The Effects of Opioids on the Brain and Thinking
Opioid use disorder (OUD) is a chronic disease that can significantly impact the brain and how a user thinks. Addiction occurs when an individual becomes dependent on opioids to function, both physically and mentally. Over time, addiction can lead to changes in the brain and body that can be difficult to reverse.
Opioid Use Disorder and The Brain's Reward System
One of the most significant impacts of opioid addiction on the brain is its effect on the reward system. These drugs trigger dopamine release in the brain, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. With repeated use, the brain can become dependent on the drug to release dopamine, developing tolerance and addiction. This can make it difficult for individuals to feel pleasure or reward from other activities, leading to a loss of interest in hobbies and relationships.
Other Brain Changes and Opioids
OUD can also change the way a person thinks and behaves. There is a science behind these changes. Misuse causes changes in the brain's prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for decision-making and impulse control.
Chronic opioid use can decrease the prefrontal cortex's volume, impairing decision-making and making it more difficult for the drug user to control their impulses. Many self-destructive behaviors that characterize addiction can be attributed to these changes. As a result, people with OUD exhibit behaviors that harm the individual and those around them in pursuing the drug or while high.
Opioid Use Disorder's Effects on the Body
In addition to its impact on the brain, opioid addiction can significantly affect the body.
Long-term opioid use can lead to respiratory depression, breathing issues, and even death. In addition, some people who overdose have heart trouble and lingering neurological symptoms. Chronic use can also lead to gastrointestinal issues, such as constipation, nausea, and vomiting. This can also lead to malnutrition.
When a person who is a chronic user tries to stop using or cut down, they usually have significant withdrawal symptoms. This can include bone pain, nausea and vomiting, sweats, and anxiety. This is why Medication-Assisted Treatment is considered to be the gold standard of care when it comes to to OUD. It can minimize the uncomfortable symptoms and cravings a person getting sober experiences.
Mental Health and Opioid Addiction
Addiction to opioids can also have significant social and emotional impacts. OUD can lead to social isolation as individuals become more wrapped up in chasing the high and spend more time in active addiction. You may notice a person with opioid use disorder becoming more withdrawn and spending more time alone.
A person stuck in the throes of active addiction may self-medicate painful or upsetting mental health symptoms.
The emotional toll of addiction can also be significant. People with OUD often strain family relationships and change friends when addicted. Privately, they may be wrestling with shame, guilt, and hopelessness.
Opioid use disorder (OUD) can be associated with a range of mental health issues, including:
- Depression: Individuals with OUD may experience symptoms of depression, including feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed. These symptoms can be caused by changes in brain chemistry or may result from the emotional toll of addiction.
- Anxiety: OUD can also be associated with anxiety symptoms, such as panic attacks, obsessive thoughts, or excessive worry. Anxiety symptoms may be triggered by the withdrawal effects or the fear of being unable to obtain or use their drug of choice. People who use drugs with anxiety tend to have a vicious cycle of panic due to the effects on their brains.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Many individuals with OUD have a history of trauma, which can cause PTSD. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and feelings of intense anxiety/hyperarousal or avoidance. In addition, many veterans and people who have experienced sexual trauma will use substances to self-medicate uncomfortable symptoms.
- Bipolar disorder: Some individuals with OUD may also have a co-occurring diagnosis of bipolar disorder, characterized by mood shifts from extreme highs (mania) to extreme lows (depression). People who are bipolar may self-medicate or take risks that they usually wouldn't when experiencing mania.
Individuals with OUD need comprehensive treatment addressing their addiction and co-occurring mental health issues.
OUD can have significant impacts on the brain and body. Substance use disorder can also cause mental health problems and exacerbate mental health issues you may already struggle with. Getting screened for mental illness during your recovery and paying attention to any new symptoms is essential. A psychiatrist can better assess your needs or help diagnose any disorder.
Sober Housing and OUD
Many people with OUD find that they can stay sober when they have structure, solidarity, and community with other people in recovery. Many people in sober housing choose to use MAT as a tool for their OUD. Sober living can give you a home to return to at the end of the day, meetings in and out-of-house, and a healthy, vibrant, spiritual environment to reflect on your recovery and future. Learn more about our homes and how we can help by giving us a call.
Medication-Assisted Treatment is considered the gold standard of treatment for opioid use disorder. Experts say the medication, alongside appropriate treatment, and peer support groups is backed by science. MAT can help individuals begin to live substance-free while quelling withdrawal symptoms and cravings. But how well does it work for people who use fentanyl, a drug that is 50 to 100 times the potency of morphine?
Opioid Use Disorder and Fentanyl
Fentanyl is a highly potent drug that is typically used by experienced drug users. Many people who are exposed to drugs in a medical setting end up misusing them. Some people misuse prescription drugs after surgery. Others start out with recreational opioid use, such as OxyContin pills sold online or on the street. Eventually, addiction becomes costly, and people may move up to more potent drugs. Many people who use heroin, Oxycontin and other opioids decide to try fentanyl, a much more potent drug.
Fentanyl addiction is dangerous and deadly. People can quickly become physically addicted, experiencing intense withdrawal symptoms if they cannot use an opioid. Withdrawal is the top reason many people resist getting sober from opioids. People who use fentanyl will have stronger withdrawal symptoms than those using a less potent drug.
Deciding on MAT Dosage For Fentanyl Users
When a person gets sober from opioids and enters a detox program, they are assessed by a clinician for detox symptoms. Yes, MAT can be successful for people addicted to higher-dose opioids. People who have used high doses of drugs such as heroin have still found relief and freedom from cravings using treatment drugs such as methadone, Suboxone or Naltrexone.
A doctor or nurse practitioner will help administer MAT and assess a patient for symptoms after they’ve been sober for 24 hours. There may need to be adjustments to the initial dose. All dosage decisions are made between the healthcare provider and the patient. Some patients will stay on MAT for the duration of their inpatient treatment. Others will stay on it indefinitely. The CDC has said MAT is safe to use for years. For this reason, most sober housing programs treat MAT like they do most medications.
Sober Housing and MAT
People who are sober and meet the requirements of sober housing programs often are on medication. MAT isn’t a big deal; programs are more about focusing on recovery. If you’re interested in sober housing, our program offers community, safety, and recovery in a serene and vibrant environment. Give us a
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a popular type of therapy that most recovery centers and rehabs incorporate into their treatment programs. CBT helps people change their thoughts and behaviors to become healthier and happier in recovery.
People with substance use disorder and other mental health disorders can benefit from CBT. So many actions and reactions come from our thoughts and emotions. By becoming more aware of how beliefs influence their feelings, behaviors, and reactions, a person can also begin the process of trying new things to cope with them. CBT can also help people understand how their thoughts and feelings keep them in a cycle of addiction.
Why Change Your Thoughts With CBT?
Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you recognize negative thought processes that may hold you back from change. Usually, these thoughts are centered on certain beliefs you have about yourself. They may even go back to childhood or something somebody once said about you. By examining these thoughts, you learn that you can challenge them.
CBT can help you address problematic thoughts and feelings to overcome addiction. Many people have triggers to use, such as feeling angry or anxious. In recovery, people learn how to cope with these feelings and override the desire to get high or drunk. They replace those thoughts and behaviors with something more positive.
Addiction treatment programs are known for helping people change their perspective, attitude, and behavior to start a new way of life. But CBT helps people without addictions, too. People with PTSD, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and other mental health disorders can benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy. Some people go to therapy to help them with specific behaviors or get through life changes like a divorce.
Anyone that needs help changing their life for the better can benefit from CBT.
How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?
As human beings, our behavior is connected with our beliefs about ourselves and the world we inhabit. CBT helps people examine how their thoughts are related to their behavior. People addicted to drugs act differently when in the throes of addiction. Thought processes were centered on using drugs. After using, a person may have felt guilty or inadequate.
Therapists can help people examine how their thoughts and feelings contributed to their addictive behavior. Many people have self-defeating thoughts that lead to behavior they later regret.
By using CBT, addicted people learn how to identify and counter their negative thoughts with more positive outcomes. With time and practice, people learn to overcome obstacles and stay sober, making better decisions in their daily lives.
Considering Sober Living?
Are you looking for a safe, structured community with other people in recovery? Many people go to a sober living home while they continue their recovery journey. Learn more about our programs by calling at 760-216-2077.
Addiction is a progressive disease and has a way of consuming everything you care about until, sooner or later—there’s nothing left but a desire to use more. While some people realize what’s happening and get help early, most of us don’t wake up to what is happening until we’re totally at the mercy of the addiction. By this time, everything else is going or long gone.
Once you make the decision to get help, the path to rebuilding your life needs to be a holistic process. You need to commit to changing everything in your life that contributed to your addiction. This is how you make sure your life is filled with a new, healthier focus, new habits, and peers that support your recovery and healing.
A Good Start is Changing the Way You Take Care of Yourself
You need to eat healthy, nutritious food, exercise regularly, and get good sleep. Think of it as making a living amends to your body for years of abuse. Your body has worked hard to keep going despite the poison you’ve been ingesting and other unhealthy habits most addicts share. You can become your body’s friend by eating nutritious food at regular intervals, taking vitamin supplements, and getting plenty of good exercise.
If you can develop a new, fun hobby such as biking, jogging, or working out at the gym, you’ll be having fun while giving your body the exercise it needs. These are all activities you can enjoy with others who are recovering or just into a healthy lifestyle. Studies have shown that exercise relieves stress, raises the endorphin level to help you feel good, and helps you to get restful sleep.
Connect With Others Who Are Into Recovery and Healthy Living
People who spend time together tend to have a profound influence on each other, whether healthy or unhealthy.
You’ll meet new people by attending support group meetings and seeking out healthy activities that people enjoy together, such as cooking, yoga and sports. You can take a class to learn a new skill or hone one you had before addiction took over your life.
Practicing Gratitude and Helping Others
These two activities, finding things to be grateful for and actively being of service to others are great for your recovery. By helping others, we can both forget our own troubles and learn to value ourselves again. By being grateful for what we have, we learn to see life in a more balanced perspective.
As you continue to grow into healthier habits and a changed lifestyle, don’t beat yourself up if you struggle occasionally. It’s all part of the process. Do the best you can, a day at a time. Before you know it, you will be thriving in recovery. Your loved ones will notice and comment on it as well.
WE ARE HERE TO HELP
Recovery is always a journey, not a destination. However, many people find that they want to remain in a supportive and structured environment after treatment.
Our San Diego sober living home can help you maintain your recovery and continue to work your program as you start to take back your life. Give us a call at 760-216-2077 to learn more about how we can help!
Betrayal is not just about infidelity, or lying, or stealing.
You can betray someone’s trust in you by becoming a drastically different person than the person he or she fell in love with.
It could be that you broke your word numerous times; or only lied once but it was a biggie. Maybe you did have an affair. Or perhaps you just weren’t there when they needed you most. Maybe you ran up huge debts from gambling or another addiction that they didn’t even know you had. There are innumerable ways one person can betray another.
At some point you come to your senses and realize that you’ve made a huge mistake or series of mistakes and you desperately want to save your relationship. The first thing you need to understand and accept is that it won’t be easy. Once trust is broken, especially after a series of betrayals, it takes time and commitment to earn somebody’s trust back. Your loved one may never trust you completely.
Don’t Make Excuses for Your Behavior
Take responsibility for your mistake(s). If you imply the betrayal was due to forces beyond your control he or she won’t have a reason to trust you again. If there was an outside factor that impaired your judgment and/or subsequent behavior you need to eliminate it from your life if you want to be trustworthy in your relationship.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Of course you should apologize without trying to minimize the betrayal. However, words won’t go far towards helping someone to trust you again, especially if the betrayal involved lying. You need to prove that you are stable, reliable and trustworthy. This can take months or even years, depending on how shattered your relationship is and what you did to betray your loved one.
Show Your Family Member How Much You Love Them
Again, telling somebody you love them won’t be very convincing once you’ve betrayed their trust. There are many ways to show another how much you value your relationship with him or her. You could start with a few simple actions, such as
- Spending time together
- Listening to your loved one
- Thinking of his or her needs
- Taking genuine pleasure in his or her companionship
- Being patient while your loved one heals
Other actions which can convince your loved one you are trustworthy include
- Stability and reliability
- Keeping your word
- Being there
It Takes Time
Depending on your situation, it could take years to convince your loved one that it’s safe to love you again. You must commit to taking the right actions on a daily basis for months, years, or however long it takes.
Don’t demand that your loved one trust you again. Give them time to heal. By showing your loved one that you’re committed to your relationship and are doing all you can to show that love and commitment, he or she will gradually begin to heal.
Your loved one’s healing journey will begin with hope as they experience your actions daily. Gradually whatever hope you give them will become faith in your commitment to your mutual love and to the relationship. At some point they will be able to trust you again.
While your relationship will never be the same as it was prior to the betrayal, it can become better and stronger due to your mutual commitment and shared struggle to weather a major storm.
Counseling Can Help You Both to Begin Your Healing Journey
Honest communication in a safe environment is a very good way for both you and your loved one to begin to understand how the other feels. When you communicate with a licensed therapist present, you’ll have the security of knowing that there’s an experienced and impartial mediator involved who will help you both to work through underlying issues that may have contributed to your broken relationship.
It Takes Work to Maintain a Healthy Relationship With Another Person
If you could talk honestly with someone who has been in a committed relationship for decades, they would invariably admit to having had had their share of trouble. People are not perfect and there’s no such thing as a perfect relationship. What you would likely read in their expression is an absence of anger or pain. Instead you would see satisfaction and pride in having stayed with the relationship when it was hard to do so, and they’d likely tell you that the struggle was hard but worth the effort.
Contact Our Sober Living to Live in the Solution
Are you or somebody you love interested in a sober living in San Diego? Learn more about the options we offer by calling 760-216-2077.
- By Philip, Milgram, MD
Worry, fear, boredom, anxiety, loneliness, escapism, insomnia; these are the emotions that plague our society. The plague that is COVID is making these human imperfections more frequent and more pronounced. There are healthy effective ways we can not only deal with these feelings and situations. But it is human tendency to take an immediate and effective way to escape: The Devil’s Drugs. They are readily (too readily) available. There is easy access to someone who can promise you the gates of heaven. You are invincible. And you want it now. From a friend or family member who has some. Or from a prescriber who will prescribe, sometimes inadvertently but often as a legitimate dealer. Hey, maybe it‘s even covered by your insurance. Maybe you know somebody who knows someone who can get it for you in a park or a parking lot. Trust me. You are not invincible. These are not your grandparent’s drugs. These synthetic drugs have a high addiction potential. I don’t think they should have ever been released to the public, like Quaaludes. You give these drugs to a thousand white mice…and a thousand whit mice will be pushing that button for more. Physiologically, we are not dissimilar from a white mouse. They use these same white mice to test the drugs and extrapolate to human consumption. WE WANT MORE OF THAT!!
These drugs cause what is known as hyperalgesia. Let’s say you stroke the hairs on your arm with a feather. These drugs make a stimulus that would be a tickle or an unpleasurable event and convert it to pain. What do you do? I WANT MORE OF THAT!!
Then you develop tolerance to the drug. Until you rapidly, sometimes within days, need more to get you to that place where you want to be. And you then know. I NEED MORE OF THAT!!
We have been very successful treating alcoholism and drug addiction to heroin, opiates with our innovative and experienced team and the magical molecule of NAD+ (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide), which detoxifies and fixes your brain, relieving withdrawal symptoms and cravings with much greater regularity than your neighborhood rehab center. But these are The Devil’s Drugs. And they require an all out and effective therapeutic approach to avoid the gates of hell; loss of you job, your family, your money, your home. And finally you lose yourself and then you lose hope. Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Klonipen, Ativan, Ambien and the sort) are not a good solution. You solve a problem by creating another problem. But prescribers too readily whip out their prescription pads to give you a stopgap that may be as bad or worse than the original problem. Please don’t take Kratom either. Often the addiction to Kratom is worse than heroin. Unfortunately, it is readily available and touted as “natural”. When you are addicted to Kratom, you may be suffering such terrible withdrawals that you have to use through the night every two hours.
The best way to avoid this whole situation is to not allow these drugs into your body. Avoid them all-knowingly because I have here told you of their power, their danger, and the high percentage for your physiologic tendency as a normal human being to succumb to the power of these drugs. But it is human tendency to think you are different, stronger, better, even invincible. I WANT TO FEEL IT, NOW!!
We have an alternative therapy here in Carlsbad, with the magic molecule (NAD+) that is already present in every living animal and plant cell. And that the body naturally uses to detoxify, heal, pump up immunity, and create new neural pathways that results in less cravings, less withdrawal symptoms and a high degree of long-lasting sobriety, health, longevity and wellness. We help restore restful sleep, use additional therapies, and get you on the road to a new life free from the influence of these drugs.
NAD+ is the magic. There is an art to the administration of it—starting with the best NAD+. Then there are therapies that enhance and propagate the NAD+ effect. Then, once off the drugs, you need to deal with the emotional, physical, depression, anxiety, any underlying mental disease, situation, and establish an ongoing program of healthy nurturing lifestyle.
There is such a thing as recovery, let us show you.
Phillip Milgram MD
Addiction is a family disease and affects more people than the addicted person probably realizes. Friends, spouses, parents, and children all may have struggles related to their loved one’s addiction.
When a person gets clean, their families go through several emotions just like they do. There are also a lot of fears and unresolved feelings caused by the addiction that need to be resolved. Families can play a large part in the recovery of a person with a substance use disorder. At the same time, they probably have a lot of questions and concerns about their loved one’s recovery.
A person with an addiction needs to focus on themselves and their recovery. Making amends and gaining trust back can’t happen overnight, just like addiction didn’t happen at night. Family members can’t fix an addicted person, and an addicted person can’t fix their family.
Getting Help for Family Members
If you’re somebody whose loved one is struggling with addiction and recovery; there are resources available. They may include:
- Support groups for families of people in recovery. Al-Anon, Codependents Anonymous, and other groups can provide vital support to your family.
- Online resources. There are many online support groups and forums where you can reach out and get help anonymously if you want.
- Family therapy. Many people in recovery will have a family therapy session available in treatment.
- Learning about addiction. Read books or articles about recovery. There are many books available for family members of recovering addicts.
- Individual therapy. Sometimes, a family member will need to seek individual treatment to learn about self-care and the recovery journey.
If you’re a loved one of somebody in recovery, accept help when it’s offered. You are not alone, and you, too, are worthy of love and empathy. Make sure that you take time for yourself. You can’t help anyone else if you’re not also helping yourself.
Are You Ready for Sober Living?
After drug treatment, many people in recovery choose to transition to sober living homes. Living with other people who have the same goals can help quell your anxiety and gain confidence when you’re new to recovery. Learn more about your sober living options and how we can help by calling us at 760-216-2077.
When you finish a treatment program, you’re working towards changing your way of life. Staying clean and sober is the top goal, and many people feel anxiety about returning to their “old life” or place of residence. Aftercare can help you with the transition from treatment to life in the “real world”. Some people, however, think it’s better to try and do the “hard work” of staying sober on their own. You may wonder why you should go back to treatment after you’ve finished your inpatient program.
Here are four reasons why aftercare can benefit you as a person in recovery:
- Structure helps with recovery. Aftercare helps give you structure and re-affirms your commitment to yourself and your goals. Knowing you have a place to go and a schedule to stick with can help you remain responsible and accountable.
- Extra support. Life in the “real world” isn’t easy, no matter how long you have been sober. Daily life can be stressful, especially when you’re trying to put some of the pieces back together again. After all, long-term treatment is a reprieve from the rest of the world.
- Help with triggers. When you are in recovery, you can’t predict what other people will do or what troubles you are going to confront. For example, you may run into an old using friend while you’re out at the mall. If you have an aftercare program, you can count on being able to work out new ways to cope with triggers and how to respond to stress appropriately.
- Continued self-discovery. Human beings are complex, and in recovery, you’ll find there are many layers to yourself and your feelings. Aftercare can help you learn more about yourself and your feelings, thoughts, hopes, and dreams.
Recovery is a journey, not a destination. Some people decide that in addition to aftercare, they’d feel most comfortable living in a setting with structure and the support of their peers. Sober living homes can help provide a go-between treatment and independent living.
You can learn more about sober living options by giving us a call at 1-760-216-2077 to learn more about your options.