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Are sports and energy drinks a new type of gateway drug?

Energy Drinks Gateway Drugs?A new report by the Academy of Pediatrics, will surely upset the sport drink and energy drink industry.

The drinks, which are heavily marketed to kids, are being misused and might lead to other unhealthy habits. “There is a lot of confusion” said Marcie Beth Schneider, MD, FAAP, a member of the AAP Committee on Nutrition. “Some kids are drinking energy drinks – containing large amounts of caffeine – when their goal is simply to rehydrate after exercise. This means they are ingesting large amounts of caffeine and other stimulants, which can be dangerous.” she said.

Sports drinks and energy drinks are not the same products. Most people drink sports drinks to rehydrate after strenuous activity. The drinks which contain carbohydrates, minerals, electrolytes and flavoring, are intended to replace water and electrolytes. But most of these drinks have been found to be unnecessary on the field or in school. In fact, a lot of the flavoring and artificial sweeteners can cause children to lose focus and attention with the influx of a “sugar high.”

For most exercise, plain water is still the best thirst quencher and rehydrate. Most of the chemicals in sports drinks promote tooth decay, obesity and may lead to diabetes.

Energy drinks often contain chemicals and substances not found in sports drinks. Energy drinks can contain large amounts of caffeine, guarana and taurine. Little is known about the effects of heavy or long-term taurine use. Too much caffeine can increase your heart rate and blood pressure, interrupt your sleep, and cause nervousness and irritability. It is hard to decipher how much caffeine is in an energy drink by looking at the label. Some energy drinks can contain the caffeine equivalent of 14 sodas in one energy drink.

Recently, the Journal of Addiction Medicine, analyzed data from 22,000 students ranging in ages from 8-12 yrs old. They found that teens who drink high caffeine energy drinks such as Red Bull or Monster may be more likely to use alcohol, drugs and cigarettes, according to the study.(1)

The students, who consumed energy drinks, were more than two to three times more likely to say that they used alcohol, cigarettes and drugs than those who did not drink energy drinks. “Energy drink users also report heightened risk for substance abuse,” wrote Yvonne Terry-McElrath and colleagues at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.
They also urged wider recognition that “some groups may be particularly likely to consume energy drinks and to be substance users.”

While marijuana is considered by many to be a gateway drug, it might appear that the sports drink and energy drink industries are promoting new gateway drugs right under our very noses.

(1) Journal of Addiction Medicine Jan/Feb

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Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More

PAWS and Addiction Treatment: The Complex and Little Known Obstacle to Recovery

Addiction Treatment professionals agree that Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (P.A.W.S.) is one of the most difficult challenges that Alcoholics or Addicts face in the early stages of their recovery. It is a multi-faceted group of symptoms that cause the individual to crave a drink or a drug even though everything is going well for them and they are following thru with all their recommended post treatment activities. Unfortunately, this relapse precursor is especially difficult to deal with, because it is not emphasized enough by most treatment centers during treatment; without education about this topic, the substance abuser has no defense against it. Recovery First is one of the rare exceptions that does focus on this area.

The discomfort of the initial withdrawal from drugs or alcohol is managed through a medical detoxification process commonly referred to as “detox”. Symptoms are minimized during the initial 3 to10 day period when the body is in acute withdrawal and adjusting to not having these substances. Detoxification does not eliminate all of the substances from the body, nor does it repair the damage to brain, organs, central nervous system, or neurotransmitters that have been caused by drinking and drug abuse.

The biggest mistake that alcoholics and addicts make is to think that the detoxification process is the end of the withdrawal process; that once you leave detox all of the substances are out of the body and you’re cured. Nothing could be further from the truth; detoxification actually sets the stage for the onset of Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome.

Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome – What it is and Why it Happens.

After detoxification, for reasons science doesn’t completely understand, the body can react as if it was still on drugs. One part of the explanation for this phenomenon is the body’s own natural cleansing process. As it flushes the chemical remnants of alcohol and drugs from organs and intramuscular hiding places, it hits the bloodstream and triggers a physical craving – much like the sensation of smelling popcorn and then wanting to see a movie.

In addition to this physical component, any type of mental, emotional or physical stress can trigger a desire to drink or use drugs. When an alcoholic or addict feels pain or is stressed out, they remember one thing: if they pick up a drink or a drug, the pain and stress will go away. This is because the area of the brain that affects judgment has been damaged and they do not remember how bad things were. Most importantly, they do not connect their substance abuse to what they are feeling at that moment, and so they very often relapse.

Symptoms of Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome produces a wide variety of side effects and symptoms that make no sense to the addict experiencing them, or to the friends, family and employers observing them. These symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Lack of coordination
  • Walking into things
  • Dropping things
  • Thinking “I’m crazy”
  • Feeling scared
  • Forgetting things
  • Impaired judgment
  • Disorientation
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Craving
  • Mood swings
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Increased sensitivity to pain

Summary

Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome is a disconcerting yet normal part of the recovery process. Thankfully these symptoms disappear over time, and in most cases the brain and body damage is repaired. The difficulty for someone in the early stages of recovery is that these feelings, thoughts and physical side effects can be so overwhelming that they trigger a desire to drink or use drugs again just to get relief and when they do this, they start the vicious cycle all over again.
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome and Addiction Treatment 1-800-706-9190Recovery First offers several levels of substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation. Our most intensive level of treatment is the Inpatient Substance Abuse Program, but we also have other treatment options for drug addiction and alcoholism like our Day/Night Program or Sober Living.

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More

What is a Residential Inpatient Program?

A residential inpatient program at a Florida drug rehab center or anywhere in the country is the most intense and comprehensive drug addiction treatment program available.  Residential inpatient programs are also considered far more successful than other types, such as partial hospitalization programs and intensive outpatient programs.  In fact, most serious recovery centers offer their patients a “step-down” approach where they can move from residential inpatient to partial hospitalization, to intensive outpatient and then full reintegration with the community.  However, very few facilities offer true residential inpatient programs, so people seeking help for drug addiction or alcoholism are encouraged to learn as much as they can about these valuable and highly successful treatment programs.

Inpatient Program Hotline 1-800-706-9190

A True Residential Inpatient Program

A true residential inpatient program or Inpatient Substance Abuse Program is a place where clients both live and receive therapy.  These programs are generally 30 days long and include intensive therapies such as group therapy, individual therapy, family therapy, medication therapy, PAWS and relapse prevention therapies, and many others.  One of the most successful residential inpatient programs in the country – Recovery First’s drug rehab center in Florida – provides more than 66 hours per week of intensive therapies to its clients.  This is in addition to  life skills education and some recreation and relaxation time.

Reality Based Residential Treatment

As with Recovery First’s drug rehab in Florida, patients are placed in an environment that is as similar to what they will return to after treatment as possible.  This is referred to as a “reality based” residential treatment philosophy because clients are expected to be fully responsible for themselves and their treatment.  They cook, clean, shop and go on outings together.  This is meant to mimic “real life” so that addiction practices and philosophies can be applied in a realistic manner.  However, patients are monitored at all times by competent and professional addiction treatment specialists – many of whom have decades of recovery themselves and therefore bring personal experience to the table.  This creates a sense of fellowship and acceptance that is vital to making full use of what a residential inpatient program has to offer.

A true residential inpatient drug treatment program should never be confused with a “Florida Model” addiction treatment program.  Unfortunately, many drug rehab centers claim to offer a residential inpatient program when in reality they do not.  Instead, this type of program consists of therapy during the day and offsite housing during the evening hours.  This offers little supervision, low structure, and high propensity for relapse.  A person who is suffering from drug addiction or alcoholism and genuinely needs help would be best served by an actual residential inpatient program.

Residential Inpatient Drug Treatment Programs at Recovery First

If you or someone you love needs a residential inpatient program but you need assistance in deciding where to turn, you should consider Recovery First.  We are one of the few remaining TRUE residential inpatient programs anywhere in the country.  Making a commitment to get help is one of the most profound things an addict or alcoholic will ever do in their lives, and it’s not easy.  To make sure you get the best shot possible at a lifetime of successful recovery, your best chance is by participating in a bona fide residential inpatient addiction treatment program.

We are always here to help and answer questions. Call 1-800-706-9190 today.

Residential Inpatient Program Hotline 1-800-706-9190

About The Contributor
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More

Why Relapsing after 20 Years of Recovery is so Deadly

Relapsing after decades of recovery is extremely dangerous considering the potency and types of today’s drugs and the fact that there are likely physical limitations now that did not exist for such a person twenty years ago.  This is an especially important consideration for those people who used “white” drugs in the seventies such as cocaine and heroin.  However, recovery often falters if a person fails to actively work on it over the years or if some major tragedy or stress occurs.  Any person who falls off the wagon and hits the streets again looking for the drugs and highs of yesterday will be in for a very unpleasant surprise.

There seems to exist a general misconception with more experienced and mature recovering addicts that the drugs used in their days were actually stronger than the drugs of today.  The idea is that “they don’t make things like they used to,” and that manufacturing methods are “cheap.”  While the latter might be true, cheap doesn’t equate to a lack of potency.  Instead, drugs of today – most notably marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin are far more potent and far more dangerous.

This means that if you have 20 years of sobriety and you pick up a drug again you could easily die on the first puff, the first line, the first hit.  For instance, two or three lines of 1980’s coke probably produced an intense high.  However, the same amount of today’s cocaine could lead to an overdose, coma or even death.  This is especially true of any drugs that are used in conjunction with hypodermic needles – the threat of death as a result of potency for intravenous users is extraordinarily high.

For most people who used heavily in their 20’s and 30’s and are now in their 40’s, 50’s or 60’s, there is also a physiological factor that must be considered.  While the body of a 25 year old man may be able to handle the stresses of cocaine or heroin use temporarily, the body of a 50 year old man will fail much sooner.  Combine this uncomfortable fact with the potency of today’s drugs and it’s easy to see how nothing but disaster awaits someone who falls off the wagon after a couple of decades or more.

People that relapse after being successful in recovery for that long often do so because they failed to continue to actively work on their recovery.  Being humble, taking a personal inventory, going to meetings,  engaging in spiritual practices – these are the things that many older people who relapse say they lost along the road to relapse.  Most say they never really saw it coming and that a relapse at 50 or 55 was the last thing they ever expected.  This is why so many drug rehab centers and addiction specialists try to educate clients that recovery is a lifetime process that must be worked at.  It’s not always easy, but it is always rewarding.

If you’ve been in recovery for a long time and there’s even the remotest thought in your mind of using again, please call us.  Even if it’s only to chat with one of our addiction specialists; many of whom have 20-30 years of recovery under their belts.  Don’t hesitate – get the help you need now.

About The Contributor
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More

Drug Treatment Therapies

There are many different types of drug treatment therapies for people suffering from drug addiction and alcoholism.  This is partially because different addiction treatment therapies work for different people, and partially because many drug rehab centers claim to be something they are not and offer therapies that do nothing to address addiction or alcoholism.  In fact, misinformation or misunderstanding about what types of drug addiction treatment programs are available and how they work can often lead an addict or alcoholic to make poor decisions when it comes to getting treatment.  Therefore, educating oneself on the types of therapies available at a Florida drug rehab center or drug treatment center anywhere in the country is essential to getting the right help when you need it.  The following are some of the most effective types of drug treatment therapies:

*Individual therapy.  This usually consists of one-on-one sessions with a trusted and highly qualified addiction treatment specialist – usually a psychiatrist.  These sessions will allow a person to explore their thought and behavior patterns to indentify both weaknesses and strong points.  This is done partly in an effort to understand the triggers and causes of the drug abuse or alcoholism, but also to address serious issues that may be contributing factors such as a bipolar disorder diagnosis or a discovery of some other condition.  Aptly named, this type of therapy focuses on the individual not by forcefully extracting information, but by allowing the person to feel comfortable and empowered enough to search within themselves for their own answers.

*Group therapy.  Group therapy actually lays the foundations for a support network that can be used to buoy recovery efforts after an addiction or alcohol treatment program such as a residential inpatient program, a partial hospitalization program or an intensive outpatient program.  Group therapy helps other recovering addicts to share stories and best practices about how they got clean, and more importantly- how they stay clean.  This type of therapy helps to create a sense of fellowship and a feeling that “I’m not alone in this . . .”

*Family Therapy.  This type of therapy seeks to involve the people who are close to us.  Often, these people are triggers of our drug abuse or alcoholism, or they enabled us to use.  In either case as addicts we know how much we hurt the ones we love, so including them in the therapy process is critical to creating an environment of healing and acceptance.

These are the most fundamental drug addiction treatment therapies.  Any good Florida drug rehab center should offer these types of therapies as their principle offerings.  Other, less traditional therapies such as surf therapy, equine therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic or other similar therapies may feel great, but they don’t really address drug addiction and alcoholism.  Traditional drug treatment therapies like those described above provide the best opportunity to achieve lasting success in recovery.

About The Contributor
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More

Why The War On Drugs Doesn’t Work

The Federal Government spends over $15 billion dollars per year in the War on Drugs – almost $500 every second – and we have lost. The reason for this failure is that we are fighting the war on the wrong front. We have focused the battle on stopping the flow of illegal drugs, thinking that our enemy is the drug dealer or the addict. Law enforcement agencies make drug busts – big and small – taking product off the streets and putting dealers and addicts in jail. This doesn’t work because the addict still wants product there is always another drug dealer or pain clinic around the corner. The only true solution is to reduce demand – which means spending the money on Addiction Treatment.

Scare tactics like the DEA report said that “Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations represent the greatest organized crime threat to the United States” and that “intelligence estimates indicate a vast majority of the cocaine available in U.S. drug markets is smuggled by Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations across the U.S.– Mexico border.” This type of report fuels the fire and encourages spending more and more money on drug interception – which doesn’t work – rather than substance abuse education, intervention and treatment – which has a much larger impact on demand.

The same report also cited a 2007 study that “nearly 7 million Americans are abusing prescription drugs — more than the number who are abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, Ecstasy, and inhalants, combined. That 7 million (figure) was just 3.8 million in 2000, (that’s) an 80 percent increase in just 6 years.” The “war on drugs” solution to this problem is twofold: 1- Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP), passed in 38 states (Florida is one of the states that passed this legislation with the caveat that they will purchase a computer monitoring software system when the funds are available; in these economic times, chances of that happening anytime soon are very slim) and 2- reducing the number of “rogue internet pharmacies” – internet sites that require little to no documentation for the purchase of prescription drugs. These do reduce availability, but they do nothing to reduce demand, as evidenced by the growth in the number of people abusing prescription drugs.

According to the same report, “the most widely abused drugs today are Prescription pain relievers. These are new drug users’ drug of choice, vs. marijuana or cocaine. (In addition), Opioid painkillers now cause more drug overdose deaths than cocaine and heroin combined. Misuse of these painkillers represents three-fourths of the overall problem of prescription drug abuse in this country, (and) hydrocodone is the most commonly diverted and abused controlled pharmaceutical in the U.S.” Clearly, the majority of abused substances in this country are prescription drugs – not illegal substances. This means that that the addict is not just the stereotypical dirty junkie living in a crack house, but is our neighbor the accountant or the doctor or the homemaker proving that no one is immune to the disease of addiction, and the problem affects everyone from park bench to Park Avenue.

With prescription drug abuse is rising at an alarming rate there are more addicts today than ever before, in fact, one study states that one in six Americans has a problem with alcohol and/or drug abuse – which does not including those with prescription drug abuse problems. Instead of attempting to win the war on drugs by taking away the substances, we have to focus more of our resources/dollars on reducing demand. This means recognizing and treating alcoholics and addicts as early as possible in the cycle of their addiction. It is only then that substance abuse can reduced in our society.

Imagine how much could be done to treat and educate addicted people if for one year if we took all the money we spend on the war on drugs and used it for intervention, education and treatment. Millions of people could get help and that would mean fewer buyers.

When an addict becomes a recovering addict, demand goes away – it’s that simple. To me, this is the only way to win the war on drugs, one recovering person at a time. When enough people begin to believe this, the war on drugs and drug addicts will cease and the campaign for Recovery will begin.

Join me in my campaign for Recovery.

James F. Davis, CEO

Recovery First Inc.

Call us now at 800-706-9190

Recovery First offers several levels of substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation. Our most intensive level of treatment is the Inpatient Substance Abuse Program, but we also have other treatment options for drug addiction and alcoholism like our Day/Night Program or Sober Living.

About The Contributor
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More

Denial: Why Alcoholics and Drug Addicts Think it is OK to Drink and Use Drugs

Denial is a defense mechanism that allows a person – despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary – to deny that something is true, when in fact, it is true.  It is one of the most powerful and difficult problems that Alcoholics and Drug Addicts face before, during, and after treatment, because it is always the thinking that precedes the act of picking up a drink or a drug.

Physical components of Denial

Over the course of time, drinking and using drugs can cause changes in the brain that affect thought processes and emotions.  For example, when the hippocampus, which controls memory and judgment, is damaged, the Alcoholic or Addict has great difficulty remembering the bad things that happen when they drink or use.  This coupled with impaired judgment allows them to actually believe that drinking or using drugs is ok.

Poor judgment is further compounded by the over stimulation or inhibition of two important neurotransmitters: Serotonin and Dopamine.  Serotonin affects thinking and emotions, while Dopamine affects the pleasure and reward center of the brain.  When a person drinks or uses drugs excessively, these neurotransmitters are over stimulated, and the body develops a tolerance to them.  This causes the individual to need more and more of the substance while they get less and less of an effect.

Non-addicted people find it very difficult to understand the thinking and actions of the addict or alcoholic.  They just don’t “get it” because their brains have not been damaged so their thinking is not organically impaired and they have the capacity to differentiate between truth and falsehood.

Thought patterns of Denial

The essential and most basic of all Denial thinking is this:  “I don’t have a problem with alcohol or drugs, and the things that are wrong in my life don’t have anything to do with my drinking or using.”  This erroneous belief gives rise to all sorts of strange twists and turns of thought that are common in Addicts and Alcoholics.

Substance Abusers blame others for the negative things that happen in their lives and lie about where they have been and what they have been doing.  They live in a fantasy world where they have convinced themselves that their lives are “not so bad” despite the loss of jobs, marriages, family and friends.  They say that if only they had more money or if the people in their lives would understand them, that everything would be ok.

They do not acknowledge, nor do they connect the fact that drinking and using drugs have become the root cause of their current problems; this is Denial.

Emotions and Denial

Alcoholics and Addicts vacillate between feelings of superiority and inferiority, mania and depression, and typically suffer from tremendous anxiety and fear.  They use drugs and alcohol to cope with these strong and painful emotions, but this only provides temporary relief and is counterproductive because when the effect wears off the feelings are still there, and are compounded by shame, guilt, and remorse.  For the alcoholic/addict, the usual response to these new emotions is to drink or use again. The fact that it did not solve anything does not register with them.

In addition, substance abusers almost always have low self-esteem and deep seated emotional issues that are rooted in childhood.  They often say things like “I never felt like I fit in” or “I never felt good enough.”  They do not know how to deal with negative emotions.  When they had their first drink or drug that changed.  Instantly, they had relief from the painful feelings; they felt like they fit in, and didn’t feel bad about themselves anymore.  This is where emotional denial begins.  While under the influence, problems and painful emotions don’t exist; it seemed to be a real solution, because it worked.  What they did not know, is that instead of being the solution, it was the road to self-destruction via the highway of Denial.

Behavior Patterns of Denial

Family, friends and employers notice changes in the behavior of an alcoholic or addict long before the person with the disease does.  This is the first indicator that someone is in denial about their disease.  Tragically, as it progresses, the individual barely notices the changes and deterioration because they happen gradually, day after day and seem normal to the sufferer.

Typical behaviors include, but are not limited to: being late to work, inability to hold a job, getting arrested, ending relationships when people criticize their drinking or using, spending rent money on drugs or alcohol, not keeping commitments, driving under the influence, poor personal hygiene, frequenting dangerous neighborhoods, and living on the street.

Again, the alcoholic or addict does not notice or pretends not to notice that these behaviors are related to their substance abuse, when clearly they are.

Summary

Denial is one of the biggest roadblocks to recovery.  It is an elusive and dangerous pattern of thinking that is extremely difficult to break because it has so many different causes and manifestations.  The first clue that someone is in denial is that their behavior and dialog changes dramatically and they develop a litany of excuses for this that do not include drinking or using drugs.

This is further compounded by physical damage to the brain and its chemistry, which exacerbates poor judgment, increases tolerance, and enhances denial.  The fundamental problem of denial is that the alcoholic/addict actually sees substance abuse as the cure not the cause.

It is only when a person has a moment of clarity; where they see through the fog of denial and connect their problems to their drinking or using drugs that they will seek help.  When this happens, recovery is possible. Denial: Why Alcoholics and Drug Addicts Think it is OK to Drink and Use Drugs

Recovery First offers several levels of substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation. Our most intensive level of treatment is the Inpatient Substance Abuse Program, but we also have other treatment options for drug addiction and alcoholism like our Day/Night Program or Sober Living.

About The Contributor
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More