Tolerance to Alcohol, Addiction, Alcohol Blackouts, and Potential Deadly Withdrawal: The Dangers of Alcohol Abuse

There are downsides to regular alcohol use and this post will go into detail about the certain drawbacks and dangers of alcohol abuse: addiction, tolerance to alcohol, alcohol blackouts, and dangerous withdrawal. These consequences can happen at various levels of alcohol intake for different people.  Learn more about what to look for with regular drinking.

 

Read my previous post that includes 15 interesting facts about alcohol to help understand how alcohol works in the body.

Tolerance to alcohol:

Summary of the specific drawbacks and dangers of alcohol abuse which include addiction, tolerance to alcohol, alcohol blackouts, and dangerous withdrawal.

With regular use, people become tolerant to alcohol and can drink more before feeling its effects.

Tolerance to alcohol happens for 3 reasons:

  1. Regular alcohol drinkers clear alcohol from their body at a quicker rate.
  2. The cells of the body begin to adapt to the presence of alcohol by making chemical changes inside.
  3. People can get used to the feeling of being under the influence of alcohol so it is less noticeable to them.

Alcohol blackouts

A blackout is a period of amnesia (meaning no memory of events) without impaired consciousness (they are not unconscious or passed out). During a blackout, a person can actively interact and respond but their brain is not creating long-term memories.

 

Some people refer to a blackout as a complete loss of memory for a period of time while under the influence of alcohol and a “grey-out” as a memory that is spotty or fuzzy. Complete alcohol blackouts generally occur at higher blood alcohol concentrations than a partial blackout. Partial blackouts happen more frequently than complete blackouts.

 

People have a higher likelihood of blacking out with rapid, binge-type drinking where larger amounts of alcohol are consumed in a shorter amount of time.

 

Conventional thinking was that people who have blackouts have a greater risk of alcohol dependence. There isn’t universal consensus on this and other studies have suggested that it isn’t the case. This study found that alcohol-induced blackouts during the previous three months predicted increased social and emotional negative consequences, but did not predict alcohol dependence symptoms in the subsequent year.

 

During a blackout, others are not able to determine if someone is having a blackout. There aren’t any specific indicators to look for.

 

For a complete review of alcohol blackouts read this article.

What is an addiction to alcohol?

Summary of the specific drawbacks and dangers of alcohol abuse which include addiction, tolerance to alcohol, alcohol blackouts, and dangerous withdrawal.

Addiction is characterized by the presence of withdrawal symptoms when alcohol is stopped.

 

Alcohol dependence causes:

 

  • Cravings – a strong need to drink
  • Loss of control over alcohol – unable to stop drinking once you start
  • Physical dependence – This causes the withdrawal symptoms
  • Tolerance – the need to drink more alcohol to feel the same effect

 

Wondering if you may qualify as having Alcohol Use Disorder? Read this post to find out: Alcohol Use Disorder: Do you have a drinking problem?

 

If you have alcohol use disorder there isn’t “one right way” to recover. Antabuse can be a life-saving treatment for some struggling and make the difference between continued alcohol intake and sobriety. Find what works for you. Explore the different options because recovery is possible. Read here for everything you need to know about Antabuse.

The dangers of alcohol abuse: Why does alcohol withdrawal happen?

Alcohol depresses (slows) a persons central nervous system (CNS) which is the engine of our body. In order to deal with this, the CNS increases its activity to counteract the depressant effects (picture revving a car’s engine to prevent it from stalling).

 

When alcohol is then taken away, the extra activity is no longer needed but the CNS doesn’t know that yet. It takes some time to adjust back to normal levels (ie the car is no longer going to stall but a person continues to press the accelerator. The car then goes too fast).

This increased activity can produce symptoms like:

  • Tremor (shaking),
  • Nervousness or anxiety,
  • Irritability,
  • Nightmares,
  • Difficulty sleeping,
  • Nausea and vomiting,
  • Seizures.

 

See this post to find out if you are at risk: Alcohol Dependence and Withdrawal: Are You at Risk?

When does alcohol withdrawal happen?

Summary of the specific drawbacks and dangers of alcohol abuse which include addiction, tolerance to alcohol, alcohol blackouts, and dangerous withdrawal.

Interestingly, people can go into alcohol withdrawal when they still have alcohol in their system! It all depends on what levels the body is used to having. For people very tolerant of alcohol, sometimes we need to start withdrawal medications even when their blood alcohol level is above the legal driving limit.

A rough timeline for general alcohol withdrawal:

3 stages:

  • Stage 1 (Approximately 8 hours after the last drink): Anxiety, insomnia, abdominal pain and nausea can be experienced during this stage.
  • Stage 2 (Approximately 24-72 hours after the last drink): High blood pressure, high body temperature, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and confusion can happen. The peak incidence of withdrawal seizures is 24 hours after the last drink.
  • Stage 3 (Approximately 72+ hours after the last drink): Hallucinations, fever, agitation, and seizures can happen in this stage.

 

Here is a good summary going into more detail about the timeline for alcohol withdrawal.

Keep in mind: If withdrawal has happened before it is more likely to happen again

If someone has experienced a certain pattern with alcohol withdrawal in the past this is likely to be repeated if they withdraw again. People with a history of serious and dangerous withdrawal should always be medically supervised when attempting to stop drinking.

 

Extreme alcohol withdrawal can be deadly

Delirium Tremens (DT’s) are an extreme form of alcohol withdrawal and can be life-threatening.  It is a medical emergency and early treatment is essential to save their life.

 

A person who has DT’s will have an altered mental status (confusion and disorientation) and sympathetic overdrive which can lead to cardiovascular collapse.

The dangers of alcohol abuse:

After reading this post if you have any concerns about your alcohol use I encourage you to reach out to your physician and discuss this. Although alcohol is everywhere, and frequently enjoyed in society, there is also a huge downside to it. Know the dangers and the signs of trouble so that you can get help (or encourage a loved one to get help).

Read more about alcohol and addiction here:

The Truth About Alcohol and Sleep

7 Alternatives to AA in Recovery from Addiction

 

 

How Does Antabuse Work? Everything You Need to Know to Decide if Disulfiram Antabuse Treatment is Right For You

Antabuse (Disulfiram is the generic name) is a medication given to people who are struggling with alcohol addiction and need medication to support their efforts to abstain. Breaking the cycle of addiction is extremely difficult and sometimes a person needs to medically remove alcohol as an option in order to begin to recover. Disulfiram Antabuse treatment is not a cure for addiction. It discourages drinking due to the extremely unpleasant consequences (the disulfiram reaction) that happen when Antabuse and alcohol are combined. How does Antabuse work? In order to understand this, we need to take a look at how alcohol is metabolized. Antabuse interferes with this pathway and this is why you get sick if you drink alcohol while taking Antabuse.



Wondering if you have a drinking problem or at risk for withdrawal? Take a moment now to read these posts:  Do you have a drinking problem? and Alcohol Dependence and Withdrawal: Are You at Risk?

Antabuse Treatment: How alcohol is broken down

Disulfiram Antabuse is a medication for people struggling with alcohol addiction. Antabuse treatment can have unpleasant effects (called Disulfiram reaction) when Antabuse and alcohol are combined. How does Antabuse work? Read here for the full story.

Alcohol needs to be broken down into smaller parts in order to be excreted (cleared from the body). It needs chemicals (mostly supplied by the liver) to break it down. Here are the basics of how alcohol is metabolized and processed:

1st step to metabolize alcohol:

The first chemical needed in the process is called alcohol dehydrogenase. This is responsible for breaking alcohol into acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is a toxic metabolite and is responsible for many of the symptoms caused by a hangover.

High levels of acetaldehyde cause:

  • Nausea,
  • Vomiting,
  • Flushing,
  • Headache,
  • Low blood pressure



Because of the unpleasant effects of high levels of acetaldehyde, it needs to be broken down further in order to feel well.

2nd Step:

The next chemical in the process is aldehyde dehydrogenase which is responsible for breaking down the acetaldehyde further into acetic acid, a harmless substance that can be excreted.

How Antabuse works: Why disulfiram Antabuse makes you feel sick if you drink alcohol

Disulfiram Antabuse is a medication for people struggling with alcohol addiction. Antabuse treatment can have unpleasant effects (called Disulfiram reaction) when Antabuse and alcohol are combined. How does Antabuse work? Read here for the full story.

How does Antabuse work? Disulfiram blocks Step 2: the ability for aldehyde dehydrogenase to break down the acetaldehyde. This means acetaldehyde stays around in the system creating the unpleasant effects that happen with high acetaldehyde levels (listed above).

 

The physical effects that happen from the toxic acetaldehyde start within about 10 minutes of drinking alcohol and last for an unpleasant 1+ hours depending on the amount of alcohol consumed.

Antabuse and alcohol: What could happen during a Disulfiram reaction?

Disulfiram Antabuse is a medication for people struggling with alcohol addiction. Antabuse treatment can have unpleasant effects (called Disulfiram reaction) when Antabuse and alcohol are combined. How does Antabuse work? Read here for the full story.

Here is a good summary of what can happen when disulfiram and alcohol are combined. This is called a disulfiram reaction:

 

Disulfiram plus alcohol, even small amounts, produce flushing, throbbing in head and neck, throbbing headache, respiratory difficulty, nausea, copious vomiting, sweating, thirst, chest pain, palpitation, dyspnea, hyperventilation, tachycardia, hypotension, syncope, marked uneasiness, weakness, vertigo, blurred vision, and confusion. In severe reactions there may be respiratory depression, cardiovascular collapse, arrhythmias, myocardial infarction, acute congestive heart failure, unconsciousness, convulsions, and death.

 

The intensity of the reaction varies with each individual, but is generally proportional to the amounts of disulfiram and alcohol ingested. Mild reactions may occur in the sensitive individual when the blood alcohol concentration is increased to as little as 5 to 10 mg per 100 mL. Symptoms are fully developed at 50 mg per 100 mL, and unconsciousness usually results when the blood alcohol level reaches 125 to 150 mg.



How long does Disulfiram Antabuse stay in the body?

Disulfiram Antabuse is a medication for people struggling with alcohol addiction. Antabuse treatment can have unpleasant effects (called Disulfiram reaction) when Antabuse and alcohol are combined. How does Antabuse work? Read here for the full story.

Antabuse is quite long-acting (slow to be cleared from the body) and a reaction may occur up to 2 weeks from the last dose of the medication!

 

Until it is fully cleared a person will get sick if they drink alcohol and I highly recommend not experimenting to see if you can drink sooner. I have heard stories of patients who are able to drink after 4 days but I have also heard stories of patients who have tried this and have been sicker from the disulfiram reaction than they ever were in their life.

 

Of course, the amount of time necessary until a person can “safely” drink again does not address the issue of someone struggling with addiction resuming drinking. We all know there are adverse effects that happen with addiction too…

Potential side-effects of Antabuse:

Disulfiram Antabuse is a medication for people struggling with alcohol addiction. Antabuse treatment can have unpleasant effects (called Disulfiram reaction) when Antabuse and alcohol are combined. How does Antabuse work? Read here for the full story.

 

It is important to know this medication cannot be started within 12 hours of consuming an alcoholic beverage. Many of the below-listed side effects are more common in the first 2 weeks of therapy and then disappear. These can also be minimized by lowering the dose if necessary.

 

Side effects include:



  • skin rash,
  • acne,
  • headache,
  • drowsiness or tiredness,
  • impotence,
  • metallic taste or garlic-like taste in the mouth,
  • weakness,
  • loss of appetite,
  • upset stomach and vomiting,
  • yellowness of the skin or eyes,
  • dark urine,
  • rare liver inflammation or failure.

Antabuse treatment: It is an option to aid in recovery from alcohol addictionDisulfiram Antabuse is a medication for people struggling with alcohol addiction. Antabuse treatment can have unpleasant effects (called Disulfiram reaction) when Antabuse and alcohol are combined. How does Antabuse work? Read here for the full story.

Disulfiram Antabuse is not a cure-all for alcohol addiction but it can be a life-saving intervention that, when used along with psycho-social supports, helps support a person that is struggling to achieve abstinence from alcohol.

 

Do you know anyone that has successfully used Disulfiram Antabuse in their recovery? Have you, or anyone you know, experienced the adverse reaction of combining Antabuse and alcohol? What happened?

Please comment with any words of wisdom for people that are wondering if Disulfiram Antabuse treatment is right for them. 

 

To read more about addiction check out these posts:

 

Need help quitting Juul? Learn more about treating Juul addiction.

There is a drug called Lean in school. Have you heard of it?

7 Alternatives to AA in Recovery from Addiction

We Can Help Prevent Prescription Medication Abuse and Drug Diversion

Naloxone: The antidote for opiate overdose

 

 

 

Need help quitting Juul? Learn more about treating Juul addiction.

The quit-smoking techniques available for traditional cigarettes also work for people treating Juul addiction. A Juul e-cig is unique, but not so special that it needs separate therapies to treat Juul addiction. Nicotine addiction is the same, regardless of the delivery mechanism. Quitting Juul is hard but not impossible.



Read the first post in this series to learn all about Juul e-cig and what makes it different from other e-cigarettes.

First, make a quit plan

Come up with a plan that makes sense for you and pick a date to quit your Juul e-cig. It is more effective to choose a specific date rather than a general goal of quitting in the future. Once you pick a date let other people know your plans. This will help you stay accountable.

 

Part of the preparation involves getting rid of your Juul device and pods. You don’t want it to be effortless to restart Juul in a moment of significant craving.

 

The CDC has great resources on quitting nicotine. Here is a link to their page on building a quit plan.

Nicotine addiction and withdrawal:

The physical withdrawal from nicotine lasts for approximately 1 week but breaking the psychological addiction can take longer.

 

Nicotine withdrawal symptoms include:

 

  • feeling irritable, angry, anxious, restless
  • trouble thinking clearly
  • increased hunger
  • cravings for nicotine

Managing nicotine cravings to treat Juul addiction:

 

Nicotine cravings generally last 5-10 minutes and then pass. The key to management is what you do when the craving is happening. As part of your plan to quit smoking, I recommend having a pre-planned list of options to choose from instead of trying to think of how to manage it during a craving.



Create your list! Here are a few options:

  • Chew gum, suck on hard candy, drink water
  • Distract yourself by doing something other than what you were doing when the craving started. Walk away from the area you were in.
  • Get up and move. Do a short burst of physical exercise to give yourself an energy boost and reduce the anxiety that accompanies cravings. Do some jumping jacks, go for a quick vigorous walk or jog around the block, walk up and down stairs.
  • Call a friend and talk to them about what they are up to. Try to take the focus off yourself and the way you currently feel.
  • Deep breathing and relaxation techniques can help, especially if you are unable to step away from the task at hand.
  • Keep a card in your pocket with the reasons you want to quit nicotine written on it. Pull this out and read it during a craving.

Options for treating Juul addiction:

 

Some people can successfully treat Juul or nicotine addiction on their own without support but many people benefit from help. There are several different options people use when trying to stop Juul.

 

  • Get advice, support, and/or counseling including information on withdrawal, coping strategies to deal with nicotine withdrawal, and a personalized plan for quitting
  • Use over the counter nicotine replacement products such as the nicotine patch, gum, and lozenges
  • Start prescription medication like bupropion SR (Zyban) and varenicline tartrate (Chantix). Ask your doctor if this is appropriate for you.



Counseling and medication are both effective for treating nicotine dependence, but using them together is more effective than using either alone.

 

Free resources to help with quitting Juul:

The CDC includes many free resources to help people stop using nicotine. Keep in mind, the language the CDC uses in many of their resources refers to “stop smoking” but you can substitute this language with “stop using nicotine”. Remember, the underlying addiction is the same.

 

  • Each state has a quit-line that can be accessed by calling 1 (800) QUIT-NOW. This resource provides all types of information and services to help people stop using nicotine.
  • There is an app called QuitGuide that helps you track cravings and build skills to needed to remain nicotine free. It even sends inspirational messages to you each time you log a craving.
  • Sign up for SmokeFreeTxt a free resource that will send messages to you each day to help support quitting nicotine. If you text a keyword such as “Crave” a text response will be sent to you with messages to help you get through the urge. There are specific texting apps for adults, vets, teens, women, and age 60+ so the messages sent are targeted to the population using it.



If you are struggling to stop using Juul and are wondering what treatment is right for you, reach out to your physician for advice and support.

 

To learn more about addiction read these posts:

We Can Help Prevent Prescription Medication Abuse and Drug Diversion

7 Alternatives to AA in Recovery from Addiction

There is a drug in school called Lean. Have you heard of it?

Dr. Deborah Burton and Dr. Kristen Stuppy are both physicians dedicated to educating the public about health issues. They each wrote educational pieces about the dangers of using Juul, especially for children. Find these posts here and here.

Share your additional pointers for quitting nicotine. What helped you or others you know?

 

There is a drug called Lean in school. Have you heard of it?

Truth be told, I read my daughters texts. I don’t feel great about it but 7th-graders aren’t “oversharers” (with their parents) and I want to have an idea of what is going on. Her texts were my source of learning about the drug called Lean. It wasn’t at a conference or in one of my 4,000 medical magazines that seem to come daily; it was embedded in a text to a friend about what their respective schools were like. She mentioned there were lots of kids who use Juul and some who use the Lean drug. What? Huh? Am I the last to know this is a thing? What is the drug Lean??!!

 

I couldn’t wait for her to get home from school so I could ask more. In the meantime, I did some research.

What is the drug Lean?A drug called Lean is in schools and kids are using it. What is the drug Lean and what do we need to know? Add the Lean drug to the long list of things to worry about.

“Lean” is also known as Purple Drank, Sizzurp, Purple Lean, or Dirty Sprite.  The classic color of the drink is, not surprisingly, purple and it is nicknamed “Lean” because it literally makes you lean.

 

My daughter reported hearing a group of 6th-grade boys discussing “doing” Lean and how they mix it with Sprite. Lean is classically a mix of Sprite, prescription cough syrup, and a hard candy like Jolly Rancher.

 

Prescription cough syrups contain codeine, an opioid drug. They also can have an antihistamine, promethazine, that causes sedation and can impair motor functioning (hence causing the lean).

How common is the drug called Lean? A drug called Lean is in schools and kids are using it. What is the drug Lean and what do we need to know? Add the Lean drug to the long list of things to worry about.

There isn’t good information about how prevalent using “Lean” is since the ingredients aren’t too trackable. But if my 7th grader knows about it, I take that as a sign that we should all be aware. Here is a study on prevalence in China.

 

In 2011, the Department of Justice wrote a Drug-Alert Watch on the resurgence of Purple Drank. It writes about some history on Lean:

 

Used since the 1960s primarily in and around the Houston area, Purple Drank also has been prevalent in other areas of the south. The mixture enjoyed a revival in the 1990s. A 2007 music album and a song titled Purple Drank and other recordings and music videos by hip-hop and rap artists appeared to glamorize and promote the mixture.

Is the drug Lean safe?A drug called Lean is in schools and kids are using it. What is the drug Lean and what do we need to know? Add the Lean drug to the long list of things to worry about.

Well, of course, it isn’t. But let me say more. Given the national opiate crises, we all know that taking opiates is dangerous and can lead to addiction, overdose, and death. It’s easy to imagine people who use lean don’t have a great idea of the amount of codeine they are ingesting since they are drinking a medicine that tastes like syrup, mixed with candy and soda. This puts them at higher risk of dangerous consequences.

Codeine:

Serious side effects of Codeine include slowed heartbeat, shallow breathing, blurred vision, agitation, and hallucinations. Read more from Medline about Codeine’s effects.

Promethazine:

Promethazine, a drug given for things like motion sickness, nausea and vomiting, or allergic reactions, is “anticholinergic”. When something is anticholinergic it has particular side effects that can be associated with it which increase with the amount taken. In medical school, we learn lots of mnemonics to remember side effects:

 

Blind as a bat (dilated pupils)

Dry as a bone (dry skin, mouth, eyes)

Red as a beet (flushing)

Mad as a hatter (delirium, confusion, agitation)

Hot as a hare (increased body temperature)

 

  Here is more about promethazine side effects and overdose.

Celebrities spreading the word about the Lean drug:

Apparently, if I had read more celebrity news and not just medical journals I would have known about the Lean drug sooner. It’s sung about in rap lyrics and pictures of drinking out of a styrofoam cup (commonly the way to drink it. I don’t know why) are spread on social media.

 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens wrote a blog in 2013 about Lean:

 

In recent months, gossip magazines have reported on Justin Bieber’s erratic behavior, such as wearing a gas mask, fainting at a London concert, and traveling with a monkey. Mixed in with these reports is speculation about Bieber’s alleged use of a drug concoction called “Sizzurp.”

Bieber isn’t the only musician associated with the drink. Back in March and again at the beginning of May, rapper Lil Wayne was admitted to the hospital with seizures, allegedly from his use of Sizzurp (although he denied it)

The Lean drug

Well, there you go. Here’s my summary of a drug that I didn’t know existed prior to my daughter…ahem… “informing” me. Obviously, kids are using it (along with adults) and it is important for us all to know what to watch out for.

Someone, please tell me you also didn’t know about the Lean drug so I can feel I’m not the only one surprised! If you knew, how did you hear about it and what have you heard?

 

7 Alternatives to AA in Recovery from Addiction

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has helped countless people in their recovery from addiction but one size does not fit all with healing. The messages of AA don’t resonate with everyone and it’s important to know alternatives to AA exist. Healing and recovery are lost on some that become distracted by what they interpret as religious aspects of AA. This post is about the other options for a self-help addiction recovery program.

 

The more alternatives to choose from, the greater the chance that people will find a program they identify with. Recovery will still be hard but may be easier to start when it’s the right fit.



Keep in mind, AA is the most prolific addiction recovery program with multiple meetings every day all around the world. It is by far the easiest to attend if you are looking for daily, free, in-person support. However, it is not the only game in town.

 

This post does not cover medication-assisted recovery. This is an important option for many people on their path to recovery and will get covered in a separate post.

SMART Recovery:Recovery from addiction isn't one-size-fit-all and alternatives to AA exist. This post details 7 other options for a self-help addiction recovery program.

SMART Recovery (stands for Self-Managment And Recovery Training) describes itself as a “science-based secular alternative” and is not specific to alcohol, but for any type of addiction (including gambling and other non-substance related dependencies).  It has face-to-face and daily online meetings in addition to a 24/7 chat room and online message board.

 

SMART recovery views addiction as a bad habit and not a disease.

 

The purpose of SMART Recovery according to their website:

 

To support individuals who have chosen to abstain, or are considering abstinence from any type of addictive behaviors (substances or activities), by teaching how to change self-defeating thinking, emotions, and actions; and to work towards long-term satisfactions and quality of life.

SMART Recovery works as a 4-point recovery program based on cognitive-behavioral techniques that teach how to change self-defeating thinking, emotions, and actions. The 4-point program covers building and maintaining motivation, coping with urges, managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and living a balanced life.

 

The SMART Recovery Toolbox provides a variety of methods, worksheets, and exercises to help support you through addiction recovery. Find them here.



Alternative to Alanon:

In addition, Smart Recovery has a friends-and-family section so they can get support and be better prepared to help their loved one.

Refuge Recovery:Recovery from addiction isn't one-size-fit-all and alternatives to AA exist. This post details 7 other options for a self-help addiction recovery program.

Refuge Recovery is a mindfulness-based recovery method founded in Buddhism and focused on compassion. Some of the steps in Refuge Recovery are similar to AA’s like taking an inventory and mentorship.

 

We do not use Buddhism as a religion, but as a liberating approach to a more wholesome life, while remaining thoroughly engaged with the world and cultures in which we live.

 

From their website:

 

Refuge Recovery is a non-profit organization grounded in the belief that Buddhist principles and practices create a strong foundation for the addiction recovery process. Wisdom and compassion enable those struggling with any form of addiction to become more mindful of their mental processes while also developing a deep understanding of the suffering that addiction has created and compassion for their own pain. The mission of Refuge Recovery is to support those on this path of recovery by building an extensive and comprehensive network of Refuge Recovery groups, meetings and communities that practice, educate and provide Buddhist-inspired guidance and meditations for anyone seeking recovery from addiction. We hope to serve you, and meet you on the path.

Refuge recovery has a separate women’s recovery program!

Refuge Recovery has a women’s recovery section called Women’s Recovery and Refuge Online (WRRO) which offers support services for all women (including those that self-identify as women) to ease the suffering caused by addiction.

Women for Sobriety (WFS):Recovery from addiction isn't one-size-fit-all and alternatives to AA exist. This post details 7 other options for a self-help addiction recovery program.

An abstinence-based program encouraging spiritual and emotional growth as a way to help women discover a happy new life as they recover from substance use disorders. This program aims to address the emotional needs of women and uses positive reinforcement and thinking, relaxation techniques, meditation, diet, and exercise.

 

WFS has in-person support meetings, a message board, chat room, phone support, and even a yearly conference to go to.

 

WFS believes that having a life-threatening problem with alcohol and/or drug use is not a moral weakness, it is the symptom of a serious disorder which demands rigorous attention to healing. Founded by a sociologist who related over-reliance on substances to the loss of identity many women feel with competing roles in society, WFS believes that guilt, depression, and low (or no) self-esteem are common problems women experience for which substances have become the primary coping mechanism.



Here are the 13 acceptance statements from the Women for Sobriety website:

 

1. I have a life-threatening problem that once had me. I now take charge of my life and my well-being. I accept the responsibility.
2. Negative thoughts destroy only myself.
My first conscious sober act is to reduce negativity in my life.
3. Happiness is a habit I am developing.
Happiness is created, not waited for.
4. Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.
I now better understand my problems. I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.
5. I am what I think.
I am a capable, competent, caring, compassionate woman.
6. Life can be ordinary or it can be great.
Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.
7. Love can change the course of my world.
Caring is all-important.
8. The fundamental object of life is emotional and spiritual growth.
Daily I put my life into a proper order, knowing which are the priorities.
9. The past is gone forever.
No longer am I victimized by the past. I am a new woman.
10. All love given returns.
I am learning to know that I am loved.
11. Enthusiasm is my daily exercise.
I treasure the moments of my New Life.
12. I am a competent woman, and I have much to give life.
This is what I am, and I shall know it always.
13. I am responsible for myself and for my actions.
I am in charge of my mind, my 
thoughts, and my life.

WFS suggests to spend 15 minutes each morning reading and thinking about the acceptance statements and recommends to choose one to “use it consciously all day”.  Close out the day by reviewing and reflecting on your chosen acceptance statement, how you applied it, and how it affected your day.

The Hip Sobriety ProjectRecovery from addiction isn't one-size-fit-all and alternatives to AA exist. This post details 7 other options for a self-help addiction recovery program.

The Hip Sobriety Project is an 8-week coaching course that includes readings, worksheets, and weekly small-group conference calls. It is an individualized program designed to meet you where you are at in your addiction recovery process. This program is not free but there is a scholarship program for highly-motivated individuals from a disadvantaged background.

 

From the website:

 

Over the course of 8 weeks, you’ll be exposed to a wide-range of tools, teachings, and practices, pulled from all schools of thought and the most recent scientific findings in addiction recovery. The information is delivered in a thoughtful, easy-to-digest manner, and is accessible to you forever.

Through weekly lectures, accompanying workbooks and worksheets, daily emails, daily and weekly exercises, and a vast resource library, this course delivers participants the quintessential field guide on recovery that is not available anywhere else. You’ll walk away empowered with knowledge, and a personalized Hip Sobriety recovery map so that you can put what you learn to work for you and know what step to take, when.

Rational Recovery:Recovery from addiction isn't one-size-fit-all and alternatives to AA exist. This post details 7 other options for a self-help addiction recovery program.

Rational Recovery is an abstinence-based addiction recovery program founded by Jack Trimpey, a recovered alcoholic and social worker. It is based on the Addictive Voice Recognition Technique (AVRT), which teaches recognition of the “addictive voice” that tells you to seek drugs or alcohol.

 

Addiction is not seen as a disease and Rational Recovery rejects the idea of being “powerless” over addictive impulses. With AVRT, a person gains awareness of thoughts and triggers that can cause cravings (named “The Beast”) and through that can override addictive impulses in order to remain abstinent.



There are no meetings. Their website includes instruction on self-recovery from addiction using AVRT instructional videos, downloadable PDF’s, a book, and AVRT teleconferences.

 

The goal in AVRT-based recovery is to live comfortably with residual addictive desire, and not to silence or stave off your Addictive Voice. You should welcome the AV as a sign of health, and not as a threat, because your Beast is utterly powerless to act independently of your will.

Moderation Management:Recovery from addiction isn't one-size-fit-all and alternatives to AA exist. This post details 7 other options for a self-help addiction recovery program.

This program is not based on abstinence from alcohol but instead on learning how to moderate and control problem drinking behaviors. They use a 9-step program geared toward helping members find balance and moderation with alcohol and also with life.

 

The program provides education, guidelines, exercises, goal-setting, and self-management techniques through their in-person meetings or online support.



Their website explains what Moderation Management is:

 

Moderation Management (MM) is a behavioral change program and national support group network for people concerned about their drinking and who desire to make positive lifestyle changes. MM empowers individuals to accept personal responsibility for choosing and maintaining their own path, whether moderation or abstinence. MM promotes early self-recognition of risky drinking behavior, when moderate drinking is a more easily achievable goal. MM is run by lay members who came to the organization to resolve personal issues and stayed to help others.

Some people find it is more difficult to moderate drinking than it is to abstain completely. MM estimates that 30% of attendees will go on to an abstinence program.

LifeRing Secular Recovery:Recovery from addiction isn't one-size-fit-all and alternatives to AA exist. This post details 7 other options for a self-help addiction recovery program.

LifeRing provides a network (in-person and online) for people who want to be free of addiction. A requirement for membership is a desire to remain abstinent from alcohol and drugs.

 

Per the LifeRing website:

 

In LifeRing, we offer each other peer-to-peer support in ways that encourage personal growth and continued learning through personal empowerment. Our approach is based on developing, refining, and sharing our own personal strategies for continued abstinence and crafting a rewarding life in recovery. In short, we are sober, secular, and self-directed.

The principles of LifeRing are sobriety, secularity, and self-help. LifeRing “supports recovery methods that rely on human efforts rather than on divine intervention.” They believe the key to recovery is the individual’s own motivation and effort.

Books to help with addiction recovery:

There are many great books about addiction and recovery and here are a few. For a full list of my recommended mental health books look here.

More posts about addiction:

Alcohol Use Disorder: Do you have a drinking problem?

Alcohol Dependence and Withdrawal: Are You at Risk?

Naloxone: The antidote for opiate overdose

Will a Prescription Monitoring Program Help Combat Addiction?

 



Find the program that works for you. There are many options for recovery with different philosophies and approaches, in-person meetings, online support, books, etc… AA meetings are practically everywhere but aren’t for everyone. Don’t let that hold up your healing.

 

Please share this list of resources and help spread the word about alternative programs so we can reach the people that may need this.

 

What have you, or a loved one, found to be helpful for addiction recovery? What programs, books, or resources am I missing? Let me know so I can add them to the list.

 

We Can Help Prevent Prescription Medication Abuse and Drug Diversion

Prescription medications stolen from friends and family are a major source of abused medication and are often the initial way middle and high schoolers first get access. To find your prescriptions, all it usually takes is a quick trip into the bathroom by friends, family, or workers struggling with addiction. Don’t be the source for their prescription abuse and drug diversion! Follow these 2 easy ways to prevent medication diversion and cut down on prescription medication abuse.

 



#1: Clean out your medicine cabinets. Get rid of your old medication to prevent drug diversion.

 

People often save medicine “in case they need it again”… but if you do need it, your doctor can re-prescribe the medication.

 

Don’t risk your medication being stolen. Disposing of extras when you are done is an easy way you can help prevent prescription medication abuse.

 

There are different ways to dispose of medication:Follow 2 easy ways to prevent medication diversion and reduce prescription medication abuse. Don't be the source for prescription abuse and drug diversion!

  1. Medication take-back days: Drive by and put your unused medication in the collection kit. No questions asked! These are organized by the town and are usually announced in local flyers, billboards, and newspapers.
  2. Many police stations have anonymous medication drop off boxes. Dump all unused medication into their receptacle. Call the non-emergency number of your local police station to ask if they have this.
  3. If you are throwing medication in the trash, mix it with cat litter or coffee grounds. Visit the FDA for additional tips on safe disposal of your extra medication.



Side note on antibiotics:

Although antibiotics are not medications that are abused, it’s a common medication that people hoard. Someone recently told me they thought they had a sinus infection and took 2 days of an antibiotic that was found in their medicine cabinet. They had no idea what the name of the antibiotic was and couldn’t remember why it was initially prescribed.

 

Antibiotics are not universally effective against all bacteria and are prescribed to target the most likely bacteria for your particular infection. Not taking a complete course of antibiotics serves to increase the chance your bacteria will become resistant to being killed by that antibiotic. This is bad news for you AND the world, leading to people dying from previously treatable conditions.

 

Moral of the story? Finish your antibiotics if you are given them and don’t ever start a course on your own with random antibiotics you have left over!

#2: Lock up your medication to prevent prescription medication abuse and drug diversion

Follow 2 easy ways to prevent medication diversion and reduce prescription medication abuse. Don't be the source for prescription abuse and drug diversion!



Get a medication box to lock up your prescriptions. This will keep it safe from children and function as a deterrent to diversion.

 

I have yet to discover the perfect lockbox (easy to use and difficult to break into), but an imperfect box that gets used is better than no box at all!

 

  • If you are childproofing, I find the plastic box with a combo lock works great. This way I don’t have to search for a key to open it. (I may have gone overboard with buying these medication boxes. I actually have 8! In addition to medication, I have taken to locking things like sharpies, nail polish, and scissors after one too many self-done haircuts, spilled nail polish, and sharpie wall designs).
  • If you are in a situation where your medication will be exposed to someone who struggles with addiction I recommend getting a more sturdy box that can’t be smashed. A plastic box just isn’t going to cut it for prevention of drug diversion.
  • When traveling, I like the locking bag because it feels sturdy and secure and is big enough to fit a few bottles without being bulky.

Together we can help prevent medication diversion and cut down on prescription abuse 

We can all do our part to prevent drug diversion and prescription medication abuse by getting rid of leftover medications and locking up the current ones.

 

For more on the topic of preventing addiction read this article.