avoid

Below are the five main reasons why interventions fail. We’ll tell you what to do to avoid these and ensure your intervention goes as well as it can.

1. Disorganization

Organization can make or break an intervention. If you don’t have a clear plan for who is going to speak, what everyone should be saying, and next steps, the overall message of the intervention won’t be clear. Without timeliness, a strategy, and organization, the intervention isn’t focused or effective.

Instead, make sure that everyone involved knows what to talk about, how long they have to speak, and is well prepared for their turn. Have backup plans in case the person decides to walk out of the room. Being prepared for all the possible reactions can help you keep the intervention on track.

If you’re not confident in your ability to properly organize the intervention, you may also consider hiring a professional interventionist. These professional have the experience needed to organize and execute a successful intervention. They’ll also know how to deal with an addict who becomes psychologically unstable or physically dangerous.

2. No Clear Course of Action

Part of being organized is having a clear course of action for after the intervention, especially if the end goal is treatment, which it most often is. There are a few things you want to avoid in this respect.

Don’t give the addict an option for when they have to go to treatment. The goal is to get them to treatment immediately following the intervention. If you allow them to choose when to go, they may think their addiction isn’t bad enough to warrant immediate help.

Don’t give the addict options in terms of what treatment program they’ll go to. An intervention can be confusing and overwhelming. Having them choose where to go will only add to that confusion and sense of overwhelming and could cause them to back out.

Instead, have a residential treatment center lined up. Tell the addict that they have to go to treatment immediately. And if they agree, then they should be taken to the facility straight from the intervention.

While this type of intervention doesn’t give the addict any input, it also takes a lot of the pressure off of them. It also gets them into treatment while emotions are high and the consequences of not receiving treatment are fresh in their mind. 

3. Focusing on the Problem

Members of the intervention should list how the behavior of the addict has negatively affected their life. And of course, this should be shared with the addict. But after that, this is not an environment in which placing blame and focusing solely on the problem is helpful. 

Don’t focus all your time on the past mistakes of the addict. Instead, focus on the solution… which is to get treatment. 

4. Lack of Follow-Through

Each person who shares their experiences with the behavior of the addict should also have a list of consequences should they decide not to seek treatment. These consequences can be anything from no longer lending money to no longer giving the addict a place to live. If the person decides not to go through with treatment, then following through on your list of consequences is important.

5. Giving Up

There is no way to measure whether or not your intervention will be successful. Even if you avoid all of the above and execute the intervention perfectly, the addict in your life may not be ready to admit they have a problem and seek help. But if that’s the case, then don’t give up.

Some people need more time to process the consequences of not seeking treatment. Once they see what life is like in this new context, they may very well change their mind. Others need to get over the shock and anger of intervention before they can see the truth of the matter.

In some cases, a second intervention might be what’s needed to get the addict help. This shouldn’t take place until well after the first intervention, so the addict has time to process and the group has time to rethink their approach.

Do You Know Someone Who Needs Help?

Knowing how to do an intervention can help you avoid the common reasons they fail. These reasons include a lack of commitment in regards to following through on consequences, disorganization, and not having a clear course of action for after the intervention. 

Now that you know what a successful intervention looks like, you may start considering treatment centers. Have a look at our drug addiction services and find out how we can help. 




benzo withdrawal

Wondering What to Expect When Going Through Benzo Withdrawal?

Benzodiazepines are pharmaceutical drugs which are often prescribed to those who are suffering from issues like anxiety, insomnia, muscle spasms and tensions, and seizures. Sometimes called benzos, benzodiazepines are sometimes even used in order to treat those who are experiencing symptoms of withdrawal from other drugs.

But, although they are used to help people end substance addiction, they have been known to cause addiction themselves. Even though benzos are seen as helpful substances, they can actually be very problematic.

Some people who develop benzo addiction problems may feel afraid to stop using the drugs because they’re not sure what to expect when going through benzo withdrawal. But, it’s important to end substance abuse and addiction immediately in order to become a healthy and whole individual.

About Benzo Abuse and Addiction

Since these drugs can be so addictive, doctors generally prescribe them for short-term use. However, many people end up using them long-term and, as a result, they begin to develop a high tolerance for the drugs.

When individuals become tolerant of benzos, it means that they need to use higher dosages in order to feel the effects of the drugs. Basically, their bodies have become used to the effects of the regular dose and they no longer respond the same way. In order to get the desired results of effects, individuals have to up the dosage.

This, of course, can lead to benzo misuse as individuals may begin using more of the drug than their doctors have recommended.

If you’ve noticed a benzo dependence, abuse, or addiction problem in your life, it’s important to get help right away. Maybe you’ve considered treatment but you’re a little concerned, wondering what to expect when going through benzo withdrawal. If so, we’ve got some information that might help you.

What is Benzo Withdrawal?

After using benzos for a while, people may become physically and even mentally dependent on them. They may begin to feel like they need to use the drugs in order to feel “normal”. This is mainly due to the fact that the body goes into withdrawal just hours after a person uses short-acting benzos (i.e. Xanax or Halcion).

Although long-acting benzodiazepines don’t cause withdrawal symptoms as quickly as short-acting benzos, individuals will still feel the effects of withdrawal fairly soon after using them. Valium and Librium are a few examples of long-acting benzodiazepines.

Withdrawal is almost like a state of shock that the body experiences after it is without a substance that it has grown dependent on. If a person has been using a substance like benzo medication for a while, his or her body has likely gotten used to functioning under the influence of that drug. So, without that substance in its system, the body will become uncomfortable and experience symptoms of withdrawal.

What to Expect When Going Through Benzo Withdrawal

“Withdrawal” is a term that causes a lot of people to feel uncomfortable and even afraid. This is because withdrawal symptoms can be very intense depending on how long a person has been using a specific drug.

Benzo withdrawal can definitely be a challenging process. Common symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tension
  • Palpitations
  • Headaches
  • Panic attacks
  • Weight loss
  • Increased anxiety
  • Excessive sweating
  • Muscular pain and stiffness
  • Shakiness and hand tremors
  • Sleep problems (insomnia, etc.)
  • Concentration difficulties

Sometimes, benzo withdrawal can even cause people to have psychotic experiences. Some individuals have experienced hallucinations and even had suicidal thoughts throughout the withdrawal process.

The symptoms of withdrawal are certainly not pleasant and often lead individuals to relapse in order to make the symptoms go away. But, this isn’t the way to resolve the problem. Relapsing and using benzos regularly again will only lead back to addiction.

The best way to get through withdrawal is through a professional detox and treatment program.

About Benzo Withdrawal and Detox

It’s true. Benzo withdrawal is far from easy and it can be extremely overwhelming for those who are going through it. In some cases, the effects of benzodiazepine withdrawal can even be fatal. Not only is it uncomfortable to go through this process alone, but it can also be dangerous to do so.

Now that you know what to expect when going through benzo withdrawal, you may feel even more concerned about the process. No doubt, you want to end addiction in your life. You want to find freedom from the negative effects of substance abuse and dependence. But, the thought of going through withdrawal might make you feel uncertain about taking the road to recovery.

You’re not alone. As we mentioned before, a lot of people choose not to get treatment for substance abuse and addiction because, although they want to be free, the process of withdrawal sounds a little scary.

But, this is why it’s very important to avoid trying to do it alone. Withdrawal is characterized by some very serious symptoms. So, it’s best to have support and guidance as you work to end benzo use in your life.

Through a professional detox program, you can get that support and guidance. You can work with professionals who understand what you’re going through. Through a medication-assisted detox program, the detox process becomes much more comfortable and safe.

Quitting benzo use cold turkey is one of the most dangerous and harmful things you could do. It can cause major problems and even lead to addiction relapse. So, if you want to truly overcome substance dependence, it’s best to do so in a safe and comfortable setting, like the one we offer here at 1st Step Behavioral Health.

Benzo Detox and Treatment at 1st Step Behavioral Health

You’ve been struggling with substance abuse and addiction for long enough. Benzo use has affected you and your loved ones in more ways than one. Maybe addiction has caused emotional separation between you and your family. Perhaps it has caused you to feel alone and without hope.

That ends here and now.

You can break free from the grip of addiction today by calling the professional and compassionate team here at 1st Step Behavioral Health. Let us help you find your way to the freedom you deserve; call (866) 319-6126!




https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7841856 https://www.addictioncenter.com/benzodiazepines/benzodiazepine-withdrawal-and-detox/

home detox or medical detox

How to Decide Between At-Home Detox vs. Medical Detox

When it comes to treating substance abuse, many people find it hard to figure out what to do about the problem in their lives. Where do you start? Who do you talk to? And will anyone even be able to help?

These questions often plague the minds of those who are struggling with alcohol or drug abuse. It’s not always easy to find the answers. So, many individuals become so overwhelmed that they simply decide not to get treatment at all.

In lieu of getting professional treatment, some people choose to detox at home. They opt for the “cold turkey” approach, which involves suddenly and immediately ending substance use in order to treat their addiction. Or, they work to wean themselves from the use of alcohol or drugs by gradually lowering the amount they use.

But, the truth is that detoxing at home is one of the most dangerous approaches to ending substance abuse. People who choose to quit cold turkey or detox at home are often placing themselves in harm’s way.

So, when trying to decide between at-home detox vs. medical detox, it’s best to choose the latter. Let’s talk about why this is the case.

The Truth About Detoxing at Home

Some individuals choose to detox from drug or alcohol use at home because they’re simply not sure how to find professional help. It seems as though there are countless rehab centers out there, each offering people a reason to choose them over the others. It can become very overwhelming for those who are searching for hope.

All people really want is freedom from addiction. But, instead, they feel bombarded by an addiction information overload. So, in order to end addiction without having to sort through the tidal wave of recovery center options, people may opt for the hassle-free option of detoxing at home.

Others may be discouraged by the price of addiction treatment. It can sometimes be challenging to come up with the money to get professional treatment for alcohol or drug abuse. So, some individuals just feel stuck. They’re unsure about whether or not they can afford treatment. As a result, they choose the at-home detox route, which, in a sense, is free.

In the long run, however, many individuals find that detoxing at home is far from free. It may not cost as much as professional detox programs. But, it’s definitely physically and emotionally costly.

While it’s certainly an understandable choice, it’s not the best choice. Those who choose to detox at home may suffer severely as a result of the withdrawal symptoms people experience when ending substance abuse.

Of course, the severity of withdrawal often depends on the type of substance and the length of use. Still, in any case, detoxing without professional and medical supervision can lead to some major problems as most individuals experience very serious physical and psychological effects.

Withdrawal: The Challenges of Ending Substance Use

Again, the withdrawal symptoms people experience when ending substance abuse will depend heavily on the type of substance they were using and how long they were using it. But, generally speaking, the symptoms of withdrawal can be very difficult to deal with.

Some of the common symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Dehydration
  • Nightmares
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Headaches
  • Excessive sweating
  • Muscular pain and stiffness
  • Changes in appetite (increase or decrease)

Sometimes, people may suffer from seizures, heart palpitations, and have problems with digestion. Withdrawal also leads to cognitive problems, including concentration difficulties.

In some cases, people may even experience symptoms of psychosis. Some may deal with hallucinations, paranoia, and delusional thinking. Individuals who are in withdrawal may also struggle with suicidal thoughts.

These symptoms are not just uncomfortable. They can cause people to become overwhelmed and exhausted. Unfortunately, these emotions often lead to self-harm and even suicide in severe cases of withdrawal. So, it only seems best to make sure that individuals who want to end substance abuse do so under the supervision of medical professionals who can help guide them through the withdrawal process.

Why Medical Detoxification is Best

As we mentioned earlier, withdrawal can be very intense and difficult to deal with. Many people have a hard time working through this phase of their recovery. As a result of the challenges that come up during withdrawal, some individuals feel that they have no choice but to relapse and use their drug of choice again in order to feel “normal” again.

But, they do have another choice. And this choice provides hope to even the hardest cases of addiction. Medical detox programs are designed to help people get through the detoxification process with comfort and safety.

A medical detox program is a type of detox that involves professionally administered medications that can help to improve the withdrawal process and make the journey to recovery much more comfortable.

Some medications in medical detox programs help to block cravings for drugs and alcohol. Some help to block the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. As a result of these effects, people who are working to end substance abuse in their lives can focus on getting better without the distractions of pain and discomfort.

Medically Detoxing at 1st Step Behavioral Health

There is no “one size fits all” type of treatment for addiction. Each person is different and has specific needs while in recovery. So there are various steps in a medical detox program. This allows professionals to find out exactly what individuals need.

First, individuals go through an evaluation process during which the medical team will determine how much medication is needed. Then, there’s the stabilization process, which introduces therapies and medication prescriptions to help those in treatment. The professional medical team then helps to prepare the client for detox. Next, the individual is on his or her way to total recovery from addiction!

After the detox process is over, therapy and counseling can help to equip them with the strategies they need in order to maintain the freedom they’ve worked so hard to gain!

If you or someone you know needs help overcoming a drug or alcohol use problem, please reach out to us here at 1st Step Behavioral Health. Let us help to bring addiction to an end for good! Call us at (866) 319-6126.



https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/7-medical-detoxification https://www.addictioncenter.com/treatment/drug-and-alcohol-detox/

Alcohol Addiction vs Dependence

Alcohol Detox: Addiction vs. Dependence

There’s often a lot of confusion around the topic of addiction. Things can get especially difficult to understand when it comes to the “addiction vs. dependence” debate. Most of the time, people are a little unsure about the difference between the two. Some even wonder if there’s a difference at all.

Maybe the confusion comes in because of the fact that the two terms are often used interchangeably. Many times, people refer to physical dependence as addiction and vice versa. But, truth be told, there are actually a few major differences between the two. These dissimilarities are certainly important to consider when it comes to substance use treatment.

Perhaps you’ve been wondering if dependence and addiction are two different things. Now that you know that they are definitely not the same, let’s talk about the ways in which they’re different and the importance of addressing each problem with these distinctions in mind.

Addiction vs. Dependence: Why All the Confusion?

For years, people have been referring to substance use disorder (SUD) using the generalized term of addiction. If someone struggles with an alcohol or drug use problem, people might assume that the individual has an addiction.

According to the Addiction Center, some treatment facilities have decided not to use the term “addiction” at all. This might be due to the belief that the word “carries too much negative connotation and is ambiguous”.

In order to eliminate that stigma, people have resorted to using the word “dependence” instead. But, of course, this has lead to confusion regarding the definition of addiction versus the definition of substance dependence.

Eventually, though, the phrase “substance use disorder” began to circulate as an alternative to “addiction”. Still, it’s evident that there is still a bit of confusion when it comes to dealing with these two topics.

When people think of the phrase “substance dependence”, they often think of it as a synonym of the word “addiction”. It would seem that, if a person depends on something, that individual is addicted to the substance. But, this most certainly is not the case.

Many individuals often become confused by the use of these varying terms because some treatment centers may opt to use one term while others will choose alternate terms. Some facilities refer to addiction using the word “dependence”, making it difficult to identify the true definitions between these terms.

The Importance of Acknowledging the Differences

So, why is it so important to pay attention to the dissimilarities between addiction and physical dependence? What’s the big deal? Is it really necessary to differentiate the two?

Well, when getting treatment for a substance use problem, it’s extremely important that your treatment center focuses on your individual needs. The best way to identify a good solution is to accurately identify the problem.

If you are suffering from an opioid dependence problem, you’ll need different treatment than someone who is struggling with an alcohol addiction problem.

So, in short, yes; it’s very necessary to understand and address the ways in which addiction and dependence differ in order to successfully treat those who are dealing with either of these problems.

What is Dependence and How Does it Develop?

When a person uses a drug for a while, even if the substance is medically prescribed, the body might start to get used to the way the drug affects it. Even if the person is using the drug as directed by his or her doctor, the individual’s body might build a tolerance for that substance.

Generally, it doesn’t take an extremely long time for people to develop substance dependence. In some cases, it can take just 6 months of regular and continuous use. As a person’s tolerance for a drug begins to increase, withdrawal symptoms begin to enter the scene, too.

This means that individuals who may stop using a drug that they’ve been using for a while, they will start to feel uncomfortable and feel the need to use the drug again in order to get a sense of normality back.

Tolerance and withdrawal are the two main factors that identify a dependence problem. And one important detail to note is that it’s definitely possible to be dependent on a substance without being addicted to it.

What is Dependence and How Does it Develop?

Addiction is different from dependence in the sense that this particular drug use problem is characterized by more compulsive drug use habits. People who are suffering from an addiction problem often experience major cravings and urges to use or drink.

Often, these uncontrollable cravings lead individuals to use drugs or alcohol “despite harmful consequences”, as the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states. Addiction is the inability to stop using drugs or alcohol and it often causes major problems in various areas of people’s lives.

Sometimes, people who are dealing with addiction problems have a hard time focusing on the important matters in life, including work responsibilities, schoolwork, family, friends, and much more.

Addiction also causes many emotional and physical consequences. It can lead to depression, isolation, and intense feelings of fear. Many drug addictions cause heart, liver, and brain damage.

Since addiction is also characterized by tolerance and withdrawal, it’s safe to say that many of the people who suffer from addiction also have dependency problems.

Getting Treatment for Your Struggle

As we mentioned earlier, it’s very important to seek help for your specific struggle. If you are dealing with a dependence problem, your treatment program should focus on helping you to work through withdrawal and live without having to use a substance.

If you are living with drug or alcohol addiction, your treatment program should deal specifically with the addiction as well as any underlying problems.

It’s best to seek professional guidance in figuring out exactly what your struggle is and how to approach that particular struggle. If you need help identifying and overcoming a drug or alcohol use problem in your life, the team here at 1st Step Behavioral Health can help you!

Just contact us today by calling (866) 319-6126.






what to bring to rehab

Here Is What to Bring to Rehab

You’ve made that critical decision that you can’t go on like this. You’ve booked yourself into rehab – well done you. The question on your mind now is no doubt how you can make rehab as comfortable as possible.

Two things will help with that. First of all, knowing as much as you can about the facility in advance. Next, knowing what to pack.

To learn more about what to bring to rehab, read on!

Rehab: You’ve Made the Right Decision

Did you know the rate of death from overdose has doubled in the United States in the past decade? It’s expected to double again over the next 8 years. That’s a lot of loved ones missing someone special.

All that serves as a reminder of just why it’s such a big deal that you’ve decided to get sober. With the right rehab, you’ll be able to get sober and stay that way. This might not be your first try at rehab, but there’s every reason you can make it your last rehab by choosing to enter prepared and making the most of it. 

What to Expect

Rehab centers can vary greatly in programs, approaches, and pricing. Always keep in mind that the most expensive rehab is by no means always the best. Be sure sure to shop around by reading online rehab reviews and asking health professionals for recommendations.

Consider asking if your insurance company or workplace Employee Assistance Program (EAP) have a preferred rehab provider. They may have preferential rates or be partially or fully covered. Once you’ve settled on a rehab center, you’ll need to know what to take – let’s have a look.

What to Bring to Rehab

If this is your first time at a rehab center, you may not know just how strict the rehab policies can be about what you’re allowed to bring in. The center you go to is likely to provide you with a packing checklist as well as a list of what’s prohibited. They’ll generally only allow you to bring the absolute necessities.

They’ll search your bag on arrival, so make sure you check our breakdown below on what not to bring too. Generally, you should bring the following, but be sure to double check with your particular rehab center:

  • Insurance paperwork
  • Official identification
  • Alarm clock without a radio to make sure you’re on time for activities
  • Prescription medicine in its original packaging, still sealed and untampered 
  • Jewelry with symbolic meaning such as a wedding ring or religious item
  • Contact details of people who are part of your recovery team, from family and friends to counselors and your General Practitioner
  • Just enough in cash to buy occasional items from the vending machine
  • Diary or notepad
  • Pictures of loved ones to remind you why you need to stick it out

In terms of clothing, go for comfortable options that you can dress down or layer up according to the weather. While your body is in early recovery you can be more sensitive to changes in temperature so have clothes that will help you quickly adapt to heat or cold.

Bring things that can be easily washed. Most rehabs will have access to laundry facilities so you can wash your clothes during your stay. That means that packing for about a week is best.

What Toiletries to Bring

Bathroom products can have alcohol in them so your rehab center may have some restrictions on products such as mouthwash. Make sure alcohol is not listed in the first three ingredients of any liquid you take in your toiletry bag. Pack a month’s worth of deodorant, female hygiene products, toothpaste, shaving cream, hair styling products, sunscreen and face, and body lotion.

You’ll be away from home and working through the issue that may have brought you to addiction – some days will be challenging. Having the toiletries to freshen up and feel good about yourself again can really be a lifesaver. As is so often the case in life, it’s the little comforts that make a difficult situation easier.  

What to Leave at Home

When you check-in, a worker will meticulously search you and your bags to ensure you’re not bringing in anything that puts your safety and recovery – or anyone else’s, at risk. They won’t let you bring in any liquids unless they’re in sealed packaging, in case they have drugs or alcohol in them.

Be sure not to bring anything sharp that could be used as a weapon. You won’t be allowed to bring in prohibited prescriptions, e-cigarettes, pornography, or food and drinks in most cases. Drugs and alcohol are obviously not welcome at rehab.

More surprising objects often on the banned list are playing cards and video games. These can be prohibited not because they’re a risk of harm to patients, but because they’re a distraction. Workers at the rehab center want you focused on your recovery, and that means work, not distractions.

The rehab will have a food and drinks schedule. That means there’s no need to bring in food and drinks, especially anything sugary or caffeinated. If you have special dietary needs be sure to let them know well in advance so they can cater to your needs.   

Time to Get on Your Recovery Journey

There you have it, everything you needed to know about rehab and what to bring to rehab. Remember to leave any potential weapons, distractions, and food and drink at home. The rehab will have most of what you need for your stay, and they’ll give you a checklist for what you should and shouldn’t bring along.

If you’re still considering which rehab center is best for you, consider a comprehensive rehabilitation program like 1st Step Behavioral Health. You can learn about our extensive experience and success at our website today!

Vicky Cornell Speaks To Congress On Addiction Treatment

In 2017, legendary rocker Chris Cornell, who gave Soundgarden their unique and beloved sound, committed suicide after years of struggling with drug addiction and mental health issues. Many people who don’t understand the nature of these things will ask questions from a place of confusion like, “Why would someone famous and well to do and so beloved do such a thing?” Interestingly enough, there’s an entire field of study that dissects these things and attempts to offer treatment for those who face the same issues. Addiction treatment in south Florida oftentimes are faced with these questions from people, even physicians, who don’t understand the disease at all.

Chris was survived by his wife, Vicky Cornell, who suffered along with Chris and continues to deal with the loss of her husband, understands that she is not the only person who is forced to face the deterioration of their loved one without a lot of options for help for them. Rather than internalize her loss and grievances, she took to speaking to the recently formed Congressional Bipartisan Heroin and Opioid Task Force, which is primarily aimed at opioid addiction prevention, urging the group to look at all addiction and mental health issues as the more effective way to prevent tragedy.

“Chris had a brain disease and a doctor who, unfortunately, like many, was not properly trained or educated on addiction. We must integrate addiction treatment into our healthcare system – no more false narratives about the need to hit rock bottom, no more secret societies, no more shame – we must educate health care providers on how to treat addiction and best support recovery,” Vicky said, delivering her prepared remarks on February 25th.

Her statements bring to light what many have stated when finding themselves in a hospital for overdose or other addiction-related issues. Doctors often don’t have an answer for the patient in their care and discharge them with little more than a suggestion of finding a support group, which has statistically a depressing success rate of helping people get well compared to holistic treatments offered by facilities in top rated drug rehab centers. Addiction is a combination of neurobiological changes, mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and behavioral disabilities such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in addition to the chemical dependencies and effects of the drugs on the body. Yet, in 2019, it’s still often seen, even by doctors in the medical field, the same way that it was looked at one hundred years ago; asa personal failure to control one’s own impulses.

If it was that simple, then the epidemic of addiction wouldn’t have lead to over 70,000 overdoses in 2018, overtaking automobile fatalities for the first time in American history. If it was just as easy as ‘just quitting’, then why don’t more people just do it?  

Luckily, there’s an industry that knows why, but as Vicky Cornell points out, it needs to be integrated into general healthcare so it can be released from the grips of pre-research dark ages.

First Step Behavioral Health offers sober living in south Florida for those suffering from substance use disorder. Call (866) 319-6126 for treatment options.

What Causes Relapse and Keeping Sober After Rehab

Once someone comes home after a stint in a South Florida rehab center to treat their drug or alcohol addiction, they will need to continue working with their family and the community they live in the make sure that they do not return to a life of alcohol and drug addiction. Regardless of what you may have seen online, staying sober after a substance addiction takes a whole lot more than just simply willing oneself through it – whether people want to believe it or not, addiction is a chronic illness. And not unlike many other chronic health problems, addiction can go into remission but may reemerge at a later time. Because of that, addiction treatment can be a lifelong process to help an addict keep away from drugs or alcohol.

Services for rehab, relapse management, and detox have come a long way over recent years, especially in the wake of the now decades-long opioid epidemic. Here in Florida, opiates – both prescription and illicit – have become increasingly visible as more and more of our population is stricken with addictions to these dangerous drugs. The same could be said for the country as a whole.

Still, because of the surge in drug addiction in Florida, the government has been able to locate problems regarding our laws and how they relate to the pharmaceutical industry, which means we should see better systems in place to help prevent addiction before it occurs in the first place. But with most things as far as the government is concerned, it feels like those kinds of things are taking forever to be implemented. Either way, the public is more aware than ever of the dangers of opioid and drug abuse, and insurance companies are becoming more inclusive when it comes to drug addiction treatment services that they offer through their coverage.

Relapse Triggers and Addiction Treatment After Rehab

The idea of relapse can be frightening, especially after finishing time spent in an inpatient addiction rehab setting, but those are not the only people who are at risk of relapse. Anyone who was ever subjected to addiction could find themselves relapsing back into substance abuse, and it can sneak up on someone rather easily.

Although people who have gone through rehab are cognitive of the fact that they have the capacity to not use drugs for an extended period of time considering they’d done so during their treatment, the unconscious signals their bodies send them can make relapse no more than one bad day, if not one single bad moment, away. It can feel like the substance still has control of them, and that can lead to a ton of anxiety or self doubt. Taking into consideration just how many people who suffer from drug or alcohol addiction are in a scenario where a dual diagnosis (when someone both has an addiction and a mental illness) is in play, those anxious feelings can quickly lead to triggering both their cravings and increasing the symptoms of the mental illness. In turn, this can make relapse seem unavoidable.

However, it should be noted that having worries about relapsing can be a good thing. It means that the addict is mindful of the dangers of their addiction and that they would prefer to live a life of sobriety. Likewise, when someone relapses, they aren’t likely to be thinking about just how long they had gone without using that substance before they’d returned to it – they are generally too busy thinking about the relapse itself and whatever triggered it. Where this can get especially dangerous is when people turn back to whatever they’d been addicted to, they often end up taking however much they used to take. However, since they had gone so long without using that substance, relapse can often lead to overdose deaths as their bodies are no longer conditioned to it anymore. Even if some people can build a tolerance quickly to large amounts of drugs, their first time back after achieving sobriety could mean losing their life over the cravings. They may tell themselves that they are only going to take one hit and be done with it, but that almost never ends up being the case. Instead, they often wind up hospitalized, dead, or more addicted than ever before. That doesn’t mean there is not hope, though – many people who live through their relapses end up solidifying their desire for sobriety stronger than ever before.

Still, there is one way that people can help stay away from the substance addiction that has plagued them, and that is through sticking to the aftercare treatment they agreed upon near the end of their time in a rehab center.

There are a variety of addiction treatment methods that previous addicts can use to prevent relapse after rehab. These include various therapy sessions and group meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous. By sticking to these treatment options, they continue to grow their arsenal against relapse, especially when it comes to dealing with the triggers that might have otherwise led to using drugs or alcohol again. Furthermore, having an outlet in one of these settings can show someone who has gone through rehab that they have a support system in place and that they can live a full life of sobriety. There is no such thing as having too many people on your team when it comes to getting help with an addiction, and that support should be embraced with open arms – even for those who feel like they are strong, independent, or introverted.

Those who are looking for a drug rehab center in South Florida have a large number of facilities to choose from, but that does not necessarily mean that every one of those locations is going to be right for each addict. First Step’s experienced professional staff is ready to help you or a loved one get through your addiction and finally end the substance abuse that probably feels like it has taken over your life.

Contact us today to get on – or back on in the case of a relapse – a path to sobriety with a support system that can offer the best ways to deal with your cravings and how to best deal with the triggers that may have otherwise led to a relapse.

What You See In The Movies vs Real Drug Addiction

Movies are a reflection of the society in which we live in such as the issues that people deal with all the time. Drug addiction is one thing that can be depicted in movies, but it is a skewed view of the situation. There is a big difference between a movie depiction of an oxycodone or alcohol addiction and what an addiction to these types of substances look like in real life.

Movies show this person and they give a shortened, microcosm of their spiral down into the black hole of drug addiction. It shows them hitting a rock bottom of them living on the street. Then it can show them getting help and their life going back to the way that it used to be, if not even better. It shows them getting healthy and getting their life and their family back by way of sheer willpower. That is very different from the way that it usually goes in real life.


How Addiction Usually Looks

In reality, as a person becomes addicted to a substance like oxycodone or alcohol, their life slowly declines until they reach a point of rock bottom. The movies don’t show the trauma that they cause to the people who love them, like their spouse or their children. It doesn’t show the destruction of these relationships. It doesn’t show how these people destroy their lives to the point of losing a career and being forced to move out of a house that went into foreclosure. If ever these things are explored in cinema, these effects are usually easily reversed or the people lost are more-or-less replaced.


The Worst Side of Addiction

Movies just do not give an accurate portrayal of what addiction really looks like. There are times that the relationships that were destroyed are never repaired and those people never speak again. In some cases that occur far too regularly, some addicts are killed because of the lifestyle that they were leading and the things that they did to their bodies.

If you or a loved one is dealing with a substance addiction, send us a message or call us at (866) 319-6126 to learn more about our South Florida rehab center.