Rebuilding Foster Care Families in the Aftermath of Addiction

Foster Care and Addiction

It’s no secret that addiction tears families apart, this is especially true in the case of foster care. Studies have shown one in three children in the program were admitted due to parental substance abuse. But what happens when parents are in recovery and their children are able to come home. How do you heal the trauma that tore the family apart? 

 

Communicate 

Talk about what has happened, apologize, listen to their feelings. Depending on their age, this may be the time to have an open discussion with them and communicate honestly. Make sure they know that their feelings are valid, that you hear them, and of course, that you love them. 

 

Create a “New Normal” 

Children and families thrive on consistency. Try to create routines in your everyday life, maybe every night you have dinner at 6pm together. Or every morning you listen to the radio. Small things can make a difference in creating a feeling of consistency. Consider creating new traditions. Maybe every Saturday morning you take a walk together as a family or every Sunday you make pancakes. Making traditions make ordinary days feel special and make memories that last. 

 

Be Patient and Don’t Play the Guilt Game

Just because you’re in a different place now doesn’t mean you can expect things to change overnight. You may feel closed out or be frustrated by how your relationship building is going, but remember to be patient. This process takes time, particularly with older children. Don’t guilt them for holding a grudge or not responding the way you want them to. With time and consistency you can rebuild, but don’t put your expectations onto them. 

 

Keep Showing Up

It might be hard to face the circumstances, and new requirements such as supervised visitation however no matter what, continue to be there for them. It might take weeks, months, or even years for them to recover, feel safe, and accept the “new normal.” Regardless of how distant they may be, even when they act out or misbehave, stay with them. They need you and are likely testing your limits to see if you are here to stay. Be truly there for them. Show up, every day, in whatever way you can. 

 

Every scenario looks different. The ultimate goal is to heal, and let go of resentments and the shame. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction and their children have been placed in foster care our case managers might be able to help. Contact us below or click here.

What Is an Alcohol Urine Test?

What Is an Alcohol Urine Test?

The EtG test is commonly used to identify the presence of ethyl glucuronide in the urine of a person who may have consumed alcohol. Ethyl glucuronide (EtG) is a metabolite of ethanol, the intoxicating component in alcohol. It can also be screened for in blood, hair, and nails, but the alcohol urine test is the most commonly used because it is cheaper than other tests and, when compared to blood screens, much less invasive.

Who Takes EtG Tests?

EtG tests are used to detect alcohol abstinence or non-compliance under circumstances in which drinking is not allowed, including the following:

  • Alcohol treatment programs
  • As legally required for a DUI/DWI probation
  • Liver transplant patients
  • Schools
  • Military
  • Professional monitoring programs (e.e, airline pilots, healthcare professionals, etc.)
  • Court cases (e.g., child custody)

EtG test is not typically used in workplace testing programs as it does not measure a person’s current level of impairment from alcohol. Furthermore, because alcohol is legal in most areas of the U.S., it’s not a commonly administered test because alcohol could have been consumed days before a person is required to work. And if they show signs of impairment, it is not really a helpful tool on the spot.

What Is an Alcohol Urine Test?

Detection Window

Urine tests are quite sensitive and can detect very low levels of alcohol, and can do so up to five days after consumption. In studies of subjects who did not have alcohol use disorders, EtG was identified in urine samples for as long as 80 hours (or 3.3 days) after heavy alcohol consumption.

Limitations

One drawback of the EtG testing method is that it can sometimes produce a positive result from exposure to alcohol that’s present in many common household goods, including mouthwash. Other examples of environmental or home products that contain alcohol include the following:

  • Foods prepared with alcohol
  • Cleaning products
  • Breath sprays
  • Hand sanitizers
  • Hygiene products
  • Aftershave lotion
  • Cosmetics
  • Hair color dye

In reality, there are hundreds of household goods that contain ethanol, and exposure to them could potentially lead to a false positive on an EtG screen.

Interpreting Alcohol Consumption Results

high positive EtG test (>1,000ng/mL) may indicate the following:

  • Excessive drinking on the testing day or the day before
  • Light-moderate drinking on the testing day

low positive EtG test (500 to 1,000ng/mL) may indicate the following:

  • Excessive drinking within the previous three days
  • Light alcohol consumption within the past day
  • Recent heavy exposure to environmental products containing alcohol with the last day

very low positive EtG test (100 to 500 ng/mL) may indicate the following:

  • Excessive drinking within the past three days
  • Light alcohol consumption within the past 12-36 hours
  • Recent incidental exposure to environmental products that contain alcohol

EtG is a test that can help determine if a person has been recently exposed to alcohol in some way. Therefore, it offers law enforcement and others the ability to determine if a person is compliant with alcohol abstinence or not, and can do so accurately at least 70-85% of the time.

All in all, the EtG test is considered a highly useful test for detecting recent alcohol consumption. But due to the possibility of exposure to alcohol-laden environment products, in some cases, a separate verification may be warranted. This may include a blood or breathalyzer test, depending on the situation.

Other Testing Methods for Alcohol Consumption

Two other commonly drug screening tests that can be used to detect alcohol include the following:

BAC Blood Test

For a blood test, consent to have blood drawn and tested is usually required. Moreover, refusal to take a blood test in some cases can have legal consequences, including a suspension of one’s driver’s license. In fact, people who refuse to undergo blood alcohol tests tend to incur higher fines and longer jail sentences than those who are compliant.

Blood sample screening is believed to be more accurate than breath and urine tests, but testing errors can occur and lead to inaccurate results.

BAC Breathalyzer Test

Law enforcement most commonly uses breathalyzer tests is to estimate a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) because breathalyzer devices are lightweight, easy to use, and produce immediate results. Breathalyzer results are usually considered to be admissible in a DUI/DWI prosecution case.

Getting Help for Alcoholism

If you have an alcohol abuse or addiction problem, you may be afraid that you are going to fail a urine test or other alcohol screening test. Regardless of whether or not this is true, if you are an alcoholic and ready to reclaim your life, we urge you to seek treatment as soon as possible.

Harmony Treatment and Wellness features personalized, comprehensive alcohol addiction treatment programs and services intended to treat all aspects of a person’s health and wellness. Our programs are based around behavioral therapy, counseling, and group support, which can help patients uncover the underlying causes of their addiction and identify healthier, more effective ways of coping with life’s stresses and temptations.

Contact us today if you or someone you love is ready to break the destructive cycle of alcoholism and reclaim the fulfilling life you deserve!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: How to Help an Alcoholic

Valtrex and Alcohol: Safe to Mix?

Valtrex and Alcohol | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Valtrex and Alcohol | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

When taking certain medications, whether they’re prescription or over-the-counter, it’s essential to know the risks, side effects, and potential interactions with other drugs or alcohol. Many medications do have interactions with alcohol or are generally unsafe to combine with drinking.

According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s best to avoid mixing alcohol with antiviral drugs. While they are no specific warnings included in the labels of these products, alcohol can compromise the effectiveness of some medications. It can also increase the risk of side effects, including dizziness, with older adults being the most susceptible.

What Is Valtrex?

Valtrex (valacyclovir) is an oral antiviral prescription drug that is used to treat shingles and the herpes virus, genital herpes, and cold sores. Valtrex is not a cure for herpes, though it does effectively reduce symptoms by impeding its spread and growth. 

NOTE: The herpes virus is much more common than many people realize. According to the World Health Organization, two-thirds (67%) of the world’s population is infected with the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1).

Valtrex also helps a person’s immune system in its fight against the infection and reduces the frequency of outbreaks. When someone uses Valtrex, it can promote the healing of cold sores and genital warts and prevent new ones from developing. It can also relieve pain and itching often associated with skin lesions.

People using Valtrex should be warned that it will not prevent herpes from spreading to another individual. It can be transmitted even when a person is asymptomatic.

Valtrex Side Effects

Side effects of Valtrex can include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Dizziness
  • Headache

Less common side effects include the following:

  • Mood swings
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Shakiness
  • Changes in urination
  • Trouble speaking

Rarely, Valtrex can cause a condition that affects the blood cells and kidneys, which can be lethal. This disorder is more likely to occur in people who have a weakened immune system, perhaps as a result of a kidney transplant or HIV.

Valtrex and Alcohol | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Valtrex and Alcohol: Other Factors to Consider

It may be relatively safe to combine Valtrex and alcohol when a person is drinking in moderation. However, you should always consult your health provider before combining Valtrex with alcohol or any other medications or drugs.

There are also other significant factors to consider before combining Valtrex and alcohol. For one, Valtrex can cause side effects such as nausea and vomiting, which are relatively common. If you use Valtrex with alcohol, it can make side effects worse. For example, a person may be more likely to experience nausea than he or she would if Valtrex was being used on its own.

As noted, there is a chance for side effects such as dizziness with the use of Valtrex. Alcohol use can also cause dizziness, so consuming it while using Valtrex can cause this side effect to be more intense. For this reason, people who use these two substances should probably avoid certain activities while doing so.

A Word on Shingles

If a person is using Valtrex for the treatment of shingles, it is best to avoid alcohol altogether. Shingles is an infection that is caused by the same virus as chickenpox. Although shingles can occur anywhere on your body, it most often appears as a band of blisters or lesions that wraps around a person’s torso.

Unfortunately, the pain caused by shingles can be excruciating. Regular alcohol can compromise a person’s immune system and also reduce the effectiveness of medication. As with any viral infection, the immune system should ideally be operating at peak efficiency, and when alcohol is being consumed, this may not be possible.

Getting Treatment for Alcohol Abuse

There are no specific warnings against the use of alcohol with Valtrex, but it is probably best to avoid drinking while using this medication. If you have been prescribed Valtrex and have been unable to refrain from alcohol consumption, it may be time to seek professional treatment for alcohol use disorder or alcoholism.

Harmony Treatment and Wellness is a family-oriented team of highly-skilled professionals who provide individuals with the treatment and support they need to recover from substance abuse. Our caring staff specializes in customized, evidence-based treatment that is intended to offer our clients the best chances for success in the sustainment of long-term sobriety and wellness.

We offer comprehensive programs in both partial hospitalization and outpatient formats. Therapeutic services that we provide include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Behavioral therapy
  • Individual and family counseling
  • Peer support groups
  • Music and art therapy
  • Adventure therapy
  • Health and wellness programs
  • Substance abuse education
  • Aftercare planning

We understand there is still a stigma that surrounds substance abuse. Modern addiction treatment is based on the disease model, and no longer focuses on an individual’s so-called moral failings or lack of willpower. This fact is important to stress because many people are reluctant to enter treatment, in fear that they will be judged, stigmatized, or shamed in some way.

We sincerely want to help those who need it most by giving them the tools and support they need to recover and reclaim the happy and healthy lives they deserve. If you or a loved one is struggling to quit using substances, contact us today to discuss treatment and learn how we can help!

Alcohol Relapse Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

Alcohol Relapse | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

It doesn’t matter how committed you are to being sober or how long you have been sober because there is always the potential for an alcohol relapse at some point. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), relapse rates range between 40-60%—about half of all people in recovery.

Alcohol Relapse

Following a relapse, many people have feelings of guilt or regret. They may feel like giving up and succumbing to addiction rather than starting over and working hard to prevent a relapse from happening again. These feelings are normal, but they add more challenges to maintaining an alcohol-free lifestyle.

The best approach is to use this relapse as an event from which you can learn. You can alter your relapse prevention plan as needed and re-identify triggers. By delving deeper into the factors that contributed to the relapse, you can build a new foundation for recovery that will enable you to bounce back stronger than before.

Causes of Relapse

Relapsing after a period of abstinence is, unfortunately, a very common event. As noted, around half of all recovering addicts will have a moment of weakness that leads to alcohol use again. Fortunately, knowing some of the signs can help you prevent this from happening.

Signs that may foretell an imminent relapse include, but are not limited to, the following:

Failing to Make Sobriety a Priority

Without a steadfast commitment to long-term recovery, you are more likely to relapse. In order to be successful, you must be ready to embrace the hard work required to remain sober. Activities should include attending 12-step meetings, having a sponsor, and receiving therapy or counseling for co-occurring mental health disorders such as depression.

Not Having a Support Network in Place

A newly sober person requires a solid support system, and this can make the difference between sustained recovery and relapsing back into alcoholism. Ask friends and family to hold you accountable and engage in sober group activities.

Not Quitting for Yourself

In some instances, a person will enter treatment primarily to please their family or friends or because they must meet the terms of probation or other legal problems. Instead of being committed to being sober for their own sake, they feel pressure to do something they would not otherwise do. Moreover, if a person does not truly want to quit for themselves, the chance of relapse is much higher.

Being Unprepared for Life After Treatment

It’s crucial to devise a relapse prevention plan for transitioning back to the real world after treatment. Certain things can undermine sobriety, such as family dysfunction, toxic friendships, isolation, and unhealthy daily habits. By recognizing triggers early on, you can help defend your newfound sobriety.

Alcohol Relapse | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

What to Do After a Relapse

First, you need to decide whether or not you need to go back into treatment. If it was an isolated episode, and you’re dedicated to examining and adjusting your recovery plan, you may not need to go into an intensive treatment program. There are outpatient treatment programs that can help when you don’t require an inpatient stay or around-the-clock supervision.

If you’ve retreated back into an extended pattern of alcohol abuse, however, you will want to consider returning to a more strict treatment program. Moreover, if you have been talking about using substances or hanging out with people who enable or encourage your drinking, these are signs of a bigger problem. Likewise, if you recommence using alcohol as a coping mechanism, you need to seek treatment as soon as possible.

The return to treatment should have a strong emphasis on psychotherapy, which has been remarkably successful in instructing recovering addicts how to engage in new behavioral responses to unhealthy thoughts and feelings.

Other therapies include art and music therapy, meditation techniques, and physical fitness. Following treatment, you can continue to apply these strategies and tools to maintain a low-stress life, as well as cope with depression, anxiety, and anger.

From the minute you begin treatment after an alcohol relapse, your focus should be on the transition back to normal life. Your best option may be to reside in a sober living home, in which accountability can help during those first few vulnerable months after treatment. Also, it would be beneficial to be equipped with an outpatient plan for ongoing therapy or counseling after you are discharged from treatment.

Getting Help for Alcohol Addiction

If you have already undergone treatment and are struggling with an alcohol relapse, there is help available. Harmony Treatment and Wellness offers integrated, research-based treatment for people who suffer from alcohol or drug addictions. Our programs feature vital recovery services such as psychotherapy, counseling, group support, and more.

If you have relapsed or fear you will relapse, contact us today! We can help you get back on the road to long-term recovery and reclaim the happy and healthy life you deserve!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Dangers of Alcohol

The Dangers of Mixing Kratom and Alcohol

Kratom and Alcohol | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Kratom is a tropical plant that is native to Southeast Asia, where its leaves have been used medicinally for thousands of years to increase energy or relieve pain. It is a relatively new substance in the U.S. and is one of the many substances that may have unpredictable, adverse effects when combined with alcohol.

Kratom leaves can be eaten raw or crushed, brewed as a tea or placed into tablets or capsules. Kratom is illegal for use in several states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

One of the unusual properties of kratom is that the effects it induces depend on the amount that’s ingested. For example, in low doses, it acts as a stimulant, but in higher doses, it has sedating properties. Although this drug is believed to act like an opioid, it doesn’t typically lead to the same potentially deadly side effects of opioids like morphine.

Kratom use is becoming increasingly common in the U.S. It has been with abuse and addiction, especially excessive doses or chronic use. In a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), kratom was identified in the bodies of 152 individuals who died of a drug overdose. Of these, 19 people also had alcohol present in their systems, although it was not known whether kratom was an agent that contributed to their death.

Side Effects of Kratom and Alcohol

More research is necessary to understand the effects of kratom fully. What is known about kratom are the short- and long-term effects which can vary depending on the dose. These include the following:

Low Dose

  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased energy
  • Alertness
  • Increased sociability

Moderate to High Dose

  • Drowsiness
  • Cough suppression
  • Pain reduction
  • Reduced opioid withdrawal

High Dose

  • Psychosis
  • Anorexia
  • Weight loss
  • Hyperpigmentation

Kratom use can also result in several adverse side effects similar to those of actual opiates, including the following:

  • Tremors
  • Poor motor coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting

Dangers of Combining Kratom and Alcohol

Kratom and Alcohol | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Currently, there isn’t enough evidence concerning the potential hazards of mixing kratom and alcohol to be able to identify all the potential dangers. However, by considering the individual properties of these substances, we can suggest possible risks of using this combination.

Alcohol is a depressant, meaning that it depresses the function of the central nervous system (CNS). It also prevents messages from nerve receptors from reaching the brain. As a result, a user’s perceptions, movements, and senses are all affected. In comparison, kratom can act as either a stimulant or a depressant.

Mixing a depressant with a stimulant or with another sedative can be hazardous. For this reason, as with most drug combinations, combining kratom and alcohol is probably not advisable. Although this combination hasn’t been well researched yet, experts generally recommend not using alcohol and kratom concurrently.

Because alcohol is a CNS depressant, combining it with kratom could be very hazardous. It could lead to motor impairment, falls, and poor judgment and decision-making. It could also cause profound sedation, which has the potential to lead to coma or death.

As noted, combining stimulants with alcohol is not a good idea either. Because alcohol has the depressant effect, it could negate the stimulant properties of kratom, which could compel the person to use more kratom than they otherwise would. Also, mixing stimulants with alcohol can increase the risk of seizures, high blood pressure, and stroke.

Some of the various side effects that are possible when combining kratom with alcohol include the following:

  • Sleepiness
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Poor motor control
  • Tremors
  • Altered perception
  • Increased risk of addiction

Alcohol abuse and addiction are also associated with many long-term health problems, including severe liver damage, increased risk of several cancers, and death related to alcohol poisoning. Using other substances in combination with alcohol only adds more complications to alcohol use disorder, and can make it much more challenging to treat.

Treatment for Kratom and Alcohol

Those who are suffering from alcohol and/or kratom abuse or addiction can benefit from professional treatment. Harmony Treatment and Wellness features modern, evidence-based medical care combined with wellness programs and holistic therapies. We use this comprehensive approach to treat a wide range of substance use disorders, including alcohol and kratom addiction.

Our center is staffed with compassionate professionals who all share the same mission to help patients get the most effective treatment possible for their disorders. We design treatment plans unique to the individual to ensure their needs are met and that they are given the best chance for success.

If you or a loved one is motivated to recover and take back your life, contact us today, We are dedicated to ensuring that those who need it most receive all the tools they require to sustain long-lasting happiness and wellness!

Risks of Using Prednisone and Alcohol

Prednisone and Alcohol | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Combining prednisone and alcohol can increase the risk of numerous complications. Although prednisone may provide health benefits when taken as directed, when mixed with alcohol, an individual may be at risk of encountering severe health repercussions. When used in conjunction, these two substances can impair a person’s immune system and place them at a higher risk for osteoporosis and other health issues.

People who are using prednisone for chronic conditions may incur more inadvertently worsen those conditions when they consume alcohol. Even occasional episodes of alcohol abuse have the potential to cause serious problems for an individual who is also using prednisone.

What Is Prednisone?

Prednisone is a corticosteroid that comes in a variety of forms, including tablet and liquid. Prednisone works to combat inflammation and allergic reactions, such as itching, redness, and swelling. It also suppresses the immune system, and by doing so, is used as a treatment for autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Prednisone can also be prescribed to those who have lower-than-normal levels of steroids in their body.

Due to these many applications, prednisone may be employed to treat a variety of health conditions. Other examples of conditions that may be treated with prednisone include the following:

  • Adrenal issues
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Bone marrow ailments
  • Endocrine issues
  • Kidney conditions
  • Lupus
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Skin conditions
  • Cancer symptoms
  • Ulcerative colitis

Beyond chemical interactions, alcohol abuse can also result in a person neglecting self-care, which may be vital in managing chronic conditions such as those above. Individually, each of these substances has risks and side effects. Combining them can put even more stress on a person’s body, and in some instances, new health problems may emerge.

Risks and Effects of Alcohol Abuse

Prednisone and Alcohol | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Alcohol abuse can range from occasional episodes of binge drinking to the daily drinking patterns that typify alcoholism. Nevertheless, all forms of alcohol abuse can jeopardize a person’s health, and high levels of consumption, especially over the long term, are even more hazardous.

Potential short-term effects of drinking include blurred vision, slurred speech, dizziness, impaired motor skills, and nausea and vomiting. Complications of an alcohol use disorder may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Heart problems
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Hypertension
  • Increased cancer risk
  • Liver conditions
  • Stroke
  • Weakened immune system

Some health complications, such as heart problems, can occur from just one night of binge drinking or after extended use. Long-term drinking increases the risk of a person developing this or other severe alcohol-related health conditions.

Side Effects and Risks of Prednisone

Although prednisone can help an individual manage their chronic health problems, this medication can also produce various side effects, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Bulging eyes
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Extreme mood swing
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Changes in personality
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Weight gain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swollen face and extremities
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Vision impairments

When used in conjunction with alcohol, there is the potential that some of these side effects and the risks of either substance could be exacerbated.

Hazards of Combining Prednisone and Alcohol

Both prednisone and heavy alcohol use have been found to increase the risk of many health problems. Although using either of these alone or in combination in no way ensures that an individual will encounter these or other issues, the risk is most definitely increase.

Drinking alcohol while using prednisone may increase the risk that an individual will encounter the following:

Depression

Depression has been associated with alcohol abuse and the use of prednisone. If a person experiences depression as a side effect of one substance, the severity of the depression may be compounded by the use of the other.

Diabetes Risk

Chronic steroid use has been associated with an increase in blood sugar levels and a risk of diabetes caused by steroids. By itself, alcohol abuse can result in blood sugar levels becoming volatile and is a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes. As such, drinking alcohol while using prednisone could potentially lead to severe blood sugar issues, including diabetes.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Both alcohol and prednisone use can cause gastrointestinal bleeding. Using these substances in combination could, therefore, increase this risk. What’s more, the stress in the digestive system caused by either or both substance has been associated with the development of peptic ulcers.

Osteoporosis

Prednisone comes with an increased risk of osteoporosis. Heavy alcohol use can destabilize the nutrients in a person’s body, dramatically affecting bone health. Heavy, chronic alcohol abuse has also been associated with a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. Drinking alcohol while using prednisone greatly increases this risk.

Prednisone and Alcohol | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Compromised Immune System

Both prednisone and alcohol suppress the immune system and cause impaired functioning. Mixing the two can profoundly exacerbate this effect. Immune system suppression is generally a desired effect of prednisone for people who suffer from autoimmune diseases. However, if the immune system becomes too weak, an individual may be more susceptible to illness and disease.

In addition to these risks, alcohol abuse could cause a person to neglect to use necessary medications. Furthermore, they may ignore other aspects of self-care that are essential in the management of their health condition.

Alcohol Abuse Can Interfere with Medication Use

The adverse effects of alcoholism can make it challenging for an individual to adhere to a therapeutic routine for their medication. Even sporadic alcohol abuse can result in a person missing a dose. However, those struggling with alcohol dependency tend to neglect to take their medication more often.

Conversely, some people who desire a drink may intentionally skip a dose of prednisone, or cease taking it entirely, to avoid chemical interactions. And, if an individual abruptly quits taking this medication, they could experience an extreme reaction.

Moreover, a person’s system could fail to function correctly due to an absence of naturally occurring steroids. Some people may even experience withdrawal symptoms, such as the following:

  • Body and joint aches
  • Severe fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite

Alcohol can cause dysregulation of a person’s mood. Depression, for example, can lead to a reduction in a person’s sense of self-worth, and they may not take care of themselves as well. This can further lead a person to skip or stop taking their medication, either because they are apathetic or because they have forgotten due to being distracted by low mood.

Getting Help for Alcohol Abuse

If alcohol use is hindering a person’s ability to take care of themselves or putting them at a higher risk of damage to their health, it’s time to seek help. The most effective treatment programs teach a person how to engage in self-care, even when confronted with a chronic illness. By learning coping skills and gaining insight through psychotherapy sessions, an individual is better equipped to surmount the unique challenges that they face.

Harmony Treatment and Wellness provides clients with the tools, support, and everything they need to recover fully and experience long-lasting health and wellness. Our compassionate staff members are dedicated to ensuring that our clients receive the most effective treatment available.

If you or your loved one are ready to break free from alcohol addiction, contact us today—we can help!

Risks of Mixing Seroquel and Alcohol

Seroquel and Alcohol | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Seroquel (quetiapine) is a prescription antipsychotic medication commonly prescribed to relieve psychotic symptoms in those with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. It is also sometimes used off label for the treatment of depression or insomnia. This medication can interact with several other drugs, including prescription and illicit recreational substances, as well as alcohol.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that people who are using Seroquel should not consume alcohol. Alcohol can suppress the body’s ability to utilize Seroquel effectively. And, drinking alcohol while using Seroquel could exacerbate the typical side effects of the medication.

While it is advised that people who take Seroquel not consume alcohol, the effects of using alcohol while taking Seroquel are considered minor. However, while the effects of drinking may be mild, both of these substances will compound the effects of the other, making lesser amounts of each substance more powerful when used in combination.

Although there is research that shows that Seroquel and alcohol may be used together relatively safely, there is still some significant risk associated with this combination. Moreover, it is not advised to use both of these substances within the same timeframe without first consulting a physician.

Seroquel and Alcohol Side Effects

When Seroquel and alcohol are used together, side effects that occur with either substance can worsen. These might include the following:

  • Mood changes
  • Head and body aches
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sleepiness
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight changes
  • Indigestion
  • Constipation
  • Changes in liver function
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Unusual dreams

In severe cases, the increased side effects can be detrimental or even fatal, just as taking an excessive amount of either substance by itself could be dangerous. If you use alcohol and Seroquel in conjunction, the combined effect may impair judgment. This effect can lead to increased risks while driving, operating heavy machinery, or any other activity that requires focus and sharp motor skills.

Dangers of Alcohol

Seroquel and Alcohol | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

While alcohol is legal to consume in the U.S. for persons aged 21 or older, it is nonetheless a potent substance that can interfere with how different drugs act in the body. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as of 2015, more than 86% of people aged 18 and older in the U.S. reported consuming alcohol at least once in their lifetime.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that there is no such thing as safe drinking because any level of alcohol consumption increases a person’s risk of brain chemistry changes, falls, memory loss, and organ damage. With medications such as Seroquel, any alcohol consumption may be harmful. Those who are using Seroquel and also actively consuming alcohol are urged to quit drinking to be safe.

Alcohol increases the risk of psychotic symptoms, and it interacts adversely with Seroquel’s side effects. Also, if you consume alcohol while using Seroquel, there are overlapping side effects that can worsen rapidly. These include the following:

  • Impaired coordination
  • Impaired memory
  • Slurred speech
  • Physical weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach problems

Another possible side effect of Seroquel is weight gain, so those with blood sugar volatility are at risk for this is they use this drug. Drinking alcohol can also change blood sugar levels, and due to excessive empty calories, it can increase the risk of weight gain as well. Gaining too much weight raises the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

It is also more difficult for the body to regulate temperature and cool down while using Seroquel. This effect can result in heat exhaustion and even hyperthermia in extreme situations, such as at crowded parties or in hot environments. Moreover, intense exercise and hot, humid weather are risky while using Seroquel.

Drinking alcohol can also increase body temperature and the risk of hyperthermia on its own. As such, combining Seroquel and alcohol means you can feel hot or feverish much of the time, and that you are at an even higher risk of experiencing hyperthermia.

Symptoms of hyperthermia include:

  • Strong, rapid pulse
  • Delirium and confusion
  • Lack of sweating
  • Flushed or red skin
  • Dry skin
  • Faintness
  • Staggering and falling
  • Mood swings
  • Agitation

Someone who is suffering from hyperthermia needs medical attention immediately. If you suspect you or someone you know is at risk, please call 911.

Treatment for Alcoholism

If you struggle with alcohol abuse and you are prescribed Seroquel, it is vital that you work with addiction professionals to overcome alcoholism first. To do so, you may need to find a rehab program, such as Harmony Treatment and Wellness, that uses an integrated approach to addiction. Moreover, persons who experience psychotic symptoms or other mental health disorders will need to have all conditions treated simultaneously.

Are you ready to break free from substance abuse and reclaim the fulfilling life you deserve? Contact us today and find out how we can help!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: What Kind of Drug Is Alcohol?

Dangers of Absinthe Alcohol

Absinthe Alcohol Dangers | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Absinthe alcohol is a very potent liquor that has been reported to induce hallucinations and result in euphoria. It may also be associated with dangerous consequences related to acute alcohol intoxication. Absinth has all the potential adverse effects of drinking alcohol—in some cases, maybe more.

What Is Absinthe Alcohol?

Absinthe is produced from distilled grains and green anise, wormwood oil, fennel, and other herbs. It’s comprised of anywhere between 45-75% alcohol or 90-150 proof. Absinthe was developed in Switzerland in 1792 but didn’t reach the U.S. until 1878.

Absinthe is usually found as an emerald green color. The traditional method of consumption is to pour it over ice or sugar cubes. Sometimes it’s further diluted with water to improve the taste, which is similar to black licorice mixed with various herbs.

Legal Status

Absinthe was illegal in the U.S. from 1912-2007. It is currently legal, but only when produced with little or no thujone. Thujone is an oily fragrant substance, naturally found in a variety of many plants and flowers. In absinthe, this substance is the ingredient believed to contribute to the drink’s unusual mind-altering effects.

Effects of Absinthe Alcohol

As noted, absinthe has a very high alcohol content, typically higher than standard liquors like rum or vodka. Moreover, one can presume that it’s potential for causing high levels of intoxication is also very high.

In research, thujone has been shown to slow reaction times and impair attention capabilities. It may also induce visual or auditory hallucinations among some people. One study suggested that thujone’s effect on GABA receptors was likely the culprit for many of these effects.

Absinthe and Hallucinations

Absinthe containing a significant amount of thujone was, in the past, believed to sometimes lead to mania or delirium. Recent studies show that absinthe abuse has been associated with hallucinations, brain damage, and increased risk of mental illness and suicidality.

Absinthe Alcohol Dangers | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Absinthe Addiction

Alcoholism is defined as the inability to stop drinking even after adverse consequences have occurred in a person’s life. These consequences may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Physical health problems
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Strained relationships
  • Financial or legal issues
  • Loss of employment
  • Poorer quality of life

Alcoholism related to the abuse of any substance is a disease characterized by tolerance, dependence, and compulsive drug-seeking behavior. Tolerance occurs due to the body’s propensity to diminish the effects of substances following repeated use.

Dependence develops over time as a substance is abused regularly. The brain and body adapt to the substance’s presence and becomes unable to function correctly in its absence. The result of this condition is the onset of unpleasant and possibly life-threatening withdrawal effects when use is stopped.

Health-Related Issues Associated with Absinthe

According to the National Institutes of Health:

“As our knowledge of multiple organ damage, neurotoxicity, and diverse psychiatric [conditions related to] excessive alcohol use has increased, the possibility emerges that much of the syndrome of absinthism was actually acute alcohol intoxication, withdrawal, dependence, and other neuropsychiatric complications.”

In other words, the major health and social issues related to absinthe use are not unique to absinthe. The excessive abuse of any kind of alcohol, especially long-term, can result in many health problems. These problems include, but are not limited to, heart disease, liver cirrhosis, kidney failure, and brain damage.

What Is Alcoholism?

Although alcohol abuse and binge drinking will not always lead to dependence, disorders, and diseases, these potentially destructive patterns of abuse increase the likelihood that these problems will occur.

Some questions you can ask yourself (or a loved one) to determine if you might have an alcohol use disorder include the following:

1) Have you encountered times when you ended up drinking more or for longer than you originally intended?

2) On multiple occasions, have you wanted to cut down or your drinking or stop altogether, and even tried to, but found you could not?

3) Do you spend a considerable amount of time drinking, being drunk, or recovering from the aftereffects?

4) Do you experience cravings, or a strong need or urge to drink?

5) Have you found that drinking or being hungover has often interfered with school, work, or taking care of your home or family?

6) Have you continued to drink despite the problems it is causing?

7) Have you lost interest in activities that were once important to you in order to drink?

8) On multiple occasions, have you encountered situations while drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (e.g., driving or swimming)?

9) Have you continued to drink although it is making you feel depressed or anxious or contributing to another health problem? Or have you continued to drink after having had a blackout?

10) Do you have to drink more than you once did to achieve the effect you want? Or have you found that your average number of drinks have less effect than before?

11) As the effects of alcohol are subsiding, have you experienced withdrawal symptoms, such as insomnia or shakiness?

NOTE: The above questions were adapted from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

Is Absinthe Deadly?

Absinthe Alcohol Dangers | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Like most alcoholic drinks, absinthe has a high potential to be dangerous when abused. Presently, legal absinthe doesn’t include as much thujone as in the past. It also does not appear to be the sole cause of hallucinations and other effects. But abusing alcoholic drinks that contain unusually high amounts of alcohol is very risky.

Binge drinking absinthe can definitely result in acute alcohol poisoning and death. Given that the alcohol content in absinthe can be as high as 150 proof, it’s not hard to get highly intoxicated in a very short amount of time. More than a small drink can lead to adverse effects, and excessive use is ill-advised and extremely hazardous.

Alcohol poisoning is a serious consequence of drinking excessive amounts of alcohol in a short period. Drinking too much too rapidly can depress breathing, heart rate, and body temperature. It can also impair the gag reflex and lead to aspiration of vomit, coma, and death.

Any individual suffering from alcohol poisoning requires immediate medical attention. If you believe someone has alcohol poisoning, call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room right away.

Signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning include the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Slow or irregular pulse
  • Irregular breathing
  • Bluish or pale skin
  • Low body temperature
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Stupor
  • Unconsciousness

Even if a person doesn’t have all the above symptoms, someone extremely intoxicated runs the risk of passing out and not waking up. Alcohol continues to accumulate in the bloodstream for some time after it’s consumed. Do not leave a person in this state alone and do not assume they will merely “sleep it off.” Seek medical help.

Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder

Not everyone who drinks absinthe or other alcoholic beverages will do so to excess. Indeed, not everyone will become an alcoholic who drinks too much, either. Addiction is a condition that is affected by a variety of factors, including genetics, family history, and mental health status.

Harmony Treatment and Wellness offers customized, integrated addiction treatment programs that are designed to address all aspects of a person’s well-being, not just substance abuse. Using evidence-based approaches, such as behavioral therapy, we provide our clients with the tools they need to be successful in long-term recovery.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with alcoholism, contact us today! Discover how we help people free themselves from the shackles of addiction and foster the healthy lives they deserve!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Is Alcohol a Hallucinogen?

Does Alcohol Make You Gain Weight?

Does Alcohol Make You Gain Weight? | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Consuming too much alcohol results in a myriad of effects, both large and small, on a person’s general health and emotional stability. It can wreak havoc on personal and professional relationships.

Most negative consequences of alcohol are relatively well-known. Perhaps less well-known, however, is the relationship between alcohol and weight gain.

Alcohol and Weight Gain

The following list describes eight different ways that alcohol can hinder weight loss and even cause weight gain:

1. Alcoholic beverages are mostly composed of “empty” calories.

To gain body weight, our body must consume more calories than it burns. These extra calories get stored as fat, which is essentially an energy reserve. Alcohol is considered “empty” calories because, while it does provide the body with calories, it contains very few other nutrients.

A single 12-ounce can of your average beer contains about 155 calories. For a 5-ounce glass of red wine, there are 125 calories. To put that into perspective, an average afternoon snack will have between 150 to 200 calories, as well as vitamins and minerals.

Even one night out at the bar with your friends will likely gain you several hundred empty calories. And, mixed drinks that contain soda or fruit juice have even more calories.

2. Our bodies recognize alcohol as a primary fuel source.

There are other factors that lead to weight gain. When alcohol is consumed, the body breaks it down into energy before all other macronutrients, such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

What this means is that if the alcohol is itself fulfilling our body’s energy needs, other sources such as glucose and lipids get deposited for later use as fat.

3. Alcohol can negatively impact organ function.

The liver’s primary mission is to filter the blood of toxins and alien substances, including drugs and alcohol. Likewise, the liver plays a major role in metabolizing carbs, proteins, and fats.

Long-term, regular consumption of alcohol, especially in excessive amounts, can cause a condition known as alcoholic fatty liver. Once this condition exists, the liver’s metabolic functions are compromised. This condition makes it much more difficult for the body to burn off excess fat and ultimately lose weight.

4. Alcohol tends to be stored as belly fat.

Typically, when someone overeats, the extra calories get stored as fat. The locations of these fat deposits are more or less evenly spread over the entire body. For alcohol consumption, though, the excess calories tend to be stored in the belly region, causing the infamous “beer gut.”

Does Alcohol Make You Gain Weight? | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

5. Alcohol affects a person’s judgment and increases impulsivity, including that related to food and more drinking.

Alcohol lowers inhibitions and can cause people to make poor decisions at the spur of the moment. Unfortunately, this also includes dietary choices.

In fact, a study revealed that mice who drank ethanol over a three day period exhibited a significant increase in food intake. This research suggests that alcohol can actually trigger hunger signals in the brain, leading to cravings to consume more food.

6. Alcohol impacts important sex hormones.

Alcohol consumption can affect levels of hormones in the body, especially testosterone, a sex hormone that plays a critical role in several metabolic processes, such as muscle development and fat-burning.

One study suggested that low testosterone levels might be linked to metabolic syndrome in men. Metabolic syndrome is characterized by:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar levels
  • High BMI (body mass index)

7. Alcohol use can negatively impact sleep.

Research suggests that alcohol use can result in increased periods of wakefulness during sleep cycles. Sleep deprivation can lead to an imbalance in the hormones linked to hunger, satiety, and energy storage.

8. Alcohol impairs digestion and nutrient uptake.

The consumption of alcoholic beverages can impair proper digestive function by causing stress in the stomach and intestines. This effect can result in impaired digestive secretions and passage of food through the gastrointestinal tract.

Digestive secretions are critical elements of healthy digestion, as they break down food into the fundamental micro- and macronutrients that are absorbed and used by the body. Alcohol use of all levels can impair digestion and absorption of these nutrients, which can significantly affect the metabolism of bodily organs that play a vital role in weight management.

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction is a devastating disease that can destroy the lives of those afflicted as well as the lives of their loved ones. Fortunately, however, alcoholism is a condition that can be treated using a comprehensive approach.

Those who seek professional help can take advantage of therapeutic services, such as behavioral therapy, counseling, psychoeducation, and group support. Harmony Treatment and Wellness employs caring medical personnel who deliver these services with compassion and expertise. We are dedicated to providing clients with the knowledge and support they need to get sober and enjoy long-lasting wellness.

If you or someone you love has been trying to quit drinking and has found it challenging to do so, call us today to discover how we can help!

Is Alcohol a Hallucinogen?

Is Alcohol a Hallucinogen? | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

There are four broad categories of intoxicating drugs: depressants, stimulants, narcotics (painkillers), and hallucinogens. Alcohol (ethanol) is classified as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant meaning that it reduces activity in the CNS and eventually can induce effects such as profoundly depressed respiration and low body temperature.

Alcohol does have some stimulating properties, however, due to its ability to increase dopamine in the brain. These effects occur early on after consumption and are transient. Alcohol’s overall action on the brain and body is to sedate and can do so to the point of respiratory arrest and death.

And although alcohol is not technically a hallucinogen, in cases of extreme intoxication or withdrawal, hallucinations as the result of psychosis can and do occur. These are generally not the trippy high and whimsically altered perceptions associated with a true hallucinogen, such as LSD or psilocybin mushrooms, however.

As a product of psychosis, these hallucinations are also hallmarked by confusion and delusions that can be terrifying. If this condition manifests as a result of drinking, the person is extremely ill and poses a danger to himself and others.

What Is Alcohol-Induced Psychotic Disorder?

Hallucinations, delusions, and persistent thoughts induced by severe or chronic alcohol abuse is referred to as alcohol-induced psychotic disorder (AIPD). There are three forms of this type of psychosis derived from alcohol use: acute alcohol poisoning, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and chronic alcohol use disorder. Symptoms usually begin during an episode of drinking or shortly thereafter.

AIPD is a secondary psychosis, induced by a different disorder than primary psychoses such as schizophrenia. This means that the condition is provoked by something outside of the individual, rather than being the result of abnormalities in brain structures that are organic or pre-existing.

Although AIPD is relatively rare, rates of psychosis are higher among those struggling with alcohol dependence—about 4% among those who regularly abuse alcohol. Once a person develops AIPD, the psychotic episode usually persists for between one and six months, although it may subside in just a few days with medical treatment. Suffering severe side effects from psychosis places the person at risk of accidents and self-harm so that the condition can be lethal.

Acute Intoxication AIPD

Called pathologic intoxication, this is a rare diagnosis that occurs after a person consumes a large amount of alcohol in one episode. In most cases of hospitalization related to intoxication-caused psychosis, the condition ends when the body eliminates alcohol from the system. Hospitalization is critical at this point in alcohol abuse, and it is likely that the individual has actually ingested enough alcohol to be at risk of acute alcohol poisoning, which can be deadly.

Signs of acute intoxication AIPD include the following:

  • Abnormal aggression
  • Prolonged episodes of sleep
  • Impaired consciousness
  • Temporary hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Memory loss

Psychotic Disorders from Alcohol Withdrawal

Is Alcohol a Hallucinogen? | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Alcohol withdrawal delirium (AWD), also commonly known as delirium tremens, is a rare disorder caused by detoxing from alcohol, especially when the person stops drinking abruptly after very excessive consumption for a prolonged period. AWD is considered the most severe and risky form of alcohol withdrawal.

Symptoms of AWD include:

  • Agitation and irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Chest pain
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fever
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid respiration
  • Increased startle reflex
  • Involuntary muscle contractions
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Nightmares
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Mood swings
  • Stomach pain
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Involuntary eye movements
  • Seizures

Symptoms associated with AWD do not onset immediately after a person stops drinking. Headache, anxiety, insomnia, heart rate changes, and sweating begin within 6-12 hours after the last drink. After 12 hours, the person may start to experience hallucinations, and after 24 hours, seizures can occur.

It is vital to get professional medical help when detoxing from alcohol to avoid AWD. Health providers can use diagnostic criteria to determine how serious one’s experience of alcohol withdrawal may become, including checking for fever, dehydration, and irregular heart rate and conducting a toxicology screening.

Chronic Alcohol Consumption Leading to Psychosis

Excessive, prolonged use of alcohol will alter fundamental structures in the brain, which can, in turn, produce psychotic conditions. Malnutrition caused by drinking instead of eating properly and damage to the digestive tract from alcoholism can cause forms of dementia with related psychotic symptoms.

In people who suffer from chronic alcohol use disorder, there are three basic forms of psychosis:

Alcohol Hallucinosis

Hallucinations are typically auditory, but may also manifest as visual or tactile. Rapid mood swings and delusions hallmark the condition, and it may ultimately resemble schizophrenia in presentation. It is unlike delirium tremens and can present in a person who had previously exhibited clear thinking and memory.

Alcoholic Paranoia

This condition is characterized by extreme anxiety, a fear of being watched or followed, and other symptoms associated with paranoia. It is caused by changes in the brain due to drinking too much for too long.

Treatment for Alcoholism

Alcohol is not a hallucinogen and experiencing hallucinations while drinking or after drinking is not normal and is cause for alarm. Such effects indicate a level of psychosis, and suggest that a person has probably been drinking excessively and is in serious danger.

Persons suffering from alcoholism are urged to undergo detox immediately, followed by comprehensive addiction treatment. Harmony Treatment and Wellness offers an integrated approach that includes psychotherapy, counseling, group support, medication-assisted treatment,and more.

We are dedicated to helping people reclaim their lives from alcohol so they can experience long-lasting health and wellness. Contact us today to find out how we can help!