What is Benzo Belly?
When people have been taking benzodiazepines for several weeks, they experience “benzo belly” during the withdrawal process. Benzo belly encompasses uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms, and it can cause users to return to their benzodiazepine use. Although benzo belly is a real condition that people experience, you don’t have to live with it. Just by entering into a treatment facility, you can go through the detox process without having to experience gastrointestinal discomfort.
What Are Benzodiazepines?
Physicians prescribe benzodiazepines to treat insomnia, anxiety and seizures. These medications increase the effect that the neurotransmitter known as “gamma-aminobutyric acid” or GABA has on the brain. For example, when the patient is experiencing anxiety, the brain is being overstimulated. Benzodiazepines cause the brain to send signals that reduce this increased brain activity. When this occurs, the patient doesn’t feel as anxious.
The several types of benzodiazepines include the following:
- Ativan or lorazepam
- Valium or diazepam
- Klonopin or clonazepam
- Xanax or alprazolam
Classification Under Schedule IV of the Schedules for Controlled Substances Act
The Drug Enforcement Administration classified benzodiazepines under Schedule IV of the Schedules for Controlled Substances Act. This means that benzodiazepines have a low potential for abuse as compared to the substances classified under Schedule III; they also have a low risk of causing dependence. Schedule III substances may cause the user to experience a low to moderate risk of physical or psychological dependence.
Although benzodiazepines are classified under Schedule IV, people believe that this is an error. In fact, research exists that demonstrates that people can become physically dependent upon benzodiazepines in just a couple of weeks. This is the case even if the patient takes these drugs at low doses.
In general, addictive drugs cause the brain to release large amounts of dopamine. When the person stops taking these addictive substances, the brain doesn’t receive as much dopamine. This is the reason that withdrawal symptoms begin. Benzodiazepine withdrawal begins the same way.
What Is Benzo Belly?
When people take benzodiazepines for longer than two weeks, they are at risk of becoming addicted or dependent on the medication. As this occurs, their bodies become accustomed to the drugs being in their systems. Their bodies prevent users from stopping the use of benzodiazepines by sending out withdrawal symptoms and causing benzo belly.
The symptoms of benzo belly include the following:
- Abdominal pain
- Differences in appetite
Gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA is a neurotransmitter in the brain. It works within the central nervous system to block signals so that the brain’s activity can slow down. The result is that it helps the person sleep better, reduces stress and relieves anxiety. Increased GABA production also prevents brain damage.
Benzodiazepines increase GABA activity, and the body enjoys this increase. If you stop taking these medications, it takes some time for the body to become accustomed to the reduced GABA activity. Because the brain and the gastrointestinal tract are connected in this way, it causes abdominal symptoms when people withdraw from benzodiazepine use.
How Long Do Benzo Withdrawals Last?
How long benzo withdrawals last will depend on the person. Specifically, it will depend on the following factors:
- Whether or not you were misusing alcohol or other medications
- Whether or not you were engaged in polydrug use
- Whether or not you have an underlying mental health condition
- Whether or not you were taking benzodiazepines without a prescription from a physician
- Whether or not you were misusing your prescription
- The amount you were taking
- How long you were taking the medication
If you have become accustomed to taking benzodiazepines, you will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms approximately 24 hours after your last dose. These symptoms can last several weeks.
How Long Do Benzo Withdrawals Last?
Benzo belly withdrawals last in three different phases.
Immediate withdrawal symptoms begin right after the person stops taking benzodiazepines. For example, Xanax has a short half-life, so withdrawal symptoms begin rather quickly. On the other hand, Valium is a long-acting drug, so the symptoms take a little longer to develop. These are known as “rebound symptoms.”
Another thing that may rebound is the symptom that the medication was prescribed to treat. After stopping the use of benzodiazepines, the person experiences the symptoms of anxiety again. It may even be worse at this point.
Acute withdrawal symptoms start a couple of days after the immediate withdrawal symptoms. In general, these symptoms last between five and 28 days. It isn’t unusual for these symptoms to last for several months. The majority of the benzo belly withdrawal symptoms occur during this phase. This is the time when benzo withdrawal symptoms need to be treated the most.
During this phase, people experience benzo withdrawal symptoms that tend to linger. Only about 10% to 25% of the people taking benzodiazepines for long periods of time continue to experience symptoms during the protracted phase. The symptoms may last as long as a year when this occurs or longer.
During the protracted withdrawal stage, additional symptoms may develop. These are known as “post-acute withdrawal symptoms,” and they include the following:
- Mood swings
- Low libido
- The inability to concentrate
During the protracted phase, people can experience the symptoms listed above as well as physical pain that may be mild but could also be severe. It is highly important to have benzo withdrawal pain relief because benzo withdrawal symptoms cause people to return to their use of benzodiazepines. The solution is to go through the medical detox process.
What Is Medical Detox?
Medical detox is a program that allows the body to relieve itself of the presence of benzodiazepines. This process is advantageous because the medical staff at treatment centers manage the withdrawal symptoms and provide benzo belly relief. This prevents patients from having to experience the withdrawal symptoms that can be so unpleasant.
During medical detox, the medical staff administers medications that cause you to tolerate the withdrawal symptoms as comfortably as possible. If you were to stop taking benzodiazepines on your own, you wouldn’t be able to cause benzo withdrawal pain relief, and you would feel compelled to return to your use of drugs.
Continued Treatment in a Treatment Facility
The medical detox process is not treatment for your addiction to benzodiazepines. Treatment for a substance use disorder requires that you obtain therapy in a treatment center. At Sana Lake Behavioral Wellness Center, you may receive several types of therapy that address the reasons for your substance use. These include cognitive-behavioral therapy, family therapy, group therapy, individual therapy, and peer support.
Are There More Natural or Holistic Options?
There are holistic options for benzo belly relief.
Yoga is an example of this. People endorse yoga as a practice that relieves the chronic pain of benzo belly. It makes people feel healthier overall and decreases their cravings. Yoga also heals people after they have been taking benzodiazepines. They notice that yoga reduces their anxiety, decreases their pain, helps them sleep better, and improves their physical health.
Making an effort to make the most nutritious food choices increases your chances of relieving benzo belly withdrawal symptoms. If you begin to make healthier choices before you begin the withdrawal process, it may even eliminate the need of experiencing benzo belly.
For example, probiotics are yeasts and live bacteria that your digestive system needs. Even though they are bacteria, they are very good for your digestive tract. They are the reason that your digestive tract can be healthy. By taking supplements or eating foods that contain them, your digestive tract will maintain a full supply of this “good” bacteria.
Avoid Acidic Foods.
Acidic foods create a harsh environment in your stomach. You can avoid this by eating less of these foods. Acidic foods are proteins, carbonated beverages, starchy foods, processed meats, fish and other seafoods, and dairy products.
Eat Lighter Meals.
Heavy foods will have high levels of protein. Protein is an element that causes you to feel the most full. Heavy foods also have a large amount of fiber. Fiber adds bulk to the food and slows down the digestive process. Heavy foods also have a lot of air or water in them. Foods that contain a lot of water and fiber are also very heavy. You will want to eat less of these foods.
Eat Smaller Meals.
Eating many large meals each day is not the reason that you are experiencing abdominal discomfort. However, it is a good idea not to make your digestive tract work too hard.
Relieve Benzo Belly with Lifestyle Changes
Benzo belly responds well when you implement lifestyle changes. If you are not currently exercising, it would be a good idea to start. While you are detoxing from benzodiazepines, your brain chemicals are out of balance. Exercise will help bring the balance back to your brain chemistry, but it will also help your gastrointestinal tract work efficiently again and relieve your benzo belly.
Psychiatry at Sana Lake Behavioral Wellness Center
At Sana Lake Behavioral Wellness Center, we offer our members psychiatric services. Psychiatry is the branch of medicine that diagnoses and treats behavioral, emotional and mental disorders. If you were taking benzodiazepines to treat anxiety or another mental health condition, you will need to obtain therapy while you are receiving treatment for your substance use disorder. Your psychiatrist will treat your anxiety disorder, and your therapist will treat your benzodiazepine use disorder.
Contact us today at Sana Lake Behavioral Wellness Center so that we can move you toward your new life without drugs.
The Myths About Alcoholism
Today we know more about alcohol and its effects than in the past. Still, alcohol myths and myths about alcoholism exist. As a result of these misconceptions, people may make unhealthy drinking choices. Learn the facts vs. myths about alcohol and alcoholism to lower your risk of developing alcohol use disorder.
Myths About Alcoholism #1: I Only Drink on the Weekends
“I don’t have a drinking problem because I choose when I drink.” Some people have some self-control over their drinking. They may only drink at certain times of the day while not drinking on others.
For the most part, this “controlled” drinking only fools themselves and their loved ones to believe they are not struggling with alcoholism. However, when a person works so hard to show they have control, it typically is an obvious sign of alcohol use disorder (AUD.)
Alcohol Myths #2: I Can Hold My Liquor, So I Don’t Have a Problem
Many drinkers brag about being able to have a few drinks and not feel it. But that is not a good sign. In fact, if you need to drink more to feel the effects of alcohol, it is a sign of a bigger problem.
People who drink alcohol on a regular basis typically build a tolerance. When this happens, it will require more alcohol to start feeling the “buzz” from drinking. Seeking help at this early stage can stop further serious health issues.
Myths About Alcoholism #3: I Only Drink Beer and Wine, So I Don’t Have a Problem
Having a drinking problem isn’t about what you drink; it’s about how it affects your life. You may be struggling with alcohol use disorder if you can answer “yes” to any two of the following statements.
- I often drink more and for longer than I planned to.
- I have tried to cut down my drinking, but I can’t.
- Many of my days are filled with drinking, being sick from drinking, and recuperating from drinking.
- Often my thoughts are consumed by drinking, and I can’t think about anything else.
- My drinking often prevents me from handling my responsibilities at home and work.
- I continue drinking, although it is causing trouble in my family.
- I stopped participating in hobbies and activities that I love. Instead, I use the time to drink.
- My drinking leads to risky behaviors such as driving under the influence or having unsafe sex.
- My drinking is causing anxiety, depression, and other health issues but, I can’t stop.
- I am drinking more than I use to to get a “buzz.”
- If I don’t drink, I have withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, nausea, and sweating. Withdrawal symptoms also include hallucinations and seizures.
Alcohol Myths #4: I Am Too Old To Have A Drinking Problem
One myth about alcoholism is drinking problems begin at an early age. But, it is common for people to develop alcohol use disorder later in life. To start with, some people may become more sensitive to alcohol. At the same time, some people don’t start drinking till they are older.
If you are over 65, what is a healthy drinking range? It is recommended that over 65 not drink more than 3 drinks a day or 7 drinks a week. A standard drink is:
- 12 fluid ounces of beer
- 5 fluid ounces of wine
- 1 ½ ounce of liquor
Myths About Alcoholism #5: Drinking Helps My Chronic Pain
People with chronic pain will try anything to help with the pain. Frequently, they turn to alcohol because it is considered safe compared to illicit drugs. However, there are several reasons why this is an unhealthy choice.
- Pain-relieving drugs and alcohol do not mix. If you drink while taking pain killers, it can increase your risk of stomach bleeding, liver issues, and various other health complications.
- Your risk of alcohol use disorder is increased when you combine alcohol and pain medication.
- Chronic alcohol use can actually worsen the pain. In addition, alcohol withdrawal can make you more sensitive to pain. At the same time, chronic heavy drinking can lead to permanent nerve damage.
Alcohol Myths #6: Coffee Will Sober Me Up If I’m Drunk
One of the most common myths about alcoholism drinking coffee or eating food will sober you up. Unfortunately, time is the only thing that works. Although the caffeine in coffee may make you feel awake, it doesn’t improve decision-making skills. In fact, alcohol can impair your decision-making skills for several hours.
Myths About Alcoholism #7: I Can Spot A Drinker By their Appearance
You know the expression, you can’t judge a book by its cover, that is also true in alcoholism. People who struggle with alcohol use disorder come in every shape, size, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background. Some people may be even highly functional and can hide their disorder.
According to a Gallop poll, alcohol use is the highest in well-educated, high-income earning individuals. For example, 80 percent of college graduates and 78 percent of those making over $75,000 a year report drinking alcohol.
Alcohol Myths #8: It Only Hurts The One Who Drinks
The most untrue myth about alcohol is, it isn’t hurting anyone. Many drinkers believe they are only hurting themselves. But, alcohol use disorder causes behavioral changes in drinkers. These changes can make you act differently around your friends and family.
Alcohol use disorder sometimes makes you irritable, angry, and violent. These outbursts can scare your loved ones. At the same time, it can tear even the strongest relationships apart. And, children may become uncomfortable in their own homes.
Alcohol Myths and Myths About Alcoholism vs. Facts About Alcohol
Myth: Alcohol is a sedative.
Fact: In small quantities, alcohol can act as a stimulant. In larger amounts, alcohol can be a depressant.
Myth: Alcohol affects everyone the same.
Fact: Alcohol, like all other substances we put in our bodies, affects each person differently.
Myth: Everyone who drinks alcohol will develop an addiction.
Fact: Most people can have a drink daily, and some can binge drink without developing alcohol use disorder.
Myth: People who drink responsibly do not struggle with alcohol use disorder.
Fact: Many people drink responsibly for years and then develop alcohol use disorder for a variety of reasons.
Myth: Some people with alcohol use disorder can still drink responsibly.
Fact: Even after years in recovery, people who have alcohol use disorder can never return to drinking. Any amount of alcohol can trigger old habits and feelings, leading to recurrence of use.
Myths About Alcoholism and the Dangers Of Stereotyping Drinkers
Common stereotypes of people with alcohol use disorder include:
- They don’t have much money.
- Often drinks cheap alcohol out of a brown bag.
- Unemployed and unemployable
- Estranged from their families
- Physically and verbally abusive
- Drinks every day
- Drinks as soon as they wake up
- Has frequent blackouts
- Their life is a mess
- Poor hygiene, unkempt appearance
- They like drinking alone
Although some myths about alcoholism are true of some drinkers, most drinkers do not match any of the alcohol myths. In reality, many people with alcohol use disorder are described as:
- Financially stable with nice belongings
- Only drinks top-shelf alcohol
- Highly respected in their successful careers
- Extremely loved by their families
- Is never aggressive when they drink
- Can stop drinking for days
- Doesn’t drink in the mornings
- Never blackouts
- Highly respected in the community
- Always well-groomed
- Generally drinks with others
Facts to Debunk Alcohol Myths
- Alcohol is a depressant. As a result, it slows down brain activity.
- A 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 86.4 percent of adults drank alcohol in their life.
- Also, the NSDUH found that 70.1 percent drank the previous year. At the same time, 56 percent drank last month.
- Alcohol triggers dopamine releases. This chemical is associated with pleasure and reward.
- Alcohol tends to relieve stress because it increases the neurotransmitter GABA.
- Alcohol is the most commonly misused substance.
- Alcohol is processed in the liver.
- Men typically use alcohol more often than women.
- Women are more likely to encounter health complications from drinking than men.
- Teens who begin drinking before the age of 15 typically develop alcohol use disorder later.
- Alcohol withdrawal can cause symptoms of seizures, hallucinations, and even death.
- The use of alcohol is a significant risk of dementia.
Defy the Myths About Alcoholism by Overcoming Alcohol Use Disorder Today
Maybe you grew up believing these alcohol myths. Did you start drinking in high school because the myths about alcoholism made you think it was harmless? Are you struggling with alcohol use disorder but afraid to seek treatment because you don’t match the stereotype? You are not alone. Help is available today.
At Sana Lake Behavioral Wellness Center, our compassionate staff understands the many struggles of addiction and recovery. So, if you or a loved one struggles with alcohol use disorder, now is the time to seek help. Contact us today and find out how you to can live a life free from addiction.
How Personal Injuries Can Lead to Addiction and Trigger Relapses
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, about 31 million Americans every year suffer personal injuries requiring medical treatment. Treatment typically includes prescription medications such as opioids. Unfortunately, these drugs can cause a person to become dependant and develop an addiction. But for those in recovery, the pain from personal injuries can result in addiction relapse.
The opioid epidemic caused by people trying to manage pain is causing devastating consequences. As a result of opioids, 128 people a day had a fatal overdose in 2018. Opioids include morphine, codeine, Vicodin, OxyContin, and Fentanyl.
What are Opioids for Personal Injuries?
Prescribed to treat severe or chronic pain from personal injuries, opioids are synthetic painkillers. After personal injuries, people are often prescribed oxycodone or Vicodin. However, opioids are highly addictive, have a high fatal overdose rate, and lead to addiction relapse.
As more people are prescribed opioids for personal injuries, more people understand the risks of addiction. Stopping their pain medication isn’t a problem for some people. However, others may become dependant, while those in recovery may experience addiction relapse.
With the cost of prescription painkillers, lack of health insurance, and strict laws on painkillers, people often turn to other drugs, specifically heroin. Heroin can be easily accessible at a lower cost than prescribed drugs. But, heroin may be laced with fentanyl which increases the risk of fatal overdose.
How the Epidemic Began
In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies started pushing synthetic and semi-synthetic opioids to doctors. The companies assured everyone the drugs were less addictive or non-addictive in comparison to morphine. In addition, they stated opioids had no dangerous side effects.
As a result, doctors began pushing opioids on all their patients with pain. However, it was quickly realized people were becoming addicted to the drug. The result of this big push of opioids is still being dealt with now.
Three Opioid Overdose Death Waves
According to the CDC, in 2018, deaths from opioid overdose totaled 67,367. That was nearly 70 percent of overdose deaths from all drugs. Between 1999 and 2018, about 450,000 died from prescription and illicit opioids.
Three waves distinctly show the rise in opioid deaths. These waves are:
- The first wave began in the 90s. And, in the late 90s, deaths involving prescription opioids began increasing.
- In 2010 we saw the next rapid increase in deaths. In this case, heroin, an illicit opioid, was to blame.
- The third wave in 2013 began with a significant increase in opioid deaths. Specifically, illicit fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is the cause of this rise.
How Do Personal Injuries Lead to Addiction and Addiction Relapse
Although opioids have a high risk of dependence and addiction, doctors still prescribe them regularly after personal injuries. Opioids offer significant benefits in treating pain from personal injuries. For instance, people who need to return to work quickly can manage the pain, which allows them to work.
However, an addiction to opioids can develop quickly. The body becomes dependent on the drug to function. And without opioids, the pain can be even more unbearable. For this reason, people continue using opioids even after the doctor says to stop.
Can Someone in Recovery Take Pain Medicine for Personal Injuries?
Many people believe that there is a strict no medication for life policy once in recovery to prevent addiction relapse. But, that means even after painful personal injuries, you can not have pain medications. Does that make sense?
It isn’t reasonable to expect individuals to recover from pain after personal injuries and not receive pain medication. But, there are steps a person can take to prevent addiction relapse and still get pain relief after personal injuries.
It is also crucial to understand if you were administered pain medication by a paramedic or in the emergency room, your recovery is still intact. You did not knowingly or deliberately take medicine. Nor did you take it with the intent to get high.
Develop a Plan In Case of Personal Injuries to Prevent Addiction Relapse
Individuals in recovery can be hurt on the job, injured in car accidents, and encounter other personal injuries. Sometimes personal injuries require medications to manage pain. For those in recovery, this can be worrisome as they fear addiction relapse. However, by observing the following steps, you can prevent addiction relapse.
- Tell your doctor about being in recovery. Your doctor will not judge you. And with this information, they can further provide the best possible care.
- Ask your doctor about reasonable pain levels during healing. This information can help you decide if you need more medication or if there are further complications.
- Take only what the doctor prescribes. Do not add over-the-counter medications or herbal medications without asking your doctor. They can intensify the effects of the pain medication.
- Put a friend or loved one in charge of the medication. Putting someone else in charge of dispensing your pain medication can prevent the temptation of taking more than prescribed. The medicine should also be inaccessible between doses.
- Stop taking the pain medication as soon as possible. Once the pain from personal injuries is manageable, it’s crucial to switch to a non-opioid medication. However, always check with your doctor before stopping any medication. Opioids, for example, may require a taper-down program.
Are There Alternatives to Opioids for Personal Injuries?
Although most people think opioids are the only way to control pain after personal injuries, there are alternatives to pain medications. For example, non-opioid medications, physical therapy, holistic therapies, and counseling can also manage pain. People in recovery often feel safer choosing an alternative treatment to prevent addiction relapse.
Non-Opioid Drugs to Prevent Addiction Relapse
Talking to your doctor about your recovery is crucial because there are non-opioid drugs to manage pain from personal injuries. These drugs can be beneficial for those who worry about addiction and addiction relapse.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), and ketorolac (Toradol)
- Glucocorticoid steroids
- Beta-blockers including labetalol and esmolol
- Antidepressants such as amitriptyline, duloxetine, and nortriptyline
- Anticonvulsants such as gabapentin and pregabalin.
Although some of these drugs are better than others and have their own risks, they can be useful for pain from personal injuries.
When managing pain from personal injuries, many in recovery turn to holistic therapies. The connection and understanding of the mind, body, and spirit are very beneficial in pain management without risking addiction relapse.
Meditation has profound effects on pain levels from personal injuries. To begin with, meditation does not take away the pain. But, it does transform your relationship with pain which brings some relief.
Yoga incorporates breath control, physical poses, relaxation, and meditation. The goal of yoga is to develop harmony within the body. The endless benefits of yoga include alleviating pain and distress.
Reiki and Therapeutic Touch
Reiki and other forms of therapeutic touch activate self-healing processes. Reiki, for example, is centered around healing through touch and energy-based techniques. Decreasing anxiety and pain are benefits of significant benefits of Reiki.
Acupuncture is an ancient practice that relieves pain and reduces stress. Through nerve stimulation, the brain and spinal cord receive signals to release endorphins while sending fewer pain signals. As a result, acupuncture reduces pain from personal injuries without risking addiction relapse.
Chiropractic care targets the pain of personal injuries without the risk of addiction relapse. It is also a proven chronic pain management method. Besides relieving pain from personal injuries, chiropractic care increases blood flow and overall wellbeing.
Some personal injuries can lead to multiple health and pain issues. Aqua therapy is specifically helpful for those with neuromuscular and musculoskeletal disorders. By addressing balance, posture, and strength issues, aqua therapy reduces pain and inflammation without the risk of addiction relapse.
A well-balanced eating habit is beneficial in combating pain and healing the body after personal injuries. Furthermore, a poor diet can weaken the body due to deficiencies in vitamins and minerals. By boosting specific nutrients in the body, it decreases inflammation and pain.
Managing Chronic Pain from Personal Injuries While in Addiction Treatment
People who develop an opioid addiction while treating chronic pain can be afraid to stop using the drug. But, it’s important to know there are options to prevent severe pain and discomfort. For example, opioid antagonist medication such as methadone and buprenorphine control withdrawal symptoms, cravings and manage pain on your recovery journey.
Seeking Help When Personal Injuries Lead to Addiction or Addiction Relapse
Personal injuries alone can take a mental toll, but adding an addiction to pain medication can leave a person feeling helpless. Furthermore, people in recovery often experience addiction relapse after taking opioids for personal injuries. Recovering from opioid use disorder can be very challenging, but you are not alone at Sana Lake BWC. Contact us today to find out more about our comprehensive addiction treatment programs.
13 Major Benefits of Staying Clean and Sober
The early stages of recovery can sometimes be a bit shaky. Without the proper early recovery skills, a person may begin to question why they should stay sober. The truth is, there are so many amazing benefits and reasons for staying clean and sober. It can be easy for a person to get trapped in their own head and thoughts, so it’s important to be reminded of what’s important.
Staying clean and sober is not easy but there are many reasons why it’s worth it in the end. Addiction brings pain, expenses, stress, and other negative problems into a person’s life. That is enough reason to stay clean. But there is much more to the bigger picture when it comes to staying in recovery. Let’s take a look at a few reasons why a person should remain focused on their long-term recovery plan.
1. Addiction is Costly
While it may not cross the minds of those who use drugs initially, an addiction can end up being costly. The drugs themselves can cost a lot of money and using them frequently can end up costing too much. This also doesn’t include financial struggles and even legal fines that may arise from drug use. Staying clean and sober can save a person a lot of money; money that can be spent on other more productive and healthier things/hobbies.
2. Lots of Work and Time Went into Getting Treatment
Getting comprehensive treatment for addiction can be a long and grueling process. While it may have its ups and downs, finishing treatment is a big accomplishment with many rewards. A person needs to recognize how much willpower, time, and effort it took to overcome an addiction. This is especially true when learning coping skills for substance use disorder recovery. These early recovery skills and all that treatment time/effort should not be wasted. A person should stick with the journey of staying clean and sober for years to come.
3. A Chance to Be a Role Model for Someone Else
Staying clean and sober is a great accomplishment and it can also be an inspiring one. Relatives, friends, or people you’ve never met can look up to you. A person can set an inspiring example for those still struggling with addiction or any of life’s problems in general. Being a role model can be fulfilling and can help a person’s confidence and overall well being. Staying clean and sober can end up having rippling effects for everyone around a person.
4. Recovery Allows You to Live Your Best Life
Living a sober lifestyle is much healthier and happier than living a life of addiction and substance abuse. Getting rid of addiction is necessary to live your best life. Staying clean and sober allows a person to reach their goals without being confined to a constant urge to use drugs. Creating a productive life with healthy habits and hobbies is much more fulfilling than one of drugs and dependency.
5. Helps A Person Stay Out of Trouble
Unfortunately, there is a connection between drug addiction and criminal activity. Not to mention, some of the most addictive drugs are considered illegal across the nation. A person is not themselves when under the influence of drugs and they can end up doing things they regret. Many people end up being jailed, fined, or worse. Staying clean and sober eliminates this chance. The coping skills learned in treatment help you stay away from legal, financial, and social trouble.
6. Helps a Person Avoid Addiction-related Physical/Health Problems
It comes as no surprise that drug addiction can have very negative effects on a person’s body. Disease, fatigue, depression, and other physical issues can be hard to deal with during addiction. Addiction can also change how a person thinks and feels as time goes on. Luckily, once a person’s addiction is taken out of the equation they no longer have to worry about the side effects of drugs or alcohol. This means a healthier and better life overall.
7. Helps a Person Be Productive in Society
While this reason may seem small, a person’s choice to stay sober can help society in the long-run. Being addicted to drugs can end up hurting society as time goes on. Not only can a person be productive but they can end up contributing in ways they wouldn’t have under drugs. This is why a person needs to use their early recovery skills to stay sober and clean – for the sake of society and their wellbeing.
8. Allows a Person to Keep Their Job
Staying clean and sober lets a person keep or maintain their job. Unfortunately, those who misuse substances frequently can end up missing work and being terminated for poor performance. Using drugs and turning to old habits can impede a person’s work and performance (in all aspects of their life). When a person is free of addiction they can provide for themselves and their family through employment. Jobs can be productive, fulfilling, and can keep a person productive.
9. Your Children and Loved Ones Need You
Sometimes those who use drugs have kids or families to take care of. When under the influence a person is unable to provide love, support, and care for their loved ones. Children can also be negatively affected by a person’s drug use – they may pick up the habit themselves or miss parental guidance.
Staying clean and sober allows a person to be there for their children and loved ones as well. Running into old habits affects not only the person but everyone around them as well. This is why coping skills for substance abuse recovery are taught during the treatment journey.
10. Avoid Ending up In a Worse Situation
Addiction and substance use disorder cases can end up ending badly for a person. There are many negative and even life-threatening results.
A person could get severely injured, they may develop a disease or can end up losing their life if the abuse is left untreated. Relapsing in particular can end up causing many negative consequences. This is why staying clean and sober means avoiding those outcomes altogether. Using coping skills for substance addiction can end up saving a person’s life without them even knowing it.
11. Opens the Door for Hobbies and New Interests
Part of addiction recovery is finding healthy ways to cope with urges and emotions. One of the most common early recovery skills is finding a hobby or interest. Gaining new interests and hobbies can be fulfilling and a great outlet for release. Reading a book, playing the guitar, joining a book club, writing in a journal, drawing, singing, and joining a club are all good options for picking up hobbies.
12. Life in Recovery is More Peaceful
Addiction and drug use disorder can end up causing many problems for a person’s life and can end up being a painful and chaotic situation. Staying relaxed is one of the great benefits of staying clean and sober.
It’s extremely difficult to live a peaceful life without being free of substance use disorder. Without removing substance use disorder, there will always be the constant battle to find drugs or alcohol. There will also be the constant need to find ways to afford this lifestyle.
This is a chaotic existence and a destructive cycle. There is little peace, if at all. By removing addiction, a person has the opportunity for more calm and peace.
13. More Respected
People will inevitably respect people that aren’t under the influence of drugs or substances. Staying clean and sober means that a person can live their very best life.
Respect also comes in the form of strictly staying on track after treatment. Using the taught coping skills is the respectable thing to do after all that hard work and effort to get clean. Plus, many new doors and journeys can open with a more clear and focused mind.
Early Recovery Skills to Keep in Mind
For all the amazing reasons there are to staying clean and sober there are skills that are needed to keep it that way. Let’s take a refresher on healthy ways a person can stay sober and clean:
- Avoiding high-risk situations
- Avoid triggers (people, places, etc.)
- Learning to relax (meditation, breathing exercises, etc.)
- Talk openly to a loved one, close family member, or professional
- Keep a journal and gratitude list
- Exercise and eat healthy
- Practice honesty and integrity
- Create a supportive network of friends/peers
- Pick up hobbies and new interests
These can help a person stay on track to a better life. Life can be something truly special without substance use disorder complications. If you or a loved one is dealing with an addiction, it may be time to reach out for help.
Take the First Step at Sana Lake BWC
Sana Lake is ready to help you or a loved one take the first steps towards recovery. Staying clean and sober is necessary for a better life. Our passionate and trained team is ready to help you overcome addiction. Don’t wait, give us a call today to learn more about our treatment options and resources.
How Does Substance Use Disorder Affect the Family
A common lie in substance use disorder is, “I’m not hurting anyone but myself.” And, in the beginning, it may be true. However, it is quickly apparent how substance abuse affects the family.
The drugs or alcohol keep replaying this lie in your head. As a result, you continue using it while ignoring the small effects it has on your family. As your tolerance builds, you will need more to achieve the same results.
To obtain more drugs, you may do things you swore you never would. To begin with, drugs tell you that you can’t live without them. As a result, you do things uncharacteristic. And how substance abuse affects the family becomes obvious.
Substance Use Disorder is A Family Disease
Substance use disorder takes over your life, and you live to feed your addiction. However, you typically remain oblivious and out of touch with reality. For this reason, substance use disorder is a brain disorder.
You may believe you are in control, but your addiction is. It controls how and what you think, how you behave and controls those around you above all. How substance abuse affects the family is the reason it is also a family disease.
Although your family may understand it is the disease talking, it causes a lot of stress on your family. Even through the pain, they want to support, encourage, and love you. But, your lies and manipulation and how substance abuse affects the family cause nothing but pain. The biggest issue with how substance abuse affects the family is the unhealthy roles family members take on.
Family Roles in Substance Use Disorder
You may not notice how substance abuse affects the family, but the dynamics start changing within the home. In order to keep balance within the family, members take on dysfunctional and unhealthy roles. Understanding each role gives insight into how substance abuse affects the family.
The Substance User
The person struggling with drugs or alcohol has the central role in the family. The user’s life revolves around drugs and alcohol. As a result, they lie, manipulate, and hurt their family members.
Users typically blame everyone else for their problems. They also often isolate themselves from their families. Because many users don’t see how substance abuse affects the family, it causes anger and resentment.
Generally, the enabler is a spouse or partner. But in single-parent homes, the enabler may be the oldest child or the child closest to the parent. Enablers often provide money to the user to buy drugs. Other common behaviors of the enabler include:
- Clean the house
- Pay the bills
- Care for the children
- Making excuses for the user
- Denying the behavior
- Sacrificing self-care
The enabler may act this way to cover-up their feelings of hurt, anger, and betrayal from their loved one’s addiction.
The oldest child is typically the hero. They are hardworking overachievers who typically receive all A’s in school. This behavior is to disguise the stress, anxiety, guilt, and inadequacy they are feeling. The hero needs to take on more responsibility to portray a sense of normalcy in the family. As a result, the hero generally struggles with high anxiety.
The scapegoat is generally the rebellious child. They act out and misbehave as a distraction from the trouble at home. Scapegoats are often blamed for all the family’s problems. As a result, they resent the user for how substance abuse affects the family.
As a scapegoat gets older, they may have trouble with the law. Furthermore, women may engage in high-risk sexual behaviors. While men often become abusive toward their own families.
The comedian or “class clown” is the mascot in the family. They provide a laugh when the stress of addiction becomes overwhelming. To cope with how substance abuse affects the family, the mascot typically sacrifices their own needs. As family mascots grow older, they often self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to cope with addiction trauma.
The Lost Child
Typically the middle or youngest child, the lost child, has trouble interacting with others. Because of their underdeveloped social skills, they tend to spend most of their time alone. They cope with how substance abuse affects the family by using their imagination to escape reality. As the lost child ages, they may struggle to form relationships and make important life decisions.
It is easy to see why family members take on these roles to cope with how substance abuse affects them. Each member of the family is impacted by the addiction differently. But, what are some of the challenges when dealing with how substance use disorder affects the family?
The Relationship Between Substance Use Disorder and Family Members
People who struggle with substance use disorder cause their families to experience conflicting and intense emotions. Learning to live with how substance abuse affects the family can also take a toll on the most vital relationships. Because family members know their loved one doesn’t mean to hurt them, they want to give support and encouragement.
However, the deceit, manipulation, and emotional abuse inflicted by the user can be frustrating. This conflict causes a significant amount of emotional pain. As a result, family members may develop unhealthy coping skills adding more stress to the home. The following are common when dealing with how substance abuse affects the family.
The Effect of Substance Use Disorder on Children
According to studies by the NIH, 1 in 5 children lives with parents struggling with substance use disorder. Furthermore, the majority of these children are under 5 years old. As a result, these children are typically mentally and socially underdeveloped. This abuse is particularly true in one-parent households.
Parents with substance use disorder are generally busy feeding their addiction. As a result, they are distracted from raising their children. The irresponsibilities can range from not feeding their children, keeping them clean, and neglecting their education and social life.
Above all, there is a correlation between child abuse and addiction. Growing up in homes with substance abuse also compromises children’s emotional and mental health. The same studies show abused children have an increased chance of also using drugs and alcohol.
Trust is Lost
Although they mean well, people who struggle with substance use disorder typically don’t keep their promises. This results in additional strains on relationships. They do mean to honor their commitments, but their addiction gets in the way.
Parents struggling with addiction may also forget they made promises to their children. This leads to a loss of trust when it keeps happening. Children may also struggle to bond with and trust other people. As adults, this can lead to broken marriages and the continued cycle of neglect.
An Increase in Family Stress
When one adult struggles with addiction, it typically leaves the other to figure out how substance abuse affects the family. This person takes on the responsibilities of the house and family. This adult is known as the enabler.
Raising the kids, paying the bills, and cleaning up after the partner with addiction is stressful and eventually takes its toll. This stress increases their risk of anxiety and high blood pressure. In addition, bottling up all their emotions leads to an emotional explosion which causes even more stress.
Feeding a substance use disorder can be expensive. In addition, addiction typically leads to job loss because of poor performance and attendance. With no money coming in, people start to drain their savings.
Because an addiction makes people neglect everything else in life, money for food, utilities, and rent often goes to drugs or alcohol. Legal issues such as driving while intoxicated are common with those who struggle with substance use disorder. The cost of these issues adds even more financial stress to the family.
Emotional and Physical Abuse
When struggling with substance use disorder, people become irrational. This behavior makes everyone around them walk on eggshells. As a result, a simple disagreement can turn into a big argument where no one feels heard and understood.
Combining irrational behaviors and emotional abuse in arguments increases the risk of physical abuse. People struggling with addiction are often perpetrators of the abuse. However, the vulnerability of addiction can lead to them being abused.
Confusion and Fear
How substance abuse affects the family can be unpredictable. A person using drugs or alcohol may be in a good mood one minute, and the next, they may fly off the handle. This leads to tension in the home. Children may hide away in their rooms to avoid upsetting the household. This results in an unhappy family and a culture of fear and confusion.
Dealing with How Substance Use Affects the Family
When discovering how substance abuse affects the family, the first step is encouraging your loved one with an addiction to seek help. You must talk to them compassionately while they are sober and calm. Use facts such as how their substance abuse has damaged the family and themselves. If they refuse to seek treatment, it may be time to seek an interventionist.
When repairing how substance abuse affects the family, everyone needs to seek therapy. Counseling or therapy can help people recover and move on from the trauma of addiction. By creating a supportive and comfortable environment, therapists help repair damage and develop coping skills to build trust within the family.
How Does Family Therapy Help With Substance Use Disorder?
A vital step in addiction recovery is family therapy. It helps repair the damage of addiction by healing as a family. At the same time, the safe space of therapy allows family members to express their feelings and fears honestly.
At Sana Lake BWC, our therapists educate the family on the effects of addiction on the user. In doing so, family members learn how to support their loved ones in a supportive manner. But above all, family therapy teaches specific positive changes as a family.
Treating the Whole Family at Sana Lake Behavioral Wellness Center
Do you have a loved one struggling with substance use disorder? At Sana Lake BWC, we understand how substance abuse affects the family. And our family therapy program focuses on rebuilding a healthy family free of addiction.
If you or someone you love is battling substance use disorder, help is waiting. Contact us now to find out more.
Does Insurance Cover Therapy? What Affordable Options Are Available?
Are you one of the millions of people struggling with behavioral health issues? Now more than ever, people are struggling with mental health issues and substance use disorders. The isolation and fear of Covid have increased the need for an online psychiatrist.
But, does your insurance cover therapy? Luckily most insurance plans offer some coverage for behavioral health issues. And, what if you don’t have insurance for therapy? There are resources to help find affordable coverage.
Employee Assistance Programs
Your employer may offer an Employee Assistance Program that offers some behavioral health benefits. Your employer pays for your EAP benefits. So, accessing your benefits are generally free and doesn’t have to be work-related.
Even though EAP’s are a short-term solution, they help with the following:
- Evaluation by a mental health professional
- Initiate crisis intervention
- Start short-term therapy
- Provide referrals for further care
Although your EAP benefits can run out, they do renew each year. But, if your benefits have been exhausted and you still need treatment, there are options. For one, you can ask your employer if they offer discounted out-of-pocket rates for continuing behavioral health treatment.
Existing Group Health Insurance Behavioral Health Benefits
Some health insurance policies don’t specifically list mental health coverage in the benefit summary. But, does health insurance cover psychologists? Often, you can look in the behavioral health section of your policy for coverage answers.
Your employer may offer a choice of health insurance plans. If so, compare behavioral health coverage during enrollment periods. Although a plan may cost more, it may save you money vs. paying out-of-pocket.
A Flexible Spending Account may be an option through your employer. This allows you to set aside pre-tax money for an online psychiatrist, psychotherapy, and prescription medication. Although it doesn’t lower the cost of treatment, it saves you money by not paying taxes on the money.
Marketplace Insurance for Therapy
When you purchase an insurance policy, the framework typically includes behavioral health insurance. In fact, health insurance purchased through the marketplace is mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to provide mental health and addiction benefits.
Without the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies would sell plans without behavioral health coverage. If you qualify, the ACA may help you pay the premiums. The ACA helps individuals and families obtain health insurance who can’t afford it but make too much for state insurance.
If you have a mental health or substance use disorder, the ACA provides the following benefits.
- Insurance companies can neither deny nor charge you more for coverage if you struggle with behavioral health disorders. Additionally, they can’t cancel your coverage when you are sick or using more services.
- If you are 26 or under, you can be on your parent’s insurance policy. This applies even if you work and live elsewhere.
- Insurance companies can no longer apply lifetime dollar or yearly limits on essential benefits. These benefits include mental health and substance use disorder treatment.
- Most health insurance plans must cover preventative services at no cost. These services include a depression screening for adults and behavioral health assessments for children.
Medicaid: Does Health Insurance Cover Psychologists?
If you meet specific criteria, you may qualify for Medicaid. Since Medicaid is state insurance, benefits will vary from state to state. However, some states do offer some insurance for therapy.
Medicaid covers more than just low-income people. The following groups may be eligible for Medicaid.
- Pregnant women
- Women with children under 6
- Children ages 6-19
- Supplemental Security Income recipients
- Young adults up to age 21 who live alone
- People over 65
- People who are blind or deaf
Medicare: Does Insurance Cover Therapy?
If you are 65 and older, you may qualify for Medicare. Behavioral health benefits for inpatient treatment and outpatient services are provided through Medicare. Medicare Part D also includes coverage for prescription medication.
However, if you have Medicare Advantage Plans check your plans for coverage details. These plans also have a Special Needs Plan if you have a significant mental health disorder. SNP’s offer expanded benefits for specific conditions, including mental health and substance use disorders.
Disability Insurance for Therapy
Some mental illnesses can make it impossible to work. In this case, you may be eligible for disability benefits. For starters, disability benefits don’t automatically come with health insurance for therapy. However, after 2 years, you may qualify for Medicare and its services. For this reason, while waiting for Medicare benefits, you may be eligible for Medicaid.
Does Health Insurance Cover Psychologists and Behavioral Health Treatment?
Although insurance for therapy may only cover medically necessary treatments, the following services may be covered.
- Emergency psychiatric services
- Co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders
- Psychotherapy and behavioral therapies
- Unlimited outpatient therapy sessions with a therapist and online psychiatrist
- Telemedicine and therapy with an online psychiatrist
- Inpatient behavioral health treatment in a hospital or rehab setting
- Addiction treatment
- Medical detox programs including medications
Generally, intensive outpatient programs (IOP) are more cost-effective than inpatient treatment. IOPs allow you to continue working and living at home while in treatment. If your insurance for therapy has high out-of-pocket expenses, this can be very beneficial.
Another benefit is some IOPs allow you to pay week to week. This is a better option for some as they don’t have extra money for treatment. If you are struggling to pay for or avoiding treatment because of money, it’s vital to speak to your doctor. There may be an alternative, more affordable options such as online psychiatrist.
Why Is Telehealth and an Online Psychiatrist More Affordable?
Telehealth has been around for many years. However, once Covid struck, the need for telehealth services rose. If you were seeing a therapist for behavioral health issues, you may now see an online psychiatrist. One benefit to telehealth is the safety of social distancing and protecting yourself from Covid.
Another benefit to talking with an online psychiatrist is the affordability. If you have insurance and use telemedicine to speak to your online psychiatrist, you may not have a co-pay for your visit. That can save a lot of money over time.
If you are uninsured, the cost of telemedicine and an online psychiatrist is significantly reduced. A study in 2015 by the Boston Globe shows that waiting for s doctor’s visit costs a person $43. Telemedicine not only costs less per visit, but the money you save in travel time and time off work also saves even more.
Does Insurance Cover Therapy and Medications?
Most insurance companies have a form of prescription coverage. However, there may still be high out-of-pocket expenses. If you can’t afford your medication, there are a variety of options to help.
Some drug companies offer prescription assistance programs. They may require your doctor’s consent and proof of financial hardships. They may also require you not to have health or prescription coverage.
Your doctor may also have free samples to give you. So, don’t be embarrassed and be honest with your doctor. You may be able to switch to a more affordable generic medicine. Or, your doctor may know how to get it cheaper.
How Is the Covid Crisis Affecting Mental Health?
Because of Covid, more than 2 in 5 Americans are struggling with mental and behavioral health issues, according to the CDC. These issues include anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and substance use disorder.
“Markedly elevated prevalences of reported adverse mental and behavioral health conditions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the broad impact of the pandemic and the need to prevent and treat these conditions,” the report noted.
The stressors revolving around Covid can lead to Covid Stress Syndrome. 5 related aspects characterize this syndrome:
- Danger and contamination fears
- Socioeconomic concerns
- Traumatic stress
- Compulsive checking and reassurance seeking
About 16 percent of adults struggle with severe Covid Stress Syndrome. The symptoms include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Panic buying/stockpiling
- Self-isolation distress
- Avoidance behaviors
What if You Need Help Understanding Insurance for Therapy?
If you’re like many others, understanding your insurance for therapy is like reading Greek. It makes no sense. But, there is help available to get your questions answered.
If your insurance for therapy is through your employer, they may be able to answer the following questions:
- Does insurance cover therapy?
- Can I see an online psychiatrist?
- Does health insurance cover psychologists?
- How do I use my insurance for therapy?
If you have private insurance, contacting them can answer all your questions about insurance for therapy. Or, you can contact your state’s insurance department with questions. They can tell you if your insurance is following mandated benefits and help if you are having issues.
Let Sana Lake Behavioral Wellness Center Help
Covid has many people feeling alone and struggling with mental and addiction issues. If you or someone you love needs help, we can help. Our compassionate representatives are waiting to answer all your insurance and treatment questions. Contact us today to find out how you can live Recovery for Life.
What is ECT for Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar Disorder is a mental illness that is very difficult to live with; pretending like the problem isn’t there is just as destructive as the illness itself. The most intimidating part of all of this is finding the right treatment option. For many, this includes electroconvulsive therapy.
What is Electroconvulsive Therapy?
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is when electric currents move through the brain in order to encourage a brief seizure; this is intentional. This procedure is completed under general anesthesia which makes it very safe for the individual and as a result, it is mostly successful in causing changes in brain chemistry. The ultimate goal of this procedure is to reverse the symptoms of a mental illness, and in this case, bipolar disorder.
ECT may not be tailor-fit for everybody that needs help with their bipolar disorder. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment plan for mental illness; it’s normal for some individuals to require more intensive treatment, and that doesn’t change any part of who they are as individuals. For those who require ECT, it works when other treatments have not.
The Stigma of Electroconvulsive Therapy
When it comes to ECT, there’s a bit of a stigma attached to it. Most of this has to do with the early treatments that have been done which administer high doses of electricity without anesthesia. Because of this, members in early treatments have experienced side effects such as memory loss, fractured bones, as well as many others.
However, just because ECT has been known in the past to cause extreme side effects in its earliest of stages doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been worked on extensively to make it safer for those involved in the procedure. In recent years, ECT now uses electric currents in a more controlled setting in order to achieve the best results with the fewest amount of risks.
Why is Electroconvulsive Therapy Done?
When it comes to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), there are many reasons it is chosen to be used. ECT is often used to treat the following conditions:
- Severe Depression
- Treatment-Resistant Depression
- Severe Mania
- Bipolar Disorder
There are some cases in which ECT is used as an option for treatment, particularly when therapy, medicine, or other forms of treatment won’t work. These cases include the following:
- In the midst of a pregnancy where a developing fetus is in danger of harm from certain medications
- When adults can’t tolerate the side-effects of certain drugs
- Individuals that prefer ECT
The Risks of Electroconvulsive Therapy
Some alternative side-effects or dangers of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may include the following:
- Memory Loss
- Jaw Pain
- Muscle Aches
- Medical complications
Those who experience confusion immediately following any sort of ECT treatment can experience this side-effect from just a few minutes to several hours. When this happens, an individual may not be too sure where they are or even why they’re presently in treatment.
Sometimes this side-effect has been known to last a few days; in other cases, it has lasted longer. Very rarely, however, does this happen. It is worth noting that this confusion manifests itself as more obvious in older adults.
When it comes to memory loss in ECT, some individuals who participate in treatment have a hard time remembering what happened immediately before their ECT. In some cases, members have forgotten events that may have happened weeks or months before. In other, much more rare cases, people will forget things from years before the procedure. This is what is referred to as retrograde amnesia.
All of this is not to say, however, that these memory problems cannot improve after the treatment ends. In fact, many have been known to improve within a matter of months directly following their treatment. Other side effects such as nausea, headaches, jaw or muscle pain can be treated directly after treatment with medication in order to curb these side-effects.
It is worth mentioning that any treatment for a condition that requires anesthesia will put a member at risk for some medical complications. For example, during electroconvulsive therapy, one’s heart rate and blood pressure will spike. This has been known to lead to heart problems for many.
What to Expect in Electroconvulsive Therapy
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), much like any other form of treatment unknown to a particular individual, is scary. However, that doesn’t mean that there’s no way to be prepared. When it comes to what someone should expect from this form of therapy, there is firstly an evaluation process. This evaluation includes the following:
- Evaluation of Medical History
- Physical Exam
- Psychiatric Assessment
- Blood Tests
- Electrocardiogram (ECG)
- Risk Assessment
ECT can be done as in member or out member treatment. All in all, the procedure takes anywhere between five and ten minutes to complete, preparation and recovery excluded. Recovery and preparation are important parts of this process.
Before the procedure, members are required to be put under general anesthesia. What this means for an individual beforehand is that they will be expected to restrict their diet. Usually, this means no food or water after midnight (however, a sip of water for medications beforehand is permissible).
The physical exam that is taken before the treatment is used to assess the condition of one’s heart and lungs. This is an imperative part of the process because the heart and lungs are among the biggest risks when it comes to ECT.
IV lines will be inserted into the member’s arms or hands so that medications and fluids can be given by a nurse or team member during the procedure. In addition to this, electrode pads will be placed on an individual’s head.
When the procedure begins, the anesthesia will be administered via IV to ensure that the member is unaware of the procedure and unconscious in the process. A muscle relaxant is also administered to minimize the risks of ECT.
During an Electroconvulsive Therapy Procedure
During an electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) procedure, a blood pressure sleeve is placed on the ankle in order to stop the muscle relaxant from impacting the feet in any negative way. When the treatment commences, those administering the procedure can monitor seizure activity by watching for foot movement.
Monitors are also used during the procedure to check one’s brain, heart, and blood pressure so that nothing terrible happens to an individual. Keeping an eye on each member is imperative in this process. There are other pieces of equipment such as mouth guards that ensure an individual doesn’t hurt any parts of their mouth, teeth, or tongue. Oxygen masks are also used in efforts to be sure that members are receiving enough oxygen during the procedure.
Seizures in Electroconvulsive Therapy
While under general anesthesia, the doctor administering the procedure presses a button through the ECT machine so that the minimal electric current runs through the electrodes of the brain. This produces a seizure that lasts less than a minute. It is worth mentioning, however, that because of the muscle relaxant and anesthetics, one will remain unaware of the seizure that is being induced.
Frequency of Treatment
When it comes to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), treatments are administered anywhere between two to three times per week for a period of up to four straight weeks. The total number of treatments round out at twelve. There is also a newer ECT technique that’s done on weekdays. This treatment is called Right Unilateral Ultrabrief Pulse Electroconvulsive Therapy.
The number of procedures a person will undergo depends strictly upon their context and how much ECT they require. It is also dependent upon how successful the procedure has been for the member. Sometimes, individuals may be advised not to return to work, make important decisions, or drive a vehicle until up to two weeks following the treatment. Sometimes people can return to doing these tasks 24-hours afterward; it all depends on their threshold of success.
The Results of Electroconvulsive Therapy
Improvement from electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is largely dependent on the individual and is thus examined on a case by case basis. Some individuals improve their symptoms after six treatments of ECT. For some individuals, improvement may take a bit longer. It is also worth mentioning that ECT may not work for everyone.
In relation to depression and other mental illnesses, nobody has been 100 percent certain as to how ECT treats them. However, it is known that one’s chemical brain function is changed both during and directly following a seizure. These chemical changes can reduce severe mental illness by building upon each other. For this reason, ECT is most successful for those who complete it all the way through multiple procedures.
ECT may not be the end all be all when it comes to treatment for mental illness. Sometimes, following an ECT procedure, individuals will still require treatment for their depression or other mental illnesses in order to prevent any sort of recurrence. Most often this includes taking antidepressants, counseling, or even more ECT with less frequency.
Sana Lake is Here to Help
When it comes to treating those who suffer from severe mental illness, Sana Lake is sure to leave no stone left unturned. Our aim is ultimately to help members on an individual basis and treat them in a way that’s best for them. If you or a loved one are interested in finding out more, you can contact us here.