Women, Mental Illness, and Addiction

Posted on August 25, 2014 By

Women, Mental Illness, and Addiction

Women, Mental Illness, and Addiction: Dual Diagnosis

For many women, mental illness, and addiction go hand-in-hand. For that reason, there is specialized treatment available, known as dual diagnosis drug treatment. Dual diagnosis is a medical term that simply means there are two or more disorders occurring at the same time – “co-occurring” or “comorbidity” – and, in the case of addiction treatment, those disorders include a substance abuse disorder and a mental illness, such as depression, anxiety, bi-polar, and so on.

Anxiety, borderline personality disorder (BPD), and depressive disorders, such as major or clinical depression and bi-polar disorder, tend to be both more prevalent and more pronounced, or severe, among women. This is thought to prevent women who are addicted from seeking help for their substance abuse issues. Therefore, the best drug treatment programs specialize in the treating women holistically by addressing all of the “parts” that make up the “whole” person. That said, the best, most effective way to treat someone with multiple conditions is to simultaneously treat her conditions. This is of the utmost benefit to a woman’s recovery.

Women, Mental Illness, and Addiction: Self-Medication

Women who turn to turn to substances may want to numb their feelings of anxiety or depression in order to self-medicate. For example, the use of benzodiazapines, or benzos, such as Klonopin, Valium, or Xanax will initially help alleviate anxiety in the short run but can actually lead to persisting and worsening anxiety over time. Women who take anti-anxiety medication, whether prescribed or taken illicitly, will find that they build up a tolerance to their usual dosage and begin taking more and more,  and at higher doses, whether they’re instructed by their doctor or they take it upon themselves to increase their dosage by taking more.

This is dangerous territory. Women in this situation become both physically and psychologically dependent on their meds and cannot simply stop – the anxiety comes back full-force and is accompanied by physical symptoms that are potentially life-threatening.

Other women turn to alcohol to achieve this same affect. And others, still, combine these drugs for a more profound effect.

Experts have found that women are more likely than men to use alcohol in order to self-medicate. This might be due to the higher rate of trauma among women when compared to their male counterparts. This is noteworthy because, often times, unresolved trauma and abuse issues are at the root of the addiction and therefore the reason to feel the need to self-medicate. When you factor in mental illness, such as depression, women are more than twice as likely as men to start drinking heavily due to their history of depression; depression is possibly a significant trigger for alcohol use and abuse in women.

Women, Mental Illness, and Addiction: Which came first?

There is a chicken-or-the-egg debate when it comes to women, mental illness, and addiction. For some women, the mental disorder preceded the substance abuse – as a result from efforts to self-medicate. For others, the profound effect that chemicals have on the brain structure and function can cause what appear to be mental illness such as depression and anxiety. In either case, it is essential that she receive specialized drug treatment that simultaneously addresses her mental illness.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction and a mental illness, help is available. Call toll-free 1-800-777-9588 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist. The Orchid Recovery Center specializes in drug treatment for women, mental illness, and addiction.

Trazodone Abuse

Posted on August 22, 2014 By

Trazodone Abuse

The antidepressant Trazodone is a powerful medication that elevates levels of serotonin in an individual’s brain. This medication is typically prescribed to individuals who suffer from any one of a variety of mental or behavioral disorders, and is a powerful source of relief for many with more serious mental health conditions. Despite it’s ability to help treat several types of mood disorders, Trazodone has become relevant in recent years that this drug has become more likely than ever to be abused.

Trazodone was initially developed as a treatment for a mental pain hypothesis which includes the idea that major depressive episodes can be brought on simply by a lower pain threshold. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter in the brain recognized for the effect it has on the happiness and well-being sensors of the mind. By enhancing the activity of the serotonin the symptoms of depression should ideally be relieved. The drug itself aims to balance the pain threshold anomaly and bring about regular brain functions, which in turn should promote a more positive lifestyle.

In addition to treating depression, Trazodone can also be given to those suffering from anxiety, insomnia or chronic pain. It is also sold under several other brands, including:

  • Desyrel
  • Oleptro
  • Beneficat
  • Molipaxin
  • Thombran
  • Trittico

Typically, those with the following disorders are prescribe Trazodone:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Heart disease
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • A history of substance abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • A recent heart attack

This medication is available as a tablet in standard or extended-release forms. But monitoring a patient to decide the dosage is essential, because the drug has numerous side effects when it is abused, and has a potential to be very addictive.

Trazodone Abuse

As both an antidepressant and a sleeping pill, Trazodone has now become the 17th-most abused drug in the USA. The reasons for addiction are that an individual feels they simply cannot live life normally without it, which makes sense seeing as how it was designed to make life more joyful and more manageable in painful circumstances. Dependency on Trazodone can result quite easily from improper use.

One reason for the drug’s addictive quality is that it Trazodone works rapidly, reaching maximum effectiveness within approximately an hour of ingestion. Because of Trazodone’s fast acting delivery it can seem to offer a quick fix to life’s problems. The drug then often becomes an easy solution for those who are clinically depressed or suffering from severe lack of sleep, and people become dependent on its affect. When combined with other substances, Trazodone has even more potential to be abused. This is especially true when it comes to alcohol.

Trazodone Risks

There are many risks in the abuse of Trazodone. Due to the fact the drug has a number of side effects which can range from mild inconveniences to severe illnesses and even death, Trazodone abuse should not at all be taken lightly. If taken for an extended period of time Trazodone can create symptoms such as:

  • Headache
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Abdominal Pains
  • Diarrhea or Constipation
  • Loss of Concentration or Memory
  • Nightmares
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Blurred Vision or Itchy Eyes

More severe side effects which can result from the incorrect ingestion of Trazodone. In particular, once an individual begins to take the drug, they may experience some increase in their mental instability, dealing with things such as :

  • suicidal thoughts
  • extreme worry
  • panic attacks
  • irritability

As well as having several psychological side effects, Trazodone can also result in the following more severe physical reactions:

  • Increased or irregular heartbeat
  • Hives or skin rash
  • Difficulties with swallowing or breathing
  • Swollen face, hands, ankles or legs
  • Loss of coordination
  • Numbness or burning in the limbs and extremities
  • Fainting

As there are so many risks involved with taking Trazodone over the long-term in an unsupervised situation, it is important that anyone who is addicted to the drug be placed into rehab therapy as soon as possible. This will help them work their way to becoming free from their dependency.

Trazodone abuse and addiction also come with a great deal of withdrawal symptoms that make it much more difficult to cease the use of the medication These include mental and physical symptoms, and an individual coming off Trazodone should be closely monitored to reduce risk due to possible clinical depression or other mental health issues. Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Dizziness
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Migraines
  • Insomnia

Trazodone Abuse Treatment

Someone who is addicted to Trazodone will need to undergo treatment in order to properly wean themselves off the drug. This is because a dependency on its effects can result in a lengthy withdrawal period in which constant medical and psychological supervision must be applied. This is especially important, as the individual may also be clinically depressed, anxious or suffering from insomnia. In these cases, there is a real reason why they are dependent on Trazodone, and an alternative must be found before any chance of recovery can be made.

Trazodone meant to help treat those with serious complications like insomnia, depression, or bipolar disorder is being abuse along with other prescription medications, every day. Worst of all, most people don’t even realize they are abusing their medications until a serious drug addiction has developed, and many have no idea how fatal this kind of misuse of medication can be. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588 

Hallucinogens and Opiate Addiction Treatment

Posted on August 21, 2014 By

Hallucinogens and Opiate Addiction Treatment

What are Hallucinogens?

Hallucinogens are a class of drug – hallucinogenics – that are compounds found in some plants and mushrooms and that have been used for centuries, mostly for the purpose of religious rituals. Almost all hallucinogens contain nitrogen and are classified as alkaloids. Many hallucinogens have chemical structures similar to those of natural neurotransmitters. While the exact mechanisms by which hallucinogens exert their effects remain unclear, research suggests that these drugs work, at least in part, by temporarily interfering with neurotransmitter action or by binding to their receptor sites.

Hallucinogens and Opiate Addiction Treatment

An up-and-coming approach to treating opiate addiction is the use of hallucinogens. More and more opiate addicts, who are desperate to try something that they think will help them get and stay clean once and for all, are turning to hallucinogens as a form of opiate addiction treatment.

Specifically, addicts are turning to one hallucinogenic in particular, known as ibogaine, a naturally-occurring hallucinogen that has been used for centuries in other parts of the world for religious ritualistic ceremonies. In fact, ibogaine is already being used in some European countries and Mexico for the treatment of opiate addiction.

But ibogaine isn’t the only hallucinogen being used for drug addiction treatment; others are also looking to LSD and ayahuasca, a psychedelic tea made from a specific vine or in combination with various plants, some of which often contain dimethyltryptamine (DMT).

Why Hallucinogens and Opiate Addiction Treatment

Hallucinogens, generally-speaking, are naturally occurring psychoactive substances found in plants. A hallucinogen with both psychedelic and dissociative properties, the substance is banned in some countries; in other countries it is being used to treat addiction to opiates, such as methadone, heroin, and narcotic painkillers and is being considered for the treatment of other drug addictions such as alcohol, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

Scientists are hopeful that hallucinogens can successfully treat opiate addiction; each one works is similar yet slightly different ways. Ayahuasca might be the best way to break drug addicts of their habit by giving them a powerful experience during which they can see their past and future selves and experience a re-birth – into a life without addiction. Many opiate addicts also turn to the use of ayahuasca as a treatment for their opiate detox, as a way to expedite it through an intense cleansing called a “purge,” which is basically a night spent vomiting and experiencing diarrhea.

Ibogaine has intrigued researchers since 1962, when Howard Lotsof, a student at New York University and an opiate addict, found that a single dose erased his drug cravings without causing any withdrawal symptoms. Animal tests have shown the drug’s medicinal promise. “Rats addicted to morphine will quit for weeks after receiving ibogaine,” says Stanley Glick, the director of the Center for Neuropharmacology and Neuroscience at Albany Medical College. And addicts have reported positive effects in Mexico and Europe, where ibogaine therapy is legal.

From the limited research, though, scientists have two theories about how the use of hallucinogens and opiate addiction treatment works. Some say it’s purely biological—that ibogaine and other hallucinogenics degrade into compounds that bind with opiate receptors in the brain to quiet cravings. Others believe that it is also psychological. Those who use hallucinogens report a change in perspective and outlook on life. Researchers believe that this aspect of the hallucination provides perspective on the negative aspects of drug use, and so the drug addict will strive to quit.

The Argument for the use of Hallucinogens and Opiate Addiction Treatment

Regardless of the mechanism, proving hallucinogens work is essential to winning approval and funding for clinical trials of using hallucinogens in addiction treatment. And, in the U.S., the sooner the better: Nearly seven million Americans abuse illicit drugs, costing the nation an estimated $181 billion a year in health care, crime and lost productivity.

Hallucinogens and Opiate Addiction Treatment: Is it Effective?

Animal tests with ibogaine have shown some medicinal promise. For example, Albany Medical College tests on rats that were addicted to morphine quit for weeks after being given ibogaine. Testimonials from addicts in Mexico and Europe, where ibogaine therapy is legal, state positive effects of the treatment.

Although research is quite limited, scientists have two theories about how the use of ibogaine and other hallucinogens work in addiction treatment. Some scientists believe that it is purely biological—that ibogaine degrades into a compound that binds with opiate receptors in the brain to quiet cravings. Others believe that it also has a psychological effect. The addicts who used ibogaine and reported that it “cured” them said that the treatment worked by changing their perspective and outlook on life.

It is important to make this distinction: hallucinogens and opiate addiction treatment might soothe cravings but it does not offer a remedy to the inevitable withdrawal symptoms that opiate addicts have to face when they stop using.

Some claim that ibogaine not only interrupts the symptoms of heroin withdrawal syndrome and reduces drug cravings for extended periods of time but that ibogaine detox for heroin addiction also allows the addict to detoxify with minimal symptoms.

If you are seeking treatment for opiate addiction or are struggling with substance abuse, call us toll-free at 1-800-777-9588 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist. We are here to help and you are not alone. We are available around the clock to answer your questions.

Drugorexia: Abusing Drugs to Lose Weight

Posted on August 20, 2014 By

Drugorexia: Abusing Drugs to Lose Weight

Drugorexia is a serious and wretched issue, primarily concerning women and substance abuse. Society now is in a period that not only subjects women to the concept of the need for a perfect body image, but also the culture that promotes the use of illicit street drugs. So many women are resorting to dangerous methods according to a survey, while still countless others take over-the-counter slimming pills or laxatives to try to shed the pounds. Helen Johnston the editor of NOW magazine, which conducted the recent survey stated,

“Body image is the female curse of the 21st century. Whatever a woman’s achievements in life, her whole self-image is totally bound up in her body shape.”

Despite these drastic measures in order to try and loose the weight, both drug-abuse and drastic dieting are largely ineffective tactics for long-lasting weight loss, with the great majority regaining any weight they may have lost within weeks or even days. The following information was determined by the survey of 2,000 women with an average age of 35.

Survey Statistics

  • One in seven women are reported to currently be using drugs such as cocaine or speed in a desperate attempt to lose weight.
  • Nearly three out of ten women who took part in an internet survey admitted they had made themselves sick after eating.
  • One in seven of those females responding to the survey claimed they had taken Class A drugs in an effort to lose weight.

The same survey, carried out by online analysts Demographix, found more than eight out of ten of those questioned had dieted. Out of the women surveyed almost 1/3 said they counted calories the entire time using the following:

  • 37% had taken slimming pills
  • 15% had taken speed or cocaine
  • 26% had used laxatives as slimming aids.

Adderall Diet Addiction

Since as far back as 2002 the number of prescriptions for all amphetamine-based drugs used to treat ADD including medications like Concerta and Strattera has skyrocketed. Sales for Adderall XR (extended release) have more than doubled in the five years 2002-2007 alone, from 4.2 million in 2002 to 9.5 million in 2007 according to IMS Health. Online the drug Adderall ranks right up there with Viagra in most-hawked pharmaceuticals on the Internet.

There is a tempting yet dangerous side effect to all stimulants, and Adderall has become one of the most popularly abused, they stimulate the dopamine center of the brain which regulates pleasure sensors. This causes a feeling of euphoria and a loss of appetite, making it a sought after solution for those who seek a quick-fix to their dieting struggles. So it’s no great surprise that the young and beautiful, many of whom have grown up getting these medications from their friends’ to increase their mental edge at exam time, do not necessarily want to give it up when studying is no longer the issue. It quickly becomes their answer to how to change their whole body image problem, and so many addicts will agree that they kept using at times when they knew the drugs were contributing to their weight. But this is all done at a deadly and devastating cost to the mental and physical health of an addict.

Expert Opinions

Experts warn in accordance with this type of trend that women are now playing a dangerous game by using drugs to get thin. While the glamorous image of cocaine masked health risks such as heart attacks and strokes, these women took risks beyond drug addiction. Several dozen deaths are attributed to the use of cocaine and amphetamines every year.

Fewer than one in five never tried to diet and only 2 per cent claimed to be happy with their body. Women would spend on average $11,000 for a better one.

A third of women said they would give up sex to be slim forever while 86% said they would rather drop a dress size than sleep with David Beckham.

The medical director of Weight Concern Dr. Ian Campbell announced how alarming and concerning it was that women were using illicit drugs in repeated and failed slimming attempts.

“There is no evidence that they have any long-term effect on weight but a great deal of evidence that they are harmful to health. The only long-term solution to weight control is lifestyle changes, including dietary modification and more exercise. There is no substitute for effort.” He explained after reviewing the statistics.

David Raynes of the National Drug Prevention Alliance said that the abuse of drugs such as cocaine could kill and cause facial disfigurement to those who are taking these kind of risks for that body image.

“I fear that women are using drugs as an excuse for attempts at slimming, much like women say they smoke in an effort to keep their weight down. But it’s a cop- out and women should be aware of the very real dangers.” David Raynes went on to say.

How this may be a little insensitive, it is a reality. The self-destruction of the body through overloading it with chemicals that diminish an appetite and poison the system is just one way that the disease of addiction finds its way into the lives of those who least expect it, and all in the name of shrinking a size or boosting your work-out. Drugorexia is dangerous, because if you’re lucky you might lose weight in an unhealthy way, but a lot of people run the risk of losing a lot more, like your life.

Drug-dependent dieting and other eating disorders are beyond counter-productive to creating a healthy and happy life, these methods are dangerous and often deadly when they are pursued indefinitely. Abusing drugs and alcohol in order to maintain a weight is a sad reality, mostly for women, that we must do our best to over-come, because this kind of diet will also shed years off your life, and can lead to serious addiction. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588


What NOT to Say to an Alcoholic

Posted on August 19, 2014 By

What NOT to Say to an Alcoholic

It’s true, alcoholism is a disease that affects everyone around the alcoholic – not just the alcoholic, herself; that’s why it’s referred to as a ‘family disease.’ And, as such, the loved ones of the person who drinks – those affected – feel it’s their place to say something about it by confronting the alcoholic in their life. It might be you who says just the right thing that ‘lands’ for them, making enough of an impression to get them to at least begin to consider that they have a real problem for which they should seek help. But, when confronting an alcoholic, it takes finesse and tact. Here’s what NOT to say to an alcoholic.

#1. Why can’t you just stop?

Trust me, the alcoholic in your life probably asks themselves this on a daily basis. It’s a maddening disease, alcoholism. Many people who struggle truly want to stop but just can’t on their own.

#2. You just need to exercise more willpower.

False. Alcoholism is a disease, a chronic medical disorder, which requires specialized treatment and support for ongoing recovery. Willpower and self-control have nothing to do with it.

#3. Don’t you see that your children hate you?

Way to go. Make them feel even more guilty and ashamed for their drinking. Again, alcoholics tend to hate themselves already; they don’t need to be told such harmful and harsh things such as this. It might be more helpful to frame it more like, “your children are concerned about you and just want you to get better. And so do I.”

#4. You have to stop drinking.

They know this. They probably want to stop drinking, too. They just don’t know how to. It’s like telling someone who has never learned algebra that they need to solve an algebraic equation because their life depends on it – but without giving them the tools or knowledge to be able to do so.

#5. You’re going to drink yourself to death.

Quite honestly, they probably secretly want to. So, saying something like this to them really won’t matter.

#6. What’s wrong with you?

Alcoholism is a disease, not a choice. Therefore, it’s not really the person’s fault that they are drinking. And they’re alcoholism has less to do with them as a person and more to do with their brain chemistry. Remember this the next time you try to talk to the alcoholic in your life.

#7. I hate you.

More accurately, it’s probably that you hate their drinking and how they behave when they’re drinking. As it’s said with other situations in which you want to improve a relationship, it’s important to focus on the behavior, not the person.


By now, you probably get the idea of what not to say to an alcoholic. And, in fact, there’s really not much you can say that will change their behavior. It’s going to take action.

Keep in mind that there are essentially only three possible outcomes between you and the alcoholic in your life:

1. They get help and stop drinking.

2. You leave.

3. The relationship continues and so do their drinking and the ensuing chaos.

It’s time to stop and do some thinking, long-term thinking, that is. Do you really want to be in this same situation, say, 2 years from now? What about 5 years? 10? Given the possible outcomes, there are essentially only three things you can say to your alcoholic loved one:

1) “Keep drinking.”

2) “I’m leaving.”

3) “Get help by (established date) or I’m leaving.”

What it comes down to, essentially, is that you need to focus on you staying healthy. The limit you set is about the amount of chaos you are willing to experience as a result of their drinking. So, ultimately, it’s about you; don’t make it about them.

When talking to the alcoholic in your life, make your intentions clear and be prepared to follow through with them. Don’t make threats that you don’t have full intention of carrying out if necessary.

If you are struggling with alcoholism or you have a loved one who struggles, there’s good news. Help is available and recovery is possible. Call us toll-free at 1-800-777-9588 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist. We’re available around the clock to answer your questions and address your concerns. Remember: You are not alone.