Tips for Spending 4th of July Sober 

Celebrating 4th of July Sober Tips


The 4th of July is one of America’s biggest “party holidays.” Often those of us in sobriety feel we have to miss out in order to protect our sobriety and avoid triggers. It’s true, we certainly need to take precautions. But there are plenty of ways to cope with the 4th of July and even have fun celebrating it, while staying sober.


1. Before You Do Anything, Start With Self Reflection 

Where are you in your recovery journey? Do you feel ready to go to a place where alcohol will be served and not partake or be triggered? Have I built a support network I can call upon if I feel triggered? It’s important to check in with yourself and determine where you are at, what your limits are, and set boundaries to protect your sobriety. If you can’t say with confidence that your sobriety would be safe in a situation where people are drinking, don’t go. 


2. Do Something Different This Year

It’s probably best not to spend the holiday with your old party crew. It’s just not worth the risk. 4th of July is a triggering holiday as it is so heavily connected to a party mentality. As Joanne Ketch of Chrysalis Counseling says, “Don’t do the same old thing. Try a new way to celebrate. Go to a different home, grill something new, go to the park, even change the music. Changes will help your brain not associate the day with drinking or using.” 


3. Get your Sober Friends Together 

This is one of the best ways to celebrate. Getting like-minded sober friends together means you can have all the fun of the holiday while significantly reducing the risk of triggers or relapse. Throw a barbecue, buy some sparklers, play a few games and enjoy the day. 

If you don’t have a group of sober friends to call, look online. Sites like Meetup can help you find sober events in your area. You may find a great way to spend the holiday and make sober friends while you’re at it. 


4. Get Outside

We’ve all been inside a lot lately but the outdoors is really great for your mental health. Plus, the weather is usually pretty awesome on the 4th of July. And now, instead of wasting it away drinking on a beach or lake, you can finally enjoy the beautiful day! Get some sober friends together and go on a hike, visit a water park, go rafting or jet skiing. Do something active that allows you to really enjoy the scenery of the country we are celebrating. 


5. Attend a Meeting

If you’re finding that the holiday itself is triggering for you, going to a meeting can be a really helpful outlet. Spending time with like-minded people who understand what you are going through can really ground you in your sobriety and help you process the difficult emotions you might be experiencing. 


We hope these tips for spending 4th of July sober have been helpful. But if you still find yourself struggling, please give us a call. We are here to help. 

Jessica Simpson Opens Up About Alcohol Addiction

Jessica Simpson Alcohol Addiction

Earlier this year, singer and entrepreneur Jessica Simpson made two big announcements. One, she had written a new book about her life. And two, that book is about a drinking and prescription pill problem she has been hiding for years. In the powerful memoir, Open Book, Jessica Simpson details her struggle with alcohol and drug addiction, dealing with childhood trauma, and her journey to sobriety. Now, sober for nearly two and a half years, she shares about the trauma that led to her using. 


Childhood Trauma and Addiction

Trauma is a major driver of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and addiction. In the book and subsequent press tour, Jessica shares for the first time that she was the victim of sexual abuse as a child which was never addressed until adulthood. Furthermore, she shot to fame whilst still a minor and carried the pressures of stardom with her for her entire adult life. In order to cope with the emotional pain and the career stressors she experienced, Jessica turned to alcohol and prescription pills.

Over the years, Jessica’s addiction deepened. She found herself unable to function without alcohol, even drinking it first thing in the morning. Jessica recalls constantly carrying what she called her “Glitter Cup” which was “always filled to the rim with alcohol”. 

She also claims she used stimulants to counteract the effects of the booze, diet pills to maintain an unrealistic weight in the public eye, and sleeping pills to get to bed at night. 


Getting Help

Jessica claims she hit rock bottom at a Halloween party in 2017. Hosted at her home, she realized she had a problem when was too drunk to dress her kids for the party. “I was terrified of letting them see me in that shape,” Simpson said. “I am ashamed to say that I don’t know who got them into their costumes that night.” 

The next day she recalls telling friends, “I need to stop. Something’s got to stop. And if it’s alcohol that’s doing this and making things worse, then I quit”. That month Jessica Simpson sought treatment for alcohol and prescription pill addiction. She went into therapy to deal with the underlying issues that had caused her to use. 

Jessica told People magazine, “When I finally said I needed help, it was like I was that little girl that found her calling again in life.I found direction and that was to walk straight ahead with no fear.”

She said she realized she had to surrender and vowed to never miss another Halloween or Christmas with her children. She wants to show up and be present.  

We commend Jessica Simpson for her bravery in sharing her struggle with addiction so publicly. We hope her story inspires others to seek treatment and ask for the help they need. 


Are you or a loved one struggling?

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, contact us today. Our expert advisors can talk with you about your options for treatment and ongoing support. We’re here to help. 

4 Ways to Protect Your Mental Health and Sobriety in Difficult Times

Ways to Support Mental Health and Protect Sobriety

2020 has been quite the year already, and we’re only halfway through it. With everything going on in the world, many people are struggling with their mental health. For those of us in sobriety, we’ve got another layer on the cake. We know that supporting our sobriety means supporting our mental health but sometimes this is harder than others. Let this article serve as the reminder we all need to prioritize ourselves. Finding ways to mitigate the effects of the news on our wellbeing, and support our mental health so we don’t succumb to cravings and risk our sobriety, is something each and every one of us needs to focus on now more than ever. 


1. Take a Media Break

Many of us are torn between wanting to stay informed and needing a break from the constant stream of difficult stories. We’re afraid that if we stop checking the news, if we stop checking social media, we will miss something important. The truth is the news moves at light speed these days, and trying to keep up is a tall order even in “normal” times. It is absolutely okay, and often necessary, to take a break for your mental health and emotional wellbeing. We all want to be the best advocates we can be, but burning out helps no one and it puts your sobriety at risk. As the airlines always say, put your mask on first. You can’t help anyone if you aren’t well. 


2. Prioritize Healthy Habits

When we’re mentally exhausted we tend to cut corners on exercise and healthy eating. Maybe you skipped the daily run that has been such an important part of your recovery journey. Or perhaps you had ice cream for dinner because you didn’t feel like making anything. It’s really easy to slip into bad habits, we’ve all done it before. And suddenly getting out of the slump feels like hard work. Just remember that it’s worth the effort. Think of the endorphins you get from exercise or the energized feeling after eating something healthy. These things help immensely to support our mental health and sobriety. So make the effort to get back on track. Once you do it’s like a train that keeps on rolling and you’re so much better off for it. 


3. Practice Self-Care

Whether it’s spending time outside, cleaning out your closet, or taking a long bath, finding a self-care practice that works for you is so important for your mental health. It is easy to forget to take care of yourself when the world is seemingly falling apart, but that is when it is most crucial to take time to support your mental health, especially when in recovery. We made a list of 30 ways to support your sobriety on Harmony Recovery Center’s site. Find what method works best for you and take time to prioritize your wellbeing!


4. Talk to Someone

Whether it’s a close friend, sponsor, family member or therapist, it’s always good to talk. They may be feeling just like you and now you know you are not alone. Or they might offer a fresh perspective you hadn’t considered before. It’s important to always be willing to reach out when we need help. It may simply be that we need to hear that reassuring voice on the other end of the phone. Or maybe it’s more serious and we need real help after a relapse. Don’t be afraid: Always ask for the help you need. There is always someone willing to help. 


If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please don’t’ hesitate to reach out. We’re here to help. Call us today.

Women’s Healthcare Month: Addiction and the Mental Health Gender Gap

Women's Mental Health and Addiction

What is the Gender Gap in Mental Health Care? 

Women are twice as likely to suffer from a mental health disorder than men. This statistic encompasses women from all socioeconomic positions, races, and geographical regions. However, some research finds a connection between women who experience significant gender and wealth inequality and higher rates of mental health conditions. Understanding the reasons for the higher rates of mental health issues affecting women is an important aspect of closing the gender gap with regards to women’s healthcare and addiction treatment. 


Co-Occurring Disorders in Women

Co-occurring disorders are mental health conditions such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety which coincide with substance abuse and/or addiction. Research suggests that 40% of people with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) have a Co-occurring Disorder. 

We know that mental health conditions can lead to substance abuse and addiction, as people often use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate. But equally, addiction can often precede a mental health condition. For example, in men addiction is more likely to lead to depression rather than the other way around. In women, the opposite is true. For example, women are far more likely to suffer from depression and use drugs or alcohol to cope with their symptoms, leading to SUD and/or addiction. 

Thus, Co-occurring Disorders are often found to be drivers of SUD and addiction in women. For instance, studies have shown that 6 in 10 women with addiction also have PTSD. Without treatment for mental health, SUD and addiction thrive, creating a vicious cycle in which one condition exacerbates the other. 

Risk Factors for Women

Women are more likely to experience certain types of trauma which can adversely affect their mental health. They are more vulnerable to physical attacks, domestic violence and sexual abuse, all of which are key risk factors for women and mental health conditions. In fact, one in three women will experience a sexual assault in their lifetime and are statistically more likely to experience sexual abuse, incest, and neglect in their childhood. 

Women also experience higher rates of socioeconomic disadvantage and income inequality. Furthermore, women are more likely to be carers which often carries with it psychological and physical burdens.

Lastly, certain types of depressive conditions can be unique to women, such as Premenstrual Depressive Disorder, Perinatal Depression, and Perimenopausal Depression.


Getting Help 

When SUD and addiction combine with mental health conditions, the patient should be treated for both conditions. Women’s mental health and SUD and addiction should be addressed together. Finding a center which specializes in treating Co-occurring Disorders is crucial for obtaining the best possible outcome. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, addiction and/or mental health conditions, help is available. At Harmony Recovery Group we treat addiction and mental health holistically to create the best chance of long-term recovery and wellbeing.

Contact us today, we are here for you. 



What is Lean? The Highly Addictive Codeine Drink

Codeine Cough Syrup used in Lean

What is Lean? 

Lean or Purple Drank is a drink made from a mixture of Codeine cough syrup, soda, and sometimes hard candy and/or alcohol. The Codeine cough syrup used is a prescription opioid medication which is typically prescribed for illnesses such as Strep Throat and severe colds or flus. The codeine acts as both a cough suppressant as well as pain relief for symptoms. Unfortunately abuse has become widespread and street prices for Codeine cough syrup can be as much as $200 per bottle. 

Codeine is an opioid, similar to Morphine. It is weaker but like all opioids, regular abuse leads to tolerance and addiction. Further concern lies in the fact that with Lean, the amount used in the drink can be up to  25x the recommended dose and thus can lead to overdose. Codeine cough syrup that also uses Promethazine, a strong antihistamine, can cause further issues. Promethazine is another central nervous system depressant. In combination with codeine, promethazine can slow breathing to the point of complete respiratory arrest. This is particularly troubling due to the high amounts of the syrups used in Lean drinks. 

Additional concerns come into play when alcohol is mixed into a Lean cocktail. Adding alcohol increases the change of respiratory depression. This can lead to organ damage, coma, or death due to the reduced oxygen flow to the brain. 


Other Names for Lean

  • Purple Drank
  • Sizzurp
  • Syrup
  • Dirty Sprite 
  • Purple Lean
  • Purple Tonic
  • Texas Tea
  • Memphis Mud
  • Drank

Lean in Pop Culture

Codeine cough syrup has been abused by people for years but in the past few decades Lean was popularized in pop culture through songs and interviews with musicians. It became particularly prominent in the hip hop community and is reported to be the reason for Lil Wayne’s ongoing hospitalizations for seizures. Bow Wow recently shared about nearly dying from Lean addiction and the late Mac Miller also spoke of his struggles with addiction to Lean in 2013. Even Justin Beiber has sung about the drug, leading to a dangerous growth in popularity and curiosity. 


Side Effects of Lean 

The name “Lean” comes from the tendency to lean or be off balance when the drink is consumed. Lean can produce the feeling of euphoria associated with opioids but it can also have very negative consequences, especially in the amounts used in Lean. These include: 

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hallucinations
  • Extreme sedation
  • Wheezing
  • Respiratory depression or trouble breathing
  • Loss of coordination
  • High body temperature
  • Severe constipation
  • Itchy skin
  • Seizures
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness 
  • Changes in heart rhythm
  • Night Terrors

Long-term Health Issues Associated with Lean 

  • Seizures
  • Irregular Heart Beat
  • Liver damage
  • Trouble breathing
  • Urinary Tract Infections
  • Weight gain
  • Tooth decay

Codeine Overdose Symptoms

Early treatment can save a life. If you or someone else experiences these signs or symptoms after consuming Codeine or any other opiate, call 911 immediately: 

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Hallucinations
  • Blue fingernails and/or lips
  • Trouble breathing
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Weak pulse
  • Low blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness

Withdrawal from Codeine

Like all opiates, addiction to codeine can lead to significant withdrawal symptoms when the user tries to quit. Codeine is considered a fast-acting opiate, so withdrawal symptoms can start as soon as 12 hours after last use. The symptoms can be severe enough to require medical intervention in the form of a professional detox center. Symptoms of Withdrawal include; 

  • Muscle aches
  • Sweating
  • Agitation
  • Watery Eyes
  • Runny nose 
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia 
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal Cramps 
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Fever

Withdrawal symptoms also carry the risk of complications. For example, lung infections caused by vomiting or severe dehydration caused by vomiting and diarrhea. Severe dehydration can lead to problems of its own such as seizures. 

Detoxing from codeine addiction is best done in a clinical environment where the patient can safely come off the drug with medical supervision. In a clinical setting, like Harmony Recovery Group’s centers, doctors can prescribe medication to support the patient through the detox and withdrawal process, reducing symptoms and cravings. Furthermore, trained professionals can put a plan in place that includes therapy, group support and tools to promote long-term recovery. 


Seeking Help

We hope this article has helped you better understand what Lean is and the risks associated with Codeine abuse. If you or a loved one are struggling with Lean, codeine or any substance addiction, please reach out. 

Call us today and find out how we can help. 



Myths About Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addicts

At Harmony Recovery Group, we offer Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) plans that help patients to manage opiate cravings in the long-term and help them build a new life in sobriety. However, there are many myths and misconceptions about Medication Assisted Treatment that we would like to clear up. 

Firstly, many types of Medication Assisted Treatments exist, encompassing medications like Suboxone, Subutex, Methadone, Vivitrol, and Naltrexone. 

In our facilities we use Suboxone, which we consider the safest option for an assisted recovery. Suboxone works because it binds to the same receptors as opiates in order to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. It binds 7x stronger than morphine. Because of this, patients are unable to abuse opiates with Suboxone because they will have no effect due to the binding effect on the receptors. 

Suboxone use reduces the risk of relapse significantly. Studies have shown that Suboxone reduces the risk of relapse by 3x compared with other forms of MAT such as Vivitrol and Naltrexone. And those forms of treatment have a 3x reduction in relapse compared to going cold turkey. Compared to non-medication assisted treatment, there is a 75% improvement in retention rates in sobriety programs. 

We spoke with Dr. Jill Thompson, Board Certified Doctor in Addiction Medicine and our Medical Director at our facility Midwood Addiction Treatment, to discuss the common myths and misconceptions around Medication Assisted Treatment. 


Myth: “Medication Assisted Treatment is Just Legal Heroin”

Beuprenorphine, the primary ingredient in Suboxone, is not heroin. It is made a different way. Narcotics like Oxycontin, Hydrocodone and other opiates are called Full Agonists whereas Buprenorphine is a Partial Agonist. Even though Buprenorphine binds to the same receptors that narcotics do, it acts very differently. For example:

1. You can never become tolerant to Buprenoprhine.

With any other narcotic the more you take it, the more you start to need. A dose that once created a feeling now feels like nothing at all because you develop tolerance to it.  With Buprenorphine you are always on the same dose and you never need to go up in dosage. Jill says, “For example, I had a patient who was on the same dose for 17 years. Unfortunately he passed away in a car crash a few years ago but we had never once changed his dose the entire time I treated him.”

2. Buprenorphine has what’s called a Sealing Effect

This means you cannot take more and more of the medication and get higher and higher. As Jill says, “Your receptors become saturated at a certain dose and that’s it. You can’t take more and more and feel euphoric like you can with opiates.” 

3. Unlike opiates, it is nearly impossible to overdose on Buprenorphine.

The only reported incidents of overdose have been when the medication was mixed with high amounts of other medications such as Benzodiazepines. There is no known case of overdose from Buprenorphine on its own. 


Other MAT medications, like methadone do not have this protection against tolerance nor the sealing effect, making them quite different from the safety of Suboxone. For example, with methadone, a patient can become tolerant and need higher doses and they can also take higher doses and become high. 


Myth: People Who Use MAT Aren’t Actually Clean

This simply isn’t true. What is your definition of “Clean?” Does it mean not getting high? Not getting altered or impaired? Being able to function in everyday life? If the answer to these questions is “yes”, then people on MAT are in fact Clean and Sober. 

Dr. Jill puts it this way: “There is a difference between addiction and dependency. Addiction encompasses having a physical and psychological craving for something that is so strong you will do anything to get it. Dependency is the same as if you were a Diabetic and had to take insulin everyday. You are dependent on your insulin for your disease. Yes, someone who is using Suboxone in their MAT program is dependent on it, but it is the same as any medication out there to treat chronic illness. You still have to go to meetings, you still need to do the work, but you have help in managing your condition.” 

Because Suboxone does not impair patients and the sealing effect means there is no way to take more and feel altered, they can get a job, they can concentrate, and they can function as normal. 

Taking a pill once a day for your medical condition does not mean you are not clean. 


Myth: Medication Assisted Treatment is a Lifelong Commitment 

Many people think that if they start taking MAT, they will never be able to get off of it. The truth is, with the exception of using it in Detox for a week to get off of drugs, Suboxone is not a short-term fix but it is not a life-long commitment either. You can come off of it if you want to. 

As Dr. Jill says, “People are very different and this is a very individualized thing. The phrase “longer term” will be different for different people. Some people may want to come off in a year or two, some people may want to be on it for the rest of their lives. At this point in time, we do not know of any reason people cannot stay on it indefinitely.” In fact, the FDA recently released a statement saying that they advocated using Suboxone for indefinite treatment. However, if patients do want to come off of it, they certainly can. 

If and when you want to come off the medication, it’s important to reduce the dose in a slow and controlled manner. When people decide to skip their dose at random or get off on their own, this creates a very high risk of relapse. If the medication reduction is down systematically with a trained professional, you should not run the risk of relapse. This is because with careful tapering, you won’t be feeling bad or noticing you are withdrawing from it. Dr. Jill suggests patients plan on committing 6-12 months to tapering off slowly and safely.


Myth: Suboxone Causes Precipitated Withdrawal

This is a common misconception among opiate users and is not true. Buprenorphine, the active medication in Suboxone, has been around for decades. But, in the early 2000’s Buprenorphine was approved for use in drug treatment. At the time its brand name was Subutex and it was purely made of Buprenorphine. 

Unfortunately heroin users realized that it could be abused and began to liquify it and inject it. In this manner, a user can in fact get high from Buprenorphine. But, it’s most important use to users was the drug’s ability to stave off withdrawal. If a heroin addict is going to run out of heroin they will typically go into withdrawal within 6-12 hours. With Buprenorphine (brand name Subutex), they won’t go into withdrawal for 2-3 days. 

When Subutex began to flood the streets for this purpose, the manufacturer changed the formula to include Naloxone. Thus, the combination was named Suboxone.  

As most people know, Naloxone is the medication that can stop an overdose. It works intravenously by immediately removing all the heroin left on the body’s receptors. However, Naloxone only works when injected. If Suboxone is administered orally, as intended, the small amount of Naloxone is inert and will not have this effect.

Now, if a heroin user tries to shoot up Suboxone, the Naloxone is fully effective. The user will go into immediate, precipitated withdrawal. This means that all the withdrawal symptoms a user would experience over 48 hours happens in the next two hours. 

No Need To Fear Suboxone

Heroin users are often afraid of Suboxone, thinking they will go into immediate withdrawal if they take it. This is absolutely false. If taken as recommended, orally, Suboxone will block cravings and prevent withdrawal symptoms. In the case that there is heroin in your system, the Suboxone will knock it off and bind to receptors instead, because it is much stronger. If you try to use heroin on top of Suboxone, you will feel nothing because the Suboxone binds that much tighter. That is why it is so effective in preventing cravings. The Naloxone in the pills is simply to prevent intravenous abuse on the street level. It is completely inactive in pill form. 

In the end, choosing the type of treatment for your needs is a very personal choice that should be made with the guidance of a trained professional. We hope this cleared up some of the myths around Medication Assisted Treatment. If this sounds like the right fit for you, or if you are seeking any type of substance abuse treatment, please contact us today. We are here to help. 


Addiction is Sending Children to Foster Care


May is National Foster Care Awareness Month, which we know is prevalently an experience of children of those suffering with addiction.

On any given day, more than 400,000 children are in foster care in the US. The number has been rising for years. Heavily affected by the rise in addiction crises in the United States. More children than ever are entering foster care due to parental drug addiction. Since 2000, these cases have more than doubled and in 2017, one in three children in foster care were there due to parent drug use bringing the number to roughly 1,162,668 children.

It is a growing problem. Much of our news coverage regarding the opioid crisis and the epidemic of addiction has focused on those who use the drugs and those who overdose. But, in the wake of this disease are family members, loved ones, and most concerning of all, children. 

Children suffer significant trauma when they are taken from their parents. This combined with an overburdened foster care system means the system simply isn’t able to adequately deal with this crisis. 

What Are the Solutions to this Problem?

It takes a community effort and better vigilance in preventing problems that lead to neglect and abuse. Experts have recommended sponsored treatment programs become offered at the state and local level to provide addicts with the opportunity to recover from active addiction and care for their children.  We hope to see a greater effort to keep families suffering from addiction together and children out of foster care.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, there is no time like now to seek help


Mental Health Awareness Month: Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder and Addiction

* name changed for patient anonymity 

What it can be like to have Borderline Personality Disorder:  

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a disorder that makes it very difficult to function in everyday life and personal relationships. People with Borderline Personality Disorder typically have unstable emotions and moods. They can experience intense mood swings and emotional tailspins from seemingly innocuous events. This lack of control over their emotional experience can challenge interpersonal relationships as Borderline Personality Disorder sufferers are prone to intense feelings of rage, despair, and elation that can arise as quickly as they dissipate, leaving partners and loved ones reeling. In particular, “explosive anger” is one of the criteria for BPD diagnosis.

So, What Can Living with Borderline Personality Disorder Be like:

Beth*, a former patient of Harmony Recovery Group, spoke to us about her experience with Borderline Personality Disorder. “Having BPD is horrible. You are emotionally and physically reactive in ways that others can’t fathom. It’s like you are an alien at times. The rest of the world has a manual for emotions and you just sit up in your head without any instructions, tinkering with different components, trying to figure out how to be like everyone else. And you fail and you fail and you fail. Your self image becomes distorted because you are different and you know it.

Beth’s Experience with Relationships with Borderline Personality Disorder:

My partner does not understand my emotional experience with Borderline Personality Disorder because the emotional reactivity has the look of insincerity. To me it’s real but others see me as faking or wanting attention. So I am called immature or childish or too sensitive. Too ‘this’ or too ‘that.’ It is tiresome for others to be around but it is devastating to be the one to live with it.”

Emotional swings can also lead to impulsive or self-destructive behaviors. They can range from spending money you can’t afford, drug or alcohol abuse, or binge eating. Or in other cases, like Beth’s, self harm. “Impulses present an internal reign of terror. You feel, you react and often that reaction turns to harsh self-abuse. You hurt yourself because you know you’re the wrong one. You’re damaged. It’s all your own fault. So you punish yourself for not knowing how to cope. Maybe coping is cutting or digging your nails in your arm? Maybe coping is banging your head against the wall in the bathroom at work, but very quietly so no one thinks you just want attention. You secretly shame yourself. I have bit, slapped, pinched and cut myself over and over and over…hundreds of times in my life. Always because I couldn’t cope with feeling misunderstood or rejected or excluded.”

“I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me”

Fear of rejection, exclusion, and abandonment are also hallmark characteristics of BPD. Fear of being alone can be so strong that a BPD sufferer fears abandonment, even from those they have come to dislike. Hence the phrase, “I hate you, don’t leave me,” coined by psychologists Dr. Jerold Kreisman and Dr. Hal Straus. A BPD sufferer’s feelings towards those closest to them can change dramatically from one minute to the next, and they often do not even know why. Feelings can shift from extreme love and closeness (idealization) to hate and anger (devaluation), in a black-and-white pattern of thinking.

All of these factors culminate in highly unstable personal relationships, often pushing away those they love most through behaviors they struggle to control. 

Further symptoms of BPD can include: feelings of emptiness, suicidal thoughts, difficulty trusting, and feelings of dissociation. 

Not all BPD sufferers will experience or display all of the above symptoms. Some cases may only experience a few while others will experience many. As with many mental health disorders it varies from person to person. 

Beth’s Experience with Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder:

For most BPD sufferers, all they want is to be like everybody else. As Beth says, “all you ever want is to have some understanding of what normal must feel like.” 

Finding and taking the right treatment can greatly improve quality of life for BPD patients. Treatment is possible through evidence-based approaches, particularly Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). 

Addiction and Borderline Personality Disorder:

Addiction and BPD often go hand-in-hand, with two thirds of Borderline Personality Disorder patients having abused a substance at some point in their lives. The unstable emotions and self-loathing caused by the above symptoms often lead Borderline Personality Disorder sufferers to try to mask their symptoms and feelings with drugs and alcohol. 

For dual diagnosis patients (Borderline Personality Disorder and Addiction), treatment is most effective when the two are treated concurrently. Treating one without the other will likely exacerbate the untreated disorder and undermine the progress made on the treated disorder.

How to Tell If Someone Is On Meth

How to Tell If Someone Is On Meth | Recovery By The Sea

Methamphetamine (meth) is a stimulant similar to amphetamine that is most often found illicitly. Meth is usually more powerful than other amphetamines, however, and is very rarely used for any legitimate medical purpose.

Meth is usually either purchased from a dealer on the street or “cooked” at home or in a clandestine lab. Meth is also known as crystal, ice, glass, ice, and crank, among other names. It usually appears as a crystal or rock-like substance that is clear, semi-transparent, or bluish. Occasionally it is found powdered or tablet form.

Signs of Meth Use

Regular meth use often leads to a myriad of changes in a person’s life that can be easy to identify if you know what signs and symptoms to look for.

Changes in Lifestyle

Meth users are often secretive and try to conceal their use. However, over time, it will likely become increasingly difficult to disguise their habit, as they continue to spend an increasing amount of time and money procuring and using the drug.

As meth use becomes a priority and central in a user’s life, they will begin to fail to attend to responsibilities at work and at home. For instance, expenses related to drug making, buying, or using may result in financial difficulties and a failure to pay bills. Also, binges may be followed by long periods of inactivity in which childcare and other critical responsibilities are ignored.

Mood Swings and Adverse Mental Changes

Like other stimulants, such as cocaine and Adderall, meth use causes the brain to release excessive amounts of dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of reward and well-being. With long-term meth use, the brain becomes less able to produce dopamine without the drug’s help. This effect can leave the user feeling depressed, anxious, and experiencing other negative feelings during periods of abstinence.

Chronic meth use can also result in paranoia, delusions, and even full-blown psychosis. Users may experience irrational fears and adverse psycho-emotional effects that continue long after meth use has ended—a condition known as PAWS. Highly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms are common among long-term meth abusers when they try to quit using or cut back.

Behavioral Changes

Because meth is a potent CNS stimulant, increased activity in both the brain and body leads to feelings of euphoria and elevated mood and energy. Users are often extremely talkative and hyperactive and may compulsively engage in obsessive and repetitive activities, such as cleaning.

Meth users may also experience strange tactile sensations or hallucinations that cause itching or the feeling of bugs crawling on or under their skin. This can lead to repeated scratching and the development of sores.

What’s more, chronic meth use often results in appetite suppression, and thus, noticeable weight loss. Over time, users begin to appear malnourished and gaunt as a result of poor eating and sleeping habits.

How to Tell If Someone Is On Meth | Recovery By The Sea

Physical Signs

In addition to itching, sores, weight loss, and a generally disheveled and ill appearance, long-term meth users also encounter dental problems commonly referred to as “meth mouth.” This condition is characterized by a loss of tooth enamel due to poor oral hygiene and dry mouth, which leads to rampant tooth decay.

The manner in which meth is administered can also affect a meth user’s outward appearance. For instance, a person who smokes meth face a higher risk of bronchitis and pneumonia and may suffer from chronic coughing and congestion. And snorting meth, similar to snorting cocaine, can result in frequent nosebleeds and irreversible damage to the septum and surrounding nasal tissues.

Finally, injecting meth, although relatively uncommon, can lead to open wounds and sores on the skin, infections, and vein damage.

Meth Paraphernalia

Paraphernalia using for ingesting meth may include any of the following:

  • Razors, mirrors, rolled paper, or hollow tubes for snorting
  • Glass or metal pipes, bongs, foils, or light bulbs with a hollow tube attached for smoking
  • Spoons, lighters, syringes, and surgical tubing or tourniquets for injection

Signs of a Meth Lab

Not all meth users cook their own meth. However, the following signs may indicate someone you know is operating a meth lab in their home:

  • Excessive and threatening home security measures such as “Beware of Dog” or “Private Property” signs, alarm systems, etc.
  • Items for concealing the home such as blackened windows, drawn curtains, high fences, etc.
  • Chemical smells that are detectable around the home, garage, or yard
  • Garbage contains suspicious bottles, containers, or sheets stained from filtering chemicals
  • Evidence of dumping chemical waste, such as in burn pits

Treatment For Meth Abuse And Addiction

Meth addiction occurs when a user’s body has developed a dependence on the substance, and unpleasant side effects onset when the user tries to quit. When a user has become dependent, they will continue to engage in compulsive drug-seeking behavior. They will do whatever it takes to obtain and use meth despite the adverse consequences that result.

Treatment for meth use should include medical detox, followed by participation in multiple therapeutic services, such as psychotherapy, counseling, and group support. Recovery By The Sea is a specialized treatment center that offers care and support for meth users and others who suffer from drug dependence and addiction.

If you believe that a loved one is abusing meth, other drugs, or alcohol, we urge you to contact us today to discover how we can help!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: The Dangers of Injecting Meth

Ketamine Addiction

Ketamine Addiction | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

Ketamine (Special K) is a potent anesthetic and dissociative, meaning it induces feelings of detachment from one’s body. It’s commonly used in veterinary medicine and to help with sedation during surgery but is also commonly found on the party and club scene among those seeking the high it provides. While ketamine isn’t believed to be as addictive as many other drugs of abuse, it does occasionally occur and can be detrimental to one’s life.

Ketamine comes in several forms, including powder, liquid, and as pills. When ingested, ketamine can cause users to experience visual and auditory hallucinations and euphoria. Because it’s an anesthetic, it also reduces physical sensations. Combining this drug with other depressants, such as alcohol, increases the risk of profound respiratory depression, which can be life-threatening.

Ketamine is also now available by prescription, as it is believed to be effective at treating symptoms of depression and alcohol addiction and withdrawal.

Signs and Symptoms of Ketamine Addiction

Ketamine is a relatively short-acting drug. One of the primary effects that people enjoy is that it blocks pain sensations. Unfortunately, not reacting to painful stimuli can be dangerous, and ketamine should not be used outside of a clinical environment or as prescribed by a doctor.

Furthermore, ketamine use can impair coordination, especially when used with other depressants. This effect could be risky and lead to injury, and it could also cause a person’s judgment capabilities to be diminished. It’s not hard to accidentally hurt yourself while on ketamine because it’s an anesthetic. Pain is sometimes essential for survival, as it warns us when we’re injured and forces us to take heed and focus on that injury, preventing further damage. Someone on ketamine can suffer from a severe injury and go one with life as if nothing happened.

In addition to sedating the user and impairing movement, it can produce out-of-body experiences in which the user feels detached from oneself and the surrounding environment. It distorts perceptions of sight and sound. At high doses, the user may encounter intense and frightening effects that may be described as similar to a near-death experience. This event is also sometimes referred to as a “K-hole.”

The symptoms of ketamine abuse and addiction are similar to those associated with alcohol abuse and may include the following:

  • Disorientation
  • Feelings of detachment
  • Hallucinations
  • Slowed or labored breathing
  • Mood changes
  • Depression
  • Impaired cognitive abilities
  • Impaired memory
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Effects of Ketamine Abuse

Ketamine Addiction | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

Ketamine can be an unpleasant drug to abuse in the long-term. Repeated use can cause a wide array of adverse effects on the brain and body.

For example, it can cause severe abdominal pain, as well as damage to the bladder and urinary tract, also referred to as ketamine bladder syndrome. This condition leads to decreased control of the bladder and incontinence. It may also cause blood in the urine and ulcers in the bladder.

Because ketamine is often found as a powder, it is frequently snorted. Unfortunately, many of these powders are laced with other drugs. It may be something relatively benign, such as talcum powder or sugar, but it could also be combined with something more hazardous, like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or drain cleaner.

A dose can be difficult to gauge, and in some cases, it could be the wrong substance altogether (e.g., fentanyl), and result in a life-threatening overdose.

Ketamine Withdrawal

Withdrawal from ketamine typically lasts for 4-6 days after the last dose, and it might feel like suffering from severe flu symptoms. A person may encounter the following symptoms:

  • Chills and sweating
  • Cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Nightmares
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stiff muscles
  • Involuntary eye movement

These symptoms are not at all pleasant, but they can be effectively managed with medical care. Undergoing a supervised medical detox can ensure the patient is monitored and as safe and comfortable as possible as he or she withdraws.

Treatment for Ketamine Abuse or Addiction

If you are abusing ketamine or have developed an addiction, you can get help at a rehab center. At Recovery By The Sea, you can receive treatment for ketamine addiction in a safe and comfortable environment and remain protected from the temptations of further ketamine use.

It’s not uncommon for people who abuse ketamine to also use other drugs or alcohol, and if these other problems exist, they can be addressed simultaneously. Therapeutic services and activities we offer that are intended to treat all aspects of a person’s well-being include the following:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Individual and family counseling
  • Peer support groups
  • Health and wellness education
  • Substance abuse education
  • Art, music, and adventure therapy
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Aftercare planning

We also provide treatment for co-occurring mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, childhood trauma, and more.

If you are ready to take the first step toward sobriety, contact us today! Drug abuse and addiction are conditions that may need lifelong maintenance, but you don’t have to do this alone! We are here to help!

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