When it comes to mixing alcohol and heroin, you should avoid it at all costs. Both alcohol and heroin are central nervous system depressants, which means that they act by slowing down the central nervous system.
Alcohol and heroin have similar effects but impact different parts of the brain. As a result, using these drugs together can actually cause them to have more of an effect than if they were used alone. This can put the person using the drugs in serious danger, as side effects of both drugs are enhanced, as well. For example, the breathing rate can significantly slow and the blood pressure can lower. These are only two of the many dangerous side effects that can occur when mixing alcohol and heroin.
What Is Heroin?
Heroin is an illegal opioid that is made from morphine. It is derived from the seed pod of opium poppy plants and compounded into powder form. Heroin quickly enters the brain and affects the opioid receptors, causing a euphoric physical and mental sensation.
The illegal substance can be used in a number of ways, including by snorting, smoking, or injecting the substance. Heroin is a highly addictive substance that causes tolerance to quickly build, requiring individuals to use more and more of the drug to get the same effects.
A 2003 survey conducted nationwide from the National Institute on Drug Abuse discovered that at least 3.7 million Americans had used heroin during some point in their lives. In 2010, heroin was responsible for 224,706 ER visits according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network. Heroin by itself is one of the most dangerous narcotics out there.
Heroin And Alcohol Abuse
There are many dangers that can arise when someone mixes heroin with alcohol. Due to both drugs slowing down the heart rate and breathing, individuals are at risk of falling into a coma or even death. If someone goes into a coma, he or she could be at risk for brain injury that could have lasting effects on the overall quality of life.
Additionally, people mixing heroin and alcohol are more likely to experience a decreased ability to think rationally, which can put them at risk for making dangerous decisions such as driving while intoxicated or sharing needles.
There is also a significant increase in the chance of overdose from one or both of these substances when they are used together. An overdose can be deadly or at the very least leave an individual with lasting brain damage.
Side Effects Of Mixing Heroin With Alcohol
Using heroin on its own is incredibly dangerous, and mixing alcohol with heroin only increases the potential side effects. Using heroin can result in numerous dangerous side effects, including:
- trouble breathing
- slowed mental function
- dry mouth
- flushed skin
- severe itching
Mixing alcohol with heroin can result in these side effects becoming worse as well as an increased risk for slowed breathing and heart rate. Additionally, the side effects of using these two substances together can include extreme lethargy, the inability to think rationally, and an increased risk of overdose. In short, mixing alcohol with heroin is incredibly dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
Long-Term Risks Of Mixing Heroin And Alcohol
In addition to the immediate effects of using heroin and alcohol together, there are also several long-term effects that can have a lasting impact on an individual’s health and wellbeing. These effects can negatively impact an individual’s ability to function both physically and mentally.
These long-term risks may include:
- organ damage as a result of the substances slowing breathing and heart rate
- liver damage due to the liver’s inability to break down the substances
- damaged immune system, which leaves the body susceptible to chronic illness and disease
- inability to heal from illness and disease
- physical dependence on one or both substances
- addiction to one or both substances
Detox Programs For Heroin And Alcohol Addiction
Withdrawing from heroin or alcohol is the first step on the road to recovery. Most people will need to attend a medically supervised detox program to safely and effectively withdraw from substances. This is especially true for those who have a high level of physical dependence on a drug or alcohol.
A medically supervised detox program provides individuals with a comfortable place to withdraw from substances. It also provides round-the-clock medical supervision to ensure that individuals receive any medication or other medical attention needed for a safe detox process.
Medically supervised detox programs usually last between three to 10 days and are in a hospital setting or a treatment facility. Once someone has completed a detox program, he or she will likely be advised to go on to a treatment program.
Inpatient Treatment For Heroin And Alcohol Abuse
Inpatient treatment is the most intensive form of treatment available for addiction and requires individuals to reside at the treatment facility for an extended period of time. This form of treatment is often suggested for those trying to overcome a heroin or alcohol addiction. How long a person will stay at an inpatient facility will largely depend on his or her condition and situation.
Inpatient drug and alcohol addiction programs offer around-the-clock structure and support. While each treatment center varies, most will center their treatment programs a certain method of recovery.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can be used for both alcohol and heroin addiction treatment. For alcohol, certain medications are available to help the symptoms of withdrawal and reduce the likelihood of relapse by forcing the person to become ill if alcohol is consumed. For heroin, there are medications that are used to replace the illicit substance. These medications are much safer and provide similar effects but at much lower doses. Individuals are slowly weaned off the replacement drug until it is no longer needed.
If a person is unable to attend inpatient drug and alcohol addiction treatment, there are other forms of treatment available. These include partial hospitalization programs, intensive outpatient programs, and outpatient treatment. These programs do not require individuals to stay at the facility for several days or weeks, but rather allow patients to return home after treatment.
To learn more about the interactions and side effects that come with mixing heroin and alcohol, contact us today.
Alcohol energy drinks (AEDs), also called caffeinated alcoholic beverages (CABs) quickly became a popular drinking alternative within the realm of alcohol use, and more dangerously, abuse. In addition to this, energy drinks have gained widespread popularity as an alternative to sodas or juices as mixers in cocktails or as chasers following shots. Even though this use may be steeped in a party culture that revolves around fun, the results are far from positive—research finds that consuming alcohol in conjunction with energy drinks significantly increases your risk of harmful side effects and dangers.
The CDC reports that sales of caffeinated alcoholic beverages soared and in a mere six years (from 2002-2008) the two leading CAB brands had a combined 67-fold increase in sales. Due to the implications of this influx and the staggering research that illustrated the dangers, restrictions have been imposed to limit the production and sales of these beverages. The CDC’s website states that “in November 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told the manufacturers of seven CABs that their drinks could no longer stay on the market in their current form.”
When it came to alcoholic beverages that were sold premixed with alcohol, the danger was even greater as the alcohol content often surpassed that of an average beer, or what is considered the equivalent of a standard drink. Here, we outline exactly why these premixed drinks are so dangerous, by breaking down their individual components. These risks are also present when energy drinks are mixed together with alcohol.
The Science Behind This Bad Combination
Energy drinks generally contain a blend of caffeine, vitamins (namely B), and other chemical or herbal stimulants, including taurine, guarana, or ginseng, to name a few; many contain large amounts of sugar, as well.
All drugs exert an effect on your body and brain. Within the brain, they alter the functioning of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that are responsible for sending messages across your brain and to your brain’s receptors.
When you consider the effect that drugs of abuse have on your brain’s neurotransmitters, one commonality you’ll find is that they all affect your body’s dopamine system, causing it to activate. In the case of the alcohol and energy drink combination, the two most predominant ingredients—caffeine and alcohol have one thing in common—they both increase the neurotransmitter dopamine which is associated with reward. Scientists theorize that this is one of the reasons why this combination is so enticing to people.
On the other hand, these two substances exert very different effects on your brain’s neurotransmitters for an important reason—alcohol is a sedative or a depressant, while caffeine is a stimulant. This causes your brain and body to be caught in a tug of war, as neurotransmitters on both ends of the spectrum are being activated and inhibited. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. When the alcohol crosses the blood brain barrier, it activates the production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. An inhibitory neurotransmitter inhibits, or slows down, specific neural processes. In the case of alcohol, the resultant state of relaxation or sedation is due to this.
On the other hand, caffeine has the effect of being an antagonist on certain neurotransmitters. This means that it gets in the way of their function. One of the chemicals it impedes is also an inhibitory neurotransmitter. This chemical is adenosine. Due to the fact that this chemical’s effects are significantly impaired, the opposite effect occurs—the hallmark arousal and alertness that people most commonly attribute to caffeine. In amounts of excess caffeine, this imbalance can create a sense of nervousness or anxiety and even cause an abnormally quickened heart rate (tachycardia).
The addition of other stimulants can magnify caffeine’s effects. The fact that many of these stimulants may be naturally derived can be misleading. Just because something is naturally sourced does not necessarily mean that it is good for you. Also, it is worth noting that some people claim that energy drinks are “good for you” or help prevent hangovers because they contain B vitamins. Though it is true that B vitamins are essential for good health, the negative effects of this delivery method far outweigh any positives. There are numerous other healthy ways by which one can obtain these necessary vitamins, namely through a healthy diet, but also by actually taking vitamins.
A very common and dangerous supposition is that caffeine or other stimulants decrease the metabolism of alcohol or make its effects and outcomes less harmful. According to the CDC, “caffeine has no effect on the metabolism of alcohol by the liver and thus does not reduce breath alcohol concentrations or reduce the risk of alcohol-attributable harms.”
The journal Frontiers in Public Health published a study that researched the adverse effects of energy drink consumption in Europe, with attention to the risks that resulted from its consumption with alcohol. They found that “while the consumption of energy drinks with alcohol significantly reduces the subjective perceptions of some symptoms of alcohol intoxication including impairment of motor coordination, there is no actual reduction in the effects of the alcohol on the impairment of motor coordination, reaction time, or the breath alcohol concentration.” Just because you can’t see the effects as blatantly as when you drink alcohol alone, doesn’t mean that your body and brain are not suffering from them.
This combination of chemicals and subsequent neurotransmitter activity, or lack thereof, can cause what some scientists coined as “wide awake drunkenness.” As a person consumes an excess of alcohol paired with stimulants, some of the stimulant’s properties become more evident and mask those of the alcohol. This may result in a person feeling an inaccurate sobering effect—the stimulant’s properties mislead a person into thinking that they are not as inebriated as they really are, causing them to consume more alcohol and engage in risky behaviors. In fact, this combination of alcohol, caffeine, and other stimulants can in fact further perpetuate already-present risks, while adding on additional dangers.
What Are The Dangers Of Mixing Alcohol With These Stimulants?
Some people might wonder why this is a bad thing—after all, people have been using caffeinated beverages (like cola) in mixed drinks for years. There is a vast difference between mixing a cocktail with cola and pairing alcohol with an energy drink. The amount of caffeine and effect of the caffeine, especially when met with the other stimulants, is significantly different. It’s reported that many of the most popular energy drinks have 4-5 times as much caffeine as your average cola. Pair this with an excess of sugar and a cocktail of other stimulants and you have a dangerous combination.
Worldwide, scientists are concerned about the effects of energy drinks as they stand alone, coupled with alcohol this risk increases. Energy drinks can cause the following side effects alone; here we elaborate and note where alcohol abuse also causes these effects.
- Irritability: Binge drinking can cause a drop in blood sugar as your blood alcohol content falls, which can cause irritability.
- Dehydration: Alcohol itself is a diuretic and causes dehydration.
- Upset stomach: Excess amounts of alcohol can cause nausea and vomiting and other gastrointestinal disturbances.
- Heart palpitations: Alcohol use can cause cardiac arrhythmia, especially in people who already have a present heart condition.
- Increased blood pressure: Alcohol abuse can raise your blood pressure, including binge drinking, which often is concurrent to alcohol use that involves energy drinks.
- Sleeplessness: Contrary to what people might think, alcohol actually disrupts your sleeping patterns and leads to a lower quality of sleep.
This combination can be especially hazardous for people who have certain preexisting conditions such as heart disease or high blood pressure. Alcohol abuse can aggravate both of these conditions and the components of an energy drink can also cause complications for those who suffer from them—together the risk is compounded.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that in 2011, 13 percent of the 20,783 ED visits that involved energy drinks also involved alcohol. In the worst instances, as is supported by the statistics of ED visits and scientific research, this combination can cause seizure and death.
Due to the fact that a person may not be able to perceive an accurate representation of the extent of their intoxication, a person might keep drinking and have suffer further incapacitation of their judgement and decision-making faculties, leading them to take more risks and endanger the health and lives of themselves and those around them.
According to the CDC, those who mix alcohol with energy drinks, in comparison to those who do not are:
- 3 times more likely to binge drink (based on breath alcohol levels)
- About twice as likely to report being taken advantage of sexually
- About twice as likely to report taking advantage of someone else sexually
- About twice as likely to report riding with a driver who was under the influence of alcohol
In addition to these risks, the Frontiers in Public Health study referenced research that found “a positive association between energy drink consumption and high-risk behaviors including marijuana use, fighting, sexual risk taking, failure to use seat belts, taking risks on a dare, smoking, drinking, problems stemming from alcohol abuse, and illicit drug use.”
The Impact On Underage And College Age Drinkers
Though this use affects all ages, it has been especially high and detrimental to the younger population. Frontiers in Public Health found that within a study group of young adults ages 18-29, of those who consumed energy drinks, 71 percent mixed them with alcohol. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) cites that alcoholic energy drinks “are regularly consumed by 31 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds and 34 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds.”
Nonalcoholic drinks are widely popular and increasingly consumed by adolescent and young adults. The alcohol versions were marketed in cans that were eerily similar—decked out in bright colors, with pop art designs and catchy names—all things that purposely added to their trendy and youthful appeal, with what appeared to be a specific aim to market to a underage and college-aged population. In addition, these drinks were relatively cheap and many times contained more alcohol than your average beer, making them a popular choice for individuals within these age demographics.
Scientists at Dartmouth’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center researched the correlation between the consumption of energy drinks and alcohol abuse within a population of 3,342 youth between the ages of 15 and 23 years. The university spoke of the results, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, stating that “teens aged 15-17 years old who had ever mixed alcohol with energy drinks were four times more likely to meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder than a teen who has tried alcohol but never mixed it with an energy drink.”
Some of the chemical and herbal stimulants that frequent the ingredient list of these energy drinks, both nonalcoholic and alcoholic, are touted to bring the user a host of seemingly positive benefits (albeit claims that are not backed up by significant scientific evidence), some of which include increased physical performance, stamina, and libido. These things are massively appealing to the college-aged crowd and go hand-in-hand with their pursuit of sociability and sexuality.
These desires can be very dangerous when paired with the increased state of inebriation that commonly results when a person consumes alcohol and an energy drink together. As a person becomes more and more inebriated, their brain becomes compromised and their judgement and decision-making centers are impaired, this paired with decreased inhibitions leads to a higher instance of bad decisions and dangerous behaviors.
A study published in the journal Academic Emergency Medicine studied the effects of alcohol mixed with energy drinks (referred to by the study’s authors as AmED) on drinking behaviors and consequences within college-aged individuals. In comparison to those who consumed alcohol without energy drinks (the latter number), researchers found that “consumption of AmED was associated with increased heavy episodic drinking (6.4 days vs. 3.4 days on average) and also “twice as many episodes of weekly drunkenness (1.4 days/week vs. 0.73 days/week).
Any drinking for under aged individuals can be very harmful as certain areas of their brains are still developing. Research shows that binge drinking, which oftentimes is higher in instances where alcohol is consumed in conjunction with energy drinks, carries specific risks of causing damage to the brain and cognitive processes, and for those of the younger sect, increasing their odds of developing an alcohol use disorder later in life.
Don’t Let This Trend Derail Your Life Or Health
Combining alcohol with energy drinks can be a dangerous and even deadly combination. If you’d like to understand more about the risks associated with this or any other drinking behaviors, or if you’re fearful that you or a loved one is suffering from an alcohol use disorder, please reach out to us today. AlcoholTreatment.net is standing by to offer you the knowledge and support that you need to get your life and health back on track.
If you think going out with the girls for a few drinks before your baby is born is acceptable, think again. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) is a condition where a fetus develops brain damage due to alcohol consumed by its mother and is a very, real danger. A few drinks now, might be condemning your unborn child to a very difficult life.
Most damage occurs in the beginning of a pregnancy, when things are beginning to develop. During weeks six to nine, a baby develops facial features and crucial organs. Professor Neil McIntosh, an Edinburgh-based Neonatologist, says there is scientific evidence that shows mothers who drink during this three-week window are more likely to have babies with the facial deformities associated with FASD. So when is okay to drink during pregnancy? Never.
How Can We Identify This Global Problem?
It is believed that the dangers of imbibing while pregnant were known as far back as the ancient Greeks, though Fetal Alcohol Syndrome wasn’t officially diagnosed until 1973. Since then, the syndrome has continued to be a problem in countries around the world. It is estimated that 1 in 500 babies born in the United States will be affected with this condition. Statistics vary by race with the highest rates in the US occurring among Native Americans. Canadian Aboriginals also have a high occurrence, followed by South Africans and Russians.
Behavioral And Physical Characteristics of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
There are several characteristics, both physical and behavioral, that are often shared by those affected by FASD. Physically, the shape of the head is often smoother, eyes are smaller than normal, the ridge between the nose and lip is under developed, and the upper lip is thinner than usual. Deformity of the limbs, low weight, hearing, kidney, and heart difficulties can also result.
Mentally, a host of problems can result from drinking with an unborn human inside of you. In infants and young children, these range from lack of focus, developmental delays, trouble understanding cause and effect, and problems with boundaries.
But what happens when a child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome grows to adulthood? Oftentimes, life is hard for them. A condition such as this, involving the brain, cannot be outgrown. A mother drinking alcohol before her child is born has scarred that child for life. 90% of adults with FASD have mental health issues, and 80% find it difficult to keep a job. They often lack impulse control, have a “short fuse,” and cannot understand concepts such as time or money. Short-term memory issues can also come into play.
Society is not equipped to handle those who may look normal, but don’t function like average adults. Many struggling with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome feel like they are forever children, stuck in a harsh adult world. Next time you reach for a bottle of wine or head out for an evening of cocktails, think about what you’re doing. The price of your indulgences now may well be your unborn child’s lifelong health.
Contact us at Alcoholtreatment.net to learn more.
Marijuana use has become a highly contested topic within both the social and scientific realms. This debate centers on the rising use of the drug in recreational sectors and the push towards legalization. Many feel that this substance may be fairly innocuous but recent research suggests that its use may be implicated in ways the scientific community is just beginning to understand.
New findings by a coordinated effort between Columbia University Medical Center and the New York State Psychiatric Institute attribute an escalated risk of substance use, including alcohol, for those that use marijuana. This risk goes beyond the damage marijuana can cause physically, socially, and mentally.
Perimeters Of The Study
A study published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal documented the correlation between alcohol and marijuana use. The study utilized followed 34,653 US adults who were interviewed in two waves, three years apart in the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.
The published results stated that the co-founders were the same in both waves and included “sociodemographic characteristics, family history of substance use disorder, disturbed family environment, childhood parental loss, low self-esteem, social deviance, education, recent trauma, past and present psychiatric disorders, and respondent’s history of divorce.”
What The Study Found
Within roughly the past decade marijuana use and abuse has nearly doubled and the study found that this boost in marijuana use may carry an increased risk of dependence on alcohol.
During the first wave, 1,279 individuals reported cannabis use and within this group, the second wave noted a 6.2-fold rise in risk for any substance abuse disorder. More specifically, there was a 2.7-fold risk for an alcohol use disorder. This is in comparison to those within the study that did not use cannabis.
Senior study author Dr. Mark Olfson elaborated, stating “patients who may be considering using cannabis should know that by using cannabis they are approximately doubling their risk of developing a drug use disorder over the next few years.”
For those that currently use cannabis, the risk of alcohol abuse climbs, while reducing or ceasing use may reduce an individual’s risk. These associations do not establish proof that marijuana use causes the inception of substance abuse disorders.
It has been a widely held belief that marijuana is not addictive and does not carry a risk of dependence or increase the risk of dependence on other substance. Unfortunately, studies have shown that marijuana dependence is possible and more probable the earlier an individual starts. And that this dependency fuels an increased risk in alcohol use.
According to the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, “one in ten people who have tried marijuana at least once in their lifetimes will become dependent” and that “if someone uses marijuana everyday, then they have a 50/50 chance of becoming dependent.”
Combine that dependency risk with the increased risk of alcohol dependency and you have the potential for a nasty cycle of abuse. Remember, both marijuana and alcohol are depressants, meaning they help enhance the effective of the other. This is a big factor in why they are so often combined.
How Does It Put Me At Risk?
In a letter posted on the NIDA website, Volkow stated that “(marijuana use) also affects brain systems that are still maturing through young adulthood, so regular use by teens may have a negative and long-lasting effect on their cognitive development, putting them at a competitive disadvantage and possibly interfering with their well-being in other ways.”
She goes on to say that “its use during adolescence may make other forms of drug abuse or addiction more likely.” For these reasons, it is especially important that marijuana use is closely monitored and addressed for teenagers and young adults.
In addition to impairing your short-term memory, marijuana can impair your judgement and distort your perception. These things may precipitate harmful behaviors such as substance and alcohol abuse. The authors of the study noted that “use of cannabis can also lead to behavioral disinhibition, which increases the likelihood of use of other substances and the risk of abuse or dependence on those substances.”
Though more research is needed to confirm this hypothesis, it is a cause for concern. Many of these symptoms may either precede, aggravate, or directly increase the risk for alcohol abuse.
Get Educated Now
If you have any questions about the situational or scientific risks associated with marijuana use and alcohol abuse, please contact us at AlcoholTreatment.net. And if you or someone your love needs help finding a rehabilitation program, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our caring and trained professionals.
Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS), also called “wet brain”, is a type of dementia that some people going through alcoholism might develop, usually towards the end stages. It’s caused by a deficiency in vitamin B1 (thiamine), which helps the body turn food into energy.
Thiamine is an important nutrient and all of the tissues in the body, including the brain, need it to function correctly. The body then takes thiamine to make a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) that transports energy within cells. A deficiency in thiamine can seriously impact the nervous system, the heart and brain function.
Symptoms Of Wernicke-korsakoff Syndrome
Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome is a combination of two separate conditions; Wernicke’s encephalopathy and Korsakoff psychosis. Together, the two produce a long list of symptoms:
- Dramatic changes to vision
- Loss of muscle coordination
- Speech impediments
- Hard time swallowing
- Memory loss and confabulation (when an individual makes up stories to fill the gaps of memory loss and claiming them to be true)
- Inability to make sense when they speak
Separately, Wernicke’s encephalopathy occurs when there’s damage to the brain’s thalamus (which controls several processes, like sleep and sensory perception) and the hypothalamus (which controls body temperature, food and water intake, hunger and thirst, etc.), and Korsakoff psychosis occurs because of the damage to these parts of the brain where memories are created and managed.
Sometimes these symptoms can be hard to figure out in a person who is habitually intoxicated, but the very first sign of something wrong is a sudden feeling of confusion that is not caused by drinking. This differs from intoxicated confusion because it lasts even when the individual hasn’t been drinking. In the beginning, the ability to form new memories will be damaged; the end stage of WKS is coma and death if left untreated.
The Causes of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS)
Although WKS is not caused solely by consuming alcohol, the typical lifestyle of a person habitually drinking alcohol where good nutrition is also often neglected does increase the likelihood of developing the disorder. The individual who lacks a proper diet over long periods of time, can lead to several nutritional deficiencies, especially thiamine. A lack of thiamine in a person’s diet can interfere with glucose metabolism and weakening the brain.
If caught early on, WKS is treatable through thiamine injections, which can improve an individual’s brain function and tissue condition. Most who find their way towards recovery can benefit from regaining all of what was lost, including vision and memory. Others who are treated later will have to deal with what was done to them from WKS, but can adapt to the change and abstain from alcohol completely with the proper care and assistance. Medications used for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease can also prove beneficial with helping the individual improve their memory.
However, if WKS has developed into the later stages and has been previously untreated, the brain is less likely to recover. In this instance, the best course of action is to prevent any additional deterioration by abstaining from further alcohol abuse.
Preventing Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome
The absolute best way to avoid WKS is to eat a balanced, healthy diet and not drinking alcohol, or to only drink in moderation, though sometimes this isn’t always the case. Those who consume alcohol heavily may be able to reduce their risk of WKS by taking regular thiamine supplements, though they would still be at risk from the additional side effects of long-term alcohol abuse.
If you believe that you or a loved one are starting to show signs of WKS, we are here to help. We can provide you with personalized treatment that is tailored to your specific needs and connect you to the right team of medical professionals and offer support to friends and family members. Remember, you do not have to face this alone; contacting us is the first step to recovery and a life free from alcohol abuse.
It can be challenging to be diagnosed with both a mental illness and a substance addiction, and many attempt to alleviate symptoms by self-medicating, either with drugs or alcohol. They believe that their self-medicating is either good enough as treatment and that they don’t need professional help, or they engage in these habits in spite of traditional treatment. This ultimately leads to alcohol addiction, and combined with bipolar disorder, it can be a complicated situation for either you or a loved one.
According to a study by the American Journal of Managed Care, nearly 56% of individuals with bipolar disorder have experienced drug or alcohol addiction during their lifetime. Additionally, 46% of participants had abused or became addicted to alcohol. Symptoms that rise from bipolar disorder, such as pain or depression, often lead individuals to find comfort in alcohol; alcohol is the most commonly abused substance among those afflicted with bipolar disorder.
Understanding more about bipolar disorder and the combined effects of alcohol addiction is the first step to finding your path to recovery and the necessary treatment.
Bipolar Disorder and Alcohol: How Are They Related?
Similar to alcohol abuse, an individual with bipolar disorder is at-risk for their overall emotional and physical well-being. Those with bipolar disorder have a higher rate of relationship problems, instability in their finances, accidental injuries, and even suicide than those without the illness. Bipolar disorder and alcoholism pose an unsafe combination because alcohol can worsen the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
According to Mayo Clinic, there are a few factors that may link bipolar disorder with alcoholism:
- Hereditary traits – Bipolar disorder is hereditary, though some differences in genetic makeup can affect brain chemistry and how the brain responds to alcohol and other substances, which can increase the risk of addiction.
- Mania – These “highs” lead to bad judgment, and can also lead to increased substance use.
- Depression/Anxiety – While many turn to alcohol to ease the symptoms of bipolar disorder, it unfortunately has the opposite effect, making their symptoms worse.
So What Exactly Is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is defined as a mental illness that is marked by alternating periods of joy and depression. The condition carries a significant amount of symptoms, each correlate to the “highs” and “lows” of the disorder:
Symptoms of the “highs”:
- Becoming more impulsive and making grand, unrealistic plans.
- High energy and sex drive; has little need for rest.
- Exhibits poor judgment in their decisions.
- Excessively excited; causes rapid speech and loses focus on their work.
- Sudden mood changes.
- Alcohol and drug abuse.
Symptoms of the “lows”:
- Sadness and feelings of hopelessness or insignificance.
- Has trouble making decisions.
- Has trouble concentrating.
- Insomnia and needing more sleep.
- No longer finding joy in things or hobbies that they once liked.
- Uncontrollable crying.
- Changes in appetite; can cause either weight gain or loss.
- Thoughts and attempts at suicide
Keep in mind that with bipolar disorder, there is no fixed pattern in episode changes. Sometimes, an individual can have many episodes of the same temperament (either depressed or overjoyed) before suddenly shifting into the opposite mood. These periods can happen over a course of days, weeks, months, and sometimes even years.
In the past, bipolar disorder and alcoholism were treated separately at different facilities and with a different set of doctors and counselors. Today, more medical professionals realize the importance of treating both bipolar disorder and substance abuse at the same time, through what is known as “integrated treatment.” Integrated treatment boasts significant advantages, including:
- Cohesive care provided in a single facility, with one team of professionals that consist of addiction counselors, psychologists and doctors.
- Psychiatric medication to help manage bipolar disorder.
- Psychotherapy sessions that focus on managing your emotions and to minimize relapse.
Remember that you do not have to fight this battle alone. Contact us here at AlcoholTreatment.net to speak privately with one of our dedicated counselors to find out how you can get the help you need and to get back on your feet to a fulfilling life.
How Does Alcohol Misuse Differ On Campus Than At Home?
The consequences of alcohol misuse to a person and their family, friends, and acquaintances are undeniable, but how do the circumstances of alcohol misuse differ in the campus environment?
Just as it affects the rest of the family when someone at home drinks, the consequences of alcohol misuse extend beyond that of the person doing the drinking. It also affects non-drinking students, friends and faculty.
The Campus Environment Is A Whole New World
For new students, the sudden freedom of campus life compared to the more structured home setting, offer many opportunities to easily give into temptations. Excessive partying, skipping class, drinking, and drug use are just some of the behaviors a new student might participate in without the parental oversight they had before.
Incidents of alcohol misuse are particularly strong in freshmen, as they are thrust into a lifestyle they’ve most likely not dealt with before. Statistics show that over the years, misuse of alcohol generally declines over a student’s attendance at a school. Alcohol misuse, while it exists throughout campus life, is most prevalent in the earlier years when a student is getting used to their new lifestyle.
The more involved students are in campus life, the higher the chance for alcohol misuse. Students living in fraternities, sororities, and participating in athletics have the highest instances of alcohol misuse. The lowest occurrence of alcohol misuse happens with students who commute from home.
The campus environment is often separated from the general community that surrounds it. It is somewhat uniquely isolated, even in the middle of a city or town. As a result, it isn’t touched by community programs as much. The campus becomes something of a world in of itself, subject to its own rules, mores, and lifestyle.
The Campus Life Can Actually Foster Alcohol Misuse
As a new student becomes familiar to this new world of campus life, they will encounter situations that can make abusing alcohol, tempting. The social atmosphere of a college campus can result in academics taking the back seat. It’s much more “fun” to attend an all-night party instead of studying for a midterm exam. The stresses of a study workload generally heavier than they are previously used to, can make the relaxing effect of drinking desirable. An attitude of poor judgement such as, “I’ll study in the morning, I’m hanging with the gang tonight” can become easier.
Alcohol is usually more accessible on campus than it was in the family home, particularly when living in shared spaces like dormitories and fraternity/sorority houses. It is easier to drink more often and in higher quantities because students can generally buy, store, and serve themselves. They’re not beholden to the costs, travel requirements, and time constraints of drinking at bars and other establishments. It’s cheaper, so more affordable, often purchased with money sent by family meant to be applied toward food, books, and other needs. Additionally, drinking at home makes one less susceptible to the hazard of getting drugged by someone slipping something into unmonitored drinks.
Binge Drinking Is A Prevalent And Dangerous Part Of Campus Social Life
The campus, with its lose restrictions, pressure from other students, and heavy drinking and partying propaganda, can facilitate and even encourage the act of binge drinking. Binge drinking is the consumption of large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time resulting in fast and strong intoxication. It is a particularly prevalent and unfortunate form of alcohol misuse exhibited on the campus scene. In addition to the same dangers associated with alcohol misuse in general, it has its own characteristic problems such as:
- Poor academic performance from missing classes
- Sudden, harmful behavior
- Quickly accumulating internal physical damage
Sudden ingestion of large amounts of alcohol wreaks havoc on the body and mind. Judgment is quickly impaired and it can make one more susceptible to alcohol poisoning, driving drunk, aggression, and other negative impulses. Binge drinking can be cumulative and the more one takes part in it, the more alcohol misuse can lead into full addiction.
Collateral Damage Of Campus Alcohol Misuse
The student who misuses alcohol doesn’t do disservice only to themselves. The results of their behavior can affect fellow students, faculty, family, and members of the surrounding community. Studies by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism show that over 80 percent of students on campus use alcohol. The following findings are just some examples of and numbers associated with student alcohol misuse annually:
- Almost 600,000 people injured
- Over 1,800 students die as a result of it, whether from car accidents, physical damage or misadventure
- Almost 700,000 victims of non-sexual assault such as beatings
- Almost 100,000 students sexually assaulted
These numbers don’t include other negative ramifications from student alcohol misuse, such as property damage.
Hazing: Campus Initiations Are Breeding Grounds For Alcohol Misuse
Hazing, the practice of initiating students into groups, teams, or organizations, goes back as far as the 1800’s. It involves activities designed to test a student’s “worthiness” of becoming a member. The activity is supposed to encourage camaraderie and feelings of acceptance, but in most cases, all it does is humiliate and/or endanger the inductee and has even resulted in death.
Hazing is usually most prevalent in a student’s initial years, when they are “pledging” to fraternities or sororities, or joining athletic teams, groups, and even being inducted into honor societies and academic clubs. Methods passed off as harmless or “just for fun” are often sadistic and dangerous. Every group that was studied involved drinking of some kind in their “tests.”
An exhaustive study conducted by professors at the University of Maine between 2005 and 2007 resulted in alarming information:
- Over half of students involved in groups, clubs or teams experienced hazing of some kind
- Almost half went through hazing prior to college
- Alcohol consumption is required in some way with every group
- Tasks required of inductees are sometimes illegal
- Non-students such as coaches, advisors, fellow students, and alumni are frequently aware of the hazing and methods being used
Unfortunately, hazing has become something of an “expected” part of campus life. Students generally do not report hazing, even when abusive, dangerous, or illegal methods are practiced. They do not report it to school officials.
Even where administration is aware of hazing on campus, prevention usually doesn’t go beyond a statement that it is not permitted. Intolerance mandates are not usually enforced. This results in students being unwilling or afraid to report incidents, even when aware of someone being injured, assaulted, or illegal activity taking place.
Awareness Of And Attempts At Dealing With Alcohol Misuse
It is difficult for students, particularly freshmen, to resist the peer pressure associated with drinking on campus. Often they are coming from a home environment where there were adults who called the shots and guided their actions. Young adults who have been raised being educated about alcohol and its effects, generally fare better than those who were not. But a new student is easily influenced by older, more established upperclassmen. Even when a new student is aware of the negative consequences of drinking, they may not have the courage to resist something that is promoted almost as necessary to continued education life. They may feel that resistance is simply futile, and give in when they’d rather not.
The pressure to fit in on campus can be as strong as, or even more intense than when they were high school students. They’re supposed to be grown-up now. They choose their own direction, their own classes, etc. They don’t want to be seen as weak or lame by turning down a bottle handed to them in the dorm, opting to stay home and study rather than go to a party, or decline to participate a hazing ritual required to join a fraternity or sorority.
Once a student gives up the fight and becomes involved in campus alcohol misuse, they rarely recognize they have a problem. Even fewer choose to seek help.
With Help, Campus Life Doesn’t Have To Involve Alcohol Misuse
Whether one is just entering campus life or has been on campus for a time, avoiding the dangers of alcohol misuse starts with awareness. You need to know what’s in store as you transition to a very different environment with temptations, pressures, and practices that can be difficult to deal with on your own. AlcoholTreatment.net can help you prepare for a campus experience that will be rewarding and positive, and can also help if drinking becomes a problem. Contact us to find out how.
Alcohol abuse is the third leading cause of lifestyle related death for Americans, with approximately 88,000 people dying each year from alcohol poisoning, alcohol-induced liver disease, cancer, or by alcohol-related accidents and assaults, among countless of other causes.
To increase awareness of the significance of this number, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began using another measure of total loss from alcohol-related deaths. The Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL) looks at the age of the person at the time of death and through an algorithm, determines the likelihood that person would have lived to the mean age of 65 years. On average, the potential life loss per individual in the United States from alcohol-related illness or injury measures 30 years, or a total YPLL measure of 2.5 million years annually.
More than 44% of the 88,000 lives lost to alcohol were due to chronic conditions or illnesses. Fifty-six percent of the those who died were killed in accidents or physical altercations relating to excessive alcohol consumption, most commonly through auto-related accidents. Nearly three quarters of those who died were men. One in 10 deaths of working-age adults is related to alcohol. Heavy drinkers were twice as likely as moderate drinkers to die from alcohol consumption due to both chronic and acute factors.
These are sobering numbers. But mortality rates can also serve as a mechanism to initiate change among specific subgroups and populations more at risk for alcohol exposure. For example, more than two thirds of those who died from alcohol related illness or accidents were working aged adults. Higher rates of alcohol consumption tend to exist within this subgroup. Focusing on what the trends tell us about when someone is most likely to consume alcohol (or most at risk for starting), as well as other risk factors involved in excessive use of alcohol can serve as a tool in preventing at least some of these unnecessary deaths.
Early Alcohol-Related Mortality Rates On The Rise
Early mortality rates among college age students and younger professionals indicates a higher likelihood of death by alcohol-related accident or injury in this group. The number of deaths annually is 13,873, compared to 13,147 in the older age category. Individuals 35-49 see an enormous jump in deaths related to alcohol-related chronic conditions – 732 deaths annually compared with 7,658 in the older age group.
One of the most at-risk groups facing earlier mortality rates due to alcohol consumption includes 30- to 40-year-old women. Media attention remains focused on college-age drinking. However research shows fewer students are engaging in risky drinking. Instead, binge drinking among young professionals just out of college and women especially indicate a more dire trend leading to increases in early mortality rates among these subgroups.
Further research indicates that even when men and women drink equivalent amounts, women are more prone to alcohol-related diseases than men. The early onset of diseases that lead to fatalities including liver disease, hypertension, and malnutrition was also more common in women.
How Alcohol Is Killing Young People
Among the age groups between 0 and 19 years, deaths by acute conditions including automobile accidents followed by homicides, suicides, and child abuse were highest. Deaths also result from chronic conditions like alcohol-related premature births, low birth weight and birth complications affecting infants specifically.
From ages 20 to 34, alcohol-related acute deaths spike with the majority of deaths related to automobile accidents, followed by homicides, poisoning and suicide. Rates of alcoholic liver disease begin to climb to 295 annually in this age category.
In the 35 to 49 age group, the chronic condition alcoholic liver disease increases to 3,930, surpassing the likelihood of dying from any acute causes. Auto-related accidents also account for 3,536 deaths annually among this age group.
Perception Of Alcohol’s Health Benefit Backfiring
Alcohol is linked to more than 300 chronic illnesses and acute conditions that put people at higher risk of death. Popular media portrayals of alcohol often lure people into a false sense of security, such as a glass of wine with dinner each night has some kind of health benefit. In reality, the health benefits of wine or alcohol have long been debated. Some evidence does support small amounts of alcohol may reduce cardiovascular disease. However, these health benefits are short-lived when someone consumes more than those rates mentioned in the studies.
When someone drinks a glass of wine with dinner each night, whether or not they will see health benefits or risks involves many factors including genetics, body weight, gender and liver health. Alcohol is not easily digested by the liver, creating strain on this vital organ. Moreover, it can only process a very small amount of alcohol in a given time, meaning that glass of wine with dinner may not have the good health affects someone is seeking.
Recent articles citing dubious evidence to support the claim that drinking in moderation while pregnant is safe have been immediately discounted by organizations like the National Institutes of Health (NIH). They reference a multitude of longitudinal studies indicating there is no guaranteed safe level of alcohol consumption known without some impact on developing fetuses. The widespread anecdotal evidence spread by media portrayals of the 30-something pregnant woman enjoying a glass of wine are misleading and may even contribute to the high mortality rates among this age group.
How to Prevent Youth Mortality Rates
The best way to prevent early death by chronic or acute alcohol-related conditions is education to counter misleading media portrayals. For those who are already suffering with problem drinking or a substance use disorder, matching those individuals with evidence-based care best suited to their individual needs is a critical component to their long-term success.
Discover A Recovery Plan That Works For You
AlcoholTreatment.net is your connection to the professional support and evidence-based, comprehensive treatment plan that will help you in your recovery from alcohol addiction or problem drinking. Call and speak with someone in confidence about the care you need and deserve to reclaim your path forward. Your recovery begins today.
Like alcohol, benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants. Though the two drugs work differently to achieve similar effects, the combined effect of taking both alcohol with benzodiazepines can be dangerous and even fatal. Both alcohol and benzodiazepines fall under a category of drugs called central nervous system depressants.
Alcohol and benzodiazepines can have an adverse effect, especially when taken in combination or in higher than recommended doses leading to decreased breath rate, heart rate, increasing chances of accidents by reducing coordination, fine-motor control, and generating confusion or disorientation. Coma and death are also possible.
What Are Central Nervous System Depressants?
Central nervous system depressants reduce nerve cell activity in the brain and along the central nervous system. There are several drug types that generate this effect including benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and non-benzodiazepines medications including Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata, used to treat sleep disorders.
These drug types work similarly in affecting the availability of the inhibitory neurotransmitter, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which reduces nerve cell activity. Gamma-aminobutyric acid is also a key neurotransmitter in our response to fear. When we are startled, nerve cell activity in the brain increases. This increase is part of our fight or flight response. In response to an increase in excitatory neurotransmission, GABA is released leading to the relaxation of smooth muscle fibers and a general feeling of calm.
Benzodiazepines work to enhance the effects of GABA and are a form of tranquilizer. Sold under some common brand names including Valium, Xanax, and Ativan, the drug has been used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and is sometimes prescribed as a muscle relaxer, among other uses.
Alcohol is also a central nervous system depressant and binds with GABA receptors to produce similar effects to drugs like benzodiazepines. In small doses, each of these drugs may have the effect of reducing anxiety or helping someone feel more relaxed. However, at higher doses, or when used in combination or abused, these drugs can have a significant combined inhibitory response, including reduced breaths per minute, slowing of the heart rate, affect coordination and reduce focus, and trouble thinking and making decisions. Overdose can prove fatal.
What Makes Abusing Alcohol And Benzodiazepines So Dangerous?
While it’s nice to feel relaxed, inducing too much GABA can be dangerous in two ways. First and most dangerous are the adverse health effects. Inhibiting the central nervous system of the body with drugs is like dialing down the control system on a car, then blindfolding the driver. Response time slows, breath and heart rate slow and can even stop, blood pressure is diminished, cognitive functioning is impaired, coordination is reduced, and it may be difficult for someone to speak without slurring. Another cause of death when alcohol is involved is aspiration and alcohol poisoning.
The second risk of combining alcohol and benzodiazepines is the increased risk of physical dependency on substances. Once you begin artificially increasing GABA, the body begins to respond to the increase by reducing the number of available receptor sites. This leads to a reduction in the desired effects of the drugs, perpetuating use of the substances.
When someone tries to stop taking the combination of alcohol and benzodiazepines, they face an unprecedented onslaught of neural activity which can heighten already troublesome anxiety, depression, or insomnia. These co-existing mental disorders may exist prior to abuse of the substances, or may result from the substance abuse.
Withdrawals From Combining Alcohol With Benzodiazepines
If a serious physical dependence on the combination of alcohol and benzodiazepines develops, withdrawal symptoms can be serious and require comprehensive care to manage. Withdrawal symptoms of both drugs may include severe headaches, insomnia, agitation, muscle rigidity, anxiety and panic attacks, shakiness, profuse sweating, confusion, gastrointestinal upset, changes in weight, and irregular heartbeats. Cravings for one or both drugs may be intense for the first few weeks and longer.
Withdrawals from Alcohol and Benzodiazepines Include:
- Severe headaches
- Severe insomnia or sleep disruptions
- Muscle rigidity
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Profuse sweating
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Changes in weight
- Irregular heartbeats
- Severe cravings
Treating Alcohol And Benzodiazepine Addiction
Treating alcohol and benzodiazepine addiction must include a treatment plan to accurately assess both the severity of the addiction, as well as any co-occurring mental disorders underlying the addiction. It is critical that someone undergoing treatment for an addiction to alcohol and benzodiazepine receive evidence-based care, especially since withdrawals from both drugs can mimic severe psychiatric disorders, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. The severity of withdrawals on the psyche combined with the physical withdrawals from both alcohol and benzodiazepine, including seizures and depressed immunity, make finding a comprehensive treatment plan essential to an individual’s long-term recovery.
A comprehensive treatment plan may include the practical application of yoga, exercise, and even acupuncture to naturally re-stabilize GABA and reduce related withdrawal symptoms including insomnia and anxiety. Medical management of these withdrawals may be necessary in more severe cases.
Get Help For Your Drug And Alcohol Addiction
AlcoholTreatment.net is your online resource for the kind of compassionate care you need and deserve. We’ll connect you with the professional support and evidence-based treatment options best suited to get you off drugs and alcohol and to keep you off of drugs and alcohol long-term. You deserve better. Contact us in confidence today and discover the sweet rewards of a life in recovery.
When someone is ready to accept and change their life, oftentimes there is more than one obstacle that can interrupt their plans. People who find themselves dependent on or abusing alcohol will be at odds with a number of barriers as they make their way along the path to sobriety. Getting sober from alcoholism is imperative in mending your body, moving toward a place of health and true happiness, and repairing the world that you’ve likely damaged around you. What makes the recovery process that much more difficult is the concurrent behavior of smoking cigarettes.
Smoking is something that many drinkers do. In fact, those who abuse either alcohol or drugs are commonly smokers, relying on the many associated good feelings that cigarettes give them. Smoking is something that people say calms them, though scientifically it rather stimulates nerves and can produce discomfort in the stomach, head, and other areas of the body. Smoking is also a behavior that an addicted individual relies on as a fixation to draw them away from other substances, especially when they’re unable to acquire what they really want. Moreover, smoking cigarettes is something that becomes a habitual tendency, something that one with an addiction disorder would take up as it melds into the patterns they’re used to.
Being used to these patterns, the addictive nature and fixative characteristics, someone addicted to or abusing alcohol would be very wise to also cut off ties with smoking as they leave drinking behind.
Smoking While You Drink
Something common that even nonsmokers do while drinking is having a cigarette, or even a few. On those weekend nights, out with friends, at your favorite bar, it becomes easy to associate knocking back some drinks with drawing on a square as well. While smoking inside at bars and restaurants has been banned in most states, there are still places that offer outdoor seating. And for those that don’t, it usually doesn’t stop someone from venturing outside in between drinks to have a smoke.
While it may be easy to let smoking go once you’ve quit drinking, it may be difficult to attend the places where you once did both, without being tempted. Going to a bar is not the best place for you during this arduous journey, and that is something you can hold onto, as you must weed some things out of your life for now. In the future you may be perfectly fine to go to those familiar places such as bars, but in this moment, you need to cut out drinking completely from your life and begin the repair process. Know that it will only be harder to quit drinking if you’re smoking or at a bar.
Withdrawals And Cigarettes
The withdrawal process is always difficult, whether your body is coming off of drugs or alcohol. But, alcohol withdrawal is known to be a particularly challenging experience, as it leaves many of us in a way that causes many serious side effects. While not everyone will get extremely sick, many will, and the illness associated with withdrawal can also alarm the body and promote dangerous symptoms, such as seizures and extreme anxiety.
Knowing that your body is unwell and that you’re at risk for major effects, you may end up wanting to smoke in an effort to (seemingly) calm yourself. Smoking during this process could actually open doors for you to desire another drink. Your association with smoking + drinking is something that you must shake yourself of. Allowing your body to heal fully beyond detox before having a cigarette, will keep you going down the right path. Getting wrapped up in another addicting habit in an attempt to relieve a stressor (withdrawal), you do run the risk of sinking yourself into the mentality that substances will cure and help you, when really, they won’t.
Addiction: Transferable Behaviors
Again, you must consider the fact that having multiple addictions will make it harder to quit just one. Smoking cigarettes is very common in rehab. Though some rehabilitation facilities do not allow smoking, many do and those that do will see their courtyards full of smokers who are coming off of their substance of choice.
Cigarettes during recovery are often smoked more. A pack a day can quickly turn into two when you’re cutting out alcohol from your normal diet and dealing with the anxiety that may incur during the process of finding sobriety.
What you should do at this time is try very hard to let go of both addictions, as they can easily play off one another and get you back into your bad habits. Be aware of where you should be, where you shouldn’t be, and how to replace everything in your life associated with drinking, with new and fun sober activities. Believe me, there are plenty of things to do in the world that involve ZERO drugs, alcohol, or cigarette smoking. While the struggle of getting clean is very real, try some other steps to cut out cigarettes while chucking the drink out too. Vaporized cigarettes have become a slightly better alternative to smoking that may work as a good stepping stone toward quitting altogether.
In With The New, Out With The Old
Now is the time to make commitments to your recovery. If smoking promotes the risk of drinking again, let go of cigarettes and start making the best decisions for your life. Health is number one for you now and you’ll know how good it feels to be free of addiction very soon. Don’t hesitate to change your life. Cut out the bars and the bad company and get into treatment today. Contact AlcoholTreatment.net to get help finding the best program for your recovery.