Part of the drug rehab process is to know how long a particular substance stays in your system. The presence of which can make a person more vulnerable to relapse during the course of their drug addiction treatment. For drug rehabilitation to be effective, certain steps have to be taken to ensure long-term recovery.
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug – at least, in places where it is still considered illegal to “smoke a joint” for recreational or medical purposes. In spite of its proven benefits and legal status in many U.S. states, marijuana is just like any other drug. It can be abused and lead to drug addiction, which will then require you to undergo a drug addiction program.
Studies show that 30 percent of Americans who used the drug developed some kind of marijuana use disorder. The Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHA) has a more humble estimate where only 1 out of 10 people who use marijuana actually become addicted to the drug.
Teenagers have a greater risk for marijuana addiction. According to SAMHA, about 1 in 6 people who started using it before the age of 18 grew up to develop it.
The Effects of Marijuana and its Importance in Drug Rehab
Marijuana is a drug derived from the cannabis plant. It can alter your mood, behavior, perception, level of consciousness, and cognitive performance. Ultimately, it affects the brain and how it functions.
Some common symptoms of marijuana use are:
Changed perception and sense of time
Difficulty concentrating and thinking
Impaired short-term memory
Feelings of euphoria or “high”
Marijuana use also leads to physical symptoms such as increased appetite, poor body coordination, dryness of the mouth, swollen eyes, and relaxation. When taken in large doses, it triggers delusions and hallucinations.
These symptoms can be attributed to a cannabinoid called delta-9-hydrocannabinol or simply THC. It is the main psychoactive component of cannabis. Most of these symptoms occur with short-term use. However, prolonged exposure to marijuana has been linked to more serious complications like impaired cognitive ability and an increased risk for mental illness.
Drug addiction treatment can help you curb the long-term effects of marijuana addiction.
How long do you have to wait for marijuana to take effect?
THC has to be absorbed into the bloodstream before its effects can kick in. The faster it happens, the quicker the results.
When you smoke weed, the THC is almost instantly absorbed into your blood. Because of this, the effects can be felt within minutes after smoking. Marijuana that is taken orally has to undergo digestion. So it won’t be until 20 minutes to an hour before you will start feeling its effects.
How long does a marijuana high last?
How long you stay high will depend on numerous factors. Things such as how it was taken (smoked or ingested), the strain of cannabis (i.e. sativa, indica), the amount, and the quality of the drug used can all influence the duration of its symptoms. Generally speaking, the effects of marijuana can last anywhere from one to three hours, or up to 24 hours.
How long does marijuana stay in your body?
Overcoming a high doesn’t mean that a drug is totally out of your system. It can linger well after its effects are gone. How long it stays depends on its half-life or the time it takes to eliminate half of the drug.
With marijuana use, the body breaks down the cannabinoids into metabolites and stores them in fat cells. THC alone produces 80 different metabolites. Some of these metabolites have a half-life of 20 hours while others have 10 to 13 days.
It takes 5 to 6 half-lives for a substance to be almost completely eliminated from the body. Considering the half-life of THC metabolites, this means that marijuana can stay in your system for up to 78 days since the last time you smoked or ingested it. During which time, you can test positive for marijuana use.
Undergoing detox and drug rehabilitation will remove the marijuana from your system.
Blood and saliva test
Doctors rarely order a blood test to check for marijuana. That’s because it doesn’t stay too long in the bloodstream.
They might order a blood or saliva test, but it can only assess if a person is currently intoxicated – not the degree of intoxication. These can turn out inaccurate as they might give a ‘false negative’ even if it has only been a few hours since the last use.
The urine can also be tested for marijuana. Unfortunately, it can only indicate recent use but not the level of intoxication or impairment.
Cannabinoids are stored in hair so it can be tested as well. However, the hair test is only accurate for people who use marijuana daily or almost every day. Those who take it less often may register a false negative.
The Dangers of Marijuana Addiction Long-term exposure to marijuana causes THC to build up in the body. But it’s not just a positive drug test that you should worry about.
Cannabis as a gateway drug
Studies suggest that repeated marijuana use changes the brain and how it responds to “hard drugs” like opiates. Basically, it makes you more receptive to their effects, which could then lead to addictive behaviour.
People who use large amounts of marijuana for an extended period have it worse. Research shows they can experience cannabis withdrawal syndrome within weeks of quitting. It is characterized by anxiety, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, nausea, general weakness, sweating, and stomach pain.
While not essentially dangerous, cannabis withdrawal can make it impossible to sustain lasting recovery.
Marijuana Use and Long Beach Drug Rehab
Long-term marijuana use poses dangers to one’s physical, mental, and emotional health. The only way you can break this cycle is by seeking drug addiction treatment.
Drug rehab in Long Beach offers numerous benefits including:
Preventing marijuana abuse from progressing into full-blown drug addiction.
Helping you cope with cannabis withdrawal so you can more easily transition into recovery.
Minimizing the risks associated with prolonged use of marijuana.
Convenient access to drug rehabilitation near Long Beach, CA.
Marijuana may be legally acceptable in some states. But like any drug, it can be abused. At Roots Through Recovery, we give patients the opportunity to recover from marijuana addiction. That is why we offer drug rehab in Long Beach as well as sober living options. Visit 3939 Atlantic Ave, Suite 102 Long Beach, CA 90807 or call (866) 766-8776 for immediate assistance.
Adderall is a potent drug made of amphetamine and dextroamphethamine. Made in the mid 90’s by Shire Inc. (Now Duramed Pharmaceuticals), the prescription drug was marketed as a treatment for Narcolepsy and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). However, due to its side effects, it was used for other things aside from what it is sold for.
How does it work?
Adderall works by raising dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the central system. Norepinephrine is a stress hormone and neurotransmitter, and an increased level can enhance focus and reaction to stimuli. Dopamine, on the other hand, is the body’s “feel good” hormone, and an increased level creates a rewarding effect (a.k.a. high).
People taking Adderall feel more focused, energetic and self-confident. This effect in the nervous system is why it is used as a “smart drug” on college campuses. As it also suppresses appetite, those who want to lose weight misuse this drug as well.
When the effects of Adderall fade though, the person taking it often feels tired and unfocused. And this is where the cycle of dependence on Adderall starts. Do note though that not everyone who takes Adderall develops dependence (then later on, addiction) to the drug. But when it does, the long term effects can be detrimental to one’s health.
How long does the high stay?
Normally, Adderall starts kicking in at 45-60 minutes upon taking. The peak of its effect starts at 2-3 hours after taking, and subsides after that. In total, 1 tablet gives you 4-6 hours of high.
If you’re taking Adderall XR, the extended release version of Adderall, the effect starts kicking in at 30-60 minutes upon consumption, then peaks at four to seven hours after. The effects last up to 12 hours.
How long does Adderall stay in your system?
Adderall’s half life is about 10 hours. This means, if you took the 10 mg of the drug at 10 PM, 5 mg of the drug has left your body at 8 AM, then 2.5 mg at 10 AM, and so forth until there is none left in your body.
Adderall is absorbed in your gastrointestinal tract, then broken down in your liver. While it exits your body via your urine, it goes throughout your body and can be detected in several ways.
In your urine, it can be detected up to four days after last use. In your blood, it can be detected up to 46 hours. In your saliva, it can stay up to 20-50 hours. Lastly, in hair, it can be detectable for up to 3 months.
Do note though that the duration of Adderall in your body depends on certain factors, which will be discussed below.
What affects drug duration?
There are a number of factors that affect the duration of Adderall in your body:
Health and physical makeup – A person’s health and physical makeup affects the length of time Adderall stays in the body. As a rule of thumb, the healthier the person, the shorter the drug stays in the body. In the same way, the more body fat a person has, the faster it leaves his or her system.
Metabolism – The faster your metabolism, the faster Adderall leaves your body.
Age –As you get older, medications, in general, leave your system longer. This is because your liver decreases in size as you get older, thus, it can take your liver longer to break down the drug. In addition, your body’s physiological make up changes as you grow older and this can affect how long your body metabolizes the drug.
Current mental state – A person struggling with stress or anxiety absorbs Adderall at a slower rate, compared to someone who is not stressed or dealing with any mental disorder.
Frequency of use –The longer the person uses the drug, the longer the drug stays in the body.
Dosage –In addition to frequency, dosage, too, affects the duration of Adderall in the body. The higher the dosage, the longer it takes for the drug to exit the body.
What are the long term side effects?
Prolonged or misuse of Adderall can have long term side effects on both your physical and mental health. For starters, it can cause dependence on the drug. The longer you use the drug, the more likely you develop a tolerance for it, making you need a higher dosage.
Other potential long term side effects of Adderall include:
The longer you take the drug, the worse the long-term side effects get.
It’s not just your personal health that gets affected. Adderall addiction, just like any other prescription drug addiction, can affect your life in its entirety. You might lose your job, run into financial troubles, and even destroy your relationship with your loved ones.
How do you deal with Adderall Addiction safely?
Let’s face it. No one wants to have a prescription drug addiction or substance abuse, knowing how it can affect our physical and mental health in the long run. But when you’re hooked to the substance, quitting is not only easier said than done, but dangerous as well.
Adderall withdrawal can be uncomfortable and at times, fatal. When you quit cold turkey, your dopamine level plummets and your body and brain have to adjust again to the change.
Some of the things you might experience after quitting Adderall on your own are: depression and other changes in your mood, fatigue, insomnia, stomach aches, nausea, and vomiting. These effects might even last for several weeks.
If you want to safely address your addiction to Adderall, you may need to seek professional help. Assisted detoxification in a drug rehab center in Catalina Island will help you overcome your addiction to Adderall without suffering from the painful withdrawal symptoms that come with it. Visit Roots Through Recovery at 3939 Atlantic Ave, Suite 102 Long Beach, CA 90807 or call (866) 766-8776 for immediate assistance.
Also known as Whippets, whip-its, or laughing gas, Nitrous Oxide is probably one of the most common substances people can get addicted to. Because it’s relatively easy to procure as it’s available everywhere, many are not aware of the dangers this substance brings.
Here are 10 things you need to know about Whippit, including its fatal potentials:
1. It goes by many names
Nitrous Oxide goes by many names. To name a few: Whippet, Whippit, Hippie Crack, Laughing gas, and balloon. But Whippit is its most popular moniker. Whippits are so-named because of its use: “recharging” reusable whipped cream dispenser.
2. It has been used medically (and recreationally) for a long time
In 1844, Professor Gardner Quincy Colton was the first to use Nitrous Oxide as an anaesthetic thanks to the discovery by Dr. Horace Wells in one of Professor Colton’s shows. During the show, drugstore clerk Sam Cooley badly gashed his leg after running amok under the influence of a moderate amount of nitrous oxide. Cooley reported no pain despite the injury.
This gave Dr. Wells the idea that a higher amount might be able to render one insensitive to pain during surgeries and tooth extractions. They soon tested this out by removing Dr. Well’s molar with the help of his partner, Dr. John Riggs. With the success of the experiment, they soon administered nitrous oxide to 12 other patients in the next month.
Later on, the use of nitrous oxide as anaesthetic for tooth extraction and surgery was adopted by the Colton Dental Association clinics in 1863.
3. It’s used in other things, too!
Question: What does “Fast and the Furious” and dentistry have in common?
Answer: Nitrous Oxide. In street racing, many cars are equipped with nitrous oxide engines to give their rides a lot of boost when needed. Nitrous oxide breaks down at a higher temperature, thus releasing more oxygen compared to air alone. This results in a powerful combustion that propels the car even further, fast.
4. When administered by a health professional, it’s safe.
When used in a prescribed dose under surveillance by a health professional, Nitrous Oxide is technically safe according to Columbia University. It is often used as an anesthetic agent in dental, medical and veterinary operations.
Inhaling Nitrous Oxide produces a sensation of relaxation and reduced sensitivity to pain.
5. Noone takes Nitrous Oxide Seriously, but they are deadly when misused
When you think of “drug addiction”, Nitrous Oxide would probably be the last thing on your mind. For starters, whippits aren’t exactly black market material, because you can buy them LEGALLY and for cheap. Secondly, as they’re often associated with kids and younger teens, they’re not exactly the sexiest drug in the market.
But while they’re considered benign compared to other drugs, their effects are no laughing matter (puns very much intended). One of the most obvious dangers of whippit use is falling unconscious and hitting one’s head during the fall, or drowning in one’s own vomit (Although Nitrous Oxide causing vomiting is still subject to debate).
Whippit can also cause loss of motor coordination and altered perception, limb spasms, depression of the heart muscles, and worst of all, death by the lack of oxygen going to the brain.
6. Inhaling them straight from the canister is even deadlier
Inhaling straight from the canister in the hopes of getting high, fast, will cause your mouth and airways to freeze. This can lead to severe medical problems, or worse, death.
7. Balloons are touted as the “safest” way to whippit
Balloons are the least risky way to consume Nitrous Oxide, according to this website.
To use a balloon, simply blow some air into the balloon then hook it up to a nitrous oxide canister. Once the balloon is filled with nitrous oxide, seal the opening. Breathe some of the air inside the balloon and hold it in your lungs for a few seconds. Exhale, then repeat until you get the desired high.
Do note that nitrous oxide is still dangerous, no matter how it is administered without the help of a medical professional.
8. It works differently than other drugs
Unlike most drugs that target your brain’s reward system, Nitrous Oxide works by depriving your brain of oxygen. This causes a sensation of floating, dizziness and euphoria. It can even make you laugh, thus, “laughing gas”.
9. Vitamin B12 can treat some of its effects
Vitamin B12 is one of the treatments given to counter some of the side effects of whippit. One of the side effects of Whippit misuse is Vitamin B12 deficiency, which in turn, can lead to other health problems such as memory problems and mood changes.
When administered right away, Vitamin B12 can prevent and combat these side effects while your body recuperates from whippit misuse.
10. They’re addictive, but treatable
It may not be as addictive as heroin and other popular and more dangerous substances. But whippit addiction and overdose are not impossible. As the effects are often short lived (about 30 to 60 seconds), you may find yourself wanting to relive the same high again and again. And as whippits are accessible, it’s easier to get hooked on them.
But just like any other addiction, they’re treatable.
If you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction in Long Beach, don’t hesitate to seek help. Rehab and detox facilities like Roots Through Recovery have programs that can help you combat whippit or inhalant addiction as well as any co occurring conditions. Roots Through Recovery facility in Long Beach is easily accessible via South Bay, Catalina Island, and Orange County. Visit 3939 Atlantic Ave, Suite 102 Long Beach, CA 90807 or call (866) 766-8776.
This drug has not only given Houston a nasty monicker but has also sent Lil’ Wayne spiraling into a dangerous drug addiction he got hospitalized for in 2016. So what exactly is Lean and why is it notorious not just in Houston, but all over America? Let’s take a deeper look at this drug, its connection with the Hip-hop and pop culture, and why it’s dangerous.
What is Lean?
Also called Purple Drank, Texas Tea, or Sizzurp, Lean is a lethal cocktail made of codeine-based cough syrup, soda and hard candy (preferably Jolly Ranchers). Codeine is a poppy-derived narcotic pain reliever and cough suppressant. While it’s considered an opioid, it’s weaker than morphine.
However, codeine is still highly addictive and long term use can cause damage to the body.
Other variations use Dextromethorphan (DXM) instead of codeine, with the addition of alcohol.
Where did it come from?
Lean has been around for the past 5 decades. Its earliest predecessor was a mixture of Robitussin and beer taken by blues musicians back in the 1960s in Houston. Later, beer was replaced by wine coolers. It wasn’t until the 1980s when Codeine replaced Robitussin by Houston rappers as the principal ingredient of Lean.
By early ‘90’s, Houston-based DJ Screw brought the concoction out of the Houston underground scene into a wider audience in Texas with Chopped and Screwed, a Hiphop music style which was said to be inspired by the effect of Lean. it was said that drinking Lean enhanced the experience of listening to chopped and screwed music.
It wasn’t until DJ Screw’s death in the year 2000 that Lean was majorly outlawed in Houston.
By late ’90s and early 2000s, the popularity of Lean has spread nationwide thanks to the music of Three 6 Mafia and Lil’ Wayne. Since then, a lot of celebrities have admitted to using and almost dying of lean drug abuse and misuse, including American rapper Future, Juice Wrld, and Justin Beiber.
In a TMZ report in 2017, rapper Lil’ Wayne has suffered seizures that landed him in the hospital a couple of times due to the consumption of high volumes of codeine. While he acknowledged difficulty to quit, saying going without it was like “death in your stomach”.
Despite the number of celebrities warning others about the dangerous effects of the codeine or DXM concoction, many still glamorize the drink and even named it the “Heroin of the Hiphop world”.
Why is it popular?
Lean is popular because of the high it gives to the person drinking.
Codeine, one of lean’s main ingredients, works the same way as other opiates, by slowing down brain activity. This then translates to a feeling of euphoria and extreme relaxation (pretty much like floating). After drinking, the effects start to kick in in about 30-45 minutes, depending on how much codeine the concoction contains, and lasts for 6 hours.
Another reason for its popularity is the accessibility of its main ingredients. Codeine, compared to other opiates, is easier to procure as it’s less regulated. But getting products containing codeine will still require a prescription to avoid misuse.
No prescription? No problem. Dextromethorphan (DXM) can be bought without prescription (although, in some states, you need to be 18 to buy medication that contains this ingredient). The effect of DXM, however, is much similar to that of ketamine, which is a hallucinogenic.
The Effects of Lean and Why it’s Dangerous
Undesirable Short Term Effects
Apart from the euphoria and the ethereal calm it gives you, drinking lean can also cause these other side effects:
Dizziness, nausea, and vomiting
Slowed heart rate
Loss of coordination
Loss of consciousness
Long term Effects
Long term use of codeine can also have fatal consequences. With increased intake, the body could develop tolerance, which could lead to dependence, and later on, addiction.
In addition, it can also cause liver damage. Acetaminophen is commonly found in cough medication that is used in making lean. And we’re talking about high levels of cough medication. High amounts of Acetaminophen can overwork your liver, thus preventing it to properly metabolize the chemicals.
Prolonged use of codeine can also lead to brain lesions that could cause cognitive impairment, memory loss, and changes in behavior. It can also lead to psychosis.
Introduction to other Opioids
Codeine is a gateway drug, which could lead to the use of more potent opioids, such as morphine, heroin, and fentanyl.
Mixing with Alcohol and other Substances
In extreme cases, lean is often mixed with alcohol to enhance its effect, or to shorten the onset time.
While this combination can get you higher, it’s not always a good idea. Mixing alcohol with codeine or DXM can, at the very least, cause trouble breathing, sleepiness, delayed reaction time and brain fog. At worse, it can cause respiratory depression, which could lead to a coma or death due to the lack of oxygen in the brain.
If you are taking other prescription medication, or other illicit drugs, this can have a harmful interaction with codeine or DXM. For instance, it can intensify the sedating effects of antidepressants.
DXM and Robotripping
Some lean drinkers replace codeine with DXM as they’re easier to procure. DXM can be found in cough medications such as NyQuil and Robitussin, which can be purchased over the counter. The use of DXM instead of codeine is called Robotripping, and its effect is much similar to ketamine than codeine. It causes hallucinations and the sensation of flying.
Robotripping is just as dangerous as drinking lean with codeine. Overdosing on DXM can cause:
Blue lips and fingernails
High blood pressure
Elevated body temperature
It’s easy to underestimate the power of lean and its potential to cause drug addiction. For starters, codeine is considered a weaker opioid. Long term use, however, can be fatal. It has, as a matter of fact, led to the deaths of many prominent figures such as A$AP Yam and DJ Screw.
If you or someone you know is suffering from Lean addiction, know that it is never too late. Seeking professional help is the best option. Addiction to opioid will require medically-assisted detoxification as the withdrawal symptoms can be very painful and in some instances, deadly. Call Roots Through Recovery via (866) 766-8776 to schedule a FREE consultation with our team or visit us at 3939 Atlantic Ave, Suite 102 Long Beach, CA 90807.
Drug addiction does not only affect the person suffering from it. It causes a nasty ripple effect that touches everyone around that person. Partners become alienated, kids suddenly need to assume responsibilities they’re not ready for, and employers lose money because of the sufferer’s productivity and attendance issues.
The sufferer, however, does not see the impact of his addiction as his main focus is on acquiring and consuming drugs. Hopefully, this will offer a bit of perspective on the effects of drug addiction on an economic and personal scale.
Average Costs of Drugs in the US
As of 2007, the estimated overall annual cost of illicit drugs in the US is around USD 193 Billion according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, with around USD 55.7 Billion of this attributed to the misuse of prescription opioids.
It is, however, difficult to determine the average cost of drug addiction per person as factors such as location, accessibility, and insurances can affect the price of the drug. But just to give you a rough estimate on the cost of some of the popular drugs used in the US:
Marijuana – Depending on where you’re located and the quality of the marijuana you’re purchasing, it can be as cheap as $138.22 per ounce (if you’re purchasing low-grade weed in Arkansas), or almost $600 per ounce on high-quality weed if you’re in D.C. The cost doesn’t include the paraphernalia used to smoke marijuana, such as the pipe and the paper you roll it with.
Prescription opioids – Opioid is the umbrella term for a wide variety of painkillers which are either derived from the poppy plant or synthetically produced. Prices for each type vary depending on how addictive and how strong its effect is. Usually, the less addictive opioids are more expensive.
Where you buy it also matters. Vicodin, for instance, can be bought $1.26 per pill with prescription and insurance. On the street, the price is jacked up 4 fold at $5 per pill. And as you need to take more than 1 pill to get the effect, you need to buy more, thus increasing the cost exponentially.
Heroin – Heroin is the answer to expensive regulated opioids, with the average retail cost of 1 gram at $307 as of 2017 according to the data by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Following this model, if you’re consuming around 10 baggies per day, you spend about $153.50 daily or around $4298 per month.
Cocaine – The average retail cost per gram of cocaine as of 2017 is around $96 according to UNODC. Depending on the usage, daily consumption of cocaine could go around almost $500.
More Than Just Finances
The price of drug addiction extends beyond the financial drain it can cost you and your family. It can also put you, your family and your community in jeopardy as well.
But before we talk about the effects of drug addiction to you and the people around you, let’s talk about how drugs work.
As our brains are wired to repeat experiences we find pleasurable, we are motivated to do them again and again. Drugs take advantage of this by flooding our brains with dopamine, thus triggering an intense feeling of pleasure. As a result, we keep taking the drug.
Over time, we start developing a tolerance for the dopamine that we require an extra amount to get the same feeling again. Eventually, the other things we find pleasurable (spending time with family, sports, and food) no longer give us the same joy as drugs do.
And this is where things get ugly.
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, drug overdose has claimed more than 70,000 lives already in 2017. That means there are more deaths related to drug abuse than any other preventable health conditions or injuries.
As drugs are chemicals, prolonged use can lead to health and mental problems. Depending on the type of drug you are addicted to, you could suffer from one or more health problems as a result. To name a few, drug addiction can lead to a weakened immune system, thereby making you more susceptible to other diseases.
Prolonged and heavy use of drugs can also lead to irreversible brain damage.
In addition to the established ill effects on one’s health, drugs can also make you vulnerable to infectious diseases through the sharing of needles and unprotected sex while high on drugs.
Effect on Relationships
Drug addiction is not just a condition of one person. Its effect impacts the people around the user as well. Hence, it’s also considered a family disease.
Partners of users become susceptible to violence and abuse, especially when they’re living in one roof. Additionally, they become codependent as well, thus trapping both of them in a toxic relationship.
Children, too, bear the brunt of a parent’s addiction. They start assuming responsibilities they are not ready for because their parent can’t function. The neglect and abuse they experience in the hands of an addicted parent will have a negative impact on their adulthood.
Often, children whose parent or parents suffer from drug addiction are more likely to become addicts themselves. Otherwise, they will have a higher tendency to have anxiety and trust issues as adults.
As drugs alter brain activity, users have lower inhibitions and are therefore more inclined to commit crimes with no remorse.
Rehabilitation: Why it’s worth the cost
If you or a loved one is suffering from drug addiction, seek help immediately. Upfront, drug rehabilitation and treatment costs may be steep. But in the long run, it is cheaper considering its benefits. For starters, it not only reduces the cost of drug use. It also lowers the associated health and social costs.
Mindfulness is a meditative practice, a moment-by-moment awareness of what’s happening in our environment and within us in the present moment. By focusing wholly on the present, we avoid obsessing on events in the past or stressing about what might happen in the future.
We all have the ability to be mindful. It doesn’t take great skill or a lot of schooling to master. You can do it anywhere, anytime; at work, at home, or while walking down the street. It does not ask us to change who we are.
Anybody can do it, and there are vast bodies of evidence that suggest that it can help us overcome a lot of issues.
Wherever you go, there you are
Addiction, anxiety, and mental health conditions are things that typically take us away from the present moment. When we are in the throes of one of these disorders, we are consumed with trying to escape the present because it represents discomfort, agitation, and pain.
Paradoxically, by focusing only on the present—on the things you feel within your body and what’s going on around you—it is possible to change how you respond to the discomfort of addiction and mental health issues. Learning how to deal with these feelings can encourage a different way of behaving, too. For example, it may prevent you from reacting impulsively to a stressful situation, helping you trade neutral, non-judgmental thoughts for those that trigger addictive behavior.
This principle is the core of mindfulness.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is an ancient meditation technique that goes back thousands of years. Though it is practiced in many cultures and religions, the type of mindfulness used in addiction and mental health treatment is most closely related to Buddhist practice. In this culture, it is described as “paying attention purposefully, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
In terms of addiction and mental health, the non-judgmental aspect is key as much of the angst we feel is a direct result of a judgment we have made. Thoughts and sensations themselves do not have judgment attached to them. It’s how you decide to respond to those thoughts that create the judgmental aspect.
If you do not respond to those thoughts, if you choose instead just to notice the sensations without any further acknowledgment, you do not pass judgment. Without judgment, there is no need for anxiety, self-deprecating, or harmful thoughts.
What is mindfulness meditation?
Meditation is used by people from cultures all over the world to bring a sense of peace and calm and to improve various aspects of their lives.
There are meditative aspects in many of the things we do every day, from doing the dishes to enjoying your favorite music. In fact, you may already be practicing mindfulness meditation on some level, even if you don’t realize it.
There are many different types of meditation, but mindfulness meditation places a particular focus on the awareness of oneself and the immediate surroundings.
All types of meditation have a few things in common. In any case, the way you approach it is much the same:
Find a quiet, calm environment where you are unlikely to be disturbed
Settle yourself in a comfortable position, usually seated
Relax your body and mind and release stressful thoughts
Use deep breaths to oxygenate your blood
In mindfulness meditation, you are also asked to be fully present and aware of yourself and your surroundings.
You will notice your thoughts, your breath, the temperature of the cool air as it enters your nostrils and the warmth of it as you exhale.
Open your mind to accept thoughts as they come to you.
As thoughts enter your mind, as you feel the sensations on your skin and within your body, you will observe them without judging them. You will accept these thoughts, choosing not to linger on them. Your thoughts are neither good nor bad, right or wrong. They simply are.
During this meditation, you will take inventory of each part of your body and notice how it feels, the sensations as the air passes over it, the pressure of the chair beneath you. You will notice the smells and sounds of what is going on around you and, in many cases, the anxiety and worry that you typically experience will ease.
This is the essence of mindfulness.
Our mind, when left to its own devices, will instantly judge a person or situation as good or bad, fair or unfair, important or unimportant. In many cases, this happens so quickly that our responses are reactive and can sometimes lead us down a dark path.
When we practice mindfulness, we do not allow judgment. We can gain perspective on our thoughts and find the freedom to choose how we proceed.
If the concept of mindfulness meditation is new to you, it might be helpful to start with a guided meditation, like this one:
Mindfulness meditation for mental health conditions and addiction
Though mindfulness may not replace frontline therapies for some of these conditions, it can significantly improve clinical outcomes, reduce symptoms, and help to establish coping behaviors that allow other treatments such as mental health treatment, etc… to work more effectively.
One of the other benefits of mindful meditation is that it doesn’t interfere with other treatments and can actually enhance long-term results. It can be practiced at home, at work, or with your therapist. Once you have learned the techniques, you will be able to apply it to any situation, anytime you need it.
Mindfulness for substance abuse and addiction
In recent years, mindfulness training has been studied extensively as an intervention for addictions and addictive behaviors that include smoking, drinking, and various forms of substance abuse.
The outcomes of these studies show that mindful-based interventions (MBIs) can reduce cravings and substance misuse. Better still, approaches like Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention can also work to prevent relapse in the future. Mindfulness staves off destructive thoughts that have the potential to derail your sobriety.
By focusing on the present moment rather than allowing your mind to obsess over a craving, you will effectively, and immediately deflect your response. Continue to practice, and this could be a sustainable method of achieving your recovery goals.
Getting started with mindful meditation
When learning mindful meditation, you may work with a therapist who can guide you through the process. Whether you pick it up quickly or if it takes some time to feel a level of comfort with the process, the results are immediately noticeable. With patience, perseverance, and commitment, the rewards will come. As you become more comfortable with mindfulness, you can incorporate them into everyday life to reduce stress and help you cope with “slippery” situations.
You can begin practicing mindfulness right away simply by taking notice of where you are, what you are doing, and what’s going on around you. The key is to accept these things without judgment and without becoming overwhelmed. If you need a guide, you can find great guided meditations like the YouTube video above, and there are also great apps and podcasts available.
There’s no need to buy anything, and you don’t need a doctor to show you how. Keep in mind that your mind will wander and attempt to hijack your serenity with judgmental thoughts. When these thoughts arise, just go back to your breath; breathe in, breathe out. Just breathe.
If you would like to learn more about mindfulness for addiction and mental health, we would love to help. Reach out today to get started.