3 Ways to Maintain Your Sobriety

Staying sober is both easy and incredibly challenging. Statistically, when you compare addiction to other diseases, you actually have a better chance of never having a relapse. Your chances of never relapsing are better than someone with hypertension, cancer or diabetes. Ultimately, you’re the key to your own sobriety, and you can make it a smooth journey if you decide to put in the work.

1. Put Half as Much Effort Into Your Sobriety as You Did Your Addiction

This is a very common saying for those who are in recovery from drug addiction or alcoholism, and it’s true. Addiction is a full-time job, and it’s one of the many reasons people choose to get sober. From the time you wake up, you’ll likely already begin feeling anxiety for how you’re going to get high or drunk. The mental obsession to drink or use drugs will continue all day, even after you get drunk or high.

When people say to put half of the effort into your recovery as you did your addiction, it’s really not as much work as you think. The following are some simple steps that you can take to strengthen your sobriety:

  • Go to meetings
  • Get a sponsor
  • Work the steps

There’s a myth out there that Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs have low success rates. The reality is that those who take the suggestions and have a willingness to work the program have excellent chances of maintaining sobriety.

2. Address Your Mental Health

The two leading causes of relapse are a mental illness that’s untreated or undiagnosed. In order to maintain your recovery, you must continue to make your mental health a priority in different ways. For some, this may mean following up with a doctor to discuss different medications that they’re taking. Others may need to continue going to therapy for support when working on emotional issues.

3. You’re the Only One Who Can Stop You

As previously mentioned, you have a better chance of never relapsing in comparison to other diseases. When people hear this statistic, they often wonder why so many people seem to relapse on drugs or alcohol. The simple truth is that people in addiction recovery sometimes get in their own way. The most successful people are the ones who can humble themselves to a point of taking suggestions.

One of the best things you can do from the time you enter into treatment is to stay honest, open-minded and willing. It’s important to remember that addiction is a disease of the mind, so you’re not thinking properly when in active addiction. It’s something difficult to comprehend, but you can’t trust your own thinking because it leads you to substance abuse. By taking suggestions from others, you’ll begin to see that long-term recovery and happiness are possible.

1st Step Behavioral Health is here to provide you with alcohol and drug addiction treatment. Call (866) 319-6126 today to begin your journey to sobriety.

what are benzos

What are Benzos?

Halcion, Xanax, and Valium fall under the same heading of drugs: benzos. You need a doctor’s prescription to get them. However, just like other medications, your body easily builds up a tolerance and can form a dependence. What are benzos, who needs them, and what should you do if you have an addiction to them?

What are Benzos?

The term is short for benzodiazepines. This family of drugs offers patients relief from anxiety, insomnia, and panic attacks. These medications typically fall into three categories of half-lives. As a general rule of thumb, the longer acting a drug is, the longer it takes for effects to kick in.

Halcion is an insomnia drug that works fast but only lasts for a few hours. Xanax is a mid-level drug that provides anxiety relief for several hours. Valium is among the longest-lasting medications and treats anxiety as well as muscle spasms. Benzos act directly on the central nervous system and manipulate certain neurotransmitters.

How Does an Addiction to Benzos Start?

When you use drugs repeatedly, your body builds up a tolerance to the chemicals. As a result, you have to take more to get the same effects. Since the medications activate certain neurotransmitters, it’s easy for brain chemistry to change and begin to depend on the influx. Therefore, when you stop taking the medicines, you experience withdrawal symptoms.

A drug addiction can also develop when you take benzos in an off-label manner for the sedative effect. Mixing these depressants with other drugs, in particular alcohol or opioid painkillers, can be life threatening. This practice, alongside taking extremely large doses, is what some individuals do to get the high they desire. That said, there’s help in the form of rehab.

How Rehab for Benzo Abuse Works

During detox, you overcome your physical addiction to drugs. However, to conquer the psychological aspect of substance abuse, you need rehab. Plenty of program participants present with co-occurring disorders, particularly anxiety. Because of this, working with therapists who can handle a dual diagnosis is of vital importance.

Rehab starts with an intake interview that helps therapists learn more about you, your addiction, and your goals. You then work with a primary care therapist who contributes to the design of a rehab plan for you. It will include plenty of talk therapy. Examples include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Dual diagnosis treatment

Holistic therapies help you to increase your overall wellness. Options include chiropractic care and massage therapy. As you go through psychotherapy and learn about your reasons for using, you also discover how to manage your anxiety. This therapeutic one-two punch boosts relapse prevention in the future.

Getting Help for a Benzo Addiction Today

What are benzos doing to your life? Whether you’ve used a benzodiazepine as prescribed or in an off-label way, 1st Step Behavioral can help you kick the habit. Don’t allow a drug to hold you hostage for another day. Call (866) 319-6126 today to connect with an intake counselor for assistance!

Cocaine Effects

Cocaine Effects

Cocaine is a stimulant drug and a highly addictive controlled substance. Using cocaine can lead to serious side effects. Cocaine users can only begin to eliminate dangerous cocaine effects by confronting the addiction and choosing recovery.

Immediate Cocaine Effects

Once an individual ingests cocaine, the body begins to release dopamine. This release feels good, at least in the very short term. In fact, cocaine consumption can lead to feelings of euphoria.
Other immediate effects of cocaine use can include an increase in energy. On the flip side of that coin, using cocaine might prevent users from being able to sleep. This is one reason why long-term cocaine use can be devastating to sleep habits and cycles.

In the short term, cocaine use can also lead to a boost in confidence. Cocaine users might seem louder and more confident than normal. They may appear more outgoing, and they may have an easier time meeting new people or initiating romantic relationships.
Cocaine can also cause some unpleasant effects that begin right after consumption. Many cocaine users feel restless and anxious. They may fidget and can find it difficult to sleep even hours later. In some cases, panic and even paranoia are possible.

The Addictive Nature of Cocaine

One of the effects that cocaine users shouldn’t ignore is the potential for a cocaine addiction. The dopamine release that cocaine consumption initiates changes the reward system in the brain. Over time, cocaine users may only look forward to their next dose of the drug.

This is the physiological side that helps explain the development of an addiction. Of course, there are also other factors at play. Certain people are more likely to develop an addiction to drugs like cocaine for a variety of reasons. Some of the factors that increase the likelihood of addiction can include any or all of the following:

  • Genetic predisposition to addiction
  • Availability of cocaine
  • Trying cocaine at a young age
  • History of trauma
  • Mental illness

The Long-Term Physical Side Effects of Cocaine Abuse

While the short-term cocaine effects can be unpleasant, the long-term side effects are even worse. Even in relatively young, healthy individuals, the stimulant properties of cocaine can cause heart problems. Heart attacks are possible after prolonged use.

Other physical side effects of cocaine substance abuse can include tremors and muscle aches. Cocaine users might experience a high heart rate as well as increased blood pressure. An increase in body temperature is also common, which can lead to serious and prolonged dehydration.

Treating an Addiction to Cocaine

Ceasing consumption of cocaine cold turkey and alone is not the best way to effectively end an addiction. Recovery requires detox followed by rehab and intensive treatment. This approach allows for various types of therapy to address conditions like physical health, co-occurring disorders or family issues.

It’s no secret that the effects of cocaine use are problematic. At 1st Step Behavioral in Florida, you or your loved one can combat these effects and start making progress toward better health and happiness. End your dependence on cocaine by calling (866) 319-6126.

addiction definition

Understanding the Addiction Definition

The first step in solving any type of problem is to understand what the problem is. One of the biggest reasons why so many people die from addiction is that they don’t understand what addiction is. While many people can drink or use drugs recreationally, understanding the addiction definition will help you see if you’re not one of them. Addiction only affects a fraction of the people in the world, but it can be fatal for those who lose control.

The Basics of the Addiction Definition

You may have heard of terms like “functioning alcoholic” or “functioning addict,” which create misconceptions. One of the biggest misconceptions about alcohol and drug addiction is that you need to have lost everything to be an addict. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A prime example is looking at high-profile deaths from addiction, including celebrities and politicians. While these men and women seemingly had everything, drugs or alcohol were still capable of taking their lives.

Addiction is as simple as continuing any action despite the negative consequences that result from that action. This is what often baffles people about addiction. It seems to defy all logic and reason. Loved ones of people with addictions generally aren’t able to comprehend why they don’t just stop drinking or using. The answer to this question is because addiction hijacks a part of the brain that’s responsible for survival.

Addiction and the Brain

The human brain is extremely complex. In fact, there are billions of transmitters that help us function every day. The most primitive parts of the brain are in the limbic system, and they’re in charge of our survival instincts. Specifically, the amygdala tells us to repeat any action that gives us pleasure regardless of consequences. The prefrontal cortex, which is the “thinking brain,” of a person with an addiction doesn’t communicate properly with the amygdala.

The responsibilities of the prefrontal cortex include:

  • Logical decision making
  • Impulse control
  • Self-awareness
  • Emotional regulation

When the amygdala runs unrestrained, the person is going to continue drinking or using purely out of instinct. Many times this starts out with substance abuse, which trains the brain to drink or use when different things trigger it. One example is people who drink or use to deal with specific symptoms of mental illness, like anxiety or depression. Eventually, the brain subconsciously tells the person to drink or use drugs any time he or she feels depressed or anxious. Medical professionals refer to this as “self-medication.”

Healing the Brain Through Treatment

At First Step Behavioral, we’ll educate you more on the addiction definition. The more you know about addiction, the more you’ll understand why treatment methods are crucial. Through our treatment program, you’ll experience different therapies that help to retrain the brain. During this process, your brain will begin to understand that there are better ways to deal with emotions and situations.

Our facility in Pompano Beach, Florida has over 100 beds, and we provide our clients with multiple levels of care. Call us today at (866) 319-6126 to learn more about our addiction treatment center.

am I an alcoholic

Am I an Alcoholic?

People often wonder, “Am I an alcoholic if I have a little too much to drink?” Interestingly, being in denial about an alcohol use disorder is easy. Mainstream society accepts the use of the drug and even abuse of it on occasion. However, if you’re asking yourself probing questions about your drinking habits, there might be more to them.

Common Misconceptions about an Alcohol Use Disorder Color Perception

Many people believe that alcoholics are the “other” people—the ones who are homeless, jobless, and friendless. In reality, people struggling with an alcohol addiction can have jobs, be moms or dads, and own homes. They run companies, work steady jobs, volunteer for charities, and coach children’s sports. In short, anybody could be suffering from this disease.

Am I an Alcoholic if I’m …?

Typically, there are three distinct signs that your casual drinking has given way to an abuse problem. For starters, you drink heavily. Medical experts consider four drinks a day to be a sign of heavy drinking. If you have more than 14 drinks in a week, they also consider you a heavy drinker.

Binge drinking is another warning sign. It’s possible to go for days without drinking and then suddenly start bingeing. From there, it’s easy for the behavior to become a daily occurrence. Bingeing refers to imbibing more than four or five drinks within a couple of hours.

A third warning sign is the possible outcome of your drinking. A glass of wine or beer with dinner is likely to have no adverse outcome. However, if you find that you neglect responsibilities or engage in risky behavior because of drinking, there’s a problem.

Treatment Can Help You Overcome an Alcohol Use Disorder

When you recognize that your drinking has turned from occasional indulging to addiction, it’s time to seek help. Rehab facilities routinely work with people just like you who need assistance to beat an addiction. Therapists use a variety of treatments to help patients break out of their substance abuse cycle. Examples include:

  • Treatment for co-occurring disorders that makes it possible to explore and handle underlying mental health challenges
  • Talk therapy in the form of cognitive behavioral therapy and similar modalities to change disruptive patterns
  • Group therapy, which allows for peer input and builds self-esteem
  • Holistic wellness treatments that enable the healing on multiple levels via massage therapy or acupuncture
  • Life skills training that helps you get into the swing of going about a typical day without using alcohol

Where to Find Help

Was your answer to “Am I an alcoholic?”, yes? If you or a loved one suffer from an alcohol abuse problem, the therapists at 1st Step Behavioral Health can help. Why let alcohol rob you of your enjoyment and sense of self-worth for another day? Get in touch with the knowledgeable therapists to learn more. Call (866) 319-6126 now for immediate assistance!

long term effects of alcohol

Long Term Effects of Alcohol

16 to 17 million American adults are currently struggling with an alcohol use disorder. Only a small number of these individuals seeks out treatment. Other statistics show that among preventable causes of death, alcohol-related fatalities rank third. Avoid becoming a statistic—learn about the long term effects of alcohol today.

Brain Damage Compounds with Long-time Alcohol Use

You’ve likely heard the quip that alcohol kills brain cells. Typically, this statement elicits a chuckle. In truth, though, alcohol has the power to interfere with neuronal pathways. That’s why people stagger and slur their speech after drinking too much alcohol.

Interference with the pathways also results in memory impairments. In the short term, these blackouts cause people to miss entire portions of an event. However, if individuals continue drinking heavily for months or years, the effects compound. Pathways that typically reestablish themselves fail to do so.

Long term, your reaction times slow and you’re at a higher risk of suffering a stroke. Along with physical manifestations such as a fatty liver and high blood pressure, your organs experience life-threatening outcomes. As you continue drinking alcohol, your immune system can no longer fight off infections.

Poor Nutrition Leads to Further Long Term Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol eliminates vitamin B in your system. In particular, it diminishes thiamin, which is vitamin B1. This nutritional building block plays a pivotal role in nervous system health. In the short term, intoxication leads to temporary double vision, which is familiar to most people.

If you keep overindulging, however, your body runs low on thiamin on a more consistent basis. This deficiency can result in the development of mental confusion, coordination problems affecting the extremities, and vision problems. An extreme expression of this condition is the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which can produce false memories.

Getting Help Now Prevents Worse Effects in the Future

If you have avoided seeking help because of the fear of alcohol withdrawal symptoms, you need to rethink your decision. Medically supervised withdrawal for substance abuse can keep you healthy and comfortable during the process. While in rehab, therapists help you to get out from under the cravings. Examples of modalities include:

  • Inpatient treatment for a complete change of scenery
  • One-on-one treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Group therapy that emphasizes support network formation
  • Holistic treatments to help with physical manifestations of alcohol abuse
  • Treatment of co-occurring disorders to get to the “why” of your addiction

If you do nothing, the long term effects of alcohol addiction begin to build up. Cirrhosis of the liver is a common alcohol-related illness that eventually leads to death. Changes to the brain can create a variety of disorders as well as worsen mental illness. Of course, there’s also the interpersonal side of effects to consider. Alcoholism gradually isolates you from others, causing you to feel alone and misunderstood.

If you or a loved one suffers from an alcohol use disorder, get help now. It’s possible to stop or limit many of the adverse effects that alcohol abuse brings about. Therapists at 1st Step Behavioral are standing by to help. Call (866) 319-6126 today for assistance.

Purple Drank Addiction

Purple drink, or drank, is a beverage that might seem harmless. In reality, the drink is incredibly addictive and can cause countless health problems. If you or someone you care about drinks purple drank, learn more about how to recognize and treat it.

The Ingredients in Purple Drank

Just like the name suggests, this drink is purple in color. It’s made up of four primary ingredients: Cold medicine, Sprite, ice and Jolly Rancher candies.

This combination makes the drink both a slight upper, because of sugar, and a slight downer. The cold medicine used is prescription strength, and it contains codeine. This makes so-called purple drinks, also known as sippin’ syrup, a narcotic.

Why People Drink This Dangerous Beverage

Given the extreme side effects and the potential for addiction, the popularity of this drink seems strange. Most people drink the beverage in order to experience a high. There’s absolutely no medical benefit to consuming these drinks, even if they contain cold medicine.

The drink typically makes people feel very woozy. Users might sway back and forth, and it can be difficult for them to stand or walk without leaning from side to side. That’s why one of the common nicknames for the drink is lean.

Other people drink this concoction because they think it’s somehow less dangerous than other types of drugs. In reality, purple drinks are still a narcotic. Since they’re mixed in small batches, their potency is never stable. That means an even bigger risk for an overdose.

Side Effects of Consumption

Aside from the woozy feelings and instability, purple drank can lead to a number of side effects. Some of these effects are short-term and physical, but they can also be long-term or even psychological.

Right away, consuming the drink can lead to some unpleasant and undesirable side effects. For example, many users report uncontrollable eye movement. It may also be very difficult to keep the eyes open, and blurry vision is possible. Even slurred speech is likely after drinking the mixture.

More seriously, purple drinks can slow down the heart. This drug can lead people to feel drowsy, but a short nap might turn out to be the beginning of a coma. Additionally, it can cause urinary retention, kidney damage and dental problems.

Recovering From Purple Drink Addiction

Consuming purple drank is substance abuse, and people can become addicted. That means recovery requires treatment, just like for any other drug addiction. Fortunately, drug detox followed by rehab can be effective.

During rehab, patients learn why they turned to such a dangerous beverage in the first place. One-on-one sessions can also reveal how to prevent it from happening again. Treatments might include:

  • Family therapy
  • Music and art therapy
  • Individual talk therapy
  • Dual diagnosis care for co-occurring disorders
  • Relapse prevention education

With help, you can overcome an addiction to purple drank. At 1st Step Behavioral Health in Pompano Beach, Florida, you can choose a program to help you achieve recovery. Work toward sobriety by calling (866) 319-6126.

What is Methadone?

Methadone is often a “replacement drug” for heroin. Many times, physicians will give opioid addicts methadone as a way to avoid the worst withdrawal symptoms. However, methadone isn’t risk-free. Get answers to the question, “What is methadone?”, and find out more about the drug below.

What is Methadone?

Methadone is the generic name for a specific type of opioid medication. Methadone can work as a pain reliever, just like many other opioids. However, methadone most often, doctors prescribe methadone to help with opioid withdrawal.

Methadone is a small pill that offers a dose of opiates to the body. To those with addictions to drugs like heroin, methadone gives off a much smaller high. For many people, methadone reliance is preferable to an addiction to heroin. Of course, methadone is still a drug with plenty of risks.

How Do People Abuse Methadone?

Although methadone has a legitimate medical purpose, users often abuse it. Two primary groups are guilty of this: recovering opioid addicts and recreational users.

Many people who abuse methadone don’t start out with that in mind. They may begin taking methadone on their doctor’s orders as a part of the addiction treatment process. Clinics often distribute methadone daily to help patients avoid a relapse with other illegal drugs.

Over time, however, patients can build a tolerance. Individuals may stockpile methadone to have a larger dose. Some may go to several clinics to use ever growing amounts of methadone on a daily basis.

The other group of methadone abusers might simply want to take methadone for its opioid ingredients. This group is also more likely to combine methadone with alcohol or other drugs. Using methadone in this way is substance abuse, and it may also be illegal.

What are the Side Effects of Methadone?

In addition to the risk of drug addiction, methadone has a number of unpleasant side effects. Like other opiates, methadone is a depressant. It slows down body function, including respiration and heart rate. That can lead to lethargy, but it can also produce a coma, in extreme circumstances

Nausea is very common among methadone users. Chronic use of this drug also commonly leads to constipation. In worst case scenarios, methadone use can lead to difficulty breathing, twitching muscles, and even a fatal overdose.

Can You Recover From an Addiction to Methadone?

What is methadone doing to your life? If the answer is “making it complicated,” there’s good news. People can recover from a methadone addiction. Detox will be necessary, but more important is learning to maintain that newfound sobriety. Rehab is the best option, and it can offer a range of effective treatment methods. Just some of those methods might include:

  • Dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring disorders
  • Individual talk therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Life skills therapy
  • Relapse prevention programs

Are you ready to say goodbye to active addiction? At 1st Step Behavioral in Pompano Beach, Florida, you’ll have the tools to achieve lasting recovery. Start your journey to recovery by calling (866) 319-6126.

Is Alcohol a Drug?

Alcohol is so common in society that many people don’t know what it is anymore. In fact, many people can’t answer the question, “is alcohol a drug?” It shocks many teens and some adults to learn that alcohol is, indeed, a drug.

Is Alcohol a Drug? If So, What Kind?

The short answer is yes, alcohol is a drug and a very dangerous one at that. It’s a type of depressant, which means that alcohol slows down vital bodily functions. Because of this effect, people often slur their speech and stumble around when they’re drunk.

Of course, alcohol doesn’t just impact physical functions. It also has a huge impact on people’s mental processes. Drunk people have a harder time making good judgments and thinking rationally. Alcohol distorts the mind and can lead to blackouts, causing people not to remember anything.

How Much Is Too Much?

Just because people drink occasionally doesn’t mean that they suffer from alcoholism. People who have a drinking problem usually drink too much. Experts suggest that many different factors play a role in determining if people drink too much or not. Some of these include:

  • Age
  • Health status
  • Family history
  • Gender

Determining if people drink too much is important because drinking itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Having a couple drinks during a social event or a glass of wine with dinner is fine for most. It’s when people start abusing alcohol that it becomes a problem.

From Abuse to Addiction

Most people don’t simply start off with an addiction. They have a substance abuse problem first. Alcohol abuse differs from addiction because people still have control over their actions. When they abuse alcohol, they do it out of choice regardless of their reason for doing it.

Addiction, on the other hand, is a mental disease. People no longer have control over their actions when they suffer from addiction. Also, it’s not uncommon for people with addiction to have co-occurring disorders or multiple mental illnesses. For example, those with addiction commonly also have anxiety or depression.

Unfortunately, crossing the line between abuse and addiction is very easy. People who suffer from abuse or addiction need to seek professional help. Rehab centers can help them get their lives back on track. They often use therapy to uncover the root cause of their addiction and address it.

Put an End to Alcoholism

Is alcohol a drug that has taken over your life? Alcoholism is hard to overcome, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t do it. With the help of 1st Step Behavioral Health, you can overcome your addiction. Some of the different addiction programs that we offer include:

  • Family therapy
  • Dual diagnosis treatment
  • Holistic therapy
  • Extended care

Take control of your life again with help from our caring staff. Let us show you the road to recovering your freedom from alcoholism. Contact us today at (866) 319-6126 for more information about the services that we provide.

5 Signs of Alcoholism

Recognizing the signs of alcoholism can often be difficult because so many people drink on a regular basis. Since drinking alcohol is so normal, it’s easy for someone to justify his or her drinking when it becomes a problem. The disease of addiction is very cunning in the fact that it tricks people into thinking that they’re well. The reality is that alcoholism can sneak up on anyone and completely take control over his or her life.

The five main signs of alcoholism include:

  1. The physical craving to keep drinking
  2. The mental obsession about alcohol
  3. Alcohol withdrawal
  4. Experiencing consequences from drinking
  5. Loved ones confronting you about your drinking

Physical Craving

What separates the average person from someone with alcoholism is the craving to continue drinking. Individuals with alcoholism experience the phenomenon of craving kick in, and they may experience difficulty controlling their drinking. Although these individuals may say that they’re only going to have a couple drinks, they continue drinking. This happens because the mind is incapable of logically thinking of the consequences.

The Mental Obsession

Those who suffer from the mental obsession tend to think about drinking frequently. They may feel the need to drink at every occasion. At this point, the mind has become so mentally dependent that individuals will plan their whole day around drinking.

Experiencing Withdrawal

Long-term substance abuse of any kind can turn into a dependence, which leads to withdrawal. One of the clearest signs of an alcohol addiction is experiencing withdrawal. The symptoms of withdrawal can happen within hours of the last drink. Withdrawal symptoms may include nausea, anxiety, hallucinations, body tremors and more.

Consequences from Drinking

Although alcohol is legal, there are many regulations concerning its consumption. For those dealing with alcoholism, the part of the brain that’s responsible for logically looking at these consequences doesn’t function properly. Someone with alcoholism may experience consequences from drinking like health issues, DUIs, and problems at work. While they may not always experience consequences from drinking, they eventually begin to see that the majority of consequences that they have to deal with come from drinking.

Loved Ones See a Problem

One of the biggest issues with addiction is a lack of self-awareness combined with a mental obsession to drink. It’s difficult for individuals with alcoholism to separate truth from fiction about their drinking, so they often get defensive. While their friends or family may confront them about their drinking, they may think that they’re just giving them a hard time. The truth of the matter is that they love and care about these individuals, and just want to see them get better.

Get Help for Someone Showing Signs of Alcoholism

If you or someone you love is struggling with alcoholism, 1st Step Behavioral Health can help. We specialize in treating co-occurring disorders as well. Give us a call today at (866) 319-6126.