Predisposition to Substance Use

You’ve probably heard about the concept of predisposition. Namely, that if someone, or multiple people in your family, have a substance use disorder (SUD), that you are more likely to experience the same outcome for yourself. This is based on a person’s DNA or genetic makeup. Predisposition is generally seen because of certain variations of genes that are passed on from one’s parents. As noted by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, while these genes do not specifically cause a disease, they do increase the likelihood of the development of the disease. An interesting note is that not everyone within a family will end up getting a disease, it may pass over children and show up again in grandchildren. There is also the possibility that everyone within a family will end up getting the disease. It really comes down to what side of statistics your family’s genes happen to be on. In some cases, genetic variations account for only a small chance of developing a disease, however, the more genes that carry a variation, the greater the likelihood of disease development.

Epigenetics is something that should also be discussed here because it is the study of either inherited or sometimes the functional change in how the genetic activity is regulated within the body. It also works to explain gene expression, and how it works without dependence of the order of gene codes. It seeks to explain the fact that some genes are actually altered by environmental factors and other contributors that can change the way a person’s genes work. Often, epigenetics ends up being problematic for your children rather than for yourself. Breaking it down, essentially, what you are exposed to now and the things that you do to your body has the potential to significantly impact the way your genes show themselves in your children. Therefore, participating in substance use, for example, has the chance of altering your genetic makeup and passing along mutated genes to the next generation, without you even realizing it. Histones are also commonly studied within the topic of predisposition. Histones are explained as being what gives genes organizational structure. Genes use histones for the purpose of either having more or less control over gene expression. Research has indicated that there is a possibility of being able to manage those enzymes that seek to alter histones, which may have significant positive impacts on the future of SUD treatment.

Beyond Genetics

Even though genetics have been said to play a role in the development of SUDs, there is a little bit more to it than that. Some people begin using substances and their family members have never done so. There can be a feeling of wanting to simply try a substance or seeking out substances as a means of escaping things that you are feeling or experiencing. You may have been influenced to try a substance or felt pressured into it at the time. No matter why a person started using substances, the fact remains that they were ultimately a product of their environment at that moment, and their surrounds shaped their actions, and ultimately impacted in a negative way. Now, if you are someone who has never used substances or does so on occasion, it is important to pay attention to yourself and recognize that family ties may be important to you. It is not to say that because your parents were alcoholics that you will be too, however, you may be more likely to become one because of that fact. In this case, if you are someone who likes to come home from work and have a drink of some sort, but one turns into two, and then suddenly it’s five or ten, you have to be aware of your intake. Furthermore, if you feel yourself falling into a perhaps problematic habit, catch yourself and work to maybe find something else to do when you get off work or just simply being aware of yourself. It may be easier said than done, but you have the chance to not fall into the same patterns as your parents maybe did and you can be the difference for yourself, your future children, and maybe even help those in your family who need your support to move into recovery and work towards a better future. What you do now will impact your entire life and it’s important to keep that in perspective.

If you are currently suffering from a SUD, there is a chance that you feel like it is the fault of your family because they too partook in substance use. Whether they did so before you were born or have been doing so as long as you can remember, their use may have impacted yours. We want you to know that you can break the cycle and stop the appearance of substance use in your family and we want to help you. Make a personal investment in yourself and get help today by calling us at (805)719-7954.

Which Professions are More Likely to Have Employees that Engage in Substance Use?

When looking at substance use disorders (SUDs), you look at the person who is going through this situation and wonder what happened to them and how everything started. Well, most of those who engage in substance use are actually working professionals. It is important to consider if employment is a prevalent culprit of substance use and why.

Food Service Industry

Workers in the food service industry fall at the top of the list for professions that are most likely to have employees who engage in substance use or who have a SUD. When employees are younger, they may engage in substance use simply to fit in or because they think it will help them to be a part of the team and have friends. However, many young people don’t yet realize that employees are simply environment acquaintances and that the relationships forged through working in the same place are not usually long-lasting or beneficial, especially at their first job. For those employees who are adults, their situation looks very different. If you ask an older adult why the ended up working in the food industry, especially at fast food locations, unless they have a passion for food, are a franchise owner, or obtained a management position, most of them did not envision working that type of job at that point in their life. Many people had bigger hopes and dreams for themselves and maybe life just didn’t work out the way they anticipated. Having to work long hours, usually overtime, for minimum wage can be quite taxing on a person. Some of these employees may even feel guilt or shame because of the position that they are in, which to them, is a valid reason to engage in substance use as a means of escaping their reality.

Management Positions

Those employees who are in management positions or who have a lot of responsibilities at work such as those in positions involving information technology can have the tendency to engage in substance use for a number of reasons. When working on large projects, they may have to stay at the office late or take their work home with them in order to complete it, which can cause them to work longer than normal hours. In these situations, they may find themselves needing a boost to stay awake and be productive, which is how they start using substances. Employees in this position may also feel overwhelmed and stressed about brokering large deals, meeting with important clients, or creating presentations to give to higher-ups within the company they work for. In these cases, they may use a substance in order to help calm their nerves and relax while they get their work done. While it may be a one time or occasional occurrence, it can easily develop to the point of dependence which is one way that SUDs come to life.

Entertainment Industry

Substance use in the entertainment industry is fairly self-explanatory. Many people in the spotlight have a lot of money and the ability, time, and freedom to do whatever they want. For these people, especially newcomers, partying can be very enticing and the substances that go along with the parties are not in short supply. What is unfortunate about those in the entertainment industry is that a good time can often turn into escaping feelings. Entertainers of all kinds have noted feeling alone or being under too much pressure, which are reasons for their prolonged substance use. It is hard to imagine someone feeling like this in their position, but they are people too and they are not exempt from mental health issues or emotions just like everyone else. The worst part about substance use or SUDs in the entertainment industry is that because there are so many options available in such large quantities, many people have prematurely passed away due to substance use. It was just an accident, but it cost them their lives, and that has a tendency to make you think about your own life.

If you are currently suffering from a SUD, there is a chance that you may feel as though you have lost your way. You may have started using substances as a means to alleviate work stress and it simply went too far. You may not understand why you are where you are or how to find a way out. We want to help you get back on track. Make a personal investment in yourself and get help today. Having a team and really community of support to help get you through can offer piece of mind and a sense of security. At Enlight Treatment Center, we emphasize care and comfort and we want to be that team for you to help you overcome issues and get back to your best self. Whether you have questions or want to visit our facility and talk with us in person, we are always here for you. You can call us at (805)719-7954 or schedule a tour of our facility at 11811 Darlene Lane, Moorpark, CA 93021.

Financial Impacts of Addiction

Every year people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on various substances. Many people look at the cost of prescriptions as being exorbitant, however, in all actuality, the street value of substances far exceeds the costs of those purchased legally with prescriptions. For example, it was noted through a collection of data that at one point the money made from the sales of illicit substances, alcohol, and cigarettes comprised nearly 3% of the gross domestic product for the United States alone. This means that in a dollar amount, it accounted for nearly 130 billion dollars. In 2017, Australia was noted as having spent over 13 billion dollars on illicit substances. Going along with this statistic is the fact that those who were purchasing these substances were spending over 110% of their weekly income, which means that there was a deficit in their household income.

Along with this statistic, Lee Miller, Wei Lu, and Bloomberg stated in their article that in the same year, 70% of the illicit substances that were purchased were either cannabis or methamphetamines. Furthermore, breaking down the cost, even more, the cost of substances across the globe ranges quite a bit, but the prices are still extremely high based on their country of origin. For example, one kilogram of cocaine in Europe costs over $50,000, in the United States it costs over $30,000, and in Costa Rica, it costs just under $10,000. All different prices, but all relevant to the conversation of the amount spent on substances. Looking at the price listed for the US alone, that is the average household income of a lower-class family and depending on the household size, this yearly income would place them as being below the poverty level. When put into perspective, it is hard to imagine that an entire year’s salary could be spent on something that disappears so quickly.

Forcing Yourself to make Choices

When an individual opts into substance use, no matter the reason, they are impacted physically and mentally based on what they are experiencing within their lives and the effects of the substances. However, the financial impact also takes a large toll on users. Depending on the stage of a SUD, money may be pouring into the addiction in a way that there is no room for any other purchase. In some cases, people may be forced to choose between a substance or a physiological need. There is the choice of whether they would rather have food, electricity, water, a car, and in the worst of cases a home, or put their money towards their substance of choice instead. Even in the early stages of a SUD there is money here and there being put into substance use that could be going elsewhere, and even $10 or $20 here and there can begin to add up very quickly. Not to mention, when larger dollar amounts are being spent, there is nothing to show for where a person’s money is going, it’s just simply gone, as is what they’re spending it on. If a SUD is further along, there is also the chance that people will end up making a choice about whether they continue to go to work or whether they gravitate towards seeking out and using substances. Then, not only is there a loss of income, in some situations, people are placed in a situation where they choose to engage in negative activities in order to find some means to be able to obtain the substance of choice. Inevitably, it is a vicious cycle and one that can have the tendency to go from bad to worse fairly quickly.

Lack of Savings

Since the cost of substances tends to add up quickly, it can be hard to save money. Being able to save money is important for many reasons such as in preparation for the future. If you have a family, this can be imperative for financial security. Many families often have a household income that can pay for monthly expenses but doesn’t afford them to save money beyond that as it is, which can make money going to substances even more difficult for the rest of the family unit. In some cases, there may be family vacations that the family would love to have, or maybe a larger vehicle would be a good investment, but the money simply isn’t there because it’s going towards substance use. Making good decisions for yourself, especially when you have a family of your own, will only bring more positive results to everyone in your life. Choose to break use your resources to your advantage so that you have the opportunity to build savings, get back on your feet, and stop contributing to an industry that has a negative impact on the lives of so many.

If you are currently suffering from a SUD, it is likely that you’re not making yourself a priority. Financially speaking, there may be many things that you’ve wanted to save for or things you’ve wanted to buy or do, but your money is going to the wrong things. Make a personal investment in yourself and get help today. Put your money into something that will make a tremendous positive impact on your life. Call us today at (805)719-7954.

How does Substance use Change a Person’s Health and Physical Appearance?

Not surprisingly, individuals who engage in substance use are likely to suffer from changes to their overall health and appearance. Those with substance abuse disorders (SUDs) that have been using for a long period of time will not only have their entire lives change, but they can ultimately end up feeling and appearing like a totally different person. Knowing what substances can do to one’s body is important to recognize those loved ones who need help but is also an incentive for those with SUDs to seek support to get help and get back to being themselves again.

Internal Health

More important than one’s physical appearance is their health and the way it is impacted based on prolonged substance use. The effects on health are not only determined by the type of substance ingested but by other factors such as the amount taken, how long it is taken, and whether it is taken with anything else. The class of substances known as stimulants such as methamphetamine and cocaine can lead to strokes, heart attacks, heart palpitations, blood clots, and damage to the heart. Use of inhalants may lead to the same health issues and even death. Mixing alcohol with any other type of substance significantly increases a person’s risk of ending up in a coma or dying. Substances such as ecstasy may cause an increase in body temperature and dehydration which inhibits effective blood flow throughout the body which can lead to the kidneys shutting down. Poor nutrition and impaired cognitive function are also on the list of adverse health effects as these two areas alone impact so much else of what they body does. Other ill effects for health due to prolonged substance use include addiction, contraction of HIV/AIDS, contraction of Hepatitis, mental illness, cancer, as well as lung and heart disease. It is important to note that substance use that occurs in women during pregnancy can cause their baby to develop differently than they normally would as well as for them to be born and have to face withdrawals. Additionally, substance use can alter the genetics, which can lead to mutated genes being passed on to babies, which may lead to health issues or the development of disorders in children.

External Appearance

All substances have differing effects on a person’s appearance, some similar to one another and others are specific to certain substances in particular. Use of steroids can cause the breasts to develop on male users in addition to causing serious acne all over the body, not just on the face. Also, there can be a reduction in hair growth for women and for men. If used at a younger age, steroids may even stunt your growth. Methamphetamine can cause changes in appearance such as the presence of wounds from a habit known as “picking” where users pick at their skin to alleviate various sensations. It also causes skin that looks as though it has lost its color in conjunction to causing acne. It also seriously impacts a user’s mouth in that it can cause them to clench their teeth, increase dry mouth, and impair one’s ability to take care of their teeth and in many cases an individual’s teeth may actually rot.

Methamphetamine will also cause users to lose their appetite which can result in severe weight loss due to malnourishment. If substance users inject their substance of choice intravenously, then they will likely have “trach marks” in places such as the ditch of their elbow from continued insertion of needles. These are all very negative effects of substance use and it can be hard on friends and family to see their loved one turning into a person that they hardly recognize. Getting into treatment and starting the road to recovery is the best way to change one’s physical appearance and begin to look healthy again. The body is surprisingly forgiving and if you suffer from a SUD, you should consider letting your body work its way back to health now before damage is irreparable while you work to get everything else back on track.

If you are currently suffering from a SUD, there is a chance that you may feel as though you have lost your way. You may not understand why you are where you are or how to find a way out. We want to help you get back on track. Make a personal investment in yourself and get help today. Having a team and really community of support to help get you through can offer piece of mind and a sense of security. At Enlight Treatment Center, we emphasize care and comfort and we want to be that team for you to help you overcome issues and get back to your best self. Whether you have questions or want to visit our facility and talk with us in person, we are always here for you. You can call us at (805)719-7954 or schedule a tour of our facility at 11811 Darlene Lane, Moorpark, CA 93021.

When Drinking Socially goes from fun to Dangerous

Drinking in social settings might not seem like such a bad thing, and for some people it isn’t. However, when done on a constant basis or includes being in the wrong place at the wrong time, it is easy for a seemingly innocent situation and harmless fun to get out of control. Not to mention, drinking socially can sometimes start off as the occasional activity and then slowly turn into an every night thing, which then can spiral into an addiction, or a substance use disorder (SUD). Alcohol falls within the variety of substances known as depressants and when consumed by someone who already suffers from depression, it generally makes their symptomologies much worse. They may feel lower emotionally, remember things that are highly upsetting, lash out at others because of past occurrences, and be unreasonable to anything that might contradict how they’re feeling. These instances can cause a lot of strain on the person themselves and those around them, however, this is only one part of why consuming alcohol socially is not always the best idea.

Driving Under the Influence

One of the biggest concerns about going anywhere and drinking is facing the possibility of driving under the influence, and while this discussion specifies alcohol as the substance of focus, driving under the influence means any type of substance within the body during the time behind the wheel. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided a report that stated that in 2016, over one million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence. What’s scarier? Over 100 million more drivers admitted to driving under the influence, they just weren’t caught. Unfortunately, over 10,000 people died in car accidents involving a drunk driver the same year as well. For those who have been drinking for a long time, you might assume that “you drive better when you’re drunk,” however, that does not excuse getting behind the wheel after having consumed alcohol or any other substance for that matter. You are not only putting your own life at risk, but you are endangering the lives of anyone else on the road with you at that time. If you plan to go out and know that drinking will be involved, don’t drive yourself. Choose a designated driver and carpool of choose to take an Uber or Lyft to and from your destination.

Inebriation in Unknown Places

Drinking socially can also come to include frequenting places that you’ve never been to before. Venturing out and exploring new places is not a bad thing, however, when alcohol is involved, it can make things scarier to navigate if you’re unfamiliar with your surroundings. New places mean a lot of new people, and sometimes, people unfortunately don’t always have the best of intentions. Should you be in an uncomfortable situation, you know how to find your way around the establishment and the area, and you also probably know a few people who would step in to help you if you needed it. This is not the case in unchartered territory, unless you bring a trusted friend with you. It is important that you have a plan before going out to different parts of town or with people that you don’t know that well. Bring someone with you if you can, have an escape plan should you need to leave early, and pay attention to everything going on around you so that you don’t miss anything. Also, keep in mind that there are many products currently available to help in situations like this such as Undercover Colors’ “SipChip Drink Spiking Test” or their nail polish line in which you place your finger into the cup and your nail polish changes colors if there are substances in the drink. Ingesting alcohol can be bad enough at times but adding in other substances will just make things much worse, plus put you in a bad situation, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

House Party Hibernation

It is not uncommon to attend parties at someone’s home. While many people may think that this is a better option for a place to gather and drink socially, it can actually end up being worse than going out. Some house parties end up including a wide variety of people, some of whom are underage, which can put you at greater risk of being in trouble should law enforcement show up. Furthermore, falling asleep at someone else’s house puts you at risk for issues such as someone stealing your things or worse, someone trying to harm you either physically or sexually. Going to a house party might seem much more low-key than dressing up and going out, but it is important that you take the necessary precautions to be safe. If you do find yourself in this kind of environment, make sure to keep substance consumption at a low because you want to be able to remember the evening and ensure that you get home safely.

If you are currently suffering from a SUD, there is a chance that you may feel as though you have lost your way. You may not understand why you are where you are or how to find a way out. We want to help you get back on track. Make a personal investment in yourself and get help today. Having a team and really community of support to help get you through can offer piece of mind and a sense of security. At Enlight Treatment Center, we emphasize care and comfort and we want to be that team for you to help you overcome issues and get back to your best self. Whether you have questions or want to visit our facility and talk with us in person, we are always here for you. You can call us at (805)719-7954 or schedule a tour of our facility at 11811 Darlene Lane, Moorpark, CA 93021.

How do Substance Use Disorders Start?

People who have a substance use disorder (SUD) may not remember exactly how their disorder started or why, but there are a few safe bets as to how things began. Some individuals begin using substances because they are offered it and want to try it, they went through a traumatic event or they were experiencing debilitating effects from mental health issues. Others might have found themselves in overwhelming environments or around people who were not good for them, whether they knew them personally or not. What is important to note is that no one who has a pervasive SUD ever thought that this is where they would end up. Their intentions weren’t to end up with an addiction, they simply wanted to escape pain or other negative emotions, or they wanted to try something that ended up being taken too far. When you’re younger everyone tells you about the negative aspects of substances and why they are awful, however, no one tells you about the negative aspects of life and how hard it will be as you get older. You start off on this road of life trying to do the best you can do but at some point things go astray, but by getting help and getting back on track, you can put your life together again and make it even better than it was before. That’s reason enough to have hope and faith in yourself.
The Different Types of Substance Uses

When talking about SUDs it is important to discuss more in depth the varying types of reasons that people end up using substances in the first place because everyone’s goal is not the same and addiction doesn’t always start in the same places for everyone. As someone who uses substances or if you know someone who uses them regularly, these scenarios will look familiar to you:

Salubrious usage: using substances as a means of gaining therapeutic benefits.

Usage based on situation: substances used socially to overcome anxiety or during exceptionally stressful times.

Recreational use: taking substances just for fun or to feel good.

Dependent usage:
taking substances because you have come to need them in order to function and make it through daily life.

Bingeing: partaking in larger amounts of substance use over a shorter period of time.

Experimenting: trying a substance based on being inquisitive.

Breaking down the different types of use can help people to recognize where they fall within these categories and find a way to either put a stop to these activities themselves or they can obtain help and get into the recovery community.

Opportunistic Activity

Since the majority of people will say that they use substances to escape from something, whether it is a situation, environment, or emotion, it is good to discuss why substances end up being the thing that they run to. Different substances have different side effects which can work to ease feelings and change one’s physiological state in varying ways so not everyone will gravitate towards the same substances. In some instances, people choose substances over other methods because they feel as though it’s the easier choice. One of the biggest issues concerning substance use that needs to be addressed is their availability. If you look at the cost of seeing a therapist or getting some kind of professional help to work through issues, you’ll notice that it’s quite expensive. Not that the costs of substances don’t add up and quickly, but in a weak moment, it’s easier to afford $20 for a substance than it is to pay out $150 for a therapy session. The fact that healthcare is exorbitant makes people feel as though they can’t take advantage of resources which is really unfortunate. Additionally, there are so many harmful substances that are legal. Some of the most used substances to date you can buy at a store or get from a pharmacy. Having these substances readily available for consumers not only increases the number of people who will be exposed to them, but it increases the likelihood that usage will turn into addiction. Regulation is very important to the future of addiction and recovery. Being able to move forward responsibly will not only help people now, but it will help keep SUDs from being so pervasive in the future.

Call to Action

If you are currently suffering from a SUD, there is a chance that you may feel as though you have lost your way. You may not understand why you are where you are or how to find a way out. We want to help you get back on track. Make a personal investment in yourself and get help today. Having a team and really community of support to help get you through can offer piece of mind and a sense of security. At Enlight Treatment Center, we emphasize care and comfort and we want to be that team for you to help you overcome issues and get back to your best self. Whether you have questions or want to visit our facility and talk with us in person, we are always here for you. You can call us at (805)719-7954 or schedule a tour of our facility at 11811 Darlene Lane, Moorpark, CA 93021.

Are There Consequences to Marijuana Use?

Marijuana is perhaps one of the least addictive of the commonly used drugs. Some people become dependent on it, but some actually do become addicted. It is most dangerous to adolescents, or when used with other substances. Despite marijuana becoming legal in many states, less is known about the consequences of its use.

Medical Marijuana

Much has been researched and is continually being researched about the medical benefits of using marijuana. Typically, it is Cannabidiol or CBD oil that is used for medical purposes. It is derived from the hemp plant and does not produce a “high” like marijuana, because it does not contain THC. Nor is it addictive. While there is still much to learn about the efficacy of its use, certain aspects of its safety have been established. Because it is not regulated by the FDA, though, there are still risks in using it. Many people with serious medical conditions like seizures, anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain have found relief using CBD oil.

Addicted to Marijuana

Marijuana, from the cannabis plant, is different. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in ten people who use marijuana will become addicted. That number increases in relation to adolescents who use marijuana. One in six teens will become addicted because their brains are still forming, which makes them more susceptible. Addiction is indicated when the use of marijuana interferes with many aspects of our lives and we are unable to stop using it.

The actual stats for addiction vs. dependency vary from study to study as some institutions use addiction and dependency interchangeably. However, addiction has far more severe behavioral consequences and requires medical intervention, while dependency can be broken without the help of treatment, even if it is still very difficult.

Dependent on Marijuana

Dependency on marijuana is more common, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA.) It is estimated that about 30 percent of adults who use marijuana become dependent on it. Dependency is different than addiction in that a person suffers withdrawal symptoms for approximately one to two weeks after stopping marijuana use. They may also experience mood changes, irritability, sleep difficulties, cravings or changes in appetites, amongst other physical experiences during the first two weeks.

During dependency, the brain actually adapts to the higher amounts of marijuana by reducing its own production of endocannabinoid neurotransmitters, as well as its sensitivity to them. This is why withdrawal occurs, and why there are so many side effects when we try to stop using it.

Consequences for Adolescents

The fact that addiction to marijuana occurs at a higher rate for adolescents vs. adults is one indicator that the consequences are also higher. Because our brains are not fully developed until we are around 25 years of age, marijuana can cause lasting harm to the developing brain. This can be seen in a loss of thinking and problem-solving skills decreased memory and learning, our coordination becoming impaired, as well as the ability to maintain attention. According to the CDC, these are permanent side effects and cannot be reversed. This means that the consequences of using marijuana as an adolescent are much greater.

Consequences of Higher Potency

There is another concern within the medical community about marijuana use, and research is only in the beginning stages to determine how severe the consequences are. This concern is about the potency of the THC levels within the marijuana that is being used today. According to NIDA, in the early 1990s, the THC levels in confiscated marijuana averaged about 3.8 percent. The potency of THC measured in 2014 was 12.2 percent. That increase is three times more potency within less than 15 years. While they are still unsure exactly what all of the consequences are of this increased potency, we need to be aware that there could also be increased ramifications for our personal health, including the propensity for dependency or addiction.

Consequences of Too Much Marijuana

Overdosing on marijuana is unlikely to prove fatal, according to the CDC. However, the side effects can be greatly increased when using too much. These side effects include anxiety, paranoia, panic, hallucinations, increased blood pressure or heart rate, and severe nausea or vomiting. The side effects of mixing marijuana with alcohol or other drugs can also be dangerous. This includes using marijuana with prescription drugs.

The trouble with marijuana is that its popularity has grown much faster than the research has. Because it is plant-based and unregulated by the government, it is impossible to know exactly what we are ingesting when we use it. What is the potency of the THC? What are the interactions with our bodies or prescription medications? No one knows, exactly. We don’t even know a lot about medical marijuana, other than it seems to be non-addictive. But we do know that marijuana is damaging to adolescents. We know we can become dependent and even addicted. And we know that if we have become addicted, we need to seek help. If you or someone you love needs help, please call us today at (805) 719-7954 to speak to one of our admissions experts.

The Sleep Factor

Sleep deprivation is one of nature’s cruelest tricks. Ask an insomniac, a parent of a newborn, or someone with an addiction. It is so much more than that awful feeling of being exhausted yet not able to sleep. It is more than just waking up tired, or even sleeping through an alarm because we didn’t get enough sleep. A lack of sleep leaves us at risk for a number of physical health issues, but also mental health issues. In fact, a lack of sleep is one of the reasons some people begin using substances in the first place. A lack of sleep can also interfere with our recovery, so it is something that truly requires our attention.

Physical Health Risks

So many people have trouble sleeping. Sometimes it is temporary and related to stressors in our lives. Most people go through periods of time with positive or negative stressors which impair their ability to sleep. When it goes beyond a few nights or even up to two weeks, then it becomes more problematic. There are obvious immediate impacts such as forgetfulness or fuzzy thinking. Or there are very serious risks such as having an accident at work or on the road, which can even be fatal.

Losing sleep can lower our immune system and make us more susceptible to things like the common cold. But it can also make us more susceptible to long term and serious issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and even some forms of cancer. People with poor sleep amounts are even at higher risk of developing dementia. Sleep loss impacts our bodies now and throughout our lives.

Mental Health Risks

Everyone knows that a lack of sleep can make us irritable. But sleep loss can also lead to anxiety and depression, or even issues as serious as hallucinations or paranoid thoughts. Those are actually vicious cycles because depression and anxiety can also cause sleep deprivation, if not changes in our general sleep habits. It can feel like a never-ending cycle of poor mental health.

Insomnia is a disorder in and of itself, characterized by difficulty falling asleep at night, paired with drowsiness during the day. There are also mood disorders such as bipolar disorder that greatly impact sleep. For example, when someone is manic or even hypomanic, they sleep very little and often feel great. But then the depression hits and they sleep excessively. Suffering from insomnia can cause mental health issues, but mental health issues can cause sleep problems. It can feel like an unwinnable battle.

Addiction via Sleep Deprivation

Whether it be stress, insomnia, depression, or whatever, when there is a long-term lack of sleep, some of us turn to alcohol or drugs in an attempt to regulate sleep. Alcohol is well-known for helping us to relax or even induce sleep. It does not always work as intended, though, and then we are even more tired the following day when we need to be awake and alert.

Daytime sleepiness leads to using stimulants to stay awake. However, without a doctor’s care, our self-medication ends up keeping us up at night. And another type of vicious cycle is born, using alcohol or sedatives every night and stimulants every day. Before we know it, we are addicted to one or more substances. And the worst of it is that often, we are still not getting enough sleep.

Still worse, addiction itself can cause sleep loss. It interrupts our normal brain function which interrupts our sleep patterns. Even if sleep wasn’t a problem before, many drugs can interfere with sleep. In addition to all of the other negative side effects and behavioral problems associated with addiction, now we are anywhere from cranky to depressed to having paranoid thoughts. Sleep loss itself is powerful, but together along with addiction, they can incapacitate us.

Sleep Issues in Recovery

Recovery is a process, and as part of that process, we sometimes experience sleep loss. Our brains have been dependent on chemical substances long enough to create an addiction. In recovery, we are cleansing not only our bodies but also our brains of those substances. This causes actual physical changes in our brain, and as a part of this process, sometimes sleep is impaired.

There is also an emotional roller coaster that happens in recovery that can send our moods up and down, sometimes both within a very short period of time. Depression is a common side effect of recovery, too, because of all of the changes we are experiencing. Perhaps one of the most dangerous effects of sleep loss during recovery is the high risk of relapse associated with a lack of sleep.

If we have been active in our addictions, we could be experiencing so many symptoms and side effects. But one of the most miserable side effects is a lack of sleep. We are exhausted and just tired of being tired. Tired of going up and going down, tired of trying to self-medicate. It is time for us to head toward health and a good night’s sleep. Don’t spend another night anxiously counting sheep, call Enlight today at (805) 719-7954 to speak to one of our admissions experts.