New Hope Recovery Center is an alcohol and drug rehab treatment center located in Chicago, IL. We provide Residential Treatment, Intensive Outpatient, Aftercare, Extended Care and DUI services. 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 were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character”

addiction recovery changeAfter completing the Fifth Step with our sponsors, recognizing and disclosing the exact nature of our wrongs, a realization sets in: without changing our destructive behaviors we cannot experience the full benefits of the recovery program.  In Step Six, a sense of humility is developed in order to see ourselves more clearly.  We have seen the wrongs we have committed and how they have harmed ourselves and others when we acted out our defects of character.  We begin to see patterns to our behaviors and also realize that we are likely to act on the same defects repeatedly. As we continue with our addiction recovery, in Step Six we become entirely ready to have our defects of character removed, without reservations.  The concept of becoming entirely ready does not happen suddenly.  It is a process which can take the course of one’s lifetime.

We have to identify, recognize and accept our defects of character before we can be willing to have a power greater than ourselves remove them.

Step Six is a step of willingness and action that prepares us for a launch to a higher level of consciousness. “We found that the higher our drugs took us, the lower they brought us” NA Basic Text, Step Three, page 24 (Fourth Edition). In other words, the more intoxicated one gets, the more toxic one becomes.

A very important way to identify character defects is by being receptive to the constructive feedback of others, particularly when we offend them with our behaviors.

Here are some common examples of character defects:

  • anger
  • resentments
  • sarcasm
  • cynicism
  • false pride
  • self-pity
  • self-doubt
  • self-indulging
  • perfectionism
  • defiance
  • distrust
  • dishonesty

There will most likely be layers upon layers of negative behaviors that point to these defects.  “When working this step it is important to remember that we are human and should not place unrealistic expectations on ourselves,” NA Basic Text, page 33 fourth edition.

Reciting this prayer during times of despair or when it seems to be taking a long time to reach a desired goal can help sustain us and renewing our willingness to have our character defects removed.

Sixth Step Prayer

I am ready for Your help in removing from me the defects of character which I now realize are an obstacle to my recovery.  Help me to continue being honest with myself and guide me toward spiritual and mental health. 

New Hope Recovery Center, Chicago’s premier alcohol and drug addiction facility, offers treatment to those addicted to drugs or alcohol and their families.

If you or someone you love is affected by addiction, New Hope Recovery Center can help. Contact us at 773-883-3916 or info@new-hope-recovery.com.

Other articles on the 12 Steps:

Step 1 , Step 2 , Step 3, Step 4, Step 5

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

Recovery is possible, you don't have to do it alone. New Hope Recovery Center is always happy to hear from alumni. Although the majority of the work towards recovery is done by our clients, we are grateful to know that we had a part in helping a client find their road to recovery. We are so proud of you!!!!!

Hi New Hope,

Things are going great, I really couldn't be happier. 

The 2nd August will mark my 10 month anniversary and while the program keeps me going there is no doubt in my mind that New Hope started me down the road I find myself on today. 

The gratitude I have for your program and staff is difficult to put into words. 

Please pass on my thanks to everyone. 

JB

Xanax, generically known as alprazolam, is one of the most widely-abused prescription drugs in this country.  As prescriptions for this highly addictive drug rise, the rates of abuse and dependence increase as well.  As many have discovered, Xanax is highly addictive.

Xanax is a benzodiazepine in the sedative-hypnotic class of drugs.  It is generally prescribed to treat panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, some forms of generalized anxiety or social anxiety disorder and some phobias.  Like other sedative-hynotics, Xanax is also prescribed for difficulty falling asleep.  Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants, and like alcohol, work to slow down the brain’s activity as well as block the “alarm system”, which is responsible for excessive levels of anxiety.

Although Xanax may be prescribed legally by a physician, abuse and dependence can occur.  For many it is a highly addictive drug.

The crushing and snorting of Xanax has recently become more widespread, making the dangers of this drug even higher.  When snorting Xanax, the effects are felt faster.  Xanax abuse among teens is on the rise, as they have easy access to these drugs out of their home medicine cabinet if a family member is prescribed them as a PRN or “as needed”.xanax bar or xannie

Xanax bars (also known as zanies or planks) are 2mg elongated bars that can be split or quartered. People who are abusing Xanax may take multiple bars at a time or combine them with alcohol or other drugs.  One of the effects of a Xanax high is memory loss, causing the user to forget he/she has taken the drug or how much has been ingested.  This can lead to overdose.

Signs Of Xanax Abuse:

Indications of Xanax abuse are: 1) taking Xanax in dosages higher than prescribed, 2) taking Xanax without a prescription, and/or 3) taking Xanax for the sole purpose of getting “high”.  A person abusing Xanax may exhibit slurred speech, decreased motor coordination, impaired memory, sleepiness, lethargy and lightheadedness.  Xanax, especially in larger dosages or combined with alcohol (which can be extremely dangerous) can provide a crippling high that is similar to being drunk.  The high is achieved quickly, within 5-10 minutes of taking it.

Signs Of Xanax Dependence:

Physical dependence on Xanax can occur within just a few weeks of taking the drug regularly, even at prescribed dosages.  According to the DSM IV-TR, tolerance is one of the hallmarks of dependence.  Tolerance develops as the body adjusts to the presence of the substance and requires more of the drug to achieve the similar effects.  Once there is physical dependence, withdrawal effects can be felt when stopping the drug immediately. If you are taking a Benzodiazepine, you must consult a doctor before discontinuing the drug, as stopping the drug abruptly will lead to seizures and potentially death.

Xanax dependence tends to develop slowly over time and without the user or family members noticing.  However, once a dependence or addiction exists, one will begin to appear “checked out” or “zoned out” frequently.  He/she will not be able to be present emotionally for family members, and may have difficulty remembering conversations, etc. and will often deny there is a problem.

Xanax Detox:

Stopping Xanax or any other benzodiazepine once there is physical dependence can result in seizures, suicidal thoughts and even death, so should be done with medical involvement. Xanax addiction often requires a detoxification period which can last 5-10 days and is done in a medical setting under a physician’s care.  Following this, one may, depending on the severity of the addiction, opt to go into a residential treatment facility or intensive outpatient treatment program.  Abstinence from all mood and mind altering drugs will be necessary during this recovery process.  Ideally constructive coping skills will be learned that will aid in handling anxiety so that addictive drugs are no longer needed. 

If you or your loved one is struggling with an addiction to or is abusing prescription drugs, seek help immediately.  Prescription drug abuse is dangerous.  New Hope Recovery Center offers individualized treatment for prescription drugs and for many other addictions.  You can reach us at 888-707-HOPE (4673) or info@new-hope-recovery.com.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

Ambien addictionAmbien, the brand name of the generic drug zolpidem, is a widely-prescribed, and also widely abused drug.  According to the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health, about 30-40% of adults say they have some symptoms of insomnia within a given year. Another 10-15% of the adult US population report chronic insomnia, which is defined as the inability to fall and/or stay asleep more nights than not, for at least 3 weeks.  Ambien is generally prescribed for insomnia and sleep issues, but unlike many other sleep aids classified as barbituates, it falls into a class of drugs called sedative-hypnotics.

As many of us know, insomnia and difficulty sleeping contribute to increased stress levels, depression, irritability and trouble functioning at work.  Making lifestyle changes takes time, and creating better sleep hygiene, exercising more and decreasing stress are often not easy to do.  Rather than wait weeks for results, many turn to the prescription drug Ambien for fast and effective relief.

The Dangers of Ambien/Zolpidem

One of the dangers of Ambien is its amnestic effect, in which someone under the influence of the drug can go into a blackout state and have no memory of his/her activities after taking Ambien.  This effect tends to be heightened when the drug is taken on an empty stomach.  Ambien’s warning label includes side effects of: sleep driving, sleep eating and sleep sex.  Once under the influence of Ambien, a user can easily forget that he/she has taken the drug and may take more.  It is also not uncommon for people to attempt to do regular activities after taking Ambien, such as making phone calls, writing emails, driving cars, completing things for work, etc. and then have no recollection of it the following day.  There have been numerous car accidents allegedly caused by the sleep driving effects of Ambien. The National Sleep Foundation has been an advocate about the dangers of drowsy driving and the dangers that are associated with it. They claim that drowsy driving is just as fatal as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, as drowsiness will effect your reaction time, the awareness of one's surroundings, and impairs your judgement.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports the number of emergency department visits involving adverse reactions to the sleep medication zolpidem rose nearly 220% from 6,111 visits in 2005 to 19,487 visits in 2010.  SAMHSA also finds that in 2010 patients aged 45 or older represented about three-quarters (74 %) of all emergency department visits involving adverse reactions to zolpidem.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently required that the zolpidem dosage for females be cut in half, because zolpidem affects females differently from males.  It was found that the drug tended to be processed much slower in females.  Ellis Unger, MD, director of the FDA's Office of Drug Evaluation I reported it was unusual for the dosing recommendations to be different based on gender.

Ambien Addiction or Dependence

Many people do not know or do not fully understand that Ambien can be extremely habit forming.  Originally, it was thought that zolpidem was not very addictive, in comparison to barbiturates.  However, more studies are showing that dependence on Zolpidem can develop.  A Study indicates that the use of zolpidem among adolescents has become a dangerous concern.  Taking the drug on a regular basis almost always results in tolerance, meaning that more and more of the drug will be required to achieve the desired effect.

Ambien is prescribed to be taken immediately before bedtime because effects of the drug can be felt within minutes.  However, many people abuse the intense sedative and hypnotic effects of the drug and stay up in order to “overcome” the effects of the Ambien.  When purposely staying awake after taking Ambien, intense highs can be felt, leaving the user feeling euphoric and calm.

Like any other drug with abuse potential, it is very possible to become addicted and dependent upon Ambien, to the point that one cannot cut down or stop the use, becomes obsessed with obtaining and using the Ambien, and continuing to use Ambien despite negative consequences.  If you or someone you know may be addicted to Ambien, it is important to consider getting a chemical dependency evaluation to see if treatment may be necessary.  Once Ambien dependence is present, it can be very dangerous to stop the drug without the use of trained medical professionals. Remember, even if a drug is prescribed by a doctor, clients can abuse it or become dependent.

For more information about finding a treatment center right for you, contact New Hope Recovery Center. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, it is important to call and go in for an assessment with a professional.  All assessments at New Hope Recovery Center are confidential with no obligation for further treatment. Recovery is possible, let us help. Call us at 888-707-4673 or email us at info@new-hope-recovery.com.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

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

Prescription Drug Abuse and Addiction Prescription drug abuse and addiction is something frequently over looked. Stigma is guided by perception and in the field of addiction there is a hierarchy of stigma.  A common stigma easily identified is the public perception surrounding licit and illicit drugs.  Alcohol is perceived as a lesser evil because it is a legal substance, whereas heroin for instance is perceived as one of the most dangerous and hardcore drugs because it is illegal. Alcohol is in fact one of the most dangerous and toxic substances that people abuse and yet it continues to carry less of a social stigma. Prescription pills are perceived as more socially acceptable because they are legal substances that are prescribed by doctors.  However, prescription pills often get acquired illicitly and subsequently abused.

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.

Prescription Drug Rehab: 5 Important Questions to Ask Looking for Prescription Drug Rehab?  You are not alone.  Prescription drugs have become a serious concern.  In 2013, nearly 60% of all drug overdose deaths resulted from prescription drugs. Approximately two thirds of prescription drug abusers get them from family and/or friends.  If you believe someone you know is abusing or addicted to prescription drugs, look for these prescription drug warning signs.

Most Abused Prescription Drugs The abuse of prescription drugs has been on an increase for many years.  Prescription drug abuse is the nation’s fastest-growing drug problem, and the Center’s Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has classified prescription drug abuse as an epidemic.  The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) show that nearly one-third of people aged 12 and over who used drugs for the first time in 2009 began by using a prescription drug non-medically.

Warning Signs for Prescription Drug Abuse Prescription drugs are often abused or misused. Like all types of abuse and addiction there is usually a component of secrecy or denial surrounding the problem. According toFoundation for a Drug-Free World here are some warning signs that someone is abusing prescription drugs.

Looking into addiction treatment programs (rehab) for yourself or a loved one can seem overwhelming.  Generally life is already stressful and unmanageable.  Trying to understand what options are available within the treatment world and what would work best is not an easy task.  To give you a starting point, here are 5 frequently asked questions about rehab and addiction treatment that will lead you in the right direction.

1.  How Much Does Addiction Treatment Cost?

The cost of treatment varies greatly based on the provider. It could be free or it could cost over $50,000.00. Many addiction treatment services are covered by insurance.  However, insurance coverage varies greatly by the carrier and the client's specific policy. Some treatment centers don't accept insurance, which means you may need to pay out of pocket at admission, and the provider will "Super Bill" you meaning you pay cash and they give you a bill to submit to insurance yourself. Insurance does not reimburse this amount at 100% or sometimes at all, which can be financially draining on the client and their family members. To avoid this, call your insurance carrier and ask them who is in network, your insurance company should be able to give you a list of facilities to choose from.

New Hope Recovery Center takes most major insurance and can check your benefits for you to determine what coverage you or your loved one has for addiction treatment.  Its important for treatment centers to review your insurance benefits with you and let you know if there are any costs you will need to pay prior to admission. Unexpected financial burdens can just cause more heartache during the recovery process, so if you ask the right questions up front, you should be able to alleviate unexpected bills later on down the road. Some questions that will be helpful when finding out about your insurance  coverage are: (1) Is there is a deductible and if so, how much has been met?  Are there any co-pays? (2) Is pre-certification required? (3) Do you need a PCP (primary care physician) referral (HMO policies only)? (4) If there is a maximum out of pocket cost and if so, how much has been met? (5) Is there a maximum number of sessions available? 

If you do not have insurance and cannot afford out of pocket expenses, state funded programs may be available in your area. Unfortunately, many state funded programs have wait lists and it can be difficult to qualify for treatment. The sooner you call, the sooner you can get in treatment. Always leave your name on the wait-list, they occasionally go quicker than than expected. Not all treatment centers participate in state funded options, but some may have scholarship opportunities or sliding scales. The important thing is to ask the questions about cost before your loved one gets admitted. It is important to remember, some people need to go to treatment more than once to obtain long term recovery, so find a place that fits your needs and is within your budget, paying tens of thousands of dollars on a treatment center will not guarantee your loved one will stay sober. 

2.  How Long Does Treatment Last?

Treatment will depend on the severity and/or type of addiction(s) a person suffers from. Treatment may range from:

  • Hospital based detoxification – Generally 3 to 7 days
  • Residential treatment program – 30 to 60 days
  • Partial Hospital Program (Day Program) – 1 to 4 weeks
  • Intensive Outpatient Program – 4 to 6 weeks
  • Aftercare Program - 6 to 24 months 

Providers offer different levels of treatment, you may need to go to a hospital for detoxification, and then transfer to a residential facility for treatment depending on the provider's continuum of care. Many treatment programs works with each other to ensure a smooth transition from one treatment center to another. 

3.  How Do I Know What Treatment Program Will Work For Me?

Treatment will only really work for you if you work it. Most addicts exhibit impulsive, compulsive, and obsessive thoughts and behaviors which will need to be overcome in order to succeed in rehab.  Also other areas of life can directly affect the chances of a successful treatment outcome. Having supportive friends and family, living in a safe environment, devoting time to your recovery can all  increase the chances of a successful recovery.  It is essential to be open, honest and willing to do whatever is necessary to begin living a sober life. What you put into it will be what you get out of it. It is important to put recovery first.

When looking into a treatment program, ask what the program consists of, visit the location, meet with counselors and staff. Most treatment centers will offer a free assessment to determine what level of care is most appropriate. The best treatment facility for you is one where you feel comfortable, where you feel welcomed and where you will want to stay.

4.  What Kind Of Family Involvement Is Needed?

For the best possible treatment results, family involvement is crucial. Addiction is a family disease, which means treating one member of the family will not ensure long term recovery for the family.  It affects everyone in the family and so the family must work toward wellness.  Even if there have been previous treatment episodes, family involvement is one of the most effective ways to heal the family and its members. Some providers have extended family programs which include support groups, such as, Al-anon and Family Anonymous.

5.  What Is The Process For Getting Into Rehab For Addiction?

The process begins by calling and speaking with an intake person and/or a certified alcohol and drug counselor who can answer any questions you may have. If you and the treatment center feel there is a good fit based on your situation, there will usually be an assessment to establish the severity of the addiction and other problem(s) and to determine what level of treatment is necessary. Information about the process at New Hope Recovery Center: Admissions Process.

Addiction is a progressive and fatal disease.  The longer an addicted person remains in treatment, the better the outcome.

For more information about finding a treatment center right for you, contact New Hope Recovery Center. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, it is important to call and go in for an assessment with a professional.  All assessments at New Hope Recovery Center are confidential with no obligation for further treatment. Recovery is possible, let us help. Call us at 888-707-4673 or email us at info@new-hope-recovery.com.

If you are considering addiction treatment, you may find these articles helpful as well:

Prescription Drug Rehab: 5 Important Questions to Ask

Overcoming the Fears of Going to Addiction Treatment

Intensive Outpatient Treatment: The New Standard?

Drug or Alcohol Addiction Rehab in Chicago

How to Find the Best Treatment Center in Chicago

 

Looking for Prescription Drug Rehab?  You are not alone.  Prescription drugs have become a serious concern.  In 2013, nearly 60% of all drug overdose deaths resulted from prescription drugs. Approximately two thirds of prescription drug abusers get them from family and/or friends.  If you believe someone you know is abusing or addicted to prescription drugs, look for these prescription drug warning signs.

How do you find the best Prescription Drug Rehab for you or your loved one?

There are a number of factors to consider in selecting the prescription drug treatment that will work best.

 1. Are you or your loved one abusing prescriptions that they are prescribed by your doctor?  If so, be sure to have the prescribing doctor involved in the addiction treatment.  The need for your prescription will be considered in order to find possible solutions.  You will want the addiction treatment provider to work closely with your doctor.  Your doctor may replace your prescriptions with non-addictive drugs, or may reduce your dosage, or may offer other alternatives to the drug that is the concern.  The important thing is to be honest about your prescription drug use with both the doctor and the rehab staff.

2. Are you or your loved one addicted to opiate-based drugs? If so, your treatment may include medications to aid in your recovery.  More addiction treatment rehab centers work with clients who are prescribed medications for recovery from opiate addiction, such as Suboxone and Vivitrol.  Consider finding an addiction treatment facility that will work with clients on Vivitrol and/or Suboxone if you are addicted to opiate prescriptions such as vicodin, oxycontin and codeine.

3. What are you or your loved one’s unique characteristics? You will want an addiction rehab choice that works extensively with people having characteristics similar to yours or your loved ones.  What is your age?  Find addiction treatment options that treat people in your age range.  The elderly, young adults and working parents have different treatment needs. What is your gender?  Some treatment centers specialize in serving only one gender, some have individualized groups devoted to a specific gender.  Both of these alternatives allow you to receive more personalized treatment. What is your sexuality?  If you are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender, consider finding an addiction facility that caters to the unique needs and circumstances of LGBT clients. What is your race, culture, religion and nationality?  Look for addiction rehab centers that understand your race, culture and nationality.  This will help you feel comfortable, which is very important for your treatment.  It also will allow your treatment to be customized to your situation.

4. What is your past treatment experience?  If you have received treatment for your addiction in the past, consider what led to your relapse.  Would you benefit from treatment that is different  in some way from what you experienced in the past?  A different location?  More involvement from family and friends? One specializing in your unique circumstances?    Longer period of treatment?  Smaller size?  

5. Do you feel comfortable at the facility and with the staff?  Seeking treatment is stressful and anxiety provoking.  However, even with these feelings, can you imagine feeling comfortable at the treatment location?  You will be spending your time at the facility and with the staff.  Do you feel welcomed, appreciated and understood?  Do you feel like you will be treated with dignity and respect? This is important for your recovery.

If you or your loved one is struggling with an addiction to or is abusing prescription drugs, seek help immediately.  Prescription drug abuse is dangerous, as shown by the high number of prescription drug overdose deaths mentioned above.  New Hope Recovery Center offers individualized treatment for prescription drugs and for many other addictions.  You can reach us at 888-707-HOPE (4673) or info@new-hope-recovery.com.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

From all the research that has been done in the field of addiction over the past 30-40 years, we know several factors are involved in the development and continuance of addictive behavior.   Within the disease model of addiction, we understand the development of an addiction stems from the genes we have inherited.  Once these particular genes are activated, the disease progresses, from the point of onset to chronic and often fatal stages, unless it is treated.

Through this medical model, we learn that addiction is a biopsychosocial disease, with many factors contributing to the development of an addiction including our biology or genetics (bio); our thoughts, feelings and emotions (psycho); and our personal histories: the way we were raised, the environmental and cultural cues and messages we are exposed to (social).

Traditional learning theory (specifically operant conditioning) states that we tend to repeat behaviors that are pleasurable, thereby setting up a pattern of action, reward, repeated action.  Our brains are hard-wired to be able to learn this way, as it is critical for our survival.  For example, when we eat, dopamine is released in the brain, sending the message to repeat the behavior.  The concept of making associations is key to learning theory as are the concepts of reinforcement and punishment.   Getting a pleasurable response to a behavior (i.e. feeling satisfied after eating a tasty meal) increases the chance that we will seek opportunities to repeat the behavior.  On the contrary, being punished after doing a behavior (i.e. getting burned from touching a hot stove) drastically reduces the likelihood we will repeat the behavior.

When looked at against the backdrop of addictive behavior, it is easy to understand how one can get caught up in the cycle of repeating certain behaviors.  Although in time, addictive behaviors come with negative consequences (punishments), they are initially paired with the experience of pleasure.  In the case of certain drugs and routes of administration (for example shooting heroin), the behavior is paired with extreme pleasure.  In learning theory, the stronger the experience of pleasure, the stronger the association will be and therefore, the more likely one will want to repeat the behavior.

Classical conditioning, another subset of learning theory, can explain why formerly neutral stimuli become paired with the anticipation of pleasure as they become cues for the target behavior.  Environmental cueing and classical conditioning are theories that account specifically for relapse.  For example, a previously neutral or even negative stimulus such as a needle can in and of itself set off the phenomenon known as craving in an individual who is addicted to heroin or crystal methamphetamine.  In this case, one may experience intense psychological cravings without even coming into contact with the actual drug, only with the stimuli that have become paired associations with the drug.  These intense cravings can easily lead to relapse, if not addressed and dealt with properly.

Further, social learning theory, first explained by Albert Bandura in 1961, also explains addiction in terms of the biopsychosocial model.  Social learning theory posits that we can learn and make associations in a social context, simply by observing and imitating the behaviors of others.  The behavior(s) being observed are most likely to be repeated if reward is part of the observation.  For example, a person watching his/her peers drink, laugh and have fun will pair that association and increase the likelihood that he/she will attempt the behavior as well.  This is known as vicarious reinforcement.

With a pattern of addiction, social learning is often responsible for the initiation of drug/alcohol related behavior.  Once the addictive process has taken over, social factors fade out and become largely irrelevant to the maintenance of the addiction.  As the addiction progresses, opportunities to learn from healthy individuals engaged in healthy or adaptive ways of coping with stress become scarce, as healthy people begin to disengage from the addict and as the addict associates almost exclusively with other addicts or users.

Learning theory, including operant and classical conditioning and social learning can be applied to recovery as well.  In recovery, we re-learn the associations made in the brain during our addiction.  We pair craving and/or stress with picking up the phone and reaching out to our sober network.  We learn to avoid things, people or situations that will lead us back to using.  We make daily associations such as waking up in the morning and praying or meditating.  And finally, we learn socially acceptable behavior from our sober mentors, family and friends.

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. If you are interested in a confidential assessment, or you know someone who is, call 888-707-4673 to talk to a staff member.

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.

 

Prescription drug abuse and addiction is something frequently over looked. Stigma is guided by perception and in the field of addiction there is a hierarchy of stigma.  A common stigma easily identified is the public perception surrounding licit and illicit drugs.  Alcohol is perceived as a lesser evil because it is a legal substance, whereas heroin for instance is perceived as one of the most dangerous and hardcore drugs because it is illegal. Alcohol is in fact one of the most dangerous and toxic substances that people abuse and yet it continues to carry less of a social stigma. Prescription pills are perceived as more socially acceptable because they are legal substances that are prescribed by doctors.  However, prescription pills often get acquired illicitly and subsequently abused.

Prescription drug abuse is defined as taking a prescribed drug for non-medical use or not as prescribed.  Prescription pills come in almost every class of drug with the most commonly abused being pain killers (Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin), Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Klonopin, Valium), and amphetamines (Adderall & Ritalin).  Women and teenagers are two populations significantly affected by the prescription pill epidemic.  The CDC reports that the rate of deaths cause by prescription pill overdoses has more than tripled from 1999-2008.  There is a public notion that since prescription pills are legal, and people get them from a doctor, that they are in fact safer than illegal drugs.  This is not true. Many first time users and careless consumers will take a higher dosage than prescribed or mix combinations of drugs and/or alcohol which can lead to overdosing. In some cases overdose can occur without the presence of an addiction.

It is estimated by National Survey of Drug Use and Health that around 60-70% of prescription drug abusers get the pills from family members or friends, about 17% have a prescription of their own, and about 5-10% get them from dealers or the internet.  The accessibility of prescription pills being around the house of family members and friends entices a lot of curious first time users to experimentation, especially adolescents.  The public’s perception may blur the lines on the acceptability of using prescription pills recreationally or for self-medication but in actuality the line is clearly drawn.  Using prescription pills for nonmedical use or using someone else’s prescription for one’s own use is in fact drug abuse and needs to be addressed.

If you or a loved one needs help for prescription drug abuse, New Hope Recovery Center is here to help. If you would like information about our programs, contact us at 888-707-4636 (HOPE), info@new-hope-recovery.com or visit us in person.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

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

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.

More Pain Pills Prescribed In Suburbs Than Chicago People living in Chicago’s suburbs are prescribed up to four times as many pain pills per person as those who live in the city, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis shows. In the southern tip of Illinois, it’s up to seven times as much, according to the analysis of federal Drug Enforcement Administration records of the numbers of prescriptions written for the two most popular prescription pain drugs — Oxycodone and hydrocodone. Oxycodone, the more powerful of the two, is the key ingredient in the brand-name prescription painkillers OxyContin, Percocet and Percodan. Hydrocodone, which like oxycodone is an opiate-based drug, is the main ingredient in Vicodin, Norco and Lortab.

 

 

Women are the fastest growing segment of the population who abuse substances, according to several research studies that have been done recently. Although more women than ever are suffering from substance abuse disorders, there still is a small number of women who actually are receiving treatment for their addiction.

Substance abuse in women is often harder to detect than in men, and can easily be overlooked by friends, family members and health care providers.  For women, a fair amount of drinking is often done at home, during hours of the day when significant others and/or children are not at home. They are also less likely to have consequences such as a DUI because they are drinking at home. Three-martini playdates are often thought of as a fun way for stay-at-home mothers to blow off the steam of being with the kids all day and as a way to bond with other moms.

Further, many women turn to alcohol and drugs in order to be able to "do it all".  Use of stimulants can help a woman raise 3 kids, do well at a high powered job, keep up the household and still have energy for the gym on a regular basis.  On top of all of this, according to the research, women are more likely than men to see health care providers on a regular basis, thus increasing their access to prescription drugs with abuse potential.  Similarly, women are just as likely as men to drink or use drugs to medicate depression and anxiety, but are more likely than men to present to a mental health provider for help, resulting in more prescriptions for benzodiazepines and sleeping aids.

Substance abuse in women is often overlooked because the abuse itself is often normalized, seen as a response to today's pressures on women.  Often women recognize the fact that they are depressed or anxious and will go to treatment for the mood condition, unaware that substance abuse needs to be addressed as well.  If and when the need for substance abuse treatment is recognized, there are often gender specific barriers to women accessing and staying in treatment.  Some of the more common and problematic barriers are:

Fear- Women with children face the very real fear of being separated from or losing primary custody of their children.  In addition, image management, while also a factor for men, can deter a woman from entering treatment due to fears about what it will look like and what others will think about her.  Women also tend to have more fears about paying for treatment as compared to men, as many women do not earn as much as men, are underemployed or unemployed.

Childcare- It is well documented in the literature that women have a harder time accessing treatment if they are the primary caregivers of young children.  Treatment initiation and retention rates are much higher for women when there is some assistance with childcare and/or when the children are allowed to stay with the mother while she is in treatment.  For many women, paying for treatment along with childcare is too much of a financial burden.

History of Trauma-  For women with a history of physical and sexual trauma, entering mixed gender treatment is often a deterrent.  Programs that offer gender specific therapy groups and therapists equipped to handle trauma increase the success of a woman entering, staying in, and ultimately being successful in addiction treatment.

Psychological/Cultural- As stated above, women often view their own substance abuse as temporary, a crutch to help deal with the pressures of working, caring for children, caring for aging parents, running a household.  Though women are more likely than men to admit to needing help, they are less likely to actually go to treatment to get the help they need. Women also suffer from shame factors that are different from men's, and admit to higher levels of suicidal ideation and low self worth directly related to substance abuse and dependence.

The more that women's issues are well understood and addressed in treatment settings, the more successful a woman can be at obtaining help and achieving long term sobriety.  Addressing each woman's specific history thoroughly in an intake procedure can ensure that the right setting is available (i.e gender specific group for a woman with a lot of male perpetrated trauma vs. a mixed gender group for a woman needing to strengthen her platonic relationships with men).  It is also important for treatment providers to continue to address these needs along the course of treatment, as they may change, and for providers and treatment centers be sensitive to the needs of each woman individually, rather than generally as women.

New Hope Recovery Center offers gender specific programming. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, it is important to call and go in for an assessment with a professional.  All assessments at New Hope Recovery Center are confidential with no obligation for further treatment. Recovery is possible, let us help. Call us at 888-707-4673 or Email us at info@new-hope-recovery.com.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

Want more information about treatment for specific populations? Check out our Journal for related articles or see below:

Lesbians Seeking Drug and Alcohol Treatment Alcohol and drug abuse is a major concern for individuals who identify as lesbian. A reportpublished by SAMHSA in 2011 found people who identify as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) are significantly more likely than the general population to use and abuse drugs or alcohol. This same study found lesbians are significantly more likely than heterosexual women to drink alcohol heavily.

Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment for Latino and Hispanic People There are several things to be aware of when working with the Spanish communities for drug or alcohol addiction.  Cultural identity is one of the most important factors to keep in mind when working with the Spanish community.  For example: Cubans, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans identify themselves as Hispanics; while Central Americans and South Americans identify themselves as Latinos for the most part.

Senior Citizens: Alcohol Abuse and Misuse Seniors citizens and alcohol abuse and misuse is a serious problem. With the rapidly growing senior population, it is more important than ever to stay informed about the potential mental/behavioral health threats seniors are experiencing. People seldom think of alcohol abuse or misuse to be a problem in the senior population and rarely see that they are at risk of this behavior. There are major life changes affecting this population, which leads many seniors to begin abusing or misusing alcohol (and medications), even if they never showed signs of this behavior earlier in 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.