Why a Dual Diagnosis Matters

shutterstock_112644284Dual diagnosis, also referred to as “co-existing disorder,” involves both a substance addiction and a mental health disorder. The dual diagnosis problem is a prevalent one in the U.S., according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Because dual diagnosis is a relatively common occurrence, it is important to understand the complexities of diagnosing and treating a dual diagnosis to ensure the best possible outcome for the patient.

Statistics on Dual Diagnosis

NAMI estimates that about one-third of all individuals suffering with a mental disorder also struggle with substance abuse. That percentage actually goes up for people battling the most severe types of mental illness. In addition, around half of all drug abusers and one-third of all alcohol abusers also have some type of mental illness. Men are more likely to have a dual diagnosis than women, particularly those in a lower socioeconomic status or those that have served in the military.

Common Mental Disorders in Dual Diagnosis

While any mental disorder that accompanies substance abuse is considered a dual diagnosis, some illnesses are more common than others in this situation. Some of the more frequently seen mental disorders involved in a dual diagnosis include:

  • Mood disorders (depression, bipolar disorder)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Anxiety disorders (panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder)
  • Personality disorders 

Which Comes First?

There is no set pattern when it comes to a dual diagnosis. Some patients experience the mental disorder first, and begin using drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication to mask symptoms. Others begin with the substance abuse, which can gradually lead to a mental disorder. As far as treating a dual diagnosis goes, it is not important to distinguish which illness came first. It is far more relevant to get an accurate diagnosis of the mental disorder so that treatment can be customized to the specific needs of the patient.

Getting Proper Treatment

Integrated intervention is the most effective way to approach and treat a dual diagnosis. This involves treating both the mental disorder and addiction simultaneously. If one is treated without the other, the chances of a full recovery or long-term sobriety are slim. Because addiction may be a more immediate issue, treatment often begins with the detoxification process to wean the patient off the substance. This is typically more effective on an inpatient basis, where the patient’s environment can be carefully controlled to ensure withdrawal is safe and successful.

Once detox is completed, treatment for the dual diagnosis can effectively begin. In these situations, patients often find inpatient care works best at the beginning of the process. However, outpatient treatment programs can also be effective if they address both concerns and provide sufficient support throughout to encourage adherence to the recovery process.

Treating dual diagnosis is a complex process that requires a full team of professionals equipped to address any and all issues that might arise. At Pasadena Recovery Center, our team is experienced and highly skilled in treating a wide range of dual diagnoses. To learn more about our treatment programs, contact Pasadena Recovery Center at 866-663-3030.

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What is Synthetic Marijuana?

shutterstock_269142416Synthetic marijuana is a deceptive drug that pretends to mimic the effects of THC, the active ingredient in pot. However, synthetic marijuana, also known as “spice,” “K-2” or “fake weed,” is nothing like pot. This drug is exceedingly more dangerous, which is particularly concerning in light of the fact that its use is increasing, particularly among young users. There are many reasons why synthetic marijuana is becoming a top concern among medical providers, researchers and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Understanding Synthetic Marijuana

Synthetic marijuana is a combination of herbal ingredients that are sprayed with a synthetic chemical solution designed to mimic the “high” experienced with marijuana. The products have been marketed as legal, even though many of the packages clearly state, “Not for human consumption.” Users have been able to purchase bags of synthetic marijuana from some convenience stores and head shops. It is also widely available on the Internet. Synthetic marijuana is frequently smoked, but it can also be baked into edibles or brewed into tea.

Effects of Synthetic Marijuana

According to some users of synthetic cannabinoids, the effects of this drug are similar to those found with pot only stronger. However, the complex combination of ingredients found in synthetic marijuana may lead to other effects as well, such as paranoia, hallucinations and extreme agitation. “Bad trips” are much more common with spice than pot, and the effects may last much longer.

Risks and Dangers

Health risks associated with synthetic marijuana are numerous and may include:

  • Elevated blood pressure and heart rate
  • Tremors and seizures
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Agitation and confusion
  • Hallucinations and psychotic episodes

One of the biggest dangers of synthetic cannabinoids is the simple fact that the drug is not regulated, which means no two doses are ever the same. This makes it impossible to predict the effects of the drug from one hit to the next. In fact, even the potency of synthetic marijuana may fluctuate from package to package, and even inside the packages themselves.

A Prevalent Problem

In April 2015, there was a huge spike in synthetic marijuana use, according to a report at the Huffington Post. After poison control centers across the country reported 273 illnesses from synthetic cannabinoids in February and 269 in March, more than 1,500 illnesses were reported in April. The federal government continues to try to make use of synthetic marijuana illegal by classifying the ingredients found in the mix as illegal controlled substances. However, drug manufacturers have made it a sort of game to stay ahead of law enforcement, by changing the ingredients slightly to avoid the illegal categorization.

Unfortunately, this is no “game” to the users that are experiencing severe and even deadly side effects from the drug. If you are struggling with an addiction to synthetic cannabinoids, now is the time to get help. Contact Pasadena Recovery Center today to discover how we can help you survive withdrawal and move into an effective treatment program. We are ready to hear from you at 866-663-3030.

Posted in PRC Blog

4 Tips to Keep on the Recovery Track this Summer

shutterstock_144537737As the summer season kicks off, most people are looking forward to spending their warm weather months socializing at parties and barbecues. For those in recovery, this season can also be wrought with temptations and pitfalls that threaten to derail the recovery process. If you are facing the summer months with a degree of trepidation, we have some tips to help you stay on your recovery track for the entire season.

Plan Ahead

While you don’t want to live like a hermit all summer, a little advance planning can go a long way in getting ready for the social events you do decide to attend. Try to avoid spots where you know drugs or alcohol will be present. If this is impossible, bring along a sober friend to provide support. Have an exit strategy in mind, in case the temptation becomes too great. If your plans include travel, research support groups in the area you will be visiting and make sure to include the phone numbers of your sponsor and a few other supportive friends in case you run into a challenging situation.

Practice Self Care

Summer is often the time when we cut free from the confines of a regular schedule to enjoy the long, lazy days of the season. However, eating regular, nutritious meals and getting sufficient sleep are essential components to your recovery. Don’t neglect your self-care habits this time of year, even if your schedule tends to fluctuate. In fact, now is the perfect time to incorporate new healthy habits like outdoor exercise into your daily routine.

Develop a New Interest

Once you are in recovery, you will realize just how much of your time went into supporting your drug or alcohol abuse. Now that you are no longer using or drinking, you may find you have a lot more free time on your hands. Since boredom can be a detriment to a healthy recovery process, fill that extra time with a new hobby or activity that will engage your mind and body and keep you from thinking about drinking or using.

Keep Your Support Network Close

No matter where your summer plans might take you, keep your support network close at hand. Take a supportive friend with you to social events where drinking or using might be involved. Keep phone numbers easily accessible, in case you need to call someone in your network. Find time to continue attending meetings and look for activities and events that specifically cater to the sober crowd.

Summer can be a difficult time for those in recovery, especially those that are still in the early stages of the process. With a little planning, you can anticipate many of the challenges that could arise to ensure your summer is safe and sober. To get additional information or support, contact Pasadena Recovery Center at 866-663-3030.

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Marijuana and Memory Loss: Is there a Link?

marijuana side affects memory loss

marijuana side affects memory lossThe debate continues over the possible long-term effects of marijuana use, with a recent study suggesting marijuana use during the teen years may lead to memory loss and changes to the brain’s structure. In addition to lower scores on memory tests, the subjects in this study also had differences in the shape of the hippocampus – the area of the brain responsible for forming long-term memories.

Researchers Follow Teens to Young Adulthood

Researchers from Northwestern University looked at 97 young adults in this study. Some had a history of marijuana use between the ages of 16 and 17 that persisted nearly three years. Other subjects had no history of marijuana use. Some of the test subjects had also been diagnosed with schizophrenia; a portion of those subjects also had a history of marijuana use. The second group was included because previous research indicates that schizophrenia is a factor in both short and long-term memory problems. People diagnosed with this mental disorder are also more likely to smoke marijuana.

Subjects diagnosed with schizophrenia that also reported to smoking marijuana daily scored the worst on the memory tests out of all the test subjects. Their scores were 26 percent worse than the other subjects diagnosed with schizophrenia that did not smoke marijuana. In the group of subjects without a mental disorder, those who smoked marijuana performed 18 percent worse on the memory tests than those that did not.

Memory Loss, Misshapen Brains

The researchers also found that the subjects that used marijuana as teens had misshapen brains, particularly around the area of the hippocampus. These findings supported previous animal studies that showed changes to the hippocampus in rat brains after exposure of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, during the adolescent years. A New Zealand study also found that teens that began persistent marijuana use during the adolescent years also had an IQ loss of around eight points by the middle of their adult years.

These findings, which were published in the March edition of the journal Hippocampus, seem to follow a similar trend for marijuana users that begin smoking during their teen years. However, researchers caution that the study has limits in its ability to determine whether marijuana was the direct cause of the memory loss or the changes to brain structure.

At Pasadena Recovery Center, we help patients every day that are struggling with addictions to substances like marijuana. From the withdrawal process to treatment and recovery, we offer the support necessary for abusers and addicts to turn from the substances and discover a productive life of sobriety. If you are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, help is available. Contact Pasadena Recovery Center today at 866-663-3030.

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Vote on Legalized Marijuana may be Coming to California in 2016

Legalized-Marijuana-California-VoteWhile four states have already legalized marijuana, all eyes are now on California and a possible ballot initiative for 2016. If California were to legalize pot, 39 million residents in the state could more than double the market of the four current states combined. Legalization of marijuana in California could also change the playing field on a national level, forcing the federal government to take another look at legalizing pot across the board.

A Brief History

California was the first state in the country to make marijuana legal for medicinal purposes in 1996. Since that time, it has inspired many other states to do the same. However, approval for recreational purposes has been a whole different ballgame. California voters took the issue to the ballot in 2010, where it was voted down. Since that time, Colorado and Washington approved legalization for recreational use in 2012, while Oregon and Alaska followed suit two years later.

Now, it looks like legalization will be back on the California ballot in 2016. Other states to consider a similar initiative include Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine and Arizona. However, the spotlight continues to be on California, as the largest state to consider such a move. A spokesperson for a marijuana and investment firm in Oakland, Troy Dayton, told Bloomberg that California comprises nearly half of the legal cannabis market in the country.

The Fight is On

While there is plenty of support for legalized marijuana in California, those on both sides of the issue state the decision is still very much up in the air. Those in favor of legalization have said passage is more likely to occur if proponents include a measure to tax and regulate the industry. Both sides agree success on either front will likely come down to donations, a factor that gives supporters of the bill an advantage. However, opponents will also have a fertile field for garnering votes, particularly if they can recruit help from professionals in education and law enforcement.

At Pasadena Recovery Center, we have seen the devastating effects of marijuana use on our clients and their families. As the most widely used illegal drug in the U.S., marijuana has a number of serious effects on users, including impaired mental ability, altered judgment and an increased risk of heart attack. The drug has also been found to be addictive for some users, necessitating detox efforts as well as treatment and recovery programs.

If you are struggling with marijuana abuse or addiction, help is available. Contact Pasadena Recovery Center at 866-663-3030 to get the help and support you need to deal with your addiction and move forward with your life.

Posted in PRC Blog

What is the Deadliest Drug? Alcohol

alcohol-worst-drugWhile concerns over the dangers of cocaine, heroin and meth continue to make headlines, researchers have discovered there is one substance even more dangerous than these – alcohol. According to research published in Scientific Reports in January 2015, alcohol is the deadliest drug in the United States today. 

Comparative Risks Assessed

Scientists examined the comparative risk of death accompanying the use of a broad range of drugs, including alcohol. They used a novel method for calculating risk that they called the “Margin of Exposure” or MOE. They defined the MOE as the ratio between adverse effects of the drug and the drug’s human intake. The smaller the MOE, the more dangerous the drug was assessed to be, since this indicated a greater likelihood the user could consume a harmful dose of the substance.

They found alcohol to be 114 times more dangerous than marijuana, which is the only federally-controlled substance that has not been linked to an overdose death at this point. Four substances fell into the “high risk” category in this study; alcohol, nicotine, cocaine and heroin. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, had the largest MOE on the list.

Other Studies Show Similar Findings

This is not the first study to demonstrate the risks associated with alcohol use. Surveys performed on incarcerated persons found that about 40 percent of individuals in prison had been under the influence of alcohol when they committed their crimes. In 2010, a U.K. study published in The Lancet ranked alcohol as the most dangerous drug in Britain, in terms of the harm it causes to users as well as the harm it causes to others.

Scientists involved in these studies will be the first to admit their methodology is far from perfect. In the recent study published in Scientific Reports, authors of the study were quick to point out that their research did not take into all of the risk factors, particularly environmental conditions of the drug use. Still, the findings were compelling in showing alcohol-related deaths significantly outnumbered deaths associated with other substances.

Dangers of Alcohol Underestimated

Although alcohol has been shown through numerous surveys and studies to pose its own risks and dangers to users, this substance is readily available and not regulated by the government. Unfortunately, that gives the impression to many drinkers that alcohol is a “safer” substance and they do not have to monitor their intake as closely.

At Pasadena Recovery Center, we see the devastating effects alcohol abuse can make on the user and the entire family. We offer treatment programs to help abusers reclaim a life of sobriety. To learn more about our treatment and recovery programs, contact Pasadena Recovery Center at 866-663-3030.

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3 Alarming Facts for Alcohol Awareness Month

shutterstock_197716910April has been designated Alcohol Awareness Month by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. The organization has been working to raise awareness of the dangers of alcohol abuse since 1987 with this annual event. This year, we would like to recognize Alcohol Awareness Month with a few concerning facts about alcohol use in the U.S.

Deaths Related to Alcohol Use

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 88,000 deaths in the U.S. between 2006 and 2010 could be attributed to excessive alcohol abuse. Alcohol was linked to one in 10 deaths in adults between the ages of 20 and 64 years during that same time frame. This makes alcohol the fourth-highest cause of preventable deaths, behind smoking, poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle. While most people think of cirrhosis of the liver when they think of alcohol-related sickness and deaths, other conditions related to excessive alcohol use include heart disease and some types of cancer.

Risky Behaviors Associated with Alcohol

People who drink too much alcohol may engage in or become victims of the following risky behaviors:

  • Injury – includes falls, drownings and injuries related to car crashes
  • Sexual behavior – sex with multiple partners or unprotected sex
  • Sexual abuse – alcohol use increases the risk of a sexual assault
  • Violence – those who abuse alcohol are also more likely to be victims of other types of assault or are more likely to abuse another person 

Risky behaviors tend to be more prevalent in younger drinkers. However, anyone who drinks to much raises the risk for some type of accident or assault.

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse

When alcohol is consumed, it is absorbed into your bloodstream, which means it can impact your body in a number of negative ways. Some of the more common results of long-term alcohol abuse include:

  • Liver disease (includes cirrhosis, hepatitis and cancer)
  • Cancer (breast, stomach and liver are some of the most common)
  • Heart disease (hypertension and heart attack risk also increase)
  • Digestive problems (such as pancreatitis or gastritis)
  • Neurological disorders (memory problems, dementia, stroke) 

Another health risk of alcohol abuse is alcohol dependence or addiction. When a person develop an alcohol addiction, professional treatment is usually required to turn the individual from their drinking and to a healthier life of sobriety.

Alcohol abuse is a serious problem in the U.S. and around the world. If you are struggling with an inability to control your alcohol consumption, help is available. At Pasadena Recovery Center, we help individuals overcome their addiction and maintain sobriety. To learn more about our treatment programs, contact Pasadena Recovery Center at 866-663-3030.

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The Problem with Prescription Drug Abuse

shutterstock_160239572Prescription drug use is a major problem that has actually been called an “epidemic” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), approximately 52 million people have used a prescription drug for non-medical reasons at some point during their lifetime. The problem is widespread and covers a broad demographic, from teens to the elderly.

Prescription Drugs that are Abused
Many different types of prescription drugs are used for non-medical purposes:

• Opioids
• Anti-Anxiety Medications
• Stimulants
• Medical Marijuana

NIDA reports that around 14 percent of individuals that have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons in the past 12 months also met the criteria for abuse or dependence. Another alarming statistic is growing use of prescription medications among adolescents. NIDA found that 1 in 20 adolescents admitted to non-medical use of Vicodin in 2012 and 20 percent of the 52 million that admitted to taking prescription drugs for non-medical uses were ages 12 and up.

Hope on the Horizon?
With concerns about prescription drug abuse on the rise, there is a glimmer of hope coming out of Washington. According to a recent report at The Hill, legislative initiatives are beginning to curb prescription drug use in some traditionally problem areas like Florida. Thanks to prescription drug monitoring programs and crackdowns on “pill mills,” statistics on prescription drug abuse are starting to improve.

In 2013, the CDC reported five-percent declines in deaths from prescription pain relievers. Those numbers marked the first decline in prescription drug-related deaths since1999. Prescription drug abuse among teens also declined in most areas of the country in 2014. Considering that deaths associated to oxycodone overdoses totaled more than four a day in Florida in 2010, these numbers are good news indeed.

New Problems?
Unfortunately, when one threat is thwarted, it is not uncommon for others to emerge. While prescription drug use is down, heroin use is going up due to more people looking for cheaper options on the street. HIV transmission from needles is also on the rise in unlikely areas like southern Indiana. The national effort to curb drug abuse is far from over.

In the meantime, those struggling with a prescription drug addiction can get help in treatment facilities like Pasadena Recovery Center. Our caring, expert staff is ready to help you through the detox and recovery process, for as long as it takes until you become comfortable in your sobriety once again. Drug abuse may still be a common problem in the U.S., but help is available. Contact Pasadena Recovery Center now at 866-663-3030 to get the help you need.

Posted in PRC Blog

When a Loved One has a Substance Abuse Problem

shutterstock_141834604Do you suspect that a friend or family member has a substance abuse problem? It can be difficult to know how to handle this situation. Do you confront the person, stage an intervention, or just hope the person will recognize the problem on his own? The first step in dealing with this issue is to understand what substance abuse looks like. The next step is to guide that person to the necessary help, while giving him the support he needs to survive the treatment and recovery process.

Symptoms of Substance Abuse
There are a number of potential signs that your loved one is abusing a substance:

• Tendency to drink or use more of the substance than originally intended
• Inability to cut down or stop using the substance completely
• Cravings to drink or use the drug
• Legal or financial problems as a result of their substance abuse
• Inability to manage work or home responsibilities as a result of their substance use
• Continued use even if it causes problems in relationships or puts them in dangerous situations
• Need to take more of the substance to get the same effect

How to Respond
When your loved one shows signs of substance abuse, it can be difficult to know how to respond. It is important to understand that substance abuse is a disease that usually requires professional treatment. You will not be able to get this individual to stop using on your own. In fact, if you cover up the substance abuse by lying for the person or in other ways, you may actually make the problem worse.

Getting a loved one to seek treatment for substance abuse is no easy task. The right approach will depend on the individual, your relationship and the level of abuse you are dealing with. Professional counselors that specialize in substance abuse are available in most areas to provide you with advice and insight on the best way to confront your loved one and encourage him to get professional help.

Dealing with Your Own Feelings
Many people feel hurt or angry when a loved one has a substance abuse problem. Substance abuse takes its toll on more than the person using; it can impact those closest to the individual as well. If you find yourself struggling with your loved one’s abuse, professional counseling may also help you to understand your feelings and find constructive ways to deal with them.

Substance abuse is never easy – for the individual or those around him. The good news is help is available. If you need to learn more about substance abuse and treatment options to help someone you love get on the right track to sobriety, contact Pasadena Recovery Center at 866-663-3030.

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What is the Intake Process and How does it Affect My Recovery?

shutterstock_149934155shutterstock_149934155When it comes to seeking treatment for your alcohol or drug addiction, the first step is usually the hardest. That first phone call or first meeting with an employee of the treatment center can be scary and stressful, but it is absolutely necessary to take that first step if you are serious about recovery. One way to ease the stress of the initial process is to learn what is involved so you know what to expect when you pick up the phone or walk in the door.

About the Intake Process

The intake process basically refers to the admission portion of your treatment program. There may be a number of components included in the intake process, which allow the staff at the facility to determine the most effective course of treatment for you. These components might include:

  • Initial interview with a counselor, psychologist or medical practitioner
  • Substance testing to determine placement in detox or rehab
  • Collection of medical information and a possible medical examination
  • Sharing of an introductory packet that explains the facility’s policies and amenities
  • Review of financial obligations and payment options

During the intake process, it is important to be open and honest with your interviewer about your substance use, medical conditions and medications you might be currently taking. The purpose of the intake process is to place you in the appropriate treatment program that will provide you with the greatest benefit. Lying in any of these areas could result in improper placement and less chance of a successful recovery process.

Detox or Rehab?

Most facilities determine whether a patient will be placed in detox or rehab by substance testing performed when the person first enters a facility. If the individual tests positive for a drug or alcohol, detox is the likely first step. If the tests are negative, most patients can go directly to the rehabilitation portion of the program.

Many individuals that initiate contact with a treatment facility do so for detox purposes. Unfortunately, the detox process will get you clean from the substance initially, but will not provide you with the tools you need to remain clean over the long term. While it is true rehabilitation typically requires a longer stay at the facility, it is usually a necessary step to kicking and addiction and moving to sober living.

The intake process can be intimidating and anxiety-provoking, but it is an absolutely necessary step on the road to recovery. At Pasadena Recovery Center, we understand the fear associated with the intake process and will do everything possible to ensure you are safe and comfortable throughout. Rest assured that once you get past the first step, the rest of your treatment will become progressively easier. To learn more about our treatment services, contact Pasadena Recovery Center at 866-663-3030.

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