New Hope Recovery Center provides safe, supportive specialized addiction treatment to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Questioning, and Intersex (LGBTQI) community. We recognize that individuals in the LGBTQI community may not seek out treatment services for fear of rejection or prejudice. You can rest assured that every member of our staff strongly believe in the diversity of the individual and honor their dignity and self worth.

LGBT Addiction RecoveryNew Hope Recovery Center is proud to sponsor this year's Chicago Roundup.  The 2016 Chicago Roundup is next weekend, September 9 - Sept 11, 2016 at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted, Chicago, IL 60613.

There is still time to REGISTER.

The Roundup is a weekend long event of LGBTQIA and allies celebrating recovery and for those interested in finding out what a life of recovery has to offer.

This year's Roundup features  thought-provoking panel discussions, engaging speakers, entertainment and fellowship opportunities to enhance spiritual, emotional and sober life,  It is the perfect opportunity to meet other recovering people from all of the world and make some wonderful new friendships in the process,

Chicago Roundup, Inc. is a volunteer-based organization for the celebration of 12-step recovery from alcohol and drug addiction within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered community. It produces engaging events in a safe environment, affording participants the opportunity to have a spiritual awakening.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

New Hope Recovery Center is located in Chicago and offers individualized alcohol and drug addiction treatment in a loving supportive environment.  The New Hope with Pride Program focuses on the needs of LGBTQIA individuals.  Contact New Hope Recovery Center at 888-707- 4673 (HOPE).

Seoul Korea World Conference on Social WorkNew Hope Recovery Center is proud to announce that Jeff Zacharias, our Clinical Director and President, spoke in Seoul, South Korea at the 2016 Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development.  Jeff's discussion was on “Addiction, Mental Health & Trauma in the LGBTQI Community: Providing Hope for an Under-Served Population”.

 

 

NAMI CONFERENCE

Today, July 8 Jeff is speaking in Denver at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) National Convention on“How to Erase Stigma in the LGBTQI Community “. 

NCADIn August, you can hear Jeff speak at the National Conference on Addiction Disorders (NCAD) also in Denver.  His talk “Chemsex in the City:  The Intersection of Drugs, Sex, Technology and HIV/AIDS”  will be presented at the conference: August 18-21, 2016.

CCSADAnd later in the year, Jeff is speaking at the Cape Cod Symposium on Addictive Disorders (CCSAD) in Hyannis, MA from September 8-11, 2016.

 

NAADACAnd at The Association for Addiction Professionals National Conference (NAADAC) in Minneapolis, MN – October 7-11, 2016.

 

 

For more information call 888-707-4673(HOPE) or email us at info@new-hope-recovery.com.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

 

 

 

LGBT Family Acceptance ProjectRecent work by Caitlin Ryan, PhD, ACSW, Director of the Family Acceptance Project, shows that a family’s behavior and actions have long term impact on LGBT children and teens.  Her work has found that LGBT youth from loving, supportive families have drastically fewer suicide attempts and are much less likely to become addicted to drugs and alcohol.  Conversely, LGBT youth who were rejected by family suffer much higher rates of suicide and addiction.

According to the Family Acceptance Project research, there is a staggering difference between the health and wellbeing of LGBT youth who felt supported and those who felt rejected.  Gay and transgender teens who were highly rejected by their parents and caregivers were at very high risk for health and mental health problems when they become young adults (ages 21-25).

Let’s look at some of the findings:

Family Rejection Has Long-Lasting effects

Highly rejected young LGBT people were:

  • More than 8 times as likely to have attempted suicide
  • Nearly 6 times as likely to report high levels of depression
  • More than 3 times as likely to use illegal drugs, and
  • More than 3 times as likely to be at high risk for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases

Suicide Attempts:

Use of Illegal Drugs:

LGBT Addiction and rejection

These two images show the serious impact of high levels of family rejection on gay or transgender young adults.  Their parents tried to change who they were. Their parents or caregivers tried to prevent them from being gay or transgender. Or they showed their disappointment or shame in having a gay or transgender child in other ways.

So if you love your child, it is important that your entire family, friends and larger community (such as churches and schools) not subject your child to rejecting behavior, but instead show acceptance and support.  It is also important to stand up for your child and not allow others to reject, bully or act hostile toward your child.

What Behaviors Should a Family Avoid?

According to Dr. Ryan, families should avoid the following behaviors:

  • Hitting, slapping or physically hurting your child because of their LGBT identity
  • Verbal harassing or name-calling because of your child’s LGBT identity
  • Excluding LGBT youth from family and family activities
  • Blocking access to LGBT friends, events & resources
  • Blaming your child when they are discriminated against, harassed or bullied because of their LGBT identity
  • Pressuring your child to be more (or less) masculine or feminine
  • Telling your child that God will punish them because they are gay
  • Telling your child that you are ashamed of them or that how they look or act will shame the family
  • Making your child keep their LGBT identity a secret in the family and not letting them talk about it

What Behaviors Should a Family Embrace For the Long Term Health of Their LGBT Child?

Dr. Ryan found the following family behaviors enhanced the long term health and wellbeing of LGBT children and young adults:

  • Talking with your child or foster child about their LGBT identity
  • Expressing affection when your child tells you or when you learn that your child is gay or transgender
  • Supporting your child’s LGBT identity even though you may feel uncomfortable
  • Advocating for your child when he or she is mistreated because of their LGBT identity
  • Requiring that other family members respect your LGBT child
  • Bringing your child to LGBT organizations or events
  • Talking with clergy and helping your faith community to support LGBT people
  • Connecting your child with an LGBT adult role model to show them options for the future
  • Welcoming your child’s LGBT friends & partners to your home
  • Supporting your child’s gender expression
  • Believing your child can have a happy future as an LGBT adult
You can make a huge difference in an LGBT person's life, by showing them acceptance and demanding that others in their life do the same! 

Acts of acceptance, caring and support can have an enormous impact on an LGBT individual years after they reach adulthood.  LGBT young adults who felt accepted have a more positive future outlook.

LGBT acceptance and health

Please visit the Family Acceptance Project to learn more and to see how you can help LGBT youth in your life and in your area.  As you can see, the stakes are high with long term consequences.  Whether you are a family member or a concerned adult, showing acceptance and support can truly change someone’s life.   The sad statistics of LGBT homeless youth show that up to 40% of homeless youth are LGBT, even though it is estimated LGBT youth make up less than 10% of the population.  These young children and teens are often thrown out of their family homes and need support and acceptance from other than their families, or they will likely face serious lifelong physical and mental health issues.

Please do what you can to help.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

 

Jeff Zacharias, President and Clinical Director of New Hope Recovery Center, is mentioned in Jamie Marich's new book, Trauma Made Simple.

According to Jamie: "My wish is that one day, every client with unresolved trauma can have the good fortune to work with someone like Jeff.  The reality is that so many trauma survivors in need of such a therapist with a health, optimistic attitude cannot find this connection."

Jamie discusses trauma in the LGBTQI Community: "There are several major issues connected to the LGBTQI community and trauma that we must consider, especially because the shame quotient can be so high for those presenting for services.  According to my colleague Jeff Zacharias, the owner and director of New Hope Treatment Center, an addiction treatment program that specializes in treating the LGBTQI community of Chicago, every client in their care has some sort of trauma.  This trauma can manifest in multiple layers, from dealing with homophobia, to bullying, to HIV infection and diseases, to dealing with unkindness from other gay people....However, the most intense layer of trauma that he [Jeff] tends to see with the LGBTQI population relates to dynamics surrounding family rejection and ostracism."

And Jamie discusses Jeff's advice to therapists:  "Jeff Zacharias, introduced in Chapter 5, believes we must encounter our biases about sexuality and strive to educate ourselves about experiences for which we have no personal frame of reference.  Jeff has declared, 'It's not enough to be tolerant; we have to be fully accepting of who people are if we are serious about helping them with recovery.  You've got to dig in, do your own work, examine your biases, and learn.'"

New Hope Recovery Center and Jeff Zacharias appreciate Jamie and her wonderful book, Trauma Made Simple.  You can order her book now.

Its that time again for Chicago’s only LGBTQ recovery weekend. It begins August 15th and continues until August 17th at the Center on Halsted. Chicago Roundup, Inc. is a volunteer-based organization for the celebration of 12-step recovery from alcohol and drug addiction within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered community. This organization produces engaging events in a safe environment, affording participants the opportunity to have a spiritual awakening.

The Main Event - We Can Go Anywhere

  • Is a weekend-long gathering of LGBT’s celebrating recovery and those interested in finding out what a life of recovery has to offer.
  • Provides thought-provoking panel discussions, engaging speakers, pure entertainment and fellowship opportunities intended to enhance your spiritual, emotional and sober life.
  • Offers the perfect opportunity to meet other recovering people from all of the world and make some wonderful new friendships in the process.
  • Is hosted in the heart of Boystown at the largest LGBT Community Center in the Midwest, Chicago’s state-of-the-art Center on Halsted.
  • Begins on Friday, August 15th and ends on Sunday, August 17th, 2014.

This collection of so many different experiences and perceptions makes our own recovery that much stronger.

Go to the Chicago RoundUp registration page to for further details and to register for this serenity filled weekend.

New Hope Recovery Center is the presenting sponsor this year, and we couldn't be more proud to help support such a wonderful organization.

New Hope Recovery Center is an alcohol and drug rehab treatment center located in Chicago, IL. We provide Partial Hospitalization, Intensive Outpatient, and Aftercare. We also have a LGBTQI specific addiction treatment program entitled "New Hope With Pride.” We offer personalized, holistic treatment by examining the whole person: mind, body and spirit. Our small intimate setting caters to your specific needs and we provide place of support, nurture and safety leading to hope and healing.
We believe length of treatment directly impacts the chances for long-term recovery. For this reason we offer a variety of levels of care to better equip an individual to create the life they desire. Our caring and experienced clinical staff provides the emotional, physical and spiritual healing necessary to identify the core issues that underlie the addiction and in turn create an extraordinary life of productive, balanced sober living. 
For more information about New Hope Recovery Center please contact us at 773-883-3916 or check out our website www.new-hope-recovery.com.

LGBT addictionWe previously discussed the first step in the process of coming out, self acceptance.  Once someone accepts that they are in fact LGBTQ, they are then faced with a situation that no other group of people faces…how, when, where and to whom do they disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity?  Most people in our society have a default setting which assumes the people around them are straight.  This is an example of heterosexism and it is the reason an LGBTQ person constantly questions whether and when they should come out to those around them.  Most people have numerous groups of people to come out to.  There are friends to consider, co-workers, fellow students, family members, relatives, friends, and acquaintances and within each group there are subgroups.  This can be overwhelming and stressful to think about.  As we discussed previously, the stress an LGBTQ person faces around coming out can lead to heavy use of alcohol or drugs and addiction.

A person’s identity as LGBTQ begins to form before the decision is made to come out or not.  The more developed someone is in their LGBTQ identity, the more likely they are to disclose themselves to others.  Simply stated, the more comfortable someone is with their authentic self, the easier it is for them to come out to others.

Once someone accepts themselves as LGBTQ, remaining in the closet forces them to live a double life, hiding who they truly are and how they feel from other people.  This secrecy is exhausting, stressful and lonely.  A life of concealment keeps one from truly connecting to others, because no one knows the real you.

Stress and Risks of Coming Out

Feelings of shame often keep the LGBTQ person from sharing their true selves. They often hear that they are bad, or evil or unworthy.  Fortunately, things are changing.  Over 53% of Americans support marriage equality.  But reading and hearing the daily news show that the acceptance is far from universal.

People may withhold the decision to come out to others because of the risk of rejection, fear of physical harm, discrimination, harassment, and a desire to protect loved ones from the stress of coming out.  It is not a coincidence that many of the LGBTQ clients struggling with addiction also struggle with some aspect of coming out.  Either they came out and faced one of the risks listed above, or they are frozen in fear that one of those risks might result if they were to tell others.  It is very common to hear about people struggling with addiction who have compartmentalized their life in an effort to hide certain aspects about themselves from others because of shame.

Some project their own anxiety and shame onto their loved ones as a justification for not coming out to those loved ones.   For example, my fear during my closeted years was always that others could not adjust to my uniqueness but really it was me who never gave myself a chance.  As a result I developed a false self to live up to the perceived expectations of my family and society so I would not hurt myself or let others down.  Yes there is a lot of risk associated with the very brave decision to come out but the other side has unlimited potential.  Giving yourself the opportunity to be your unique, honest, and authentic self is one of the most empowering experiences you can do in your life.  Coming out does not guarantee it but it provides the opportunity and there are people who are willing to help you reach that place of authenticity.

The Coming Out Process Never Ends

There is a myth about the coming out experience: that it is this milestone event and then after that the individual is in the clear.  However, this is not the case and the decision to come out is a lifelong, almost daily process that LGBTQ individuals are faced with.  Social contexts and an individual’s environment are constantly evolving and therefore decision whether or not to disclose one’s identity to others is constantly being made.

Even once one comes out to some people in a certain group, there is the stress of wondering who else in the group has been told.  For example, coming out to close coworkers can lead one to wondering who those coworkers have told.  There becomes an uneasy wondering of “do they know”.  Because a person’s sexuality is only part of who they are, it would seem forced and strange to start every conversation with “By the way, I am gay”.

Pride Month is a time to raise awareness of the issues those in the LGBT community have and reach out to others who feel alone.  Holding onto shame is a lonely place.  Healing occurs from hearing other people’s experiences. New Hope Recovery Center offers the New Hope With Pride Program for those struggling with any aspect of addiction and LGBTQ-related stressors.  For more information please visit our website New Hope Recovery Center, call us at 888-707-4673, or email us at info@new-hope-recovery.com.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

LGBT AddictionDid you know there is an increased risk for substance abuse and addiction for those LGBTQ individuals who are dealing with any stage of the coming out process?

What is Coming Out?

Many people don’t understand what is involved in coming out (disclosing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity).  Most envision it to be like walking through one doorway, a single time.  But it is far from that simple.  Maybe for a few celebrities who can come out in a national publication, it only involves one disclosure or interaction, but for most LGBTQ individuals, coming out is a life-long process repeated again and again. This process can be filled with stress and anxiety as the LGBTQ person contemplates who it is safe to come out to and when.

The decision to come out is one of the defining moments in an LGBTQ person’s life.  Let’s look at what is involved in coming out, how an LGBTQ individual may feel or think during the process and why LGBTQ individuals are susceptible to risks of addiction and substance abuse.

Understanding Oneself Requires Understanding Our Culture

For many LGBTQ people, based on the world they see around them, they only know one way in which it is ok to live, and that is heterosexual.  The dream they have heard since infancy is to fall in love with the opposite sex, get married, have children, and live happily ever after.   But LGBTQ people grow up feeling different.  They know they don’t quite fit in, something seems off and they sense it is them.  They often feel less than others.  They believe, and are often told by those who are close to them, that being straight is how their lives are supposed to be.

Many LGBTQ individuals feel as if they should be like everyone else.  Not fitting in, struggling to fit in and even trying to understand how they think and feel can lead to feelings of deep shame.   Many spend years hiding and denying they are LGBTQ from everyone, including themselves.  Being LGBTQ can be so foreign to them that they don’t have a way to understand who they are.

Our society is very much oriented toward heterosexuality, it is a given.  So young LGBTQ often don’t have a concept of anything other than heterosexuality.  Fortunately TV, movies, books and public discussion about LGBT rights are changing this.  But it is a slow change.  And growing up feeling and thinking differently from everyone else can be lonely.  It can also be tragic.  Suicide among Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual teens is 4 times higher than non-LGBT teens. Bullying (9 out of 10 LGBT teens report being bullied in the past year at school because of sexual orientation), gay-bashing, discrimination (it is legal to discriminate against LGBT individuals in 29 states), violent anti-gay hate crimes (including murder) are still happening around the country.  Is it any wonder LGBTQ individuals struggle with accepting their sexuality or their true gender?

Why Come Out?

For someone who is questioning their sexuality or gender identity, the first person they have to be honest with is themselves.  Not being your true self leaves you susceptible to low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicide.

So, the first step in coming out is to come out to oneself internally, accepting one’s own sexuality or gender.  Although this may seem to be an easy thing, it is usually not. There are many pressures on LGBTQ individuals to not fully accept themselves as being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.  Bullying, fear of being harmed or killed, fear of being disowned by family and friends and fear of discrimination are all real possibilities for many.  It can often seem easier to deny a part of themselves instead of facing these consequences.  However, denying one’s true self leads to an incredible amount of stress, anxiety and additional fear.  If we are not ourselves, we cannot form real relationships because we know the relationship is not based on our real selves.

The benefits to truly being oneself outweigh all the real and imagined risks of being LGBTQ.  However, when someone is struggling with self-acceptance, the potential risks and consequences of coming out can seem enormous.  For those struggling with sexuality or gender identity, it can be helpful to read what others have experienced.  There are a number of great books on the subject of coming out, including the classic “Coming Out: An Act of Love” by Rob Eichberg.

And one final reason to come out: It Gets Better.  It really does.  Truly being oneself is worth the risks.  Thanks to Dan Savage and Terry Miller for creating the “It Gets Better” videos and book.  They have brought real awareness to the issue of coming out and bullying and have provided inspiration to millions.

It is important to realize that the period of coming out prior to full self-acceptance can be very lonely and very stressful.  Many LGBT individuals turn to drugs or alcohol to ease the pain and suffering they are experiencing.  To help these individuals with their addiction, most find it best to seek an addiction treatment program that understands and caters to the unique needs of LGBTQ persons.  New Hope Recovery Center’s “New Hope With Pride”, is such a program.  You can reach us at 888-707-4673 or info@new-hope-recovery.com.

 

You may also be interested in reading: Addiction Recovery and Self Esteem

Sex addiction is a term that’s becoming more and more prevalent in all aspects of the addiction community.  A spirited debate as to whether there’s even such a thing as sexual addiction has been developing for some time now. “People can’t be addicted to sex – it’s just what people do” is often heard, while on the other hand, there are people that apply the same definition of addiction to alcohol and/or drugs to that of sex.  There’s no way to deny that someone who has difficulty controlling their sexual urges, behaviors and/or thoughts will see a progression of their symptoms leading to negative consequences in their lives.  For sex addicts, there are levels to the severity of the addiction and these are a good indication of the type of treatment that is needed. There are three levels of sex addiction.

Level One:  Some of the behaviors listed may exist in someone without a sex addiction, but when acted upon compulsively, is considered level one of sex addiction. There’s no doubt that these can be devastating when done compulsively.

Chronic Masturbation

Affairs, chronic infidelity, love and romance addiction

Sexual relationships with multiple partners

Pornography use and collection (with or without masturbation)

Phone sex, cybersex

Anonymous sex

Going to strip clubs

 

Level Two:  A common theme among these behaviors listed are that of someone being victimized.  There are also legal consequences to these actions which is a primary difference between Level One and Level Two behaviors.

Prostitution

Public sex – bathrooms, parks, etc.

Voyeurism – online or live

Exhibitionism

Frotteurism

Stalking behaviors

Sexual harassment

 

Level Three:  These are behaviors in which there are significant boundary violations culturally and legally.

Rape

Child molestation

Obtaining/viewing child pornography

Obtaining/viewing rape/snuff pornography

Sexual abuse of older or dependent persons

Incest

Professional boundary violations (clergy, therapists, teachers, doctors)

Want more information about sex or love addiction? Check out our Journal for related articles or see below: 

Sex, Love and Relationship Addiction  Love and relationship addiction are part of the behavioral or process addictions.  Like its cousins, food addiction, sex addiction, gambling addiction, shopping and spending addiction, love addiction describes a set of behaviors and emotions that slowly progress and become unmanageable, often leaving an affected person depressed and suicidal.  In a society that glorifies love and romance, it is often difficult to know when one has crossed the line and is trapped in the undertow of this subtle but damaging process addiction.

Warning Signs of Sex Addiction Are you wondering if you or a loved one is addicted to sex?  It is not always easy to determine what are healthy sexual behaviors and what constitutes sexual addiction or obsession.  The following are warning signs that could suggest sexual addiction.  Any one of these is not necessarily indicative of an addiction, however the more that apply show a greater possibility of sex addiction.
Stay tuned to learn about the 10 types of sex addiction. Sex addiction can be difficult to understand for some, but there are people who can help. If you or someone you know is engaging in these behaviors and would like to discuss treatment options, please call New Hope Recovery Center at 773-883-3916 and we will help in finding the proper treatment.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

Methamphetamine (meth or crystal meth) is considered one of the world’s most addictive drugs. Why is it so addictive?  To really understand the addictive power of crystal meth, it is helpful to understand the drug and how it works on the human brain and body.

What does Crystal Meth do?

Methamphetamine is a stimulant that creates incredibly positive, euphoric, pleasurable, alert feelings over a prolonged period of time (several hours). The user often feels that everything around them is interesting, exciting and wonderful (including the user). Users often feel overly self confident and less self-conscious than when they are in a sober state.

Crystal Meth creates a stimulant action by acting on nerves that secrete biogenic amines.  The main effects of crystal meth involve these amines:

  • Histamine is a neurotransmitter (neurotransmitters are chemicals that pass information from one brain cell to another) that mediates arousal and attention
  • Serotonin is a central nervous system (brain and spinal chord) neurotransmitter involved in regulating mood, sleep, appetite, and sexuality
  • Norepinephrine (noradrenaline) is a neurotransmitter involved in sleep and wakefulness and attention; it is also a stress hormone released by the adrenal glands
  • Epinephrine (adrenaline) is another adrenal stress hormone and a neurotransmitter that stimulates the “fight or flight” response
  • Dopamine is a neurotransmitter involved in motivation, reward, addiction, reinforcement

When used, meth causes the body and brain to be flooded with these amines.  Because methamphetamine blocks the body’s ability to take in these biogenic amines, the amines stay in the body.  Normally, these amines are only used as an immediate trigger and then they are either stored or broken down.  This is the reason that meth lasts so long in the body.

In the heart, noradrenaline stimulates the heart to beat faster and stronger, increasing pulse and blood pressure. Body temperature and metabolism increases.  In the brain, the amines increase alertness, concentration, and energy.  They decrease appetite for food and increase sex drive.  They can also increase paranoia, cause hallucinations and lead to a fascination or compulsion with repetitively performing a specific task.

Meth Mouth is the commonly used name for the deterioration of the teeth and gums from meth use.  The chemicals in meth are very caustic and acidic.  In addition, methamphetamine causes the mouth to become very dry.  Normally, saliva protects teeth and gums from acids, but with decreased salvia, the acid attacks tooth enamel.  Furthermore, users often grind or clench their teeth, which weakens or wears down the teeth.

Crystal meth increases impulsiveness and impairs judgment.  It also heightens the user's desire for sex. For many users compulsive sexual behaviors occur. With the mixture of euphoric/pleasurable feelings and a false sense of self-confidence, this usually leads users to believe that  sex is better on meth. This creates a big problem when users try to stop using because they believe they won’t ever be able to enjoy sex again.

Meth Use

The stages of meth use are often stated to be:

  • The Rush – The initial surge of adrenaline and other amines into the body.  This tends to last about 20-30 minutes.
  • The High – The user feels aggressive, capable, wonderful.  This lasts for several hours.
  • Tweaking – The user may have gone on a binge and used meth for several days, but eventually the drug no longer produces any high because your body's natural supply has run out.  At this point users are said to be tweaking.  The user feels very empty and craves the drug.  They feel a loss of identity.  Intense itching is common:  the user feels as if there are bugs crawling under the skin. The user is often unable to sleep and yet feels exhausted.  Hallucinations are vivid.  The person may be hostile to self or others.
  • The Crash – The user may sleep for several days as the body shuts down to recover.
  • Withdrawal can happen slowly over several months.  (In addition to the more immediate withdrawals during tweaking and crashing, longer term withdrawal also occurs.)  The user becomes depressed, lacks energy and is unable to feel pleasure. The user craves meth and believes (incorrectly) that the only way to experience anything positive or even normal is by using meth.

Effects of Meth Abuse

It is often stated that the lows from a drug are in proportion to its highs.  Meth is no exception.  Meth users may feel wonderful for a time, but there is a price to be paid as the body tries to get back to a reasonable “normal”.

Because the body has been flooded with the amines, it believes it no longer needs to create them.  So it drastically decreases or even ceases to produce the amines naturally. The decrease in amine production lasts much longer than the time meth stays in the body. The longer and more intensely someone has used meth, the more the body’s ability to create the natural amines is affected.

Meth causes the body to release more than 10 times the normal levels of dopamine.  So users feel an incredible euphoria.  But the body believes that far too much dopamine exists, so it cuts production.  Because the body no longer produces its typical levels of dopamine, the lower levels of dopamine lead to feelings of sadness, unhappiness, and depression.    Epinephrine and norepinephrine cause the blood vessels to constrict.  Over time, blood ceases to flow to certain areas of the body.  This leads to lower levels of healing and skin tightening or pulling back (such as the gums pulling away from the teeth).

Meth also affects memory and coordination.  Studies have shown that meth may continue to affect the brain for over a year after last use.  Damage to blood vessels in the brain can lead to strokes.

Heart damage can occur after repeated meth use. Meth artificially stimulates and stresses the heart, permanent damage can result.  In addition, high blood pressure is common among former meth users.

So Why Is Meth So Addictive?

Methamphetamine produces a prolonged sense of well-being and energy.  Many meth users want to feel the initial high they first felt using meth and so reuse meth again, and again.  Also, in contrast to the high it produces, it also produces incredible lows, involving severe depression, fatigue, paranoia and irritability. Finally, because of its impact on the brain, meth causes intense craving for using more meth.  Many early meth users begin to use meth more often as they “chase” the first high they felt using meth.  (This is not attainable because the body adjusts to this initial high, and so it is very unlikely a user approaches the initial feelings attained on first use.)  After repeated uses, many users continue to use meth to avoid the psychological and physical pain caused during meth withdrawal, in effect fighting off the lows.  Finally, the cravings caused by meth use often pull former users back into using even after months or years of sobriety.  These three factors cause meth to be incredibly addictive.

Help for Crystal Meth Addiction

Recovery from crystal methamphetamine is possible. It is hard to do on your own.  There are Crystal Meth Anonymous meetings in many cities which are free of charge. In addition, many treatment centers have developed expertise in treating meth addiction.  New Hope Recovery Center has helped a large number of individuals who were addicted to crystal meth.  You can reach us at 888-707-4673 or info@new-hope-recovery.com.  Read more at www.new-hope-recovery.com.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

Want more information about Crystal Meth? Check out our Journal for related articles or see below:

Crystal Meth Abuse and Addiction Symptoms How can you tell someone is abusing or addicted to crystal methamphetamine?  Crystal Meth (also called crystal, ice, tina, glass, quartz, tweak, crank) is an extremely addictive stimulant.  It is made from extremely caustic chemicals, which cause damage to any users beyond its simulative effects.

Warning Signs for Crystal Meth Abuse Methamphetamine, also called crystal meth, is highly addictive.  It can be used by snorting, smoking or injecting.  The components of Meth are highly toxic and include: sodium hydroxide (lye), brake fluid, lithium from battery acid, lighter fluid, rubbing alcohol, drain cleaner, paint thinner, anhydrous ammonia, hydrochloric acid, red phosphorus lye, ether, iodine and ephedrine.

Crystal Meth and Gay Men – What You Need To Know Crystal methamphetamine has a long and storied history.  From its discovery in 1893 to World War II where it was used by Hitler to energize the German troops  to the 1960’s where it became commonly used among motorcycle gangs, crystal meth is highly addictive and wreaks havoc on whoever uses it. More recently, it has become problematic, in the rural areas of the United States as well as in the LGBT community, most notably with gay men.  Chicago has been hard hit by the crystal meth epidemic.

 

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.