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Anxiety and the Increase in Benzo Use

Anxiety and the Increase in Benzo Use

Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, are commonly prescribed to combat anxiety and sleep disorders like insomnia. In the last fifteen years, benzo use has been steadily rising, and along with it have come higher death rates, notably when these drugs are used in combination with opiates or opioids.

One in four people who are prescribed benzodiazepines will abuse them

According to a study published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 30.5 million American adults use benzodiazepines, representing between four and six percent of the population. Of those, about 17 percent overuse, or take them for uses other than they were intended.

A short-term solution

Generally, benzodiazepines are never recommended for long-term use, and rarely without an adjunct therapy, like psychiatric counseling or cognitive behavioral therapy. If taken as prescribed, and only for a short duration of treatment, they help address issues such as anxiety, seizures, and insomnia. They are also used in conjunction with treatment for alcohol addiction to ease tremors and other symptoms.

Some commonly prescribed benzos include:

  • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • Xanax (alprazolam)
  • Valium (diazepam)
  • Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Restoril (temazepam)
  • Halcion (triazolam)
  • Serax (oxazepam)

Because they are not as strictly controlled as opioids, they are often easy to obtain from a doctor. However, in about 20 percent of cases that result in benzo abuse, users get them from a friend or family member.

Because they are so effective at relieving anxiety, they can become highly addictive, leading some to look no further for a solution to their problem.

Benzo use is on the rise

As life becomes more hectic, fast-paced, and stress-filled, benzos can become a quick fix that eventually turns into a habit. While many doctors recognize that there are many non-drug interventions that can be more effective over the long term, the fact remains that prescriptions for benzodiazepines have doubled over the past 20 years.

Living in the age of anxiety

Anxiety, panic, and fear are very real in this day and age, and not just to those with a diagnosed mental illness. The pressure to perform at work, to engage in social media, or to over-achieve in school can be enough to drive anybody over the edge.

If an individual is not encouraged to seek an alternative treatment, taking a pill now and then may seem harmless enough. If it helps us cope with the constant barrage of noise we are faced with every day, it might seem like a godsend – at least, at first.

Ironically, the symptoms of benzo overuse are much the same as the symptoms for which they are prescribed. Anxiety, insomnia, headaches, dizziness, weakness – all of these can manifest as a result of benzo withdrawal. Symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to several months, and prolonged withdrawal is not uncommon, sometimes years after the drugs have been discontinued.

Getting help for benzo dependency

Recovering from benzo dependence is not something you should attempt on your own. With the right interventions and treatments, it is possible to put it behind you and take back control of your life – and learn how to cope with your anxiety.

If you or a loved one is struggling with a benzo dependency, we can help. Reach out today to get started.

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms and Treatment

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms and Treatment

Bipolar disorder is a serious condition that affects anywhere from three to ten percent of adults in America. According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization, bipolar is the sixth leading cause of disability in the world, putting it right up there with diabetes and heart disease.

It is a lifelong condition that is, in most cases, treated very effectively with medications and other forms of cognitive therapy. However, it can be dangerous if left undiagnosed and untreated, leading to significant challenges that can affect just about every aspect of life. It may make it difficult to hold a job, and personal relationships can become challenging. The important thing is to recognize its potential and seek treatment as soon as possible.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Though it is characterized by extreme behavior and polarizing mood swings that range from deep depression to manic, emotional highs, people with bipolar don’t always experience it the same way. The symptoms can be unpredictable, causing great distress to the individual and others in their life.

Symptoms of bipolar disorder can include one or many of the following:


Though mania and hypomania are different in the way they present, they have the same symptoms, for the most part. Hypomania is less severe, but can still cause significant problems at work, at school, and in life in general.

A manic or hypomanic episode includes three or more of these characteristics:

  • Abnormally jumpy
  • Increased energy and agitation
  • Euphoria, characterized by an exaggerated sense of self-confidence
  • Grandiose ideas about one’s own power and abilities
  • Sleeplessness
  • Unusually talkative to the point where others can’t keep up
  • Thoughts racing
  • Inability to concentrate or focus
  • Risky, impulsive behavior (promiscuity, gambling, overspending)
  • Severe cases may present delusions or hallucinations

Depressive episodes

A major depressive episode will cause notable challenges in completing routine day-to-day tasks and activities. It may be difficult to find the energy to go to work or school or to participate in social activities.

A major depressive episode is determined if the individual shows five or more of these symptoms:

  • Depressed mood, feeling sad, hopeless, or irritable
  • Loss of interest in the things they usually love to do
  • Sudden loss or increase of appetite resulting in weight loss or weight gain
  • Oversleeping or insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Slow to respond to stimuli
  • Low energy or extreme fatigue
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Excessive feelings of inappropriate guilt
  • Inability to think, concentrate, or make decisions
  • Suicidal thoughts, talk, or attempts

The different types of bipolar disorder

Bipolar I is the most commonly diagnosed type of bipolar disorder. Characterized by mixed episodes—both manic and depressive, the individual generally experiences more manic than depressive episodes but may cycle between the two.

Bipolar II does not generally have extreme manic episodes and instead is identified more by periods of severe depression and hypomania.

Cyclothymia is a milder form of bipolar characterized by cyclic mood swings that are far less severe or long-lasting than a full-blown manic or major depressive episode.

Mixed episodes refers to an individual that has symptoms of both polarities, usually in rapid sequence or rapid cycling.

Co-occurring bipolar disorder

In some cases, symptoms of bipolar disorder can be present because they share characteristics with other mental health conditions. For instance, borderline personality disorder, and even ADHD share many traits with bipolar, such as extreme mood swings, lack of impulse control, inability to focus, euphoria, and depression.

Additionally, abusing certain types of drugs, like methamphetamine and others, can cause very similar manifestations.

While there may be mental health issues present, it is not always black-and-white when it comes to diagnosing bipolar. This is why it is so critical to obtain a diagnosis from a qualified health professional who is well-versed in mental health, and bipolar in particular. Having a proper diagnosis ensures that the treatment and medications prescribed are appropriate for the individual and may help them get their life back on track much more quickly.

Other behavioral conditions may manifest or worsen with bipolar. These conditions include eating disorders, alcohol or drug abuse, attention deficit disorder (ADD or ADHD), or chronic health issues like endocrine disorders (thyroid problems, for example), heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. If these issues are allowed to continue untreated, they can present a significant barrier to successful treatment.

Knowing when to see a doctor

In many cases, the person who has bipolar disorder will not recognize the symptoms. They won’t realize how much their emotional instability is affecting those around them, and they may blame it all on outside influences.

Some may actually enjoy the euphoria that comes with their manic episodes and not want them to end. Unfortunately, these episodes are often followed by a severe depression that may last for days at a time, leaving the individual in distress and possibly leading to a range of financial, legal, or relationship problems in their day-to-day life.

If you or a loved one is experiencing signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder or any other mental health issue, it is critical that you see a doctor right away. Unfortunately, bipolar does not resolve itself; however, many highly effective interventions can control the symptoms and help you get back to a happy, productive life.

When to seek emergency care

One of the biggest dangers of bipolar disorder is suicidal thoughts and behaviors. If you or a loved one is having suicidal thoughts, call 911 immediately or go directly to an emergency room. If you don’t have ready access to emergency services, there are suicide hotlines, both local and national, that can help you through the crisis.

The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255, and it can be accessed from anywhere, any time of the day or night.

Treatments for Bipolar Disorder

Fortunately, many therapies and interventions treat bipolar disorder effectively. The trouble is, many people do not receive a diagnosis until they are in crisis. Statistically, only 25 percent of people receive an accurate diagnosis within three years of seeking help.

Once diagnosed, however, success rates are encouraging, with up to 85 percent of patients reporting a positive outcome.

Frontline interventions include medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, and psychotherapy, but treatment protocols vary significantly from person to person.

Medication therapy for bipolar

Medication therapy can be frustrating for some, as it often takes some trial-and-error to achieve balance. Adjustments are made along the way and often involve a combination of medications to address the symptoms.

One of the more frustrating things that patients report about bipolar medication is the side effects they have to endure. Fatigue, weight gain, nausea, tremors, diarrhea, kidney problems, loss of appetite, and a feeling of emotional numbness are often reported. Because of this, many who struggle with bipolar may attempt to stop taking the medication in an attempt to feel better. Unfortunately, this usually lands them back in the same crisis that they were experiencing before they sought treatment.

Though there are new, advanced medications available that report fewer side effects, it’s really about what works best to manage symptoms. Not all drugs will work well for all people, so it is critical to monitor symptoms and follow the advice of your doctor until you find the right balance.

Bipolar treatment Long Beach

Are you or a loved one struggling with symptoms of bipolar disorder? Bipolar treatment in Long Beach is just a call away. Reach out today to get started or to learn more about how we can help.

Functional Alcoholism: Is There Such a Thing?

Functional Alcoholism: Is There Such a Thing?

Functioning alcoholic. You may have heard the term before; you may even know one. However, there is a great deal of research—both scientific and anecdotal—that refutes the concept of functional alcoholism.

Let’s look at what we know and talk a little about why functional alcoholism doesn’t exist.

What is ‘functional alcoholism’? And is it any less serious?

We tend to think of an alcoholic as somebody who has lost everything – their spouse, their job, their friends, their savings, all gone. But, many alcoholics still manage to maintain a relatively productive life, both personally and professionally. This makes it very difficult to recognize the disease, not only for the people who care about them but for the alcoholic themselves.

This type of alcoholic often has great relationships with their friends, family, and coworkers. They may excel at their job and feel that they are quite successful. Some may be quite successful, which may lead others to overlook the drinking altogether.

He or she may not even drink every day and may instead binge-drink on the weekends when they have less to be accountable for. They may rationalize their drinking with statements like “I only drink expensive liquor,” or “I just drink wine.” They often feel that their drinking, along with everything else in their lives, is under control, when in truth, they are in deep denial.

In many cases, the alcoholic has people in their lives who help them hide their shortcomings, someone who makes it easy for them to evade the negative consequences of their drinking. These individuals, often close friends, spouses, or family members, are enabling the behavior, allowing it to continue and even supporting the idea that whatever the alcoholic gets up to, there will always be someone there to pick up the pieces.

Know the warning signs

If an individual doesn’t drink every day, if they manage to fulfill their responsibilities, and if they hold a position of power, it’s not easy to tell that there is a problem. However, some behaviors paint a telling picture.

For instance, drinking secretly, drinking alone, or drinking in the morning, using alcohol either as a reward or to mitigate stress or thinking that alcohol is needed to feel at ease. Drinking to the point of blackout, forgetting what’s been done or said while drinking, making excuses for drinking, and denying or hiding drinking – these are all clear signs that the drinking behavior is becoming dangerous.

Like any alcoholic, a high-functioning alcoholic often engages in risky behavior, such as driving drunk, promiscuity, and putting themselves or others in dangerous situations. They are also no less susceptible to chronic and life-threatening diseases related to their alcohol use, such as liver disease, brain damage, neural damage, diabetes, pancreatitis, and some forms of cancer. The risk of dying in a car accident, by murder, or suicide is significantly higher, as is the risk of violence, domestic abuse, and fetal alcohol syndrome.

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism, reach out today. Roots Through Recovery offers many treatment options that can help you get your life back on track.

Addiction Treatment in Long Beach

Addiction Treatment in Long Beach

Addiction is an issue faced by many people. Addiction does not have prejudice; it can affect people of any age, any race, any walk of like. It doesn’t have a preference for age or gender. It doesn’t care where you live. Once it has taken hold of your life, you may find that your choices are no longer your own. Fortunately, addiction treatment in Long Beach is available at Roots Through Recovery.

Addiction treatment in Long Beach is within reach

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction, seeking out treatment is essential. At our Long Beach treatment center, we take a holistic approach to every case, applying a multi-disciplinary focus to target the underlying cause while treating the symptoms appropriately.

Our team understands the nature of addiction. We genuinely care about our patients and take an individual approach to each case because we know that no two people are experiencing precisely the same issues. Our singular goal is to help you get your life back, free you from your addiction, and help you find happiness.

Treating the whole person

Our treatment programs are based on treating the whole person, not just the underlying addiction. In many cases, there are co-occurring issues that have either led to the addiction or exacerbate the situation. Without treating these aspects, we would only be masking the problem, making recovery much more difficult.

We take a team approach to addiction treatment in Long Beach, combining group therapy, family counseling, psychiatric and psychological support, in-patient hospitalization (when appropriate), partial hospitalization programsintensive outpatient programs, outpatient treatment, recovery support programs, and a complete range of recovery services that are designed to provide continuing support.

While many addiction programs focus strongly on detox and only provide support for the first two or three months beyond that, we have found greater success when extending treatment for an indeterminate period.

Recovery is an ongoing process

Returning to normal life and sober living is often difficult, especially when the addiction has taken up the better part of your life. For this reason, our addiction treatment doesn’t stop at three months or even six months. The challenges may last a lifetime, and it is our goal to give you the tools and intervention strategies you need to stay the course and never have to return to that dark place.

Everybody is different

How we approach your recovery depends on you, your situation, and your goals. Some of our patients are re-entering life from incarceration, and some need to mend a lot of broken fences on the road back to their family and friends. Some are mature, some are very young, but each has their own set of challenges as well as hopes and dreams for the future.

Ultimately, we want to ensure you achieve the freedom from addiction you seek. It may not always be easy, but the rewards are so great. Through it all, our doctors, counselors, therapists, and alumni will be here to support your success, every step of the way.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, it is critical that you seek help as soon as possible. Reach out today to learn more about how we can help.





How Treatment for Opioids in Long Beach has Changed 

How Treatment for Opioids in Long Beach has Changed 

Opioid addiction in America has risen to crisis proportions in recent years, affecting people from all demographics and all walks of life.

According to a recent study released by the US Department of Health and Human Services, 130 people die every day from opioid overdose from drugs that include prescription pain medications like oxycodone and morphine, synthetic opioids like fentanyl and hydromorphone, and street opiates like heroin.

Opioid addiction can affect anyone

It often starts innocently enough. Following an injury or after surgery, patients are prescribed pain medication to help them cope as they heal. What is supposed to be a temporary intervention quickly turns into a physical addiction.

If the doctor refuses to renew the prescription, patients often turn to the street, often ending up with counterfeit drugs, some laced with deadly doses of fentanyl. Those who do not overdose become even more addicted.

While some manage to maintain their jobs and go on with their lives in spite of it, many lose everything to their addiction, spending all of their time trapped in the cycle of getting money for drugs through crime or deception, looking for drugs, using them, and recovering from them.

For these individuals, there is little choice. The withdrawal symptoms are severe enough that they will do just about anything to keep themselves well – which means, continuing to use. When desperation sets in, any promise of relief will do, leading even the most cautious into dangerous territory.

Opioid addiction treatment Long Beach

While you might think the opioid crisis is a recent phenomenon, addiction has threatened public health several times over the past few centuries. Every time it takes hold, scientists come up with newer versions of the drug that are supposed to be safer.

Many of these formulations, like heroin, and more recently, methadone, have actually been invented to treat addiction. The philosophy is that if a doctor can control and monitor the dosage, it will be easier to manage. In reality, what they are really doing is transferring the addiction to a different form of the same thing and continuing the cycle. While some may respond to this treatment and move past their addiction, many become stuck in it for years, never truly breaking free.

What’s different in today’s opioid treatment?

Today, we better understand the mechanisms of addiction and pain. We approach treatment and recovery differently than in the past, putting the focus on the patient and helping them return to a functional, productive life.

Medications we now use to treat opioid addiction, like buprenorphine, Suboxone, and Subutex, are highly advanced, alleviating the symptoms without causing the opiate “high.”

At our Long Beach opioid treatment center, we combine drug therapy with a multi-disciplinary therapeutic approach that includes psychological counseling, physical therapy, and educational support to help individuals get their lives and their joy for living back on track.

While medications are an important intervention in addiction treatment, we place an equal focus on the underlying cause, whether that is rooted in chronic pain, psychological behaviors, outside stressors, or other forms of mental illness. This type of combination therapy has helped many people overcome the bonds of opioid addiction and return to a healthy, productive, and happy life.

Opioid treatment Long Beach

If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction, we can help. Reach out today to get started.


Workplace Injuries and Opioid Dependence

Workplace Injuries and Opioid Dependence

Workplace injuries happen everyday, and more often than not, the injured worker will be prescribed an opioid as a way to help ease the pain and lasting issues associated with the immediate injury. Whether the ultimate treatment for the injury involves surgery, physical therapy, or another treatment, medical professionals often turn to opioids like Vicodin or Oxycodone to placate the injured worker’s reported pain.

Risk of Opioid Dependence

As well as they may work to reduce pain levels, the unfortunate truth about opioids is that they are highly addictive, and they have been shown to increase pain sensitivity, called Opioid-induced hyperalgesia (OIH), which creates a vicious cycle of increased pain, increased dosage, increased tolerance and increased risk of dependence and overdose. Several studies, including one in JAMA, show that as many as one-third of workers who begin using opioids for a workplace injury become addicted to them — which can hinder both the treatment and recovery for the injury, as well as their timetable to return to work and living a productive life.

One report from the CDC found that among adults (non-cancer patients) who received a prescription for opioids, the likelihood of chronic opioid use started after just three days of the medication, and increased with each additional day of medication supplied. The most dramatic increase among these patients was seen after the fifth day of taking opioids, and the highest probability of continued opioid use at 1 and 3 years was seen among patients who were prescribed long-acting opioids like Fentanyl or Morphine.

Increased Time Off Work

The research is strong enough that some medical groups have begun recommending against prescribing opioids for less severe injuries, as developing an addiction after a workplace injury has become a growing concern in industries around the world. Although some medical communities may see opioids as the best (or only) option for getting injured workers back to work — particularly for injuries that can’t be resolved with surgery and will likely linger for an extended period of time — opioid use triples a worker’s time spent on disability, on average.

Considering that the time spent on disability doesn’t even factor in other possible side effects of becoming dependent on opioids, the risks associated with the popular painkillers can make them a dangerous choice for anyone suffering from a workplace injury. Although they may seem necessary for a physician who has “tried everything”, finding an alternative source of pain relief could spare employees, employers, and workers compensation carriers all over the world from the weeks, months, or even years of suffering that opioids can lead to.

Alternative Treatments

There are evidence-based alternative treatments for pain that focus on changing one’s beliefs and removing fear around pain – altering the pain experience. An effective and integrated pain recovery program, like Roots Chronic Pain Recovery, utilizes approaches including mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoeducation, EMDR, and art therapy, and integrates yoga, tai chi, physical therapy, family therapy, and other modalities.

“The goal is to get people moving again”, says Dr. Michael Aquino, PT, DPT, “The less people move out of fear of further injury, the more pain they will experience.”

Roots Chronic Pain Recovery has developed a mind-body approach to treat chronic pain and opioid dependency. With personalized treatment and an interdisciplinary team, we can help you regain control of your body – and your life.

Take The First Step Now

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