10 things I am glad a learned about this year – the short version
1. You can get high a lot easier these days – and you don’t necessarily need a drug dealer to do it.
Cough Syrup – When not used for colds, cough medicine is a “street drug”. Commonly referred to as Syrup, Robo and Tussin — It causes disorientation, slurred speech and a loss of coordination. This “high” or “trip” comes from drinking a large amount of the active ingredient (DXM). It causes extreme nausea and liver damage.
Spice – This is an herbal mixture also called K2 or synthetic marijuana. It is popular because in many states, you can buy it at gas station or smoke shop. It is made by spraying man-made chemicals onto leaves that can be smoked. If often looks like potpourri and is labeled “not for human consumption”. These chemicals produce a high, but is not similar to marijuana. Side effects are confusion, paranoia, extreme anxiety and hallucinations. It is dangerous and addictive.
2. Eating Disorders
Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
They also come in many different varieties. There is a giant category called ENDOS. This stands for eating disorder not otherwise specified. Under this category comes:
Binge Eating – Characterized by frequent periods of compulsive, or excessive eating. There is no purging involved.
Orthorexia – An obsession with food quality rather than quantity. A thin body is not the goal here, it’s a drive for personal purity. People who are on a Paleo or Gluten Free diet might be more likely to develop this problem.
3. You might have insurance that covers a 30-day treatment center and not even know it.
If you have coverage under ACA (also called Obama Care) there is some good news. The Affordable Care Act of 2014 includes “substance use disorders” as one of the ten elements of what is called “essential health benefits”. This means that all health insurance sold on the Health Insurance Exchange or provided by Medicaid must include a service for substance abuse disorders. If you are unsure if this applies to you, simply contact me or go the dot gov website.
4. Marijuana can be addictive
About 1 in 6 people who start using as a teen, and 25-50 percent of those who use it every day, become addicted to marijuana. You are more likely to get hooked if you use it every day. Also, If your are using it to get high, as opposed to a medical use, you are more likely to develop a problem.
What is Weed Addiction?
It is very similar to addiction to other drugs
Obsessive thinking about marijuana
Cravings to use marijuana
Tolerance — needing a higher dose to achieve the same effect
Uncontrolled urges to use marijuana
Developing negative consequences from using marijuana
Withdrawal symptoms when use of the drug is stopped
5. Gambling problems are complex
It is not limited to casinos. It comes in the form of bingo, office pools, lottery tickets and fantasy leagues. Gambling is an impulse control disorder. And “problem gamblers” are often the last ones to realize what is happening to them, in spite of mounting negative consequences and increasing emotional impact. They may attribute their difficulties to a mere financial problem or believe they are just not being ‘smart’ enough when they gamble. The fantasy that one more big win will solve the financial problems and return everything to normal drives them on to gamble even harder.
6. Addiction is complex
Addiction is a long-lasting brain disease. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain—and how the brain works. These changes can last a long time.
Getting over addiction to drugs is not a choice. With continued drug use, a person’s ability to make good choices can become seriously impaired. This impairment in self-control is the keystone of addiction. In other words, willpower will not fix addition.
7. Certain pain medications are addictive, even if you are not a drug addict.
You will get physically dependent to pain medication. This is true for anyone. This is true when you are using the drug legitimately and as “prescribed”. Dependence is not the same as addiction. Dependence means that the body gets used to the presence of the drug. Addiction is when a person seeks out and uses the drug over and over even though they know it is damaging their health and their life. When someone is dependent on a drug and they stop using or abusing it, they may experience withdrawal symptoms. Opioid withdrawal can cause terrible side effects. This is the dangerous point where the dependence can turn the person to an addict. Symptoms are restlessness, muscle and bone pain,sleep problems, diarrhea, vomiting (throwing up) and cold flashes.
8. Alcoholism Treatment comes in many varieties – some of them include “cutting back”.
Their alcohol harm reduction program -meets people “where they are at” with their drinking. They do not label people or require them to identify themselves as “diseased” or “alcoholic. The program empowers people to choose their own goal — safer drinking, reduced drinking or quitting. And, engages people with realistic goals that they can actually accomplish.
A group for non-dependent problem drinkers who do not necessarily want to stop drinking, but moderate their amount of alcohol consumed to reduce its detrimental effects. MM encourages members to follow certain drinking guidelines by setting limits and goal setting techniques. They have a 9 step change program.
9. Self-Harm needs to be better understood
People who self-harm are not seeking attention or trying to commit suicide. It is used as a way of fix emotions. Self-harm is a way of expressing and dealing with deep distress and emotional pain. As counterintuitive as it may sound, the hurting makes the person feel better. In fact, they may feel like they have no choice. The physical injury is the only way they know how to cope with feelings like sadness, self-loathing, emptiness, guilt, and rage.
The problem is that the relief that comes from self-harming doesn’t last very long. It’s like slapping on a Band-Aid when what you really need are stitches. It may temporarily stop the bleeding, but it doesn’t fix the underlying injury. And it also creates its own problems.
10. Dual-Diagnosis is complex
The relationship between mental illness and substance abuse or dependency is complex.
• Drug abuse may bring about symptoms of another mental illness. Increased risk of psychosis in vulnerable marijuana users suggests this possibility.
• Mental disorders can lead to drug abuse, possibly as a means of “self-medication.” Patients suffering from anxiety or depression may rely on alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs to temporarily alleviate their symptoms.
What have you learned this year about addiction, mental illness, alcoholism or recovery?