Emerging Adulthood, the period of life from approximately age 18 to the late 20s, is not only a critical time for psychological and social development, but also for physical brain development. Contrary to a popular assumption that the brain is mature by the age of 18, recent studies have shown that profound brain growth and change still occur during Emerging Adulthood.

Wet Brain Wernicke-Korsakoff SyndromeWet brain is the informal name for a neurological disorder known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.  It is the combined presence of Wernicke's encephalopathy and Korsakoff's syndrome.

Symptoms of Wet Brain

People suffering from Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome typically exhibit the following symptoms:

Loss of muscle coordination

- staggering, irregular gait

- poor coordination

- leg tremors

Memory issues      

- “Remembering” events that never happened

- Inability to form new memories

- Loss of memory, which can be severe

- Disorientation related to time and place

- General confusion

Visual problems

- Seeing (and hearing) hallucinations

- double vision

- drooping eyelids

- abnormal eye movements

Cause of Wet Brain

Many mistakenly think that wet brain, or Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, is due to alcohol destroying brain cells.  However, it is actually caused by a deficiency in thiamine (Vitamin B1).

Connection Between Wet Brain and Alcoholism

Chronic alcoholism can lead to Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome for several reasons:

  • Many heavy drinkers have poor eating habits and their diets often do not contain essential vitamins.  This leads to malnutrition and lack of thiamine.
  • Alcohol can damage stomach and intestine lining and make it difficult for the body to absorb the key vitamins it receives.
  • Alcohol adversely impacts the ability of the liver to store vitamins.

Treatment for Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome

If Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is identified at early onset, doses of thiamine (vitamin B1) may have some preventive effect.  Unfortunately, it is not possible to recover from any irreversible damage to the brain caused by Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.  So early detection is critical.

Without treatment, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome gets progressively worse, eventually leading to coma and death.

If you suspect that alcohol is affecting your health or your loved one’s health, call 888-707-4673.

The risks and detrimental effects of alcohol abuse by young adults under the age of 25 can have life-long consequences.  In a recent survey, nearly 80% of 17-18 year olds had consumed alcohol, with over 47% of these 17-18 year olds using alcohol regularly.

To help your young adult/teenager get the fullest from life, it is important to have an honest discussion about alcohol and its effects.  But what do you say and how do you do it? Here is a helpful guide on how to talk to your teenager about drinking.

First, don’t expect to only have one big discussion on alcohol, the subject should come up many times as your child grows.  Start young by creating regular, open, honest communications with your child.  Be casual and relaxed.  Be open to what your teen says, truly listen.  Keep your emotions in check (remember deep breaths if you hear something upsetting or irritating).  If your child feels comfortable talking with you, your discussions will be more effective.

Once you have good regular communications, you can begin to discuss alcohol.

  • Start with asking what your teen thinks about alcohol?  What does s/he know about it?  If your teen has used alcohol, calmly asked what they thought? Why they used it?  What was the result?
  • Share facts about alcohol.  It is a powerful drug.  Regular drinking by teenagers can create many problems:  teens have the highest rate of traffic accidents and alcohol use increases these risks; drinking affects coordination, the ability to think and make decisions; teens who drink are more likely to be the victim of violence; as well as experience longer term injury or damage to their brain. Point out the teen brain is still developing and alcohol affects normal development.
  • Talk about any perceived attractions or myths about drinking:  Does your teen feel peer pressure to drink?  Do they think drinking will let them be more social or fit in better?  Discuss alcohol commercials on TV and ads in magazines, where everyone is fit, beautiful, having fun.  What do they think alcohol will do or does do for them?
  • Point out that alcohol is a depressant and although it may seem to provide happy or pleasant feelings, these feelings don’t last and often people feel down, sad or even depressed after drinking.
  • Drinking is illegal, and there are serious consequences for teens arrested for drinking alcohol.
  • Be prepared to discuss your own drinking and history.  Your teen will likely ask.  Even if they don’t, it is best if you volunteer things you learned about drinking.  Share consequences you have experienced from drinking.
  • Also discuss any family history with drinking. If you have a family history of alcoholism, let your teen know that this means s/he is much more likely to become addicted, its in the family genes.
  • Ask about your teen’s friends.  What do they think about drinking or drugs?  Do they drink? Has your teen had any experience with people drinking?

All this may not happen in one conversation.  Always thank your child for the talk and for sharing. Appreciate their insights and their honesty. It is important to let them speak and feel open with you, but do not blur the lines on the parent/child relationship. Never allow your teenager to drinking at your house. It is illegal and it portrays the wrong message. Never drink with your teenager, even at family gatherings, its illegal, inappropriate, and damaging to their health.

Finally, be a role model.  Your actions speak much louder to your teen than words. If you drink, do so in moderation.  When discussing alcohol, don’t state it is good or helpful.  Also emphasize that for those older than 21 and particularly over 25 experience less brain impairment from alcohol.  Discuss the rules you have for yourself: never drinking and driving, setting limits on your own drinking either by quantity or days or amount of time, only drinking with friends or family, etc.

If you know or suspect your teen has a problem with alcohol, there are resources available that can help you and your teen. Early interventions are proven to be a helpful resource for many teenagers. If your teenager is over 18 years old, you may schedule an appointment with New Hope Recovery Center for a confidential assessment.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

Want more information about young adults and addiction? Check out our Journal for related articles or see below: 

Warning Signs Your Teen is Drinking Alcohol Although drinking in moderation can be safe for adults, drinking by anyone under 21 can be a serious issue and should not be ignored, dismissed or minimized.  There are, of course, the immediate risks and harms a young adult may experience from drinking alcohol: they are more likely to have driving accidents, experience death from alcohol poisoning (excessive drinking), have violent behavior, be the victim of violent crime, to have unprotected sex, and to have depression and anxiety.

Long Term Impact of Alcohol and Drug Use on Emerging Adults Emerging Adulthood, the period of life from approximately age 18 to the late 20's, is not only a critical time for psychological and social development, but also for physical brain development. Contrary to a popular assumption that the brain is mature by the age of 18, recent studies have shown that profound brain growth and change still occur during Emerging Adulthood. [Studies]  The heavy use of drugs and alcohol during this time frame can inhibit a person’s brain development and have long term consequences.

Emerging Adults – Time of Stress, Change, and Possibly Addiction The period after high school through the late 20's is now considered a unique developmental phase, Emerging Adulthood.  For Emerging Adults life is typically filled with an unprecedented amount of change and a time for asking many deeply-personal life questions. Robin Marantz Henig discusses some of these changes in her New York Times Magazine article. Emerging Adults frequently change residences (slightly more than 30% move every year); change jobs (averaging seven jobs during their 20's these changes can lead to high levels of stress and anxiety.)

5 Things Parents Need to Know About Prescription Drug Abuse Parents of Emerging Adults (ages 18-late 20′s) are important partners in the prevention of drug abuse. In New Hope Recovery Center’s continuing efforts to assist parents, we want to pay special attention to a serious problem impacting Emerging Adults: prescription drug abuse which is the intentional use of medication without a prescription.  Parents may not be unaware of how serious this problem has become, so we want to share 5 must-know facts for parents of Emerging Adults.

Student Drug Abuse Warning Signs Young adults face many temptations and opportunities to use and abuse drugs and alcohol.  As a parent, it is important to allow for appropriate independence and growth for your student or young adult, but also to keep a watchful eye looking for warning signs or symptoms of drug or alcohol use/addiction. Part of growing up involves making mistakes and hopefully learning from them.  These teachable moments allow students and emerging adults to learn how to respond better in the future.  Students and emerging adults may not always be able to quickly identify and correct mistakes or difficulties they face. They also are more susceptible to peer pressure or having their viewpoints shaped by outside influences. For this reason, parents need to be closely aware of what is happening in their young adult’s life.

Fighting Peer Pressure: 3 Ways To Limit Addiction Risk in Young Adults Do you remember growing up and wanting to be liked and included in your peer group?  One of the hardest parts of growing up is feeling excluded from peer groups and while this can be challenging, it is also a normal part of the development of an Emerging Adult.  If it did not come naturally, you might remember changing your attitudes, values or behaviors to belong a certain peer group, which is exactly where your Emerging Adult may be developmentally.

 

Although drinking in moderation can be safe for adults, drinking by anyone under 21 can be a serious issue and should not be ignored, dismissed or minimized.  There are, of course, the immediate risks and harms a young adult may experience from drinking alcohol: they are more likely to have driving accidents, experience death from alcohol poisoning (excessive drinking), have violent behavior, be the victim of violent crime, to have unprotected sex, and to have depression and anxiety.

Equally concerning, a number of reports and studies indicate that drinking by young adults (anyone under 25 years of age) can have serious long-term consequences as well. It is now understood that the human brain is still developing and growing until the mid-20s.  Heavy drinking before the brain has completed its development can cause numerous long-lasting problems.  A recent study by neuroscientist Susan Tapert of the University of California, San Diego compared the brain scans of teens who drink heavily with the scans of teens who don't.  Tapert's team found damaged nerve tissue in the brains of the teens who drank. The researchers believe this damage negatively affects attention span in boys, and girls' ability to comprehend and interpret visual information.

According to a national survey of 43,093 adults, published in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 47% of those who begin drinking alcohol before the age of 14 become alcohol dependent at some time in their lives, compared with 9% of those who do not drink until at least age 21.

In a study comparing the brains of youth ages 14 to 21 who did abuse alcohol with those who did not abuse alcohol, researchers found that the hippocampi of drinkers were about 10% smaller than in those who did not drink.  The hippocampus is the area of the brain critical for regulating emotions, for storing and recovering memory, in particular long-term memory and for spatial navigation.  Damage or stunting of the hippocampus can lead to loss of memory and difficulty in establishing new memories. For example with Alzheimer's disease the hippocampus is one of the first regions of the brain to be affected, leading to the confusion and loss of memory.

Drinking by young adults is a serious issue and can have potentially life-long consequences. So, how can you tell if your teen is drinking or abusing alcohol?  Here are some of the warning signs to look for:

Physical Warning Signs Of Alcohol Use And Abuse

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Shaking, tremors or seizures without a history of epilepsy
  • Poor personal grooming, hygiene and physical appearance
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor coordination
  • Injuries or bruises that your teen can’t remember how they happened
  • Smell of alcohol on breath, body, or clothing
  • Sudden use of breath mints or gum
  • Incoherent or slurred speech
  • Finding alcohol in your teen’s room or with belongings
  • Alcohol missing from house, discovering watered-down bottles of alcohol

Behavior Warning Signs Of Alcohol Use And Abuse

  • Missing school or classes
  • Drop in grades
  • Getting in trouble at school, or with the law
  • Increase in arguments, fights, accidents
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, hobbies or sports
  • Missing money or valuables or frequently asking for money
  • Increased isolation, silence, being withdrawn
  • Increase in secretive or suspicious behaviors
  • Refusing to discuss new friends, activities
  • Locking doors
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Sudden change in friends, favorite hangouts
  • Using eye drops to hide bloodshot eyes
  • Unexplained change in personality and/or attitude
  • Sudden mood changes, irritability, outbursts

Many of the items listed are common in all teenagers.  Nearly all teens will be irritable and have abrupt mood changes due to the hormonal changes they are experiencing.  However, if several of these warning signs occur, be alert for more.  If you do find your teen is drinking or abusing alcohol, talk to them about it.  Explain to them the new findings on what alcohol does to teenage brains and its lasting impact.  See our article on “How to Talk to Your Teen About Alcohol” for more suggestions.

Finally, if you discover your teen is regularly drinking and the drinking is having consequences, look into treatment options for help.  New Hope Recovery Center can offer treatment suggestions for your teen/young adult. The early you intervene on teen drinking the better. Call 888-707-4673 to set up a confidential assessment.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

Want more information about young adults and addiction? Check out our Journal for related articles or see below: 

How to Talk to Your Teenager About Drinking To help your young adult/teenager get the fullest from life, it is important to have an honest discussion about alcohol and its effects.  But what do you say and how do you do it? Here is a helpful guide on how to talk to your teenager about drinking.

Long Term Impact of Alcohol and Drug Use on Emerging Adults Emerging Adulthood, the period of life from approximately age 18 to the late 20s, is not only a critical time for psychological and social development, but also for physical brain development. Contrary to a popular assumption that the brain is mature by the age of 18, recent studies have shown that profound brain growth and change still occur during Emerging Adulthood. [Studies]  The heavy use of drugs and alcohol during this time frame can inhibit a person’s brain development and have long term consequences.

Emerging Adults – Time of Stress, Change, and Possibly Addiction The period after high school through the late 20s is now considered a unique developmental phase, Emerging Adulthood.  For Emerging Adults life is typically filled with an unprecedented amount of change and a time for asking many deeply-personal life questions. Robin Marantz Henig discusses some of these changes in her New York Times Magazine article. Emerging Adults frequently change residences (slightly more than 30% move everyyear); change jobs (averaging seven jobs during their 20s); move back with parents (more than 40% move back in with their parents at least once during their 20s); and often spend time living with a romantic partner (66%).  These changes can lead to high levels of stress and anxiety.

5 Things Parents Need to Know About Prescription Drug Abuse Parents of Emerging Adults (ages 18-late 20′s) are important partners in the prevention of drug abuse. In New Hope Recovery Center’s continuing efforts to assist parents, we want to pay special attention to a serious problem impacting Emerging Adults: prescription drug abuse which is the intentional use of medication without a prescription.  Parents may not be unaware of how serious this problem has become, so we want to share 5 must-know facts for parents of Emerging Adults.

Student Drug Abuse Warning Signs Young adults face many temptations and opportunities to use and abuse drugs and alcohol.  As a parent, it is important to allow for appropriate independence and growth for your student or young adult, but also to keep a watchful eye looking for warning signs or symptoms of drug or alcohol use/addiction. Part of growing up involves making mistakes and hopefully learning from them.  These teachable moments allow students and emerging adults to learn how to respond better in the future.  Students and emerging adults may not always be able to quickly identify and correct mistakes or difficulties they face. They also are more susceptible to peer pressure or having their viewpoints shaped by outside influences. For this reason, parents need to be closely aware of what is happening in their young adult’s life.

Fighting Peer Pressure: 3 Ways To Limit Addiction Risk in Young Adults Do you remember growing up and wanting to be liked and included in your peer group?  One of the hardest parts of growing up is feeling excluded from peer groups and while this can be challenging, it is also a normal part of the development of an Emerging Adult.  If it did not come naturally, you might remember changing your attitudes, values or behaviors to belong a certain peer group, which is exactly where your Emerging Adult may be developmentally.

 

Heavy teenage marijuana use could damage brain structures critical to memory and reasoning and the effects may be long lasting. Heavy pot use during teenage years is also connected with lower IQ.  It is well known that the human brain is not fully developed until 25-28 years of age.  Chronic or heavy pot use by teenagers may affect the brain as it develops, perhaps permanently.  A number of interesting recent studies look at marijuana use by teens and the possible effects it has on brain development.

Marijuana and Memory

According to new research by Northwestern Medicine, the brains of heavy marijuana teen users were altered in regions that involve memory and reasoning. Young people with such alterations performed worse on memory tests than the non-using control subjects, despite the fact that the heavy users had not used marijuana for more than two years, on average, before the testing.

The study looked at MRI brain scans of several areas of the brain.  Heavy pot users showed greater brain abnormalities than those who had not used marijuana. The researchers found that memory-related brain structures appeared to shrink and collapse inward. These findings could indicate long-term detriments to chronic marijuana use during the teen years.

Although this study doesn't prove causation, it does provide evidence of a need for caution.  It also showed that the earlier or younger the pot use began, the greater the brain’s abnormalities.

Mental Illness and Marijuana Connection

In June 2013, an Australian study showed that prolonged use of cannabis or marijuana by young adults was linked to a higher risk of developing psychosis.  The highest risk was for those who started using the substance in their teens, and continued using it for 6 years or more into adulthood. For this group, the risk of developing psychosis was more than double that of those who never used marijuana.

Marijuana and Dopamine

A recent study by Imperial College London revealed that long-term use of cannabis depletes dopamine, the feel-good chemical in the brain that inspires a spirit of get-up-and-go.  The study found greater dopamine depletion if marijuana use was heavier and if the first initial use was at an earlier age.

Marijuana and IQ

A long term study in New Zealand indicates that early and long term marijuana use may cause IQ to decrease.  The study measured IQ prior to age 13 and then surveyed over 1000 participants from a single city born in the same year over a period of decades.  According to the study, IQ decreased an average of 7-8 points by age 38 for those who used marijuana heavily at some point in the 25 years between ages 13 and 38, with greater decreases in IQ for those with longer periods of heavy marijuana use.

Conclusions

All of the studies show correlations and not actual direct cause.  However, we are seeing that heavy marijuana use in teens could be creating possible lasting changes in the brain.  The earlier heavy use begins, the greater the changes to the brain.

New Hope Recovery Center is Chicago’s premier addiction treatment facility.  If you would like information about our programs, including our New Hope with Pride program, contact us at 888-707-4636 (HOPE), info@new-hope-recovery.com or visit us in person or online.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

Want more information about marijuana or young adults and addiction? Check out our Journal for related articles or see below: 

Marijuana Warning Signs: Is Your Teen Smoking Weed? Are you concerned your teenager or young adult is using marijuana? Below you will find the warning signs and symptoms for marijuana use. Marijuana use is very controversial across the nation, but something that cannot be denied, is the detrimental effect it has on young adults. It has been proven that young adults/teenagers who use marijuana have more problems with memory, attention and learning. They also struggle with their school performance, have an increased risk of problematic behaviors, and are more likely to suffer from depression and or anxiety.

Marijuana and Addiction Treatment All too often people enter treatment for addiction from a variety of substances with the belief that marijuana is not a drug.  “Alcohol is my problem, not marijuana” or “Marijuana is not addictive” – the list of justifications people use could fill an entire page.  We have all heard the term “gateway drug” in reference to marijuana but often the thought process is that this occurs early in the stages of addiction. However, we have seen that marijuana can be a gateway drug at any point in addiction or recovery.

Fighting Peer Pressure: 3 Ways To Limit Addiction Risk in Young Adults Do you remember growing up and wanting to be liked and included in your peer group?  One of the hardest parts of growing up is feeling excluded from peer groups and while this can be challenging, it is also a normal part of the development of an Emerging Adult.  If it did not come naturally, you might remember changing your attitudes, values or behaviors to belong a certain peer group, which is exactly where your Emerging Adult may be developmentally.  Something that young adults may do to fit into a certain peer group is use drugs and alcohol as a means to fit in.  You can help them avoid drug or alcohol abuse and the risk of addiction by teaching useful skills for handling peer pressure and maneuvering this critical period of life.

Student Drug Abuse Warning Signs Young adults face many temptations and opportunities to use and abuse drugs and alcohol.  As a parent, it is important to allow for appropriate independence and growth for your student or young adult, but also to keep a watchful eye looking for warning signs or symptoms of drug or alcohol use/addiction. Part of growing up involves making mistakes and hopefully learning from them.  These teachable moments allow students and emerging adults to learn how to respond better in the future.  Students and emerging adults may not always be able to quickly identify and correct mistakes or difficulties they face. They also are more susceptible to peer pressure or having their viewpoints shaped by outside influences. For this reason, parents need to be closely aware of what is happening in their young adult’s life.

Long Term Impact of Alcohol and Drug Use on Emerging Adults Emerging Adulthood, the period of life from approximately age 18 to the late 20s, is not only a critical time for psychological and social development, but also for physical brain development. Contrary to a popular assumption that the brain is mature by the age of 18, recent studies have shown that profound brain growth and change still occur during Emerging Adulthood. [Studies]  The heavy use of drugs and alcohol during this time frame can inhibit a person’s brain development and have long term consequences.

 

 

Heroin use in Chicago and surrounding suburbs has continued to escalate.  Heroin is an extremely addictive opioid drug that is synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of the Asian opium poppy plant. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder or as a black sticky substance, known as “black tar heroin.”

Heroin Use

Heroin can be (1) injected, (2) inhaled by snorting or sniffing, or (3) smoked. All three routes of administration deliver the drug to the brain very rapidly, which contributes to its health risks and to its high risk for addiction.  Repeated use of heroin causes changes in the brain, which frequently leads to uncontrollable drug-seeking no matter what consequences may occur.  For some people, heroin addiction begins after they are prescribed opiate pain drugs, but start misusing them.

Heroin Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms begin 6 to 12 hours after the last use, peaking within 1 to 3 days, and gradually subsiding over 5 to 7 days. However, some heroin users experience weeks or months or years of withdrawal symptoms.

Heroin Effects:

  • The heroin “rush” is usually accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, dry mouth, and heavy feeling extremities.  It may also be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and severe itching.
  • After the initial rush, abusers often feel drowsy for several hours. Mental function is clouded by heroin's effect on the central nervous system. Heart rate slows. Breathing is also severely slowed, sometimes to the point of death. Heroin overdose is a particular risk because the amount and purity of the drug is not accurately known.
  • While using heroin and during withdrawal, the heroin user may experience:
    • Cravings
    • Mood Changes
    • Aches and Pains
    • Excessive Bodily Fluids
    • Diarrhea and Stomach Pain
    • Nausea and Vomiting
    • Fever
    • Restlessness
    • Sleep Problems
    • High risk of infections, such as HIV/AIDS
    • Collapsed veins
    • Infection of the heart lining and valves
    • Liver disease

Chicago Heroin Facts:

  • Heroin production and availability has grown significantly in the past decade. Reports from the National Drug Intelligence Center show larger yields from Mexico have led to purer, less expensive and more abundant supply heroin within the U.S.
  • In Chicago, nearly all heroin comes from Mexico via the Mexican drug cartels and is being distributed by Chicago street gangs, in what the DEA calls “the Perfect Storm”
  • For the past several years, Chicago has ranked first in the nation for heroin overdose emergency room visits.  Chicago heroin related visits are nearly double those of NYC and significantly more than 2nd ranked Boston.
  • From 2007-2011, mortality overdose/deaths increased by 115% in Lake County, IL, 100% in Will County, IL, and 50% in McHenry County, IL.
  • Heroin use in Illinois among white teenagers under the age of 18 has increased by 22%.

At New Hope Recovery Center, we have seen the increased use of heroin among Chicago area young adults first hand.  If you know someone who is using heroin, urge them to get help before it is too late for them.  You can contact us at 800-707-4673 or info@new-hope-recovery.com.

You may also be interested in reading other information about heroin use and addiction:

Heroin Abuse Warning Signs  Sadly heroin use has increased all over the US, including in Chicagoland area. How can you tell if someone you love is abusing heroin?  Look for these warning signs...

New Hope Recovery Center Review: Client Success Story When I first got to New Hope Recovery Center, I was no stranger to treatment. I had several attempts with inpatient treatment centers and detox units. At the time I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to be sober, I know I needed to be though. New Hope Recovery Center is where I learned “to want it.” At only 21 years old I was a daily heroin user and an alcoholic, I was not hirable and had burned up all but a few bridges with my family and ...

America's Failed Drug Policy The above Documentary: The House I Live In really pushes Americans to think about how we need to change our strategy when fighting the “War on Drugs.” Recently, Roosevelt University hosted the Third Annual Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy.  This year, the three main panels concentrated on (1) the opiate (heroin) epidemic in the Chicago area, (2) the potential Naloxone (an opiate antagonist that can reverse the effects of opiates) has to prevent overdose deaths and save lives, and (3) the future of drug policy in the United States...

Parents' Guide to Prevent Heroin Use and Addiction We previously discussed Chicago’s heroin epidemic and saw that the rapid increase in young adults becoming addicted to heroin is truly startling. There are steps that parents can take to prevent their loved ones from becoming a sad statistic of the heroin epidemic...

Chicago's Heroin Epidemic - Parents Beware As an addiction treatment center in Lincoln Park, Chicago, we see trends in addiction first hand.  Although all addictions are heartbreaking, nothing has touched us as deeply as the current heroin epidemic among young people.  We have seen young adults in their late teens and early twenties struggling to recover from one of the most dangerous, addictive and life-threatening drugs.  It is a hard struggle – for both the addicts and their families...

Heroin (opiate) Addiction - Suboxone vs. Vivitrol Medication-assisted treatment for addiction, especially opiates (such as Heroin, Vicodin, and Oxycontin), is not new nor is the controversy that accompanies it.  The most recent controversy involves the use of medications to aid in the treatment of opiate addiction, with Suboxone and Vivitrol receiving the most press.  There is an abundant amount of information available on the internet – unfortunately not all of it is accurate...

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

When people abuse alcohol or drugs, they are taking risks with their health.  With Drug and Alcohol abuse it does not take long for damage to occur to one’s brain, body, and mind.  Along with the substance itself, there are risks and dangers associated with the lifestyle of substance abusers.  Certain lifestyle risks include financial, relationship, security, career, and overall personal health. People who take risks with their sexual health will likely come into contact with sexually transmitted diseases which can prove to be quite dangerous.

A sexually transmitted disease (STD) is any disease transmitted by direct sexual contact. Common types of STDs include Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Genital Herpes, Syphilis, HIV/AIDS, and Hepatitis.

Symptoms of STDs will depend on the type, but some of the most common symptoms people will experience include:

  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Discharge from the penis or rectum
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Pelvic Pain (menstrual like/female)
  • Testicular tenderness
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Warts at genital area
  • Itching at genital area

Due to the lifestyle, using addicts and alcoholics are more susceptible to STDs. There are a number of reasons for this, including when intoxicated, people are more likely to engage in unprotected sex. Alcohol/drugs lower inhibitions which may lead to promiscuity. Also, when intoxicated, physical symptoms will be less obvious and can easily be ignored. If on an Antibiotic to treat a STD, the use of substances may interfere with its effectiveness. Antibiotic compliance is less likely among substance abusers and the same goes for most medications.

Prevention is key, make sure to always use a condom for intercourse or dental dam for oral sex. Seek medical attention if any of the above symptoms are present. If unprotected sex has occurred, seek testing immediately. STD testing is simple, inexpensive or free, and confidential. Follow through with medical advice. (for example: repeat testing, full course of antibiotics, etc.)

If you or someone you love struggles with alcohol or drug abuse, seek help quickly. Alcoholism and Drug Addiction are diseases and gets worse over time. Seeking help or getting tested can be scary, but you don't need to do it alone. New Hope Recovery Center provides confidential assessments and treatment for substance abuse. We also have a nurse on staff who works closely with our Medical Director to handle medically related health concerns such as STDs. Contact New Hope Recovery Center by email or phone 773-883-3916.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a widely used therapeutic approach which examines the link between a client's environment, thinking and eventual behavior.  The premise of this approach is based on the idea that a person's particular way of perceiving an event or situation will determine how he/she feels and ultimately acts.  It is a model that has its roots in classical conditioning and learning theories.

As CBT has proven to have many benefits, more and more addictions treatment facilities are utilizing this model to assist clients in their recovery efforts.  CBT as applied to addictive substance use and behaviors has two main components: (1) analysis of faulty thought patterns and (2) skill building.

Initially, when entering therapy for an addiction, one must learn to identify the automatic negative thoughts that occur in response to situations, events or people (otherwise known as triggers).  Often a client suffering from an addiction does not know what causes him/her to use and is very detached from the thoughts and feelings that occur before, during and after use.  Working with a therapist trained in CBT, a client can learn to identify the irrational thoughts, challenge them with more balanced thoughts using available evidence, and gain confidence as more adaptive behavior begins to emerge from the new way of thinking.  In addictions treatment, this is especially helpful for relapse prevention, in that a client can learn to identify triggering circumstances and either avoid them or learn to circumvent the type of all or nothing thinking that more often than not leads to a return to using behavior.

In addition, the client will be building a "toolbox" of more effective coping skills that can be used when facing difficult or stressful situations.  Studies show that when CBT is combined with a 12-step intervention, the chances of long-term sobriety increase.  Many of the new tools that a client learns to use are associated with 12-step recovery such as reaching out to others as opposed to isolating, taking an active role in one's recovery with written step work, and helping others through service work.  As clients begin to relearn new ways of looking at their substance abuse patterns, new behavioral patterns emerge and confidence grows.

Although long term sobriety requires daily work and is an ongoing process, CBT is goal-directed, objective and relatively short-term.  Most clients show significant progress after 12-16 sessions with a therapist and studies show that therapeutic gains associated with CBT are usually maintained.  It is important, however, that clients do recognize the importance of continued support in order to strengthen the newly learned behaviors.  Taking an active role in 12-step life during CBT-based treatment is highly effective in ensuring this support and reinforcement, and has proven helpful in avoiding relapse.

New Hope Recovery Center is an addiction treatment center based in Chicago. If you or someone you know is suffer from addiction or any type of substance abuse please reach out to learn more. For more information please contact us via email or give us a call at 773-883-3916.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

chicago rehab stress emerging adultThe period after high school through the late 20s is now considered a unique developmental phase, Emerging Adulthood.  For Emerging Adults life is typically filled with an unprecedented amount of change and a time for asking many deeply-personal life questions. Robin Marantz Henig discusses some of these changes in her New York Times Magazine article. Emerging Adults frequently change residences (slightly more than 30% move every year); change jobs (averaging seven jobs during their 20s); move back with parents (more than 40% move back in with their parents at least once during their 20s); and often spend time living with a romantic partner (66%).  These changes can lead to high levels of stress and anxiety.

This is also a time when major life questions are asked:  Who am I?  What do I want to do with my life?  What is most important to me?  Who do I want to have in my life?  In my earlier article, I noted the changes within an Emerging Adult’s brain can lead to the exploration of these issues in a new way.

Changes

The many major life changes and decisions make this an unstable time for Emerging Adults. Although this can be an exhilarating time of great possibility and freedom, it can also be a time of high stress.  The uncertainty and changes during these ages can lead to dread, frustration and a sense of not fitting in.

High rates of anxiety, depression, motor-vehicle accidents and alcohol use peak from the ages of 18 to 25 (rental car companies got that one right!), and tend to level off by age 28. (read more about Delayed Development) The rates of depression, anxiety and other mental-health issues are higher in the teens and 20s than in any other decade of life, except the 80s.   A recent survey by Clark University, which polled more than 1,000 young adults nationwide, found that 72% said this time of life was stressful and 33% said they were often depressed. Still, 89% believed they would eventually get what they want out of life.  So although a stressful time, it can also be filled with optimism.

Handling the Stress

Because of life changes and life-questioning, Emerging Adults are at risk for problems related to alcohol and drug use.  The increase in stress can lead to increased usage.  Unfortunately, because of the brain development during this time, high use of alcohol and drugs can have long-lasting effects on a person’s mental development.  With cognitive development stunted or hindered, an Emerging Adult will likely make poorer life choices and increase the likelihood of addiction during their life.

So it is important for an Emerging Adult to successfully navigate this time of stress, change and adjustment.

New Hope Recovery Center Emerging Adult Program

New Hope Recovery Center’s Emerging Adult Education Program is designed to provide Emerging Adults with the key life skills they need to navigate the changes and decision-making needed during this time in life.  It also provides alcohol and drug addiction education to aid Emerging Adults in making wise decisions and to understand the risks related to their own current and future drug and alcohol use.

Need Help?

If you or someone you know between the ages of 18 and 26 is experiencing difficulties or consequences in their life due to the use of drugs or alcohol, please contact New Hope Recovery Center today.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

emerging adult binge drinkingEmerging Adulthood, the period of life from approximately age 18 to the late 20s, is not only a critical time for psychological and social development, but also for physical brain development. Contrary to a popular assumption that the brain is mature by the age of 18, recent studies have shown that profound brain growth and change still occur during Emerging Adulthood. [Studies]  The heavy use of drugs and alcohol during this time frame can inhibit a person’s brain development and have long term consequences.

Brain Development during Late Teens and 20s

To better understand the consequences of binge drinking or drug use on the brain’s development; let’s examine how the brain is growing during this period. During these ages, the prefrontal cortex, one of the last areas of the brain to develop, rapidly grows and expands by creating new synapses between neurons. This allows for thinking and responding on new levels while at the same time undergoing a pruning process to discard rarely used neurons increasing overall brain efficiency. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for planning and thinking ahead, prioritizing, problem solving, decision-making, regulating emotions and balancing risk and reward. Although these tasks can be done at earlier ages, after the full development of the prefrontal cortex, these functions take less effort and can be performed much better. Ask any parent of a teenager how well their teen can handle the functions described below:

Positive Impact of These Brain Changes

More Complex Thinking - The Emerging Adult experiences an increased ability to understand abstract ideas, values, perspectives and thoughts, such as mathematics, sciences, and philosophy.

Appreciation for Diverse Views - Where adolescents tend to use a right/wrong framework, Emerging Adults can increasingly see and understand many points of view at the same time. They more fully value the diversity of people and perspectives and learn to appreciate that there can be many right answers to a problem.

Less Self-Centered - By being able to see multiple perspectives, Emerging Adults begin to form and experience relationships that are less self-centered.

Regulating Emotions - An Emerging Adult can better regulate emotions and make decisions based on more than just immediate sensations.

Risk-taking and Decision-making - With the increased ability to consider both the present and the future at the same time, Emerging Adults are better able to weigh immediate rewards against future consequences. Emerging Adults have an easier time balancing risk and reward and making decisions about their future. They can also more effectively weigh the impact their choices have on others.

As anyone who has worked in the Alcohol and Drug Addiction field knows, these cognitive functions are often limited or impaired when someone is in the middle of their addiction. Emerging Adults can be at greater risk if their brain development is inhibited during this critical time.

Vulnerability During Emerging Adulthood

The rapid growth and changes in the brain during Emerging Adulthood are exciting. However, because this is a time of rapid growth, it also means the brain is more vulnerable if the growth is stunted during this time. [Studies] have shown that Emerging Adult brains are particularly vulnerable to trauma and abuse, as well as heavy use of alcohol and drugs. Brain scans have shown that heavy drinking, defined as 20 or more drinks a month, by young people can lead to decreased cognitive function, memory and attention. Sadly, the key functions of the prefrontal cortex are also the ones most needed by anyone suffering from an addiction.

Getting Help

It is important for Emerging Adults to understand the potential lifelong effects heavy drug and alcohol use can have on their physical development during this time and to learn how an addiction can impair their decision-making even further. New Hope Recovery Center’s Emerging Adult Program provides education and important life skills training to help Emerging Adults flourish and grow during this critical period of their life.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center