Recent Alcohol Statistics

Alcohol Statistics

Alcohol abuse and addiction impacts people of all ages, genders, races, and walks of life. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), an estimated 88,000 people die each year in the U.S. from alcohol-related deaths. In fact, alcohol continues to be one of the country’s top preventable causes of death, taking second place only to tobacco and a poor diet/sedentary lifestyle.

Alcohol abuse has a significant effect on the entire body, particularly the brain, mouth, heart, pancreas, liver and immune system. Despite its adverse impact, more Americans than ever before in the country’s history consume alcohol on a regular basis.

Understanding the hazards of alcohol use and its effect on society can help you, and your loved ones make healthier and better-informed choices.

Alcohol Statistics and Facts – United States

Prevalence of Alcohol Consumption

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH, 2015):

  • More than 86% of individuals aged 18 or older reported that they consumed alcohol at some point in their lives.
  • 70% reported that they drank in the past year.
  • 56% reported that they drank in the past month.

Prevalence of Binge Drinking and Heavy Alcohol Consumption (NSDUH, 2015)

In the past month, nearly 27% of individuals aged 18 or older reported that in the past month they engaged in binge drinking and 7.0% reported that they engaged in heavy alcohol consumption.

Moreover, at least 65 million Americans report past-month binge drinking, which is more than 40% of current alcohol consumers.

Prevalence of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

According to NIAAA, alcohol use disorder is a “chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using.”

According to the 2015 NSDUH, more than 15 million adults aged 18 and older – 6.2% of this age group – had an alcohol use disorder. This number includes 9.8 million men (8.4% of men in this age group) and 5.3 million women (4.2% of women in this age group).

Less than 7% who had AUD in the past year received treatment. This stat includes 7.4% of men and just 5.4% of women with an AUD in this age group.

Women and Alcohol Consumption

  • More than 45% of adult women reported consuming alcohol in the past month, and 12% of these reported binge drinking.
  • Around 2.5% of women who consume alcohol meet the criteria for alcohol dependence.
  • Approximately 50% of child-bearing age drink, and 18% of women in this group binge drink (defined as an average of five drinks per binge.)
  • Women who binge drink are more likely to engage in unprotected sex, therefore increasing the risk of accidental pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
  • Women who consume alcohol while pregnant increase the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome, a condition characterized by mild to severe mental and physical congenital disabilities.
  • Binge drinking substantially increases the risk of sexual assault on women, especially those residing in a college setting.

Men and Alcohol Consumption

  • Nearly 60% of adult males report drinking in the past month, and of those, 23% report binge drinking five times per month at a rate of eight drinks per binge, on average.
  • Men are twice as likely to binge drink as women and nearly twice as likely to be intoxicated while driving or be involved in a fatal traffic accident.
  • An estimated 4.5% of men met the criteria for alcohol dependence in the past year.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption by men increases aggression, thus raising the risk of committing a physical assault on another person.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption is also a common factor in sexual assault and raises a man’s risk of engaging in unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners, and contracting an STD.
  • Men are more likely than women to commit suicide while consuming alcohol.
  • Among men, alcohol consumption increases the risk mouth, throat, esophagus, liver and colon cancers.

Underage Drinking

Frequency of Underage Alcohol Use

  • Nearly one-third (33.1%) of teens of the age of 15 reports having consumed at least one alcoholic drink.
  • According to a 2015 survey by the National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), roughly 623,000 teenagers from ages 12 to 17 had an AUD.
  • Of the 623,000 teens, 298,000 were male, and 325,000 were female, representing 2.3% and 2.7% from each 12 to 17 age group, respectively.
  • Around 5.2% of teens with an AUD underwent treatment within the past year, including 5.1% of males and 5.3% of females with an AUD in each respective age group.
  • Approximately 20.3% (7.7 million) of teens and young adults ages 12 to 20 report having drunk alcohol within the past month (19.8% of males and 20.8% of females in each age group).

Frequency of Binge Drinking

According to the NSDUH (2015), an estimated 5.1 million youths (about 13.4%) aged 12–20 (13.4% of males and 13.3% of females) reported binge drinking in the past month.

Prevalence of Heavy Alcohol Use

According to the NSDUH (2015), around 1.3 million youths (about 3.3%) ages 12–20 (3.6% of males and 3% of females) reported heavy alcohol consumption in the past month.

Consequences of Drinking Alcohol Underage

Studies suggest that alcohol use during the teenage years could interfere with normal teenage brain development and increases the risk of developing alcohol use disorder later in life. Also, underage drinking contributes to a variety of short-term consequences, including injuries, sexual assaults, and even fatalities, such as those caused by car accidents.

Teen alcohol consumption kills 4,700 people each year. That’s more than all illegal drugs combined.

Alcohol and College Students

Prevalence of Alcohol Use

According to the NSDUH (2015), 58% of full-time college students aged 18–22 consumed alcohol in the past month compared with 48% of other people the same age.

Prevalence of Binge Drinking

According to the NSDUH (2015), nearly 38% of college students ages 18–22 reported binge drinking in the past month compared with 32.6% of other people the same age.

Prevalence of Heavy Alcohol Use

According to the NSDUH (2015), 12.5% of college students aged 18–22 reported heavy alcohol consumption in the past month compared with 8.5%t of other people the same age.

Consequences—Researchers estimate that each year:

More than 1,800 college students between the18 and 24 years of age die from unintentional injuries related to alcohol use including motor-vehicle crashes.

Also, 696,000 students between ages 18-24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking, and 97,000 students of the same age reported being the victim of sexual assault or date rape related to alcohol.

Around 1 in 5 (20%) of college students meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder, and about 1 in 4 report academic consequences related to drinking, such as missing class or falling behind, doing poorly on papers or exams a receiving lower grades.

Economic Burden of Drinking

Alcohol abuse cost the United States an estimated $249 billion in 2010, and around three-quarters of the total cost of alcohol was related to binge drinking. What’s more, drinking and driving cost the U.S. $199 billion each year.

Alcohol and the Body

In 2015, of the more than 78,500 deaths due to liver disease among individuals ages 12 and older, 47% involved alcohol.

Among males, nearly 49,700 liver disease deaths occurred and 49.5% involved alcohol. Among females, 28,834 liver disease fatalities occurred and 43.5% were related to alcohol.

Among liver cirrhosis deaths in 2013, nearly 48% were related to alcohol. The proportion of alcohol-related cirrhosis was greatest (76.5%) among deaths of people from ages 25–34, followed by deaths of people ages 35–44 (70%.)

In 2009, alcohol-related liver disease was the main cause of almost 1 in 3 liver transplants in the U.S.

Alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, larynx, pharynx, liver, breast, and colon, and rectum.

Alcohol-Related Fatalities

In 2014, alcohol-related driving deaths accounted for nearly 10,000 fatalities or 31% of overall driving deaths.

Alcohol poisoning kills six people each day. Of those, more than three-quarters (75%) are adults aged 35-64, and three of every four people killed by alcohol poisoning/overdose are male.

The group with the most alcohol poisoning fatalities per million people is American Indians/Alaska Natives at 49 per 1 million.

Treatment for Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a devastating and life-threatening disease, but fortunately, it can be effectively treated using a comprehensive, evidence-based approach that includes psychotherapy, counseling, and group support.

Treatment programs are available in inpatient, partial hospitalization, and outpatient formats. Regardless of program design, professional staff who specialize in addiction help patients by providing them with medical and mental health care, as well as the tools they need to achieve a long-lasting recovery.

If you or a loved one are suffering from alcoholism, please contact us as soon as possible. No one should have to do this alone – we can help!

What is the Speedball Drug?

Speedball Drug

People who battle with speedball drug addiction often spend a copious amount of time chasing the next high, in the hope that it will be better than the one before. Sometimes, in order to get it, they combine multiple drugs together.

While abusing a drug creates a myriad of physical and psychological risks to begin with, mixing different drugs together can result in dangerous situations, such as overdose, or other extreme symptoms or effects that can risk the individual’s health, safety, and life.

Speedballs are one such combination – a powerful mixture that can result in serious consequences, including death, even for those who try it just once.

Elements of a Speedball Drug

A speedball is a slang or street name for a combination of two different drugs: one is a depressant and the other a stimulant. Most frequently, the combination involves heroin and cocaine, both powerful illegal drugs that are risky when taken alone, but far more unpredictable and dangerous when taken together.

Other combinations, which may sometimes be referred to as speedballs can include:

  • Methamphetamine or amphetamine as the stimulant
  • Other opioid or opiate drugs instead of heroin
  • Benzodiazepines (i.e. Xanas) instead of heroin

When a speedball is administered, the heroin and cocaine are mixed together and injected in a single shot, so their effects are felt rapidly and intensely.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), at first glance, the combination appears to be a way of avoiding some of the worst side effects of both drugs, while at the same time experiencing a unique euphoric, relaxing, and energizing response that comes from combining the drugs. The going theory is that the energizing effects of the stimulant can counteract the adverse aspects of the depressant while heroin can mitigate some of the unwanted physical symptoms of the stimulant. The reality, however, isn’t quite that simple.

Effects of the Speedball Drug Combo

The full potential effects of heroin and cocaine on each another are not known. However, one thing we do know is that this combination is not just the equivalent of joining the effects of two individual drugs together.

Moreover, the speedball combination has a significant effect on the dopamine system, which is part of what reinforces the desire to keep using this drug combination. This is probably due to the fact that both cocaine and heroin heavily impact the dopamine system, resulting in an aggregate effect rather than a reaction affected by one drug or the other.

This powerful action on dopamine offers reinforcement for the continued use of speedballs, which can be very risky due to the combination of the two drugs, how they act on the body, and the potential physical and emotional consequences of using the drugs in conjunction.

Risks of Speedball Drug Use

Using speedballs can also increase a person’s risk for mental health conditions, such as:

  • Depression
  • Severe anxiety
  • Suicidal thinking
  • Psychosis
  • Addiction

One of the greatest risks of using speedballs, according to NIDA, is due to the fact that the effects of cocaine subside much faster than heroin. Because the primary reason for using the two drugs together is to minimize the negative effects of each, people who use speedballs mistakenly believe they can use more of each drug than would normally be possible with just one drug.

As a result, if the individual uses much more heroin than their system can handle, the body can invoke an overdose response when the cocaine effects abate, leading to severe physical and mental consequences. The person’s breathing can slow, become labored, or stop to a degree that can put the person’s life at imminent risk.

Long-Term Effects

The greatest potential long-term effect of speedball use is the increased risk of overdose or other complications from the combination of drugs involved. These effects can create a number of dangers for the person’s health. As a result of long-term use, the person can experience:

  • Overdose, resulting in a fatality
  • Damage to veins and circulation
  • Limb damage or loss due to poor circulation
  • High fever
  • Infection
  • Back pain or other pain
  • Coma or death

These and other symptoms can lead to life-changing circumstances in addition to brain damage and anhedonia, a condition in which the person is unable to experience pleasure due to severe damage to the dopamine system.

Treatment for Addiction

According to an article from NIDA, one challenge when approaching speedball abuse is that treatments used heroin addiction are only somewhat effective in helping those who use speedballs. There is no medication for the treatment of cocaine addiction, and the drugs indicated for heroin addiction can be difficult to discontinue and not particularly helpful in achieving recovery from speedball abuse.

However, there are some psychotherapies and other treatments that do not involve medication that can help people learn to handle their addictions. These therapies have been shown to be effective, especially when employed in long-term addiction treatment programs, including inpatient, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient formats.

Harmony Treatment and Wellness offers these treatment modalities and more in partial hospitalization and outpatient formats. We employ highly-trained, caring staff to facilitate services to the patient with compassion and expertise. We aim to provide our patients with all the tools they need to achieve a full recovery and go on to sustain long-lasting sobriety, happiness, and wellness.

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Signs of Heroin Addiction

Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Use

Symptoms of Heroin Use

Heroin is a semi-synthetic opiate known for it’s intense euphoric and relaxing/sedating effects. For this reason, it has an extremely high potential for abuse and addiction. Heroin is usually found as a whitish powder or dark sticky substance (black tar heroin) and can be taken orally as a pill, smoked, snorted or injected.

Heroin use is associated with the development of tolerance and dependence. The former is characterized by the brain’s propensity to reduce response to a substance after repeated exposure, which results in the user needing increasing amounts of the drug to achieve the same effect. The latter occurs when the brain adapts to heroin’s presence and can no longer function normally without it.

Withdrawal symptoms that manifest upon cessation of heroin are a hallmark of physical dependence.

Moreover, when a person discontinues heroin use or significantly cuts back, he or she will usually experience uncomfortable symptoms as a result. Thus, these effects are often among the main catalysts for relapse.

Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Use

The physical, psychological, and behavioral signs and symptoms of heroin use are similar to its side effects. There are a variety of different side effects related to heroin use, including common side effects, and withdrawal and overdose symptoms.

Side Effects

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the following are some of the common side effects that can occur following heroin use:

  • An initial rush of euphoria
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Flushed skin
  • Severe itching
  • Slowed heart rate after initial rush
  • Drowsiness for hours
  • Heaviness of limbs
  • Clouded thinking

Behavioral Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Use

When heroin use evolves into a priority, a person’s entire life shifts and this drug becomes the focus. For this reason, there are likely to be noticeable changes in the person’s outward appearance and behavior. Oftentimes, despite the myriad of problems heroin use can cause, a person who is in the throes of addiction will continue to prioritize the drug over personal responsibilities and relationships.

The following are some typical behavioral signs and symptoms related to heroin use that can warn concerned loved ones that there is a need for treatment:

  • Presence of drug paraphernalia (needles, burnt spoons, etc.)
  • Negative changes in behavior
  • Changes in social group
  • Use of street slang related to heroin (“H”, Horse, Smack, Dope, etc.)
  • Friends/family missing valuables or money
  • Neglect of important obligations such as work, school, and family
  • “Track marks” on the body – injection wounds, abscesses
  • Wearing pants/long sleeves even in warm weather to cover injection sites
  • Disheveled appearance, poor hygiene
  • Legal and financial problems
  • Deception and secretiveness
  • Adamant denial of a problem despite clear evidence to the contrary
  • Chipping (intermittent heroin use)

Overdose Symptoms

A severe reaction to heroin abuse (overdose) requires immediate medical attention. Toxicity levels of heroin may be associated with the purity of the heroin or the presence of more potent additives such as fentanyl.

The following are common signs of a heroin overdose:

  • Bluish lips and/or nails (cyanosis)
  • Disorientation
  • Shallow, difficult, or stopped breathing
  • Delirium
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Muscle spasticity
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Drowsiness
  • Weak pulse
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Coma

Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms can manifest as a sign of physical/chemical dependence in regular heroin users or after a binge or a period of heavy drug use. Heroin withdrawal symptoms typically begin 6-12 hours after the last use, peak within 1-2 days, and subside over the course of 5-7 days.

In some cases, loved ones of those using heroin may not realize that it has been occurring or the extent of use. However, if they gain knowledge that withdrawal symptoms are present, they may quickly become aware of the extent of the heroin use problem.

The following are common withdrawal symptoms related to heroin:

  • Dysphoria (bad mood, irritability)
  • Insomnia
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Drug cravings
  • Body aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritability
  • Runny nose
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea and vomiting

Treatment for Heroin Addiction

Our center offers comprehensive addiction treatment programs in partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and outpatient formats. These programs are designed to meet every person’s individual needs, and various mental, emotional, and medical care options are available.

As you begin to experience the freedom of a life that no longer revolves around drugs or alcohol abuse, our programs can help you sustain sobriety by offering continued support through all phases of your recovery.

If you are ready to end the cycle of addiction, call us today and let us help you find the best treatment option you need to start your journey to recovery and long-lasting wellness!

Living with an Alcoholic

Living with an Alcoholic

If you’ve been living with an alcoholic, you are probably well-acquainted with moodiness and erratic behavior. You may have tried everything you can think of to help them quit drinking – from dumping their stash of alcohol to threatening to leave if they don’t quit. But nothing seems to work, at least not for very long.

So what options do you have living with an alcoholic? How do you remain in this relationship, despite feeling helpless, exhausted and frustrated?

First, remember that it’s not your fault – it’s not even theirs. No one is to blame for addiction – it’s the consequence of many determinants that include genetics, circumstances, and emotional health. To get any better, they’ll likely need professional help.

What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?

According to NIAAA, alcohol use disorder (AUD) is “a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using.”

Alcohol may not cause significant harm in moderation, but many people who struggle with AUD regularly drink much more than the recommended limit of seven drinks per week for women or 14 drinks per week for men.

High-functioning alcoholics may drink in secret and do their best to hide the extent of their disorder from co-workers and friends. But it’s nearly impossible to conceal it from those who live within the same household. Because only about 1 in 10 individuals addicted to alcohol seeks help for their condition, many families are left to languish along with their loved ones.

During their lifetime, an alcoholic may incur a myriad of health problems ranging from digestive issues to high blood pressure and stroke. Alcohol abuse is the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S., killing an estimated 88,000 people each year. In 2015, nearly 37,000 people died from alcoholic liver disease alone.

Drunk driving is yet another dangerous and potentially fatal consequence of heavy alcohol use. There were more than 10,000 drunk driving fatalities in 2015 to account for a death every 51 minutes throughout the year.

People suffering from an AUD typically have intense cravings when they aren’t consuming alcohol, and find it challenging to stop after they’ve started drinking. Over time, they will develop a tolerance to alcohol, a condition which requires them to consume an increasing amount in order to achieve the same results.

In addition to the aforementioned symptoms, alcoholics may:

  • Drink by themselves to conceal their addiction
  • Experience blackouts
  • Drink at scheduled times and become agitated/irritated if they can’t access alcohol
  • Store alcohol in unusual, secretive places, such as their vehicle
  • Drink solely to get drunk
  • Experience relationship, employment, financial, or legal troubles
  • Experience a loss of interest in activities once deemed important or enjoyable

How an AUD Can Damage a Relationship

While your spouse or loved one may be a kind and considerate person when sober, drinking may turn them into a completely different person. Unfortunately, emotional or physical abuse can (but not always) accompany a person’s intoxicated state. Indeed, of all the reported alcohol-related occurrences of violence, two-thirds happen among close relationships.

This fact means that partners and children who are living with an alcoholic are at heightened risk of witnessing or becoming victims of a violent crime, such as abuse or assault. If your loved one is not physically or emotionally abusive when intoxicated, they may still cause harmful in other ways, such as spending too much free time at bars, frequently missing work or school.

Become able to recognize the signs of a dangerous living situation if it occurs. If you are living in the same home as an alcoholic, ensure you and others in the house are safe and do not tolerate verbal/emotional or physical abuse. If this occurs, either you/your family or the alcoholic needs to leave the situation.

Living with an Alcoholic: Consequences for Children

Estimates show that 11 million children under age 18 have at least one parent with an AUD. While children who grow up living with an alcoholic are known to have an increased genetic risk of developing the disease themselves, many also grow up experiencing serious emotional consequences from their childhood, such as issues with intimacy and trust.

Children of alcoholics may also experience difficulties later in life such as:

  • Problems maintaining stable, close relationships
  • A desire for constant approval
  • Self-loathing and harsh self-judgment
  • Lying for no apparent reason
  • Impulsive behavior without consideration of the consequences

Taking Care of Yourself, Your Family

Remind yourself that you can’t blame yourself for your loved one’s problems and behavior. Be gentle with yourself, as you are probably hurting, and have a lot of anger and resentment as a result of years of disappointment and broken promises.

Once you ensure your family is safe when your loved one is drinking, then consider seeking support in the form of therapy, counseling, or group support. If you have children or teenagers, make sure they have someone outside the family to confide in, such as a counselor. And because their other parent isn’t able to meet their emotional needs, it’s critical that you are willing to listen without judgment.

Stop enabling and set boundaries. Enabling is a common occurrence among family members and friends of those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Enabling activities include giving money to the alcoholic to buy drinks, buying them for him or her, or even sitting idly by while they drink to dangerous levels.

Unconditional love is a good thing, but if you cater to their desires by purchasing alcohol or ignoring the issue, you aren’t helping anyone, and certainly not helping them get better.

Instead of enabling, firmly set boundaries and stick to them. You don’t have to be insensitive or give ultimatums, but you do have to do what’s right and let the person know that your intention is to stop enabling them out of love, not punishment.

Finally, do not allow the person suffering from addiction to blame you for the things they have done. Maybe you need to leave the house to avoid a confrontation, or maybe you have a friend on the ready to take your loved one to a safe place to “sleep it off.” Just find out what works best for everyone, and be consistent.

How to Confront an Alcoholic and Intervene

When confronting an alcoholic or staging an intervention, choose a time when they are sober (if possible) and do not threaten them. Focus on your personal feelings and concerns and express them in a tone that is compassionate and without judgment.

Initially, many alcoholics will deny their problems and resist attempts to talk about their condition, and may even try to shift the focus of the conversation to you. Be prepared for this and remain calm. Denial often precipitates recovery. Remember, right now you are planting the seeds of change, and you may have to allow time for them to take root.

When staging an intervention, it is best to have a bag packed for your loved one and an addiction treatment center in mind. This way they are less likely to back out after agreeing to go. It’s also beneficial to have a professional counselor or therapist present, as well as a few close friends who will not overwhelm or judge them.

During an intervention, be succinct in your statements and don’t lecture. Be prepared to answer questions about the treatment process. If they are not yet willing to go, don’t force them. Treatment is most effective when the person goes willingly. In time, you can always try again.

Treatment for Alcoholism

If you loved one agrees to treatment, detox is often the first step in the process. Next, clients participate in an inpatient, partial hospitalization, or intensive outpatient treatment program. All three formats include evidence-based, proven approaches to the treatment of alcoholism, such as behavioral therapy, counseling, and group support.

Our center employs professional medical and mental health staff who provide clients with the knowledge and tools they need to achieve sobriety and enjoy long-lasting wellness and recovery from alcohol or drugs. Addiction is a disease that can last a lifetime, but no one should have to suffer in silence or fight it alone. We can help!

Psychological Addiction

Psychological Addiction | Harmony Treatment & Wellness

What Is Psychological Addiction? – One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding substance abuse is that most addictions are grounded in a chemical dependence – a condition that can be remedied through detox alone. Consequently, many people who are battling addiction fail to identify the influence that psychological factors have on their drug or alcohol use.

Furthermore, some try to attempt detox on their own through “cold turkey” methods, and ultimately fail because the underlying emotional issues that brought them to this state remain unaddressed.

Unfortunately, a self-guided detox is dangerous and often result in very little success, because approaching addiction from a purely physical standpoint alone can significantly hinder recovery. It is critical that all people who are suffering from addiction to understand the nature of psychological dependency and how addressing these factors is essential for positive, long-term results.

Psychological Addiction | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Physical vs. Psychological Addiction

In many cases of drug and alcohol addiction, an individual will become chemically (physically) dependent on a substance through repeated, chronic use, such as those who use cocaine, meth, heroin, or other opioids.

Physical addiction is characterized by the body’s genuine need for the drug’s presence in order for the user to function at a level that is comfortable. Moreover, without the drug, the body will enter withdrawal and unpleasant and sometimes dangerous symptoms will manifest.

Regarding psychological addiction, there may not be a physical requirement to use a substance, but instead, there is an intense mental desire. When psychological addiction occurs in conjunction with a physical dependency (which it often does) detox alone will treat only half of the problem.

After an individual has completely detoxified and gone through withdrawal symptoms related to a chemical dependency, it is likely that he or she will need to identify and analyze the psychological factors that contributed to the substance abuse in the first place.

Most individuals who discuss psychological dependence are referring to the cognitive and/or emotional aspects of addictive behaviors as opposed to attempting to classify certain substances as being psychologically or physically addictive.

The most common symptoms associated with the psychological components of addictive behaviors consist of the following:

  • Cravings
  • Issues with anxiety that occur when attempting to stop addictive behavior
  • Issues with depression when one is not engaging in substance use or tries to stop their addictive behavior
  • Irritability and restlessness that occur when one is not using their drug of choice or attempting to quit
  • Any other issues with moodiness that occur when one is not using their drug of choice or trying to quit
  • Appetite loss or increased appetite linked to not using one’s substance of choice
  • Issues with sleep associated with quitting the drug of choice
  • Issues with ambiguity about being able to stop using the drug of choice
  • Denial that one has a substance abuse issue or glamorizing one’s substance use
  • Obsessing over getting or using the drug of choice
  • Cognitive issues, such as those dealing with concentration, memory, problem-solving, and other aspects of judgment, etc.

Reasons for Psychological Addiction

There are many reasons and causes why a person may become psychologically dependent on a substance in addition to being physically dependent. While physical dependence will often develop out of the body’s reaction to a substance, psychological addictions will often be motivated by mental health conditions that if identified early can be addressed before the substance abuse gets out of control.

The following are some common reasons why people develop psychological addictions:


Oftentimes, people who are not physically dependent on drugs or alcohol will turn to psychoactive substances as a way to treat stress – albeit inappropriately – derived from work or home life. For example, the pressure to perform well academically can compel students to become reliant on “study” drugs such as amphetamines. Others may find that alcohol, while also chemically addictive, can occasionally relieve stress despite the destruction it can cause to the body.

Social Anxiety

Psychological Addiction | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Addiction often occurs after a person engages in recreational substance abuse – also known as the use of drugs or alcohol for social or nonmedical purposes. Individuals who experience significant social anxiety will occasionally find that drugs or alcohol can act as a “social lubricant” to relieve the pressures of being interactive around others.

Thus, substance abuse can be a way to increase ease around others, participate in conversations and forge personal connections. While this desire to reduce social anxiety is not a bad thing, using psychoactive substances as a solution can result in both chemical and psychological addiction.

Depression and Trauma

Not unlike the aforementioned examples, drugs and alcohol can also be used as a way to escape from depressing circumstances, feelings or traumatic experiences. People who suffer from symptoms of depression may feel that the only escape from their unhappiness is to bury their emotions in drugs or alcohol—substances that may, at least temporarily, improve mood. However, this use only continues to perpetuate the cycle of depression rather than actually treat it.

Also, peoples who experience post-traumatic stress disorder may find that substances allow them to temporarily numb pain associated with the trauma. Instead of seeking medical and therapeutic ways to appropriately treat the trauma, many begin and propel a dangerous pattern of addiction that holds the trauma present in one’s life at all times.

Psychopathological Model of Addiction

Psychological Addiction | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

The idea that behavior can be classified into mutually exclusive components, such as psychological versus purely physical aspects of behavior is not sustainable considering the current understanding of behavior.

Moreover, all psychological and emotional processes have a physiological foundation, and all complex behaviors that are not simply reflex actions have a significant psychological component. The notion of a dualistic separation of mind and body is a myth and an unrealistic means to view nearly any type of behavior. This includes behaviors linked to substance use disorders and process addictions such as gambling.

The psychopathological model views mental health conditions as the cause of addiction. These disorders can include cognitive challenges, mood disturbances, and other mental illnesses. In fact, addiction and mental health disorders commonly co-occur. By some estimates, roughly half of all individuals seeking addiction treatment will also have a comorbid mental disorder.

Related to psychopathology is the notion of an addictive personality. Certain personality traits might be the underlying determinants in all addictive disorders. These may include the denial of readily apparent problems and difficulties with emotion and impulse regulation.

Treating Psychological Addiction

As noted above, recognizing the psychological factors that contribute to addiction is essential when attempting to develop an effective recovery plan. Even in cases of chemical dependence in which detox and withdrawal symptoms take place, it is strongly recommended that those involved with substance use seek mental health guidance to examine and treat psychological issues that may contribute to or exacerbate an addiction.

Following detox, clients are encouraged to participate in a long-term inpatient and/or intensive outpatient treatment program. Whether through cognitive behavioral therapy, group counseling or dual diagnosis treatment, clients at our center can find the resources they need to identify and treat both the physical and psychological causes of addiction, allowing for a healthy and more positive recovery experience.

Finally, our medical and mental health staff provide our clients with the knowledge and tools they need to successfully recover and maintain long-lasting sobriety and wellness. Recovery from addiction is a lifelong endeavor but you don’t have to do it alone. We can help!

⟹⟹⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Principles for Addiction Recovery

Pain Medication List

Pain Medication List from Strongest to Weakest | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Pain Medication List from Strongest to Weakest – As the opioid epidemic in the United States continues to increase in severity, with over 2 million people suffering from opioid addiction and 90 Americans dying each day from an opioid overdose, being able to identify and understand these drugs has become more important than ever.

Opioids are potent drugs that relieve pain and produce feelings of euphoria, and should only be taken for short periods of time for acute pain, such as following injury or surgery. Regardless of strength, all opioids are potentially addictive and can result in an overdose if misused. However, different opioids can induce different effects and risks depending on their frequency of use and method of administration.

The following pain medication list includes commonly misused and abused opioids and opiates from strongest to weakest in potency. Opioids and opiates are controlled substances with a high potential for abuse, dependence, and tolerance.

List of Pain Medications

1. Carfentanil

Carfentanil is a synthetic drug 10,000 more powerful than morphine, and 100 times more potent than medical-grade fentanyl itself. It is primarily used by veterinarians to sedate large animals such as elephants. It is not indicated for human use, but occasionally it is found on the black market.

Even minuscule doses, however, can be fatal, and many deaths have occurred due to carfentanil being laced into heroin or other drugs unknown to the user.

2. Fentanyl

Fentanyl is also a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times more potent than heroin. Fentanyl is a prescription drug sometimes prescribed for patients to manage severe pain after surgery, but due to fentanyl’s potency and potential for abuse, it is most often administered very slowly into the system via transdermal patch or lozenge.

Fentanyl on the black market, however, is not usually a product of prescription drug diversion. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, most fentanyl on the street arrives from China or Mexico where it was manufactured in illicit labs and sold to cartels and dealers or to individuals through the Internet.

Like carfentanil, a very small dose (even incidental skin exposure) of Fentanyl can kill a person, about .25 of a milligram. Fentanyl overdose deaths are on the rise, as most of the 5,500 opioid-related fatalities in 2014 involved Fentanyl.

3. Heroin

Heroin, the is the third strongest narcotic and is a semi-synthetic opioid derived from morphine, a natural compound that comes from the opium poppy. Heroin is the only completely illegal, schedule I drug included in this list, as most opioids can be obtained through a prescription, whereas heroin is not considered to have an accepted medical use.

Heroin has a very strong potential for abuse, especially when injected. It can also be consumed, however, by snorting or smoking, and is often found as a whitish powder, or a black sticky substance (black tar heroin). When injected, heroin enters the bloodstream and the brain much faster than other opioids, creating immediate intense feelings of euphoria.

4. Hydromorphone

Hydromorphone is another powerful opioid that is up to 8 times more potent than morphine. Prescribed as a severe painkiller as the brand name Dilaudid, hydromorphone also induces feelings of sedation and relaxation.

Hydromorphone is a schedule II drug with high potential for abuse, one which can easily lead to physical and psychological dependence. It is commonly misused as a substitute for heroin because it can be dissolved in water and injected into the bloodstream to experience rapid and intense effects similar to its illicit cousin.

5. Oxymorphone

At number 5, oxymorphone is still a very strong opioid. Oxymorphone was available only in generic form, at the time of this writing, and may still be prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. It most often comes in tablet form but is sometimes prescribed as an injectable. It can be misused orally or by snorting or injecting.

6. Methadone

While methadone is intended to be used under strict medical supervision to treat symptoms of opioid withdrawal, nonmedical use is illegal. Methadone is not chemically similar to heroin or morphine, but still produces comparable effects of euphoria and relaxation/sedation.

When abused, methadone consumption can result in chemical and psychological dependence. Whether taken orally as a tablet or injected as a liquid, methadone abuse can result in adverse health effects if not administered under qualified medical supervision.

7. Oxycodone

While Oxycodone isn’t as powerful as the aforementioned opioids, it is still a schedule II drug with high potential for abuse and dependence. Found in brand-name drugs such as Oxycontin and Percocet, oxycodone is prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. Oxycodone is routinely prescribed in the U.S. and has been misused since the 1960s for its sedating and calming effects. It wasn’t until Purdue Pharma began mass-marketing OxyContin in the mid-1990s, however, that oxycodone became a household name and common drug of abuse.

8. Morphine

Morphine is a naturally occurring opiate, as it is derived directly from the opium poppy. It is similar in potency to oxycodone and is sometimes prescribed to treat pain when other opioids are ineffective. Morphine is was traditionally used and misused as an injectable liquid, but can now be administered as an oral solution or ingestible tablet.

9. Hydrocodone

Hydrocodone is almost as potent as morphine and is prescribed to treat moderate pain. Brand names for hydrocodone include Vicodin, Lortab, and Norco. More potent than codeine, hydrocodone is currently the most commonly prescribed opioid in the U.S.

Hydrocodone is commonly abused with alcohol, and a survey from 2013 found that over 24 million people over the age of 12 had taken hydrocodone for no legitimate medical reason. Hydrocodone is a perfect example of how a relatively weak opioid can be misused and cause serious health risks – in 2011, over 82,000 emergency departments visits were associated with hydrocodone abuse.

10. Codeine

Codeine is an opiate that is weaker in potency and is generally prescribed to treat mild to moderate pain. It is often used with other medications such as acetaminophen and to reduce coughing, such as in the brand name formulas Tylenol 3 and Tylenol 4. Codeine is much less often abused than other opioids, but it’s certainly not impossible.

11. Meperidine

Meperidine, also known by brand name Demerol, was the first synthetic opioid ever developed. Meperidine is less potent than many other opioids, but like all painkillers, still has the potential for abuse – in fact, chemical dependence and tolerance are likely to develop faster than other opioids, making misuse such as risky and dangerous.

12. Tramadol

Tramadol is the least potent drug on the pain medication list, and has a similar potency to Meperidine but is considered to have less potential for chemical dependence, tolerance, and abuse. However, Tramadol, also known by the brand name Ultram, can still be misused by those suffering from addiction or chronic pain conditions.

In 2012, more than 3 million people reported having used Tramadol for recreational or nonmedical purposes. Although Tramadol is the least potent opioid on the list, it is still often misused and can lead to addiction.

Treatment for Addiction

If you are suffering from an addiction to any of the drugs on the above pain medication list, then treatment is needed. Treatment may begin with medical detox to help relieve withdrawal symptoms.

Furthermore, Medication-assisted Treatment (MAT) makes use of carefully administered drugs like Naltrexone, Buprenorphine, and Suboxone to reduce opioid addiction and related deaths, and increase the likelihood that an individual will remain in treatment long-term.

MAT is most effective when combined with behavioral therapies, counseling, and group support. These approaches are used in combination with MAT to ensure that clients have the best chance for a successful recovery and maintaining abstinence after treatment.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, contact us today and find out how we help people free themselves from the chains of addiction!

Meth and Xanax

Meth and Xanax | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Meth (methamphetamine) is a potent, illegal stimulant drug that produces feelings of energy and euphoria. Xanax is a benzodiazepine and central nervous system (CNS) depressant used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Mixing meth and Xanax is dangerous and potentially deadly because meth works to increase heart rate and blood pressure while Xanax has the exact opposite effect.

Moreover, the reaction that results is a product of two drugs with contradictory effects. Thus, the body is placed under severe stress and effects can lead to risky, unpredictable health risks and complications. For one, this pair can put excessive strain on the heart and may directly contribute to cardiac arrest or stroke.

Meth itself is often mixed with other substances to enhance a high or reduce manic symptoms. Users sometimes report using too much meth and then turning Xanax or other CNS depressants to calm nervousness and anxiety and maintain a higher level of functionality.

As a result, the user may erroneously believe that they are indeed back to normal, but in reality, they are still impaired. Indeed, driving and other activities can still be dangerous and lead to injury or death to the user or others encountered in their path.

Recent statistics from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) revealed that in one year, nearly two-thirds of emergency department visits related to meth also involved another substance – and more than 10% included the use of benzodiazepines such as Xanax.

In fact, polydrug abuse (the use of one or more illegal drug or misuse of multiple prescription medications in combination with alcohol) often leads to overdose because when these substances are combined, effects are unpredictable and often far more intense and dangerous than any one substance alone.

Meth and Xanax | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Meth and Xanax Overdose and Death

Combining meth and Xanax increases the risk of complications and deadly side effects. The following symptoms may manifest due to use of this combination:

  • Excessive drowsiness/sleepiness
  • Cardiac arrest (heart attack)
  • Light-headedness
  • Slow/impaired breathing
  • Stroke
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Unconsciousness
  • Dizziness

Using meth and Xanax can also result in a life-threatening overdose. Benzodiazepines contribute to thousands of deaths each year and are highly addictive. If used to ameliorate an intense and uncomfortable meth high, both dependence and tolerance (in which the user needs increasing amounts of the drug to achieve the desired effect) can occur and the risk of overdose substantially increases.

Addiction and Withdrawal Symptoms

Meth, like Xanax, is highly addictive. Just a brief period of use can compel the user to repeat consumption long-term. The method of ingestion is most often smoking, but some snort or inject it to induce a faster and more intense high.

When addiction develops, discontinuing meth use can be extremely challenging due to the very unpleasant and uncomfortable effects of withdrawal. Symptoms may include depression, lethargy, fatigue, insomnia, anger, irritability, anxiety, nervousness, paranoia, and strong cravings.

Over time, using an increasing amount of Xanax can lead to physical dependence, especially when more than the recommended or prescribed amount is consumed. Abrupt cessation of Xanax can result in severe withdrawal symptoms, and these effects may increase when other substances are used simultaneously.

Meth use, in addition to increasing energy and hyperactivity, can lead to anxiety that follows the euphoria. When users start experiencing a “comedown” from meth, they may consume downers such as benzos, sleep aids, and alcohol to mitigate unpleasant stimulant effects. Using CNS depressants such as these can take the edge off, both slowing down brain activity and causing sedation.

For these reasons, most healthcare and addiction professionals strongly recommend that users seek a professionally monitored medical detox to prevent relapse, overdose, and death.

Using Xanax to Prevent Tweaking

The use of meth may lead to a condition known as “tweaking.” This refers to the aftermath of an intense rush, usually following a binge.

Users binge to prevent withdrawal symptoms and a comedown, but after multiple using, effects decrease to the point that the user can no longer achieve a high and has no choice but to tweak and crash.

During the tweaking phase, the user experiences feelings of apathy, paranoia, intense cravings, insomnia, and may exhibit odd, unpredictable behavior and sometimes psychosis and hallucinations. To mitigate or prevent the effects of tweaking, users may turn to Xanax as a means to counteract the effects of a meth comedown. There may be unpredictable effects, however, from combining these two opposite-reacting substances.

If a person uses both drugs in conjunction, the effects that are produced can be very disturbing and unpredictable. Users may alternate back and forth from hyperactivity to excessive sedation. These polarizing effects can lead to increased anxiety and further drug use.

Meth and Xanax: Recommended Treatment

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most common, most researched, and effective form of treatment. CBT works to change a person’s attitudes and behaviors, as well as their thoughts, and feelings toward drug abuse and stressors or trauma they have experienced. CBT also focuses on the adoption of coping skills and fosters a patient’s ability to deal with triggers.

If the patient is dependent on Xanax, the psychiatrist or physician will likely recommend a tapering schedule in which the person is slowly weaned off the drug by decreasing dosages over time to lessen dependence and mitigate withdrawal symptoms.

Following a tapering schedule or detox, meth and Xanax users should participate in a residential (inpatient) or outpatient treatment program. Our center offers both formats which include behavioral therapy, counseling, and group support.

You can regain your life and be free of drugs and alcohol! Please contact us as soon as possible and start your path to wellness and recovery.

Related: Injecting Meth

Hydrocodone Addiction

Hydrocodone Addiction | Harmony Treatment & Wellness

Hydrocodone is a narcotic (opioid) painkiller found in many prescription medications. As an analgesic, hydrocodone is indicated to treat moderate to severe pain, but it is also regularly used to suppress a cough as an antitussive.

Hydrocodone is the generic name for the active ingredient found in several brand-name medications, including Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, and Vicodin. Because Hydrocodone is an opiate derived from codeine, a naturally occurring opiate, it has a high potential for addiction.

Hydrocodone addiction can be particularly devastating, so being able to recognize symptoms and signs of hydrocodone addiction can help save the life of someone you know.

Hydrocodone is an opioid, and for this reason, those under the influence of hydrocodone risk becoming deceived by the drug. Indeed, this “deceiving” effect is one of the most challenging aspects of hydrocodone addiction. A hydrocodone addict prioritizes obtaining and using the substance above all else and reducing the avoidance of addiction’s adverse consequences to a lesser priority.

Symptoms and Signs of Hydrocodone Addiction

The abuse of hydrocodone constitutes a substance use disorder (SUD) according to the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). A SUD is diagnosed by a clinician using 11 criteria, comprised of physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms, ranging in intensity from moderate to severe. For a SUD diagnosis to be considered, a person must meet a minimum of two of these criteria within the same one-year period.

The following describes the 11 criteria of a SUD as applied to hydrocodone:

  • Hydrocodone is taken at higher doses or over a longer period than prescribed.
  • The individual has a desire to cut back or cease hydrocodone use but is consistently unable to do so.
  • Significant amounts of time are invested in obtaining hydrocodone and then using it to alleviate withdrawal side effects.
  • The individual suffers recurrent, intense urges and cravings to use hydrocodone.
  • The individual consistently fails to manage other responsibilities due to prioritizing hydrocodone use.
  • Despite causing or exacerbating tension and problems in relationships, the individual continues using hydrocodone.
  • The individual neglects other vital spheres, such as work, school, family, or social life to prioritize hydrocodone use.
  • The individual engages in risky behaviors, such as impaired driving or unprotected sex, after using hydrocodone.
  • The individual continues using hydrocodone despite it causing or aggravating a physical or psychological ailment.
  • The individual develops a tolerance to hydrocodone, requiring increasingly higher doses to maintain the desired effect.
  • The individual develops a chemical dependence such that withdrawal symptoms ensue when they cease hydrocodone use or reduce dosage.

The most common symptoms of hydrocodone use are the following:

  • Reduced heart rate
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Nasal congestion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest tightness
  • Anxiety

Common symptoms of repeated hydrocodone abuse include the following:

  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Irrational fear
  • Depression
  • Seizures

Signs of Hydrocodone Overdose

An overdose of hydrocodone can occur with or without the presence of other substances and can be fatal without immediate medical intervention. As an opioid, hydrocodone has depressant effects in attention to painkilling properties, so an overdose of hydrocodone itself is usually due to life-threatening central nervous system depression.

Many hydrocodone overdose signs are more pronounced or extreme versions of common side effects associated with hydrocodone use.

Signs of hydrocodone overdose may include the following:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Clamminess
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Extreme physical weakness
  • Severe drowsiness
  • Unconsciousness or unresponsiveness
  • Labored, slow, or shallow breathing
  • Respiratory arrest that can cause brain damage or death

Many medications combine hydrocodone with acetaminophen (Tylenol, which also has its own risk for overdose.) Likewise, consuming hydrocodone with alcohol is known to dramatically reduce the threshold for acetaminophen toxicity, skyrocketing the risk for acetaminophen overdose. Symptoms associated with an overdose of acetaminophen may not appear until 12 hours after the last dose and include the following:

  • Appetite loss
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Jaundice, or yellowing of eyes and skin
  • Severe liver damage or failure
  • Coma

Treatment for Hydrocodone Addiction

Hydrocodone addiction is a potentially devastating disease that affects not only the person suffering but also those closest to him or her. Fortunately, it can be effectively treated using a comprehensive, evidence-based approach that includes behavioral therapy, individual and group counseling, and group support.

Our professional medical and mental health providers specialize in addiction and provide clients with the knowledge and tools they need to achieve sobriety and enjoy a long-lasting recovery. After treatment, clients can take advantage of our aftercare planning services and alumni activities that foster continuing treatment and peer support, respectively.

You can regain the life you once had – the one which you deserve – and we can help! If you or a loved one are addicted to drugs or alcohol, please contact us immediately.