How Addictive Is Alcohol?

man reaching for alcohol depicting addiction

Alcohol is one of the most commonly used addictive substances in the United States. Despite our social acceptance of alcohol, we must acknowledge that alcohol is, in fact, a highly addictive substance.

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6 Steps to Reduce — Then Stop — Your Marijuana Use

teen smoking marijuana depicting addiction

Last year, the number of Americans who used marijuana nearly doubled. Out of the 48.2 million Americans who used marijuana in 2019, approximately 10% of them became addicted to the substance. Although many states continue to legalize marijuana, using the substance remains a potentially addictive habit. Luckily, reducing—and ultimately eliminating—your marijuana use can help you minimize your risk of addiction and lessen some of the substance’s most adverse effects.

The Effects of Marijuana

Marijuana, also known as “cannabis” and “weed,” is one of the most commonly used addictive substances in America. When first consumed, marijuana can make you feel relaxed, joyous, free of pain, and temporarily euphoric. However, using marijuana can also have some negative impacts on your health, which can include:

  • Permanent IQ loss
  • Respiratory problems
  • Memory difficulties and cognitive impairments
  • Increased risk of anxiety, depression, and mood swings
  • Weakened immune system
  • Increased risk of cancer

6 Practical Ways to Stop Marijuana Use

If you want to effectively stop your marijuana use, you need to take practical steps toward your overall goal. For many individuals, quitting “cold turkey” can be harmful and disruptive. One of the most effective ways to quit instead is to understand your current usage, take steps to slow your consumption and seek professional help. Here are a series of steps to help you get started.

  1. Talk to your doctor about your desire to quit. You won’t effectively reduce your marijuana use without support and guidance. Before speaking with your doctor, try recording how much marijuana you consume on a regular basis by writing down your usage. You can even add a bar or line graph in your written record which can visually show you whether you’re reducing, increasing or maintaining your marijuana consumption. When you visit your doctor, discuss ways that you can reduce this number and ultimately abstain altogether.
  1. Publicly commit to stop using marijuana. One of the most effective ways to cut back on your marijuana usage—and ultimately stop consuming the drug altogether—is to work with an accountability partner. This may be a friend or a loved one who is already sober or someone you know and trust. Publicly commit to stop using the drug and ask them to hold you accountable through regular check-ins.
  1. Choose an alternate activity. Commit some of the money and time you typically spend consuming marijuana and do something else. Buy new clothes or shoes. Take a trip. Purchase a gym membership. Go see a baseball, basketball, or football game. Spend time with friends and loved ones. Whatever the activity you choose, make sure you surround yourself with people who aren’t going to use marijuana in front of you.
  1. Once you’ve begun to taper, seek professional treatment. Now that you’ve taken steps to reduce your marijuana usage on your own, you can take the next step to ultimately remove marijuana from your life entirely. Seeking professional help from a therapist, doctor, or licensed addiction treatment professional can ensure you’re able to fully quit.
  1. Find a support group. One of the most effective ways to stay marijuana-free for the long term is to find a group of like-minded individuals who are also getting sober. Ask your addiction treatment provider for a recommendation of a suitable group near you or visit a local Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meeting for a free, confidential source of support.
  1. Enlist trusted friends to hold you accountable. Find a trustworthy, reasonable person in your life who will ensure that you take the necessary steps to cut down on your marijuana consumption. Make sure this person is comfortable establishing strong boundaries and enforcing your desire to use less marijuana and ultimately quit.

Helping You Reach Your Recovery Goals

Here at Soba, our mission is to help you reach your recovery goals. When you’re looking to quit marijuana, we’re here for you. Our wide range of treatment services can help support you wherever you are on your recovery journey. Don’t spend another day trying to figure out sobriety and recovery on your own. Let us help you. Take action by contacting us today if you or a loved one are looking to get a better handle on your use of marijuana or any other kind of addictive substance.

How to Maintain Sobriety Through Stressful Times

person stressed out

If there’s one thing that can test the strength of your sobriety, it’s stress. The world is a stressful place, and it’s practically impossible to find a single person on this planet who isn’t worried or anxious from time to time. Unfortunately, stress is one of the biggest factors of alcohol and drug abuse by far. Emotional and mental stress can make it difficult to follow through with routine responsibilities to your family, friends, and employer. Physical stress like pain or an injury may add a deeper element that challenges your commitment to addiction recovery.

When life gets tough, we often feel alone in our experiences and become desperate for fast relief just to keep going. But substance abuse only makes things tougher in the long run, and many people suffering from addiction end up abusing substances more and more just to try and regain some small level of comfort.

Fortunately, life doesn’t have to be this way. With over 20 million people (over 10 percent of adults) suffering from addiction each year in the United States, you’re not alone in your experiences. Furthermore, with the right addiction treatment program, many people can both obtain sobriety and learn healthy coping skills for addiction recovery that can help them through stressful times.

You can’t eliminate stress from your life, but there are ways you can manage it more efficiently. Here are several time-tested techniques you can use to keep stress levels at bay without relying on unhealthy activities for relief.

Succeeding at Addiction Recovery When You’re Stressed

Here’s one quick tip to get you started: controlling your reaction to stressful circumstances can lead to instant relief and is far more effective than trying to find a quick fix for a long-term problem or a situation that is out of your control.

1. Spend Time with Yourself Every Day

Staying in touch with your deeper emotions and thoughts can help you react in a more positive manner when stressful situations arise. Commit to doing one or more of the following for up to an hour every morning or just before bed:

  • Journaling – Get a pen and paper or open a blank document on your computer, and simply start writing whatever comes to mind. You can set a timer and challenge yourself to keep writing until your time is up or write two to three pages daily. As you write, you will focus on what’s stressing you out and on your deeper thoughts that often go unacknowledged in daily life. You will start to solve problems and stumble upon powerful realizations if you’re consistent in your journaling.
  • Guided Meditation – Research has found that mindful meditation eases psychological stress. Depression and anxiety are symptoms of that type of stress and can easily set in during the addiction recovery process. The easiest way to start meditating is to find a guided meditation soundtrack or download an app or podcast that offers meditation tracks. Get into a comfortable position, close your eyes, and focus your mind on the track.
  • Gratitude Journaling – Write down five or more things that you’re thankful for each day. You can add that into your journaling practice or just do it on your phone when you have a few minutes to spare during your day. Focusing your mind on the blessings in your life will help you maintain a more positive mindset.

2. Use Breathing Techniques

There’s a lot you can do to lower your stress levels in general, and we’ll get to those in just a moment. When your stress levels are spiking at the moment though is when you need the most help, because this is when you are most likely to want to turn to drugs or alcohol for relief. Using focused breathing techniques has been shown to help calm you down and bring your stressful thoughts back to a more grounded state. Find somewhere comfortable to sit if possible, and shut your eyes so you don’t have any visual distractions. Take long, deep breathes, focusing on filling your lungs to capacity with air and then slowly releasing it all out. Do this for as long as you need to.

3. Incorporate Exercise and Aerobic Activity into Your Daily Life

woman running to reduce stressWhile exercise may feel difficult and stressful when you first start, it will eventually become a piece of the sturdy foundation that roots you in healthy addiction recovery. Even milder physical workouts have been shown to be almost instant stress relievers. Incorporating regular exercise into your weekly schedule will also help lower your stress levels over time as well as keep you occupied. This is especially important, as keeping busy with physical tasks (like working out) will leave you with fewer “empty moments” where you may otherwise feel urges to use substances.

Aerobic activity is anything that increases your heart rate, gets you sweating, and requires you to control your breathing and exertion.

Whether you decide to try water aerobics, Zumba, running, fitness walking, or cycling, routine aerobic exercise will help you relax while boosting your mood and allowing you to clear your mind of stressful thoughts. You may even find that your exercise sessions spark flashes of creativity that help you solve problems that have long been sources of stress for you.

4. Get Outdoors

According to the American Institute of Stress, getting outside and into nature has also been shown to help reduce stress levels almost instantaneously. Try looking up local parks or nature walks ahead of time so you have a destination in mind the next time you’re starting to feel overly anxious or frazzled. Likewise, spending time outdoors on a regular basis will help lower your general stress levels in the long run.

5. Avoid Stressful Triggers

Does reading or watching the news get you all stressed out? Do you have an exhausting work schedule or a relationship that may be toxic? Some things that stress you out are easy to avoid, while others may take a firmer stance. Nevertheless, it’s important to take steps in reducing your exposure to these stressful triggers. If a relationship (either personal or professional) may be stressing you out constantly, talking about your issues can sometimes help. If it does not, then it may be time to end the relationship and move forward into less stressful situations.

6. Practice Gratitude

Sobriety is far from the only thing that will help keep your life in recovery stable. It’s all about attitude. Studies have shown that actively focusing on the people, experiences, and objects you are grateful for every day can help you find joy in the little things. With this, stress levels decrease and general contentment wins over. Focusing on things you are thankful for having in life is also a good practice for whenever you do start feeling anxious or stressed out. Some people even make a list of these things and carry it around with them for such occasions.

7. Make Your Sleep Routine a Habit

When you look into the correlation between sleep habits and stress, the following facts stick out:

  • Sleeping an extra 60-90 minutes per night would make most Americans healthier and happier.
  • Many Americans report feeling more stressed when the length or quality of their sleep decreases.
  • Americans report feeling even more stressed if they don’t get enough sleep during stressful times.
  • The side effects of sleep deprivation can mimic signs of extreme stress, including irritability, fatigue and lack of motivation

Have you heard of the sleep-stress cycle? It’s a cycle in which stress interferes with sleep, and then inadequate sleep leads to more stress, which makes it even harder to sleep. You can break the cycle and control your stress by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Yes, that includes weekends. Make sure your schedule allows you to get at least seven hours of sleep each night.

8. Minimize Overwhelm by Tackling One Goal at a Time

If you’re concerned that stress will sabotage your addiction recovery, it doesn’t make sense to create more stress for yourself. You may have a lot that you want to accomplish as you get your life back on track, but don’t try to do it all at once.

Try writing down all of your goals, and then listing them in order of priority. Put goals that energize and excite you at the top of the list because they will motivate you the most. The more you have to look forward to, the more likely you are to maintain your sobriety.

9. Don’t Bottle Up Your Stress

The worst thing you can do during addiction recovery is pretending that you’re okay when you’re not. When stressful situations arise, reach out to family and friends who are aware of your commitment to sobriety. Just venting to someone who knows about your struggles can help you see the situation in a new light, altering your reaction to the stressful situation quickly.

10. Don’t Be Afraid to Reach Out

Reaching out to others and talking through the things that are stressing you out can also prove to be quickly relieving. This is one reason why many people in addiction recovery still attend regular support group meetings and keep in touch with their rehab program. Focusing on building a strong support network of family and friends will also give you people you can rely on as an outlet for life’s problems.

You can also reach out to the trained and compassionate professionals at Soba Recovery Center when stress becomes too much to manage on your own. We’re always one call away, so never suffer in silence.

If you’re still trying to reach life in recovery, it’s important to know that you don’t have to face addiction alone. Our team of substance abuse professionals at Soba Recovery is here to help you through detox and addiction treatment safely and avoid falling back into relapse. In our luxury treatment center, you can start building the healthy, productive life you deserve.

Everyday life will still come with stress, but we can help you learn to cope effectively without turning back to drugs. Get in touch with us when you’re ready — change can start today!

The Truth About Prescription Pill Addictions

prescription pill addiction

Prescription pill addiction involves more than just opioids and other pain medications. There are four broad classes of prescription pills that are commonly abused. These include opioids, benzodiazepines, sedatives, and stimulants. Although many who are prescribed prescription medications take them properly, there is still a substantial portion of the population who misuse them, resulting in addiction and the need for intensive addiction treatment. In 2017 it was estimated that more than 18 million people had misused prescription medications in the last year. While current data is not available, it is assumed based on historical statistics that this number has only continued to grow with misuse rates among adults ages 18-25 being some of the highest at nearly 15%. In these surveys, more people report using controlled prescription drugs than cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine combined putting prescription drugs just behind marijuana when it comes to illicit drug use.

The Types of Prescribed Prescription Pills

The rate of prescription drug abuse and addiction is currently considered a pandemic in the United States and only worsening with time. Unfortunately, many who end up addicted to prescription pills do so after being prescribed the drug for legitimate reasons. Also, many teens believe prescription medications to be “safer” than other drugs because a medical provider prescribes them; thus, they are more likely to misuse them. As previously noted, prescription pill addiction generally applies to four categories of drugs.

Opioids

  • Opioids or prescription painkillers are used to treat severe or chronic pain conditions. They are also among the most over prescribed medication classes. Common opioids include OxyContin, Lortab, Morphine, and Percocet.

Stimulants

  • Adderall, a commonly prescribed stimulant, is typically prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. Other medications similar to Adderall include Concerta and Ritalin.

Sedatives and Tranquilizers

  • Sedatives and tranquilizers are quite similar and generally produce the same intoxication effects. This category includes sleeping pills, which are classified as sedative-hypnotics. Other drugs that fall into this category are benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines or “benzos” are a form of prescription sedative. They are commonly prescribed to treat symptoms related to anxiety or to help with insomnia. The most frequently prescribed benzodiazepines are Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin.

How Do You Get Addicted to Prescription Drugs?

Opioids, stimulants, and sedatives can be beneficial for some individuals who have been diagnosed with certain medical disorders or who struggle with chronic pain. However, many of these medications have extremely high addictive potential and, consequently, are often abused or sold illegally. But why is it that some people who take these medications develop a prescription pill addiction and others do not? For some, it may be related to a genetic predisposition for addiction in general. Also, those who have a first-degree relative who suffered from a substance abuse disorder are significantly more likely to develop a substance abuse disorder than those without such a family history. Environmental factors such as peer influence and family dynamics can also play a role in prescription pill addiction.

While all of the above and other factors play a role in prescription pill addiction, one of the most common ways people get addicted to prescription drugs is through the use of the medication itself. It is not uncommon for someone who is prescribed prescription pain medication for chronic pain to take these medications for extended periods. Eventually, the initially prescribed dose is not sufficient to mitigate the pain, and higher doses are consumed to achieve the same feeling as before. This is called developing a tolerance, and it is one of the most common ways addiction develops.

Signs of a Prescription Pill Addiction

The signs and symptoms of prescription pill addiction will vary based on the specific pill being used. Some of the common behavioral signs that may indicate addiction may include:

  • doctor shopping
  • changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  • requesting refills more often than necessary
  • “losing” prescriptions and seeking replacements
  • sudden mood changes
  • demanding more privacy

Aside from the signs and symptoms mentioned above, long-term prescription pill addiction without addiction treatment can result in a host of adverse complications including overdose, incarceration, broken relationships, legal problems, failing physical health, developing a co-occurring mental health disorder, financial strain, and job loss.

Our treatment team at Soba Recovery Centers across the United States is skilled in providing individualized treatment for all types of addiction. We believe addiction treatment programs must be designed to suit each person’s needs, and therefore we focus our treatments on your needs as opposed to a standard design. If you are ready to seek treatment for a prescription pill addiction, reach out to Soba Recovery Centers today.