Best Time to Go to Rehab: Some Signs to Know

Coming to terms with a substance abuse problem isn’t easy. There is still a great deal of stigma associated with addiction, and this fact alone often keeps people from reaching out to their families, friends, employers or doctors when they suspect they have a problem. But that’s not all that stands in the way.

The nature of addiction itself presents challenges. Denial is a huge factor and a powerful defense mechanism. Denial may have you believing you have things under control, that you’re not the one with the problem, or that you can quit any time—you just don’t want to.

Speaking of control, this is another issue that can keep people in the vicious cycle of substance abuse for far too long. Our society places a high value on control and independence. Admitting you have an issue with substance abuse, admitting you can’t stop, and admitting you need help is tough to do in a “do-it-yourself” world of people who don’t easily admit when they don’t have everything under control.

Deciding to Get Professional Help

You’ve been struggling for a while, and you’re tired. Oftentimes, it’s not one single, earth-shaking event that leads someone to want to quit using; it’s just the day-in-and-day-out chaos that becomes so exhausting, and you just want it to stop. Perhaps you’re tired of hiding your problem or tired of feeling trapped by your addiction. Whatever the case, you’re ready to get some help.

You may feel hesitant to take that step, though, and wonder if it’s really necessary. Do you really need to go to drug rehab? Maybe you should wait? You may have some fears around getting help or have some anxiety about committing to going to treatment.

It’s understandable that you may have some reluctance. A lot of it is simply fear of the unknown. You may not know what to expect from rehab, and you may have some misinformation.

How Do You Know Rehab Is What You Need?

Whether your problem is alcohol or other drugs, it isn’t always clear when it’s the best time to go to rehab. You may still feel that you can control the problem or quit on your own. It’s often when a person tries to quit and finds they can’t seem to do it that they realize they have a problem. Here are other signs that professional addiction treatment may be the way to go:

  • You’ve developed a tolerance or a physical dependence on a substance.
  • You have abandoned other activities that you used to enjoy because using substances is your primary interest.
  • You are experiencing problems at work or school, such as poor attendance or performance or job loss.
  • Friends and family have come to you with concerns about your drinking or using.
  • You are experiencing financial troubles related to your drinking or using. You find that you need to borrow money, you aren’t paying bills on time, etc.
  • You are engaging in unsafe or risky behavior.
  • You feel a need to keep your drinking or substance use a secret.
  • Substance abuse is interfering with your ability to spend time with your family or handle your responsibilities.
  • You are experiencing health problems as a result of substance abuse.
  • You’ve run into legal issues, such as a DUI or possession.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of red flags, but these are common signs that you have a problem that should be addressed immediately. Each person may experience the consequences of addiction differently. One common factor is guilt and shame. Most people find they feel badly about their substance abuse. If you find that you don’t feel good about your activities, if you find that you are behaving in ways that are out of character for you, that using is impacting your relationships, or that you are feeling depressed or anxious, it’s a good idea to talk to someone.

When Is It the Best Time to Go to Rehab?

The best time to go to rehab is right now. It’s an easy thing to put off. You can likely find plenty of reasons why you should go “later on.” You may have concerns about job or family responsibilities. You may be concerned about what other people think, or you might just be scared.

The reason right now is the best time to go to rehab is simple: It’s only going to get worse. Addiction is a progressive disease. However bad things may be right now, they can and will get a great deal worse.

If you’ve had an epiphany and realized you need some help,  you must seize that and pick up the phone. Denial may have you rethinking your decision. Talk to people. Talk to your doctor, your family, or trusted friends. Call a rehab, find out if you have insurance coverage that will pay for you to go to treatment. If you are employed, find out what their policies are on employee leave for rehab, many will allow you to take time off to get help without risking your job.

If you do have to leave your job to go to treatment, it’s important to realize that going to treatment can save your life and that eventually, addiction will take everything from you—including your job. And, if as things progress and the consequences pile up, you may find it difficult to find another job later on. It’s best to take the leap of faith and get help right now. Don’t let these drug rehab recovery myths deter you from your decision.

Considering Addiction Treatment?

Let us help you. If you, or a loved one, are fighting substance abuse or drug and/or alcohol addiction, call Serenity at Summit at 844-326-4514 today. Our advisers are standing by 24-7, ready to help you find a treatment program that will suit your needs and put you on the path to a new recovery and a new life. Make today your new beginning.

5 Stages of Addiction: What You Need to Know

Today, more40 million people in the United States older than age 12 are grappling with an addiction to alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. With overdoses on the rise and a growing opioid epidemic affecting millions throughout the country, it’s more important than ever to spot and treat substance abuse early on.

If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from a drug problem, it’s important that you learn to recognize the different stages of addiction and how to take proper action to address substance abuse. Sadly, the path from experimentation to a full-blown addiction can easily be a downward spiral.

There are five major stages of drug addiction that manifest along this spiral. Below are some of the most common factors of each phase and recommendations on how to help users who are dealing with the five stages of drug addiction.

Stage 1: Experimentation

Common signs:

People usually start experimenting during their teenage years. More than half of first-time users start experimentingbefore they turn 18 years old. They are often initiated or pressured into trying drugs by a friend, and, at this point, they still consider the experience to be fun and entertaining.

More than half of first-time users begin experimenting with marijuana first. Substance use during this phase is not frequent and typically happens during social gatherings.

Experimental users don’t have cravings and feel like they are in total control of their drug use. They can choose to stop using whenever they want and can go for long periods without them.

How to treat this stage:

For some, drug experimentation never leads to substance abuse problems later on. For others, it can be the first step toward establishing a long-term addiction. Monitoring the frequency of drug use early on is an important step toward preventing more routine use in the future.

A good approach early on in drug experimentation is to ask the person why they are experimenting in the first place. If they are using drugs to cope with pain or emotional issues, try offering counseling or therapy as alternative solutions.

Stage 2: Regular Use

Common signs:

At this stage, substance use becomes part of a user’s routine. It doesn’t necessarily mean drugs are used daily, but there is a repeated pattern of behavior such as using every weekend or at every party. Users also may start using repeatedly to help them cope with a particular situation, such as when they are stressed out, or when they are depressed.

Regular users no longer need to be in a social setting to do drugs and begin to use substances when they are alone, too. They also may start experiencing hangovers the day after, which may cause them to occasionally miss work or school.

Regular users still appear to function normally but start displaying certain changes in behavior including defiance, depression, aggression, and anxiety.

How to treat this stage:

If a person who uses substances regularly has tried counseling without positive results, it might be time to try going to anoutpatient facility for treatment.

With outpatient care, users typically visit a clinic for regular, scheduled appointments with medical professionals that can last from one to eight hours. The treatment is similar to what a person would receive at an inpatient facility but with the added benefit that they do not have to leave their homes.

Outpatient programs include cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, stress management, motivational incentives, group therapy, and individual and family therapy.

Outpatient care works best for users who are still in good health, have a stable living situation, and a strong network of supportive loved ones. “The strongest thing that is helpful is having a system of care that can surround the person,” says Dr. Kelly Clark, president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).

Stage 3: Risk-Taking Use

Common signs:

During the risk-taking stage, users start to lose control of their drug use and start engaging in dangerous activities to fulfill their habit. Their drug use starts to negatively affect their job performance, grades, personal relationships, and financial well-being.

At this hazardous stage, it’s not unusual for users to:

  • Drive under the influence
  • Have unprotected sex
  • Get arrested
  • Lose their jobs
  • Spend irresponsible amounts of money on substances
  • Break up with partners and end friendships
  • Lie to loved ones

Physical symptoms in a risk-tasking user start to become more noticeable. Risky users often experience changes in weight, problems with memory, and poor coordination skills.

Users at this stage often realize they already have a substance abuse problem. Still, they might still refuse to get help or treatment, even though they are aware of the consequences of their use.

Risk-taking drug users begin to experience intense cravings for drugs, and the possibility of quitting seems much more difficult than it did in the past.

How to treat this stage:

For those in the risk-taking stage,inpatient rehabilitation might be a better option for treatment than therapy and/or outpatient facilities.

Users who have started engaging in reckless behavior can benefit from going to a short-term, inpatient program in a residential setting that will help remove them from situations where they are constantly tempted to do drugs. It also can help them avoid negative influences and people who have contributed to their addiction.

The length of stay for a user at a short-term inpatient facility can vary anywhere from a few days to up to 30 days. Longer-term stays may require a 60- to 90-day stay, depending on the severity of one’s addiction or dependence.

At an inpatient rehab, users are provided with round-the-clock care including but not limited to individual counseling sessions, family counseling, group therapy, medical care, and medication management.

Inpatient care is recommended for those who feel they can’t stop their drug use without being in a safe, supervised, and drug-free environment. Once their inpatient treatment is over, users usually continue their recovery with outpatient care and counseling.

Stage 4: Dependence

Common signs:

Users at this stage have become physically dependent on drugs. Their brain’s chemistry has now become accustomed to regular use and can’t function normally without it.

Dependent drug users suffer from constant cravings for substances as well as intensewithdrawal symptoms that depend on their drug of choice and can include nausea, shaking, sweating, muscle pain, rapid heart rate, and even seizures.

Dependent users have created a much higher tolerance for drugs and now need much higher doses of the substance than before to get high.

Dependent users are aware they are physically and psychologically dependent on drugs, but the possibility of stopping use can seem impossible without outside help.

Relapse often occurs for users who try to quit substance abuse on their own at this stage.

How to treat this stage:

Once a user has become physically dependent on substances, his or her body might need to go through medical detoxification first.

During detox, users go through the withdrawal process of drug addiction in a safe, monitored environment. They are also provided with medications to help ease withdrawal symptoms and minimize discomfort.

Going through detoxification first increases a user’s chance of staying sober. Those who detox safely from drug dependency are also more likely to seek treatment at inpatient and outpatient facilities immediately after detoxification.

Drug detox programs are recommended for users who have become physically dependent on substances and those who have been abusing drugs for long stretches of time.

Stage 5: Addiction

Common signs:

Users in the addiction stage of substance abuse have become completely and utterly dependent on drugs. Addicted users can’t imagine life without using drugs and will do almost anything to get their hands on them.

Cravings have become unbearable, and it often feels like the only way to survive is to consume more substances. The search for more drugs dominates a user’s daily activities.

Users are compulsively dependent on their drug abuse and can suffer from chronic relapses when trying to quit their substance abuse.

The lives of people who are in Stage 5 are often chaotic and out of control.

How to treat this stage:

Different treatment options are available for people who have become completely addicted to drugs. A hospital inpatient treatment facility can provide several levels of care for addicts.

Users who are hospitalized first go through medically supervised detoxes, in which severe withdrawal symptoms are managed and eased. Medication to help manage their addiction, such as methadone and Suboxone may also be provided.

Users are also required to attend individual counseling sessions to understand the root of their addiction and to help them avoid psychological relapses in the future.

Hospital inpatient facilities are beneficial to most substance users but are typically aimed towards users who are addicted to substances with severe withdrawal symptoms and long-term substance abusers.

There are alsolong-term residential drug treatment programs for those who feel like they need a lengthier, more dedicated type form of treatment. In this type of housing facility, users often stay in treatment for at least 90 days, regularly attending counseling, group therapy, and educational classes on drug abuse. Medication management is also available.

Addiction can seem like a tough battle to fight, but it’s important to know it is possible to overcome. As is the case with most diseases, the sooner an addiction is diagnosed and treated, the higher the chance of recovery. Drug addiction doesn’t have to become a lifelong struggle, with the right amount of support and the proper course of treatment, addicts can regain control and live happy and fulfilling lives.

Get Help for Substance Addiction Today

If you or a loved one is battling with an addiction, you may feel like addiction has you trapped, but it doesn’t have to be that way. At Serenity at Summit, we understand how difficult it is to quit abusing substances, but we also know there’s always hope. Together, we can make an addiction-free life a reality.

From detox to ongoing care, we provide the full continuum of recovery treatment, offering a seamless transition between levels of care throughout your or your loved one’s addiction treatment program.

Call us at 844-432-0416 for a free and confidential consultation with one of our specialists, who are available 24/7 to help you navigate treatment options and answer any questions or concerns you have about treatment at Serenity at Summit. You also can reach us online for information.

How Synthetic Opioids Are Impacting Substance Abuse

Trying to pin down how many people suffer from substance abuse in the U.S. is something of a moving target, because different surveys use different collection methods. However, respected organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believe that analyzing drug overdose deaths is a more valuable means of obtaining information about the prevalence of substance abuse.

According to the CDC, there were more than 64,000 overdose fatalities from illegal drugs and prescription painkillers in the U.S. in 2016, and the sharpest spike in those deaths occurred among people who took synthetic opioids. In fact, 20,000 of the 64,000 deaths were attributed to people who overdosed on synthetic opioids, and the total number of drug overdose fatalities was double the number from just 10 years ago. (1)

Even more disturbing, the number of deaths involving opioid drugs has been steadily rising from 2002 when there were 10,000 deaths to 2015, when there were more than 30,000 deaths.

Clearly there is a problem with opioid drugs, and an even bigger problem with synthetic opioids. Let’s take a look at what these opioids are, where they’re coming from and how law enforcement is tackling this issue.

What Are Synthetic Opioids?

Unlike opiates that are naturally derived from things like opium poppy plants (used to make cocaine, morphine and heroin), synthetic opioids are made in labs throughout the world, and they are many times more potent than naturally derived opiates.

In fact, the average synthetic opioid on the streets of a big city is estimated to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. The irony is that some synthetic opioids were first manufactured for use in hospitals to treat chronic and severe pain.

But over the past five years, drug dealers have begun to lace normal heroin supplies with synthetic opioids, which boosts its potency and makes it more likely that addicts will want to buy even more of the super-charged heroin.

The challenge for both addicts and law enforcement officials is that it’s difficult to know whether heroin has been laced with something synthetic until after a user tries the drug and feels its powerful effects.

And it’s not just illegal drugs that are being impacted, because drug dealers are also selling painkillers in tablet form that are laced with synthetic opioids. According to a Supervisory Chemist of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) who tests drug samples seized in raids throughout the country, her team identified 20 new types of synthetic opioids in 2017. (2)

These synthetic opioids were made not just to boost the potency of drugs like heroin, but also to keep police confused about the new types of opioids hitting the streets.

The potency makes it challenging for healthcare workers and police officers to save the lives of people who have overdosed.

Addicts who inject, snort or swallow drugs laced with synthetic opioids can suffer an overdose within a few seconds. Typically, the first sign of distress is that the overdose victim stops breathing because the heart goes into arrest.

That’s why several cities have established safe injection sites such as the Supporting Place for Observation and Treatment (SPOT) Clinic at Boston’s Health Care for the Homeless.

After using drugs, addicts can enter SPOT and ride out the high under the careful supervision of healthcare professionals who monitor their breathing, blood pressure and pulse rate.

The federal government doesn’t allow addicts to inject, or otherwise consume illegal drugs at these clinics, which is why SPOT only admits addicts after they have already used their drugs.

But many other cities are defying the government and allowing addicts to use within safe injection sites, so that they can act quickly if an overdose begins within seconds of drug use.

Who Makes Synthetic Opioids?

Probably the question most people ask when it comes to this crisis is who makes synthetic opioids and why haven’t U.S. officials stopped them from doing it.

The first question is easiest to answer and that is the vast majority of the ingredients necessary to make synthetic opioids come from China.

China is the world’s largest supplier of synthetic opioids, and once they are made, they are sent to Mexico, where they are processed for distribution to drug dealers working in the U.S.

The U.S. government has had discussions with Chinese officials about curbing the manufacture of synthetic opioids, but with so much money to be made, those talks haven’t done much to stop the massive quantities that enter the U.S.

The Chinese and the DEA have established joint task forces to bust up synthetic opioid labs in China, but for every lab that gets raided, ten more underground labs are started.

More problematic, addicts can also order synthetic opioids through direct mail from operators in China who ship the drugs in plain packages that often escape the detection of postal inspectors.

That’s why many healthcare experts believe that stopping the distribution is only a small part of the solution.

They believe that providing innovative solutions to help opioid addicts cope with these drugs so they don’t overdose and die is the best way to fight this problem. Because once addicts are inside safe injection sites, they are more willing to listen to addiction treatment options that can help them start their journey to recovery.

Addiction Treatment Is the Beginning

We know that addiction treatment is the first step in the recovery process, and at Serenity at Summit New EnglandAddiction Treatment Centers In Haverhill, Massachusetts, we provide all the services necessary to help with your drug disorder. We are only 45 minutes from Boston and offer outpatient and inpatient treatment. Please call us today at 844-432-0416 to learn how we can help you.



The Trillion-Dollar Opioid Substance Abuse Crisis

Thanks to the worsening opioid crisis in the U.S., substance abuse is the new hot topic, and that’s a good thing, because anything that helps to make us more aware of this problem, and triggers more solutions is welcome.

From the White House to local legislators, lawmakers are trying to implement measures that will help fund more addiction treatment, while also stemming the number of illicit drugs that are flooding the streets.

We’ve heard sad and startling overdose statistics, and we’ve lamented the shortfall in treatment facilities that is keeping addicts on long waitlists.

But what we haven’t heard as much about is the economic consequences of the opioid crisis. In other words, what kind of money are we spending to fund treatment, put more law enforcement officers on the streets, and to jail people who are found guilty of opioid-related crimes?

Let’s take a look at some of the obvious and not-so-obvious costs of the crisis and learn why these costs could have a long-lasting impact.

Explaining the Roots of the Opioid Crisis

Before we dive into the economic impact of abuse, we should try explaining the roots of the opioid crisis, and why it’s become such a major issue.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that about 115 people in the U.S. die of an opioid overdose every day. When we talk about ‘opioids,’ we’re not just talking about prescription painkillers, we are also talking about illegal opiates like heroin, and synthetic opioids, which are many times more potent. (1)

The question many of you are probably asking is why opioid abuse became so bad so quickly, and why many healthcare experts didn’t see this coming. The answer isn’t simple, because the opioid crisis is the result of a combination of factors that created a perfect storm.

Twenty years ago, big pharmaceutical companies began manufacturing new brands of prescription pain relievers that they advertised as effective and non-addictive. Doctors throughout the U.S. were sold on these promises, and they began prescribing opioids to patients in record numbers.

Unfortunately, patients quickly discovered that as these pills controlled their pain, they also released powerful chemicals in their brains that created a high. Even after their pain was under control, these patients would crave the pleasurable feelings produced by opioids, and within a short period of time, they became addicted to painkillers.

Over the next decade, the rate of opioid overdoses began to skyrocket even as doctors began to cut back on prescribing these medications.

The problem was that patients who couldn’t get prescriptions for painkillers would often move on to the next best thing, illegal drugs like heroin that produced the exact same effects.

In 2015, 33,000 people died from an opioid overdose, and those drugs included prescription painkillers, heroin and synthetic opioids. That doesn’t tell the full story, because two million people also admitted to a substance abuse disorder involving prescription opioids in 2015, and more than 500,000 people admitted to struggling with heroin abuse.

Studies have also found that in addition to prescription pill abuse, the opioid crisis is also driven by other factors, including:

Low-Income – Studies have found that the opioid crisis has impacted poorer communities to a greater degree than middle-class and upper-class communities. Some of the reasons include lack of access to counseling and to healthcare.

People On Medicaid – People on Medicaid are more likely to suffer from substance abuse related to opioids. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said this is because people on Medicaid are more likely to be prescribed opioids, at higher doses, and for longer durations, increasing their risk for addiction and its associated consequences. (2)

Economic Downturn – the 2008 economic downturn forced many companies to lay off workers, and many of them were middle-aged workers in industrial jobs that required less formal education. Some of these laid-off workers were unable to find new jobs, and the stress from their circumstance lead some of them to fall into drug use and addiction.

The Costs of the Opioid Crisis

As an increasing number of people fall prey to fatal opioid-related overdoses, the costs of the opioid crisis in human terms continue to grow more expensive.

But in real dollars and cents, there are some staggering numbers to consider, including: (3)

$1 Trillion – The total estimated toll on the U.S. economy from 2001 to 2017.

$500 Billion – The total estimated amount of money that heroin addiction and prescription opioid abuse will cost the U.S. from 2018 to 2020.

$217.5 Billion – The total estimated healthcare costs of the crisis from 2001 to 2017.

62,000 – The number of estimated people who suffered from a fatal opioid-related overdose in 2017. If this number holds, it will double the name of fatalities from just two years ago.

The bulk of the economic costs are related to lost wages due to people missing work because of opioid abuse, and lost productivity.

That also impacts tax revenue that state and local governments can collect, because missing workers can’t produce profits for companies, and those profits can’t be taxed, because they don’t exist.

Other economic costs include money spent on funding treatment facilities, social services and education, and costs related to prosecuting and defending drug-related charges.

In February, President Trump’s budget proposal included $17 billion to fight opioid abuse, including increasing healthcare services for treatment and recovery, and for mental health.

The Role of Treatment Facilities

Some suffering from addiction believe that they can overcome substance abuse on their own, but that rarely works, and every failure highlights the important role of treatment facilities. Serenity at Summit New Jersey Addiction Treatment Centers in Union are only 40 minutes from New York City, and offer a full range of services, including detox and rehab. Call us today at 844-432-0416 to learn all your treatment options.



Undeniable Signs That You Need Residential Rehab

You may realize that things in your life have gotten unmanageable but wonder if they are really bad enough that you need to seek inpatient treatment for addiction. It’s a decision that many people who have substance abuse problems struggle with. How bad is bad enough to need treatment? The reality is, in the U.S. there are nearly 23 million people who need treatment for alcohol and drug dependency and addiction, yet only about one percent actually receive it.

When you are considering inpatient treatment for your substance abuse issues, it’s likely that simply wondering about it means that you would benefit from treatment. If you think that you may have a problem, you likely do. Keep in mind that drug abuse and addiction affect each individual differently, you don’t have to be a 24/7 user to be an addict. If your drug or alcohol use is causing negative consequences in your life and the lives of your family and friends, it’s time to take a hard look at it.

To help you with your decision, here are some undeniable signs that you shouldn’t wait any longer for treatment.

You Drink or Use and Drive

It never seems like a big deal at the time, but driving while intoxicated is a real danger to yourself, your passengers, and everyone on the road near you. When you begin taking chances with your life and the lives of others because you cannot manage your behavior when using, it’s time to seek help.

Your Loved Ones Have Expressed Concern

It’s often difficult to see the negative changes that drug or alcohol use causes in ourselves – we’re too close to fully notice. However, those that are close to you don’t have such a hard time recognizing those changes. If your friends or family have expressed concern about your drinking or using, or asked you to stop, you should heed their concern.

You Have Drug or Alcohol Related Health Issues

Drug and alcohol abuse is harmful to the body when used for any extended amount of time. Alcoholism can cause extensive, and sometimes irreversible, damage to the heart, liver and brain. Opiate use can slow your respiratory system so much that you can suffer from permanent brain damage. Some stimulants can cause serious cardiovascular problems when used repeatedly. If you use drugs intravenously, you run the risk of contracting hepatitis C or HIV.

If your body (or your doctor) is telling you that you are suffering health problems related to your use, you need help before it’s too late.

You Lie About or Minimize Your Use

People who drink responsibly don’t feel the need to lie about it. If you find that you are lying or minimizing your drug or alcohol use to your friends and family, there is cause for concern. You may think that it is simply none of their business, but the truth is, people lie because they have something to hide.

You Have Withdrawal Symptoms When You Stop Using

When you use drugs or alcohol regularly, your body gets used to having them in your system – in fact, it becomes dependent on them. When you stop using, even for a short period of time, you may suffer headaches, nausea, trembling, cramps, insomnia, irritability and other withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms of withdrawal are uncomfortable and sometimes painful and they are one of the leading causes of continued use. If you suffer withdrawal symptoms when you stop using for a short period of time, you need to seek medically-supervised detox and an inpatient treatment program.

You’ve Tried to Stop on Your Own and Can’t

Maybe you are able to stop using for a day or two, or even a week. But you always begin using or drinking again. If you have tried to stop on your own, but haven’t been able to do it for an extended amount of time, you probably need professional help to do so. Inpatient rehab offers support, therapy, coping skills, relapse prevention and addiction education. You need those things to successfully stop using or drinking.

You Have Injured Yourself or Others While Using

Some drugs can cause anxiety, depression and even mental illness. If you have had suicidal thoughts or thoughts about hurting yourself or others,  you need to seek inpatient treatment sooner rather than later. Sometimes, underlying psychological or psychiatric issues are exacerbated when drugs or alcohol are added into the equation. This can cause anger and rage and cause you to lash out physically at others. If you have done that, or are concerned that you might, treatment is right for you.

Your Freedom Has Been Threatened

If you have made choices while using that have resulted in the possibility of jail time, or you are on probation or parole, drug or alcohol use can endanger your freedom. Will spending time behind bars be better than a 30-day stay in rehab? Not likely.

You Have Lost Jobs or Schooling Due to Your Use

You probably started out by missing work or school occasionally due to your drug or alcohol use – not such a big deal. But if it has escalated to being disciplined at work or school, or if you have already lost a job or been kicked out of school, you need to take a close look at your drug or alcohol use.

You Want to Stop Using, But Don’t Know How

If you are worn out by your drug or alcohol use and want to stop but you don’t know how, it’s time to enlist the help of professionals. Addiction is a disease which means that it’s very hard for people to stop using on their own. Needing professional help is not a sign of weakness or failure. Get Help Now!

If you relate to any of the above signs, you should get help now. Addiction is a treatable medical disorder and the sooner you get help, the sooner you will stop suffering negative consequences and start living the life you want. At Serenity at Summit, we can help you make the best decision about how to get started with your recovery, and which treatment program is the most appropriate for your circumstances. Call us today at 844-432-0416 for more information.

How Drugs and Alcohol Affect the Immune System

Addiction is a disease that affects millions of people every year – either directly or indirectly. There is a lot of information to be found about different types of addiction, the negative legal and relational consequences associated with addiction, and the effects it has on the brain of the users. However, one area that is often neglected when addiction is talked about is the effect that it has on an individual’s immune system.

Different substances affect the immune system in different ways, but most weaken it – especially when drugs or alcohol are used over a long period of time. This means that individuals who are using or abusing substances are putting themselves at a higher risk of contracting diseases, infection and weakening organs, which is the body’s filtering system to fight the effects of drugs or alcohol.

How Does the Immune System Work?

The immune system is the body’s protection system. It is made up of cells, organs, and proteins which assist in preventing disease and infection. The immune system’s job is to filter everything that enters the body. Aside from the central nervous system, the immune system is the most complex body system. It functions by:

  • Neutralizing germs (pathogens), like viruses and bacteria, and ridding the body of them
  • Identifying and neutralizing damaging substances in the body
  • Fighting its own cells that have changed negatively, like cancer cells

Effects of Drugs and Alcohol on the Immune System

The immune system, when not disrupted with damaging or harmful pathogens, keeps the body functioning smoothly. However, when pathogens are introduced to the body, it can drastically weaken the immune system. When this happens, the individual can become ill with infections or disease.

The risk to the immune system is not directly related to the drugs or alcohol themselves, but rather to the toll that those substances take on the body. Many drugs, especially alcohol, cause dehydration, physical and mental fatigue, lack of sleep, and unhealthy eating or lack of food, which can cause a weakened immune system. Whenever the immune system is in a weakened state, the body is at a higher risk for the invasion of infection and disease.

Alcohol and the Immune System

Drinking alcohol excessively can quickly lead to an immune deficiency, which can result in an individual being susceptible to certain diseases. Over time, alcohol abuse can result in trouble with the digestive system, damaging the cells that are responsible for secreting enzymes that the body needs for proper digestion. Long-term alcohol abuse or addiction can also lead to liver damage or failure. The liver is where the body stores vitamins, so its role is essential. Alcohol abuse may also affect a person’s ability to store sufficient amounts of protein.

Overall, alcoholism can result in autoimmunity, which is when the body begins to attack its own tissues. Maybe the most dangerous effect of alcohol abuse is associated with white blood cells in the body. White blood cells are responsible for getting rid of killer white blo0d cells. When they are not working in that manner, the individual is at a much higher risk of developing life-threatening diseases, like cancer.

Other Substances and the Immune System

Heroin abuse, as with other opioid drugs, can lead to addiction. Once a person is addicted to heroin, their thoughts and actions are consumed with getting and using the drug. This typically leads to neglect with personal health, like eating and sleeping regularly, which weakens the immune system. Just like with alcohol, heroin addiction can result in the digestive system not functioning properly, which in turn, results in the body not getting the proper nutrition and the individual having a weakened system overall.

Cocaine, amphetamine, and methamphetamine users are much more likely than nonusers to contract hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and other infections due to the effect that the drugs have on the immune system. These stimulants disrupt the proper function of a key protein system component. When this protein is not functioning, the body cannot fight off diseases and infection as it normally would.

Prescription opioids work by suppressing the immune system through a brain-to-body pathway. They begin a chain reaction which eventually leads to the suppression of three kinds of white blood cells. This suppression of blood cells weakens the user’s immune system, putting them at a heightened risk of infection and illness. That, along with the risk of addiction, makes prescribing and taking opioid painkillers dangerous.

Drug and Alcohol Treatment

Finding and taking part in drug or alcohol addiction treatment, like that offered at Serenity at Summit, is the best way to help those struggling with addiction. If you or a loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol, you may consider inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation to help you. If you choose inpatient treatment, you will receive medical care that takes into account the toll that your substance abuse has taken on your body. You will likely receive vitamins and supplements along with a balanced diet, to help you in your physical recovery. If you attend outpatient treatment, you may have to seek help from your primary care physician to discuss your need for vitamins and supplements.

When you stop abusing substances, get the treatment you need for your addiction, and start taking better care of your physical health, your immune system will become stronger again, and often, body organs that have suffered damage are able to heal and become healthy again.

The Risks of Substance Abuse During Pregnancy

Addiction doesn’t discriminate. It can affect anyone from anywhere with any type of background, family life, race, gender, or ethnicity – including pregnant women. When a woman who is addicted to drugs or alcohol becomes pregnant, it is usually not a time of joy and excitement as it is for other mothers-to-be. The dangers of addiction increase dramatically because the unborn baby is now affected as well. Serious complications and birth defects, up to and including death for baby and mother, can occur when pregnancy and addiction happen at the same time.

Dangers of Substance Abuse During Pregnancy

The risks of drug or alcohol use on the mother and baby during pregnancy can vary depending on the substance used. However, there are some common birth defects and complications including:

Miscarriage and Stillbirth – The death of an unborn baby before the 24th week of pregnancy is considered a miscarriage, and after the 24th week is considered a stillbirth. Both types of fatalities can be caused by drug or alcohol use during pregnancy.

Placental Abruption – This occurs when the placenta separates from the uterine wall before the mother goes into labor. It is commonly caused by smoking, drinking alcohol, or abusing drugs during pregnancy. Placental abruption is not usually fatal, but it can cause developmental problems in the child.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome – This causes physical and mental abnormalities in the unborn child when the mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy. The effects of fetal alcohol syndrome can include cognitive impairment, developmental delays, learning disabilities, poor motor skills and coordination, and facial abnormalities. These effects can last a lifetime.

Low Birth Weight – A baby that weighs less than five and a half pounds at birth is considered to have a low birth weight. Some low birth weight babies have serious complications such as respiratory issues, heart problems, digestive tract issues, vision problems, and brain bleeds. Additionally, low birth weight can lead to future problems for the child including diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and obesity.

Brain Damage – Babies with mothers who abused substances during pregnancy may be born with brain damage that is irreparable.

Developmental Problems – Drug or alcohol use during pregnancy can affect an unborn baby’s central nervous system, which can lead to developmental delays and poor academic performance later in life.

Premature Birth – If a baby is born before the 37th week of pregnancy, it is considered a premature birth. Drug or alcohol addiction can cause premature birth and lead to respiratory issues, trouble maintaining a stable body temperature, and trouble eating and drinking. Sometimes the baby’s internal organs are underdeveloped and he or she will require ongoing medical care for an extended period of time.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome – Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) refers to several complications that affect babies born to mothers who used opioids while pregnant. The drugs are passed to the unborn baby through the placenta and the baby becomes dependent on them. When the baby no longer receives the drugs after birth, it will suffer withdrawal symptoms that include:

  • Blotchy skin
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Seizure

Babies that are born with NAS are often premature, with a low birth weight and smaller than normal body size. They must be detoxed from the opioids gradually and using medication.

Microcephaly – This refers to a small head circumference, and it usually means that the baby’s brain is not developing correctly.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) – SIDS is the unexpected and sudden death of a child that is less than a year old. While autopsies do not show an explainable cause of death, babies who are born to mothers who abused drugs or alcohol during pregnancy have a higher rate of death due to SIDS than those born to women who did not use drugs or alcohol during pregnancy.

Treatment for Women Who Are Addicted and Pregnant

Because of the multitude of serious risks for baby and mother, it is very important that women who are expecting and also suffering from addiction tell their doctors as soon as possible so they can receive treatment. However, many pregnant women are hesitant to talk about their drug or alcohol use with doctors because they fear judgment or punishment including having their baby taken from them when it is born. But the sooner she speaks up about her problem with addiction and gets treatment, the better her chances are of minimizing the negative effects of drug abuse and having a healthy baby.

It would seem that being pregnant and responsible for another human being’s health and well-being would be enough of an incentive to stop using drugs or drinking alcohol. But unfortunately, the strength of addiction often outweighs the most negative of consequences. Most people who suffer from addiction, pregnant women included, need professional help to get clean and sober. Seeking professional medical treatment, like inpatient treatment at Serenity at Summit, sooner rather than later is essential for pregnant women. This is especially true for expecting mothers who are addicted to opioids, as abruptly stopping them can cause preterm labor, fetal distress, or a fetal fatality.

If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction and is pregnant, now is the time to get help. Doing so is the only chance that you have to give birth to a healthy child who doesn’t have long-term negative effects of drug or alcohol addiction. Getting help could not only save your life, but also the life of your unborn baby.

What You Need to Know About Naloxone

The opioid epidemic in the U.S. is in full swing. In 2016 there were more deaths from drug overdoses than any other year previously, and almost two-thirds of those deaths involved opioids. Every day, there are over 100 American lives claimed by opioid overdose. In 2016, there were approximately 13,500 deaths related to heroin use, and in the four years prior, heroin-related deaths more than tripled.

What can be done about this epidemic that is sweeping across the country, affecting every demographic including all socioeconomic backgrounds? Some think that increasing access to the drug naloxone is necessary to combat the ever-rising wave of opioid overdoses.

What is Naloxone?

Naloxone is an opiate antidote. Opioids are a class of drug that includes both illegal and legal prescription drugs. Heroin and many prescription painkillers are all considered opiates. If a person is overdosing on an opioid, their breathing will slow way down, and it is very hard to arouse them from unconsciousness. Naloxone is a medication that blocks the effects of opioids and can reverse an opioid overdose.

Naloxone is not a controlled substance, and cannot be used to get high. In fact, if it is given to a person who has not had any opioids, it will have no effect on them.

How Does Naloxone Work?

If a person has opioids in their system and is given naloxone, the opioids are struck out of the brain receptors. This antidote can work even if the person has taken opioids along with other drugs or alcohol. Once a dose is administered, the person’s breathing should begin to return to normal, and they will be reusable. Because brain damage can occur within just a few minutes of an overdose due to lack of oxygen, it is crucial that the person is given naloxone as soon as possible when overdosing. It can potentially save lives if given quickly, giving the person extra time until first responders arrive.

Naloxone is administered by intramuscular injection – in the larger muscles of the arm, thigh, or buttocks – or, more recently, by a nasal spray. Injection is the most common, but more and more U.S. cities are beginning to use the nasal spray as well. The medication typically works within the first five minutes, however, an additional dose may be needed if the person is still showing signs of overdose. About 30 minutes after the administration of naloxone, it begins to wear off and is mostly out of the patient’s system within 90 minutes. This gives the body enough time to process the opioid to the point where the patient isn’t as likely to stop breathing again.

Using naloxone will cause a person to immediately go into opioid withdrawal, which is often extremely uncomfortable, and should be monitored by medical professionals.

What is Naloxone Access Laws?

For many years, only emergency medical professionals (emergency medical technicians (EMT) and emergency room doctors and nurses) had access to naloxone. Naloxone Access Laws changed that, making it legal for anyone to have the antidote in their possession and providing legal civil and criminal amnesty for any unintended consequences when someone administers naloxone in good faith. Because naloxone has no street value and is nearly 100% harmless to healthy people, it would seem that Naloxone Access Laws would be widely accepted and enacted.

Before Naloxone Access Laws started to be enacted (only some states currently have them), some harm reduction groups circulated naloxone in at-risk areas even though it was illegal. Their common belief was that it is necessary to resort to illegal means if it was to save lives.

Should Naloxone Be Made More Available?

At first glance, increased access to naloxone seems only positive. After all, it can reverse the effects of opioid overdose quickly, it has no risks of addiction itself, and it is not dangerous if used on someone who has not ingested heroin or other opioid medications. It is undoubtedly one of the strongest tools for fighting overdose.

Even with that said, there are some concerns that have arisen regarding making naloxone access more relaxed. One of the biggest concerns is that non-medical personnel don’t have the necessary training to administer it properly. Naloxone induces immediate opioid withdrawal, and that can include serious side effects such as tachycardia (increased heart rate), vomiting, hypertension, and even hallucinations. It is thought that these side effects could be harmful to both the addict and any bystanders. Additionally, if it is given in a non-medical setting, it could lead to further complications.  

Another concern shared by some medical professional and public safety officials is that the increased access and availability of naloxone may provide drug users with a false sense of security, leading to increasing opioid use and abuse and fewer people seeking treatment for opioid addiction. Despite the positive effects of naloxone – that it greatly increases chances of survival in the event of overdose – it isn’t completely foolproof. Opioid use is extremely dangerous and should not be underestimated.

Final Thoughts

Increased education about naloxone is needed. If it is to become more widely accessible, friends and family of those at risk of opioid overdose need proper training on how to administer it and the possible side effects. Users need to understand that it is not 100% guaranteed that they will be unscathed from an overdose just because they receive naloxone. It must be seen as a last-resort means to save lives, and not as something that enables further opioid abuse.

If you or a loved one is addicted to opioid drugs, your best course of action is to seek treatment for the addiction. Naloxone should not be a loophole that removes the necessity of proper treatment. If you or your loved one needs help, please contact Serenity at Summit. We can assist you with medical detox and addiction treatment.

What You Need to Know About Drug Detox

Detoxification, or riding your body of drugs or alcohol, is the first crucial step of the recovery process. It’s so significant that you really cannot start moving forward in recovery without first having accomplished detox. Attempting to begin therapy, counseling, and psychiatric care while you still have drugs or alcohol in your system, isn’t just inefficient, it can also be a set up for relapse.

If you are thinking about beginning recovery, or you have a loved one who is, you probably have questions or concerns about what detox entails and how it will affect you. Here are some facts about the process and what you might expect from it.

Detox Must Come First

Detox has to be completed before drug or alcohol rehab can begin. Most inpatient drug rehabs include detox as the first part of their recovery programs. That means patients don’t have to attempt to detox on their own, rather they begin their treatment with the first few days to a week or more in detox before moving on to residential addiction treatment. It’s important that your body is completely rid of drugs and alcohol prior to starting residential treatment.

Detox Must Only Be the Beginning

Detox isn’t sufficient treatment for addicts to have long-term sobriety. In order to have the best chances for long-lasting recovery, you have to have an established program of recovery that starts with it and continues with inpatient treatment. During the process, the goal is to rid your body of drugs or alcohol while being made as comfortable as possible until withdrawal symptoms subside. True recovery requires additional education, therapy, psychiatric care, learning coping and life skills, and relapse prevention – the things that you receive in residential treatment.

Detox Should Be Medically-Supervised

Your comfort is a concern, but even more so is your safety. Depending on the types of substances you have used and in what amounts, detoxing without medical supervision can be dangerous. Stopping drinking alcohol “cold turkey” can cause severe withdrawal symptoms that can lead to seizures, coma, and even death. Abruptly quitting other drugs like benzodiazepines and opioids can also have very serious withdrawal symptoms that must be monitored by medical professionals. You may be given small doses of benzodiazepines to aid with the symptoms and then weaned off them prior to entering residential treatment.

Detox Isn’t Easy

Even though your detox will be medically-supervised and you may receive some relief from medication while you get past the withdrawal phase, the process is not easy. You will likely have to deal with overwhelming cravings and urges to use or drink. Craving your drug of choice can lead to you wanting to terminate your detox early and using again. It’s important that if that happens you talk to the staff and let them know what is going on. They will be able to offer you additional support and encouragement and try to make your detox as tolerable as possible.

Detox Takes Time

Just how long it takes to complete detox varies by the individual. There are factors that contribute to how long it will take such as the types of drugs used, amounts and frequency used, patient’s age, and his or her overall health. Generally speaking, detox takes anywhere from 2-3 days to a week, but there is no hard and fast rule.

Detox Programs Protect Your Privacy

When you go through detox (and further addiction treatment), your privacy is protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule. That means that your records are protected in the same manner that any of your other medical records are.

Sometimes Once Isn’t Enough

For some people with addiction, it takes more than one attempt to make it through the detox process. Not everyone is able to stick it out and make it through the first time. If you are one of these people, don’t’ despair! If you have made a commitment to changing your life, you have to keep trying until you make it and are able to go on to the next steps in the recovery process.

If You Use Again After Detox

It is important to keep in mind that if you do go back to using after you have gone through detox, your tolerance and your dependence will likely pick up just where you left off. Ridding your body of drugs and alcohol isn’t “starting over.” You may even have increased tolerance and greater dependence if you start drinking or using again.


The detox process isn’t easy, or comfortable, or quick. But it is necessary in order to truly get on the path to recovery. Serenity at Summit addiction treatment center understands that you may be anxious or nervous about starting the process, but there isn’t a good reason to put it off. The sooner you detox, the sooner you can start inpatient or outpatient addiction rehab and begin your new sober life.


Pharmacogenetics: Individualized Drug Therapy for Addiction

Substance addiction is a very complex disorder with many factors at play, making it difficult for doctors to always know what the best method of treatment is for each of their patients. One area that is particularly challenging is medication-assisted treatment for addiction. Each individual has the potential to respond differently to medications that are prescribed to help aid recovery from drugs or alcohol, making it hard for prescribing physicians to know what will work and what might not.

Pharmacogenetic testing may make that easier for doctors working in addiction treatment. It will allow them to understand how an individual metabolizes specific prescription medications, making it much easier to find successful treatments.

What is Pharmacogenetic Testing?

Pharmacogenetics is the study of how an individual’s genes affects his or her response to medications. It is a fairly new field of study that combines pharmacology and genetics in order to develop the safest and most effective medications and to determine optimal doses for the person’s genetic makeup.

Most of the medications currently on the market are essentially one-size-fits-all, but they don’t cause the same results for everyone. Right now, it is hard for medical professionals to predict which patients will benefit from a specific drug, which patients will not respond, and which patients will have adverse drug reactions. These negative side effects cause a significant amount of hospitalizations and deaths each year. With the knowledge that medical professionals are able to gain from learning about how medications will interact with an individual’s genetic composition, they will be able to predict how the individual will react to the medication and help prevent adverse drug reactions.

While the field of pharmacogenetic testing is still in its infancy, it is hoped that it will greatly advance the effectiveness of drugs, when tailored to the individual, in the treatment of a range of health issues including cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, HIV/AIDS, psychiatric conditions, and addiction.

How Can Pharmacogenetic Testing Benefit Addiction Treatment?

Two people who seem to be very similar – same age, gender, socioeconomic background, and marital status – may also both be addicted to alcohol. However, the underlying genetic reasons that caused each of them to become alcoholics may be quite different. One may have a condition that reduces the release of dopamine, so that individual consumes alcohol for its dopamine-releasing powers. The other person may have a condition that inhibits their dopamine receptors and causes spikes in dopamine, so they drink to raise dopamine tone a different way.

Each of those two patients needs individualized treatment to address the unique genetic issues that caused his alcoholism. Knowing what exactly the underlying issues are, and which medications will be effective will help doctors to treat each patient individually based on their genetic needs, thus improving the outcomes of addiction treatment.

Benefits of Pharmacogenetic Testing

There are many benefits of pharmacogenetic testing. Not only will they allow doctors to treat each individual with a tailored treatment, they will also:

  • Provide more accurate diagnoses for patients
  • Allow for precise treatment of various co-occurring disorders, conditions, and diseases
  • Predict increased risks of developing disease later in life
  • Identify genetic changes that may be passed on to children
  • Screen children for conditions that require treatment as early as possible

Genetic testing is becoming more important in healthcare of all arenas as there is a shift toward higher-quality, evidence-based treatment. Research has shown that pharmacogenetic testing provides patients with up to 70% better effectiveness of treatment. Patients are more responsive to their customized treatments and appreciate the personalized genetic data. Being more informed and responsive to treatment often translates to a higher confidence level in the medical care they receive, which in turn, makes them more likely to experience success in the healing process.

From the Lab to Clinical Practice   

Now the question becomes when will using pharmacogenetic research to aid addiction treatment to be translated into clinical applications? And will the average patient be able to afford it?

Unfortunately, the type of tailored medical treatments that researchers are working on for addiction is still in progress. Experts in the field believe that some pharmacogenetictreatments for addiction (including nicotine and alcohol) may result in the next five to ten years. The approach is likely to be embraced, perhaps slowly, by medical professionals and patients alike.

The cost of genetic testing will continue to decrease as it becomes more ubiquitous. Patients were required to pay for genotype tests that identify one or few relevant mutations will no longer apply. It’s predicted that in the not too distant future, patients will see their doctor, have their entire genome sequenced, and have the information readily available for future medical issues.

How that information is interpreted and used to create specialized addiction treatments may be another story. We may be looking at that piece being 10 to 15 years away, but it’s clear that’s the direction addiction treatment is headed.

Traditional Addiction Treatment in the Meantime

Using pharmacogeneticsto develop treatment plans for addicts will not replace traditional treatment options, like those used at Serenity at Summit’s addiction treatment facilities. It’s believed that greater success will be achieved when both pharmacogenetics and traditional addiction treatments are used together. The knowledge that is learned through traditional treatment – rehabilitation, 12-step programs, relapse prevention, addiction education, and therapy will continue to be vital pieces in addiction recovery. Psychiatric care though will likely be greatly enhanced by pharmacogenetic testing which will increase the success of treatment overall.

Should We Look At Drug and Alcohol Abuse As a Mental Illness?

It took years for healthcare providers to consider alcohol a disease, and a similar battle is being waged over classifying alcohol and drug abuse as a mental illness.

Part of the reason is that it can take years for prevailing attitudes to change about an issue, especially when that issue as polarizing as drug and alcohol addiction.

But a growing body of research is revealing that because alcohol and drug abuse can negatively affect a person’s brain, it can create the same kind of changes that are found in mental illnesses.

APA Lists Alcohol and Drug Abuse As a Mental Disorder

In fact, the much-respectedDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) includes a section for Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders.

Under this category, the AMA lists a number of alcohol and drug-related disorders as mental disorders, including:

  • Alcohol Use
  • Alcohol Intoxication
  • Cannabis Intoxication (marijuana)
  • Opioid Use
  • Stimulant Use
  • Cocaine Use
  • Sedative Use
  • Inhalant Use

In an excerpt from the report, the AMA report said that all drugs that are taken in excess have in common direct activation of the brain reward system, which is involved in the reinforcement of behaviors and the production of memories. (1)

Long-term drug and alcohol abuse have the effect of impairing the brain’s natural inhibitions, which deprives an addict of making good decisions.

And in fact, over time, the brain’s ability to issue warning signs to an addict is so compromised, that addicts may believe that continued abuse of drugs and alcohol is, in fact, beneficial, because of the way it makes them feel.

Therefore, it may not be implausible to suggest that long-term drug and alcohol abuse should be treated as a mental illness, given how much a person’s brain is altered through prolonged abuse.

The Link Between Alcohol and Mental Health

Long-term alcohol abuse not only lowers the brain’s inhibition but it also negatively affects the central nervous system, which controls a person’s moods and emotions.

Furthermore, intense alcohol consumption alters the brain’s chemistry and lowers the levels of serotonin, a chemical that creates feelings of intense pleasure. (2)

This is why alcoholics are often diagnosed with depression because they drink more to recapture the feelings of pleasure that drinking used to produce, but in doing so, they further decrease the serotonin the brain produces.

It’s a vicious cycle that many alcoholics cannot break because they keep chasing the ‘high’ that they once had when they first began drinking, but they can never reproduce that feeling.

Alcohol abuse also affects the brain’s memory centers, which is why alcoholics and binge-drinkers often suffer from what is known as ‘blackouts.’

In fact, long-term alcohol abuse has been linked to increased incidences of dementia. A recent study found that 10 to 24 percent of alcoholics were diagnosed with dementia.

The Link Between Drug Abuse and Mental Health

Similarly, drug abuse has similar negative effects on the brain as alcohol abuse.

For example, studies have found that drug abuse produces high levels of dopamine in the brain, which like serotonin, is a neurotransmitter that controls motivation, emotion, and feelings of pleasure.

Drug abuse triggers the brain to overproduce dopamine, which acts as a reward for the brain and drives addicts to use more drugs to replicate the pleasurable feelings.

But prolonged drug use kills the pleasure centers of the brain, and triggers depression and anxiety.

Furthermore, drug abuse can lead to compulsive behavior, because the brain’s ability to help an addict make sound decisions has been compromised.

And compulsive behavior is an aspect of certain types of mental illness, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Three million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with OCD, which is characterized by repetitive behaviors sparked by anxious feelings or obsessions that may include contamination by dirt or germs, imagined harm to loved ones, runaway sexual urges, and devastating moral guilt. (3)

More Research Needed To Link Alcohol and Drug Abuse With Mental Illness

The point isn’t that drug abuse causes mental illness, it is that the consequences of abusing drugs for a long time damage the brain, and often lead to behaviors and symptoms that are found in some common types of mental illness.

Some addicts may only view their addiction as a medical issue, when in fact their struggle should be likened to a mental illness and treated in that way.

This is especially true when addicts are diagnosed with co-occurring disorders, which refers to a person who has an alcohol or drug abuse disorder and a mental health disorder.

Treatment and Recovery Is Essential

As healthcare experts begin to view some types of drug and alcohol abuse as a mental illness, there will a greater push to educate the public about the effects these addictions have on the brain function of addicts. And with greater public awareness, the stigma of addiction may lessen, and the benefits of treatment programs may increase. If you or someone you love is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, you have the right to know all the treatment options.

The medical detox experts at Serenity at Summit can provide you with all the information you need about treatment to make an informed decision. Please call us at (908) 481-4400 (New Jersey), or (978) 641-3001 (Massachusetts).

Serenity At Summit Detox New Jersey – (908) 481-4400

Serenity At Summit Detox Haverhill MA –  (978) 641-3001



Choosing the Best Inpatient Fentanyl Addiction Rehab

The opioid epidemic is rampant in all parts of the country; there is no demographic that is not affected by it. More and more people are dying from overdoses of heroin and prescription painkillers like fentanyl. According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most recent dramatic increase follows the pattern that has been going on since 1999 when prescription opioids became ubiquitous in the United States. In the last 16 years, there have been nearly 200,000 deaths caused by overdoses related to prescription opioids, and deaths associated specifically with the drug fentanyl, are definitely on the rise.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is an opioid painkiller that is similar to other opioids like morphine, OxyContin, and even heroin, but it is much more powerful. It is typically used during and following surgery for pain relief, or for the severe breakthrough pain associated with cancer. It has a shorter half-life than other pain medications, working by inhibiting the pain pathways to the brain from the location of the pain. It isn’t like over-the-counter pain medications or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which generally affect the peripheral or local site of pain.

Fentanyl is administered in various ways including as an intravenous injection, a patch that is placed on the skin, a tablet that is dissolved between the cheek and gums, a lollipop or lozenge, and as a mouth spray.

Fentanyl is Dangerous and Addictive when Abused  

Fentanyl has a high potential for abuse due to the euphoric effects and pleasurable sedation that it causes. It is commonly abused when users attempt to numb the emotional pain with a rush of pleasure and a high feeling. Continued use causes the opioid receptors in the brain to crave repeated use.

When a person begins abusing fentanyl, they will become increasingly tolerant to the drug. That means that they will need to take more and more of it to get the same effect. Additionally, they will begin to feel withdrawal symptoms if they decrease or stop taking fentanyl. Because of these two factors, fentanyl abuse can cause a person to escalate from wanting the drug to needing it to feel normal very quickly.

Fentanyl is very powerful – about 100 times more potent than morphine – and it can greatly depress breathing. Overdoses that result from fentanyl are caused by respiratory failure. Research shows that women are more likely than men to become addicted to fentanyl because they are more likely to be diagnosed with chronic pain and prescribed the medication and end up taking it longer than it was originally prescribed. Adolescents and young adults are also among the highest fentanyl abusers, typically getting access to the medication from friends or relatives.

Many people who become addicted to fentanyl do so innocently when they are prescribed the medication for a legitimate reason. Unfortunately, due to the highly addictive nature of the drug, they start using more and quickly become dependent on it. When the high that is achieved with fentanyl becomes a daily occurrence, it’s important to watch for possible signs and symptoms of fentanyl abuse and addiction.

Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction

Building up a tolerance to fentanyl is one of the first signs of addiction, as is suffering withdrawal sickness when the drug is stopped or doses are decreased. Some of the other, outward, signs of addiction are:

  • Extreme euphoria and relaxation
  • Sense of well-being
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness or sedation
  • Upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Drug-seeking behavior, or doctor shopping
  • Irritability
  • Decline in activity
  • Problems sleeping
  • Increasing conflicts in relationships
  • Reporting pain medication prescriptions as lost or stolen
  • Frequent early renewal requests from pharmacists
  • Increasing complaints of pain
  • Reluctance to try non-opioid pain medications for pain
  • Requesting other prescriptions for medications with euphoric effects
  • Respiratory arrest

It can sometimes be challenging to identify a loved one’s behavior as fentanyl abuse, but if there are several of the above signs and symptoms present, it may indicate that abuse is occurring.

How Long Does Fentanyl Stay in the Body?

This question’s answer has many factors involved. How long it takes for the body to rid itself of fentanyl depends on:

  • Amount of fentanyl taken
  • How the fentanyl was administered (patch, injection, lozenges, etc.)
  • Length of time fentanyl has been used
  • Genetic makeup of the user
  • Overall health of the user
  • History of drug use of the user

If fentanyl is used intravenously, it will be out of the system faster than if it’s used in the patch or lozenge forms. IV fentanyl is usually out of the body within 24 hours, depending on the other factors. Other methods of administration can take up to about two days for the body to get rid of fentanyl. However, that doesn’t mean that the withdrawal symptoms will be gone that quickly. Those can last much longer as the body works to recalibrate itself without fentanyl in its system.

What is Detox from Fentanyl Like?

Like any other opioid, the detox from fentanyl is not comfortable or pleasant. It is also not always safe to do without medical supervision. The effects of withdrawal typically begin within about 24 hours from the last use and the symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable. Some of the withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Chills and fever
  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach cramping
  • Sweating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Body aches
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Irritability

It’s recommended that detox from fentanyl is done in a medically-supervised detox facility. Not only is it safer should symptoms become severe, it can also be much more comfortable as there are medications that can be given to help manage the symptoms.

Finding the Best Inpatient Rehab for Fentanyl Addiction

Choosing a rehabilitation facility for fentanyl addiction treatment should be done with the same careful consideration that you use to choose a doctor or a hospital. When you choose the right rehab facility, it makes all the difference in the whole process. Here are some important considerations to look at when choosing an inpatient rehab for fentanyl addiction:  

Reputation. To find out the reputation that a rehab facility has, it takes some research. You can easily do some online searches to see what former clients and their families have to say about the facility. It’s important that you find a facility that has a good reputation with both patients and medical professionals. When you find one whose reputation you are happy with, and that has a track-record of satisfied patients who are in long-term recovery, it should make your short list of choices.

Respect. Every patient (regardless of whether they are treated in a hospital for an illness, or in a rehab facility for an addiction) should be treated with respect and should have a say in what their treatment is and how it is administered. That means that your wishes should be carefully considered by the facility staff. For example, if you would like to detox without the use of prescription medication, that desire should be evaluated by your doctor and if it is medically feasible and safe, it should be carried out.

Location. Where the facility is located is worth taking the time to consider. Is it close enough to home that your friends and family can come visit you? Is it in a safe area where you will feel at ease? Is the aesthetics of the surrounding area important to you? The more calm, relaxing, and secure it is, the lower your stress and anxiety will be.

Qualifications of medical professionals. All of the medical staff at the facility you choose should be encouraging, professional, and have the proper credentials. When you take a tour of the facility, don’t be afraid to ask about the qualifications of the doctors, nurses, therapists, and other staff. They should be willing to answer all of your questions without hesitation.

Comfort. Whatever your decision is about the rehab you go to, the facility, program, and staff should be tailored to the needs of people needing treatment for fentanyl addiction. That means that in addition to monitoring withdrawal symptoms, the facility should provide such things as nutritious meals, 24/7 support, and complementary therapies. Patients should be comfortable in private, or semi-private rooms. Also in the area of comfort, patients should feel comfortable with and welcomed by the staff.

Use of medications. There are some specific medications that can be used in detox to make patients more comfortable, and withdrawal symptoms more manageable. For example, buprenorphine is often used for withdrawal from opioid drugs like fentanyl. Other medications may also be used such as anti-nausea medication and over-the-counter pain relievers. Many people who seek help for fentanyl addiction are also diagnosed with co-occurring mental disorders or illnesses like depression or posttraumatic stress disorder. Those patients may be prescribed medication to help with those conditions. Make sure that the facility you choose adheres to the use of medication philosophy that you subscribe to.

Payment options. One of the most common reasons that people with addiction problems don’t seek help is the cost of treatment. However, most rehab facilities do accept insurance and in many instances, insurance does cover at least a portion of the cost. Be sure to see if the facility you are interested in accepts your insurance. You can also check to see if they will accept payment plans for the balance that insurance doesn’t cover, so you don’t have to come up with a large sum of money all at once.

Realistic promises. There is no quick fix of addiction. Detox and rehab facilities that promise a “cure” or a “full recovery” from addiction should be avoided like the plague. Likewise, detox centers that offer “rapid detox” should also be considered suspect. The rehabilitation process should not be rushed, and the process should focus on true recovery and that takes time. The program should enlist evidence-based treatments and integrate the potential for relapse over the course of recovery.  

Recovery for Fentanyl Addiction is Possible

Fentanyl addiction is treatable and it is possible to recover from it. Inpatient rehabilitation is typically recommended over outpatient treatment for fentanyl addiction, and ongoing and consistent treatment of some kind is often necessary for fentanyl addictions.

If you or a loved one are using fentanyl and have overdosed or you are concerned that you may be addicted, seek help now to begin recovering. The first step to recovery is asking for help.

Marijuana and Addiction

Marijuana addiction is absolutely pernicious; it’s subtle, deceptive and often hidden, even to the user, while its effects pervade every corner of the user’s life

In recent years, marijuana has made headlines as state after state has passed laws either legalizing it completely or allowing its legal use in specific situations. Currently, 26 states and the District of Columbia have laws that permit marijuana use in some form, and three additional states have passed legalization laws but have yet to make them effective. With half of the country legalizing marijuana at various levels, it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers associated with the drug.  

Proponents of the legalization of marijuana point to its alleged health benefits. However, some research shows that marijuana can be habit-forming.

What Studies Say about Marijuana Addiction

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 30 percent of people who use marijuana have some degree of “marijuana use disorder.” This disorder is associated with a dependence on marijuana, which means users experience withdrawal when they stop consuming it. Symptoms of marijuana withdrawal can include irritability, insomnia, decreased appetite, restlessness, cravings, and physical discomfort. In some people, withdrawal can persist for up to two weeks.

The reason marijuana use disorder develops is that the chemicals in marijuana cause the brain to adapt to the drug, dulling the brain’s endocannabinoid neurotransmitters. Although estimates vary, researchers believe that about 9 percent of people who consume marijuana will develop dependency at some point. Among those who start using it in their teens, this number goes up to 17 percent. In 2015 alone, about 4 million

Americans had marijuana use disorder, with 138,000 seeking professional treatment for their addiction.

Marijuana Is Becoming More Potent

Additionally, as marijuana becomes more accessible, it has gotten stronger. As the NIDA reports, marijuana in the early 1990s contained about 3.7 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical in marijuana that causes users to feel high. By 2014, THC levels had risen to 6.1 percent. The NIDA also points out that new forms of marijuana use, such as smoking or eating THC-rich hash oil extracted from the marijuana plant, can result in users consuming extremely high levels of THC. “The average marijuana extract contains more than 50 percent THC, with some samples exceeding 80 percent.”

As psychologist Lynn E. O’Connor, Ph.D. writes at Psychology Today, many people dismiss marijuana as harmful because they view it as benign. O’Connor says this is a myth. “Marijuana addiction is absolutely pernicious; it’s subtle, deceptive and often hidden, even to the user, while its effects pervade every corner of the user’s life.” She adds that some marijuana users may be able to hold down a job and function in daily life, they could accomplish much more if they kicked their habit through long-term recovery.    

Contact Serenity at Summit Today

Serenity addresses Marijuana addiction within both inpatient and outpatient programs tailored to help people.We’d love to talk to you about how you can achieve a lasting recovery. Our drug treatment programs are personalized and medically supervised. Call our behavioral health professionals today to speak to a substance abuse expert about the treatment options we offer.

Detox Treatment

1000 Galloping Hill Road

Union, NJ 07083

Phone: (908) 481-4400

Summit Behavioral Health – Serenity At Summit

Detox & Residential Treatment

61 Brown St

Haverhill, MA 01830

Phone: (978) 641-3001



How to Support an Addict in Recovery

Paul Lavella of Summit Behavioral Health discusses key considerations for families trying to learn how to help an addict without enabling.

Throughout my experience as a professional counselor, whether it be in a treatment facility or a private practice setting, I’ve always found that when working with addiction, it’s best to have the family involved. As much family as possible. When it comes down to it, the support that a family provides to a patient recovering from addiction is essential to that patient’s success.

It’s unfortunate, however, that family members may be reluctant to be involved in the recovery process. They’re the one with the problem! Why do I have to go? Parents, spouses, and even children have usually been through the ringer a time or two before the identified patient agrees that treatment is needed. Families can be emotionally exhausted and resentful toward their loved one, or possibly just preferring to not have to deal with the aftermath because of all of the pain that had been caused in the past. No matter the journey that led the family to this point, it’s important for the successful recovery of the addict or alcoholic that the family stay involved.

In an article on Psych Central, Steven Gifford, a long time addictions counselor, and literary contributor offer, “It is important to understand that the family dynamic in drug and alcohol addiction is incredibly powerful… This type of positive family involvement can also help lead the rest of your family toward a journey of recovery and self-discovery.”

As the recovery process is clearly beneficial to the family as a whole, it’s worth investing some efforts to making it work. Although there are many suggestions for families of addicts, let’s just consider a few to begin with, shall we?

Don’t Drink or Use With a Person with Addiction

Don’t Drink or Use With a Person with Addiction

This tip may have you scratching your head. Doesn’t this go without saying? Well, no. You may be surprised (on the other hand, maybe not) how often this comes up during the initial phase of recovery.  

Abstaining from substance use requires some tough decisions usually including some significant lifestyle changes of the person with the addiction. But the buck doesn’t stop here. Family members may find themselves needing to consider changes as well. Think of some common life situations that may need to be re-thought.

Family Bonding Time

Football season is upon us. What a better way to get back to normal than to crack open a cold one with your family and watch the game? This is a great big NOOO! The folks over at NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) can tell you, with loads of research to back them up, that if a person has an addiction to drugs or alcohol any use of substances can create significant barriers to the recovery process. It’s going to be beneficial to think of how socializing and family bonding may need to change to support the recovery process.

Sober Holidays & Getaways

Many families have traditions surrounding the holidays and vacations and in our current culture, most of them involve or revolve around alcohol use. This can pose problems for a person in early recovery (even if they say it’s fine). It’s best practice to have discussions as together on how you’re going to navigate these family gatherings. Coping with the holidays in recovery can be a daunting task, however with careful planning and support from families can lead to successes and strengthening relationships. Have alcohol free meals, plan for more time for sober supports such as self-help meetings (you’ll want to research some local to where you’re traveling ahead of time), agree on an escape route as a Plan B if it’s needed.

The main goal here is to create a safe environment for your loved one to be able to rest and be relieved of any triggers he or she may experience. Clear alcohol or any substances from the home. All family members should agree that the home needs to be a sober environment and by no means should it be acceptable to drink or use in front of the person in recovery. It’s a small sacrifice for the greater good of your family.

Go To Family Support Meetings

Go To Family Support Meetings

If you’re already taking part of your loved one’s treatment, you have likely already received this suggestion. Support groups are an excellent addition to a family’s recovery. They deliver a practical opportunity to learn from other families of addicts how to deal and what to expect with the changes during early recovery.

Benefits of Attending Support Groups for Families of Drug Addicts

  • Educate yourself on addiction and relapse prevention
  • Support yourself and your loved one through the recovery process
  • Practice self-care by addressing your needs
  • Learn how to set healthy boundaries with your family
  • Recognize negative behavior patterns that may contribute to the problem
  • Gain fellowship from others who understand what you are going through

There are many options for Addiction Family Support Meetings. In a Project Know article, Dr. Leigh Walker spells out the different types of addiction family support meetings including support groups for spouses, siblings, parents, and children. Some of these meetings have a national presence and some are more regional in nature, but always know, support is available, is usually free, and is highly recommended.

Summit Behavioral Health offers its own addiction family support groups. You can learn more about them here.

Open Up Communication Lines

Open Up Communication Lines

Family communication in early recovery can be complicated at best. As previously mentioned, there can be much anger, resentment, or fear as a result of the active addiction. Personal issues aside, many simply don’t know how to bring the topic to the table for discussion.

Gifford’s insight would suggest that family members struggle to bring up grievances or concerns and end up distancing themselves out of fear of confrontation or triggering the person with the addiction. Truth be told, the more nothing changes, the more nothing changes. If you’re going to have your needs and your family’s needs met, you need to talk about them.

Make time for weekly check-ins. No matter how hurt you may feel, focus the communication on being positive and constructive. Remember, you are supporting your loved one’s recovery and you are supporting yourself by allowing yourself to say what you feel. It may be helpful for you to remember the adage: Say what you mean and mean what you say, just don’t say it mean.

If you’ve already given this a few tries and find that the conversation falls off the rails, you may want to consider working with a professional. Couples counseling or family therapy can be a significant aid in learning how to communicate with a recovering addict in a way that is healthy for the couple or family as a whole.

Eric Patterson, addictions counseling professional, shares thoughts with about when it might be time for family therapy:

  • If your family member struggles with relapse
  • If your mental and physical health has been impacted by the family member’s addiction
  • If you want to learn methods to improve your ability to communicate appropriately
  • If your family member has not found success from other treatment approaches
  • If you’ve experienced family issues that you believe are contributed to the addiction

There’s no shame in asking for help. In fact, continuing to ask for help is strongly advised for anyone in recovery and families seeking to do whatever they can to help their loved one with addiction. You’ve gotten this far along the journey toward health and wellness. Keep motivated and keep up the good work.

I share these suggestions with every family that I work with and am amazed that some hesitate to consider the family role in supporting recovery. You are important, not just to your loved ones, but as a person. If you’ve been affected by someone’s addiction, allow the space for your own healing. Supporting a person in recovery requires you to also heal for yourself.

About the Author: Paul Lavella Jr. MA, LPC, LCADC, ACS

“Wellness Based Counseling is a concept very dear to my heart. At the root of it, the counseling relationship is not solely focused on “the problem,” rather how you go about life’s journey in a way that leads you toward feeling and being well. Counseling is not about pathologizing; it’s about learning what’s not working and figuring out what will.

I am dually Licensed in the State of New Jersey as a Professional Counselor and a Clinical Alcohol & Drug Counselor with thirteen years of professional experience working with adolescents, adults, and families. As an Approved Clinical Supervisor, I also provide supervision for those seeking licensure for counseling or addiction counseling.”

Embarking on a journey towards wellness and recovery is perhaps the bravest and most inspiring thing a person can do. At Serenity at Summit, we are here for you every step of the way.


Drug Deaths Hit All-Time High in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is in the midst of an unprecedented epidemic of drug abuse and drug-related overdose deaths

Pennsylvania is one of the hardest hit states when it comes to drug use. The opioid epidemic that we see all across the nation is especially rampant in this north-eastern state, and that means that more and more people are dying drug-related deaths. Despite the attempts of Pennsylvania law enforcement and public officials to reduce the epidemic, the number of drug overdose deaths in the state has risen significantly in the last years.

In fact, more than 4,600 Pennsylvania residents died of drug overdoses in 2016, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The DEA will release its report, “Analysis of Drug-Related Overdose Deaths in Pennsylvania, 2016,” by the end of June. However, they have released some key findings and they are staggering. The total number of deaths due to a drug overdose, 4,642, itself is a 37% increase over the total for 2015 and equates to over a dozen overdose fatalities each day.

Officials from the DEA have expressed concern about the state of drug abuse in Pennsylvania. Gary Tuggle, DEA special agent for the Philadelphia field division said, “The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is in the midst of an unprecedented epidemic of drug abuse and drug-related overdose deaths that impacts every corner of the state and all of its residents. The collection, analysis, and dissemination of this data contribute to a robust information sharing environment amongst the fields of law enforcement, public health, treatment, and public policy, all of whom are working together to address the drug crisis in Pennsylvania.”

Opioid drugs, prescription and illicit, were responsible for 85% of the overdose deaths in Pennsylvania. Taking over as the number one killer is fentanyl and fentanyl-containing substances, with over half of the overdose deaths being attributed to the drug. Last year’s number one, heroin, is second in the 2016 report findings with approximately 45% of drug-related deaths resulting from its use. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50-100 times stronger than morphine, and 30-50 times stronger than heroin. It is often mixed with heroin or other substances, sometimes without the users’ knowledge, often causing a fatal outcome.  

Other key findings in the DEA report show that those with the highest risks of dying from an opioid-related overdose are in the 25 to 34 years old age bracket, with a 970% increase in their chances of heroin-related death. The second most at risk group is the 15 to 24 age bracket, with a 380% increase in their chances of a fentanyl-related overdose death.

The key findings that have been released provide a preview of the full DEA report that will follow in a few weeks. The full report will provide a breakdown of drug overdose deaths by county. Data that has been released shows that there is a significant increase in fentanyl use in Allegheny County, home of metropolitan Pittsburg. The drug was found in as many as two-thirds of the drug overdose fatality cases in and around Pittsburg, and in about half of the drug deaths in Philadelphia.

The data for the DEA report was gathered from district attorneys and coroners across the state, and the final report is being completed along with the School of Pharmacy at the University of Pittsburg. It’s estimated that there were over 60,000 drug overdose deaths nationwide in 2016.

In addition to Allegheny and Philadelphia Counties, Lehigh and Northampton Counties have also seen a dramatic surge in drug overdose deaths. The 2015 DEA report showed a statewide increase in drug overdose deaths of 23% over the previous year. In Lehigh County, the 2015 overdose death rate was the 15th highest rate among Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, with 32 deaths per 100,000 residents.

However, in the 2016 report, Lehigh County’s numbers were significantly higher. In fact, the drug overdose deaths for Lehigh and Northampton Counties in 2016 are nearly equal to the deaths reported for the previous two years combined.

Northampton County reported 58 drug overdose deaths involving heroin or other opiate drugs. That is an increase of one death per week in the county and just one death short of the county’s total for 2014 and 2015 combined.

In Lehigh County, there were 38 opiate-related deaths and 73 deaths that were related to a combination of substances in 2016, making the total for the year 111 deaths. That is close to the 2015 and 2014 combined total of 116 drug-related deaths in the county.

Pennsylvania Governor, Tom Wolf stated that the new data “reinforce that Pennsylvania and the federal government must fight even harder to combat the damage done to our families and communities by heroin and opioids and the disease of addiction.”

“We must continue to put resources into treatment and tools for law enforcement, health professionals and families on the front lines, while also expanding education and prevention programs and ending the stigma of addiction,” Wolf said.

The Governor has called for funding to continue for the 45 outpatient treatment programs statewide, county-level efforts, and dedicated funding for naloxone (an opioid drug overdose antidote). Governor Wolf has also discouraged reducing funding for Medicaid, which he says has assisted in substance abuse treatment across the state.

Serenity Fights For You and With You

At Serenity at Summit, we pride ourselves in going above and beyond what other drug and alcohol detox facilities will do to ensure you leave our facilities a whole and new individual.

We equip you with the steps you will need to remain clean in more time than not demanding and stressful world.

Through our hands-on inpatient and outpatient treatment programs monitored by caring professionals who produce a work ethic unparallel to ensure that each person who walks through our doors will leave free from addiction for a lifetime. Call our behavioral health professionals today at 844-326-4514 to speak to substance abuse expert about your treatment options.

Drug Use In America: The Shocking Truth

Here are some of the key takeaways from this comprehensive report

The 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health is the most recent big-picture study about drug use in America and provides a revealing look at popular drugs of choice and demographics related to drug users. It also analyzes alcohol use in the U.S. Here are some of the key takeaways from this comprehensive report.

Illicit Drug Use Is Rampant Across All Major Age Groups

More than 27 million people age 12 or older in the U.S. are users of illicit drugs. But what’s even more staggering is that 10 percent of the U.S. population that is 12 years or older admitted to using illicit drugs in the month prior to the survey. (1)

Worse yet, more than two million adolescents age 12 to 17 use illicit drugs in the U.S., and nearly 23 percent of young adults in the 18 to 25 age group were drug users. An additional 17 million adults 26 or older used illicit drugs within the past year.

What this tells us is that illegal drug use is growing in all segments of the U.S. population, a terrifying prospect if even a quarter of these people turn out to be addicts who require a comprehensive drug treatment program in the future.

Marijuana Remains a Preferred Drug of Choice

Not surprisingly, marijuana remains a popular drug of choice, with an estimated 22 million people in the country using the drug on a regular basis. In fact, marijuana use has trended upward from 2002 to 2013, with a brief downturn in 2014 that was followed by another spike in 2015.

Undoubtedly, part of the reason marijuana use is steadily increasing is that many states have decriminalized or legalized marijuana use for recreational purposes or for medicinal reasons.

The negative perception of marijuana as an illicit drug has markedly decreased over the past decade.

Many people who smoke marijuana don’t even refer to it as a drug because marijuana is not considered to be a narcotic that is as dangerous or addictive as cocaine, heroin or prescription painkillers such as opioids.

As a result, marijuana use has become much more socially acceptable among most age groups, an activity that is considered as normal as smoking a cigarette.

Prescription Pain Reliever Misuse Is On the Rise

The existing opioid crises in states such as Ohio have publicized the abuse of prescription pain relievers. And the 2015 survey confirmed this trend, with nearly four million people 12 or older abusing prescription pain pills.

Part of what is driving opioid abuse in many states is the fact that pharmaceutical companies have downplayed or mislead users about the highly-addictive nature of these drugs. In some instances, drug companies have incentivized their representatives to wine and dine physicians in an effort to persuade them to prescribe painkillers to their patients to drive up profits. (2)

But as millions of people have become addicted to these pain killers, drug companies have continued to insist that the drugs are safe if used in moderation.

Binge-Drinking Is a Huge Problem

The survey also found that binge-drinking has become a huge problem for a large segment of the population.

For example, nearly 67 million people age 12 or older in the U.S. admitted to binge-drinking (5 or more drinks at one time for males, 4 or more drinks at one time for females) in the previous month, and 17 million admitted to heavy alcohol use during that same time period.

Binge-drinking often occurs at house parties, raves, and clubs were drinking heavily is part of the social contract participants make when they agree to attend. In addition, a party-all-the-time culture has taken over many college campuses in the U.S., leading to incidents of high alcohol use, violence, and sexual assaults.

But of even greater concern is that a staggering 138 million people in the U.S. age 12 or older admitted to current alcohol use in the month prior to the survey.

Underage alcohol use is a persistent problem despite the fact that every state restricts alcohol consumption to people who are 21 or older.

Drugs – An Undeniable, Easily Accessible Threat

The Need For Long-Term Solutions

Drug use in America is trending upward, and illicit use is starting at a much younger age than in the past.

Some of the respondents in the 2015 survey may never turn into addicts, but many will, and they will need access to drug detox facilities that can also provide in-house and outpatient counseling to ensure long-term recovery.

About Summit Behavioral Health (NJ, MA, PA)

Summit Behavioral Health offers both inpatient and outpatient programs to help people overcome drug addiction and co-occurring disorders. Our programs are medically supervised and designed to fit your specific needs and goals. Call our behavioral health professionals today at 844-432-0416 to speak to a substance abuse expert about your treatment options.



The Risks of Using Heroin with Crack Cocaine

When users mix heroin and crack they are playing with fire.

Heroin and crack cocaine are risky enough when used individually, but they are even more dangerous when they are combined. Mixing the two, one a depressant and one a stimulant, can have very unpredictable results. When the two are combined and used at the same time, it’s known as “speedballing,” which can be even more dangerous. If a person develops an addiction to heroin and crack, it can be very difficult to stop using without help. Usually, it takes inpatient treatment at a rehab facility in order to begin recovery.

Why Do People Mix Heroin and Crack Cocaine?

People who abuse drugs will often move from one drug to another or experiment with different combinations of drugs. When they become addicted to two or more drugs at the same time, it’s called polydrug addiction. Users started using heroin and crack together by injecting or smoking in order to achieve a dual drug euphoria, or they would use one of the drugs to help with the withdrawals from the other.

There are many reasons that users find mixing heroin and crack cocaine appealing besides avoiding withdrawals – they want to find a greater high, it’s cheaper, or they want to stay high for longer. Additionally, users may mix drugs for the following reasons:

  • In an attempt to heighten the effects of another drug. For example, someone may use alcohol to enhance the experience of cocaine.
  • In an attempt to decrease the negative effects of the other drug, typically when they are coming down from the other drug. For example, some people will smoke marijuana to lessen the effects of ecstasy.
  • In an attempt to substitute for the drug they were looking for – using the next best thing.

Sometimes people will combine drugs because they are already intoxicated and are not thinking straight.

What Happens to the Body When Heroin and Crack are Mixed?

When users mix heroin and crack, they are playing with fire. Not only are both drugs highly addictive, mixing them can lead to death. Heroin is a depressant, while crack is a stimulant. Both drugs have an effect on the central nervous system and when taken together they send contradicting messages to the brain, sometimes causing both respiratory and cardiac arrest simultaneously.

Some of the other effects of mixing heroin and crack cocaine include the following:

  • Impaired thinking and judgment
  • Erratic behavior, sometimes violence
  • Disinhibition
  • Sweating
  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Shaking or tremors
  • Paranoid thinking
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
  • Change in heart rate
  • Blurry vision
  • Chest pain and arrhythmia
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Seizures
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Liver failure
  • Overdose
  • Coma

There are additional long-term effects when the mixture of heroin and crack are injected as the route of administration. Doing so increases the risks of:

  • Hepatitis C and HIV
  • Tuberculosis
  • Track lines
  • Collapsed veins
  • Injection site abscesses
  • Infection in the lining of the heart

When heroin and crack are snorted, the user runs the risks of:

  • Uncontrollable nosebleeds
  • Sinusitis
  • Perforated nasal septum

The effects of mixing heroin and crack can be short or long-term and can have devastating results, up to and including death. It’s important that users of either or both of these drugs seek help from a drug treatment facility for their addiction before it’s too late.

Recognizing Polydrug Addiction

Signs and symptoms of polydrug addiction are much the same as those of a person addicted to only one drug. They may be more intense though because the risks of overdose and more serious complications are greatly increased when more than one substance is used. Some of the warning signs that someone you love may be abusing drugs are:

  • No longer caring about activities that used to be enjoyable
  • Reduced level of personal hygiene and appearance
  • Increased secrecy and isolation
  • Has much less money with no explanation why
  • Mood swings and erratic behavior
  • Cannot focus, has memory loss, or is easily confused
  • Has problems at work or school

The signs that someone has overdosed while taking multiple drugs may be more pronounced, but they can easily be confused with other medical problems if you don’t know that a person is using drugs.

Treatment for Polydrug Addiction

Many times, the treatment of polydrug addiction is much more complicated and difficult than the treatment of a single drug addiction. This is due to the following factors:

People who abuse multiple drugs, like heroin and crack, are typically more ensnared in addiction. Generally, by the time a person tries multiple drugs or combinations of drugs, he or she has been using drugs for a significant amount of time, and the drug abuse has had time to recalibrate brain function. People in this situation are highly addicted and harder to treat.

Drugs used together to play off one another causing heightened reactions, as well as more physical and psychological dependency. Mixing drugs often make quitting any of them more challenging.

The withdrawal symptoms of people who use multiple drugs are compounded. The more drugs they use, the more severe withdrawal symptoms can be.

Polydrug abusers and addicts are more resistant to accepting help. Higher levels of addiction create more resistant addicts. Unfortunately, many of these types of addicts die before they seek help.

For people who are addicted to more than one drug, the best option for treatment is an inpatient rehab facility. While outpatient treatment may work for some addicts, they are often not as effective for addicts with such severe addictions. Attending an inpatient drug rehab will give patients a higher level of around-the-clock care and will provide:

  • Supervised medical detox to ensure safety during the withdrawal phase of recovery
  • Individual and group therapy that gets to the underlying causes of patients’ addictions
  • Psychiatric treatment, if needed
  • Addiction education, relapse prevention techniques, and coping skills

If you or a loved one is suffering from drug abuse or addiction, know that there is help available no matter how severe the addiction is. Seek help now and begin your recovery before it’s too late.

Our programs are personalized and medically supervised. Call our behavioral health professionals today to speak to a substance abuse expert about your treatment options.

The Shocking Truth About Drug and Alcohol Abuse In College

The most recent national survey about drug and alcohol abuse among college-age adults provides relevant information about the attitudes and practices of this demographic that is far more likely to indulge in these excessive activities. But information is useless without actionable solutions so here are five key takeaways from the 2015 National Institute on Drug Abuse survey that can help craft new ways to attack this persistent problem.

Marijuana Remains a Popular Drug of Choice

For years, smoking weed has become something of a rite of passage among high school and college students. And according to the survey, nearly 5 percent of college-age students admitted that they smoked pot on a daily basis.

Although this may not seem like a large number, the percentage of full-time marijuana users in college has risen steadily since 1995, when it was at 3.7 percent. Part of the reason for this steady increase is that states have lowered the stigma of marijuana smoking by passing laws legalizing its use in one form or another.

Twenty-six states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use, and many others are in the process of decriminalizing marijuana use. (1)

Binge Drinking Is Common

College-age drinking remains a large problem, and the survey confirms this fact, as nearly 32 percent of college students said that they engaged in binge drinking (five or more drinks in a row) in the two weeks prior to the survey. In comparison, only 23.7 percent of non-college survey participants said they had engaged in binge drinking.

Furthermore, 38.4 percent of college-age students said they had been drunk in the previous month, compared to 24.9 percent of non-college participants.

Binge drinking dangers include alcohol poisoning, heart attack, and a higher risk of vehicular homicide if the drinker chooses to operate a motor vehicle.

Cigarette Use Is Trending Down

The survey also found that cigarette smoking and hookah usage are trending downward among college-age adults.

Only 23 percent of college students said they used a hookah in the previous year, compared to 24.5 percent of non-college survey participants. And only 11 percent of college students said they smoked cigarettes in the previous month, compared to 23.4 percent of the non-college group.

And that holds true even for E-cigarettes, which only 8.8 percent of college students admitted to smoking, less than the 12.9 percent of non-college participants who admitted to E-cigarette smoking. Part of this decrease may be attributed to the number of universities that have banned smoking on campus. (2)

Smoking bans have helped change attitudes among some college students about the risks of this activity, but they have also helped promote ways that students can kick the habit, including behavioral modification classes, individual counseling sessions, and even the use of tobacco patches.

Cocaine Use Is Trending Upward

Unfortunately, while cigarette use is decreasing among college-age students, cocaine use has risen over the past few years, hitting a 10-year high in 2014. In the survey, 4.3 percent of students admitted they used cocaine full-time, which is slightly less than the 4.4 percent that admitted their cocaine use in 2014.

The upward trend is of great concern because full-time cocaine use among college students decreased to 2.7 percent in 2014 before its steady climb. Before then, cocaine use had remained in the 3.5-percent to 3.1 percent range dating back to 2010.

Cocaine use among college students may be motivated by the stress and pressures of coursework or may be influenced by the party culture of a particular university. Cocaine is widely available at nightclubs, parties and raves, three venues that are prevalent across campuses in the U.S.

Synthetic Drug Use Is Declining

But at least one fad drug seems to be declining in popularity among college students. The survey found an 80 percent decrease in synthetic drug use from 2011 to 2015, and the use of salvia decreased 90 percent between 2009 and 2015.

Salvia is an herb that grows in southern Mexico and it causes vivid hallucinations and intense, frightening visions. The stimulant is not illegal in the U.S., but the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has warned people not to use it because the extent of the health risks is unknown. (3)

The decline in synthetic drug use among college-age students may be attributed to the fact that these drugs are very dangerous. In fact, overdoses are common, because the chemicals used to enhance these drugs – such as bath salts – are not for human consumption.

Treatment Is a Solution

For college students struggling with an addiction, drug and alcohol detox may provide a solution. A treatment program must begin with physical and psychological withdrawal from drugs and alcohol, followed by intensive counseling. In some instances, residential treatment is necessary prior to outpatient treatment, but in all instances, a personalized addiction program works best.

If you or someone you love needs help with an addiction, please contact the Drug and Alcohol Detox experts at 844-432-0416 to discuss all your treatment options.




Are You at Risk for a Drug Overdose?

These characteristics don’t always have to be present for someone to be addicted to prescription drugs.

Drug addiction doesn’t discriminate. People from all sorts of backgrounds and social groups are affected. Sadly, overdoses continue to spiral upward with each passing year. In 2015, over 50,000 Americans died due to drug overdoses — the highest number ever recorded. Moreover, certain classes of drugs caused a staggering number of deaths. Heroin deaths jumped by 23 percent. Opioid-related deaths increased by 73 percent. Drug Overdoses caused by OxyContin and Vicodin increased by four percent.

A spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated, “I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like this.”

These grim statistics have led researchers to examine the demographics of drug overdoses. By learning which people are more vulnerable to overdoses, we can take steps to help them, as well as intervene when we suspect a loved one is exhibiting signs of an addiction.

Study Identifies Characteristics of Those More Likely to Overdose

A study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine analyzed 254 deaths of individuals age 18 and older. The purpose of the study was to attempt to identify which people are more likely to suffer an unintentional prescription drug overdose.

  • Researchers found that people with the following characteristics had a higher risk of overdosing on a prescription drug:
  • More likely to be middle-aged and Caucasian
  • Less educated
  • Unmarried
  • Reside in a rural community
  • In the year before their death, over 87 percent had been prescribed a prescription painkiller by a doctor
  • Over 31 percent had obtained painkillers from more than one doctor
  • More likely to have financial problems, a disability, or mental illness
  • More likely to smoke, drink, or use illegal drugs

The study also revealed that over 91 percent of the individuals studied had obtained the medication from a healthcare provider.

What You Can Do to Help

If your loved one, spouse, or friend is showing signs of a prescription drug addiction, don’t ignore it. Furthermore, these characteristics don’t always have to be present for someone to be addicted to prescription drugs. Just because you don’t observe any of the signs identified in the study doesn’t mean your loved one isn’t struggling with a prescription drug addiction.

If you believe someone close to you is misusing their prescription medication, don’t be afraid to speak up. Many addicts are too embarrassed or afraid to ask for assistance or to admit they have a problem. Although you may be reluctant to say something, you might be the turning point that causes your loved one to get the help they need.

About Summit Behavioral Health Today

Summit Behavioral Health has both inpatient and outpatient programs to help people overcome prescription drug addiction. Our experts have helped people conquer opioid drug addictions with lasting success. Our programs are personalized and medically supervised. Call our behavioral health professionals today to speak to a substance abuse expert about a program that will help you reclaim your life.  

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Part of Addiction Treatment is Clearing Up the Wreckage of Your Past in Recovery

Dealing with your less than perfect past can be daunting, but once you start addiction treatment you have taken the first step towards recovery.

Getting clean and sober from an addiction to drugs or alcohol is one of the best things that you can do for yourself and your family. It is no easy task, and you will spend the first weeks and months of recovery working hard to maintain your sobriety and learning to live life differently than before. Navigating emotions, cravings, and whatever life throws at you will consume your time and efforts in early recovery, but there will come a time that you have to start cleaning up the messes your alcohol or drug addiction caused before you entered drug addiction treatment and got sober.

Thinking about clearing up the wreckage of your past is scary. Usually, drug addicts and alcoholics unintentionally create chaos around themselves and the effects are often widespread. Friends, family, finances, legal issues, and poor health are typically some of the areas where people in active addiction cause problems for themselves. And once you are sober, those messes are still there. It’s up to you to work to make them right.

In Alcoholics Anonymous, it is when people reach the ninth step that they begin to make direct amends – personal, financial, or otherwise – to the people who they wronged while in active addiction. Whether you are a part of AA, other 12-step program, or some other type of addiction treatment, there will be things that you have to deal with to further yourself in recovery.

How do you do that? Here are some insights and tips that will help you clear up the wreckage of your past in three areas: health problems, legal problems, and damaged relationships.

Health Problems

Addiction takes a toll on your health. Depending on what your drug of choice was, you may be suffering from various health issues. Most people in active addiction don’t eat in a healthy way, so you may be overweight or underweight. You may have damaged your liver, heart, or other organs. It’s likely that your skin has suffered due to dehydration (in the case of alcohol), picking (methamphetamine use causes drug abusers to pick at their skin), or poor hygiene. Some end up needing a lot of dental work when they get clean, either because of neglect or from smoking drugs. The health effects can be far-reaching.

The key to restoring yourself to good health is self-care. You probably didn’t take care of yourself at all during active drug and alcohol addiction, so now is the time to do it. Here are a few ways that you can improve your health:

  • Eat right. Whether you need to lose weight or gain it, you need to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Your doctor will be able to give you an idea of what that looks like for you.
  • You probably didn’t get a whole lot of exercise while you were using drugs or alcohol. Now is the time to start. Not only will it give you more energy and increase your physical fitness, it will also relieve depression and anxiety.
  • See your doctor and dentist regularly. Don’t skip appointments. Make sure that your medical providers know that you are in recovery.
  • Drink enough water. This is one of the biggest ways to improve your skin – but it helps with just about every other health issue as well.
  • Practice good hygiene. Take care of your physical self. It will make you feel better and increase your self-esteem and self-image.
  • Get enough sleep. Making sure that you sleep enough will improve your immune system and your mood.

Legal Problems

Most people with substance abuse problems end up having some type of legal problems. Divorce, child custody cases, DUIs, domestic violence offenses, suspended driver’s license, bankruptcy, and many other types of legal and criminal problems are fairly common in recovery circles. Dealing with those things in recovery is hard, and it may be tempting to try to avoid or ignore them. The thing is, they don’t go away, and having them hanging over your head creates fear and anxiety, which can be precursors to relapse.

Whatever your legal issues are, it’s important that you face them: the sooner, the better. More often than not, it happens that the anticipation of having to deal with them is far worse than the consequences you have to endure. Some things to consider about cleaning up your legal issues are:

  • Ask for help. Whether it’s from a sponsor, a friend or family member, an attorney, or a clergy person, don’t try to do it all alone. A little bit of support goes a long way.
  • Don’t ignore any legal proceedings. Be sure that you go to all of your court dates. Ignoring them will only make things worse for you in the long run. Be honest with judges and attorneys,; let them know that you have addiction problems and that you are in recovery. They are more likely to help people who are trying to better themselves.
  • See if you qualify for drug court. Many cities and counties now offer drug court to people with criminal offenses. If your case is currently in criminal court, see if it can be moved to drug court. Drug court judges are familiar with alcohol and drug addiction and they often offer defendants diversion as an option rather than jail time (depending on the offense).
  • Don’t create more legal issues. For example, if your driver’s license is suspended, don’t drive! The key is to clear up the wreckage, not create more.

If you know that taking care of your legal issues means that you will have to be incarcerated, facing them will be very difficult. Enlist the help of your support system to help you through the process. You know that it is the right thing to do, and with support, you will find the strength to make it through.

Damaged Relationships

Relationships that have been damaged by your active addiction might be the hardest thing to restore. You probably have people in your life who are proud of you for getting clean and who support your recovery. However, it’s likely that you also have people in your life who feel you can’t be trusted, who are angry with you, and who want nothing to do with you. It’s in dealing with those people that you will have a challenge. Here are some things to think about as you begin trying to restore damaged or lost relationships:

  • Make amends. Whether you need to make amends for your behavior, for money that you owe, or for hurt you have caused, reach out to the people you have wronged and see how you can make it right. Making amends is more than giving an apology or repaying a debt. It requires a conversation and an explanation. It’s alright to come right out and say, “How can I make this right?” Then, if it is within your ability, do it.
  • Show, don’t tell. Have you ever thought about how many times you have said you were sorry, but you continued to use or drink? Your loved ones probably don’t want to hear it anymore – they want to see it. The best way to earn back trust is to start being trustworthy. That’s an action, not a statement.
  • Clean your side of the street. Some people may not want you in their lives again, even when you attempt to make amends. All you can do is take care of your own mess, try to make things right, and then let it go. You cannot make someone else forgive you.
  • Be patient. Restoring relationships after drug or alcohol addiction takes time. You have to be patient with others in your life. You may feel that you have made significant changes, but others have to see progress before they come around.
  • Practice acceptance. Whatever the outcome is with your damaged relationships, you have to accept the other person’s decision. It doesn’t mean you have to like it, but you do have to accept it. Remember, it doesn’t mean that they won’t change their mind somewhere down the line.

Getting drug addiction treatment is just a click away. Reach out to Serenity at Summit to take that first step.

For more reading on the subject of recovery check out Changing People, Places, and Things in Addiction Treatment and Recovery