3 Common Risk Factors for Addiction Relapse

People who experience an alcohol or drug addiction often relapse at some point during their path to recovery. Relapsing does not necessarily mean that addiction treatment has failed; however, it is a harmful and potentially life-threatening obstacle to recovery and should be prevented before it can occur.

Relapse typically occurs in three stages: emotional, mental, and physical. The emotional relapse stage occurs when you are unable to cope with your emotions in a healthy way. The mental stage occurs when you begin to experience cravings and consider the possibility of relapsing, which may involve glorifying past substance use and minimizing its negative effects. The physical stage begins when you give in to these cravings and return to substance use.

As the stages of relapse progress, you may find yourself increasingly vulnerable to certain risk factors that speed up the process. Some of the most common of these risk factors include:

Social pressure: A wide variety of social factors, such as peer pressure from people who use drugs or alcohol, interpersonal conflicts, and a lack of social support can all contribute to a relapse.

Environmental triggers: Physical sensations, such as scents, as well as certain objects or places that you associate with drug or alcohol use may induce or intensify cravings.

Insufficient coping mechanisms: Relapse often occurs when internal coping mechanisms fail to help you process the negative thoughts, emotions, and sensations you experience in a healthy way, making drug or alcohol use potentially seem like an easier way of relieving these pressures.

The best way to prevent an addiction relapse is to work with medical professionals that can give you the guidance and resources you need to stay sober and manage risk factors in a healthy, effective way. Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Division of Addiction Services can help through our Reflections treatment program. To learn more, please call (718) 670-5078.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Alcohol Awareness Month

Alcohol consumption is extremely common in the United States, with nearly 80% of the population aged 12 or older drinking it at some point in their lifetime. Of this number, approximately 12.1% of men and 9.1% of women experience an alcohol use disorder, which is defined as an impaired ability to stop or limit the amount of alcohol consumed despite negative social or physical consequences.

Some of the primary risk factors for alcohol addiction are the amount, frequency, and speed of your alcohol consumption. It is generally recommended for men to limit their drinking to two alcoholic beverages per day and for women to only consume one drink per day. Frequently drinking too much and too quickly increases your risk of developing an alcohol addiction over time.

Other factors also increase your risk of developing an alcohol use disorder. These include:

Drinking at an early age: People who begin to drink before the age of 15 are over five times more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder than people who waited until the legal age of 21. This risk is higher for women than for men.

A family history of alcohol abuse: A combination of genetics and environmental factors, such as the drinking habits of one’s parents, contribute substantially to an individual’s likelihood of developing an alcohol use disorder.

Mental health conditions: People who experience mental disorders such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, particularly those who have experienced some form of childhood trauma, are at an increased risk of alcohol addiction.

While a serious and widespread problem, alcohol addiction is not the only dangerous form of alcohol misuse. Approximately one in six American adults engages in binge drinking, which involves consuming five or more drinks on one occasion for men or four or more drinks for women.

Excessive drinking of any kind, even when it isn’t related to an alcohol dependency, carries significant potential health risks such as:

  • Physical injuries due to vehicle crashes, alcohol poisoning, violence, or other factors
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Unintended pregnancies
  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
  • Sudden infant death syndrome
  • Chronic diseases
  • Long-term cognitive problems

If you are experiencing an alcohol use disorder, Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Division of Addiction Services can help. To learn more about our Chemical Dependence Unit, a safe place to experience alcohol withdrawal, please call (718) 670-5693 or (718) 670-5540. To learn more about our Reflections addiction treatment program, please call (718) 670-5078.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week

National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week is an annual observance that focuses on the discussion of drug and alcohol use and addiction among young people. The most common substances used by this group are alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana, but there is also significant use of substances such as club drugs, anabolic steroids, and opioids.

Alcohol: Approximately 29% of high school-aged young people consume alcoholic beverages, with about 14% binge-drinking and 17% driving with someone who had been drinking. Additionally, underage drinking is associated with several negative outcomes, including a higher chance of academic, social, legal, and physical problems, as well as an increased likelihood of experiencing sexual violence, suicide, homicide, or abuse of other substances.

Tobacco: Nearly 99% of people who use tobacco products daily began by the age of 26. Over 85% of high school students and 81.5% of middle school students reported using products such as e-cigarettes because of their flavors, indicating that this factor may make these products more appealing to young people.

Marijuana: The most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that approximately four out of 10 high school students have used marijuana at some point in their lives. Regular usage can potentially lead to long-term health effects such as mental health disorders or marijuana use disorder, a form of addiction that approximately 30% of people who use marijuana experience.

Club drugs: The term “club drugs” refers to substances such as cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine, rohypnol, methamphetamine, and acid. They’re most often used by young adults at parties, concerts, bars, nightclubs, or other event spaces. They are generally psychoactive substances and cause changes in mood, behavior, and awareness. They are also often used as “date rape” drugs to make it easier for a person to sexually assault a victim.

Anabolic steroids: Recreational steroid usage generally begins in young adulthood, with approximately 22% of users beginning as teenagers. Steroids are most likely to be used by males who participate in sports focused on weight and shape, such as bodybuilding. They may increase the likelihood of cognitive problems, such as increased impulsivity and decreased attention, as well as heart problems.

Opioids: Approximately 14% of students report misusing prescription opioids, which are typically used as painkillers after a major injury or procedure or for the treatment of chronic pain. Opioids carry a high risk of addiction and dependence when misused, making an overdose more likely. An overdose can lead to symptoms such as drowsiness, mental fog, nausea, constipation, slowed breathing, and even death.

If a young person you know is experiencing substance abuse or addiction, Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Division of Addiction Services can treat them through our Reflections program, which you can learn more about by calling (718) 670-5078. For more information about our 24/7 chemical dependence unit, where your loved one can experience withdrawal safely, please call (718) 670-5693 or (718) 670-5540.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Everything You Need To Know About Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a type of synthetic opioid used in pharmaceutical products to manage pain. It is also one of the main contributors to the ongoing epidemic of opioid overdose deaths, which have accounted for nearly 75% of all drug overdose deaths in recent years.

Drug dealers often sell fentanyl mixed with other drugs such as heroin, methamphetamine, and MDMA, as it is a cheaper ingredient for producing a stronger high compared to other substances. This can make an overdose more likely, as many buyers may not be aware that fentanyl is present as an additive in their drugs and may not be able to physically handle its strong effects.

Fentanyl is also approved as a legitimate prescription treatment for severe pain, particularly due to late-stage cancer. Its effects can be as much as 100 times stronger than morphine, another drug frequently used for pain management, and may include extreme happiness, sedation, breathing problems, and unconsciousness.

As a result of its potency, fentanyl can be very addictive, potentially resulting in dependency even for people who have been prescribed this drug. If a person becomes dependent on fentanyl and stops taking it, they may experience withdrawal symptoms such as sleep problems, severe cravings, diarrhea and vomiting, muscle and bone pain, and cold flashes.

If addiction occurs, it can be treated through a combination of medication and behavioral therapy. Some of the most frequently-used medications for treating fentanyl addiction include methadone (which eases withdrawal symptoms and cravings), buprenorphine (a partial agonist which creates similar effects as methadone), and naltrexone (which blocks the effects of fentanyl by preventing it from attaching to opioid receptors).

In the event of a fentanyl overdose, naloxone can block the drug’s effects when administered rapidly, but may require multiple doses. It is typically available as an injectable solution or nasal spray. In New York City, you do not require a prescription to get naloxone. If you have any naloxone, administer it, then immediately dial 911 for emergency medical services.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with fentanyl-related substance abuse problems, Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Division of Addiction Services can offer a safe place to experience drug withdrawal in our Chemical Dependence Unit and take the first steps toward recovery from addiction in our Reflections treatment program.

To learn more about our Chemical Dependence Unit, please call (718) 670-5693 or (718) 670-5540. For more information about our Reflections program, please call (718) 670-5078.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

International Overdose Awareness Day

The annual International Overdose Awareness Day campaign began in 2001. In the years since then, government and non-governmental agencies worldwide have worked to raise awareness about drug overdoses and the issues surrounding them.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, over half a million people died from drug overdoses internationally in 2019. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics also reported that over 100,000 people in the United States alone died due to drug overdoses in 2021. This is an increase of more than 8,000 deaths since 2020.

Many of these deaths may be fueled by factors such as economic uncertainty, increased rates of anxiety and depression, and insufficient mental health resources. Additionally, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl have become more available since the COVID-19 pandemic as access to other drugs such as heroin has decreased.

People who regularly use drugs have also become more likely to do so alone since the beginning of the pandemic. This greatly increases the risk of overdose, as there’s no one present to call 911 or administer life-saving treatments such as naloxone in the event of an emergency.

You don’t have to face addiction or mental health issues alone. If you’ve developed a substance abuse problem, Flushing Hospital’s Division of Addiction Services provides a safe space for drug withdrawal and offers access to psychiatric assistance, substance abuse counseling, and care from our medical team. Our Reflections treatment program also offers helpful holistic techniques for curbing addictive behaviors.

To learn more about our addiction services, call Flushing Hospital Medical Center at (718) 670-5693 or (718) 670-5540. For more information about the Reflections program, call (718) 670-5078.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Prescription Opioid Addiction Among Young Adults

It is crucial for parents and young adults to know the facts about opioids so that they can better understand how these drugs can negatively affect a person’s health and quality of life.

Here are six important facts families should know:

  1. Opioids are narcotic medications that are prescribed to treat mild to severe pain.
  2. Some of the most common types of opioids are fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine tramadol and codeine.
  3. Opioids work by reducing the intensity of pain signals being transmitted to the brain. They interact with opioid receptors in the brain to produce pain relief and feelings of euphoria.
  4. Misusing opioids can result in the development of a chemical dependency on these drugs. Misuse may occur when a person is taking opioids long-term, is taking more than what was prescribed, or is taking them for non-medical reasons.
  5. It is common for teens to mix prescription opioids with other substances such as alcohol. A  study revealed that seven out of ten teens combined opioids with additional substances and 52% within this group co-ingested prescription pills with alcohol. This behavior puts teens at a higher risk for overdose.
  6. Some of the warning signs of opioid abuse include; anxiety attacks, depression, improved alertness, increased energy, a decrease in appetite, fatigue, nausea, constipation and breathlessness.

There are several steps one can take to prevent or reduce the chances of prescription opioid misuse, they include; keeping medication locked up or keeping track of medication to ensure pills are not missing, correctly disposing of unused medication, monitoring your loved one’s behavior while they are taking medication and communicating with your doctor about not exceeding the recommended time period for pain treatment.

If your loved one is addicted to prescription opioids it is highly recommended that you have an honest conversation with them about harmful effects that could potentially lead to death.  Reassure them that you are here to help and not to judge them. Seek help from a trained medical professional immediately.

There are several treatment options available which include medication and counseling. Your physician or mental health counselor will determine which treatments are best for a healthy recovery.

To schedule an appointment with Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s  Addiction Service Division please call 718-670-5078.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

Excessive drinking of alcohol is classified as more than eight alcoholic drinks per day in women and more than 15 in men.  Consuming alcohol heavily over an extended period can result in the development of alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD).

ARLD causes damage and inflammation of the liver and can potentially lead to liver failure.

There are three types of alcohol-related liver disease, each categorized by stages. They include:

  1. Alcoholic fatty liver disease– This is the earliest stage that occurs when there is a build-up of fat in the liver. There are rarely any symptoms. However, developing fatty liver disease is a clear indication that the body is taking in more alcohol than the liver can process. Fatty liver disease is sometimes reversible when an individual removes alcohol from their diet.
  2. Acute alcoholic hepatitis– In this stage, the excessive consumption of alcohol causes inflammation and swelling of the liver, as well as the destruction of liver cells. This condition can be mild or severe, and symptoms may include jaundice, nausea, vomiting, fever, or abdominal pain. In some cases, treatment may reverse liver damage. In other cases, alcoholic hepatitis can lead to liver failure.
  3. Alcoholic cirrhosis– According to the American Liver Foundation, “Between 10 and 20 percent of heavy drinkers develop cirrhosis, usually after 10 or more years of drinking.” This is the most severe stage that causes the liver to become scarred, stiff and swollen. At this point, damage that is done to the liver generally cannot be undone. Cirrhosis often presents no symptoms until there is extensive damage done to the liver. Symptoms may include red or blotchy palms, jaundice, weight loss, nausea, accumulation of fluid in the abdomen, breast enlargement in men or the loss of periods in women.  It is important to pay attention to these symptoms and seek treatment because advanced cirrhosis can be life-threatening.

If you are believed to have alcoholic-related liver disease, your doctor may assess your history of alcohol consumption, order blood and imaging tests to rule out other liver diseases or request a liver biopsy to determine a diagnosis.

Treatment for alcoholic-related liver disease is based on severity. The first thing your doctor will aim to do is help you to stop drinking.  Abstinence will help to prevent further liver damage and promote healing.  It is common for patients with ARLD to have some degree of malnutrition, as a result, your doctor may recommend that you see a nutritionist. Medications may also be added to your care plan to reduce liver inflammation. In severe cases of ARLD, where there is advanced cirrhosis, treatment can include liver transplantation.

To schedule an appointment with an alcohol addiction specialist at Flushing Hospital Medical Center, please call (718) 670-5078.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

How To Handle A Relapse

Overcoming addiction can be a difficult journey, as one may be faced with several challenges. One of those challenges is figuring out what to do after a relapse.

It is not uncommon for a person to relapse after getting clean. In fact, relapsing is often considered by many experts to be a part of lifelong recovery. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40 to 60 percent of people who participate in addiction treatment programs relapse at least once. And approximately 90% of alcoholics will relapse within four years.

A person’s addiction can be triggered by various emotional, social or environmental factors, all of which can lead to feeling the need to begin using drugs or drinking alcohol again.

There are often signs that point to a potential relapse. Recognizing the following signs can help someone avoid making the wrong decision, and jeopardizing their sobriety:

  • Feeling emotions that led to an addiction such as sadness, anger or even extreme happiness
  • Showing symptoms of depression or anxiety
  • Exhibiting changes in behavior
  • No longer attending or losing interest in therapy sessions or addiction recovery meetings
  • Reconnecting with people who encouraged substance abuse
  • Romanticizing past substance abuse
  • Believing that it is possible to abuse substances again without becoming addicted

In the event a person has relapsed there are several things they can do to get back on the road to recovery. They are:

  • Acknowledging relapse and learning from their mistakes
  • Avoiding triggers and setting healthy boundaries
  • Seeking support from those who can help them cope with their relapse
  • Going back to treatment
  • Attending self-help groups
  • Practicing self-care
  • Creating a relapse prevention plan

If you have a loved one who is battling substance abuse, you may understandably feel confused and helpless. Fortunately, you don’t have to walk the path to recovery and healing alone.

At Flushing Hospital Medical Center, our Psychiatry Department features a Division of Addiction Services where those battling addiction can receive comprehensive assessments and treatment for alcohol and chemical dependency.

To schedule an appointment or speak with a mental health professional, please call 718- 670-5078.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Alcohol Addiction During The Holiday Season

During the season of merriment of the season, you may want to ask yourself, “How many drinks are too many?”

Answer: According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: men should not exceed four drinks per day or a total of 14 per week and women should not to exceed three drinks a day or a total of seven per week.

When following these guidelines here are some factors to consider:

.Portion size: Standard portions in the United States include 12-ounces of beer, 8-ounces of malt liquor, 5-ounces of wine and 1.5-ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor.

  • Alcohol content: There are differences in alcohol percentages between red and white wines, as well as between light beers and lagers.
  • Gender: Women have less body water than men and hence retain a higher blood-alcohol concentration than men from a single drink.
  • Food:  An empty stomach speeds up alcohol absorption. Food slows absorption rates in men and women.

Remember, everyone metabolizes alcohol differently and moderation is key. Make smart choices when enjoying dinner or a night out with friends and NEVER drink and drive.

If you think you have a problem with alcohol, please contact Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Addiction Treatment Division at 718- 670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Flushing Hospital Provides Information About Addiction to Valium

There are many highly –addictive substances that have caught the nation’s attention in recent years. Some of these drugs are illegal, but many are prescription medications that when taken inappropriately, can be very dangerous. Flushing Hospital’s Department of Addiction Services would like to educate the community about one of these drugs, Valium.

Valium is the trade name for diazepam, a popular tranquilizing medication or sedative prescribed by both medical doctors and psychiatrists to treat a variety of conditions.  It is most commonly used to relieve the symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks, but it can also be prescribed to help people sleep, prevent seizures, and sooth of muscle spasms.

Valium is intended to strengthen certain neurotransmitters in the brain. These neurotransmitters work to slow down activity in the central nervous system, resulting in pleasurable feelings of relaxation and sedation for the user. While it can be effective when taken correctly, if taken in large doses, for an extended period of time or for reasons other than prescribed, Valium can become very addictive.  Even people who take Valium as prescribed can develop a dependence on the drug.

Valium addiction rarely develops overnight. In many cases, it can take a few weeks to several months for someone to display signs of Valium abuse.
Some of the symptoms of Valium abuse include:

  • Shaking
  • A change in appearance / hygiene
  • Slow movements and speech
  • Lack of coordination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive sleepiness

If not treated, Valium addiction can lead to many serious physical and mental health issues, including:

  • Mood swings
  • Loss of memory
  • Violent or aggressive tendencies
  • Poor motor function
  • Problems with digestion and urination
  • Slowed respiration
  • Low blood pressure

Taking excess amounts of Valium increases the risk of an accidental overdose. This could end in a coma or even death, especially if it is paired with other drugs like alcohol, which also produces depressant effects on the body.

It is important to seek treatment for a Valium addiction because attempting to quit on your own can be dangerous and in extreme cases, unsupervised withdrawal can lead to seizures and death. It is recommended that withdrawal be overseen by qualified specialists to ensure the safety and comfort of the patient.

To speak to someone at Flushing Hospital’s Addiction Services Department, please call 718-670-5078.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.