The Importance of Honesty in Recovery

Honesty is a valuable characteristic which many people find admirable. Honesty isn’t just about being truthful. It’s about being your authentic self. Honest people are real and genuine. Honesty in recovery promotes openness and empowerment through being your authentic self. 

There are several reasons people who struggle with substance use disorder (SUD) lie. They may lie to friends and family to hide or downplay their addiction. They may also lie because they are in denial about how bad their habit is. However, it is possible to repair the damage of addiction through honesty and recovery. 

Honesty and Recovery: Dishonesty is a Common Trigger for Relapse

Lying often becomes a habit because of the fear of consequences. Although lying is a protective response, it is an unproductive coping method. While it’s normal to fear being caught in a lie, it’s important just to be honest. 

Without honesty in recovery, many people may relapse because of the guilt of lying. Keeping a journal, for example, can hold a person accountable for their honesty and recovery. It also helps understand when you struggle with honesty in recovery. 

Honesty in Recovery Brings Feelings of Freedom

People in active addiction are often trapped because of dishonesty. People in denial typically lack the motivation or encouragement to face their fears. Let’s face it, sometimes it is easier to hide from a challenge. But, without honesty in recovery, a person will never truly heal. 

It is also important to face each challenge as it comes. Therefore, recognizing the problem allows you to take action to solve it. While it can be challenging initially to manage life without drugs or alcohol, remember honesty in recovery breaks you free from the constraints of addiction. 

The Importance of Honesty in Recovery

Relationships Improve with Honesty and Recovery

The key to rebuilding relationships is honesty in recovery. The lies told in addiction can be devastating to friends and family. In addition, dishonesty hinders your recovery treatment. Your therapist can only track your progress when you are completely honest.

While in active addiction, it proves addiction is more important than your loved ones when you lie. Trust is generally not quickly rebuilt. However, through honesty in recovery, those you love will start to believe you again.

Maintaining Honesty in Recovery

To overcome a substance use disorder, you must be truthful about your difficulties and challenges. The biggest challenge in recovery is admitting you need help. And you have done that. However, now it’s time to face the truth of your situation. 

At the beginning of recovery specifically, you may wonder how you can continue being honest. But, it’s crucial to maintain honesty in recovery to prevent recurrence of use. Keep reading to learn different ways to maintain honesty in recovery.

Acknowledge your Emotions and Feelings

Experiencing feelings of self-doubt, shame, and guilt are common for people in recovery. Substance use disorder typically leaves people feeling hopeless, unworthy, and helpless. For this reason, negative emotions are common, specifically in early recovery. 

It is crucial to acknowledge your feelings as they come. Ignoring or suppressing your emotions leads to even more emotional pain and distress. However, once you acknowledge your emotions and feelings, they must be addressed. 

Addressing emotions and feelings can look different for different people. Some common ways to address your feelings include:

  • Writing in a journal
  • Discussing with your therapist
  • Be open in group therapy
  • Attend holistic therapies

Maintain a Commitment to Recovery

Frequently people in recovery experience a feeling of newfound freedom. For the most part, this freedom is a wonderful feeling. But, others may lose motivation for treatment. While some also feel they no longer need treatment. However, this is far from true. 

For success in recovery, you must keep your commitment to honesty and recovery. Whether you are just starting your recovery journey or have years in recovery, counseling and support groups are crucial.

One of the most effective tools in recovery is psychotherapy. You should always be present in therapy, whether you are new to recovery or alumni. Hold high your commitment to honesty and recovery. As a result, you will maintain healthy communication with others. 

Being held accountable will help you remain on your recovery track. While staying in therapy is one way of accountability, it also prevents relapse. While in therapy and involved in support groups, you continue building your honesty in recovery skills.

Be Honest with Loved Ones

Honesty and Recovery

When facing a difficult or awkward situation, people in recovery often avoid the truth. It can be particularly hard with faced with emotional hurt to your friends and family. It can be extremely challenging to address these issues. But honesty in recovery is imperative to rebuilding relationships with loved ones. 

Honesty in recovery includes your spouse, children, parents, siblings, and friends. It’s essential to be honest about your addiction and its impact on your life. Tell them what you have been through and what you are experiencing now. 

Your honesty in recovery and openness with loved ones can help close the gap between you. These behaviors also create open communication within these relationships. Your honesty with loved ones helps involve them in your new life.

Honesty in Recovery Includes Your Struggles and Mistakes

Relapse or recurrence of use is more than just the act of using drugs or alcohol. Relapse actually comes in stages. They include emotional and mental relapse. For this reason, honesty in recovery includes when you’re experiencing symptoms of mental or emotional relapse. 

If you come close to physically relapsing or you do relapse, it is crucial to seek help. It’s common in relapse to feel guilty and shameful. Nevertheless, you must reach out to your therapist or sponsor. You may also consider re-entering treatment. There is no room for shame as long as you remain committed to honesty and recovery.

The Risk of Relapse without Honesty in Recovery

Although honesty in early recovery is crucial to prevent recurrence of use, it is required to maintain Recovery for Life. Because relapse is more than just a physical act, honesty in recovery is crucial to uncover any emotional or mental symptoms of relapse. 

Emotional Relapse and Honesty in Recovery

The first stage of relapse is an emotional relapse. During this stage, you are not actively thinking about using drugs or alcohol. But, your behaviors and emotions can be leading you that way. 

Warning signs of emotional relapse include:

  • Bottling up emotions
  • Avoiding recovery support groups and therapy sessions
  • Isolating from friends and family
  • Change in eating habits
  • Poor sleeping habits
  • Not sharing at meetings
  • Avoiding your issues by focusing on others
  • Intolerance
  • Defensiveness

Honesty in recovery means admitting when you are in an emotional relapse. If you’re anxious, use deep breathing techniques. When you have denied an emotional relapse for a while, it can make you uncomfortable, restless, and irritable. But, sharing your feelings is crucial to prevent the recurrence of use. 

Maintain a Commitment to Recovery

Risking Mental Relapse Without Honesty and Recovery

If you ignore the signs and symptoms of emotional relapse, it increases your risk of mental relapse. Mental relapse is a war inside your mind – part of you wants to use, while part of you doesn’t. Without honesty in recovery, you are at high risk for physical relapse.

It is common to fantasize about using drugs and alcohol during a mental relapse. The longer you stay in the mental relapse stage, however, the lower your resistance to use. It is vital in this stage to talk to someone. 

And remember, there is a difference between a fleeting thought of use and considering actually using. Keeping your honesty in recovery commitment can keep these thoughts in check. 

Signs of mental relapse include:

  • Physical and mental cravings to use drugs or alcohol
  • Continually thinking about people, places, and things involved in substance use
  • Hanging out with the “wrong” friends
  • Glamorizing your past drug use
  • Lying
  • Thinking of ways to hide substance use
  • Imagining, fantasizing, and planning your relapse

Bargaining is a sign of relapse that can be seen in various forms, which include:

  • Giving yourself permission to use it on holidays and special occasions.
  • Thinking you can relapse periodically, for example, twice a year.
  • Believing you can switch one substance for another.

Suppose you are struggling with any of the above signs of recurrence of use or any other challenges; you must speak to someone. No one can maintain their recovery alone. Speak to your therapist or a trusted friend. Your honesty in recovery is vital to achieving Recovery for LIfe. 

Finding Recovery for Life at Sana Lake Behavioral Wellness Center

It can be challenging to maintain your honesty and recovery. Being truthful about your addiction struggles and the mistakes made during active addiction is the key to Recovery for Life. At Sana Lake BWC, once you are a member, you are always a member. If you or a loved one is struggling with maintaining honesty on recovery, we can help. Contact us today for help. 


Is It Alcohol Poisoning: How to Recognize the Signs and the Symptoms

Like with any drug, drinking too much alcohol can cause adverse effects on the human brain and body. One adverse effect that can occur to someone that has been consuming too much alcohol is the development of alcohol poisoning. In fact, the symptoms of alcohol poisoning are often so severe that individuals that develop this illness must be rushed to see a doctor. Due to how intense alcohol poisoning is, one can only assume what the alcohol poisoning recovery time is. 

So that you’re aware if you or someone you love is suffering from alcohol poisoning, learn about the signs and symptoms of the illness. Also, learn how to treat and prevent alcohol poisoning.

What is Alcohol Poisoning?

Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning is when the level of alcohol in a person’s blood is so high that it’s causing that person’s brain to shut down. Essentially, alcohol poisoning is the same thing as an alcohol overdose. 

If alcohol poisoning is severe enough, it could lead to brain damage, or even death. In fact, according to the National Vital Statistics Reports (NVSR) that the CDC published in 2017, alcohol poisoning caused 75,354 deaths in America. Alcohol poisoning also caused 31% of the injuries that led to death. 

Due to the seriousness of the effects of alcohol poisoning, it’s important for people to not let themselves linger with the illness for too long without calling 911. To not do that though, you must first be aware that you or your loved one is even suffering from alcohol poisoning. 

That’s why it’s so important to know what causes alcohol poisoning. It’s also important to know the signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning and the alcohol poisoning recovery time. 

Causes of Alcohol Poisoning

Ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, is the ingredient in alcoholic drinks that causes people to overdose. This is because this ingredient isn’t meant to be consumed in large portions. Unfortunately, many people choose to binge drink alcohol. 

Binge drinking is when a man consumes five or more drinks in less than two hours, or a woman consumes four or more drinks in less than two hours. Extreme binge drinking is when a man consumes 10 or more drinks in less than two hours or a woman consumes eight or more drinks in less than two hours. 

Due to how much ethanol people consume when they binge drink, binge drinking is a major cause of alcohol poisoning. There are other factors that can also influence whether or not a person that is drinking or binge drinking will develop alcohol poisoning. 

Factors That Influence the Likelihood of Someone Developing Alcohol Poisoning

There are many social and biological factors that impact the chance of a person developing alcohol poisoning. Some of them are described below.


For example, men are more likely to develop alcohol poisoning than women. This is because men tend to drink more than women.


A person’s age can also impact the chance that he or she will develop alcohol poisoning. For example, middle-aged adults are more likely to develop alcohol poisoning than younger adults. This is because middle-aged adults are more likely to take prescription medications that, when mixed with alcohol, heightens the chance of a person overdosing. 

Height and Weight

Signs and the Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

A person’s size and weight can also impact the chance that that person will develop alcohol poisoning. This is because people that are taller and weigh more have more blood and water in their bodies that the alcohol can go to and be flushed out by. Thus, people that are taller and bigger must consume more alcohol to develop a high enough blood alcohol level to get alcohol poisoning. This means that smaller individuals tend to develop alcohol poisoning much more easily than their taller and heavier counterparts.

Overall Health

A person’s overall health can also impact the chances of that person developing alcohol poisoning. This is because illnesses such as alcohol poisoning can develop more easily in people whose bodies are already in poor condition. 

Alcohol Tolerance

A person’s general alcohol tolerance, along with how much that person eats and drinks can influence the chances of that person developing alcohol poisoning as well. This is because the bodies of individuals with greater alcohol tolerances have become accustomed to handling a certain amount of alcohol. Therefore, people with higher alcohol tolerances need to consume more alcohol to get alcohol poisoning. 

On the flip side, it takes less alcohol to get people with low alcohol tolerances to develop alcohol poisoning. This is especially true if those with low alcohol tolerances haven’t eaten much food recently to absorb some of the alcohol that they’ve consumed. 

Alcohol Poisoning Signs and Symptoms

There are numerous signs and symptoms that show if a person is developing alcohol poisoning or not.  Many of these signs and symptoms start off small but then grow to become extremely dangerous. Many of these signs and symptoms also slow down the body due to the fact that alcohol is a depressant. 

Some of the initial alcohol poisoning signs and symptoms include:

  • Smelling like alcohol
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Poor coordination
  • Damp or clammy skin

As alcohol poisoning progresses, symptoms will include:

  • Severe confusion
  • Trouble staying awake
  • Vomiting
  • Choking on one’s own vomit
  • Seizures
  • Slowed biological responses 
  • Low body temperature
  • Very slow heartbeat
  • Bluish or pale skin
  • Severe dehydration
  • Hypothermia
  • Brain damage
  • Coma 
  • Heart Attack 
  • Death

Alcohol Poisoning Recovery Time

Alcohol poisoning recovery time can vary depending on the individual and the situation. This is because factors like weight, height, the amount of alcohol and food that a person consumes, etc. all impact how long alcohol poisoning will last. 

How to Treat Alcohol Poisoning

What is Alcohol Poisoning?

If you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol poisoning, you need to immediately call 911. Also, make sure to stay by the side of the person that is suffering from alcohol poisoning. 

Also, keep the person with alcohol poisoning awake. In fact, if you can, also try to make the person with alcohol poisoning sit up and drink water as he or she waits for an ambulance to arrive. 

If the person with alcohol poisoning is cold, feel free to cover that person with a blanket. If the person with alcohol poisoning is passed out, try to get the person to lay on his or her side. That way the individual won’t choke on his or her own vomit when throwing up. 

Once the ambulance comes to take the person with alcohol poisoning to a hospital, make sure to inform the paramedic about every detail about his or her alcohol poisoning as you can. That way, the paramedic can relay the proper information to the emergency doctors. Doing all these things will ultimately help shorten the alcohol poisoning recovery time. 

Once in the emergency room, some people that suffer from alcohol poisoning must get their stomachs pumped. Getting a stomach pumped helps keep leftover alcohol from getting into the bloodstream. Some people also flush their stomachs and blood of toxins. 

People that are in treatment for alcohol poisoning can also receive IV fluids to help treat their conditions. Depending on how severe a person’s alcohol poisoning is, that person may also need to receive oxygen to breathe. 

How to Not Treat Alcohol Poisoning

Just like there are ways to treat alcohol poisoning, there are ways to not treat alcohol poisoning. For example, making a person with alcohol poisoning take a cold shower could actually harm the person. This is because individuals with alcohol poisoning are already struggling with extremely low body temperature. This is due to alcohol being a depressant that slows the body down.

To prevent the person with alcohol poisoning from starting to vomit, don’t give the person any more food. Also, don’t even try to have the person with the alcohol poisoning intentionally throw up as doing so can cause that person to choke.

Another thing that is a don’t when taking care of someone that is suffering from alcohol poisoning is making the individual walk. This is because walking while struggling with alcohol poisoning could cause someone to fall. Instead, just have the person with alcohol poisoning sit up as he or she waits for the ambulance.

How to Prevent Alcohol Poisoning

To avoid developing alcohol poisoning, always try to drink in moderation. Also, it’s important to drink water in-between drinking alcoholic beverages. 

To make sure that you have something in your body to help absorb some of the alcohol that you consume, eat before you drink. Plus, people that take prescription medications shouldn’t take them while drinking, as doing this could increase the chances of developing alcohol poisoning. 

Treat Your Alcohol and Drug Disorders Here at Sana Lake Behavioral Wellness Center

At Sana Lake Behavioral Wellness Center, our goal is to meet each member’s needs and figure out the best plan of action that fits each of them individually. That’s why we offer so many pathways to recovery. 

To further ensure that we meet the individual addiction recovery needs of all of our members, our physicians concentrate on addiction medicine and mental health. Thus, whether you need help getting sober from alcohol and healthy after receiving alcohol poisoning or you need help treating a co-occurring disorder, we can help you. 

To learn more about Sana Lake Behavioral Wellness Center and the various addiction treatment and mental health services that we offer, contact us today! Our compassionate, trained, and experienced staff members are able to connect with you 24/7.

What Is This New Super Pill?: The Latest Dangerous Drug

There’s a new serial killer on the streets. This serial killer targets innocent people who make the wrong decision to buy street drugs. The murderer doesn’t discriminate between individuals with a substance use disorder or teens trying substances for this first time. The super pill is a deadly combination of pills that can quickly lead to the worst-case scenario in a single dose. 

It’s disguised as a pharmaceutical, leading its victims to believe the worst that will happen is a few hours of fun and maybe a nap. Mothers of dead victims say differently. The so-called new Xanax pill is one of the deadliest drugs to surface in the United States in the past few years. Knowing more information about it can stop an untimely death. 

What Is the New Xanax Pill AKA the Super Pill?

The new Xanax pill isn’t the latest brand of anti-anxiety medication prescribed by doctors. It’s a combination of two powerful medications that should never be mixed. Xanax and fentanyl is this murderous combo. 

Xanax and the Super Pill 

Xanax, also known as alprazolam, is a medication prescribed to treat anxiety, panic disorder, and some symptoms of depression. It belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines, or benzos for short. Benzos are known to make people feel calm on their own. 

It does it by providing the central nervous system (CNS) with more gamma-aminobutyric acid to use (GABA). GABA is scientifically referred to as an inhibitory neurotransmitter. Basically, this type of brain chemical inhibits the flow of chemical messages. Hence, the influx of GABA causes the body’s systems to slow down more than usual. 

Fentanyl and the Super Pill 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), fentanyl is a dangerously powerful synthetic opioid typically prescribed by doctors to treat people with severe pain. Fentanyl is up to 100 times more potent than morphine. It’s not usually prescribed long-term. The exception is for people who just underwent surgery. Though, individuals suffering from chronic pain may receive a prescription of fentanyl if they’re resistant to other painkillers. 

What Is This New Super Pill?

Sometimes it’s diverted to a clandestine market, but might be made secretly in makeshift labs. Humans have opioid receptors in the CNS. When an opioid, like fentanyl, is consumed, it makes a person feel calmer, happier and reduces the amount of pain they feel. 

In prescription form, fentanyl is known as Actiq, Duragesic, and Sublimaze. On the streets it may be known as:

  • Dance Fever
  • Apache 
  • Goodfellas 
  • Tango 
  • Cash 
  • Murder 8 
  • Jackpot 
  • Friend 

Whatever the name, it’s dangerous to take without the advice of a doctor. Opioids are responsible for the most deaths in the United States. Plus, 59% of deaths involve fentanyl. The chances of death are increased when mixed with a substance like benzos. This is what makes the super pill much more deadly than other street drugs. 

Signs Of Super Pill Consumption and Dependence

There are limited research and literature available surrounding “the new Xanax pill” AKA the super pill. Yet, the combination of an opioid and benzodiazepine likely exacerbates both intended effects and the side effects. Though, most people don’t intentionally take the super pill. 

It’s dubbed the new Xanax pill not only because it’s one of the ingredients, but because it looks like one. Reports say that it can look like a Xanax in size and shape. Even worse, some have the word “Xanax” pressed into the tablet. Law enforcement speculates drug dealers want to pass it off as Xanax so it will sell, despite it killing people. 

Individuals who consume the super pill and survive might experience: 

  • Drastic change in appetite 
  • A sense of relaxation 
  • Euphoria 
  • Sleepiness 
  • Drowsiness 

Since Xanax and fentanyl can be highly addictive. This can happen after a small dose of the new Xanax pill: 

  • Inability to function normally 
  • Intense cravings for more 
  • Asking for money from strangers and acquaintances randomly 
  • Stealing from loved ones to buy more 
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Loss of interest in their favorite activities 
  • Visibly losing an unhealthy amount of weight 
  • Not taking care of important responsibilities (ie: picking up a child from school) 

A substance use disorder doesn’t look the same for every individual. Yet, the commonality is that it makes people forget about everything except for securing more of what they crave. While this is dangerous in all scenarios, it might be more for the super pill because of the low cost. 

Reports from multiple news outlets say that the new Xanax pill can be bought for as little as five dollars. Unfortunately, this could disproportionately affect poor Americans. According to the American Public Health Association, substance use and poverty is the main factor for first-time homelessness. 

Short-Term Effects of the Super Pill 

It seems like most people who consume the super pill don’t get to experience the short-term effects. It’s likely short-lived. Law enforcement quoted by NBC News stated that it seems like people who sell the super drug are trying to kill people. Yet, if they are able to survive this substance serial killer, they might go experience a multitude of unpleasant effects. 

Super Pill?

4 Short-Term Effects of the New Xanax Pill

  1. They might get vivid nightmares. The combination of both of these highly addictive, powerful substances can result in terrible dreams. People should never experience a high level of GABA and increased opioids in tandem. So, the brain can react violently. Those close to a person using the super pill might be able to notice their loved one has developed irregular sleeping patterns and always looks tired. 
  2. Hallucinations might occur because of the super pill. The mixture of benzos and opioids can cause vivid hallucinations visual or auditory. A sign of this is a person has detailed stories of events that never happened. They might tell a story of how they lost a leg but clearly have two legs. Additionally, paranoia can come about because of these hallucinations which develop into a psychotic break.
  3. Those who consume the new Xanax pill might experience gastrointestinal issues. A drug overdose can cause nausea and vomiting. In short, this is the body’s way of trying to purge the substance. For this reason, nausea can be because of any number of substances, including alcohol. Though, it could be a warning sign of this deadly little pill. 
  4. They will most likely have breathing issues. NIDA writes that 30% of opioid overdoses also involve benzos. They claim that this is a more dangerous combo than most because both types of substances “sedate users and suppress breathing.” In some cases, benzos and opioids may be prescribed at the same time (unfortunately, notes NIDA). But doctors understand the dosage, dealers don’t. 

Long-Term Effects of the Super Pill 

Unfortunately, there’s really only effects with the super pill versus short-term and long-term. It acts quickly, leaving many people without loved ones. A mother interviewed by NBC News tearfully told viewers that her son was only 17 when he took the super pill. She found him dead in bed the next morning. She told NBC he had a promising future and just made a bad decision. 

Dozens of cases across the country echo a similar sentiment. The long-term effects of the new Xanax have a much shorter timeline in comparison to other street substances. Common long-term effects include the following. 

3 Long-Term Effects of the Super Pill 

  1. This substance can leave individuals in a coma and intense sedation. As mentioned before, NIDA writes that the combo of opioids and benzos can force an extreme form of sedation. This is the case even when doctors prescribe the two together. A study found that overdose deaths were 10 times more likely in those prescribed both. Since the super pill combines the two without any regard to dosage, it can cause a coma or extreme sedation without overdosing. Narcan can help them survive this scenario. 
  2. The new Xanax pill can cause a slowed heart rate. The Xanax portion of the super pill causes the body’s systems to slow down. This includes the pulmonary system. A slowed heart rate isn’t always dangerous. A sleeping person has a slow heart rate. But after a certain point, it can be deadly. This is the case with the super pill. 
  3. They will likely die from taking the super pill. Some people are lucky enough to survive taking the super pill. But as shown before, many are not. They’ll likely fall into a coma or fall asleep before. If caught early enough, a doctor can save their life. It only takes a few hours and a small dose to kill a person. 

Sana Lake Behavioral Wellness Center Knows the Super Pill is Life-Threatening 

The simple truth is we don’t deal with too many members that have a super pill use disorder. It’s because most of them die before they can get help. But, other substances can be just as life-threatening. Before it leads to serious consequences, contact us to get effective behavioral wellness treatment in Missouri. 


How Do Drugs and Alcohol Affect Neurotransmitters?

Drugs, both legal and illegal, work on the brain in various ways. One way is they change how neurotransmitters work. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that relay information between brain cells. Understanding the following about neurotransmitters and drugs can help you battle through addiction.

  • How do drugs affect neurotransmitters?
  • How does alcohol affect neurotransmitters?
  • Which neurotransmitters are involved in drug addiction?

What Are Neurons?

The brain is like a complex and intricate computer. But, instead of electrical circuits, the brain has cells called neurons. Neurons send messages back and forth in the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nervous system. 

To send a message, the neurons release neurotransmitters. The neurotransmitter crosses the synapses and attaches to another neuron. This action signals the brain cells to do specific things, such as produce feelings of joy, anxiety, and anger. 

They also produce drug cravings in those struggling with substance use disorder. Substances such as alcohol, heroin, and Zoloft affect the neurotransmitters by creating euphoric feelings. However, they also have adverse side effects, such as depression, psychosis, and addiction. 

Neurotransmitters also regulate:

  • Heart rate
  • Breathing
  • Emotions
  • Mood
  • Coordination
  • Ability to learn
  • Physical sensations

Neurotransmitters and Drugs: Do They Affect Each Other?

How drugs and alcohol affect brain cells dramatically depends on the type of drug or alcohol consumed. Most drugs bind directly to neurotransmitters. Additionally, multiple neurotransmitters can be affected at once. 

There are dozens of neurotransmitters. Our understanding of how the brain and neurotransmitters work and their effect on addiction continues to grow. Dopamine, for example, is an important neurotransmitter. It helps regulate:

  • Happiness
  • Anger
  • Aggression
  • Mood
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Learning
  • Attention
  • Motivation
  • Sleep 
  • Pain processing
  • Nausea and vomiting

How Do Drugs Affect Neurotransmitters?

Opioids, heroin, alcohol, and other substances affect the brain’s output and use of neurotransmitters. While some drugs speed up the production of neurotransmitters, others slow it down. Furthermore, some drugs can even mimic neurotransmitters.

how do drugs affect neurotransmitters

Neurotransmitters and Drugs: What Happens If You Stop?

Depending on the type and length of the addiction, it can take days, months, and even years to regain neurotransmitters’ normal production. Heroin, for example, mimics a natural neurotransmitter. It bonds to neurons, causing an increase in the production of other neurotransmitters such as dopamine. 

Another example includes an individual who misuses methamphetamines, for instance, will stop producing its own neurotransmitters. Additionally, high doses of meth over extended periods can have severe effects on the brain. As a result, it can take up to 4 years to produce natural neurotransmitters.

Which Neurotransmitters are Involved in Drug Addiction?

While dopamine plays a significant role in how substance use disorder forms, progresses, and ultimately recovers, several other neurotransmitters are also responsible. Keep reading to understand more about which neurotransmitters are involved in drug addiction.

Dopamine: Neurotransmitters and Drugs

Dopamine is often called the “grand-daddy of drug addiction” because it plays a role in nearly all substance addictions. However, it is most noticeable in cocaine, opiate, and meth addictions. Dopamine activates the reward processes in the brain. The constant use of drugs or alcohol can lead to cravings and addiction.

Endorphins: Neurotransmitters and Drugs

Endorphins are neurotransmitters for opiates such as heroin, morphine, Oxycontin, and Fentanyl. Opiate use disorder is thought to be the most powerful drug addiction because of the potent effect of endorphins on the brain.

Serotonin: How Do Drugs Affect Neurotransmitters?

Primarily drugs such as MDMA, LSD, and psilocybin are linked to serotonin. Serotonin affects sexual desire and desire during drug use. However, after an individual stops using, it can affect the healthy functioning of both. 

Serotonin affects individuals:

  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Aggression
  • Happiness
  • Sadness
  • Confusion
  • Self-esteem
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bone density
  • Blood clotting

Norepinephrine: How Do Drugs Affect Neurotransmitters?

The class of drugs, which includes speed, and meth interferes with the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Cocaine also interferes with norepinephrine’s normal function. This interference can result in anxiety and other sensory processing issues. 

Glutamate: How Does Alcohol Affect Neurotransmitters

Glutamate is a dangerous and powerful neurotransmitter if released in large amounts. Substances such as alcohol, ketamine, PCP, and angel dust can trigger its release. This neurotransmitter and drugs can affect fine and gross motor skills and learning abilities.

How Does Alcohol Affect Neurotransmitters and How Do Drugs Affect Neurotransmitters?

There are seven categories of drugs. Each class interacts with neurotransmitters in unique ways. 

Central Nervous System Depressants

Central nervous system (CNS) depressants are often called depressants. They increase the activity of GABA, which reduces brain activity and slows the heart and other organs. Commonly misused depressants include:

  • Alcohol
  • Barbiturates – Amytal, Butisol, Nembutal
  • Benzodiazepines – Xanax, alprazolam
  • Opioids – morphine, fentanyl, oxycodone

By depressing the brain and body, individuals experience:

  • Relaxation
  • Sleepiness
  • Euphoria
  • Mood swings
  • Increase in self-confidence
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Unconsciousness
  • Coma
  • Death

Central Nervous System Stimulants

CNS stimulants produce the opposite effect of depressants. For instance, stimulants increase alertness, attention, and energy. They also increase dopamine and norepinephrine production. As a result, individuals feel a euphoric rush. 

Stimulants include:

  • Adderall
  • Concerta
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Ritalin


Hallucinogens produce different effects on different people. People often see, hear, or feel things that are not there. Also, the results of hallucinogens depend on the person’s mood and if they consume other substances. If a person has an adverse reaction, it’s known as a “bad trip.”

Hallucinogens and Cross Tolerance

When a person has a tolerance to one substance that heightens the tolerance of another substance, it is called cross-tolerance. Tolerance is when a person needs more of the substance to feel the initial effects. For example, LSD, a hallucinogen, can produce a tolerance to psilocybin or magic mushrooms. 

Central Nervous System Depressants

Dissociative Anesthetics

A dissociative anesthetic is a form of anesthesia. But, they don’t always involve a loss of consciousness. However, they inhibit pain and cause users to feel a disconnection from the world or themselves. 

Ketamine: How Do Drugs Affect Neurotransmitters?

Ketamine has long been used as an anesthetic for people and animals undergoing surgery. It is also used as an antidepressant in hard to treat cases of depression. However, ketamine produces a long-lasting high that can last 24-hours.

Ketamine causes a surge in glutamine and GABA. It also affects serotonin transmitters. But, ketamine can be very dangerous. Because it is so strong, it is easy to use too much, leading to severe consequences including:

  • Psychosis
  • Ketamine cystitis – damage to the bladder
  • Cardiac arrest

Narcotic Analgesics and How do Drugs Affect Neurotransmitters?

These drugs cause extreme euphoria because they stimulate dopamine production and prevent the neurotransmitter from being reabsorbed. Narcotic analgesics include heroin, opium, methadone, and heroin. Furthermore, these opioids attach to opioid receptors, which changes the brain.

How Do Inhalant Drugs Affect Neurotransmitters?

Similar to alcohol, most inhalants slow down the brain. Users often experience slurred speech, euphoria, dizziness, and lack of coordination. Common inhalants include paint thinner, hair spray, and chest pain inhaler medication. 

Cannabis: Neurotransmitters and Drugs

The legal name of marijuana is cannabis. The use of cannabis in any form is believed to chemically and physically change the brain. Furthermore, cannabis increases dopamine production. 

The short-term effects include happiness and increased appetite. Although the effects are still being researched, long-term effects may consist of decision-making, memory, and focus issues. 

How Does Alcohol Affect Neurotransmitters?

Alcohol is the most commonly misused substance. To illustrate, the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) states over 14 million Americans over 18 struggle with alcohol use disorder. This number includes over 5 million or 4 percent of women. 

Neurotransmitters and Drugs

One reason alcohol is so addictive is that it stimulates dopamine production. However, the brain adapts to this dopamine overload with continued drinking. As a result, your brain quits producing natural dopamine. 

As these levels of dopamine plummet, so does a person’s mood. This drop can lead to an increase in drinking. And, as we know, an increase in drinking can quickly lead to an alcohol use disorder

Alcohol and Brain Equilibrium: Neurotransmitters and Drugs

The brain likes neurotransmitters to maintain balance or equilibrium. But, alcohol disrupts this balance by increasing GABA production. To balance this slow-down, the brain releases glutamate to speed back up. But, this only further damages the brain.

How Does Alcohol Affect Neurotransmitters and Recovery?

Alcohol use disorder can be difficult to treat due to the changes in neurotransmitters. Without neurotransmitter stimulation from alcohol, individuals start experiencing cravings. Without committing to inpatient addiction treatment, it is almost impossible to quit drinking. 

If you are struggling with alcohol use disorder, it is crucial to seek professional help.

Can Naltrexone Help Ease Alcohol Cravings?

Naltrexone is often used in medical detox to reduce the urge to drink. In severe cases of an alcohol use disorder, Methadone may be used. At the same time, both medications are also used in opioid use recovery

Neurotransmitters and Drugs: The Importance of Detox

The withdrawal symptoms from alcohol can vary depending on the severity of your addiction. For this reason, professional care in a medical detox program can be life-saving. In detox, you are closely monitored and given medication to prevent the following possible side effects.

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

After completing detox, treatment isn’t over. The preferred method of treatment is inpatient treatment. However, some people may only be able to attend outpatient treatment due to other factors. 

Repairing the Effects on Neurotransmitters and Drugs at Sana Lake BWC

There is not a quick fix in recovery; it takes commitment and hard work. But the reward will be great. You will build friendships and support systems along to help maintain Recovery for Life. Contact us today and find out about our various programs to fit your needs.


Check out this article on Forbes from our very own Paul Melnuk!

How Addiction Treatment Industries Can Provide Successful Long-Term Outcomes

“This past year has been a tough one for everyone. Communities, government bodies, businesses and individuals have all dealt with the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and continued civil unrest that have gripped the country for much of the year. 

While statistics have been coming out en masse for months regarding the impact of 2020’s events, the conversation around substance use and addiction rates can’t take a back seat. I believe it is every bit as much of a crisis and, left unfettered, it will continue to inflict prolonged damage on the country on both a sociological and economic level…”

Read the Full Article Here:

Paul Melnuk - Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Mommy Needs a Drink: The Effect of the Wine Mom “Culture”

The wine mom culture makes being an alcoholic mom look relaxing and fun. The posts on social media boast how Mommy needs a drink. The wine mom culture has become an acceptable form of binge drinking, leading to a wine addiction

What is Wine Mom “Culture”?

A relatively new term, wine mom culture, refers to the growing number of moms using wine to de-stress from parenting. “Mommy needs a drink” is a common phrase encouraged through social media and various companies. 

Although the wine mom culture exploded in the late 2000s, early signs of the wine mom started in 2009. Social media and online platforms, for example, have brought people with common interests together. For instance, in 2009, a Facebook group called “ Moms Who Need Wine” formed and has over 700,000 followers. 

Wine Mom: Binge Drinking and Wine Addiction

The NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) defines binge drinking as four drinks for women and five drinks for men in 2 hours. Binge drinking already dominates college campuses across the country.

The wine mom culture is another reason to binge drink. Along with all the “mommy needs a drink” jokes, binge drinking can lead to wine addiction. Even if you only drink two glasses a night, it can eventually become four glasses a night. This increase can be a serious issue and even lead to wine addiction.

Women and Binge Drinking Statistics

According to the CDC, excessive alcohol use plays a role in 27,000 female deaths a year. Women and binge drinking also have the following statistics.

  • Almost half of women report drinking in the past 30 days.
  • About 13% of women report binge drinking an average of 4 times a month. Furthermore, they typically consume five drinks each time.
  • 18% of women ages 18 to 44 binge drink
  • In 2019, 8% of women 18 to 25 struggled with alcohol use disorder, including wine addiction.
wine mom culture

Why Does an Alcoholic Mom Drink?

In the case of a wine mom, she finds it helpful to have wine to cope with her children. There are many happy times in parenting. However, there are also stressful times. The challenging times are when you hear a wine mom say, “Mommy needs a drink.” 

A few reasons a mom becomes a wine mom include:

  • Instant stress relief and gratification. Alcohol provides immediate relief for mom’s stressed from raising children.
  • Lack of a support system. Mom’s without another person to help with the kids never get a break. This can cause them to drink to escape. 
  • No, “me time.” Moms never have enough “me time,” so they use being a wine mom as a reason to drink.
  • Mental health issues. Mothers struggling with depression or anxiety are at a higher risk of becoming an alcoholic mom. Additionally, self-medicating to ease the stress often results in an alcoholic mom.

An alcoholic mom can develop various physical and psychological issues, including wine addiction. But, a comprehensive dual-diagnosis program treats all aspects of addiction, which has positive effects on the whole family. 

An Alcoholic Mom and Her Children

The children of an alcoholic mom also suffer. The NIAAA estimates 6.6 million children have at least one parent with alcohol use disorder. These children are also twice as likely to struggle with substance use disorder

Girls who hear their mom say, “mommy needs a drink,” and who see their mom drink wine to cope with stress may become wine moms as well. A child may also have to take on parental roles such as grocery shopping when their alcoholic mom has a wine addiction. As the responsibilities pile up, it can lead to a wine addiction or other destructive behaviors.

How Can an Alcoholic Mom Cope With Stress Without Drinking?

If you are a mom who is stressed out, it can be easy to pour a glass of wine to relieve stress. However, there are various holistic ways to de-stress without being a wine mom. These activities are more beneficial to you and your family.

Take a bath.

Do you want to boost your mood? Take a bath. Make it luxurious – pour in bubbles and Epsom salts and grab a bath pillow. Turn on some calming music and light some candles. Replacing “Mommy needs a drink” with “Calgon take me away” is a healthy way to cope with parenting stress.

 Get active.

Whether breaking a sweat in the gym or taking a nice walk through your neighborhood, exercise is great for your mental health. So, hit the gym, walk the dog, or do some yoga. If you like books, put in the earbuds and put on an audiobook. 

Exercise your brain.

For some people, working their brain is relaxing. Sitting outside in the sun doing a jigsaw puzzle or snuggling under a blanket playing a game on your phone can quiet the thoughts running through your brain.

Be creative.

Being creative is good for your health. What do you like? Is it drawing, painting, knitting, or sewing? Watching cooking videos and recreating dishes is also a form of creativity. Another form of creativity is planting bright flowers, which you can admire every day.

Clean or organize something.

A clean and decluttered house not only reduces stress but boosts productivity and sleep. Many people find cleaning to be relaxing. Getting the kids involved in cleaning their room can also give you a chance to de-stress. 

Connect with other people.

Sometimes, you just need a friend to talk with. Since a lot of communication is done via text, it is nice to pick up the phone and have a conversation. Connecting with others is crucial to our mental health. If you are needing a connection but don’t want to be around people, snuggle your pet. If you don’t have a pet, go volunteer at a shelter or foster one.

How Can an Alcoholic Mom Prevent Relapse in a Wine Mom “Culture”?

Recovering from wine addiction is challenging enough, but adding motherhood’s stress can seem like an impossible challenge. However, watching what moms in long-term recovery do and what those who relapse do can encourage your recovery from wine addiction.

4 Ways a Wine Mom Can Prevent Relapse in Wine Addiction

  1. Build a healthy community. Joining a support group with other moms recovering from wine addiction is crucial to your recovery. Only another alcoholic mom can understand the struggles of wanting to scream, “Mommy needs a drink.”
  2. Release your resentments. Resentment can destroy your recovery. For instance, holding on to bitterness can keep you in the victim mode. Learning to control your anger is critical to treating wine addiction. Stepping back and taking a moment can give you a new perspective, which results in a healthy response. 
  3. Practice daily spirituality. Addiction kills our spirit. But, daily spirituality can bring it back to life and help a wine mom beat her wine addiction. At the same time, spirituality is not religion. It means different things to different people and may include yoga, dancing, spending time in nature, or finding the meaning of life.
  4. Practice H.A.L.T. Stop and ask yourself, “Am I hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. If the answer is yes, then fix the issue. For example, if your hungry, then eat. And, if your angry, then take a walk. Just do not pick up a drink.

Treating the Wine Mom, the Alcoholic Mom and the Mom Screaming Mommy Needs a Drink

Admitting you have a wine addiction is the first step in addiction treatment. Accepting that you’re a wine mom with a wine addiction isn’t easy. But, once you do, the recovery can begin.

Although there is no cure for wine addiction, treatment can help manage triggers and cravings, which increases your Recovery for Life. A comprehensive addiction treatment plan for an alcoholic mom may include:

  • Detox
  • Behavioral therapies
  • Psychotherapy
  • Pharmacotherapy or medication-assisted therapy

Detox for Wine Addiction

Depending on your wine addiction, your treatment may start with detox. Detox is typically done in an inpatient treatment center and lasts about a week. Because some symptoms of withdrawal can be life-threatening, medications may help ease these symptoms. 

Symptoms of detox may include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Cravings

Behavioral Therapies to Replace Mommy Needs a Drink

You may be addicted to the act of drinking just as much as the alcohol itself. For this reason, treatment plans generally include behavioral therapies. In therapy, you learn coping skills and activities to replace the activities of addiction. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), for instance, helps in wine addiction treatment by:

mommy needs a drink
  • Understanding how thoughts and beliefs affect addiction
  • Providing the tools you need to improve mood and increase recovery.
  • Teaches healthy communication skills

Psychotherapy for the Wine Mom

Psychotherapy or “talk therapy” is between the wine mom and a therapist. It helps moms deal with their emotional problems and mental health issues. Individual therapy also teaches tools to cope with triggers and prevent relapse. 

Benefits of psychotherapy include:

  • Heal emotional conflict
  • Builds self-esteem
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Develop healthy communication skills
  • Prevents relapse and encourages Recovery for Life

Pharmacotherapy for Wine Addiction

Medication-assisted therapy, or MAT, is often used in combination with behavioral therapies to treat alcohol use disorder. MAT is particularly helpful for those struggling with physically addictive substances such as alcohol and opioids. 

Benefits of pharmacotherapy include:

  • Alleviate withdrawal symptoms during detox.
  • Suppress cravings in various stages of recovery.
  • Eliminates the euphoric effects of substances
  • Causes adverse side effects when certain substances are consumed.

Get Help at Sana Lake Behavioral Wellness Center

If you are a wine mom who is tired of struggling with wine addiction, help is available today. Our team of professionals is waiting to help you discover and achieve a life free of addiction. Contact us today, and start your recovery journey. 


How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?

Drinking alcohol represents celebration, culture, part of socialization, and everyday life. While this may be the case, and having one or two beers, liquor, or glasses of wine is normal, drinking too much alcohol can not only make you drunk and lower your inhibitions, but it can also cause brain damage and severe harm to your body that results in a host of health complications. 

Side effects from drinking can last long-term since it takes a while for a drug such as alcohol to leave a person’s system. A common question people ask is, how long does alcohol stay in your system? Well, it depends. Various factors can affect your BAC and how you react to alcohol. 

These include the following:

  • Gender
  • Weight 
  • Height
  • Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach
  • Taking medications
  • Pre-existing health problems or diseases (Cirrhosis – Liver disease)
  • How many drinks you consume in a short period of time (binge drinking)

To fully understand how alcohol affects the body and the length of time it stays in someone’s system, one must understand the notions above, and how the depressant is absorbed and metabolized. Alcohol affects people and their tolerance levels differently. Thus, the timeline for the development of alcohol dependency and addiction also varies from person to person. 

What Affects How the Body Absorbs and Metabolizes Alcohol?

As mentioned above, numerous factors including your gender, weight, and height can all affect how long alcohol stays in your system. How your body absorbs and processes alcohol are either biological or physiological.   


There are gender differences in how alcohol is metabolized. It’s statistically true that women absorb and digest alcohol differently than men. This is because women hold less amount of  water in their bodies than men do and retain more fat. 

As a result, having less water causes substances like alcohol to be less diluted when entering the body. Thus, women obtain a higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) after consuming the same amount of alcohol as men of the same weight.  

The amount of time that alcohol is detected in a person’s blood after consuming beverages is different from the time it takes to be detected in their urine. The way the female and male body absorbs and metabolizes alcohol differ from one another due to two main reasons. 

  1. Alcohol Dehydrogenase (ADH) and Acetaldehyde Dehydrogenase Levels

The amount of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase that they each have. These are the enzymes that metabolize alcohol. Men have much more ADH and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase in their stomach and liver than women do. Therefore, although the volume of the female liver is bigger and metabolizes alcohol at a quicker pace, the male body is much more efficient at digesting alcohol. As a result, a man’s BAC levels will be lower as they absorb less alcohol into the bloodstream during the metabolization process. 

  1. The Liver 

The female body rids itself of alcohol from the bloodstream quicker than the male body does. This is because women have a higher liver volume, which allows the organ to absorb most of the alcohol that enters their system. If someone drinks too much, too often, that person can develop liver disease, otherwise known as Cirrhosis. 


A person who weighs more has a lower BAC after consuming the same amount of alcohol as those who weigh less. Individuals who consume alcohol also have significantly higher Body Mass Indexes (BMI) and prevalence of obesity than those who don’t. 


A person’s height affects his or her weight. Taller people tend to have lower blood alcohol levels after consuming the same amount of alcohol as shorter people.  


There is always a list of side effects that can come from taking medications. With drinking it is no different. 

There is a reason why they warn people to not take their medications with alcohol. This is because certain medications can cause liver complications when taken with alcohol. As a result, people that do medicate while drinking will get a higher BAC much quicker than they normally would without taking medications. 

The combination of alcohol and medications can cause people to become intoxicated at a quicker rate, or worse, overdose on alcohol altogether. Therefore, before drinking, make sure that it is safe to do so when taking your medications.  

Even over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol can have adverse effects on the liver when taken while drinking alcohol. Thus, it’s always best to consult a medical professional about the safety of drinking alcohol while taking your prescription medications.

Eating Food 

If you drink alcohol on an empty stomach, it will absorb much quicker than it would if you were to have eaten something before drinking. As a result, you’ll become intoxicated more quickly on an empty stomach than you would on a full stomach.

This also means that you should eat before you drink to avoid feeling nauseous and getting sick. Eating high-protein foods before and during drinking will decrease your chances of getting drunk. 

Number of Drinks Consumed Per Hour

Research states that the liver within a man’s body, can metabolize around 1 standard drink per hour. As a result, the number of drinks that you consume within one hour will affect your blood alcohol levels and how drunk you get. If you drink 5 drinks within one hour, you will get much drunker than if you were to drink 5 drinks over the course of the whole day. 

What is Alcohol?

Alcohol is a type of drug classified as a depressant. These substances are known to affect the central nervous system (CNS) by slowing down the messages between the brain and the body. As a result, a person’s level of alertness, arousal, and stimulation is reduced.

Alcohol not only lessens an individual’s inhibitions, but it also affects coordination, concentration, and decision making. The ability to be able to respond effectively to situations is slowed. This is why speech becomes slurred, and reaction times become slow when you consume too much alcohol. 

While small doses of wine, beer, or liquor can make a person feel relaxed and loose like a stimulant does, larger doses and binge drinking can cause drunkenness, drowsiness, vomiting, unconsciousness, overdose, and even death if not careful. 

how long does alcohol stay in your system

Alcohol has a shorter lifespan in the body than other drugs. Once alcohol enters a person’s bloodstream, the body begins to metabolize/absorb it at a slow rate of 20 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) per hour. For example, if your blood alcohol level was 40mg/dL, it would take about two hours for it to be completely gone from your system.

Again, how long it takes for alcohol to metabolize in the body and the side effects produced ultimately depends on the amount of alcohol consumed and the period of time at which alcohol is consumed. 

How is Alcohol Metabolized Within the Body?

Before we know how long alcohol stays in the system, it’s important to know how it’s digested and absorbed. When someone consumes an alcoholic beverage, it first enters into the digestive system, such as other food and drinks do. 

However, alcohol is not digested like other foods and drinks are. An estimated 20% of alcohol from one drink goes directly into the blood vessels, to the brain, while the remaining 80% goes through the small intestine and absorbs into the bloodstream. 

The final step in the cycle of alcohol metabolizing is the liver ridding its toxins from the body. Health complications, especially with the liver, including liver disease (Cirrhosis), can slow down the body’s natural way of detoxing. 

Alcohol’s Effect and How Long It Stays in Your System

how long Alcohol stays in system infographic

The main question is, how long does alcohol stay in your system? Truth is, as mentioned before, it depends. It’s important to know how much alcohol concentration is in your drink and how that will affect you short-term and long-term. 

For example, some beers have a higher alcohol content than what’s usually stated on the can or bottle. This is the cue to how much alcohol you’re consuming from one drink to another. It takes an average of 15-45 minutes for the effects of alcohol to start kicking in for people who are healthy. 

Those with little to no tolerance for alcohol can begin to exhibit symptoms of intoxication if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level reaches 0.05%. This level is potentially fatal and can make someone overdose. Any BAC above 0.5% is extremely dangerous and fatal. 

For example, it takes at least four drinks for an average 170-pound male to exceed 0.05 BAC in 2 hours on an empty stomach, while it takes three drinks for a 137-pound female and 4 drinks within an hour for a woman who weighs 150lbs. This would bring the woman’s BAC to 0.01%. 

0.01% BAC can be reached easily by drinking one 12-oz beer. Again, determining how long it takes to metabolize your alcohol depends on who you are and various characteristics. 

Below are estimates for how long it takes to absorb different alcoholic beverages. It is important to note that these times will vary depending on the percentage of alcohol in the drink:

Type of AlcoholAverage time Alcohol Will Stay in Your System
Small shot of liquor1 hour
Pint of beer2 hours
Large glass of wine3 hours
A few drinksSeveral hours 

The amount of time that alcohol stays in your body’s system depends on what body part you’re talking about. In reference to this topic, the liver is probably the most common organ associated with drinking. As a result, alcohol can stay in your body’s system for anywhere from half a day to a few months. Below are some statistics to demonstrate the effect alcohol can have on the brain and body. 

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Blood?

Alcohol stays in your blood for up to 6 hours after consuming it. 

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Urine?

Alcohol remains in your urine for around 12-24 hours after you drink it.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay on Your Breath?

It takes 12-24 hours for alcohol to leave your breath after you drink it, despite brushing your teeth. 

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Saliva?

You can still detect alcohol in your saliva for up to 12-24 hours after consuming it. 

How Long Does Alcohol’s Stench Stay in Your Hair?

Believe it or not, alcohol can stay in your hair for up to 90 days after consumption. 

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Levels

As your blood alcohol levels increase past a certain point, your body can begin to shut down. The organs and functions that you will impair once reaching certain blood alcohol levels is demonstrated below.

  • 0.6% – 0.15% BAC: Your speech, memory, attention, coordination, and balance are moderately impaired at this point. Your driving is significantly impaired at this BAC.
  • 16% – 0.30% BAC: At this BAC your speech, memory, attention, balance, reaction time, and coordination are significantly impaired. Your driving ability at this BAC is dangerously impaired. Judgment and decision-making are also impaired when your BAC is within this range. Within this range of BAC, you also risk vomiting, having blackouts, and having a loss of consciousness. 
  • 31% – 0.45% BAC: If your blood alcohol level is within this range, you are risking overdosing and worse, death as your breathing has become suppressed, along with a rapid heart rate, and extreme body temperature. 

Alcohol Intoxication, Alcohol Poisoning, and Overdose

The symptoms of alcohol intoxication include slurred speech, lowered inhibitions, discoordination, confusion, poor memory, trouble concentrating, and respiratory problems. If not careful, being intoxicated can lead to alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning kills 6 people in the United States every day. A total of 2,200 Americans also die from alcohol poisoning each year, This equates to 3 in 4 deaths for adults ages 35 to 64, the highest being among people 45- 54 years old. 

The signs of an alcohol overdose to recognize, include vomiting due to alcohol poisoning, pain, unconsciousness, coma, or even death if professional help is not received. The symptoms that you are likely to develop after overdosing on alcohol vary depending on how much you drank, and if you had other substances such as prescription drugs (opioids) in your system. 

If the statistics above aren’t alarming enough, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 88,000 people die due to alcohol-related incidences, including car accidents, injury, overdose, and suicide in the United States. 

The point is, drinking large amounts of alcohol is detrimental to your health, and despite the consequences, some people are unable to control how much they drink or can’t stop drinking in general. If that’s the case for you, professional help is necessary to recover and live a high-quality life. 

Sana Lake Behavioral Wellness Center is Here to Help

If you are or a loved one is continuously consuming too much alcohol for your body’s system, you may suffer from alcohol addiction. To treat alcohol addiction, you should attend treatment.

There are certain steps you can take to help reduce the withdrawal symptoms that result from substance misuse in the meantime though. The main one being receiving professional help at a treatment center. 

At Sana Lake Behavioral Wellness Center, our team offers high-quality treatment programs and services for addiction and mental health, such as detox and addiction therapy/counseling, as well as, providing resources for people that suffer from alcohol use disorder (AUD). With our alcohol addiction treatment services, you will likely overcome your alcohol addiction and lead to a healthier and well-balanced lifestyle.

Learn more about how long does alcohol stay in your system, in our alcohol detox program. To learn more about the other addiction treatment services that we offer, contact us today. 

Pharmacotherapy for Opiate Rehabilitation

Are you tired of drugs and alcohol controlling your life? With 128 people a day dying from an opioid overdose, are you ready for opiate addiction rehabilitation? Did you know there are new treatments for heroin addiction? Specifically, what is pharmacotherapy, and can it help in recovery?

What is Pharmacotherapy?

Pharmacotherapy or medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medication to treat a disorder or disease. In addiction treatment such as opiate addiction rehabilitation, anti-addiction medication ease withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and reduce the recurrence of use. But, the main goal of pharmacotherapy is helping you maintain Recovery for Life. 

More than 1 in 7 Americans 12 and older suffer from substance use disorder (SUD). However, only about 10 percent receive professional treatment. With new treatments for heroin addiction and anti-addiction medication, the hope is more people seek treatment.

What Makes Pharmacotherapy Successful?

Addiction or SUD is a chronic disease. Like medications for chronic diseases, some addictions require anti-addiction medication. Over 2 million Americans in 2016 suffered from opioid use disorder (OUD) because of prescription opioids. 

At the same time, over 260,000 struggles with OUD because of heroin. However, a common OUD treatment is pharmacotherapy.  When combining anti-addiction medication such as methadone and naltrexone with behavioral and holistic therapies, the benefits include:

  • Increases retention in treatment
  • Lowers illicit opiate use 
  • Decreases criminal behaviors due to SUD
  • Improves members survival rate
  • Improves the outcome of pregnancies in women struggling with SUD
  • Increases members ability to gain employment

Abstinence-Based Treatment vs. Pharmacotherapy in Treatment

If you enter an abstinence-based treatment program, you will not receive medication to help with recovery. You will go “cold-turkey,” meaning you will not receive anti-addiction medication to ease withdrawal. 

Abstinence in addiction treatment refers to the complete cessation of substance misuse entirely. The approach in abstinence-based programs is a person suffering from addiction is always at risk of recurrence of use. 

In addition, SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) says abstinence is the safest approach to treating SUD. These programs also remove unwanted temptations from your life. Lastly, abstinence-based programs are still the most common treatment programs. 

However, the CDC and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommend using pharmacotherapy. These agencies believe a strict regime of medications offers a reduction in opiate misuse issues. Above all, anti-addiction medication provides a stable path to recovery.

For example, anti-addiction medication is often only used in detox or in emergency overdose cases. These interventions can save a life and also help ease withdrawal symptoms. Above all, pharmacotherapy in detox increases your stay in treatment.

Why Are More Opiate Addiction Rehabilitation Centers Using Anti-Addiction Medication?

The best opiate addiction rehabilitation centers use evidence-based treatment approaches. For instance, evidence shows proper use of pharmacotherapy, along with other therapies, works better than detox and therapies without anti-addiction medication.

3 Things Evidence-Based Programs Believe About Pharmacotherapy

First, there are anti-addiction medication proven safe, effective, non-addictive, and little risk of misuse. Furthermore, anti-addiction medication does support total abstinence. 

Second, if an anti-addiction medication has a risk of misuse, the risk can be avoided. For example:

  • Prescribed for short-term use
  • Strictly monitored
  • Part of a comprehensive treatment plan

Lastly, when the risk of pharmacotherapy outweighs the risks of SUD, then it’s acceptable. The dangers of SUD include overdose, death, and crime.

How is Anti-Addiction Medication Used in Opiate Addiction Rehabilitation? 

Anti-addiction medication used in addiction treatment can help in recovery by:

  • Withdrawal – Some anti-addiction medication ease your withdrawal symptoms during detox. In fact, SAMHSA estimates medication is used in almost 80 percent of detoxes. Although detox is not a form of treatment, it is a critical first step in your recovery. 
  • Preventing recurrence of use – When you use anti-addiction medication, it helps reduce cravings. In addition, these medications help restore normal brain function. As a result, you can maintain Recovery for Life. 
  • Treating co-occurring disorders – Many individuals struggling with misuse also suffer from comorbid mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. As a result, these mental illnesses can worsen and be worsened by substance misuse. Therefore, treating both disorders simultaneously increases Recovery for Life.

Types of Anti-Addiction Medication

Depending on your treatment plan, there are several classes of anti-addiction medication. 

  • Agonists – These medications attach to the same receptors as opioids and other drugs. This action reduces cravings. 
  • Replacement medications or Opioid Replacement Therapy (ORT) – ORT is also known as opioid substitution therapy or opioid maintenance therapy. This class of anti-addiction drugs is used in opiate addiction rehabilitation. New treatments for heroin addiction include this safer anti-addiction medication.
  • Aversion Therapy – Some anti-addiction medication classes trigger uncomfortable or painful reactions when you use drugs or alcohol. 

New and old anti-addiction medication in comprehensive opiate addiction rehabilitation treats various SUDs.

New Treatments for Heroin Addiction and Opiate Addiction Rehabilitation

The FDA has approved various medications that are effective in treating SUD. The following includes new and old anti-addiction medications, particularly useful in opiate addiction rehabilitation.


Introduced in 2002

Brand names include Suboxone, Zubsolv.

This anti-addiction medication is the first-line treatment for opioid use disorder. However, you must meet the following recommendations:

  • Are you socially stable?
  • Can you comply with your medication schedule?
  • Are you unable to go to a methadone clinic every day?
  • Do you have a job that prohibits sedating medications?

An advantage of this anti-addiction medication is by adding Naloxone to buprenorphine, is it deters opiate misuse. But, this medication has a risk of misuse, such as crushing and snorting or injecting the medicine. Above all, you can still get high from sublingual use. As a result, you can become dependent. 

Side effects include:

  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Cravings
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Fever


Introduced in 1975

Brand names include: Buspar, also available in generic

Buspirone is as effective as methadone at easing opiate withdrawal symptoms. It also helps boost the effects of anti-depressants. However, if you have diabetes, kidney, or liver issues or take MAO inhibitors, you shouldn’t take Buspirone.

Benefits include:

  • Not a barbiturate or benzodiazepine
  • Little to no risk of misuse
  • Not sedating
  • No euphoria
  • Doesn’t affect motor functions
  • No withdrawal symptoms


Introduced in 1947

Brand names include: Dolophine, Methadose

Methadone is the most common treatment for opioid addiction. However, Methadone is extremely addictive. It is also often misused. Above all, the risk of overdose is high. For instance, Methadone has almost double the overdoses as any other anti-addiction medication.

Side effects of methadone include:

  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Hallucinations or confusion
  • Allergic reactions – rash, hives, swelling in the face, lips, tongue, or throat


Introduced in 1971

Brand names include: Narcan, Evzio

Naloxone is an emergency anti-addiction medication that reverses opioid overdoses. In most cases, Naloxone is available without a prescription. It’s easy to use, but above all, it can immediately save a life. 

Naloxone only works for opiate overdose, not other drug overdoses.  Also, it isn’t a treatment medication, although a person often seeks treatment after an overdose. Unfortunately, some people will overdose knowing Naloxone can save them.

But, Naloxone also sends you into severe withdrawal, so emergency treatment is necessary.


Introduced in 1965 but approved in 1984

Brand names include: ReVia, Vivitrol

Naltrexone is an anti-addiction medication used in new treatments for heroin addiction. This medication also treats alcohol use disorder. Naltrexone blocks the effects of alcohol and opiates either by injection or orally. As a result, you don’t feel any euphoric effects. 

Because Naltrexone isn’t an opiate, it has several advantages, including:

  • No risk of dependence or addiction
  • ReVia is a take-home prescription, unlike Methadone
  • Any physician can prescribe unlike Methadone
  • Vivitrol injections are given by a doctor once a month
  • Fewer cravings
  • Prevent recurrence of use
  • Increases treatment time

Disadvantages of Naltrexone include:

  • Must be opioid-free for 14 days
  • Cannot use ANY opiates even if prescribed
  • If insurance doesn’t cover Vivitrol injections, they can cost $1500 apiece

What is Pharmacotherapy for Alcohol Use and Other Substance Use Disorders

Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol and other drugs can cause life-threatening seizures. Because alcohol is the most commonly misused substance, many individuals struggle with alcohol use disorder (AUD). However, any following anti-addiction medication can help you recover from various addictions. 

  • Acamprosate (Alcohol)
  • Baclofen (Alcohol)
  • Benzodiazepine (Alcohol, Benzodiazepines)
  • Bupropion (Smoking, Cocaine)
  • Calcium Carbamide (Alcohol)
  • Carbamazepine (Alcohol)
  • Dextroamphetamine (Methamphetamine)
  • Disulfiram (Alcohol, Cocaine)
  • Gabapentine (Alcohol, general SUD)
  • Methylphenidate (Methamphetamine, Cocaine)
  • Mirtazapine (Methamphetamine)
  • Modafinil (Cocaine)
  • Nalmefene (Alcohol)
  • Phenobarbital (Alcohol and Benzo withdrawal)
  • Propranolol (Alcohol, Cocaine)
  • Rivastigmine (Methamphetamine)
  • Tiagabine (Cocaine)
  • Topiramate (Alcohol, Cocaine)
  • Varenicline (Alcohol, Smoking)

Other Treatment Approaches to Benefit Pharmacotherapy

If you enter a pharmacotherapy program, you must also receive counseling. This is a requirement of the FDA. Therapies, such as behavioral therapies can help:

  • Build healthy life skills
  • Build healthy thoughts and beliefs
  • Successfully manage mental health disorders
  • Help build skills to prevent recurrence of use
  • Reinforce good behaviors

Whether you choose inpatient treatment or one of the outpatient programs, the same therapy programs are available. If you’re in one of many new treatments for heroin addiction, the therapies and benefits may include:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Benefits

  • Focuses on the present
  • Goal-oriented therapy
  • Building coping skills for cravings, stress, and triggers
  • Works in a group and individual therapy
  • Changing negative thoughts to positive ones

Contingency Management Benefits

  • Increases treatment retention rates 
  • Improves Recovery for Life
  • Can be used alone or in conjunction with other therapies

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy Benefits

  • Taking responsibility for behaviors and feelings
  • Identify and manage irrational thoughts
  • Cope with feelings without drugs and alcohol
  • Self-acceptance

Motivational Interviewing Benefits

  • Motivation to make personal changes
  • Increases participation in treatment
  • Prevents recurrence of use
  • Setting goals

Dialectical Behavior Therapy Benefits

  • Reduces self-harm and suicide attempts
  • Learning to regulate emotions
  • Changes negative behaviors that lead to addiction
  • Motivation to make positive changes

Are you ready for Recovery for Life?

Addiction is a chronic disease requiring a lifetime of treatment to maintain recovery. So, just completing opiate addiction rehabilitation is not enough to achieve Recovery for Life. In some new treatments for heroin addiction, you may continue in pharmacotherapy. 

But, the most common aftercare programs are Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). These groups are 12-step programs that offer support, encouragement, and advice for maintaining Recovery for Life.

Before leaving an opiate addiction rehabilitation center, you and your therapist will develop a relapse prevention plan. This plan will include therapies and groups to help you maintain recovery. If you follow this plan and modify it as needed with your therapist, you can retain Recovery for Life. Are you ready?

Help is Waiting at Sana Lake Behavioral Wellness Center

Whether seeking help for yourself or a loved one, our dedicated staff is waiting to answer your questions. Quit letting drugs and alcohol ruin your life. Contact us today and find out how you, too, can find recovery. 


Pharmacotherapy for Opiate Rehabilitation

If you’re wondering how to increase serotonin and dopamine without drugs, there are plenty of natural ways to do so. Before we dive into how to increase serotonin and dopamine naturally, let’s first learn more about what these two chemicals are.

What is Serotonin?

Learning how to increase serotonin begins with understanding what it is. Serotonin is a chemical communicator that carries signals from one part of the brain to another. Serotonin plays a major role in consciousness, attention, cognition, and emotion.

Serotonin is generally best-known as a neurotransmitter because it works as a messenger of information between neurons. However, it also doubles down as a hormone. Hormones are chemicals released into the bloodstream that send messages to various body parts, such as the immune system.

Serotonin mainly impacts:

  • Cognition: Studies have shown that high levels of serotonin increase cognitive abilities such as memory and learning speed.
  • Autonomic nervous system function: Serotonin can also increase autonomic nervous system function, as well as the fight-or-flight response.
  • Mood: Serotonin in the brain can also decrease levels of anxiety, stress and depression. This chemical works to regulate our emotions, and contribute to a positive state of well-being.

What is Dopamine?

Dopamine is another neurotransmitter that lives in the brain. Dopamine is often referred to as the “motivation molecule.” This neurotransmitter provides motivation and focus, and is directly associated with attention span, ability to follow-through, and experiencing pleasure.

If you’ve struggled with being able to feel good naturally, there are many ways to increase levels of dopamine without drugs.

A lack of dopamine is often linked to:

  • Apathy
  • Lack of focus
  • Forgetfulness
  • Moodiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Sugar cravings
  • Low levels of motivation

How to Increase Serotonin 

There are many natural ways to increase serotonin without drugs. Fortunately, not only do these methods help increase serotonin; they are also great habits to include in your life. Keep reading to learn more about how to increase serotonin without drugs.


The benefits of exercise have long been talked about and proven. Exercise increases the level of endorphins in your body which causes a natural mood boost. Evidence shows that muscle activation during exercise allows more tryptophan, which the body converts to serotonin, to cross the blood-brain barrier. 

Besides, exercise is a great way to strengthen the mind and character. The benefits are far more versatile than merely getting in shape or feeling better. Exercise can even help decrease levels of anxiety and depression. 

One of the best parts about exercise is that there are many different types of ways to get it. Not a fan of running? Try out Zumba classes or yoga. Do you want to start lifting but feel intimidated? Try out cross fit. 

In particular, martial arts can be an incredible way to increase levels of serotonin without drugs. Martial arts, including anything from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to kickboxing, serve as effective ways to increase confidence and discipline. You’ll find fulfillment in learning a new set of skills that makes you feel stronger and more confident than you’ve ever been. 


Nutrition is a major component of our overall well being. If you’re wondering how to increase serotonin, your diet is another great place to start. Foods that contain tryptophan could increase serotonin production in the body. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid. 

It can be found in foods such as:

  • Salmon
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Eggs
  • Spinach
  • Seeds
  • Milk
  • Nuts

There are also natural supplements that contain tryptophan, but we strictly advise speaking to a medical professional before purchasing any vitamins or supplements. Boosting your mood through diet and exercise are two fantastic, natural ways to increase serotonin without drugs. 


An hour-long meditation session can lead to roughly a 65% increase in dopamine levels according to one particular study. Meditation has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression while inducing an overall state of calm. 

Some people may feel intimidated by mediation, but we assure you that anyone can do it! You can even begin noticing the benefits of meditation with a simple five-minute daily practice.

Getting Zzzs

Increasing levels of dopamine without drugs can also be done with adequate sleep. Dopamine levels will naturally rise in the morning and fall in the evening when you fall asleep. 

Staying up late into the night and sleeping in can interrupt your body’s natural rhythm. If you have trouble sleeping, it may help to avoid any screen time an hour before you’d like to go to bed.

Turn Your Phone Off

You may have found yourself feeling oddly empty after scrolling through Instagram or binging a Netflix series. It’s not uncommon to feel low after spending time with your electronics. Research has recently shown that the electromagnetic radiation from your cell phone can interrupt and inhibit dopamine production.

You can increase levels of dopamine without drugs by spending less time on your phone. Instead, go for a brisk walk outside, pick up a book, or listen to some music!

Exposure to Natural Light

Sunlight has been shown to naturally increase levels of dopamine. Going for a light jog or brisk walk outside can help you boost your mood. A study was done on sunlight and dopamine production with 68 healthy individuals.

It was concluded that those with the most sunlight exposure had the highest density of dopamine receptors in both the reward and movement regions of their brains.

Naturally Increasing Levels of Serotonin and Dopamine with Mental Health Treatment Resources

Are you wondering how to increase your levels of dopamine and serotonin? Drug-free therapy may be just what you need! At our recovery center, we offer a plethora of mental health treatment resources such as cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy. 

But…Do I Need to Seek Help?

If you feel like your mental health is affecting your ability to function daily, it may be time to get help. It’s natural for mental health to vary through a person’s lifetime. After all, we’re all human and can find ourselves in challenging situations. 

However, when mental health begins to seriously interfere with your life, it’s time to take a step back and check-in with yourself.

Some tell-tale signs of mental health issues include:

  • Feeling sad or down
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Mood swings
  • Isolation from loved ones
  • Mental fatigue
  • Physical fatigue 
  • Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia, or hallucinations
  • Major changes in eating habits
  • Sex drive changes
  • Aggression
  • Irritability 
  • Suicidal thoughts

Mental Health Treatment at Sana Lake Recovery Center

Each person’s needs are unique. We consider this for each mental health treatment plan that we create. After a thorough evaluation, we’ll walk you through the best options based on your needs. This is a process that we do together – transparent all the way through.

Although treatment will vary, our core parts of treatment include:

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment, otherwise known as residential treatment, is the most intensive level of care that we offer. You’ll reside at our beautiful recovery center full-time with daily treatment and access to amenities. Daily treatment will include a combination of therapies and holistic treatment methods. Our inpatient recovery plans generally last anywhere from 28 to 90 days. 

It’s worth noting that cleanliness and sanitization is a top priority of ours. We take the health of our members very seriously, always, but especially during these times.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment is best suited for individuals with serious obligations outside of treatment, or individuals that require a lot of flexibility in treatment. Our members can expect to receive anywhere from one treatment session a week to five sessions if that’s what’s necessary. 

Rather than live at our recovery center, individuals will travel to us to receive treatment and then return home after. Outpatient programs are also used as a step-down form of treatment after completing residential treatment. Similarly to inpatient care, treatment will include a variety of therapies and top-of-the-line community care.

Feeling Blue? Sana Lake Offers the Highest Quality of Mental Health Treatment Resources 

Treatment plans at our recovery center are based on the combination of evidence-based therapies and methods. We offer many different therapies such as individual counseling and group therapy. We don’t believe in a “one size fits all” approach.

A handful of therapies that we offer, here at Sana Lake Recovery Center, include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – CBT uses different behavioral approaches to discuss thoughts and feelings. The goal of CBT is to replace negative thinking patterns with more positive and productive ways to think. In CBT, you’ll unravel any limiting beliefs that you may have.
  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT) – TF-CBT is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that helps individuals work through the effects of trauma. Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy uses a variety of methods to resolve trauma as a result of abuse, violence, grief, and many more traumatizing events. 
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) – DBT helps educate individuals on how to live in the present, form healthy coping mechanisms, stabilize emotions, and improve relationships with those around them.

Reach Out to Our Licensed Professionals Today for More Information

If you’re looking for mental health treatment resources or simply want to learn more about how to increase serotonin and dopamine levels without drugs, you’ve come to the right place. We’re here to answer all your questions. You can contact us at Sana Lake Behavioral Wellness Center. 


What Percentage of Alcoholics Recover?

Have you ever stopped to think about the reasons why people drink alcohol? Social reasons and enjoying the taste are a given, but there’s more to it than that. Alcohol is a substance that is so widely used, accepted, and accessible. 

The reasons why people drink are in relation to various psychological, biological, and environmental factors. While the act of drinking alcohol may be enjoyable for many, it also poses health risks, physically, mentally, and socially. 

Many people use alcohol to cope, but do not realize that it exacerbates the problems in their lives. If not careful excessive drinking patterns can quickly turn into dependency and addiction, which, unfortunately, is an extremely common occurrence. 

What is An Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)? 

Also known as problem drinking, an alcohol use disorder is a chronic brain disease characterized by excessive drinking or binge drinking. This means a person consumes large amounts of alcohol in a short amount of time. For men, it is 5 drinks or more, and for women, it is four or more. 

Today, the current 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders  (DSM-5) published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in May 2013, classifies alcohol dependence and misuse as the official prognosis of an alcohol use disorder (AUD). 

While alcoholism is a well-known term used to describe the disease of being addicted to alcohol, this is not considered as an official medical diagnosis. This is why it has been difficult for studies and researchers to determine the specific number of alcoholics that there are within the United States. 

To be officially diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder, individuals must meet specific criteria that are specifically outlined in the DSM-5. Any person who meets two out of the 11 qualifications within the same year, will receive an AUD diagnosis. 

Ranging from mild, moderate, and severe, the severity degree of one’s condition is determined by the number of criteria met, exhibited like so:

  • Mild: Two to three symptoms are present 
  • Moderate: Four to five symptoms are present 
  • Severe: Six or more symptoms are present

Based on the DSM-5’s assessment of alcohol misuse and dependence, the 11 symptoms of alcohol use disorder include the following: 

  1. Alcohol was consumed in large amounts over a long period of time, but not intentionally.
  2. There is a desire to cut down on drinking or to control one’s alcohol use despite unsuccessful attempts. 
  3. A majority of a person’s time is spent drinking alcohol, finding ways to get alcohol or recover from its effects such as a hangover. 
  4. Having cravings, urges, and a strong desire to use alcohol. 
  5. The chronic use of alcohol is affecting a person’s ability to function, and complete tasks at home, work, or school. 
  6. Despite the emergence of physical, mental, and social complications that have been caused and made worse by continuing to drink alcohol.
  7. Giving up on social, recreational, and occupational activities that you once loved doing due to alcohol use. 
  8. Drinking alcohol persists despite being in situations that are particularly hazardous to one’s health. 
  9. Continuing to drink despite being aware of the psychological and physical problems that it is causing. 
  10. Developing a tolerance to alcohol defined as becoming used to feeling the effects that alcohol produces by increasing the amount consumed to achieve the desired effect of euphoria and intoxication with each use. 
  11. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are present. Drinking alcohol or taking another related substance, such as benzodiazepines used to treat anxiety, is taken as an attempt to try and avoid or relieve these unpleasant manifestations. 

Prevalence of Alcohol Use Disorder 

Studies done on the prevalence of alcohol abuse have shown, that in 2018, more than 65 million Americans reported that they began to drink excessively within the last month or so, which equates to more than 40 percent of current alcohol users! 

Worldwide, AUD is an extremely prevalent mental health disorder, which is one of the leading causes of injuries, sickness, and deaths. However, in recent years, the rate of alcohol use disorders and binge drinking has increased tenfold within the United States. 

Those with alcohol use disorder exhibit compulsive behavior, lose control of their ability to consume alcohol in a normal manner, and experience anger and emotional instability when not using the substance.  

Alcohol Use Disorder is only under control when treated professionally by addiction specialists and medical professionals at a rehab facility. Although, unfortunately, only 20 percent of adults who misuse alcohol seek proper treatment or ask for help. 

Face the Facts: Alcoholism Statistics

An estimated 88,000 people (62,000 men and 26,000 women) end up dying every year from alcohol-related incidences, which could have been prevented. Aside from tobacco, poor diet, and lack of exercise, alcohol is third on the list for causing the most preventable deaths in the United States.     

More than 17 million adults in the United States suffer from alcohol dependency or an alcohol use disorder (AUD), which proves even more so, that alcohol is the most abused substance in the nation. In 2018, 14.4 million adults (5.8 percent) aged 18 and older, had an AUD. This equates to 9.2 million men and 5.3 million women. 

Is Alcohol Use More Prevalent Than Drug Use?

Yes, addiction to alcohol is more prevalent than drug use, as surveys have shown that about 20-50 percent of all admissions into a treatment facility is due to alcohol use disorders. These statistics prove that excessive alcohol consumption is dangerous and very much present. 

In addition to adults, adolescents can also be diagnosed with alcohol use disorder. Also in 2018, 400,000 

individuals aged 12-17 had an AUD. However, less than 10 percent of these adolescents received the treatment that they needed to recover. The proof is in the pudding, demonstrating that there is a gap where people need and want help, but for various reasons, they don’t receive it. 

However, when an alcoholic does receive the treatment they need, these individuals have a higher success rate of maintaining sobriety at least one year after treatment. This is compared to those who try and recover on their own, which is not recommended. 

Do Individuals Who Go To Treatment For Alcohol Stay in Recovery?

Yes, it was reported, that 40 percent of people who go to treatment versus 23 percent of people who attempted to self-detox have a higher probability of relapsing in the first 12 months. Therefore, that is why getting help can dramatically increase one’s chances of optimal recovery, and reduce the risk of relapse.

Alcohol is one of the most widely used and misused recreational drugs in the world. Over the last 10 years, binge drinking has become a primary concern amongst public health officials and policymakers. 

What Makes Alcohol Addictive? 

When someone drinks alcohol, the region of the brain called the nucleus accumbens, which makes up the reward center becomes overloaded, causing a person to experience the urge to keep repeating the rewarding behavior of drinking alcohol. As consumption continues over time, what began as just a drink has transformed into alcohol dependency, and then, quickly turns into an addiction. 

Research has proven that when someone drinks alcohol it completely changes the chemistry of the brain and how it functions. This plays a huge role in why people engage in addictive behaviors such as drinking alcohol. 

Drinking stimulates the brain’s central nervous system (CNS), causing the release of the neurotransmitters dopamine and other endorphins within the reward center of the brain. Dopamine and endorphins cause a person to experience feelings of happiness, pleasure,  and satisfaction. It feels like a natural painkiller that numbs the pain, but only temporarily. 

When someone develops an alcohol use disorder, although they may have had every intention of wanting to stop drinking, the powers of alcohol have already compromised one’s impulsivity, and ability to make rational thoughts and decisions. Thus, as a result, despite the physical, mental, and social consequences, a person continues to drink. 

It is important to note, that some people’s brains are more susceptible to dependency and addiction due to their brain releasing more neurotransmitters than normal. In addition, other aspects such as biological, environmental, and psychological can be risk factors for drinking as well.   

Risk Factors of Alcohol 

There is no formula to properly predict or analyze a person’s drinking habits, a multitude of data and habits have shown that alcohol abuse is influenced by risk biological,  environmental, and psychological risk factors. 

Biological Factors

Genetics play a huge role in alcohol addiction. When there is a family history of substance abuse, children especially are at major risk for developing alcoholism. It has been said, that scientists have revealed that alcohol dependency may be associated with up to 51 chromosomes. These genetics can be passed down through generations in the family, making relatives prone to developing mild to severe drinking problems.  

Environmental Factors

Where you live, go to school, work, etc all have a major impact on your behavior. Environmental factors play a huge role in why someone begins drinking alcohol as to why they can’t stop. Treatment facilities aim to remove people from their negative environments causing triggers of substance misuse and help them recover. 

Psychological Factors

Psychological risk factors that contribute to alcohol are probably the most important to evaluate. As everyone has different needs, how they cope with their feelings impacts behavioral traits, such as drinking.  Different psychological factors may increase the likelihood of heavy drinking. 

Psychological means mental, and for those who have a mental condition such as anxiety, stress, and depression, they are more susceptible to developing an alcohol use disorder. 

Some individuals are dealing with a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder, which means that they have addiction accompanied by mental illness, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD, etc. Unless both of these issues are managed professionally, these pre-existing or subsequent conditions make it difficult for a person to effectively recover. 

People use drinking as a means to cope and hide their feelings and relieve the symptoms of an existing mental disorder. Vice Versa, people who drink can develop a mental illness or have underlying signs that have been undiscovered. 

Drinking exacerbates whatever condition a person may be suffering from. Drinking also causes serious health conditions such as cirrhosis (liver disease). When a person is suffering from both, with an alcohol use disorder, it can be difficult to treat.

Social Factors

Social factors are a major contributor to how a person is influenced by alcohol. For example, culture, family, religion, etc. Addictive behaviors, in this case, drinking, is influenced by all of these components. However, the biggest risk factor in dangerous drinking patterns is family history. The likelihood of developing alcoholism for children who are exposed at a young age to alcohol use is extremely high. 

Why Is Recovering From Alcohol Addiction So Challenging?

Alcohol relapse is so common because of how accessible drinking is in society and how anything can trigger someone to crave or have the urge to use again. 

When a person drinks excessively, the brain’s chemistry becomes forever altered. The organ which also controls how the body functions, is no longer working properly itself. Therefore, it re-prioritizes what is most important. The things that were once meaningful such as relationships, hobbies, are overridden. Sadly, the brain reigns alcohol supreme, despite the consequences of physical and mental health, and survival itself.

Truth is, alcohol is a substance that is so widely used and accessible. When it turns into addiction, this disease is so powerful, that any type of environment or trigger, big or small can cause someone to relapse. 

For non-addicts, it may be confusing and incomprehensible as to why people with substance use disorders would recklessly risk their lives by using drugs and alcohol. Well, the brain is the main culprit. 

While relapse is common during the first year of recovery, people who have been sober for years can ruin it by returning to what they once knew made them feel good, resuming the self-destructive addictive behavior of drinking and taking drugs.  

Why Is Alcoholism Relapse So Common?

Feeling lonely is a big reason why people drink, and they often don’t have friends or family that they can talk to about how they are feeling. Before you know it, their cravings are triggered, other issues take over, and relapse occurs. Remember, addiction is a disease that cannot be cured, only treated. 

For example, one of the most prominent stories of addiction was one of the talented Academy Award-winning actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman. No matter the success, talent, and fame, it was no secret that Hoffman was struggling with addiction, especially with heroin. 

After getting sober for 23 years, Hoffman, unfortunately, relapsed in 2014 and lost his battle with the disease. He engaged in polysubstance abuse and was found dead in his apartment after overdosing on a combination of heroin, cocaine, amphetamine, and benzodiazepines.   

This proves the important fact, that relapse can commonly occur in a time when people are struggling emotionally and mentally. Many people use alcohol as a coping mechanism when isolation hits. 

Therefore, it is about finding ways to deal with these obstacles when they arise, and the only way to do so is through professional addiction treatment. 

Beating the Alcoholism Relapse Statistics

Statistical data has proven that the number of recovering alcoholics has greater success when they are committed to a comprehensive treatment plan, consisting of an inpatient or outpatient rehab program, as well as, a post-treatment plan such as relapse prevention therapy, aftercare or recovery housing.    

The success of these treatment programs is higher when they have been designed to fit the needs of the patient. To beat the increasing rate of alcoholism relapse, people need to understand how the cycle of addiction occurs first and foremost. 

The importance of staying committed to a network of support cannot be emphasized enough. Strategies for recovery will help reduce the risk of relapse. Especially, when provided with the necessary tools, education, and additional resources to make healthy lifestyle changes. Learning coping tools will also assist in helping individuals with their intense emotions and work through different situations and obstacles. Eventually, they will be able to handle triggers as they arise during and after recovery. 

Why Relapse Prevention is Beneficial 

A relapse prevention plan helps millions of people with alcohol use disorder and mental illness avoid the high risk of having a setback and returning to a life of unhealthy drinking habits. With treatment, the chances of relapse become more insurmountable. 

Several factors contribute to the significant lifestyle changes an individual learns to make in rehab. The long-term success and benefits of relapse prevention techniques are groundbreaking. These include: 

  • Provides a strong support system: Counselors, therapists, friends, and family provide the support that provides comfort and strength. 
  • Medication management: anti-craving medications help people fight their urges and cravings, stopping them from drinking alcohol. 
  • Personal motivation: One’s commitment to their recovery process is one of the most important factors for a successful outcome. Personal motivation techniques and strategies give individual’s the tools they need to have an alternative opposed to reaching for a drink. Addiction and relapse prevention specialists help get you accustomed to your newly found sober lifestyle. 
  • Teaches strategies and prevention techniques: Helps people avoid triggers and cope with negative thoughts, emotions, and make better decisions. 

Achieving Successful Long-Term Sobriety At Sana Lake BWC

This transition into sobriety takes time and can be extremely challenging! At Sana Lake Behavioral Wellness Center in Missouri, our team of experts in relapse prevention, addiction, and mental illness teach our patients to manage the chronic disease of alcohol use disorder. 

Our integrated treatment programs for people with alcohol use disorders gives them access to recovery tools and resources that aren’t available to those who don’t reach out to receive help. Individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy, along with other methods help people avoid relapsing to their unhealthy and addictive behaviors because we teach them the following:  

  • To improve their self-esteem, and how to have a stronger sense of worth and purpose
  • To understand the destructive and deadly nature of alcoholism and addiction itself
  • To understand how an alcohol use disorder impacts one’s health, physically and emotionally
  • Coping and life skills for reducing the chance of relapse
  • Repair relationships with friends and family
  • Gain an awareness of how recovery will enhance your life in every aspect (mentally, physically, socially, and emotionally)

If you or someone you know is suffering from an alcohol use disorder, there is help out there and you are not alone. Contact us today to overcome the cycle of addiction and get your life back on track!


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