women worried about overdose on sleeping pills

Can You Overdose on Sleeping Pills?

How Do Sleeping Pills Affect the Brain?

Sleeping pills affect the brain by manipulating the chemicals are known as neurotransmitters that regulate sleep. This can result in a sleeping pill overdose if too many are taken. Sleeping pills work by depressing the central nervous system, which slows down brain activity and makes you feel drowsy. They are typically used for the short-term treatment of insomnia or sleep disorders. Sleeping pills can be addictive and should only be used as directed by a doctor.

Some common sleeping pills include Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata.

  • Ambien – Ambien is a sleeping pill that comes in tablet form. It is a sedative-hypnotic drug that works by slowing down the activity of the brain. 
  • Lunesta – Lunesta is a sleeping pill that comes in tablet form.
  • Sonata – Sonata is a sleeping pill that comes in tablet form. It is a sedative-hypnotic drug that works by slowing down the activity of the brain.

What Are the Average Doses Used for Sleeping Pills?

The average doses used for sleeping pills can vary, however, most sleeping pills are taken at a dose of:

  • 1-2 mg for Ambien
  • 2-3 mg for Lunesta
  • 5-10 mg for Sonata

Is a Sleeping Pill Overdose Possible?

A sleeping pill overdose occurs when someone takes more than the recommended dose of sleep medication. Most people who overdose on sleeping pills only experience mild symptoms, such as nausea or dizziness. However, in some cases, an overdose can be deadly.

Sleeping pill overdoses can come as a result of the following:

  • Taking too many pills at once
  • Combining sleeping pills with other medications or alcohol
  • Not following the dosage instructions on the label

It’s important to remember that any sleep medication, including over-the-counter drugs like Benadryl and Unisom, can be dangerous in large amounts. So if you’re taking any type of sleep aid, it’s important to follow the dosage instructions carefully.

Origins of Sleeping Pills

Sleepings pills have been around for over a century and were initially used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Today, they are some of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States.

There are two main types of sleep aids: prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs. Prescription medications include brands like Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata. Over-the-counter drugs include brands like Benadryl and Unisom. Both types of sleep aids work by depressing the central nervous system. This slows down brain function and helps you fall asleep.

How Much Is Too Much?

The amount of sleep medication that can cause an overdose varies from person to person. However, most people who overdose on sleeping pills only take between 2 and 4 times the recommended dose.

It’s important to remember that sleeping pills are only meant for short-term use. If you’re taking them for more than a few weeks, your body may build up a tolerance to the medication. This means you’ll need to take higher and higher doses to get the same effect. Taking a higher dose than recommended can increase your risk of overdose.

Prescription Drug Statistics

Sleeping pill overdoses are not common, but they do happen. In New Jersey, 2,805 overdose deaths per year. 3.70% of all deaths are from a drug overdose. 3.99% of nationwide OD deaths occur in New Jersey.

The most common reason people give for prescription drug abuse is trouble sleeping.

2.0 million people or 11.9% of people who misuse prescriptions are definitively addicted to the prescription drugs they misuse. Among addicts, 253,100 or 12.7% acknowledge their addiction.

In the US, 5.9 million people over the age of 12 abuse sedatives and/or tranquilizers, 20.1% for the first time. 20.9% of users report taking tranquilizers as sleep aids while 15.8% use tranquilizers to cope with emotions. Women are 11% more likely than men to be prescribed medication, but men are 22.9% more likely to misuse prescriptions.

45.8% of American adults used a prescription drug – legally or not – within the past 30 days. Healthcare specialists generally agree that a high rate of use and availability drives reported rates of prescription drug abuse, addiction, and ultimately, overdose. 16.3 million people misuse prescriptions in a year. 22.6% of them or 3.7 million people misuse prescriptions for the first time.

What to Do if You Suspect an Overdose on Sleeping Pills?

If you think someone has overdosed on sleeping pills, call 911 right away. If someone takes too much of a sedative-hypnotic drug like Ambien, Lunesta, or Sonata, it can depress the central nervous system to the point where breathing is difficult.

The overdose may not be fatal, but it’s best to get medical help just in case. An overdose of sleeping medication can be fatal if not treated right away. Try to keep the person awake and talking until help arrives. If the person is unconscious, place them in the recovery position and wait for help.

However, some people do experience serious complications from a sleeping pill overdose, such as:

  • Coma
  • Respiratory depression
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Death
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness

Reasons Why People Struggle With Sleep

If you’ve been struggling with sleep, your doctor may prescribe you a sleeping pill. The reasons why people struggle with sleep are varied and unique to each individual. Some common reasons include:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Chronic pain
  • Light exposure at night
  • Shift work
  • Alcohol consumption

Side Effects of Sleeping Pills

Common side effects of sleeping pills include:

  • Drowsiness during the day
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Upset stomach

How Can I Recover From an Overdose on Sleeping Pills?

If you think you’ve overdosed on sleeping pills, call 911 immediately. If you are taken to the hospital, they will give you activated charcoal to help absorb the overdose. They may also give you other treatments, such as fluids or medications to help your heart beat regularly again. Sleeping pills can be mixed with other substances. Some people mix sleeping pills with alcohol. This can be very dangerous and lead to overdose.

Are There People More Prone to Overdose or Die From Sleeping Pills?

The people more prone to overdose or die from sleeping pills are typically those who abuse them. People with a history of substance abuse or mental health disorders are also at a higher risk for overdose. Those who take sleeping pills for extended periods are also at a higher risk for overdose.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of a Sleeping Pill Addiction?

A sleeping pill addiction can come in the form of abuse or dependence. Abuse is taking larger doses of sleeping pills than prescribed or using them in a way that is not recommended by a doctor. Dependence occurs when the body becomes so used to the presence of the sleeping pill that it cannot function normally without it. This means that quitting cold turkey can result in withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety.

Signs and symptoms of sleeping pill addiction can include:

  • Doctor shopping, or taking someone else’s pills
  • Strong cravings
  • Trouble with finances
  • Extreme changes in mood
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Isolating oneself and feelings of detachment

Always follow the instructions on the prescription label and never take more than the prescribed amount. Overdose can occur with as little as one pill if it is a high dose or if it is mixed with other substances, such as alcohol.

Are There Withdrawals From Sleeping Pills?

The withdrawal symptoms of sleeping pills can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Tremors
  • Nausea

If you are experiencing any of these withdrawal symptoms, it’s important to seek medical help. Withdrawal from sleeping pills can be dangerous and even life-threatening in some cases. 

What are the Long-term Effects of Abusing Sleeping Pills?

The long-term effects of abusing sleeping pills can include:

  • Memory problems
  • Impaired thinking
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Slurred speech
  • Balance problems
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Liver damage

If you or someone you know is abusing sleeping pills, it’s important to get help as soon as possible. Sleeping pill addiction can be difficult to overcome on your own, but with treatment and support, recovery is possible. 

What Are Treatment Options Available for Sleeping Pills?

If you or someone you know is struggling with a sleeping pill addiction, don’t wait to get help. Contact a treatment center today for more information on how to safely detox and recover. The treatment options available for sleeping pills include:

  • Inpatient detox
  • Inpatient treatment
  • Outpatient treatment
  • 12-step meetings

Inpatient Detox

Inpatient detox is often the first step in treatment for sleeping pill addiction. This type of detox allows you to be monitored around the clock by medical professionals who can help keep you safe and comfortable as you withdraw from the drugs. Inpatient treatment is another option that can provide you with 24/7 care and support as you recover. 

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment can range from 30-90 days, depending on the severity of your case. During this time, you will live in a treatment facility and receive care and support from addiction specialists. Inpatient treatment commonly includes psychotherapy such as CBT and group therapy to discover the root causes of the addiction.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment is a less intensive form of treatment that can still provide you with the tools and support you need to recover. If you’re not ready to commit to inpatient treatment, or if your addiction is not as severe, outpatient treatment may be a better option for you. This type of treatment allows you to live at home and attend regular therapy sessions. 

12-Step Meetings

12-step meetings are another option for those struggling with sleeping pill addiction. These meetings can provide you with peer support and accountability as you recover. Many people find that 12-step meetings provide the support they need to stay sober. These meetings are free and open to anyone who wants to attend.

Channeling the strength to combat substance abuse is demanding. After years of confronting the depths of yourself, you’ve finally decided to get help. Picture the renewed version of yourself after completing treatment. At North Jersey Recovery, we prep you with all the tools necessary to craft your sobriety journey. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, feel free to reach out to our facility today.

Mixing Muscle Relaxers and Alcohol

The Dangers of Mixing Muscle Relaxers and Alcohol

It is likely that you have heard the term “drug interaction” before. This is when a drug—usually prescription—has a reaction to another drug, food, or beverage and a change in pharmacokinetics occurs. This means that the medication’s function is altered. This is seen with combinations of drugs such as sedatives and antihistamines, which both can cause extreme drowsiness making it impossible to operate a vehicle.

There are also drug-food or drug-beverage interactions. This is commonly seen with medications and grapefruit juice, where grapefruit juice lowers the effectiveness of certain drugs. This is why drinking grapefruit juice while on certain prescriptions is not advised.

Mixing alcohol and drugs is never advised, this is especially true of mixing muscle relaxers and alcohol. This reaction could be considered both a drug-drug interaction and a drug-beverage interaction as alcohol is classified as a drug. In this blog, we cover what happens when you combine alcohol and muscle relaxers and why you should never mix these two substances together.

What Are Muscle Relaxers?

Muscle relaxers are a type of prescription medication. They are prescribed to help relieve pain caused by muscle spasms and muscle spasticity. There are a variety of muscle relaxers on the market, but they all work by blocking nerve impulses that cause these painful muscle contractions. They can include the following prescription drugs:

  • Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril)
  • Carisoprodol (Soma)
  • Metaxalone (Skelaxin)
  • Methocarbamol (Robaxin)
  • Tizanidine (Zanaflex)
  • Baclofen (Gablofen, Lioresal)
  • Chlorzoxazone (Lorzone)
  • Orphenadrine (Norflex)

When someone experiences muscle spasms, the muscle contracts and tightens involuntarily. This can cause a lot of pain and discomfort. Muscle relaxers help to relieve this pain by relaxing the muscle and preventing these spasms from occurring.

Muscle spasticity is a little different. When this occurs, it means that a continuous muscle spasm is occurring. This causes stiffness and tightness that makes it hard to move. The rigidity caused by muscle spasticity can even make it hard for some people to walk. This is common in people who have conditions like cerebral palsy or in people who have had an injury to their brain or spinal cord.

Muscle Relaxers and Their Side-Effects

Muscle relaxers work by depressing the central nervous system (CNS). This produces feelings of sedation and relaxation. But, because muscle relaxers work on the CNS, they can also cause some pretty severe side effects. The side-effects caused by muscle relaxers include the following:

  • Skin rash
  • Weakness
  • Depression
  • Drowsiness and fatigue
  • Unsteadiness, dizziness, and clumsiness
  • Headache and vision troubles
  • Impaired thinking
  • Low blood pressure
  • Quickened heart rate
  • Upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting

Other drugs such as benzodiazepines are used as muscle relaxers, on occasion. But, these muscle relaxers are not as commonly prescribed because they can be habit-forming. These include: diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), and alprazolam (Xanax). Similar to muscle relaxers, these medications should never be mixed with alcohol.

What Happens When You Mix Muscle Relaxers and Alcohol

Similar to muscle relaxers, alcohol is a depressant. Depressants are substances that slow down the central nervous system, which both muscle relaxers and alcohol do. When muscle relaxers and alcohol are combined, they magnify each other’s effects.

Despite being consumed at events and socially, alcohol is a depressant. In fact, the side effects of alcohol mirror many of the side effects of muscle relaxers. The side-effects that alcohol causes include the following:

  • Abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting
  • Altered vision
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Confusion, an inability to think clearly
  • Dizziness, problems with balance, and trouble walking
  • Impaired judgment and poor decision-making skills
  • Motor skill impairment
  • Poor memory and trouble concentrating

When muscle relaxers are mixed with alcohol, the chances of experiencing these side effects greatly increase. Additionally, when muscle relaxers and alcohol are mixed, the effects of each substance are intensified. This can be extremely dangerous, as it can lead to serious health problems, such as respiratory depression and even death.

Why People Mix Muscle Relaxers and Alcohol

People mix muscle relaxers and alcohol together for different reasons. Some people may have been prescribed muscle relaxers and be simply unaware that a drug interaction is possible. Others may purposefully engage in mixing muscle relaxers and alcohol for the desired effect. These are a few reasons that people may end up mixing alcohol and muscle relaxers:

To Counter Side Effects

After being prescribed muscle relaxers, the side effects can be difficult to deal with. They may drink alcohol believing that it will provide relief from nausea or headaches. In short, people may take muscle relaxers with alcohol because they believe that the two substances will counteract each other’s effects. However, this is not the case, and mixing muscle relaxers with alcohol does not counteract the effects of either drug.

By Accident

Combining alcohol and muscle relaxers can also happen unintentionally. Someone may drink alcohol after taking a muscle relaxer, unaware that a drug interaction will occur. Drinking alcohol a few hours after taking a muscle relaxer can also cause undesirable effects as the drug may still be in their system.

It’s important to ask your doctor if there is anything you should avoid consuming when placed on a new prescription. The easiest way to avoid harmful drug interactions is to be informed and cautious before drinking alcohol with any prescription medication.

To Feel “High”

Muscle relaxers and alcohol combined cause feelings of intense relaxation and euphoria. People can find this appealing after accidentally discovering this effect or purposely seeking it out. This can occur as a means to self-medicate with substances or to simply induce “high” feelings.

The Dangers of Mixing Muscle Relaxers and Alcohol

Intentionally mixing drugs or engaging in polysubstance use is highly dangerous.  As previously mentioned, muscle relaxers depress the central nervous system (CNS). Alcohol is a CNS depressant as well. When muscle relaxers and alcohol are combined, it magnifies these effects on the brain and body. This can lead to harmful effects such as:

  • Dizziness and drowsiness
  • Risk of seizures
  • Risk for overdose
  • Slowed or difficulty breathing
  • Impaired motor control
  • Unusual behavior
  • Memory problems

Another concern is the increased risk for overdose due to the sedative effects of both depressants. Muscle relaxers can slow down breathing, and when combined with alcohol, this effect is amplified. This can lead to difficulty breathing or even stopped breathing, which can be fatal.

Short-Term Effects of Mixing Muscle Relaxers and Alcohol

In the short term, there are many concerning effects of mixing these two drugs. Coordination and motor impairment are among the chief concerns when it comes to the dangers of mixing muscle relaxers and alcohol. This is because both muscle relaxers and alcohol can cause lethargy, confusion, and poor coordination.

Mixing the two substances can amplify these effects and make it difficult to think clearly or move correctly. As a result, people who mix muscle relaxers and alcohol are at an increased risk for falls, car accidents, and other injuries. Poor vision due to these two substances also contributes to the increased risk of accidents.

Additionally, because both muscle relaxers and alcohol are central nervous system depressants, mixing them can lead to a decreased ability to think clearly and make decisions. This can be extremely dangerous, and individuals have reported engaging in risky activities they normally would not have had they been sober.

Long-Term Effects of Mixing Muscle Relaxers and Alcohol

Engaging in the abuse of both muscle relaxers and alcohol at the same time produces many concerning long-term effects. These can include damage to the liver and kidneys, as well as problems with cognitive function and memory.

Many people also report digestive issues such as dry mouth and constipation from mixing muscle relaxers and alcohol. Some of the most dangerous long-term effects of mixing muscle relaxers and alcohol include:

  • Liver damage: Mixing muscle relaxers and alcohol can put a lot of strain on your liver. The liver is responsible for processing both substances. When they are consumed together, they have to work overtime.
  • Addiction: Taking any substance for a prolonged period of time can cause physical dependence that makes quitting impossible without experiencing withdrawal. This can lead to an addiction to muscle relaxers and alcohol.
  • Increased Risk for Alcohol Poisoning: Mixing muscle relaxers and alcohol can cause dangerous interactions. For example, muscle relaxers can make the effects of alcohol more potent, which can lead to alcohol poisoning.
  • Gastrointestinal Damage: Alcohol on its own causes intestinal damage, making it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients. Prescription medications also cause damage to the GI tract. By combining these two drugs, GI damage is likely to occur over time.

Fatal conditions are a major concern when it comes to mixing alcohol and muscle relaxers. Mixing prescription drugs and alcohol causes major damage to the liver and kidneys, which are essential for ridding the body of toxins. This can lead to fatigue, jaundice, and the retention of toxins. As toxins build up in the kidney and over, which normally filter them out, damage and eventual failure can occur.

Treating Substance Abuse with North Jersey Recovery Center

If you are struggling to stop abusing alcohol and muscle relaxers at the same time, help is available. Addiction and substance abuse don’t have to stop you from living a happy, healthy, and productive life. Here at North Jersey Recovery Center, we offer prescription drug and alcohol addiction treatment to free our patients from the grips of addiction.

Each of our addiction treatment programs includes a variety of therapeutic interventions, skill-building, and counseling to address every aspect of your addiction and mental health. Contact us today. Our admissions team can walk you through our effective and compassionate programs.

addiction and postpartum depression

Addiction and Postpartum Depression

Researchers have discovered that women who have postpartum depression are more at risk of experiencing substance abuse compared to women with postpartum without the depressive symptoms. On the contrary, women who have a history of substance abuse are more likely to show postpartum depression symptoms. Between about 19.7% and 46% of women who have a history of substance abuse develop postpartum depression. Thankfully, there is hope for women who are dealing with addiction and postpartum depression. Through therapy and treatment, individuals can find freedom and healing.

What Is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression is an extremely complex set of behavioral and emotional changes that some women experience after giving birth. Unfortunately, addiction can present to be a tragically common pairing of postpartum depression. The actual peak period of postpartum depression is anywhere from birth to about 3 months.

Who is at Risk for Addiction and Postpartum Depression?

Women who are unmarried, unemployed, or cigarette smokers are most likely to develop postpartum alcohol use disorders. After the birth of a child, a women’s body experiences severe hormone fluctuations. Progesterone and estrogen levels drop, in addition to a serious lack of sleep. 

Many mothers experience an acute lack of sleep, which causes changes in their brains that can result in mild to severe physical symptoms and mental-health-related symptoms. Furthermore, substance abuse can harm a mother’s overall ability to connect emotionally with and therefore anticipate the overall needs of the child. 

Understanding Depression as it Relates to the Postpartum Period

Every person experiences fleeting sadness occasionally with a specific distressing event. Some individuals might experience feelings of sadness and aren’t able to decipher why they are undergoing those types of feelings. For a huge variety of individuals, these periodic issues with depressed mood or sadness resolve quickly or even when the situation that was associated with it has passed. 

It’s important to note that experiencing normal variations in mood does not signify that the person has a formal psychological or psychiatric disorder. The overall clinical notion of what represents a disorder is different than the day-to-day fluctuations in a person’s mood that are generally experienced. Depression is considered a clinical syndrome that has numerous reliable symptoms and signs that can be assessed by trained healthcare professionals. 

Additionally, almost any type of psychiatric or psychological disorder will include a level of a depressed mood. Discovering whether or not a person has a formal depressive disorder, a different psychological/psychiatric disorder that includes depression aspects, or is just experiencing proportional normal mood variations in a person’s mood requires expert training. There are a variety of different medical conditions that can result in the full development of the clinical syndrome of depression. 

Some of the medical conditions might involve reactions to being ill, and others might be due to psychological effects of a medical condition, such as what will occur in individuals who undergo strokes often.

Why Do Some Mothers With Postpartum Depression Abuse Alcohol or Drugs? 

Among the common population, depression is linked strongly to initial substance use. Since a person’s brain is still developing, some studies indicate young mothers (under the age of 25) are at a greater risk for postpartum depression. The environmental factors (such as economic status or intimate partner use) might also leave young mothers to be more vulnerable to substance abuse. 

Postpartum substance abuse might be considered a continuation of alcohol or drug use that has occurred before pregnancy, during pregnancy, or even the beginning of new behavior. Some women engage in substance use following childbirth to:

  • Relieve stress and anxiety 
  • Help assist in falling asleep
  • Increase energy 
  • Elevate mood
  • Self-medicate

Some of the most common substances abused by new mothers include the following:

  • Prescription psychoactive drugs (including stimulants, benzodiazepines, and opioids) used by 3.6% of new moms 
  • Alcohol – which is used by 30% – 49% of the new moms 
  • Marijuana – is used by 6.6% of new moms 
  • Cocaine – used by 1.1% of new moms 
  • Cigarettes 

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

There are various postpartum depression symptoms. In many cases, women experience the “baby blues”, which is a range of feelings including unhappiness, fatigue, and worry. The feelings are to be expected and normal, as caring for a newborn requires a great deal of work. 

However, once a woman’s feelings advance to the point of interference with her overall ability to take care of herself and her family, postpartum depression may be present. There are various symptoms of postpartum depression that mirror a substance use disorder. 

The symptoms of postpartum depression include:

  • Physical aches like digestive issues, muscle pain, and frequent headaches
  • Difficulties concentrating, making decisions, and remembering details 
  • Persistently doubting their ability to take care of their baby
  • Crying more regularly or for no evident reason 
  • Thinking about harming herself or her baby
  • Feeling hopeless, overwhelmed, or empty
  • Having difficulties bonding with the baby
  • Oversleeping or being unable to sleep
  • Withdrawing from family or friends 
  • Feeling overly anxious and irritable 
  • Moments of sudden rage or anger 
  • Overeating or not eating enough 
  • Losing interest in hobbies 

Since there are differences in postpartum depression experiences among women, a healthcare provider is specifically needed to differentiate postpartum depression from various other possible diagnoses. To better understand the relationship between addiction and postpartum depression, here are a few statistics. Postpartum depression affects about 14.5% of women following childbirth. 

In a study of newborn mothers, about 38.7% of women who drank alcohol experienced a rather high level of depressive symptoms. The National Survey data in the U.S. showcased that 8.5% of women experiencing postpartum depression reported the use of nonmedical or illicit drugs in the past month. 

More on the Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression symptoms are similar to the symptoms of major depressive disorder and it also includes various other symptoms, such as anger directed at one’s partner or child, resentment about becoming pregnant, or not wanting to care for one’s child. A person who has postpartum depression will generally be diagnosed with a major depressive disorder with peripartum onset.

For an individual to receive a formal diagnosis of a major depressive disorder, that individual must demonstrate consistently five or more particular diagnostic criteria such as signs or symptoms for at least two weeks. Out of the five symptoms, it must include a significant loss of one’s interests (or an inability to experience pleasure) and/or a depressed mood.

The major types of symptoms that that characterize major depressive disorder are:

  • Displaying a loss of interest in things that were previously enjoyed and interesting nearly every day 
  • Having difficulties sleeping almost every day (not being able to fall asleep or sleeping more excessively than normal)
  • Experiencing a significant amount of weight loss without even attempting to lose weight or an alternately significant amount of weight gain without a clear attempt to gain weight 
  • Issues with thinking can include problems with memory issues, concentration, slowed thought processes and speech processes, and issues making decisions that can represent a change that is outside of a normal level of functioning
  • Having recurrent thoughts about dying, self-injury, or death, including suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts
  • Displaying depressed mood most of the time and nearly every day
  • Having a significant amount of worthlessness and guilt feelings every day
  • Displaying an inability to experience pleasure every day
  • Moving slowly almost every day, or being highly restless and irritable nearly every day
  • Feeling extremely fatigued nearly every day

What are Specific Issues with Postpartum Depression?

There are numerous specific issues with postpartum depression. It’s essential to remember that postpartum depression is considered to be a manifestation of a clinical syndrome of major depressive disorder. Therefore, it would differ from what many people experience as the “baby blues” in that postpartum depression is far more intense and results in an extended period of problems with normal functioning. 

However, numerous women experience anxiety issues and undergo the baby blues, which are short and less intense periods of sadness that are associated with giving birth or being pregnant. These particular types of women are the most at risk of developing postpartum depression.

The symptoms that might be experienced are alterations between mania and depression and even psychosis which are delusions, hallucinations, and other symptoms that signal that the individual has lost contact with reality. If a person experiences postpartum episodes that have psychosis features, they’re far more likely to develop similar experiences that follow future deliveries and pregnancies. This can complicate long-term treatment suggestions and family planning for women who are wishing to have additional children. 

Figures have indicated that postpartum depression can occur in up to 15% of mothers; it occurs at equal rates across age, ethnicity, and level. It is more likely to occur in mothers who have had a history of bipolar disorder or depression. Other risk factors of postpartum depression include:

  • Stressful events before childbirth
  • The mother has mixed feelings about the pregnancy
  • The mother discerning that she lacks support from her partner or family

Addiction and Postpartum Depression 

When an individual suffers from addiction and a mental health disorder, the effects can be quite challenging. After all, the impact of addiction and the effects of mental health disorders can be difficult on their own. When the two combine, the results can be life-altering. Women who suffer from addiction and postpartum depression have what is known as a “dual diagnosis”. This means that they have two disorders that are coexisting in her life.

Some new mothers might suffer from alcoholism in addition to the symptoms of postpartum depression. Others may deal with heroin abuse or cocaine addiction. It was reported by the SAMHSA, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, that nearly 15% of women who are less than a year from the birth of their child had postpartum depression engaged in binge drinking, while nearly 9% of this same group reported abusing other drugs. The prevalence rates are much higher than women who didn’t give birth or did give birth without having postpartum depression. 

In any case, it is best for women suffering from addiction and postpartum depression to seek treatment. A dual diagnosis treatment program like ours here at North Jersey Recovery Center can help.

Treatment for Addiction and Post Postpartum Depression 

While some mothers might not be concerned about the risks that are present to their health, the majority are aware of the greater substance abuse threat can have on newborns. In numerous studies, women have reported weaning their babies off of breastmilk earlier to resume alcohol or drug use. In addition, national surveys have reported a decrease in illicit alcohol and drug use during pregnancy, usually followed by an increase in use that is similar to women abuse rates in the population. 

Healthcare providers suggest that there is a pause in substance abuse that presents an essential opportunity for an addiction intervention. Consequently, screening new mothers and pregnant women for a history of substance abuse, chronic anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues might be the most ideal chance of preventing the inception of addiction and postpartum depression. Social stigma can be a burdensome barrier for numerous women who need treatment. 

Therefore, the support of family dynamics is pivotal for the success of new mothers. Co-occurring postpartum depression and substance use disorder treatment should do the following:

  • Develop a woman’s ability to take care of herself and her family 
  • Integrate some form of early-childhood parent training 
  • Be specific to the needs of women 
  • Accomplish her own goals 
  • Include the children 

Find an Addiction Treatment Center Today

Many addiction treatment therapies can be utilized to alleviate addiction postpartum depression symptoms. Individual therapy and group therapy are methods of treating mental health disorders. If you are struggling with addiction and postpartum depression symptoms, contact North Jersey Recovery Center today.

What is a High-Functioning Addict?

What is a High-Functioning Addict?

A high-functioning addict is an individual who appears able to function normally, or maybe even at a greater level than average while continuing with an active addiction. Hollywood portrays high-functioning addict common traits as a person living in a dark hole with one gloomy couch and a lamp without a shade on it. The perception of what is a high-functioning addict has been misconstrued.

Several high-functioning addicts work and make reasonable money for a living. Many of them maintain a social circle and consistently make their mortgage and car payments. They pick up their children from school or soccer practice and are as composed as an individual in a magazine. These individuals reflect society’s definition of high-functioning addicts. The term “functioning addict” has been circling for decades, and started with alcoholics who could upkeep an occupation and perform the day-to-day tasks that are necessary for life over a prolonged period. 

How Can One Identify Signs Of High-Functioning Addiction?

The majority of alcoholics candidly cannot maintain their normal life, let alone their addiction that can mask the appearance of the actual issue. However, the process presents itself much differently for a high-functioning addict. The high-functioning addict common traits differ greatly. 

A high-functioning addict has discovered a new way to effectively live a double life that appears quite normal from the outside looking in. However, a high-functioning addict is still able to maintain their addiction. Many high-functioning addicts manage to maintain a nice amount of control over their substance use problem. But, just because an individual is a high-functioning addict and might appear to be a responsible and sober person, that does not necessarily mean that they are. 

high-functioning addicts have been attempting to perfect this facade for a long time. Therefore, it is safe to say that high-functioning addicts have most likely been engaging in drug and alcohol use long enough to be able to differentiate their professional and addict lives. Many high-functioning addicts are educated, successful, and intelligent in their careers. These individuals might be executives and well-paid employees who work incredibly hard.

Individuals who classify as “high-functioning addicts” may regularly abuse the following substances:

There isn’t a particular set of criteria or formula for an individual who acquires high-functioning addict common traits. However, different circumstances are surrounding each one. There is one key characteristic of the majority of high-functioning addicts. These individuals might be able to remain underneath the radar for a while but, as time goes on, they will need assistance to continue functioning. 

The Dangers of Enabling

If an individual has an enabler in their family, the longer they will be able to function. Enablers can be the following:

  • Family members
  • Coworkers
  • Friends
  • Doctors
  • Clients
  • Bosses

Almost anyone can preserve or maintain a good part of an addict’s life. 

How Do Enablers Help an Addict to Be High-Functioning?

The main difference between a high-functioning addict and a regular addict is the enablers who can facilitate their capability to continue being a high-functioning addict. A high-functioning addict requires enablers who are in a position to assist them in their life. If this process doesn’t continue, the high-functioning common traits will not persist. 

Family Enablers

A high-functioning addict family including parents, children, and spouses all can enable a high-functioning addict to maintain his or her life by engaging in patterns such as making excuses for the high-functioning addict’s absences and behaviors. Family enablers will also engage in:

  • Covering up crimes committed by the addict
  • Paying or providing lawyers when there is legal trouble
  • Providing financial assistance to pay for alcohol, drugs, or the overall needs of the addicted individual (i.e. rent, car payments, food, clothing, etc.)

Client and Employer Enablers

Corporate employer enablers aren’t as common in high-functioning addict lives. But small business owners and individuals who have freelancer and consultant contractors are among the most popular clients or employers to enable an addict. This occurs especially when the high-functioning addict excels at their occupation and makes money for the business. In these particular situations, a high-functioning addict might relapse.

If the quality of the actual work the high-functioning addict is supplying is profitable for the business, many individuals will look past the actual issue of addiction, and bring the high-functioning addict right back to work. 

In other situations, an enabling client or employer of a high-functioning addict might be attempting to continue providing employment, despite the possibility of many relapses. This level of enabling is the most popular form among talented, famous, and wealthy populations. There are many celebrities including musicians, artists, or actors have been on the receiving end of enabling from:

  • Family members
  • Managers
  • Doctors
  • Friends

Individuals who are in recognizable positions of money and power are more likely to have enablers who facilitate their capability to become highly functioning addicts. The greatest disadvantage is that many high-functioning addicts become consumed by the enabling process so much so that have a difficult time taking their actual recovery seriously. Therefore, they continue with their high-functioning addict common traits until they completely perish from their addiction. 

Is Recovery More Difficult For High-Functioning Addicts?

Recovery is a possible concept for a struggling addict whether that is drugs, alcohol, or substance abuse. It’s important to understand that for high-functioning addicts, recovery is also attainable. The challenge for high-functioning addicts lies in the part that these individuals are indeed high-functioning and that alone seems to contradict the need for specialized treatment. An addict can’t continue to function without assistance because addiction does not improve nor does it vanish on its own. 

Individuals might be able to resume the facade lifestyle only for so long until the inescapable addiction evolution demands its rightful place at the front seat of your life. You can only act as normal and present a perfect life until it catches up to you. As time goes on, fundamental elements of your life will begin to spiral out of control, and that’s usually when the window of opportunity for a fresh start will present itself. 

It’s not unlikely for a high-functioning addict to not accept that they need help in the first place. Eventually, it starts to get more challenging for the individual to maintain their double life. When the people have enablers despite the past in rehab, it might make it more challenging accepting help. This is because the individual had to go through rehab, relapse, and acquire the same enablement and support to continue the functioning process. 

Challenges of Encouraging Someone to Enter Rehab

Any high-functioning addict will have a trial of excuses on why he or she does not need to attend rehab or why they cannot attend rehab. Though the below excuses are extremely persuasive, they are still merely excuses.

  • “I can’t go to rehab. I make all the money, and if I’m gone even for 30 days, bills won’t get paid and we’ll be in financial ruin.”
  • “If I go to rehab, my clients will find out, then I’ll be ruined in business and I won’t have a career after.”
  • “All I need is detox, and I’ll be fine. I don’t have time for rehab.”
  • “I don’t need to go anywhere. I’ve been to every rehab there is. I know what I need to do, and I’ll do it on my own.”
  • “I don’t need rehab just because you found a few pills. What about you? If I need rehab, so do you. Then who will take care of things?”

How to Get an Unenthusiastic High-Functioning Addict Into Rehab

Enablers might assist addicts because they are codependent or it could be because they are receiving some type of benefit from the high-functioning addict to function on his or her terms. Regardless of if enablers have assisted addicts or not in continuing to function, they still are required to set and hold firm boundaries if they want the addict to get help. 

The enabler doesn’t necessarily have to begin cutting ties with the high-functioning addict because there are numerous ways enablers can encourage treatment and support their overall sober functioning. The examples are listed below:

If you would like to help encourage an addict in your life, you’ll need to establish boundaries. Be sure to do the following:

  • Refuse any legal representation or financial assistance if the addict gets into legal trouble
  • Avoid covering or lying for the high-functioning addict 
  • Refuse access to the home in case the addict relapses again 

High-functioning addicts might feel a sense of invincibility and believe that they acquire some form of super-human tolerance to alcohol or drugs, or they might believe that they are too superior in life to surrender to their addiction. The hard pressing reality is that not a single person is immune to addiction and the drastic effects it can have over a person’s life. 

It might take a longer time for high-functioning addicts to reach rock bottom; the sad reality is for most high-functioning addicts, rock bottom is death. 

Recovery Awaits At North Jersey Recovery Center

High-functioning addicts might very well attempt everything to continue with the facade that is presented to the public. If a true change is really to transpire, it begins with the enablers in the addict’s life. It’s important to note that addiction is a progressive disease, and will worsen over time without treatment. Contact us today to skyrocket on the path to recovery.

older adults and addiction

Dementia and Alcoholism: An Unsavory Combination

Alcohol is one of the most misused substances in the United States. According to the 2019 NSDUH, almost 15 million Americans over 12 struggle with alcohol use disorder. Unfortunately, alcoholism leads to various health problems. But, can alcoholism cause dementia?

What is Dementia?

Individuals often confuse dementia and Alzheimer’s. While Alzheimer’s is a common cause of dementia, dementia is a general term for memory loss and cognitive impairments caused by aging. 

Dementia is the result of abnormal brain changes. The disorders grouped under the term dementia trigger a decline in thinking skills. Dementia can severely impact a person’s independent function and daily life as well as behaviors, feelings, and relationships. 

How is Dementia and Alcoholism Linked?

Alcohol directly affects the brain’s functions. Alcoholism or alcohol use disorder damages brain cells and interferes with using good judgment and decision making. 

Additionally, many alcoholics develop nutrition issues because of drinking and poor eating habits. All these factors contribute to developing alcohol-related dementia.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol-Related Dementia?

Common signs and symptoms of dementia and alcoholism include:

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty with familiar tasks
  • Trouble processing new information
  • Depression and irritability
  • Poor judgment and loss of inhibition
  • Problems remembering words
  • Disorientation
  • Erratic behaviors
  • Personality changes
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Poor decision-making
  • Paranoia and hallucinations
  • Damage to liver, pancreas, or stomach
  • Numbness in legs and arms
  • Slow, wide, stumbling gait
  • Poor temperature control
  • Sleep pattern disturbances

Memory Problems Due to Dementia and Alcoholism

Individuals with alcohol-related dementia generally have issues with their memory. For example, they may struggle to understand new information or details of a conversation. They may also have trouble recalling events such as where they went on vacation or where they lived before.

Dementia, Alcoholism, and Balance Issues

Alcohol-related dementia often causes balance issues even when individuals are sober. They may fall over because alcohol damages the part of the brain that controls coordination and balance. 

Can Alcoholism Cause Dementia Mood Swings?

Bith dementia and alcoholism can cause mood swings. People may struggle with apathy, irritability, and depression. Mood swings make it harder for a person to stop drinking and even harder for loved ones to help.

Who Can Develop Alcohol-Related Dementia?

Any person who drinks alcohol heavily over many years can develop alcohol-related dementia. It is unknown why some heavy drinkers develop dementia, and others don’t. It may be a difference in diet and other lifestyle factors. 

Typically, alcohol-related dementia affects men over 45 struggling with chronic alcoholism. However, women may also develop this disease since alcohol affects them more substantially than men. To reduce the risk of dementia and alcoholism, experts recommend drinking no more than two drinks per day.

Does Alcohol Speed Up Early-Onset Dementia?

According to Medical News Today, a study out of France found that alcohol use disorder is a major factor in all types of dementia. Researchers studied one million people discharged with alcohol-related brain damage between 2008 and 2013. 

Simultaneously, researchers also studied one million people diagnosed with alcohol use disorder during that time. Nearly 40 percent of early-onset dementia cases were attributed to alcohol-related brain damage. At the same time, 18 percent had other alcohol use disorders.  

Can Alcohol-Induced Dementia be Reversed?

Unfortunately, dementia is an irreversible disease. However, in some cases, alcohol-related dementia is reversible. Individuals who seek early treatment for dementia and alcoholism often see improvements. 

Since alcoholism can cause dementia, individuals have to be willing to help themselves to reverse the damage. Professional help is often needed when individuals struggle with dementia and alcoholism. 

Can Alcohol Permanently Damage your Brain?

Most people know alcohol has short-term and long-term effects. But, very few people realize that chronic long-term alcohol abuse does permanent damage to your brain. This damage includes:

  • Withdrawal symptoms are often severe and damage brain cells. The most dangerous symptoms include seizures and hallucinations. For instance, 5 percent of alcoholics in withdrawal experience delirium tremens (DTs).
  • Neurotransmitter damage slows down communication between areas of the brain
  • Brain shrinkage results from gray matter loss: gray matter contains cell bodies and white matter, which controls pathways.
  • Cognitive Impairment affects verbal skills, mental processing, memory, learning, and impulse control. The areas of the brain related to problem-solving and impulse control are often damaged the most. This damage typically results in alcoholism and dementia.

When Dementia and Alcoholism Leads to Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

One syndrome of dementia and alcoholism is called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome or WKS. This syndrome is really two disorders that occur both independently and together. The two disorders are Wernicke’s encephalopathy and Korsakoff syndrome or Korsakoff psychosis.

Wernicke’s encephalopathy involves abnormal eye movements, unsteady gait, and confusion. At the same time, alcohol is not a direct cause of this syndrome as much as brain cell damage. Thiamine deficiency or Vitamin B1 deficiency is common with dementia and alcoholism due to a poor diet. 

What are the Symptoms of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome?

The symptoms of WKS include:

  • Retelling the same stories
  • Asking the same questions over and over even though they have been asked and answered
  • Repeating the same information in a conversation
  • Unaware these symptoms are happening

Simultaneously, individuals with WKS reason well, make accurate deductions, are witty, and complete mental games such as chess. 

What is Korsakoff Psychosis?

When Wernicke’s syndrome is not treated correctly, the result is Korsakoff psychosis. Korsakoff impairs memory and other cognitive functions. Fabrication is the most common symptom of Korsakoff. 

Fabrication or confabulation is making up detailed and believable stories to cover the gaps in memory. People with this form of dementia struggle to learn new things while still functioning in other mental abilities. 

What are Early Warning Signs of Alcohol-Related Dementia?

If you or a loved one has continually refused help for their alcohol use disorder, it is crucial to watch for early signs of dementia. Since many people with alcoholism don’t understand the damage alcohol does to the brain, signs of dementia may push them to seek help. 

Early warning signs include:

  • Unexplained personality changes
  • Trouble solving complicated problems
  • Getting lost in a familiar area
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Cognitive issues
  • Poor decision-making
  • Confusion about time and place
  • Trouble communicating

Is there Testing for Alcohol-Related Dementia?

Several medical exams are performed to diagnose alcohol-related dementia. Some doctors may insist a person stop drinking before doing these exams, but most doctors do not. 

Doctors will examine the nervous and muscular systems. They look for abnormal eye movement, increased pulse, and muscle weakness.  Blood work is also typically done to check nutrition levels.

Treating Dementia and Alcoholism

Chronic alcohol abuse is the cause of alcohol-related dementia. So, the first step in treating dementia and alcoholism is to stop drinking alcohol. When caught early, individuals with alcohol-related dementia are likely to see improvement with diet changes and no alcohol. 

Adding vitamin B1 to your diet may help minimize the nutritional deficiency damage of alcohol use disorder. For people with Wernicke encephalopathy, vitamin B1 may prevent or reduce the risk of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. However, once Korsakoff psychosis develops, improving memory loss is nearly impossible. 

Therapies for Dementia and Alcoholism

Just like alcoholism, most people with dementia have irregular behavioral patterns. In addition, dementia causes psychological distress resulting in a decline in quality of life. 

Although there are medications such as sedatives, antipsychotics, and antidepressants, the side effects cause most people to stop taking them. Various types of therapies are useful in treating the psychological and behavioral symptoms of dementia and alcoholism.

  • Occupational therapy – helps overcome functional impairments of dementia that affect daily life
  • Physical therapy – exercise can help with coordination and overall well-being by reducing falls, improving sleep, and treating depression
  • Holistic therapy – yoga and mindful meditation can induce calm and stillness
  • Music and art therapy – music therapy improves memory and well-being while art engages attention and meaningful stimulation

How Can Family Support Someone with Dementia and Alcoholism?

No matter what type of alcohol-related dementia your loved one struggles with, family support is crucial in their daily life. Quitting alcohol by yourself is very challenging. With family support, a person is more likely to have a lasting recovery. 

Adding the struggles of alcohol-related dementia means family support is even more important. Family members can help in the following ways. 

  • Support their recovery – challenges of recovery can change daily
  • Assist them in improving their skills – try not to do things for them but with them
  • Ask professionals for advice
  • Encourage daily journaling
  • Break down large tasks into smaller steps
  • Be patient
  • Use short sentences and give them time to respond
  • Label cupboards and arrange rooms making it easy to find things
  • Encourage a healthy diet
  • Provide them transportation to support groups and therapy for alcoholism

Seek Help for Dementia and Alcoholism at North Jersey Recovery

The best way to prevent alcohol-related dementia is to stop drinking alcohol. For many, this is easier said than done. But, at North Jersey Recovery, we design personalized treatment plans to give you the best chance of recovery. Contact us today and find out how we can help you.

Medication for Alcoholism

Medication for Alcoholism Treatment

If you are suffering from alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), you don’t have to struggle through the severe effects of withdrawal to achieve your goal of sobriety. Instead, you can find freedom through a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program.

According to Oxford Languages, the phrase “cold turkey” means “the abrupt and complete cessation of taking a drug to which one is addicted.” Furthermore, “cold turkey, with no medication, is not recommended for those with medical conditions.”

Thankfully, with the help of an MAT program, you won’t have to worry.

Medication for Alcoholism

After years of research by doctors and health care professionals, there are now options to help treat alcohol use disorder (AUD). According to several studies, medications seem to be an important part of the most effective combination for treating AUD, though they are still underused for treating alcoholism.

The studies found that individuals receiving any medication did much better than those who didn’t receive any medication at all. 

Considering that less than 1% of those getting help for alcoholism receive a prescription medication, it is clear that it is underused. Medication can offer people an advantage for their recovery. This is especially true in a “real-world” setting.

Medications Used in Treating Alcohol Use Disorder

  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
  • Naltrexone (Vivitrol, Revia, or Depade)
  • Acamprosate (Campral)
  • Topiramate (Topamax)
  • Ondansetron (Zofran)


The Combining Medications and Behavioral Interventions for Alcohol Dependence study, published in 2006, followed more than 1,300 participants over a three-year period to discover what combination of treatment, medication, and counseling was the most effective for treating AUD.

The study revealed that one of the newer medications used for treating alcoholism did not improve treatment results on its own. The COMBINE study showed that no single medication or treatment approach was effective for every person or in every case.

However, after 16 weeks, the study showed generally positive results for the individuals taking part in the study. Furthermore:

  • All of the groups studied reduced their drinking substantially during treatment. The percentage of days abstinent nearly tripled from 25% to 73%. Alcohol consumption per week decreased by 80%, from 66 drinks per week to 13.
  • People who received naltrexone had less craving for alcohol.
  • Adding naltrexone or specialized alcohol counseling to medical management nearly doubled the chance to do well.

Antabuse (Disulfiram) for Alcoholism

Antabuse is the brand name for disulfiram and was the first medicine approved for the treatment of AUD. Typically, Antabuse for alcoholism works by causing a severely bad reaction when a person taking Antabuse consumes alcohol. It causes most people who take it to vomit after a drink of alcohol. This is meant to create a deterrent to drinking.

Antabuse and Alcohol

Antabuse was first developed in the 1920s for use in some manufacturing processes. The unfavorable alcohol effects of Antabuse were first noted in the 1930s because workers in the rubber industry who were exposed to tetraethylthiuram disulfide became sick after drinking alcohol. Later on, in 1948, researchers in Denmark who were trying to find a treatment for stomach parasite infections discovered the alcohol-related effects of disulfiram when they also got sick after drinking alcohol. They then began a new study using disulfiram to treat alcohol dependence.

How Does Disulfiram Work?

Shortly after the Danish research, the FDA approved disulfiram to treat alcoholism and it was manufactured under the brand name Antabuse. At first, Antabuse for alcoholism was given in large doses to make patients extremely sick if they drank. But after severe reactions (including some deaths) it began to be given in smaller doses to support alcohol abstinence.

Naltrexone (Vivitrol, Revia, Depade) to Treat AUD

Naltrexone is sold under the brand names Depade or Revia and a monthly injectable form is sold under the brand name Vivitrol. This medication for alcoholism works in the brain by blocking the high that people feel when they drink alcohol or use opioids. It first came out in 1963 to treat addiction to opioids.

During the 1980s, animal studies discovered that naltrexone also reduced alcohol consumption. Soon, human trials showed that when combined with psychosocial therapy, naltrexone could reduce alcohol cravings and decrease relapse rates. It was approved by the FDA in 1994 to treat AUD.

Naltrexone is only helpful when used as part of an AUD treatment program. It is necessary for the individual to attend all counseling sessions, support group meetings, education programs, or other recommended treatments. It can help a person avoid using alcohol or drugs, but it doesn’t relieve withdrawal symptoms.

Benzodiazepines (Valium, Ativan) for Alcohol Withdrawal

People experiencing alcohol withdrawal need medical treatment and observation. Individuals with symptoms of moderate or severe alcohol withdrawal may be treated with benzodiazepines.

Benzodiazepines are used to treat psychomotor agitation (e.g., pacing, toe-tapping, rapid talking) that most people experience during withdrawal. Additionally, this medication for alcoholism helps prevent minor withdrawal symptoms from becoming major ones.

Generally, long-acting benzodiazepines are the preferred treatment because they appear to result in a smoother clinical treatment plan and a lower chance of repeated withdrawal symptoms or seizures. All people with seizures or DT (delirium tremens) require IV therapy with benzodiazepines. 

Acamprosate (Campral)

Acamprosate is the newest medication for alcoholism approved for the treatment. It works by normalizing alcohol-related changes that occur in the brain. This reduces some of the drawn-out physical distress and emotional upset people may experience when they stop drinking. It is known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) and can lead to relapse.

In 1982, a French company developed acamprosate for treating alcoholism. It was tested for effectiveness and safety from 1982 to 1988 when it was approved for use by the French government. It was first sold under the brand name Aotal. The drug was widely used in Europe for treating AUD but was not approved for use in the U.S. until 2004. It is marketed under the name Campral.

Topiramate (Topamax) 

Topiramate is an anti-seizure medication that is usually prescribed for people with epilepsy, but it is also prescribed to help alcohol-dependent people stop drinking. It is used off-label (not FDA approved for this purpose) for the treatment of alcoholism and AUD. Still, it was recommended in the 2015 United States Department of Veterans Affairs/Department of Defense Practice Guideline for the Management of Substance Use Disorders for individuals who have moderate to severe alcohol use disorder.

This drug has proved to reduce alcohol cravings for people who have AUD. It isn’t known exactly why it works chemically, but there are some possible explanations. Drinkers get pleasure from alcohol because it causes the release of dopamine, a positive feedback chemical in the brain. Alcohol also inhibits an inhibitory neurotransmitter (brain chemical). It is believed that topiramate has an effect on alcohol cravings by decreasing the release of dopamine, the pleasure chemical.

Results of studies done show that low doses of topiramate can: 

  • Reduce cravings for alcohol
  • Reduce the pleasure of drinking alcohol
  • Relieve the anxiety and mood swings that can happen when a person quits drinking
  • Produce a significant effect on improving the maintenance of abstinence

Ondansetron (Zofran)

Ondansetron has emerged as a promising medication for the treatment of AUD, mainly among early-onset alcoholics. Early-onset alcoholics are 25 years old or younger at the onset of alcohol dependence. People who develop early-onset AUD are: 

  • Not typically helped by counseling
  • Exhibit antisocial behavior
  • Have a high relapse rate when they try to quit

Since people in this group don’t usually respond well to behavioral therapy alone, researchers looked for medications to treat their chemical imbalance. One of the medications that regularly reduced cravings in alcoholics who are biologically inclined to alcoholism is ondansetron, an FDA-approved medication used to treat nausea in cancer patients. Its brand name is Zofran. And even though research has shown that ondansetron is effective for treating early-onset alcoholics, it still is not FDA-approved for this use.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms typically occur within eight hours after the last drink. However, they can also occur days later. Symptoms usually reach their peak by 24 to 72 hours and may last for weeks. 

Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Shakiness or jumpiness
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Nightmares
  • Inability to think clearly

Other symptoms may include:

  • Sweating and clammy skin
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Tremors in the hands or other body parts

Delirium Tremens (DTs)

There is a severe type of alcohol withdrawal called delirium tremens, which can cause:

  • Fever
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Severe confusion

“Cold Turkey”

You should never try to quit drinking “cold turkey.” Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening, depending on:

  • How much you drink
  • How often you drink
  • The length of time you’ve been drinking
  • Whether you have underlying mental issues
  • Whether you have co-occurring medical issues

Alcohol treatment should always begin with a medically supervised detox, especially if you are a heavy drinker.

Do You Have Alcohol Use Disorder?

The third leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. is excessive alcohol use. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders combines the previous categories of alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence into the diagnosis of alcohol use disorder. 

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has estimated that AUD affected 9% of adult men and 5% of adult women in the U.S. in 2013, and that many more adults and adolescents took part in high-risk alcohol use.

Standards for Diagnosing AUD

AUD can be diagnosed when a pattern of alcohol use leads to significant impairment or distress, as shown by at least two of the following within a 12-month period:

  • Alcohol is often used in larger amounts or for a longer period than was intended
  • There’s a persistent desire or unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control alcohol use
  • A lot of time is spent trying to get alcohol, use alcohol, or recover from its effects
  • You have a craving or strong desire or urge to use alcohol
  • There is recurrent alcohol use that results in a failure to carry out obligations at work, school, or home
  • Alcohol use continues despite having constant or repeated interpersonal or social problems caused or made worse by the effects of alcohol
  • Important social, recreational, or social activities are reduced or given up due to alcohol use
  • Repeated alcohol use in situations where it is physically dangerous
  • The use of alcohol is continued despite knowing that you have a persistent or repeated physical or psychological problem that is probably caused or made worse by alcohol
  • Tolerance, defined by:
    • A need for notably increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or the desired effect
    • A markedly decreased effect with the continuous use of the same amount of alcohol
  • Withdrawal, as shown by either of the following:
    • The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for alcohol
    • Alcohol or a related substance like benzodiazepine is taken to avoid or relieve withdrawal syndrome

Finding Help for Alcohol Use Disorder

Finding the right treatment center for AUD should be your highest priority if you or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism. North Jersey Recovery Center is prepared and experienced in treating alcohol addiction, with a medically managed detox, medication-assisted treatment, and sober living facility. We can design a plan of behavioral therapy and counseling — which is so necessary for recovery — to specifically meet your needs and the needs of your family. 

You don’t have to go through this alone, and you shouldn’t. North Jersey has a staff that is experienced, professional, and compassionate. Contact us today and let’s talk about how we can help you and your loved ones.

What are the most common phobias?

Is Addiction Genetic or Environmental? Discussing the Environmental Factors of Addiction

Is addiction genetic or environmental? In fact, a person’s risk for addiction is influenced by a combination of both their genetics and the environment in which they currently live and/or grew up. The more risk factors a person has, the higher the chance that using drugs could lead to addiction. Below are some of the factors in a person’s environment that may put them at a higher risk:

  • Economic position
  • Peer pressure
  • Sexual and physical abuse
  • Early introduction to drugs
  • Friends and family use
  • Stress
  • Quality of day-to-day life

So, is addiction genetic or environmental? Keep reading to find out. 

How Do These Factors Influence Addiction?

Economic Position — Are You Lower or Upper Class?

Your economic position is defined by your income level. There are three different levels of economic positions. They are:

  • Upper Class: This income level makes up about 1% to 3% of the American population. They own more than 25% of the total income in this country.
  • Middle Class: Typically, the middle class is made up of “white-collar” employees whose income is higher than those in the lower levels, but less than the upper-class level.
  • Lower Class: This income level is characterized by poverty, homelessness, and unemployment. Problems that individuals in this class have to cope with include adequate food and housing, proper clothing, medical care, and general feelings of safety.


Many of the risk factors for drug and alcohol abuse are more common in families with a lower income level. About 20% of people who are welfare recipients admitted to using illicit drugs in the past year. 

Research has revealed that an individual earning less than $20,000 per year has a one-third lower chance of recovering from cocaine abuse than someone who earns over $70,000 per year. The place of employment may also determine economic level and have an effect on the likelihood of drug use. One study showed that 19% of full-time workers, 15% of part-time workers, and 23% of unemployed people had tried cocaine at least one time.


Homelessness and substance abuse frequently go together. Statistics from 2003 showed that 38% of homeless people were addicted to alcohol and 26% were addicted to opioids. Ironically, substance abuse is often the cause of homelessness. Despite this, people who are homeless frequently turn to substances to deal with their emotions and problems.

Can Poverty Cause Addiction?

The income level you belong to or the amount of money you actually have has a relatively low impact on the likelihood of addiction, however. Drug abuse being more common among people who live in poverty or who have a low economic level has given rise to the false theory that poverty causes addiction. 

Substance abuse appears to be a result of the lifestyles of individuals on the lower economic level. The indirect relationship between addiction and lower income levels is usually spread through many underlying factors instead of a single cause.

As an example, an individual with no medical coverage may use an illicit drug to relieve pain from an injury or illness. This can unconsciously pass on the habit of drug abuse to their children. This is a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There are many risk factors that are more common in homes on the lower economic levels than on the higher levels.

Peer Pressure

Peers are people who are part of the same social group, and peer pressure can be positive or negative. Peer pressure can often lead someone to do things they wouldn’t do otherwise, just to try to fit in or be noticed. Adolescents are especially open to peer pressure. They are typically looking for social acceptance and willing to take part in behaviors that are against their better judgment just to be accepted.

Hanging around with peers who participate in risky behaviors like drug abuse is another major risk factor for addiction. For adolescents, this is particularly true. Picking friends who don’t abuse drugs or alcohol can help a person avoid drug dependency and addiction.

Physical and Sexual Abuse (Interpersonal Trauma)

There is a lot of evidence that shows a close relationship between interpersonal violence and substance abuse. In a study of 3,000 women who were followed for two years, interpersonal assault increased the use of alcohol and drugs, even in women who didn’t have a history of substance abuse previously. And for both men and women, previous physical and sexual abuse was significantly linked with more substance abuse consequences.

Early Introduction to Substance Abuse

The availability of addictive substances in a person’s home, school, or community is clearly one of the risk factors for developing a substance abuse problem. For example, the abuse of prescription drugs is occurring at the same time as a notable rise in medical prescriptions. The increased availability and accepted use in the home, coupled with a lack of understanding about the dangers, increases the risk of use and addiction. 

The Influence of Family Members

Drug and alcohol abuse by a person’s parents during childhood can result in drug and alcohol abuse by that person in adulthood. Parents who drink alcohol are four times more likely to have children who become alcohol dependent. A parent’s involvement in drug abuse is likely to influence a child to use drugs because they have grown up where substance use was a regular part of life.

In the question, “Is addiction genetic or environmental,” there is some evidence that shows the impact of a person’s environment. One study of 559 people showed the direct relationship between the condition of the family and the degree of drug abuse. It showed that drug addicts come primarily from unhealthy and incomplete families. Also:

  • Addicts have weaker family ties than people who don’t use drugs
  • Addicts come from homes where there is a lot of hostility
  • Alcohol was used in nearly 50% of families where drugs were used


Stress may be defined as a physical or emotional demand or strain (stressor) that causes your body to release powerful neurochemicals and hormones. These changes are important to help your body prepare to respond to the stressor. Short-term stress can help you focus but long-term stress can cause serious health problems. Traumatic events, such as natural disasters, violence, and terrorism, can cause a serious illness called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Research on the brain now reveals that people exposed to stress are more likely to abuse alcohol or other drugs. Researchers at  the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) have discovered the following links between stress and drug abuse:

  • Stress can cause changes in the brain similar to those caused by addictive substances. This indicates that some people who experience stress may be more susceptible to addiction.
  • Individuals who become addicted to drugs may be overly sensitive to stress.
  • Stress can raise a person’s risk for substance abuse.
  • Scientists have discovered a rise in substance abuse among people in the New York City neighborhoods impacted by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Quality of Life

Individuals who abuse substances often look for help to quit drugs and alcohol to escape the negative consequences they have experienced and to attain a better life. Therefore, the aim of substance abuse treatment is not just to promote abstinence but to help the person improve their quality of life.

In a sample of substance use disorder (SUD) patients, the characteristics linked with a poorer quality of life include:

  • Depression
  • Physical inactivity
  • Negative body image
  • Social isolation

The Role of Genetics

Is addiction genetic or environmental? The answer is “both.” Addictive disorders are complicated conditions that arise from a number of genetic and environmental risk factors. The genes that a person is born with cause about half of their risk for addiction. Some genes that are involved in vulnerability to addiction include both genes that are susceptible to certain substances and those that act on common brain pathways that are involved in addiction to different substances. Also, other influences include:

  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Having other mental disorders

Addiction and Mental Development

Environmental and genetic factors also affect each other during important stages of development in a person’s life. Although abusing substances at any age can lead to addiction, the earlier it starts, the more likely it is to result in addiction. This is a particular problem for teens. The areas in their brains that control judgment, decision-making, and self-control are still not fully developed, making them especially susceptible to risky behaviors like substance use.

Treating Substance Use Disorders

These days, SUDs are more often seen as chronic conditions and treatment facilities are using models that are used to treat other chronic conditions. These models take into account the impact of disease and services on the patient’s total well-being. Looking at it this way, treatment for addiction aims for the wider goal of recovery, with recovery defined as abstinence plus improved quality of life. To that end, many treatment programs incorporate holistic therapy practices to treat the whole person, body, mind, and spirit.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient or residential programs where the individual lives at the treatment facility with round-the-clock supervision help to reduce the environmental influence on addiction. This type of program is crucial in cases of severe addiction, lack of support in the home environment, and for people who have relapsed.

Outpatient Treatment

There are several levels of outpatient treatment. They differ in intensity and amount of time spent at the treatment facility. These outpatient programs are helpful for people who have: 

  • A mild addiction
  • Completed a higher level of treatment
  • A safe, stable, and supportive home environment

Sober Living Home

If a person has completed residential treatment and does not feel confident enough to return home or live “in the real world,” a sober living residence is an excellent way to transition. Residents in sober living homes are responsible for maintenance, chores, and paying rent. Some homes require residents to be employed and attend meetings.

Breaking Out of Addiction

Is addiction genetic or environmental? In either case, you can break free from your addiction and find a real quality of life you may have given up on. At North Jersey Recovery Center, we are experienced addiction specialists. Our goals are your goals and we dedicate ourselves to helping you achieve your purpose in life. From detox to sober living, we will be with you every step of the way. If you’re worried about a loved one with a substance use disorder, we have interventionists and can help you organize an intervention if it becomes necessary. Nobody needs to go through this alone. Contact us today.

Anger Management in Recovery

As humans, it is natural for us to experience anger. When you have healthy coping skills, anger can be healthy and helpful. However, unhealthy coping skills can lead to dangerous anger and substance abuse issues.

Managing anger can be exhausting and complex, especially when you struggle with both anger and substance abuse. Anger can lead to addiction and also be a symptom of addiction. For this reason, anger management in recovery is a crucial aspect of treatment

What Are the Effects of Anger?

When you allow anger to spiral out of control, it can have severe consequences on:

  • Physical health — high levels of frustration and anger increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, insomnia, high blood pressure, and weakened immunity
  • Mental health — clouds your thinking, makes it more challenging to concentrate, leads to depression, and more
  • Career — lashing out and losing your temper at work often leads to being unemployed
  • Relationships — Anger can cut deep and cause people to lose trust and feel unsafe, especially children

What Is the Relationship Between Anger and Substance Abuse?

You may get angry for many reasons, including unhealed trauma or feeling like someone did you wrong. If you have poor anger management skills, your anger can often lead to destructive behaviors. 

Some may not realize it, but substance abuse often co-occurs with anger problems. Anger may lead to substance abuse when:

  • The rage is so intense you use drugs or alcohol to numb the pain
  • Anger issues often cause trouble at home and work, so you may abuse substances to cope
  • When life stressors continue to build, the frustration and anger may lead to drug and alcohol abuse

You may not typically let your anger get out of control. You may even consider yourself to have healthy anger management skills. However, when you misuse drugs or alcohol, your anger may become unmanageable. For example:

  • Using cocaine often causes aggression and violent behaviors
  • Anger and resentment are common symptoms of dependence and addiction
  • Substance abuse can lead to problems, such as relationship trouble, financial stress, and DUIs, which often make people angrier about their circumstances

It is important to remember that being angry is not an issue. It becomes dangerous when you let the anger last for days and completely consume you. Furthermore, if you don’t develop healthy anger management in recovery, it can lead to relapse.

How Does Unhealthy Anger Management in Recovery Lead to Relapse?

Anger is a dangerous emotion that can cause destructive behaviors. For instance, if you turn to alcohol when you are angry, you can develop alcoholism and anger issues. This is why treating co-occurring anger and substance abuse issues in recovery is crucial.

Addiction is a personal journey. No one has walked the same path as you. As a result, anger and substance abuse treatment looks different for everyone. 

Remember, you are rebuilding the life you want – a life free of anger and substance abuse. This means building a toolbox of coping and relapse prevention skills. While you may find one coping mechanism that works, most people have a combination of tools. 

Negative Thought Patterns Trigger Anger and Substance Abuse

Many people believe external factors, such as other people and situations, cause their anger. However, your anger has less to do about what is happening and more about how you interpret it.

Common negative thought patterns that trigger anger and substance abuse include:

  • Overgeneralizing — for example, “You always…” or “You never…”
  • Rigid views — obsessing over how something must go can increase anger and substance abuse when things go differently than expected
  • Jumping to conclusions — assuming a person’s intentions are to hurt you
  • Blaming others — it’s always someone else’s fault; not taking responsibility for your action

Meditation for Alcoholism and Anger Issues

Anger is dangerous, especially in recovery. When life is good, you feel like sobriety was the right choice. However, when stressors like a fight with your spouse, a hard day at work, or financial issues build up, you may feel irritated that you gave up drugs or alcohol

Meditation can help you stay in the present moment. Sobriety happens one day at a time; dwelling on your past won’t change it and obsessing over a sober future won’t make it true. 

Meditation can be taking a few minutes in a quiet place to breathe deep and clear your mind. However, many people start with guided meditations. Meditating is simple – clear your mind, focus on your breathing, and relax your body. 

While your struggles will still be there, meditating can bring perspective to your alcoholism and anger issues. Making meditation part of your self-care routine will also benefit you in other areas of your life. 

Exercise Helps You Cope with Anger and Substance Abuse

We all know exercise keeps our bodies healthy, but it is also good for our mental health. This is especially true if you struggle with anger and substance abuse issues. Because exercise is a healthy outlet for frustrations, it is crucial in anger and substance abuse treatment. 

Common exercises for anger management in recovery include:

  • Yoga
  • Running
  • Lifting weights
  • Hitting a punching bag
  • Riding bikes
  • Hiking

Artistic Expression Helps With Anger Management in Recovery

Creative expression is an excellent outlet for many things, including anger management in recovery. Anger and substance abuse often cause people to lose interest and passion in being creative. This is common because alcoholism and anger can make you miss the beauty around you. 

Anger management in recovery can bring up some painful emotions. Expressing these emotions through art can reduce anger and substance abuse relapse. 

Therapy for Anger Management in Recovery

Individual and group therapy is vital for anger management in recovery. Because anger and substance abuse often go hand in hand, your therapist should have training in both issues. 

In therapy, you will discover the root of your anger. You will also learn how your anger and substance abuse have hurt the people you love. 

It is essential to include your loved ones in a few therapy sessions. This helps you understand how your alcoholism and anger issues affect them. Furthermore, a therapist can help resolve issues and rebuild relationships. 

Humor Improves Anger Management in Recovery

When you feel the frustration and anger building, lighten the mood with some humor and playfulness. This can help you explain yourself without hurting the other person’s feelings. 

However, be careful to laugh with the person and not at the person. Do not be sarcastic or mean-spirited. You can always start by making gentle fun of yourself. When you choose humor, it reduces tension, anger, and potential conflict.

What Are Your Anger Warning Signs?

You may think your anger explodes without warning. However, there are physical warning signs. Anger management in recovery helps you become aware of these signs and gets your anger in check before it gets out of control. 

Common signs of feeling angry include:

  • Knots in your stomach
  • Clenching your jaw and/or hands
  • Feeling flushed or clammy
  • Headaches
  • Rapid breathing
  • Pounding heartbeat
  • Pacing
  • “Seeing red”
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Tense shoulders

There is no excuse for losing your temper. Learning your triggers, recognizing the warning signs, and understanding how certain events affect you can help keep your anger and substance abuse in check. 

Keep Your Anger in Check

If you feel yourself getting angry, stop and think about the following:

  • How important is this in the big scheme of things?
  • Is it worth being angry over?
  • Is it worth ruining my whole day over?
  • Is my response appropriate?
  • Can I do anything about this situation?
  • Is it worth my time?

What Are Ways to Cool Down Quickly?

Anger management in recovery helps you recognize the warning signs and anticipate your triggers. As a result, you can cool down before your anger gets out of control. 

Quick ways to cool down include:

  • Take deep breaths — breathing deep from the abdomen allows your lungs to fill up, which counteracts rising tension
  • Take a short walk — physical activity releases the negative energy 
  • Stretching and massage — rolling your shoulders and massaging your scalp and neck 
  • Count to 10 slowly — counting allows your rational self to gain control of your emotions
  • Use your senses — sight, smell, touch, sound, and taste can quickly relieve stress and anger

Find Help for Anger and Substance Abuse at North Jersey Recovery 

If you struggle with anger and substance abuse, it can be challenging to regain control of your life. By reaching out for help, your alcoholism and anger issues will no longer control you. At North Jersey Recovery, our professionals genuinely understand your struggles. Contact us today and find out how we can help you.

bringing awareness to world mental health day

Raising Awareness About World Mental Health Day

This high rate proves the need for bringing awareness to mental health problems. Therefore, it is essential to observe “World Mental Health Day”.

What is World Mental Health Day?

World Mental Health Day falls on October 10th every year. It originated in 1992 as an activity to promote mental health. Over the years, World Mental Health Day has grown into more than just a day of dedication. Each year has a specific theme that provides education to the public and encourages people to seek help.

What is New for 2021?

It has been more than 18 months since the COVID-19 pandemic first made its presence known in our world. Although certain things are beginning to return to something similar to “normal”, this pandemic has had a major impact on every single individual. People have been forced to stay away from family, friends, and everything special. 

Besides impacting physical health, this pandemic has had a terribly negative effect on mental health. Indeed, healthcare workers, students, people living alone, and individuals with pre-existing mental health conditions have seen astonishing rises in depression and similar conditions. As a result, cases of drug misuse disorders have increased as well.

This Year’s Campaign Slogan

“Mental health care for all: let’s make it a reality” is the 2021 campaign slogan. By all means, this was chosen as a reaction to the dire state of the mental health community. However, this day is meant to bring optimism to the situation!

By recognizing a need for quality mental health services across all segments of the population, more and more people will receive the help that is necessary. Indeed, this year will explain the steps being taken around the world to bring better care to all. Also, positive stories will be told to inspire others who are facing these challenges.

There is no better time than right now to erase the stigma that surrounds the topic of mental illness. World Mental Health Day 2021 is here to help bring about this necessary and game-changing shift.

Mental Health Care for All

Unfortunately, not all groups have had access to quality mental health care. Markedly, some countries do not have the resources to provide help. Also, certain ethnic and racial groups have a higher likelihood of suffering from mental illness. For example, some ethnic groups are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression compared to people of other ethnicities. Also, some members of the LGBTQ+ community may be at a higher risk of attempting suicide. Therefore, this celebration of mental health awareness takes on even greater importance.

How People Can Help Raise Awareness About Mental Health

Raising awareness about mental health can happen in a number of ways. It is vital to start conversations within local communities. Although mental illness isn’t exactly a rarity in our world, few individuals choose to have public discussions about it. It is essential to share success stories and to educate people. There are many ways to spread the word.

  • Talk with everyone. No one fully knows the demons that other people face. In fact, the most depressed individuals often put on the bravest faces in public. If a person realizes that there are others who care about his or her well-being, it goes a long way to prevent suicide and other negative consequences.
  • Share personal experiences. If a person struggles with mental illness, it is important for him or her to share his or her story. When another person knows that he or she is not alone, seeking treatment and support will become much easier.
  • Use kind words. When speaking about mental illness, a person should always use kind words. Also, it is key to separate the person from his or her symptoms.

How People Can Participate in World Mental Health Day

There are many ways that a person can bring awareness to mental health during the celebration.

  • Coordinate a mental health screening. By creating and promoting an event that has to do with mental illness, you can help bring attention to the issues. Also, encouraging people to take action and to test their mental health can provide an opportunity to receive necessary support and treatment.
  • Become a volunteer. In fact, there are numerous organizations, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness, that are always in need of volunteers. When a person gives his or her time to a worthy organization, it helps to spread the word, to educate individuals, and to encourage people who need assistance to seek help.

Surely, World Mental Health Day is the ideal time to begin talking to people about common illnesses like anxiety and depression. To emphasize, one person can make a difference in the life of someone else. Mental illness often feels like a trap. Understanding that there are places that offer help may bring great relief.

For example, North Jersey Recovery Center in Fair Lawn is one facility that is available to offer assistance to people who struggle with mental illness and abuse problems. We celebrate Mental Health Day more than once a year. If you or a loved one needs help, contact us today. We are ready and willing to offer the support and guidance our clients need to improve their mental health and help them fight addiction!

phentermine and alcohol

Phentermine and Alcohol: A Dangerous Combo? 

There are several risks connected to mixing alcohol and Adipex-P, a commonly prescribed brand name phentermine. Besides making already-present side effects worse, combining the substances can cause gastrointestinal (related to the stomach and intestines), cardiovascular, and central nervous system (related to the brain, spinal cord, and nerves) problems.

Gastrointestinal Problems

Effects on the gastrointestinal system are common in people who mix Adipex and alcohol. Mainly because alcohol irritates the lining of the stomach. This can bring on: 

  • Stomach aches 
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting

Cardiovascular Side Effects

Using phentermine and alcohol can increase your risk of cardiovascular side effects such as:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Chest pain
  • Abnormal increases in blood pressure
  • Heart failure (if you have an underlying medical condition such as heart disease)

Central Nervous System (CNS) Effects

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating

You should avoid or limit the use of alcohol while you are using phentermine. In addition, avoid any activities that require you to be alert like driving or operating hazardous machinery until you know its effects on you.

How Long Should You Wait to Drink Alcohol?

In general, you really need to wait 12 hours between alcohol consumption and taking phentermine because the effect of phentermine lasts that long. This needs to be done so that they don’t combine and cause the severe reactions mentioned above. Mixing phentermine and alcohol is actually like multiplying the negative side effects of phentermine.

What Is Phentermine?

Currently, phentermine is considered the most popular choice for patients who are looking for a pharmaceutical solution to their weight-related problems. Phentermine is extensively used today and is often recommended to people whose obesity is affecting their health. It’s necessary to have a doctor prescribe the drug. Some of the other brand names of phentermine are:

  • Obenix
  • Ionamin
  • Phentercot
  • T-Diet
  • Zantryl

Similar to amphetamines, Adipex-P stimulates the central nervous system. This increases your heart rate and blood pressure and decreases your appetite. Usually, it is used along with diet and exercise to treat obesity, particularly in people with risk factors such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes

Phentermine is for short-term use only because the effect of decreasing appetite may wear off after a few weeks and it may be habit-forming. Misuse can cause:

  • Addiction
  • Overdose
  • Death

How Does It Work?

When an individual uses phentermine, the drug stimulates the release of 3 specific hormones in their body:

  • Epinephrine
  • Adrenaline
  • Norepinephrine

The release of these hormones is what ultimately causes the person to feel less hungry. It reduces their risk of overeating at mealtimes, reduces hunger pangs between meals, and helps them avoid binging on unhealthy foods in the middle of the day.

Side Effects of Phentermine

Even though Adipex is generally considered to be a safe and effective drug to treat obesity among the general population, it’s important to be aware of the side effects. Most of the time, the side effects are mild but there have been reports of more serious effects. 

One scientific study reported that in Germany, phentermine has been taken off the market. And it is often seized in various other countries because of the potential dangers that have been linked to its use. The study reports that one of the most important risks is to the person’s cardiovascular health.

Physical Effects

Call 911 if you have signs of an allergic reaction to phentermine such as:

  • Hives
  • Trouble breathing
  • Swelling of your face, tongue, lips, or throat

Call your doctor or if you have these symptoms:

  • Tremors
  • Feeling restless
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Ankles or feet swelling
  • High blood pressure; hypertension
  • Unusual changes in mood or behavior
  • Chest pain and feeling like you may faint
  • Feeling short of breath after even mild exertion
  • Pounding heartbeats or fluttering in your chest
  • Intense headache, blurred vision, pounding in your ears or neck, constriction of the blood vessels, and diseases of the blood vessels

These effects become even more serious with the long-term use of phentermine.

More common side effects include:

  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth; unpleasant taste
  • Diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain
  • Decreased or increased interest in sex
  • Elevated blood pressure

Psychological Effects

There are also psychological effects associated with phentermine. People who depend on phentermine to help control their weight may develop mental illnesses. Also, there is concern about the person developing dependence on it, unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when they stop using it. Or, when the doctor decides to stop prescribing it for treating their obesity.

Is Phentermine Addictive?

Although phentermine is not the most commonly abused stimulant, it is abused. Because of its stimulant characteristics, it is sometimes misused by people who have a prescription for it. And it also has a street value and is sold in illicit marketplaces as a drug of abuse.

Phentermine doesn’t cause psychological dependence and craving when people use it according to medical instructions. So, although it doesn’t appear to result in psychological or physical dependence, there is still a potential for abuse. It is still a stimulant drug, and some people will abuse it for its stimulant effects.

Signs of Phentermine Abuse

  • Weight loss – Since one of the intended side effects of the drug is weight loss, phentermine abuse can cause extreme weight loss. Someone on phentermine for weight loss who loses an extreme amount of weight may be abusing the drug.
  • Use by someone who is not overweight
  • If someone who is not overweight begins using the drug it could be a sign of abuse. This could be the result of an eating disorder or just trying to get high by taking it in excessive amounts.
  • Snorting or smoking it.
  • Difficulty concentrating without using it

Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms usually peak within the first few days and subside over the next week. Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Low energy
  • High blood pressure
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Menstrual abnormalities
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of memory
  • Irregular, rapid heartbeat

If you are using phentermine regularly at a high dose and stop using it too quickly, you can cause more serious problems including:

  • Congestive heart failure
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Stroke
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Nerve damage

Can You Overdose on Phentermine?

Because phentermine is similar to amphetamines, prescriptions are highly regulated and usually only allowed for a short period of time. So this often results in illicit sales and yes, you can overdose.  Symptoms of overdose may include:

  • Confusion
  • Panic
  • Hallucinations
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Depression and fatigue
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Weak pulse
  • Seizure
  • Slow or stopped breathing

Treating Addiction to Prescription Stimulants


Detoxing from stimulants occurs by tapering the drug dosage the patient was using. This helps ease the withdrawal symptoms. Medical supervision is beneficial to make sure the individual is actually tapering off and succeeds in getting the toxins out of their body.

In addition, alcohol is commonly used along with prescription drugs. If the person is also suffering from an alcohol use disorder, the withdrawal symptoms may be very severe and even life-threatening. A supervised detox in a professional detox center is vital to safe detoxification.


Behavioral and individual therapies can be effective for treating addiction to stimulants. During therapy, any underlying reasons behind the drug use may be discovered. Depression and feelings of low self-esteem often accompany obesity and might need to be addressed. Also, people who use drugs recreationally commonly have a co-existing mental issue. The presence of a mental issue and an addiction is referred to as a dual diagnosis and both conditions need to be treated simultaneously, preferably by the same treatment team.

Do You Need Help?

Did your weight-loss plan get out of control? It’s easy to become dependent on the good feelings, energy, and compliments. But you found yourself hooked on the drug as well. At North Jersey Recovery Center, we provide quality treatment for you and your family. We have tried and true programs that address prescription drug abuse and alcohol use disorder. This includes cases of phentermine and alcohol. 

North Jersey Recovery Center has medical professionals who can help you through detox right on to sober living if that’s what you need. Your program will work specifically for you because you are not like anyone else. We’re here to work with you, not tell you what to do. You will have input about your treatment. 

If you want to help a loved one or someone close to you, NJRC can work with you to help your loved one. We have interventionists who can assist you in this very important matter. Whatever your situation, if you need help or just have questions, contact us today.