TREASURE ISLAND, Fla., – Recovery experts from a Tampa Bay area recovery and rehabilitation center are offering tips to help people knock their bad habits this new year.
“Most importantly, people need to understand they can get the help they need if they are interested in ending their addictions,” said John Templeton Jr., president of Footprints Beachside Recovery Center in Treasure Island, Florida. “If you or someone you know is interested in stopping substance abuse, feel free to share the following tips or call our center to speak to someone.”
- When it comes to alcohol, the holidays can be a difficult but telling time for those who may have a problem. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, moderate drinking is defined as one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. Heavy drinking is defined as drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion on each of five or more days in the past 30 days. Drinking too much alcohol can result in heart problems, stroke, high blood pressure, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, cirrhosis of the liver, breast cancer, mouth cancer, esophageal cancer, throat cancer, liver cancer and may weaken the immune system. While cutting back can be a good start, heavy drinkers most often need medical intervention, as the withdrawal symptoms from alcohol can include seizures and even be life threatening. This should never be attempted cold turkey. Medical intervention such as a detox followed by a minimum 30 day treatment program with individual therapy can be very effective. If you or someone you know is battling alcoholism and want to knock the habit, make sure you speak to a professional.
- If you or someone you know is abusing prescription pain killers or opiates like heroin, treatment should be sought quickly. Not only is there a high risk associated with these drugs, but all opioids, including prescription pain killers when improperly used, have serious negative health effects. The repeated use of any opioid greatly increases the risk of developing a dependence. Historically used as pain killers, even at prescribed levels, users’ tolerance increases quickly and people will often increase the dose to get the same effect. Symptoms often include changes in behavior, missing school or work obligations and being dishonest to loved ones. Opioid addiction can progress quickly and end in criminal behavior to enable this expensive habit. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 4.5 million Americans engaged in non-medical use of prescription painkillers last month. Treatment for opioids is very effective and should include a medical detox to ease the symptoms and inpatient treatment to remove the user from their environment. Even for someone who is not intending on misuse, they should have a plan to get off of their prescription safely and that shouldn’t just be “quitting” once the medication runs out. We always recommend speaking with your doctor or an addiction medicine doctor who understands the pharmacology of substances and the effects on each person.
- Stimulants come both in prescription medications and illicit street drugs. They increase a user’s alertness, attention, heart rate and blood pressure. Prescription medications like Adderall and Ritalin are often used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but like all medication, they can be misused. Cocaine and methamphetamine are two of the most addictive street stimulants and can be snorted, injected or smoked. Stimulants are abused due to the early stages that produce a euphoria with feelings of increased energy and mental alertness, while continued use leads to negative effects like depression, hostility, paranoia and even psychotic symptoms. This can result in overdose and death. People who abuse stimulants should seek treatment due to the acute adverse physiological effects to the respiratory, cardiovascular and central nervous symptoms, and altered mental states, like suicidal ideation and neurological problems. If you or someone you know is struggling with a stimulant addiction, make sure to speak with a professional before it’s too late.
- Overall, tobacco use is down, but it is still a leading cause of preventable death with almost one in five adults still smoking. Tobacco use continues to be much more prevalent in people who have substance abuse disorders, with those using tobacco in substance abuse treatment exceeding 75 percent. Although the short term effects aren’t as earth shattering as a substance like heroin or cocaine, nicotine is just as addictive. Over time a person becomes physically dependent and emotionally addicted to nicotine, and this dependence causes unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit, which makes it hard to stay away after they decide to quit. Smokers must deal with both the physical and mental dependence. Based on information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average smoker loses an average of 13 years of their life because of smoking. Smoking causes early deaths of about 480,000 people in the United States each year. Evidence-based treatment like individual counseling, group counseling and extended counseling sessions have been effective in helping smokers quit for good. Medications like Chantix and Zyban, as well as nicotine replace products like the patch, inhaler and nasal spray have also shown to be effective. Counseling and medication are both effective for treating tobacco dependence and using them together is more effective than using either one alone. The good news is that there are effective treatment options for smokers. In fact, there are more former smokers than current smokers.
“One of the biggest hurdles people see when quitting these deadly habits and seeking treatment, is the stigma associated with ‘being addicted’ or ‘having a bad habit that is a secret,’ said Templeton. “Fortunately, as society has evolved and people realize they are not alone with these problems, the stigma associated with going to treatment has dissipated. There is no shame associated with having a problem, the shame is not getting treatment and saving their own lives. Treatment is effective, and millions of Americans are living happy, productive, successful lives in recovery from these addictions, and many of the health consequences are reversible. Too many people are dying untimely deaths by not believing there is a different way.”
Founded in 2008, Footprints Beachside Recovery Center is a drug and alcohol treatment facility located in Pinellas County, Florida. In addition to treating patients from throughout the U.S. and around the world, Footprints provides Florida clinicians with continuing education events and hosts community workshops on addiction related treatment and psychoeducation.