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The Cost of Recovery vs. the Cost of Addiction

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  1. Xanax Addiction and Treatment

    The most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine, Xanax, is a Schedule IV controlled substance per the United States Controlled Substances Act. By this definition, the drug has a low potential for abuse. However, the statistics tell us otherwise. From 2004 to 2010, the number of emergency room visits from Xanax abuse nearly tripled and more than half of the people admitted (96,000+) were abusing Xanax in combination with other drugs (e.g., alcohol, opiates, marijuana, and cocaine were most frequently abused).

    Mostly prescribed for individuals suffering from panic disorders and anxiety, such as debilitating panic attacks, Xanax has been shown to be addictive, even when users take the drug as prescribed by doctors. Thus, even though it’s been labeled as having a low potential for abuse, Xanax addiction is a very real thing. So, what’s causing the increase in Xanax addiction and Xanax abuse? Since 2006, the number of prescriptions written for Xanax have increased exponentially. And it’s this increase that drug experts believe is fueling the increase in Xanax addiction and abuse. During this time of legal prescription increase, the amount of illegal drugs on the streets and black market have increased as well.

    Recent results from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that young adults are the ones who most likely abuse Xanax for non-medical purposes [over 10% of 18-25 year olds abuse the drug versus older adults at 26+ (5.7%)]. Xanax abuse is also equally represented across all genders and races, according to a 2011 study in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal. Per the Drug Enforcement Agency, Xanax is in the top 3 for medically prescribed drugs that are being diverted to the black market.


    What Happens When You Abuse Xanax?

    Stated earlier, Xanax is mostly prescribed to treat anxiety and panic disorders and has been shown to be highly effective in addressing these conditions. Benzodiazepines work quickly – with most users reporting relief in one week of starting Xanax. Xanax works by decreasing overall brain activity and thus minimizing feelings of anxiety. The drug has been shown to be highly effective, even when taken over long periods of time. When abused, Xanax can produce a euphoric state when taken in large doses.

    Because Xanax is now being abused and sold on the black market, new restrictions are being placed on how doctors can prescribe this drug. On the street, users can buy Xanax for $5 for a 2mg tablet. Doctors are required to check statewide databases for each patient for drug abuse histories and are not allowed to prescribe more than a 30-day supply at one time. Additionally, doctors and pharmacists are required to document all prescriptions and use of Xanax into a statewide database. This is to prevent Xanax abusers from “doctor shopping” – going from doctor to doctor to obtain additional prescriptions.

    Because Xanax is an addictive drug, even for users who are merely taking the drug as prescribed, dependence on Xanax and withdrawal from it are very real situations.


    Symptoms of Xanax Addiction

    Xanax is prescribed to numb anxiety patients from experiencing panic attacks and other symptoms of panic disorders. When abused though, Xanax can provide classic addiction symptoms to include:

    • Feelings of euphoria
    • Drowsiness
    • Lightheadedness
    • Excessive sleeping
    • Concentration problems
    • Memory loss
    • Nausea
    • Headaches
    • Coordination problems
    • Slurred speech
    • Confusion
    • Disorientation
    • Long-term sedation (becoming sedated for 3-4 days at a time)
    • Blurred vision/double vision
    • Insomnia
    • Loss of interest in sex

    When taken medically or abused, Xanax dependency most often presents itself psychologically. One of the first symptoms of Xanax dependence is tolerance – such that users need more and more of the drug to feel the intended effects or to satisfy their cravings. When psychologically addicted to the drug, Xanax addicts will not be able to think about much else other than when/how to get their next dose.

    Some key Xanax addiction signs and symptoms include:

    • Taking Xanax whenever withdrawal symptoms appear
    • Becoming isolated from friends and family
    • Drug tolerance
    • Continuous worrying about Xanax supply and figuring out how/when to get more drugs
    • Inability to control Xanax use
    • Taking Xanax when not medically needed

    Xanax addiction is often coupled with other drug addictions as well. Up to 41% of people who abuse alcohol also abuse Xanax.


    Xanax Treatment Facilities

    Admittance to treatment facilities for Xanax abuse have also increased in recent years, coupled with the increase of Xanax abuse. In 2011, over 600,000 individuals in treatment and recovery centers were addicted to benzodiazepines, like Xanax. A drastic increase from 1998, where only 22,000 individuals in treatment and recovery centers were suffering from Xanax addiction.

    Because of the addictive nature of the drug and the serious withdrawal effects from it, it’s a necessity for individuals who are addicted to Xanax to receive supervised treatment in structured rehabilitation programs. Additionally, because detoxification from the drug is so unpleasant, and potentially harmful, to the body, it is advised that individuals seeking treatment from Xanax addiction undergo medically supervised detox programs. Sudden “cold turkey” approaches to Xanax abuse can be significantly brutal. And largely unsuccessful – because abusers will do anything just about to rid themselves of the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that coincide with detox.

    What kind of treatment and recovery programs are available for Xanax addicts?

    The first step is to undergo a supervised detox program. Full detox from Xanax abuse takes about 4-5 days. Albeit, they are very unpleasant days. While under doctor’s supervision though, Xanax addicts who are seeking detox treatment will be weaned off the drug gradually and may also receive other medications during detox to minimize the withdrawal effects.

    The average rehabilitation program for Xanax abuse is typically about 8 to 10 weeks. Beyond detox, the focus of Xanax treatment programs is on restructuring one’s life and thoughts to be free from drug abuse. Xanax treatment can occur in either inpatient or outpatient rehab treatment and recovery facilities or through peer-support programs.

    Outpatient treatment facilities for Xanax addiction treatment and recovery are usually recommended for those individuals whose addiction in its beginning stages and has not reached severity yet. This is because outpatient treatment facilities are where Xanax addicts still live at home and visit the treatment centers multiple times per week for focused counseling sessions. Many severe Xanax addicts do not respond well to the freedom of still living at home and operating under normal life conditions while undergoing treatment.

    Inpatient treatment facilities for Xanax addiction treatment and recovery are most often recommended for Xanax addicts who have a severe and debilitating addiction to the drug. Physical and psychological addiction can be very debilitating and it’s best for individuals at this stage of Xanax addiction to stay onsite at a focused rehabilitation center specifically for Xanax abuse. Most inpatient rehab facilities operate under 28-30 day programs for Xanax abuse. The first week of this stay is dedicated to detox and the remaining weeks are dedicated to very focused counseling and intensive therapy sessions.

    Peer-support programs, such as narnacon, are classic 12-step programs designed to offer peer support in group settings. This allows Xanax addicts to open up to other addicts undergoing similar situations in a group-therapy setting. Oftentimes, peer-support programs are recommended in addition to inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities for Xanax recovery.

    Once treatment and rehabilitation are underway for Xanax abuse, patients can anticipate dedicated, round-the-clock sessions focused solely on recovery. Once released from these types of rehab centers, recovering Xanax addicts are reintroduced into society and reintroduced into a life being drug-free.


    Finding a Xanax Treatment Center

    Private treatment and recovery centers for Xanax abuse are costly, but beneficial. Though recovery from Xanax abuse is most likely only going to be successful under these types of programs, many families and friends have spent thousands of dollars to seek this important help for their loved ones.

    You may also seek government assistance for certain treatment programs or insurance programs if you qualify. The initial intensive treatment sessions for Xanax rehab last about a month, though, most people admitted into these facilities also continue aftercare programs of some type beyond release. These aftercare programs might include additional counseling sessions throughout the month, though they occur less frequently over time.

    The cost for Xanax treatment and recovery programs vary greatly – so it’s best to shop around to find a program right for you. In general, inpatient treatment facilities cost more than outpatient treatment facilities. Outpatient facilities also vary greatly – as some may provide more intense counseling, some meet very frequently, some meet less frequently, some offer individualized counseling, some offer group therapy sessions, and some offer free meetings. It’s best to figure out what stage of addiction you or your loved one is in to determine what type of treatment center will work best for your situation.

    Though the cost of rehab is great, the cost of addiction is even greater.

  2. Valium Addiction and Treatment

    A common benzodiazepine, Valium (diazepam), is an antidepressant that is prescribed to treat a number of conditions, but is mostly known for treating anxiety and panic attacks. Per the World Health Organization, Valium is a hugely beneficial medication with proven effects to treat a variety of conditions. In fact, it is such a commonly prescribed medication, you or your loved ones may be currently taking Valium or have taken the drug in the past.

    Unfortunately for many, Valium is not associated with such benefits. That’s because many people become dependent on Valium and battle lifelong addictions to the drug. And Valium addiction does not come with a cheap price tag – the cost of maintaining a constant supply of the drug and the ultimate cost of treatment and recovery do not amount to pennies.

    From 2003 to 2011, admissions into Valium treatment and recovery centers have increased sevenfold. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reports that Valium abuse is declining very slightly, though Valium is still considered the third most widely abused tranquilizer, behind Xanax and Ativan. Valium is number nine on the list of most prescribed psychiatric medication in the United States.

    Valium can be obtained illegally through doctor shopping, forged prescriptions, and on the black market. Street value of Valium averages about $5 per 5mg tablet. Valium is the most common prescribed drug available on the black market due to patients selling their prescriptions or some dishonest doctors channeling the medication on the streets.

    Though Valium is listed as a Schedule IV controlled substance on the United States Controlled Substance Act, meaning that there is low potential for abuse, recent Valium addiction statistics counter this classification. Because of rise of Valium abuse within the United States, doctors are required to check patients’ drug histories prior to prescribing Valium and are also required to register the prescription within state databases to track the amount of drug available to a patient at any given time.

    According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, 345,000 emergency room visits are due to Valium addiction/abuse – though many of these cases are the result of abusing both alcohol and Valium. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over 36,000 cases of overdose are due to prescriptions drugs like Valium, which is more than harder “street drugs” such as heroin and cocaine.


    What Happens When You Abuse Valium?

    Valium works by strengthening the effects of the GABA neurotransmitter in the brain to slow down brain activity. This lowered brain activity results in reduced anxiety – which is why Valium is typically prescribed to treat anxiety disorders and serves as a muscle relaxant and anti-convulsant.

    Valium users who take the drug for four months or longer are more likely to become addicted than individuals who take Valium for a shorter period of time. However, it’s important to note that some people become addicted to the drug without abusing it – that is, by taking Valium as prescribed. The additive nature of the drug is strong enough to lead individuals to engaging in Valium abuse.

    When individuals abuse Valium, their tolerance to the drug increases, which means they’ll need more of the drug to continue to get the desired effects. Tolerance is often one of the most common signs of Valium addiction. Other common signs of Valium addiction include:

    • Becoming preoccupied with getting the next dose of Valium
    • Valium cravings
    • Becoming socially isolated
    • Lack of interest in activities
    • Ignoring obligations (family, friends, and work obligations)

    Often, Valium addicts abuse the drug to continue to feel less anxious, as a way to lead a close to normal life. Unlike other drugs, Valium addiction is not always about “getting high.” It’s about being relaxed – and also may be used to help one sleep because of its muscle relaxant properties.


    Symptoms of Valium Addiction

    If you are concerned that a friend or family member is a Valium addict, the following signs and symptoms are classic of Valium addiction:

    • Sedation
    • Drowsiness
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Muscle weakness
    • Blurred vision and/or double vision
    • Loss of interest in sex
    • Dilated eyes
    • Slower reactions times (especially when driving)
    • Aggression
    • Depression
    • Confusion
    • Agitation
    • Hallucinations (in severe addiction)
    • Loss of inhibitions
    • Tremors/shaking
    • Coordination problems
    • Change in appearance and appetite
    • Slow movements/speech

    Some of the most common signs of Valium overdose include:

    • Double vision
    • Bluish lips
    • Breathing troubles
    • Weakness
    • Extreme drowsiness
    • Lack of coordination

    Most overdoses are the result of abusing Valium in combination with other depressants, such as alcohol or opiates.



    Valium Treatment Facilities

    Because Valium addiction is often debilitating and/or the person suffering from Valium addiction is unaware of the severity of their condition, treatment and recovery from Valium is best left to the professionals. Many people believe that because Valium is a legally prescribed medication that rehabilitation from addiction to the drug is not as complicated as recovery and treatment from other types of illicit street drugs. However, this is simply not the case. Valium addiction is strong and treatment and recovery within inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation facilities is your best bet for a complete recovery from Valium addiction.

    Though Valium addiction is something that you should seek treatment from, Valium abusers should never quit “cold turkey.”  Withdrawal from Valium could lead to coma and death, so Valium abusers should be weaned off the drug slowly. Withdrawal symptoms include shakiness, anxiety, and insomnia. Because withdrawal symptoms can be severe, the best way to start treatment and recovery is to undergo a medical detox. As the name states, this type of detox should be done under the supervision of medical professionals within a treatment and recovery facility. Withdrawal symptoms vary in length, but most Valium abusers can undergo full detox within one week. Medical professionals are able to prescribe other drugs to combat the negative withdrawal symptoms.

    Beyond the detox process, Valium addiction can be treated in either inpatient or outpatient treatment facilities. How do you know which one is best for you? One overarching question to ask is how severe and debilitating in the addiction? Valium abusers who are at the beginning stages of addiction are more likely to better handle and outpatient treatment and recovery program. Those with severe and debilitating Valium addiction problems are best suited for an inpatient treatment and recovery rehab program.

    Outpatient treatment and recovery

    In outpatient treatment centers, Valium addicts continue to live at home during the duration of their treatment, but will visit counseling sessions and drug therapy sessions multiple times per week. Outpatient recovery can be done in both individual and group settings.

    Inpatient treatment and recovery

    Inpatient treatment centers for Valium addiction are fully focused on recovery around the clock. Patients stay at the rehab facility and undergo multiple activities per day that are centered around treatment and recovery. Typically inpatient treatment programs last about a month – though some individuals may need to attend longer based on the severity of the Valium addiction. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approaches are often used in inpatient settings to re-focus one’s thoughts and behaviors and to learn coping mechanisms to deal with the stressors that might lead to abusing Valium.

    In addition to both outpatient and inpatient treatment and recovery programs, some Valium addicts also participate in 12-step programs to interact with and receive support from individuals undergoing the same type of addiction problems.



    Finding a Valium Treatment Center

    How do you find a Valium treatment center that best suits your needs? The best thing to do is “shop around” for the best rehab facility. If going into an inpatient program, your options are greater as they are open to multiple states (because you’ll be living on the rehab center grounds). If undergoing outpatient treatment and recovery, you’ll likely need to find a treatment center near to where you live since you’ll continue living at home during the duration of treatment.

    Relapses may occur, but they are not indicative of failure. Rather, they are indicative that the treatment program might need to be altered a bit to meet the needs of the attendant.

    What about the cost? It’s no secret that treatment facilities for drug addiction can be costly. But, many facilities will provide you with free consultations and many accept insurance. When considering the cost of addiction, the cost of a 30-day treatment program is negligible to the cost of a lifelong Valium addiction.

  3. Tramadol Rehab

    You might be familiar with tramadol – a narcotic painkiller that is prescribed by doctors. Tramadol, known by its brand names as Ultracet or Ultram, is typically prescribed for moderate pain – for example, following dental surgery or other types of surgeries and for arthritis pain. The drug is in the same category as other opiate agonists – and as such, it can be highly addictive. While most tramadol users take the pain medication with no incident, a small percentage of users may become addicted to tramadol.

    Tramadol addiction could affect anyone. Even those who were prescribed the drug for treatment of pain. With prolonged use, tramadol users need a higher dose of the drug to experience the intended effects. Therefore, even individuals who are using tramadol legitimately, as prescribed by their doctor, can become addicted to the painkiller if they use it for an extended period of time. Recent statistics indicate that within a given year, 1.5 million people start abusing tramadol. Over 60% of individuals who abuse tramadol get the drug from friends or family. An even scarier statistic is that 84% of people who are severe tramadol abusers (such that they ingest the drug in very high doses) experience seizures within 24 hours of first abusing the drug. It goes without saying that tramadol can have very serious effects on your health if taken improperly.


    What Happens When You Abuse Tramadol

    Known on the street as trammies, chill pills, and ultras, tramadol is a Schedule IV substance under the United States Controlled Substances Act. Many people don’t consider it an addictive drug because of its low potency and use with low to moderate pain. But, most people who become addicted to tramadol do so without really knowing. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has cited a 250% increase in emergency room visits due to tramadol abuse from 2005 to 2011. Prior to this time, the Food and Drug Administration only had record of 700 cases of tramadol abuse between 1995 and 2004. Tramadol is an opioid painkiller – and is included in the United States’ opioid epidemic.  Based on those statistics alone, there’s no question we are under an epidemic. Recent statistics show us that in 2015, 12.5 million people have misused prescription painkillers in the United States at an economic cost of $78.5 billion.

    Tramadol works by changing the way the brain responds to pain – making the body less sensitive to it. The way users might become addicted to tramadol without even knowing is that they get nervous or anxious at the thought of not being able to take the drug in response to pain. This addiction oftentimes occurs long after the need for the drug. That is, long after the pain of the surgery or other medical condition is no longer an issue.

    The individuals most likely to suffer from tramadol abuse include those who suffer from chronic pain (such that they need tramadol as an ongoing prescription) and those who have a history of a substance abuse problem (either drugs or alcohol). When taken every day, tramadol users develop a tolerance to the drug and require more of the drug to continue to relieve pain. As such, an addiction is born.


    Symptoms of Tramadol Addiction

    What does tramadol addiction look like? When taken properly, some of the side effects of tramadol ingestion include nausea and vomiting, constipation, and headaches. Though unpleasant, the benefits of using the drug outweigh these side effects if it means the user is relieved from acute or chronic pain.

    When tramadol addiction settles in, the most common symptoms include:

    • Pinpoint pupils (very small pupils)
    • Appetite changes (not eating properly)
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Constipation
    • Drowsiness
    • Seizures (with no prior history)
    • Slurred speech
    • Headaches
    • Coordination/balance problems
    • Dizziness
    • Muscle aches
    • Depression
    • Sweating
    • Concentration problems
    • Fever

    You might be thinking that these do not seem like “pleasant” symptoms to have (i.e., there is not a very strong euphoric “high” as associated with other drugs). That’s how tramadol can be so dangerous. Users can be misusing the drug without necessarily being addicted to it in the true sense of street drug addiction. While tramadol abusers do experience a mood-altering state when taking higher doses of the drug, the intensity of this high is not as strong as other illicit street drugs like crystal meth or heroin.

    But, similarly to other drugs, when tramadol runs out or the body does not receive a dose, withdrawal symptoms may kick in. Tramadol withdrawal symptoms include:

    • Depression
    • Diarrhea
    • Gastrointestinal upset
    • Agitation
    • Numbness
    • Ringing in the ears
    • Hallucinations
    • Paranoia
    • Confusion

    Tramadol addiction can often be spotted when users are taking the drug improperly, seem obsessed with taking the drug/take higher doses than prescribed, participate in “doctor hopping” to get multiple prescriptions, and/or request their friends or family to get prescriptions for them.


    Tramadol Treatment Facilities

    If you suspect a tramadol addiction, drug abusers will get the most benefit out of rehabilitation treatment and recovery programs. Though, it may be necessary to stage an intervention with the tramadol user prior to this occurring. As stated above, this is often because many abusers of the drug may not be aware of their addiction since the pills were prescribed medically and they have been taking them over a long course of time.

    Rehabilitation from tramadol is a two-step process. The first step being detoxification of the drug from the body’s system and the second step is the counseling/treatment needed to learn to live a life drug-free. Medical supervision should be given during the detox phase of treatment  – with this phase normally lasting 5 to 7 days. While a week is not long in the grand scheme of things, tramadol detox is anything but pleasant and may seem like eternity to those in the treatment and recovery program. The reason detox should be done under medical supervision is because sometimes other medications are provided to ease detox symptoms and to prohibit the ability from those undergoing treatment to get their hands on tramadol to ease the withdrawal symptoms.

    After detox is complete, tramadol abusers can enter either inpatient or outpatient rehab treatment and recovery facilities and attend peer-recovery organizations.

    Inpatient treatment facilities for tramadol addiction include round-the-clock supervision and treatment within a recovery or rehabilitation facility. This is to provide focused attention to tramadol treatment and recovery, removed from the stressors and reminders of everyday life/home. Tramadol addicts may stay within an inpatient treatment facility for about a month to undergo a fully focused and beneficial treatment program.

    Outpatient treatment programs for tramadol addicts allow the drug abusers to stay within the comfort of their own home, while attending counseling and therapy sessions at a treatment and recovery center multiple times per week. Outpatient treatment and recovery programs are often best for those individuals who do not have a very severe addiction to the drug and can handle being outside of a 24/7 rehab facility.

    Peer-recovery organizations are traditional 12-step programs for drug addicts and include group programs for addicts to share their stories and receive support from individuals going through the same thing.

    Treatment approaches in both inpatient and outpatient facilities focus on counseling and showing users how to re-shape their beliefs to live a drug free life. These types of rehab programs focus on life skills training to recognize poor choices and options for making better choices in the future.


    Finding a Tramadol Treatment Center

    It goes without saying that tramadol treatment and recovery programs are a necessity for those that abuse the drug. But, because rehab and treatment centers can be incredibly expensive, some don’t seek the help they need because of money. It’s clear that many friends and families have gone bankrupt seeking treatment for their loved ones who are undergoing an addiction problem.

    In response to the opioid epidemic, the Food and Drug Administration, along with other government agencies are researching and taking important steps to tackle this debilitating problem. New medications are being developed, Health IT solutions are being initiated, and rehab financing and Medicaid coverage options are being re-evaluated.

    It’s important to know that recovery is a life-long process and any setbacks or relapses are not indicative of failure. Rather, they are indicative that a new approach to treatment may be necessary. Just as addiction did not occur overnight, recovery will not be an overnight process as well. However, with repeated exposure to treatment and rehabilitation, tramadol abusers have a positive trajectory toward lifelong recovery.

  4. Oxycodone Rehabilitation

    A commonly prescribed painkiller for moderate to severe pain, oxycodone is an opioid analgesic and related to other similar narcotics, including heroin and morphine. Though its pain-relieving qualities are highly effective, users can quickly become addicted to oxycodone and develop a strong dependence on it.

    Many times oxycodone formulas combine other pain relievers – like Percocet or OxyContin. There has been an exponential increase in the number of oxycodone prescriptions in the past 25 years – which also coincides with the uptick in prescription drug dependencies and admittance to treatment and recovery centers for oxycodone addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has reported that 81% of the world’s oxycodone consumption takes place within the United States. And recent reports from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicate that the most represented age group of oxycodone abusers are ages 18 to 25 (9.9%) versus only 6% for ages 26+.

    In 2012, admissions to rehab treatment centers for opiate addiction hovered around 305,000, with 50,481 of those admissions because of oxycodone addiction. NIDA’s Monitoring the Future Survey has found that 1 in every 30 high school students has abused OxyContin (oxycodone extended release tablets). And the use of prescription drugs, such as OxyContin, for non-medical purposes is on the rise – nearly half a million users per month. And when considered over one’s lifetime, the statistics are even more harrowing: nearly 7 million people in the United States (ages 12+) have reported using oxycodone (OxyContin) for non-medical purposes at some point in their lives.

    Why is oxycodone abuse such a concern? Beyond the medical and psychological symptoms that coincide with oxycodone addiction, oxycodone is often the gateway drug to more serious illicit street drugs, like heroin.


    What Happens When You Abuse Oxycodone?

    Oxycodone is an opioid receptor agonist – taking the drug increases dopamine levels in the brain – producing euphoric effects and easing pain. The drug is found in varying forms:

    • OxyContin – this is pure oxycodone within extended release tablets – providing pain relief over a steady 12-hour period
    • OxyIR/OxyFast – these are fast release oxycodone prescriptions
    • Percodan – a combination of oxycodone and aspirin
    • Percocet – a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen

    The overarching purpose of oxycodone products is to relieve moderate to severe pain. The drug releases muscular tension, produces feelings of euphoria, and provides mental relaxation. Unfortunately, oxycodone can also cause severe dependence and addiction.

    Oxycodone affects your dopamine levels – and these dopamine levels are, in part, the reason for such a strong addiction to oxycodone. Dopamine is tied to your brain’s reward center and when the brain is rewarded, it seeks more of the reward. Over time, a tolerance is built up and the person needs more and more oxycodone to produce the desired effects that they are seeking. And if the user does not get their hands on additional oxycodone, the signs of oxycodone abuse and addiction start to shine through.


    Symptoms of Oxycodone Addiction

    What can you expect from someone with an oxycodone addiction? Some of the first cues that someone is suffering from an oxycodone addiction is in their behaviors. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, there are 11 signs of an oxycodone addiction. Some of the most common include:

    • Lying or stealing to get their hands on oxycodone
    • Being neglectful to one’s job or family because of preoccupation with oxycodone
    • Losing interest in activities that once provided excitement
    • Trying to obtain more oxycodone in a deceitful manner (doctor shopping, forging prescriptions, providing false medical histories)
    • Abusing the drug even if it is not needed and/or you don’t have the money to afford it

    Once oxycodone abusers have undergone full addiction, a number of physical signs and symptoms will also become readily visible:

    • Extreme drowsiness
    • Lightheadedness
    • Itching
    • Sedation
    • Euphoria
    • Low blood pressure
    • Lowered respiratory rates
    • Headache
    • Sweating
    • Dry mouth
    • Constricted or dilated pupils
    • Slurred speech
    • Short attention span
    • Constipation
    • Seizures
    • Nausea/vomiting
    • Blurred vision

    Long-term abuse of oxycodone products (including OxyContin and Percocet) can cause a number of severe and debilitating conditions:

    • Liver damage
    • Heart failure
    • Swelling in the limbs
    • Insomnia
    • Increased pressure of the spinal fluid
    • Coma
    • Death

    A Schedule II drug on the Drug Enforcement Agency ( DEA)’s Controlled Substance List, oxycodone is used for medical purposes but it also highly addictive. OxyContin is one of the most often abused oxycodone products. Because of the significant increase in OxyContin abuse, the government sought to put regulations on the drug manufacturer. Specifically:

    • The pharmaceutical company was required to cease all production of the strongest 160mg tablets
    • The drug manufacturer increased the difficulty to crush or dissolve OxyContin tablets to minimize the ability for drug abusers to experience the full rush of OxyContin at one time.


    Oxycodone Treatment Facilities

    While there seems to be a slight decrease in oxycodone abuse in recent years, the need for rehabilitation, treatment, and recovery is significant. Once addicted to oxycodone, the addict must continue to get doses of the drug or else withdrawal symptoms will settle in:

    • Extreme pain sensitivity
    • Insomnia
    • Restlessness/agitation
    • Gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., upset stomach)
    • Excessive sweating
    • Feeling cold/shivering

    The first step in most drug treatment programs is to go through a week long detox program to flush your body from the oxycodone drug. The best detox programs are done under medical supervision – not only to continuously assess your vital signs but also to be able to provide additional medications to ease the signs and symptoms of withdrawal.

    After detox, oxycodone addicts can enter either inpatient or outpatient rehab treatment and recovery centers. The main focus of all treatment and recovery centers is on living a life free from oxycodone dependence. In inpatient rehab treatment facilities, oxycodone addicts live onsite – with the programs lasting an average of 30 days. The purpose of staying onsite within an inpatient oxycodone rehab center is to participate in daily counseling and therapy sessions (both individual and group) away from the stressors of everyday life. While the oxycodone addict is learning ways to refocus his or her mindset from the drug, the individual is not having to worry about everyday triggers enticing them to ingest the drug.

    Outpatient oxycodone rehab and treatment centers are utilize intensive therapy and counseling to reshape addicts beliefs and learning ways to cope without drug dependence. The difference in these types of rehab and treatment centers is that oxycodone addicts still live at home during the recovery process. Sometimes outpatient oxycodone rehab programs are used in conjunction with inpatient programs – as a continuum of sorts. After patients leave inpatient treatment facilities, they might continue to attend outpatient rehab meetings to gain support and continue a life drug free.


    Finding an Oxycodone Treatment Center

    One of the things people who are seeking oxycodone rehab and treatment facilities worry about the most is the cost. Inpatient treatment centers are not cheap, but compared to the alternate (oxycodone addiction), they are a bargain.

    All treatment centers are different, so cost will differ as well – based on location and type of rehab. Most rehab centers accept insurance or generous payment plans. Less likely, but still available, are government grants to fund a stay at an oxycodone rehab center.

    As stated above – rehab from oxycodone occurs in three stages:

    • Detox
    • Substance Abuse Therapy
    • Aftercare

    While both detox and substance abuse therapy typically occur in an inpatient facility, aftercare (continued counseling and therapy sessions) typically occur within an outpatient rehab and treatment center or through local support groups (like 12-step programs). Some facilities may start offering lab grade CBD oil as a means to dramatically tamp down withdrawal symptoms.

    Location, in response to treatment, has no real effects on recovery – though, if you feel more comfortable going far away from home or completing rehab around the corner from your house – you should do what feels right to you.

    Rehab does not cure addiction, rather manages it throughout the lifetime. Relapse is okay – it just means that your current path to recovery needs some adjusting to stay on course. Remember, no matter the cost of the rehab, the cost of living a lifetime as an oxycodone addict is far more expensive. Seek help today.

  5. Animal Assisted Addiction Rehab Therapy

    What is Animal Assisted Therapy

    Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a form of therapy that uses animals and/or pets as a component of therapy or rehabilitation. Used in a variety of settings, including pediatric care, mental institutions, and prison systems, animal-assisted therapy is also used with prevalence in substance abuse rehabilitation programs. Per the Annals of Long-Term Care, AAT actually has its roots as far back as the 1800s when Florence Nightingale discovered that animals reduced anxiety in mental patients and children.

    Photo courtesy of Rosie’s Trust


    Two-thirds of all households in the United States own pets. And pet owners will be the first to tell you how beneficial their pets can be to their lives – making them feel happy when they are sad and also giving them something to look forward to when coming home. Humans are drawn to animals in general – with some saying that they have a “healing power” of sorts. Pets make their owners feel needed, wanted, and loved. Physically, pets have been known to lower blood pressure, help people deal with life stress (e.g., a divorce, death), and help individuals relax. In fact, research has shown that just being around animals releases the “feel good” hormone oxytocin within our brain which leads to happier and more loving actions and thoughts.

    The American Counseling Association has reported that animal-assisted therapy is beneficial because it helps individuals who are in rehab treatment get the most out of therapy. Some individuals in rehab may be more withdrawn or angry that they are in rehab to begin with. Animals can help rehab patients come out of their shells, so to speak – participate more in rehab activities, and get them talking to counselors more openly. Also, animal-assisted therapy gives rehab patients a new focus – something to keep their mind off of drugs and/or alcohol and gives them a purpose or responsibility.


    What Types of Therapy are Animal-Assisted Therapy Used For?

    As stated above, animal-assisted therapy has been used in a variety of settings. Research has found it be very beneficial in pediatric care – to help children open up during therapy sessions – especially for children who have been abused or who have suffered some type of trauma.

    Additionally, animal-assisted therapy has been helpful in prison populations. In these settings, prisoners are exposed to animals to relax them, teach them  how to diminish feelings of hostility around others, to enhance behavioral and cognitive well-being, and to lower stress.

    The introduction of animals into nursing homes has provided the elderly with a renewed sense of well-being, livelihood, and engagement – helping patients stay active and giving them something to look forward to. Animal-assisted therapy has also been specifically beneficial for dementia patients – giving them hands-on interactions with a warm body, teaching them how to feel a heartbeat, allowing them to pet soft fur, and to show emotions and affection.

    For substance abuse rehab facilities, AAT has been an effective mode of treatment, allowing recovering addicts to open up, feel relaxed in therapy sessions, and take their mind off the environmental triggers that have played a large role in abusing drugs or alcohol. Animals are a “distraction” of sorts – taking the mind off the seriousness of the situation and providing companionship in times when the addicts might feel the most lonely.

    According to the National Association of Social Workers, there are two types of animal therapies in rehab situations:

    • Pet Therapy – pet therapy involves pet owners taking their well-trained and well-behaved pets to different settings to allow patients, students, etc. to interact with the animal. Just being around the animal helps to lower blood pressure.


    • Animal-assisted Therapy (AAT) – AAT is incorporated into the therapy session such that the animals are used for counseling purposes. They are part of the treatment program itself, not just there for a quick visit to lower anxiety and hostility. .


    What are the Most Common Types of Animal Assisted Therapy?

    When conducting animal-assisted therapy, what types of animals are typically used? While a number of animals can be used in theory (even hamsters, fish, and gerbils), the three most common types of animals used for AAT are dolphins, dogs, and horses.

    For substance abuse rehab treatment and recovery, dolphins are not the go-to animal. In therapy settings, dolphins are often used for people who are not fully functioning in some type of mental or physical capacity – for example, autism,  cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome patients. However, equine therapy and canine therapy are used often in AAT within substance abuse programs.

    Equine Therapy

    Initially instituted for individuals with physical disabilities, equine therapy has been around the longest. Equine therapy is used in a number of treatment facilities, including rehab centers for depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance abuse. Drug addicts who are currently seeking treatment are hugely benefitted from equine therapy as it gives them a connection to nature while bonding with such a powerful animal. Addicts start to build trust, confidence, patience, and equity

    Horses are mirrors to ourselves – they respond based on what they see us do – so they are very beneficial in learning about relationships and coping with different situations. And it’s often through these interactions that therapists and counselors can understand how drug addicts respond to situations.

    Per Psych Central, equine therapy provides the following insights into therapy and counseling sessions:

    • Understanding the way rehab addicts respond to interpersonal relationship behaviors
    • How well rehab participants modify their behaviors – responding to the horse’s moves and feedback to behavior
    • How well addicts build trust


    Canine Therapy

    Dogs are most familiar to people in treatment and recovery centers. With dogs being friendly and loyal, they are extremely beneficial in a therapy session. For those recovering from a substance abuse problem, dogs may make you feel connected, needed, and wanted. Dogs are helpful in rehab problems because they:

    • Create a more positive outlook on life
    • Provide cues on how to handle relationships and responses to environmental triggers
    • Decrease feelings of anxiety and depression
    • Provide the addict with purpose and responsibility (i.e., this dog’s well-being is my responsibility)


    What is its Effectiveness?

    So, how effective is animal-assisted therapy? Unfortunately, the statistics from focused research on this topic are few and far between. However, all signs point upward. Spending time with animals during rehab can:

    • Stabilize moods
    • Lower anxiety levels
    • Decrease the amount of stress in the rehab patient’s life
    • Control anger
    • Lower blood pressure

    While the statistics are almost non-existent, the benefits of animal-assisted therapy are easy to see. Though it’s important to note that animal-assisted therapy’s effectiveness has a lot to do with if the person likes animals to begin with. Those who do not like animals are probably not going to benefit as much with animal-assisted therapy procedures. Those who do love animals will likely respond well to treatment and recovery with AAT built into it. One of the key things that animal-assisted therapy can help with is elevating the rehab participant’s mood. Animals typically increase positive moods among individuals. And positive moods have a direct effect on the effectiveness of treatment and recovery programs. Therefore, if animals can raise an individual’s mood, treatment potential is enhanced.


    Should it Replace Regular Therapy?

    How effective is using animals in therapy sessions? Should this be a major method to treatment or an enhancement. At this stage of animal-assisted therapy, this therapy should be used as a supplement to regular counseling, group therapy, and one-on-one therapy sessions.

    Similar to how a 12-step program is beneficial after release from rehab, canine or equine therapy is beneficial during regularly scheduled counseling session or therapy treatments. Substance abuse addicts in particular still need the daily cognitive reasoning skills and cognitive behavioral skill set that teaches them how to cope with everyday life stressors. While the research literature is still blooming in this area, what we do know is that animals can have profound effects on our moods and our bodies, which is turn can have profound effects on our treatment and recovery success.

  6. Alcohol Rehab

    It’s been a long day at work, but it’s almost quitting time. When 5pm rolls around, like many, you’re ready to head out the door and relax from working all day. Many go straight home to relax, popping open a beer or a bottle of wine. And many go out to the local bar for a couple of happy hour drinks. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), more than half of Americans consume alcohol – it’s a way to relax, socialize, and enjoy oneself. However, some cross a threshold where alcohol is no longer used in moderation, rather it is abused. Alcoholism sets in and the disease gets out of hand – causing headache and heartache for your health, your family, and your friends.


    The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has estimated that approximately 17 million American adults suffer from alcoholism or alcohol abuse/dependency. That’s 7% of the population – no small bat of the eye. The amount of men who suffer from alcohol abuse is nearly double that of women – 11.2 million men and 5.2 million women. Further, NIAAA estimates approximately 855,000 adolescents (12 – 17 year olds) also have an alcohol use disorder.  The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report over 90,000 deaths per year are the result of alcohol, earning alcohol use number three on the list of preventable causes of death.


    What Happens When You Drink?

    After you take your first sip of alcohol, it takes about 10 minutes to start feeling the first effects of it – this is due to the increase in your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The higher the BAC, the stronger the effects of the alcohol on your system, and the more impaired you become.

    What are the effects of alcohol in your system?

    • Slurred speech
    • Decreased inhibitions
    • Gross motor impairments
    • Concentration problems
    • Confusion
    • Temporary memory loss
    • Breathing problems
    • Coma
    • Death

    Additionally, alcohol can impair your operation of a motor vehicle, increase violence and anger, lower your inhibitions to engage in risky behavior, and increase your contemplation of suicide and homicide.

    Your BAC can be a good indicator of how you are impaired under the effects of alcohol in your system.

    • 03% to 0.10%: euphoria, enhanced mood, and anxiety reduction
    • 10% to 0.20%: sedation, decreased reaction times, balance and vision impairments
    • 20% to 0.30%: nausea, vomiting, ataxia, confusion
    • 25% to 0.40%: in and out of consciousness, severe motor impairments, bradycardia, bladder control issues
    • 25% to 0.80%: severe breathing problems, coma, and death

    One reason that alcohol abuse is so prevalent in the United States is because as long as you are of the legal age, it’s legal to buy and consume alcohol. Over half of the United States engages in alcohol consumption and most are able to enjoy a few drinks and stop drinking. However, a significant portion of those who drink alcohol cannot put the alcohol down. They have to keep drinking to the point of danger to their own health and to the well-being of others. These individuals are suffering from an alcohol use disorder.


    Symptoms and Causes of Alcohol Abuse

    If you or a loved one is suffering from alcoholism, how can you tell? Some of the most common signs of alcohol addiction are:

    • Alcohol tolerance (i.e., needing to drink more alcohol to feel the intended effects of it)
    • Experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you haven’t consumed alcohol in awhile
    • Not being able to control the amount of drinks you consume
    • Not being able to stop drinking alcohol (even though you want to)
    • Always thinking about drinking – to the point that it disrupts your home life and work life
    • Engaging in binge drinking
    • Drinking alcohol throughout the day
    • Drinking alcohol with the intent to get drunk
    • Drinking alcohol every day
    • Drinking alcohol and driving


    Why do some people abuse alcohol and others can stop drinking with no problem? Some people start drinking because of social or peer pressure. Some start drinking because of mental health issues. Some of the most common mental health reasons for alcoholism include anxiety and depression. Some people model the behaviors of what they witnessed growing up (e.g., having alcoholic parents). Additionally, according to the NIAAA, there seems to be a genetic link among some people experiencing alcoholism. These individuals get a bigger “buzz” from drinking alcohol and don’t necessarily feel the ill effects of it (e.g., nausea, feeling sick). Essentially, they are “primed” for alcoholism.

    At what point is “enough enough?” When should you seek help? Where can you get help? And what are some warning signs that you need help? Some people know they need help, they just can’t motivate themselves to seek treatment. They might think treatment is not a reality for them – that they’ll never get better. Some people seek treatment or rehab facilities that specifically focus on alcoholism – either they were motivated to do so through a scary life episode (e.g., arrest or accident due to drinking) or they were motivated to do so through a friends or family interventions. In the next section we’ll discuss different alcohol treatment options, treatment and recovery programs, and alcohol rehab facilities.


    Alcohol Rehab Facilities/Programs

    If you suffer from alcoholism, sometimes it takes something major to seek treatment. Causing an accident while driving drunk, getting arrested, losing a job, losing custody of your children, being hospitalized, and getting into domestic disputes are all major concerns that might lead family members to seek treatment for you, to stage an intervention so that you can seek treatment, or they might just get you to recognize the severity of your alcohol abuse to seek treatment on your own.

    When seeking treatment for alcoholism, most individuals enter into a drug and alcohol addiction center or rehab facility. Alcohol treatment rehab programs include both inpatient treatment facilities and outpatient treatment facilities.


    Inpatient treatment facilities offer round the clock rehab. Patients stay on location at the rehab facility, surrounded by psychiatrists, alcohol counselors, social workers, psychologists, and other rehab patients. In these inpatient treatment facilities, you will work on your addiction problems exclusively – without the distractions of home life or work life. It’s a way for individuals to break away from their routine and their surroundings they associate with alcoholism – taking away any triggers that might lead them toward alcohol abuse.

    Outpatient treatment facilities offer similar counseling initiatives with counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers as well. The difference being that you don’t stay onsite at the rehab facility. You integrate the treatments and counseling sessions with your normal life – going home after the treatment sessions.


    In both types of rehab and treatment facilities, you’ll learn coping mechanisms to deal with your alcohol abuse disorder. Behavioral treatment programs focus on changing your drinking behaviors. In addition, you might attend mutual support groups with others suffering from an alcohol abuse disorder. Alcoholics Anonymous is an example of a mutual support group. You might also be prescribed medication from your primary doctor to cope with alcoholism. We summarize these below.

    Behavioral Treatment Programs: These treatments consist of working with alcohol counselors to learn coping mechanisms and to modify behaviors that lead to alcohol abuse. These include:

    • Building strong support networks
    • Setting goals
    • Learning about skills to minimize negative drinking behaviors
    • Identifying triggers and learning coping mechanisms


    Mutual Support Groups: provide peer support from individuals also going through alcohol dependency. These are popularly known as 12-step programs.


    Medications: There are a few drugs on the market that work specifically for alcohol dependence. They are:

    • Disulfiram: causes unpleasant side effects (e.g., nausea) when users drink due to the drug blocking the ability for your body to metabolize the alcohol
    • Naltrexone: reduces individuals’ desires to engage in heavy drinking
    • Acamprosate: Enhances ability to abstain from alcohol consumption


    Alcohol Recovery

    How effective are rehab and treatment programs for recovery from alcohol dependence? Individuals who are seeking recovery experience a relapse in recovery up to 60% of the time. Though, that doesn’t mean individuals suffering from alcoholism will never experience a successful recovery. It means that relapse is a part of the journey and that recovery from alcoholism is an ongoing life event. Alcoholism is a chronic disease. A relapse is indicative that the particular course towards recovery might need to be adjusted per each individual’s needs.

    While there are common approaches toward recovery, alcohol treatment programs are not “one size fits all.” Some individuals may benefit from behavioral methods over 12-step programs. Some individuals  might respond well to medications while others don’t. Some reach better recovery results from inpatient programs over outpatient programs. The point being that each individual seeks recovery from different starting points and levels of severity of alcoholism.

    The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that most individuals who are addicted to a drug (including alcohol) need three months within a treatment and recovery program to experience the most positive results from rehab.  Recovery is a long-term process and will not happen overnight.

    You can use the Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration’s database of treatment and recovery center facilities to locate a rehab facility near to you and/or one that is appropriate for your needs.


  7. Senior Citizens: Addiction & Rehab

    Senior Substance Abuse and Addiction

    There are approximately 50 million individuals 65 and older living in the United States, with those numbers projected to hit nearly 85 million by 2050, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The majority of these older adults are part of the baby boomer generation (born between the years 1946 and 1964). The increase in the older adult population brings many new challenges – insurance coverage, retirement, cost of living, and also substance abuse.

    When we normally think of substance abuse – including both alcohol and drug addictions, we don’t typically think of adults over the age of 65. However, based on recent statistics, maybe we should start. When it comes to substance abuse, the substance most often abused is alcohol (with estimates of up to 6 million older adults – aged 65 and older – projected to suffer from alcohol addiction by 2020). Illicit drug use has doubled among older adults from 2002 to 2013. But, the most prominent substance abuse issue among the elderly is associated with prescription medications. The Gerontological Society of America reported that there was a 78% increase in emergency room visits due to prescription medication misuse and/or abuse among the elderly between 2006 and 2012.

    In general, the amount of prescriptions written for opioids and benzodiazepines has increased exponentially, not only among the older generation, but among all age levels. Turn on the news and you’re likely to hear reports on the opioid epidemic we are experiencing – leading to substantial increases in drug addictions, drug overdoses, and admittance to rehab programs. Though much of this attention to the opioid epidemic is on the younger to middle-age population; older adults fall into the shadows. With over a quarter of all prescription drugs sold to the older population – and 11% of that population falling victim to prescription drug abuse, it’s time to start taking note.


    How Does Addiction Occur?

    Is the increase in narcotic painkillers and anti-anxiety or sedative prescriptions the only reason for the uptick in seniors with substance abuse problems? Not necessarily. Though, it’s a major factor. Older adults experience many life events that can also lead to substance abuse problems – retirement, death of friends and family members, being short on money but out of the workforce, experiencing social isolation, and becoming less active. These issues are unique to the older population – at least more so than their younger counterparts.

    Couple these issues with the use of prescription drugs, and it can be easy for addiction problems to occur. It’s not uncommon for older adults to take one or many prescription medications for chronic pain or other medical needs. And when stronger pain meds are scripted for chronic pain, addiction can settle in within five days. Oftentimes addiction is missed among the elderly because side effects and symptoms of addiction can be similar with common signs of aging in general.

    Other reasons substance abuse and drug addiction can occur frequently and much more quickly is because of the body chemistry of the older population. Physiological and physical changes can make the older population more susceptible to drug abuse and addiction. As metabolism slows down and reaction times decrease, prescription medications and alcohol can have a more serious effect on the body – and alter how the substances are broken down in the body. More seriously, the interaction between both prescription medications and alcohol can be profoundly enhanced among the older population should they be taken at the same time.

    What are some of the most common accidents that occur from substance abuse among the elderly?

    • Increased risk of falling and breaking bones
    • Increased suicidal tendencies
    • Memory loss
    • Delirium
    • Increased chance for negative drug interactions

    Because the older population is not on doctors’ radars as being addicts as much as the younger populations, prescriptions might be written more freely and more frequently. And sometimes, incorrectly. Opioid narcotics are usually meant to treat moderate to severe (acute) pain, but oftentimes they are prescribed to the elderly to treat chronic conditions. As the older population continues to take the drug over a long period of time, tolerance may be built up so they require more of the medication to achieve the desired effects. They continue to take the medication because if they stop taking it for a few days, they start to feel lousy again. What’s interesting is that they may not be feeling bad because of the actual underlying (pain) condition, rather, they are experiencing the effects of drug withdrawal, and when they start taking the drug again, those negative side effects diminish.


    Identifying Substance Abuse in Seniors

    As stated above, many times substance abuse in the elderly is misdiagnosed, or not diagnosed at all, because the signs and symptoms of addiction are similar to aging in general. Additionally, an increase in mental illnesses among the elderly (e.g., depression and anxiety) might also mask some of the signs and symptoms of drug addiction. The Psychiatric Times reports that substance abuse and mental illness co-occur at rates up to 66% in older adults.

    Doctors are more likely to over-prescribe medications to seniors as well, allowing for the potential ease of abuse by creating an overabundance of medications available at their fingertips. For example, if a 70-year old individual has minor dental surgery – a doctor may prescribe at least a month’s worth of prescription narcotic painkillers when the patient may have only need one week’s worth of pills at most. If the same person goes to the doctor the next month for a minor outpatient surgery and is prescribed more narcotic painkillers, the patient could have a two-month supply at his/her fingertips with two short day visits to the doctor. Many individuals in younger populations get their hands on prescription drugs and other illicit drugs through “doctor shopping” – going from doctor to doctor to try to get prescriptions written for them. When it comes to the older population, doctor shopping isn’t as necessary, because most doctors will easily write more prescriptions for the elderly population, without questioning the potential for substance abuse as much as if the patient were younger. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), older adults may be the population we should be looking out for the most, considering they are more likely to take more medications for longer rates, or take multiple long-term medications that are known for possible addiction.

    How can you spot drug abuse or addiction in the older population? Some of the most common signs and symptoms include:

    • Nausea/vomiting
    • Sedation
    • Inability to feel pain/numbness
    • Drug cravings/anger when they can’t get their medication
    • Mood changes
    • Itchiness
    • Rashes
    • Anxiety
    • Confusion
    • Memory loss
    • Poor judgment

    Sometimes in the older population, the withdrawal effects of the drug might be the first cue that an addiction problem is occurring. Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms of drug addiction include:

    • Negative mood
    • Sweating
    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • Runny nose
    • Irritability
    • Gastrointestinal disturbances
    • Loss of appetite
    • Stomach cramping

    As you can see from these lists, many older adults may experience similar signs and symptoms based on other medical issues or mental illnesses, so it can be hard to tease apart drug addiction from other types of medical conditions among the elderly.


    Treatment and Recovery Programs for Seniors

    If you discover that a loved one is suffering from drug addiction or substance abuse, what can you do to help? Older adults who have an addiction problem should seek medical treatment for recovery. Because this issue among the elderly population is becoming more prevalent in today’s society, more and more rehab and treatment centers are focusing on older adults. Age-specific treatment programs can be beneficial to the older population over a more general population within a rehab and treatment facility, as the counseling and therapy can be focused on age-specific causes and triggers that affect the more senior population.

    Treatment programs for seniors who are affected by substance abuse and drug addiction follow a similar course of action to other rehab and treatment programs. The first step in the treatment process is medical detox to wean the individual off of the drug under medical supervision. This should be done over a period of time (not stopping cold turkey) and should be done under medical supervision – especially for older adults – to monitor vitals and body reactions to the detox. In addition, doctors may be able to prescribe some medications that counter some of the negative effects of detox to make the individual feel more comfortable.

    After detox, individuals may enter into either inpatient or outpatient rehab programs. Inpatient programs are those where the individual will stay on treatment center grounds – with most programs lasting a month. In this time, the individuals will undergo counseling, therapy, and preventative, education, and support services to steer them back to a life free from drug addiction.

    Outpatient programs offer similar individualized and group counseling – though are different in that the individual does not live on-site at the treatment facility. The benefits of inpatient programs over outpatient programs is that individuals are immersed within treatment and recovery at an inpatient facility, without the triggers of the outside world. Because individuals who participate in outpatient treatments go home after the counseling session is over, it’s important that they can handle or manage the triggers that might push them towards taking more drugs.

    After rehab treatment and recovery programs have been completed, it’s important that the elderly individual stay engaged in continued care – either through self-help or 12-step programs. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also recommends that older adults who received treatment for addiction be assigned a case manager to check in with them periodically to assess how they are doing outside of treatment and to determine if any relapses have occurred.

    Older adults who receive Medicare or other supplemental insurance should check their policies – as many of the treatment and recovery programs for substance abuse treatment and mental health treatment are covered under this federally funded insurance program.

  8. Hydrocodone Addiction, Treatment, and Prevention

    Hydrocodone is a popular prescribed painkiller (narcotic) that is given to individuals who are experiencing moderate to severe pain caused sometimes by brain injuries. You might more commonly know the drug by its brand names – such as Vicodin, Lortab, and Norco. The painkiller can be a wonder drug to those suffering, but also has a dark side for people who become addicted to it. Hydrocodone is an opioid, in the same family as oxycodone and morphine – and like these similar opiate drugs, comes an increased possibility of dependence and addiction. It is estimated that between 26.4 million and 36 million people worldwide are addicted to opioids, such as hydrocodone. In the United States alone, more than 2.1 million people are addicted to this popular medication and others similar to it. In fact, this epidemic has become so widespread across all demographics in America that in 2018, the Department of Transportation even took steps to curb its use by updating their DOT drug testing regulations to include four additional semi-synthetic opioid drugs.


    The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) National Survey on Drug Use and Health confirms that 5.9% of all entrants into rehabilitation (rehab) facilities are there because of opioid (e.g., hydrocodone) abuse. Sixty percent of individuals in rehab facilities are White, 21% are African-American, and 14% are Hispanic and Latino. American Indians or Alaska Natives and Asian/Pacific Islanders make up 2.3% and 1% of the population of individuals in rehab facilities, respectively.


    Why the Sudden Increase in Hydrocodone Addictions?

    You might be thinking that hydrocodone addiction rates seem to be skyrocketing lately – to the point that government officials are even recognizing that the United States is under an opioid addiction epidemic. You would be correct in your thoughts! The SAMHSA reports that rates of hydrocodone addiction have quadrupled since 1999 alone. So, what’s causing the increase? A couple of factors:

    • Higher manufacturing rates of hydrocodone (the United States makes up about 100% of all hydrocodone consumption worldwide according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse)


    • The incredible increase in hydrocodone prescriptions written – for reference, in 1999, doctors wrote 76 million opioid prescriptions. In 2013, doctors were estimated to have written 207 million prescriptions for opioids.

    With this increase in doctors writing hydrocodone prescriptions, comes a higher percentage of hydrocodone addiction problems. Emergency room visits, hospitalizations, rehab rates, and mortality rates have all increased exponentially in recent years due to non-prescription hydrocodone abuse. And this addiction rate doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.


    Symptoms of Hydrocodone Abuse

    Why is hydrocodone so addictive? And, what symptoms should you be aware of if you suspect someone you know is suffering from a hydrocodone addiction? Individuals who are abusing hydrocodone may  exhibit a number of physical symptoms as well as behavioral symptoms. According to Rehab International Organization, hydrocodone addiction accounts for more than 60% of all drug addictions, with addiction rates increasing by 20% each year. And teens are at the forefront of those suffering from this drug addiction.

    Hydrocodone abuse can be spotted by individuals exhibiting some or all of the following behaviors:

    • Taking more hydrocodone than a typical dose (overusing the drug)
    • Hiding the drug from others and/or lying about taking the drug
    • Stealing to get their hands on more hydrocodone
    • Purchasing hydrocodone illegally (i.e., on the streets)
    • Manipulating health care providers to obtain hydrocodone prescriptions
    • Seeing two or more doctors to obtain prescriptions
    • Exaggerating pain symptoms to receive additional hydrocodone prescriptions or refills
    • Becoming socially isolated
    • Showing signs of anger when asked about their hydrocodone use or when their drug supply runs low or out
    • Being obsessed with how much of the drug they possess and/or holding onto large quantities of the drug in fear of running out
    • Exhibiting withdrawal symptoms

    When hydrocodone addicts run out of the drug, they will likely exhibit a number of withdrawal symptoms until they can get their hands on more. In fact, withdrawal symptoms can start to present themselves within just 6 hours of not having the drug.

    Withdrawal symptoms can include:

    • Insomnia and related sleep disturbances
    • Irritability
    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • Severe drug cravings
    • Upset stomach/diarrhea
    • Stomach cramps
    • Loss of appetite
    • Fatigue
    • Watery eyes/runny nose
    • Sweating
    • Muscle pains and aches
    • Flu-like symptoms

    Individuals who become addicted to hydrocodone eventually need to take more and more of the drug to experience the euphoric highs they are seeking from the pain medication. When they take higher and higher dosages than intended, they place themselves at risk for a hydrocodone overdose. The signs of hydrocodone overdose include:

    • Cold/clammy hands
    • Slowed breathing and heartbeat
    • Disorientation
    • All over muscle weakness
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Coma
    • Death

    If you suspect someone is suffering from a hydrocodone overdose, call 911 and get them to a hospital right away.


    Hydrocodone Rehab Facilities/Programs

    Individuals who become addicted to hydrocodone should enter rehab facilities or rehab programs to wean themselves off of the drug. On average, withdrawal symptoms will last for approximately one week when individuals detox from the drug. The height of the physical withdrawal symptoms mentioned above occur 72 hours after stopping hydrocodone use.

    If you enter into a treatment or rehab facility for hydrocodone abuse, the doctors will wean you off of hydrocodone slowly – decreasing your intake by about 25% per day. This lessens the number of withdrawal symptoms and the severity of these symptoms.

    While the physical withdrawal symptoms are short-lived, the psychological withdrawal symptoms can continue for months after ceasing the use of hydrocodone. This is especially where rehab centers and drug counselors are beneficial if you are suffering from hydrocodone addiction. Some of the more emotional side effects of hydrocodone withdrawal include intense cravings and being easily swayed by temptations (i.e., loss of self-control around drugs).

    Hydrocodone rehab includes both inpatient and outpatient facilities and treatment programs. Inpatient rehab facilities supervise medical detox programs for hydrocodone abusers. Although the physical withdrawal from hydrocodone is rarely life-threatening, it’s not a pleasant experience to go through because of all of the physical symptoms you may experience.

    The real focus of both inpatient and outpatient rehab treatment centers is on the psychological withdrawal from hydrocodone. Because the psychological factors are usually what keep an individual from recovering on their own (after detox), it’s important to seek psychological counseling when undergoing rehab from hydrocodone addiction.

    Hydrocodone abusers who attend outpatient facilities for rehab do not stay at the rehab facility. Rather, they attend a few hours of counseling sessions, sometimes on a daily basis, and then leave the rehab facility and stay with family or friends. Outpatient rehab facilities work better with individuals who can handle the freedom of not being supervised 24/7 as with an inpatient rehab facility. Most often, the choice between attending outpatient vs. inpatient rehab facilities is based on the severity of your drug addiction.

    Inpatient rehab facilities are more standard for those suffering from moderate to severe hydrocodone addiction. In these types of rehab facilities, you’ll undergo detox under medical supervision and then attend daily counseling sessions to help you cope with the psychological side of drug addiction.  The typical minimum stay in an inpatient rehab facility is 28 days, though many individuals stay longer to get the help they need to kick the drug addiction without the distraction of home life.

    In addition to medical detox and rehab, some medications can be prescribed to individuals suffering from hydrocodone abuse to treat dependence on opioids. One of the most common prescriptions for treatment of opioid addiction, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), is Buprenorphine products (e.g., Subutex). These products fill opioid receptors in the brain to counter withdrawal symptoms such that when someone takes hydrocodone, it will no longer get them “high.”

    Update 2019: There is encouraging evidence from studies that lab grade CBD oil is effective in providing relief from withdrawals from heroin and other opiate addiction rehab.

    Hydrocodone addiction rehab facilities are only one step in the process for kicking an addiction to this narcotic medication. Once an individual goes through medical detox and rehab, it’s important that the individuals learn relapse prevention techniques to avoid starting the process over again.


    Finding a Hydrocodone Treatment Center

    If you or an individual you know is suffering from hydrocodone addiction, you are not alone. As one of the most abused drugs out there, it’s not hard to imagine that someone you know might be suffering from dependence on this medication.

    To find a hydrocodone treatment center that will work with your needs, you can search online for types of rehab facilities that will meet your needs. Different treatment programs may work for different people. Beyond outpatient and inpatient rehab facilities, there are options for state-funded treatment centers as well as rehab facilities covered by insurance.

    Recognizing the problem and undergoing detox is just one step of treating hydrocodone addiction. The most comprehensive treatment plans will also include psychological counseling and prevention techniques. And with the rise of opioid addiction the world is experiencing (and the potential for prescription medication abuse to lead to other illegal street drugs), the importance of getting help for hydrocodone addictions cannot be stressed enough.