Tag: early-recovery

Addiction Recovery – A Lifelong Journey

Many individuals who are newly exposed to the beautiful and fulfilling world of addiction recovery believe that their journey will both begin and end with inpatient treatment. However, this could not be more far from the truth, seeing as inpatient treatment is but the very beginning of the lifelong journey of addiction recovery. Addiction is unlike many other diseases in the sense that it requires ongoing attention once it is in remission; attention by means of continual spiritual attentiveness and growth. Other chronic diseases may require constant attention if they are to be kept in remission – for example, those with diabetes must stay on top of their blood sugar levels and take necessary actions if these levels become abnormal. Diabetes, however, is a disease of the body exclusively, while addiction is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit inclusively. Like other chronic diseases, those who suffer from addiction must upkeep their health and adequately treat their symptoms for the remainder of their lives if they wish to stay in remission and avoid relapse. The difference is – those who suffer from substance dependency issues must work to maintain their spiritual (as opposed to their physical) health.

Crucial Stages of Early Recovery

Early recovery is crucial to the overall process of addiction recovery in the sense that the foundation laid will set the tone for the remainder of one’s sobriety. In most cases, early recovery can be broken down into several crucial segments. These individual stages are typically as follows:

  • Detox
  • Inpatient Addiction Treatment
  • Aftercare
  • Continual Aftercare

Depending on the individual, more stages may be required (for example, individuals with co-occurring psychological disorders may be expected to complete partial hospitalization programs upon graduation from inpatient treatment). Let’s take a closer look at each stage of early recovery to better understand why each is so crucial to the overall process.

Medically Monitored Detox

Medically monitored detox is crucial to early recovery, often required during the withdrawal phase of dependency. When an individual ceases using drugs and/or alcohol abruptly, they will inevitably experience harsh withdrawal symptoms – often so painful they quickly lead addicts back to using. Medical detox clinics are designed to keep clients physically safe, prescribing any medication necessary to avoid potentially life-threatening symptoms. They are also designed to make the overall process of withdrawal significantly more bearable.

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Inpatient Addiction Treatment

Inpatient addiction treatment is where the true recovery process begins. Clients will undergo a rigorous, therapeutically-centered schedule, geared towards uncovering and addressing underlying causes of substance dependency while treating any co-occurring disorders. The goal of inpatient treatment is to get all of the difficult therapeutic work completed in a safe and secure environment while introducing clients to the program of recovery, and instilling all of the tools and coping mechanisms necessary to maintain fulfilled sobriety for years to come.

Aftercare

Aftercare usually entails an extended stay at a halfway house or sober living facility. Most stays will last anywhere from 30 days to 9 months, though those who spender longer periods of time in halfway have been proven to experience much more success in maintaining long-term sobriety. Halfway houses are designed to allow clients higher levels of personal responsibility and freedom while maintaining a certain level of accountability – providing a seamless transition into everyday life without the use of drugs or alcohol.

Continual Aftercare

Continual aftercare is the portion of the process that requires regular and frequent upkeep. For most recovering addicts and alcoholics, aftercare is a highly personalized and unique experience – the trick is finding what works for you and sticking to it. For many individuals, continual aftercare comes in the form of a 12-step program of recovery. The amount of dedication a program of recovery requires will vary from individual to individual. Some will choose to attend a meeting a day for the remainder of their lives, while some will find that attending a home group once a week is sufficient. It is important to avoid drawing comparisons when deciding what works best for you and your sobriety – each recovering addict is unique, and each program of spiritual recovery is highly personal. Take time to develop yours, and try to remember to trust in the process!

The Newest Addiction Medicine is…a Blood-Pressure Pill?

This Drug Could “Erase” Memories of Addiction

Remember how in the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, scientists were able to wipe out Charlie’s memories of his former girlfriend? Well, it looks like researchers are on the verge of being able to do this for memories of substance abuse.

blood pressure pills help fight addiction

At least that’s the takeaway from a recent study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry. In this groundbreaking experiment, a medication was shown to actually reduce the rate of relapse by erasing subconscious memories associated with addiction.

As if this didn’t already sound strange enough, the medicine in question is a common blood pressure pill. That’s right, isradipine (sold under the brand names DynaCirc and Prescal) is showing real promise at treating both alcohol and cocaine dependence.

The exact mechanism isradipine has on the brain is explained below, but, in laymen’s terms, it removes the environmental cues many addicts associate with drug use. These are the “people, places, and things” that recovering addicts and alcoholics are supposed to change.

Hitoshi Morikawa, Associate Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Texas at Austin, led the study. When asked about the potential benefit his work could have on those struggling with addiction, Morikawa said,

“Addicts show up to the rehab center already addicted. Many addicts want to quit, but their brains are already conditioned. This drug might help the addicted brain become de-addicted” (Consumer Affairs).

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What Exactly Does This Drug Do?

So, a blood pressure medication that erases subconscious triggering memories? Sounds like something from a science fiction book. Sounds too good to be true, right? Except it isn’t. This is 100% real life.

Morikawa’s experiment used rats that researchers had given both cocaine and alcohol. The lab rats were then trained to associate the drugs with either a black or white room.

Afterwards, the rats would always choose the room they associated with drugs. This safely mimicked the environmental cues that addicts deal with in early-recovery. Things like driving down a certain street, hearing a certain song, or even smelling a certain smell can all trigger the brain to experience intense drug cravings.

What’s interesting is that after the lab rats were given high doses of isradipine, they no longer chose the room associated with drugs. This led researchers to study the exact mechanism of isradipine on the brain. What they found was nothing short of miraculous.

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How Does it Work?

It’s no secret that heavy and persistent drug abuse actually rewires the brain. Different drugs change different neural pathways, but all involve serotonin and dopamine.

Well, when blood pressure medication is introduced to the body, it blocks a specific ion pathway that reverts the brain back to how it was before drugs rewired it. I’m not certain on how that’s achieved, after all I’m no doctor. I trust it works though.

Through using isradipine, and possibly other hypertensive medications, the brain “forgets” subconscious pleasure cues associated with substance abuse. That’s pretty amazing!

There are some precautions to keep in mind. First, you shouldn’t go out and start popping blood pressure pills if you’re struggling with addiction. That could have some potentially disastrous side effects.

Consult with your doctor and see what they have to say. Also, remember that taking other depressants while on blood pressure medication is dangerous. So, let’s say your doctor prescribes a course of “isradipine therapy.” If you happen to relapse on alcohol, opioids, or benzo’s while taking the medication – seek medical attention immediately!

Regardless of the dangers, this is a huge breakthrough for addiction medicine. It’s exactly this sort of outside the box thinking that’s so desperately needed in the field. It’s this spirit of innovation and experimentation that’ll help us fight addiction in years to come.

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