Monthly Archives: April 2016

alcohol bottles lined up

Signs Of An Alcoholic

In years past if you asked someone to imagine what an alcoholic looked like, they would more than likely describe a man sitting under a bridge with a brown bag, unshaven and unkempt. Although society has become more enlightened on the subject, recognizing the signs of alcoholism is still not as easy as you might think. There isn’t a test that you can go to the doctor for to see if you have it and what’s worse is that if you are afflicted with alcoholism, your mind will more than likely tell you that you do not suffer from the illness. For those around the alcoholic, it can be just as difficult to recognize and this is because alcoholism affects family and friends in such a way that even they will begin to believe that the person doesn’t have a drinking problem, subconsciously buying into the constructed delusion of the alcoholic. Adding to this complication is the fact that not everyone that drinks daily is an alcoholic, nor is everyone who gets into repeated familial or legal trouble an alcoholic. This is why 12-step programs emphasize self-diagnosis as the first step in recovery. The only person who can and must admit their alcoholism is the alcoholic and without this admission, nothing can be done. So if you are on the fence as to whether your drinking has become alcoholic, the signs below will hopefully help untangle this for you.

What is Alcoholism?

The American Medical Association defines alcoholism as, “a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations.” This is a fairly good starting point for dissecting the signs of an alcoholic, but adding to this the Merriam-Webster definition for alcoholism of “a chronic disorder marked by excessive and usually compulsive drinking of alcohol leading to psychological and physical dependence or addiction”, helps to complete the picture. In simpler terms alcoholism is an illness with genetic components, of which the main characteristics are continued and compulsive consumption of alcohol. The compulsive part is what is most important and it is this aspect that most alcoholics find difficult to come to terms with. The misconception that one can control their drinking because they stopped for a period of time is what causes a great many alcoholics to prolong their illness. This coupled with a lack of societal consequences can be enough to keep someone drinking for many years after they have lost control. This means that being an alcoholic does not necessarily mean you are bankrupt, getting divorced, losing the kids, losing your license, or any other number of things that can come along with alcoholism, it simply means that you have a compulsion to drink and when you are not drinking there is an obsession of the mind, however slight it may be, always pulling you back towards the drink.

Signs Of An Alcoholic

The signs for what constitutes alcoholism or alcoholic drinking vary depending on the person. Some people may experience all of these signs while others may only experience one or two. If while reading these signs you at any time find yourself rationalizing or justifying your answers it may be symptomatic of a problem with alcohol, and you may want to seek professional help.

woman drunk on her bed

The inability to stop drinking, or staying stopped, even when you have a desire to

This is probably the most obvious sign of an alcoholic, but it is also the one that many people get confused about. Alcoholism involves a certain distortion in thinking that even when you have a thought that you don’t want to drink, it can be overridden by the obsession to such a degree that you start to believe that you never really wanted to stop in the first place. If at any time in the past you have found that you could not stop drinking when you wanted to or you could not stay stopped for the period of time you initially agreed upon, then this may be indicative of alcoholism.

Hiding either your alcohol or the amount that you drink

Most normal drinkers do not feel the need to hide their alcohol. They leave their beers in the fridge and drink without any of the guilt and shame that most alcoholics feel while actively drinking. If you find yourself hiding liquor around the house or hiding the fact that you drank that day from friends and family then this may be a sign that you are an alcoholic.

Your relationships are being affected by your drinking

Alcoholism is a relation illness, meaning it doesn’t just affect the drinker, but it affects all of the people closest to them as well. This sometimes is not clear to the alcoholic and they may feel that if everyone just left them alone they would be fine, not realizing that not only is the alcohol creating a schism between them and their loved ones, but it is also drawing them further into isolation, attacking all of their relationships from two fronts.

You begin to experience withdrawal symptoms when you don’t drink

Withdrawal from alcohol can be fatal and if you are planning to stop drinking you need to seek professional medical help. If you find that when you do not drink for a period of time you begin to experience any of the following symptoms then this may be a sign that you are suffering from alcoholism.

    • Shaking or trembling
    • Delirium tremens
    • Vomiting or Nausea
    • Depression
    • Insomnia
    • Shaking
    • Anxiety
    • Seizures

The four signs of an alcoholic listed above are probably the most common indicators that someone has a problem with alcohol, but there are also many others; some of them are listed below:

  • Neglect of responsibilities at home, work, or school
  • Consistently driving while under the influence
  • Drinking in the morning
  • Legal problems such as DUIs or drunken disorderly
  • Blackouts or not remembering whole periods of time when drinking
  • Increased tolerance to alcohol
  • Daily drinking, although alcoholism is not contingent on amount or frequency
  • Drinking more than you had initially planned
  • Preoccupation with when you can have your next drink

Seeking Help For Your Alcoholism

If the preceding information resonated with you then you may need to seek help for your drinking. Stopping drinking on your own can be fatal, so if you or someone you know needs help with detoxing from alcohol, contact the professionals at SoCal Detox today, at toll-free 888-590-0777. We can help you start a new beginning and put an end to the vicious cycle of alcoholism.  

detox sign

What to Look For In A Quality Detox

The growing epidemic of drug and alcohol abuse in this country has caused a dramatic increase in the number of detoxes that have opened in the past few years. However, not all of these facilities are what they claim to be, and many have entered into the industry solely as a means for making a quick buck by taking advantage of those with drug and alcohol abuse problems. Doing a quick Internet search to try to find a detox results in a flood of choices and discerning which of these facilities are quality detoxes and which are not, can be difficult even for someone with considerable knowledge on the subject. That being said there are some easily recognizable factors shared by all quality detoxes and knowing them can help you sift through the plethora of detoxes to find the one that is right for you.  

What is a Detox?

Detox is often the first step in the treatment plan for people attempting to quit drinking or using drugs. It is usually a place where someone can safely and methodically withdraw from substances under the care of a physician who can help manage their symptoms. Withdrawal from drugs and alcohol can often be a frightening proposition and attempting to do this alone, without detox, can not only lead someone directly back to alcohol or drug abuse but in certain cases can also have serious medical consequences, including seizures and even death. This is why selecting a quality detox is so important, and the first step in this is understanding the different types of detoxes.

Inpatient Detox Centers

Inpatient Detox Centers are the most common types of detoxes. They offer 24-hour care in a safe environment. For inpatient detoxes, the clients live at the facility for the duration of their stay and this is often advantageous because it removes them from their daily routine and the temptations that come along with an ingrained habit such as drug or alcohol abuse. The detoxification stage is one that many people do not get past if they do not have help, but being in an inpatient facility with the proper medication can help mitigate relapse and set the person up for continued and successful recovery.

Outpatient Detox Centers

Outpatient detox centers offer the same level of care as inpatient detox centers but the difference is that the client goes home at night. This form of detox can have its advantages and disadvantages, but it really depends on the person and the risk factors involved in their ability to stay clean and sober. Some of the advantages of this form of detox are:

  • Greater social support from family and friends
  • Maintenance of employment and relationships
  • Greater freedom to continue life’s activities and responsibilities

However, these advantages are contingent on the person’s ability to maintain abstinence from substances while they are not at the detox center. So when making the choice for inpatient or outpatient detox, you must really be honest with yourself as to what you are capable of, whether the temptations of your current situation are too great for you to maintain sobriety, and what you truly need in order to overcome addiction.

nurse taking patients blood pressure

Factors in Choosing a Quality Detox

Making the choice to go to detox can be very stressful and overwhelming. Besides facing the physical symptoms of withdrawal, which are often uncomfortable, stepping into the unknown, into a life without drugs or alcohol can seem like the end of the world. This, however, is not the case and many people the world over have made this decision and would not trade their new life for anything. Once the decision to go to detox has been made there are certain factors that you should take into account before deciding which detox center you are going to attend. They are:

  •    Do I need to attend inpatient or outpatient detox?
  •    How far away is the detox?
  •    Does this facility accept my insurance, and if they do not, do I have the money to pay for treatment out of pocket?
  •    If I am looking to go to a drug rehabilitation center after, does this detox have relationships with any?
  •    What sort of recovery community is available in the surrounding area?

Once these questions have been answered you can begin to get a little more specific in your decision making and look for the attributes that make up a quality detox. Some of the things you should look for when choosing a detox are:

Does the detox offer specialized treatment plans for detox of specific substances?

Different substances require different protocols for detox. For instance, the medications necessary to detox safely from benzodiazepines are different from the medications necessary for opiate detox. Does the facility offer these medications and follow a Medical Doctor’s protocol for administering them? This is a question you should ask when looking for a quality detox.

Does the Medical Director of the facility have the proper credentials, meaning the Medical Director is a medical doctor or a psychiatrist?

The Medical Director’s credentials are an important aspect in distinguishing quality detoxes from ones you should avoid. If the Medical Director’s credentials are not rooted in the established medical or related psychiatric field, then you might want to think twice about going to that detox.

  •      Does the detox offer groups pertaining to maintaining abstinence from drugs and alcohol and have 12-step meetings brought into the facility?

Part of the treatment program for any detox center should include groups that educate the clients about addiction and how to continue to stay clean and sober after discharge. Adding to this a quality detox should also have 12-step meetings brought into the facility in order to start introducing its clients to the recovery community and the ideas presented in 12-step programs. Not all quality detox programs are situated in such a manner where 12-step meetings can be brought in-house, but when 12-step meetings are available it is usually a sign that the detox has established a relationship with the surrounding recovery community and has a fundamental understanding of what is necessary to maintain recovery.

  •      Does this facility offer monetary or other material incentives to its clients?

If the answer to this question is yes, then do not go to that detox. There are a growing number of marketers and facilities that are offering monetary incentives to clients. This is not only illegal but it is usually a sign that the facility is not operating within the bounds of the law, and many people who initially may have sought detox for help get stuck in the ever-revolving door of incentives, never actually getting the treatment they need.

Call SoCal Detox Today and Learn More About Our Detox Programs

When you make the commitment to undergo drug treatment, the prospect of feeling pain and discomfort when you quit using substances can give you second thoughts about entering treatment altogether. While withdrawing from drugs and alcohol can be unpleasant, doing so in a safe and supportive environment can help make the process more tolerable. As one of the premier detox facilities in southern California, SoCal Detox offers a wide variety of drug detox programs that are effective, proven to work, and administered by professional, experienced and compassionate staff. Don’t wait another day to address your substance abuse issues. Call SoCal Detox toll-free today and find out more how our individualized detox programs can help you achieve lasting recovery.

woman passed out with drugs

Can I Get Addicted to Tramadol?

Compared to its better-known opioid counterparts, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine, Tramadol seems innocuous and non-addictive. In fact, when Tramadol was first introduced to U.S. markets in 1995 under the name Ultram, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration originally suggested that it not be classified as a controlled substance. However, increasing evidence over the past 20 years have shown Tramadol to be both addictive and abusable, causing withdrawal symptoms when use is suspended. In light of this information the U.S. Food and Drug Administration amended their initial classification of Tramadol and in 2014 suggested it be classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance. This same year the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency released a paper finding that 3.2 million people over the age of 12 had used tramadol for non-medical reasons during their lifetime. While this only accounts for roughly 10% of the 26.4 million people in the United States who abuse opioids, the study found that majority of those who were abusing Tramadol had previous struggles with addiction to other substances. Following this trend, admission to treatment facilities for Tramadol addiction increased by 250% from 2007 to 2014.

three prescription pill bottles

Tramadol and its Effects

Tramadol is an opioid analgesic approved for the treatment of moderate to moderately severe pain in adults. It is sold under the brand name Ultram, or Ultracet if the Tramadol is combined with acetaminophen. Tramadol is considered to be a safer alternative to other opioid analgesics like oxycodone. When taken as directed Tramadol is effective in offering relief from pain, but when taken at higher doses it can create the same euphoric effects as other opioid-based narcotics. Tramadol also has similar side effects to other opioid-based drugs and the presence of these side effects is increased when dosage is increased, which can be a warning sign of abuse.  These side effects are:

  • Seizures
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Dry mouth.

Another effect of Tramadol is its enhancement of serotonin and norepinephrine transmission. This means that it works similarly to anti-depressants and this mood enhancing property of the drug is what causes some consumers to become addicted to Tramadol. The increase of serotonin and norepinephrine creates a euphoric feeling and some users of the drug begin to take increased doses in order to achieve a greater sense of euphoria. The chances for increased usage and Tramadol addiction is greatest amongst people not prescribed the drug, but a warning sign for those who are prescribed is if they start taking Tramadol in greater doses or more frequently than the allotted amount directed by their physician.

The chances for experiencing the most severe Tramadol side effects are greatly increased when it is not taken as directed. These side effects are seizures, insomnia, and serotonin syndrome, and all can have serious ramifications. The seizures are caused in part because of the enhancement of serotonin and norepinephrine transmissions and the chances of having a seizure are greatly increased if the drug is not taken as directed, or is taken with other medications that lower the seizure threshold. Insomnia can occur as both a side effect of the medication and as an effect of withdrawal from the medication. Studies have shown that Tramadol increases the amount of time spent in stage 2 sleep and decreases the amount of time spent in slow-wave or stage 4 sleep. Prolonged exposure to this can in some cases cause insomnia. Serotonin syndrome is potentially a life-threatening reaction to starting or increasing a serotonergic drug like Tramadol. It includes tremors, fever, and an altered mental state such as confusion or agitation. The chances of experiencing one of these side effects are increased exponentially as prolonged misuse continues.

Tramadol Abuse

As with all opioid-based drugs, taking Tramadol recreationally or not as directed if prescribed can lead to increased tolerance and eventual dependence. When most people think of addiction or dependency they think only of the physical need for the substance. This however, is only a piece of the picture, and dependence, as in Tramadol addiction, has a psychological component as well.

Psychological Aspect of Tramadol Addiction

It would surprise most to learn that psychological dependence usually precedes the physical dependence for a substance. In the case of Tramadol dependency this is true and the person taking Tramadol will sometimes, before a physical dependency occurs, start to believe that they don’t just need the medication in order to deal with their pain, if it is prescribed, but they need it in order to cope with the goings on of their everyday life. Signs of psychological dependency usually begin with anxiety regarding getting access to the drug or running out. This anxiety drives the person to continue to use in order to quell the anxieties. This in time leads to a physical dependency of the drug, which also causes a greater sense of psychological anxiety due to the fear of withdrawal.

Physical Aspects of Tramadol Addiction

Physical dependency for Tramadol is exactly what it sounds like. The body becomes so accustomed to the drug and its effects that it begins to actually need the drug in order to feel “normal”. This usually occurs after prolonged exposure to Tramadol and the chances of being physically addicted increase dramatically when the drug is not taken as directed or is taken recreationally. Once a person is physically addicted to Tramadol they will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms when usage of the drug is stopped.

woman high on drugs

Withdrawal Symptoms

Since Tramadol is an opioid analgesic the withdrawal symptoms produced from stopping are similar to that of other opioids such as oxycontin and morphine. They are:

  • Anxiety, mood swings, irritability.
  • Sweating, chills, goose bumps, shivering.
  • Tremors.
  • Headaches.
  • Insomnia
  • Flu-like symptoms.
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite.

Treatment for Tramadol Addiction

While Tramadol is a safer alternative to other opioid painkillers, this does not mean the drug is not abusable or that becoming addicted to it is not possible. Due to the euphoric effects produced by the drug, addiction to Tramadol is a real possibility and if the drug is used recreationally the chances for dependency are increased greatly. If you find that you or someone you know have any of the symptoms associated with Tramadol abuse listed above there are numerous options for treatment in the United States and engagement with a 12-step program can help to break the vicious cycle of addiction.

Do You Have an Addiction to Opiates?

If you have truly made the commitment to quit opiates once and for all, SoCal Detox can help you start your recovery journey on solid footing. Our detox programs are effective, proven to work, and we provide the structure and support that will help you build the foundation for lifelong recovery. Call SoCal Detox today 888-590-0777.