A Elements Behavioral Health Guide to Drug Rehab
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Cigarette use during pregnancy is associated with a range of health problems that can lead to serious or severe complications before or after childbirth. For this reason, public health guidelines strongly urge women not to smoke while pregnant. In a study published in March 2014 in the journal BMJ (formerly known as the British Medical Journal), researchers from several French institutions sought to determine if nicotine replacement patches, one of the common options for smoking cessation treatment, produce any real-world benefit for pregnant smokers. These researchers concluded that nicotine patches don’t appear to work any better for pregnant women than placebo treatments.

Smoking During Pregnancy

Do Nicotine Patches Work If You Are PregnantStatistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that slightly over half (54 percent) of all women smokers suspend their cigarette use while pregnant. Still, significant numbers of women continue to smoke during the early, middle or late stages of pregnancy or throughout all stages of pregnancy. Known harms of fetal exposure to the chemicals in cigarette smoke include heightened risks for a pregnancy-ending miscarriage, heightened risks for delivering a baby prematurely, heightened risks for delivering a baby lacking in sufficient body weight, heightened risks for delivering a baby affected by one of several specific birth defects and heightened risks for delivering a child who will eventually die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In addition to the problems associated with direct exposure to cigarette smoke, developing children also have increased chances of being born underweight when exposed to secondhand smoke.

Nicotine Patches And Pregnancy

Like other nicotine replacement therapy products (such as gum, nasal sprays, inhalers and lozenges), nicotine patches produce their benefits by delivering preset, relatively small amounts of nicotine into the bloodstreams of people affected by nicotine addiction. These nicotine doses allow a person to curb his or her cigarette intake while avoiding the onset of the withdrawal symptoms that commonly afflict individuals trying to quit smoking and interfere with successful smoking cessation. Some smokers try to quit with the help of low-strength, non-prescription nicotine patches that are available at all sorts of commercial outlets throughout the U.S. Others rely on stronger nicotine patches that require a doctor’s prescription. In some cases, nicotine replacement therapy forms the entirety of a smoking cessation strategy. In other cases, nicotine replacement forms part of a larger approach that also includes some form of counseling, brief training or behavioral therapy training.

Effectiveness Of Nicotine Patches For Pregnant Women

In the study published in BMJ, the French research team used information gathered from 402 pregnant women to assess the effectiveness of nicotine patches as a deterrent to cigarette use. These women, all of whom were over the age of 18 and in the second trimester of pregnancy, came from 23 French hospitals and had a daily nicotine intake of five or more cigarettes. Half (203) of the study participants received nicotine patches, while the other half received placebo patches that mimicked the appearance of nicotine patches. Both groups continued to use their respective patches until they delivered their babies at the end of pregnancy.

The researchers used several criteria to compare the effectiveness of the nicotine patches to the placebo patches. The main criteria for each woman were successful abstention from cigarette use and the delivery of a child with normal birth weight. Secondary criteria included the overall number of women in each group who remained cigarette-free and the time it took for any given woman to relapse back into cigarette use.

Only 11 women in the nicotine patch group remained abstinent from cigarette use over the course of the study; a nearly identical number of women (10) in the placebo group also remained entirely cigarette-free. In both groups, the average woman relapsed back into cigarette use after a period of 15 days. In addition, when compared to the babies born to the women who used a placebo medication, the babies born to the women who received nicotine patches were, on average, only heavier at birth by about 1.8 ounces.

During part of the study published in BMJ, the researchers increased the nicotine patch doses until these doses reached or exceeded the amount of nicotine the women normally consumed while smoking. Even this increase in medically supplied nicotine did not improve smoking abstinence or delay the average time to smoking relapse. The study’s authors concluded that nicotine patches, in particular, do not appear to provide any benefit as a smoking deterrent to women during pregnancy. Pregnant smokers should discuss all possible treatment options with their doctors.

Read “Pregnant And Addicted – What Now?”

Heroin use has exploded, a national survey on drug use reveals, growing from 373,000 yearly users in 2007 to an estimated 669,000 in 2012. This alarming substance abuse trend highlights the need for drug rehab and for strategies that reduce heroin’s harmful impact. One of those strategies is the distribution of a medication called naloxone, which reverses the effects of heroin overdose.

Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, is a non-narcotic drug that works by binding certain opioid receptors in the brain. Approved by the FDA in 1971, naloxone reverses sedation and respiratory suppression, heroin’s primary life-threatening effects. It can be administered via an injection, usually given in the upper arm or thigh, or as a nasal spray. After it’s been administered, the medication takes effect as quickly as five minutes or less. Naloxone is considered safe and nontoxic, and it doesn’t produce a pleasurable high when used. This medication treats overdoses from heroin and other narcotic drugs, including codeine and oxycodone.

Administering naloxone is a harm-reduction technique, which means it’s not necessarily intended to stop heroin use. Instead, its purpose is to reduce the harmful and potentially lethal impact of a heroin overdose. While death is, of course, the most serious consequence of overdosing on opioids, brain injury from oxygen deprivation is a very serious concern as well.

Heroin users who overdose are at risk for long-term health issues, ranging from coordination problems to communication difficulties. In severe overdose cases, the result can be a vegetative state. Brain injury damages both the physical and emotional well-being of the addict, but it also negatively impacts the well-being of his or her loved ones. Treatment of an overdose-related brain injury is expensive as well. If the addict is unable to pay for needed medical care, the community will end up bearing the burden.

Who Can Give Naloxone?

Naloxone has been available for years to emergency medical technicians, ambulance crews and emergency room personnel. However, in recent years, perhaps fueled by the increase in heroin use, public health officials have pushed to make it more widely available to other first responders. For example, naloxone is now carried by police officers in several communities, including one in New Mexico and five in Massachusetts.

The challenge, however, is that heroin overdoses sometimes result in injury or death before first responders arrive or before the drug user reaches an emergency room. This has spurred some public health officials to advocate putting naloxone directly into the hands of addicts, their loved ones and concerned friends.  In fact, in 2012, the American Medical Association (AMA) announced its support of offering naloxone through community-based programs. This would allow the bystanders of an overdose to administer the potentially life-saving medication. Some states have already moved to make naloxone more widely accessible. For example, Washington State allows drug users, family members and concerned friends to carry the medication.

What Are The Benefits Of Naloxone?

Naloxone – A Potential Lifesaver for Heroin AddictsThe potential benefits of naloxone are significant, and include the following:

The drug saves lives. Research shows that using this medication reduces the number of deaths from opioid overdoses. A published study, which examined Massachusetts communities where first responders carried naloxone, reported 327 rescues from 2006 to 2009. The communities that had higher levels of training for naloxone use reported a nearly 50 percent reduction in opioid overdose fatalities. Those with lower levels of training had an approximate 30 percent lower death rate.

Naloxone is relatively inexpensive. A nasal spray naloxone kit costs in the ballpark of $25. This is extremely inexpensive when compared to the potential cost of brain damage or death due to a heroin-induced overdose.

It can be administered with minimal training. Naloxone, whether it is in injectable or nasal spray form, is easy to administer to someone who has overdosed on heroin or other narcotic drugs. Instructions are typically provided with the medication to help someone at the scene know when it’s time to give it and how to prepare the dose. For those who want to learn more about how to give naloxone properly, training is available through many community-based programs or from physicians familiar with the drug.

What Are The Downsides Of Naloxone?

Although the benefits of using Naloxone for opioid overdoses are impressive, use of the medication is not without its downsides. Negative aspects include the following:

The medication usually must be administered by someone else. By the time a heroin user needs naloxone, he or she is already likely unconscious. Naloxone is most effective when there’s a sober bystander able to watch for signs of overdose and administer the medication as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, many addicts use when they’re alone or with others who are also using.  A sober bystander often isn’t anywhere in the vicinity. By the time someone does come onto the scene, it may be too late.

It doesn’t counteract the effect of other drugs. Naloxone only works for opioid overdoses, which means it has no impact when a person has ingested alcohol or substances like cocaine, benzodiazepines (such as Xanax or Valium), or methamphetamines.

Naloxone triggers withdrawal. Because the medication quickly reverses heroin’s effects, the user experiences withdrawal symptoms. These feelings are intense and uncomfortable; however, they’re not life-threatening. Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of withdrawal is that the heroin user will have a compelling urge to get high again.

The medication’s effects are temporary. Naloxone begins to wear off after 30 minutes, and most of it is gone after 90 minutes. However, a heroin high lasts from two hours in addicted users and up to six hours in new users. When the naloxone dose wears off, there may still be enough heroin in the body to reinitiate the high. If the original dose of heroin was large enough, respiratory suppression and sedation could start again. This would make an additional dose of naloxone necessary.

Bystanders may not call for help because they fear trouble with law enforcement. Loved ones or drug-using friends are sometimes highly reluctant to reach out to responders, even when those responders are armed with the potentially life-saving naloxone. This is often because they don’t want the person who’s using to get into legal trouble.

Some oppose its use. As with other harm-reduction strategies, such as needle exchange programs, there are always those who oppose its use. Critics charge that naloxone makes heroin users less likely to seek drug rehab because they no longer fear the consequences of an overdose.

Heroin abuse and addiction are serious community concerns. An overdose can lead to tragic and permanent consequences. While drug rehab treatment and abstinence are always the ultimate goals, it’s also important to address and reduce the harm done by drug abuse. Although it has its downsides, naloxone is a safe way to decrease the physical, emotional and financial impact of heroin overdose.

Read More About Successful Buprenorphine/Naloxone Treatment For Opioid Addiction

GHB is the common shorthand for gamma hydroxybutyrate, a drug of abuse identified as both a “club drug” and a “date rape” drug. People who use this drug repeatedly over time can develop a severe form of drug withdrawal that has the potential to produce fatal results. In a study published in February 2014 in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, a team of Dutch researchers investigated the best options for treating individuals affected by GHB withdrawal. These researchers concluded that the appropriate option varies according to any given person’s level of involvement with GHB use.

What Is GHB?

Study Helps Doctors Choose Best Setting For GHB WithdrawalGHB occurs naturally inside the human brain, but only in small amounts. Trace amounts of the chemical also appear in certain types of wine and beer. A specific form of pharmaceutical GHB, called sodium oxybate (Xyrem), has legitimate medical use as a treatment for the sleep disorder narcolepsy. However, access to this medication is strictly controlled through federal law, and most people who use/abuse GHB recreationally rely on illegally produced batches made by clandestine drug manufacturers.

GHB alters normal brain and body function by reducing the rate of communication inside the central nervous system. The baseline effects of this reduction include both sedation and a form of euphoric intoxication. In addition, roughly two-thirds of all users of the drug lose consciousness. The euphoric and sedating effects of GHB largely account for its use as a club drug. The sedating and unconsciousness-producing effects of GHB largely account for its use as a date rape drug; its use as a date rape drug also stems from its ability to trigger amnesia. Other known potential effects of GHB use include hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, confusion, headaches and loss of body control. People who overdose on the drug can develop seizures, experience a dangerous decline in normal lung function, go into a coma or die.

Addiction To GHB And Withdrawal From It

When used repeatedly over time, GHB can trigger the long-term changes in brain function required to produce substance addiction. One of the classic signs of any form of drug or alcohol addiction is the onset of withdrawal symptoms when substance use ends or tapers off rapidly. In the case of GHB addiction, potential withdrawal symptoms include excessive sweat production, a highly anxious mental state, uncontrollable body tremors and sleeplessness. Some people develop severe forms of these symptoms that can lead to highly debilitating or even fatal changes in brain and body health.

What Is The Withdrawal Treatment Setting?

In the study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, researchers from three Dutch institutions sought to establish guidelines for the best way to address the effects of GHB withdrawal. They undertook this work because, despite the potentially severe nature of this withdrawal, some individuals may recover well in an outpatient setting rather than in a hospital. The researchers began the project by gathering case studies of patients going through GHB withdrawal from 40 professionals specializing in addiction medicine. These case studies were reviewed by another 15 addiction specialists who made recommendations for hospitalization or outpatient care for each patient under consideration. In the study’s third and final stage, five specialists with extensive experience in treating GHB withdrawal reviewed the rationale used for assigning any given patient to hospitalization or outpatient treatment.

All told, 20 patients going through GHB withdrawal were assessed and/or reviewed by the three groups of experts. The researchers concluded that two main factors account for the decision to either hospitalize a person going through withdrawal or recommend outpatient treatment: the amount of GHB used each day and the frequency of GHB intake. As a rule, patients who take 32 grams or more of the drug every day and use the drug at least every two hours require hospitalization when going through withdrawal. Patients who take smaller daily amounts of the drug and use the drug less than every two hours are potential candidates for outpatient withdrawal treatment.

The authors of the study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence note that people with diagnosable psychiatric problems who go through GHB withdrawal may also require hospitalization rather than outpatient care. Conversely, people with strong support networks have an increased chance of receiving outpatient treatment when going through withdrawal. The authors believe that, overall, their work provides a solid framework that doctors can use when determining the best treatment setting for a person withdrawing from GHB use.

Read About Getting Addicts Into Drug Addiction Treatment

Not all people get involved in substance abuse for the same reason. Broadly speaking, some people are motivated primarily by the desire to increase their experience of pleasure, while others are motivated primarily by the desire to escape or avoid painful experiences. According to the results of a study published in March 2014 in the journal Addictive Behaviors, the underlying reasons for marijuana use have a significant impact on the results of treatments designed to address cannabis addiction. It appears that addicts motivated by pain avoidance have a harder time maintaining their recovery than their peers motivated by pleasure-seeking.

What Is Cannabis Use Disorder?

Why A Person Smokes Marijuana Impacts The Treatment OutcomeMarijuana or cannabis addiction is officially classified as part of a larger condition called cannabis use disorder. Some people affected by this disorder are not addicted to marijuana or other forms of cannabis, but still experience serious life impairment as a result of their drug use. Other affected individuals have undergone the long-term changes in brain chemistry that set the stage for marijuana/cannabis addiction and all other forms of substance addiction. Many people think that marijuana/cannabis addiction is a rare phenomenon. However, current evidence indicates that nine out of every 100 users of marijuana will develop symptoms that qualify them for an addiction diagnosis. Teenage marijuana users develop diagnosable addiction symptoms at close to twice this rate. In addition, addiction rates skyrocket among daily users of all ages; one-quarter to one-half of these individuals will eventually develop diagnosable symptoms.

Emotional Motivations

Much of human behavior stems from the conscious or unconscious impact of various emotions and emotion-based motivations. Psychologists commonly refer to pleasure-seeking motivations as “positive” reasons for engaging in a behavior. Conversely, they commonly refer to pain-avoidance motivations as “negative” reasons. When it comes to substance intake, the terms “positive” and “negative” don’t mean that some people have “good” reasons for using drugs or alcohol while others have “bad” reasons. Instead, they simply mean that some people use drugs and alcohol because they believe that substance use will enhance their pleasurable experiences, while others use drugs or alcohol because they believe that substance use will help them avoid feeling bad or escape current bad feelings. Individuals with “positive” motivations for substance use can develop problems with abuse and/or addiction just like people with “negative” motivations. However, the two groups of substance users typically hold distinctly different mental/emotional points of view about themselves, their surroundings and their experiences.

Impact On Treatment Outcomes

In the study published in Addictive Behaviors, researchers from the University of Washington and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University looked at the treatment outcomes of marijuana addicts whose drug use stems from “negative” motivations. They conducted their work with information gathered from 87 adults who underwent treatment for issues related to a chemical reliance on marijuana. These participants provided information on the reasons they used marijuana in any given situation. In turn, for each participant, the researchers matched these motivations to three known markers of diminished mental well-being: lack of belief in the ability to control one’s behavior, use of ineffective coping strategies to deal with unpleasant emotions and an impairing state called psychological distress.

The researchers concluded that marijuana addicts who use the drug for “negative” reasons have increased chances of believing they can’t control their actions, using ineffective coping mechanisms to deal with their emotions and developing substantial amounts of psychological distress. The researchers also concluded that each of these adverse impacts develops independently of the others, which means that attempts to address one of the three issues will not reduce risks for the other two. In addition, the researchers found that, compared to marijuana addicts who don’t use the drug for “negative” reasons, marijuana addicts who do use the drug for these reasons have greater problems achieving or maintaining abstinence from marijuana intake after they complete their treatment programs.

The authors of the study published in Addictive Behaviors note that their new findings echo previous research efforts that indicate that “negative” reasons for drug or alcohol use produce more problems during recovery than “positive” reasons for drug or alcohol use. Current psychotherapeutic approaches for people affected by marijuana addiction typically focus on dealing with unpleasant or unwanted emotional states. The study’s authors believe that their work validates this approach and serves as an additional reason for continuing to focus on treating “negative” emotions in people who develop cannabis-related addiction issues.

Read About The Most Abused Substances To Self-Medicate Anxiety

Methadone is an opioid medication sometimes used to treat people addicted to heroin or other powerful opioid drugs. Affected individuals commonly receive this medication on an ongoing basis rather than for a limited period of time. This pattern of usage can potentially create conflicts with participation in self-help support groups called 12-step groups, which typically place a high emphasis on complete drug and alcohol abstinence. In a study published in late 2013 in the Journal of Groups in Addiction & Recovery, researchers from three U.S. institutions sought to determine how many people receiving methadone also participate in a 12-step program.

What Is Methadone?

Do Addicts Treated With Methadone Participate in 12-Step ProgramsWhile methadone is an opioid substance, it has somewhat different properties than heroin or other opioid drugs of abuse. Those drugs are characterized by their ability to produce the rapid onset of a highly pleasurable state. Methadone, on the other hand, produces effects that build more slowly and result in a relatively low level of euphoric sensation. Doctors can exploit these properties and use methadone as a substitute for opioid drugs of abuse. Although an addict using methadone still has opioids in his or her bloodstream, he or she typically experiences a substantial reduction in the risk of drug-related harm. Although some addicted individuals receive only short-term methadone treatment, others participate in methadone maintenance treatment, an ongoing approach that uses methadone as an opioid drug replacement for extended periods of time.

What Is A 12-Step Program?

Twelve-step programs get their name because they emphasize participation in a series of 12 consecutive “steps” as the key to overcoming a reliance on drugs or alcohol (or certain harmful behaviors). The specific steps undertaken vary from program to program; however, common features of most programs include admitting powerlessness over one’s harm-producing behavior, seeking some sort of spiritual assistance to cope with harm-producing behavior, assuming moral accountability for one’s harmful actions and making amends to people who suffer from one’s harmful actions.

As a rule, 12-step programs emphasize the need to stay substance-free. In order to help group members achieve this goal, they employ a sponsor system that relies on longer-term members to mentor shorter-term members and provide the encouragement needed to remain abstinent from substance use. Two of the most well known 12-step groups in the U.S. are Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

How Many Methadone Users Participate In A 12-Step Program?

In the study published in the Journal of Groups in Addiction & Recovery, researchers from the Institute for Behavior and Health, Chestnut Health Systems and Partners in Drug Abuse Rehabilitation and Counseling investigated the degree of overlap between participation in methadone maintenance treatment and participation in a 12-step program. They conducted this investigation with the help of 322 adults currently participating in methadone programs. These adults were asked to submit information on their involvement in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous during the year prior to the start of the study. The researchers also asked them to detail their level of adherence to these 12-step groups’ program requirements.

The researchers found that fully two-thirds of the adults participating in methadone maintenance treatment also had a history of recent involvement with Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous or both 12-step groups. Seventy-two percent of these individuals reported receiving important benefits from their involvement in Alcoholics Anonymous, while 77 percent reported receiving benefits from their involvement in Narcotics Anonymous.

Does A 12-Step Program Work For Methadone Users? And Why Are They Hiding Their Methadone Use?

However, the researchers concluded that, compared with 12-step members not using methadone, the methadone patients had a substantially smaller overall level of program involvement. For example, only half of the methadone-using members regularly attended meetings with a single group of 12-step practitioners. Only a quarter of the methadone-using members worked with a sponsor, and only 13 percent of these members ended up acting as sponsors for others. In addition, only 21 percent of the methadone users vigorously pursued the completion of the 12 steps that form the basis of 12-step programs.

The authors of the study published in the Journal of Groups in Addiction & Recovery found that roughly a quarter of all the methadone users who attended Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous felt that their status as methadone recipients negatively affected their 12-step experiences. In addition, roughly one-third of all the methadone users actively hid their participation in methadone maintenance treatment from their 12-step peers. Altogether, the study’s findings indicate that methadone users who participate in 12-step programs experience widely varying outcomes from that participation.

Read About The Facts And Myths Of Methadone

Addiction to opioid drugs, like heroin, is a terrible disease and one that is difficult to overcome. Even with the best treatment and addiction professionals, coming clean from opioids and staying clean is a huge challenge. The impact that these drugs have on the brain and the body is so strong that it takes a major effort to stop using them. For this reason, researchers have worked on developing medications to help addicts. One such drug is Suboxone and it can help heroin and other opioid addicts stay sober. However, as an opioid itself, this medication can also be abused.

Withdrawal Symptoms Of Opioids

One of the main reasons quitting opioid drugs is so difficult is the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Taking addictive drugs repeatedly leads to changes in the brain. An addict needs the drug simply to feel normal again. When an opioid addict goes off his drug, he will experience anxiety, agitation, insomnia, achiness, sweating and a runny nose in the early stages. As withdrawal progresses, the symptoms get worse and include cramps, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. These symptoms are extremely uncomfortable and lead many addicts to start using again.

What Is Suboxone?

Is Addiction Treatment Drug Suboxone, Being Abused | Opioid AddictionSuboxone is a drug with active ingredients called buprenorphine and naloxone. Together these ingredients reduce the symptoms of withdrawal from opioid drugs. When an addict gets relief from the terrible symptoms of withdrawal, he is more likely to stay sober. There are a few risks associated with taking Suboxone, and potential side effects such as cold-like symptoms, sweating and headaches.

Suboxone has been proven by research to be effective in helping opioid addicts stay clean. In one study, nearly half of the addicted participants using Suboxone were able to reduce their use of narcotic opioid painkillers. The success rate dropped to below 10 percent when the participants stopped using Suboxone.

How Is Suboxone Able To Be Abuse?

Although it is an opioid, just like narcotic painkillers and heroin, Suboxone’s impact on the brain is much less than the more addictive drugs. However, there is still the potential for abuse. Another opioid that has been used to treat heroin addicts for decades, methadone, has a much greater potential for abuse than Suboxone. As a result, methadone is tightly controlled. Suboxone can be prescribed in a doctor’s office and the addict can take it home. This more lax approach to dispensing Suboxone leaves the door open for abuse.

Overdose And Death From Suboxone?

Furthermore, because regulations are not as tight as with methadone, many users don’t realize that it is possible to overdose and die from taking too much Suboxone.

Recent reports in the news illustrate the problems associated with Suboxone. Although it can help addicts get clean, it is clear that some people are abusing it and using it to get high rather than to stay sober. In New York, people have been arrested recently for trying to sell Suboxone. Not only are addicts being prescribed the drug abusing it, it’s also entering the illicit marketplace and being sold to non-addicts looking for a high. Arrests have also been made in Virginia and other states.

Drugs like Suboxone are important for helping people who desperately want to stop using heroin and other opioids. However, no error-free drug has yet been developed. As long as there is any possibility of getting high on a medication, the drug will be abused by someone. Doctors need to take great care in prescribing these medications and policy makers must consider whether restrictions need to be tightened to prevent further abuse.

Read More About Buprenorphine Treatment For Opioid Addiction

In the United States, 48 percent to 98 percent of illicit drug users smoke cigarettes compared to 19.8 percent of the general population. For those involved in treatment programs for addiction, there is some concern that treating smoking addiction at the same time as illicit drug addiction could impact the effectiveness of the core addiction treatment.

This hypothesis has been put to the test in a recent study, and the findings suggest that treating smoking addiction at the same time as addiction to stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine doesn’t affect the individual’s chance of remaining abstinent. The finding could prompt a shift in how rehab centers deal with people addicted to both nicotine and illicit drugs, but there is an important limitation that could impact how well the finding translates to real-world scenarios.

Studying Treatment For Those Addicted To Drugs And Cigarettes

How Stimulant And Smoking Addictions Can Be Treated TogetherThe researchers ran a randomized trial over the course of 10 weeks at 12 different substance abuse treatment programs between February 2010 and July 2012. The participants had to meet the diagnostic criteria for methamphetamine or cocaine addiction (or both), and also be interested in quitting smoking. The treatment for drug addiction went ahead as it ordinarily would for all participants during the study period, but they were split into two groups. In the first group, 271 participants simply received this “treatment as usual,” but in the second group, 267 participants were also given smoking-cessation treatment to see if it had an impact on their substance use outcomes.

The smoking-cessation treatment consisted of counseling over the first 10 weeks of treatment along with the quit-smoking medication bupropion. After the fourth week, the group assigned to smoking-cessation treatment also received a nicotine inhaler to help with cravings. The researchers were mainly interested in how many participants in each group were abstinent from stimulants during each of the treatment weeks (confirmed by urine testing), but also looked at nicotine (and other substance) use as a secondary outcome, confirming smoking abstinence through a carbon monoxide breath test. The researchers followed up with the participants three and six months after the treatment period to investigate longer-term outcomes.

What The Smoking-Cessation Treatment Study Found

The results show that there was no significant difference in the number of weeks abstinent from stimulants between the two groups after 10 weeks, although the group that received smoking-cessation treatment averaged 77.2 percent of weeks’ abstinent from stimulants compared to 78.1 percent of those who just received treatment as usual. This isn’t a “significant” result because the difference wasn’t large enough to rule out random statistical fluctuations; in other words, the outcomes were the same.

It was also found that those who received the smoking-cessation treatment were considerably more likely to have quit smoking at any point during the 10-week trial period and throughout the follow-up. Given that this had no impact on overall stimulant-use outcomes over the 10-week period, the researchers suggest that smoking addiction can be treated alongside drug addiction without having a negative effect.

However, the results for abstinence from stimulants after the six-month follow-up were different. There was a significant difference in the number of drug-free days between the groups, with those who also received smoking-cessation treatment having had more drug-free days than those who just received treatment as usual. If anything, this suggests that concurrent smoking cessation and stimulant addiction treatment could have a benefit for both outcomes.

Limitations Of The Smoking-Cessation Treatment Study

The results may be promising, but there is an important limitation that could have an impact on the relevance of the findings. In the research, the smoking-cessation treatment included weekly counseling, a pharmacological treatment and nicotine replacement therapy. This is a full battery of stop-smoking treatments, and is unlikely to represent the level of stop-smoking care a drug addiction treatment facility could realistically provide. Additionally, a large percentage of participants were able to remain abstinent from stimulants, which may indicate that some other factor is making this study unrepresentative of real-world outcomes.

Treating Substance Abuse And Smoking Addiction Together Still May Be Helpfu

However, these are relatively minor criticisms, and the authors point out that other research (looking at treating alcoholism and smoking addiction together) has also shown that smoking-cessation treatment appears to have a positive impact on substance abuse treatment.

The core finding of this research suggests that treatment providers shouldn’t be opposed to drug users attempting to tackle nicotine addiction at the same time as their illicit drug problem, but more studies will be needed to see if this effect continues in more realistic scenarios.

Read More About If Addicts Can Make The Choice To Stop Using

Detoxification, the process of waiting until your body has eliminated all of a drug from your system, can be a very difficult time. As your body detoxifies, you may experience uncomfortable, painful, and even dangerous symptoms. The fear of going through this is a roadblock for many addicts. Some treatment specialists have tried to develop a quick and painless detox process to help their patients. While their intentions may be good, trying to get through detox too quickly may present its own problems. Before you consider any rapid detox, make sure you understand the risks.

What Is Ultra Rapid Detox?

Detox is no fun for any type of addict, but for those hooked on opioids, the pain and discomfort associated with detoxing can be overwhelming. In fact, it is best for anyone detoxing from these drugs to be cared for by a loved one at the very least and by a medical professional whenever possible. Because the symptoms can be so severe, not all addicts make it through. Many turn back to drugs to get relief.

What’s Involved In Ultra Rapid Detox | Detoxing From Drugs And AlcoholTo increase the odds of a successful detox, the process of ultra rapid detox was developed by clinicians. Patients undergoing this process are put under anesthesia for anywhere between two hours and two days. During that time, medical caregivers administrate medicines to the patient that help to quickly flush the drugs from his system. The hope is that the patient wakes up having completed detox without feeling any withdrawal symptoms.

Does Ultra Rapid Detox Work?

Some patients and their doctors will claim that an ultra rapid detox worked. However, the research does not back up that conclusion. Randomized studies have shown that using anesthesia along with medications to quickly detox works no better than other detox methods. Many patients undergoing ultra rapid detox still experience withdrawal after the procedure is complete, and the rates at which they stay sober weeks after are comparable to other types of techniques.

Are There Any Dangers Associated With An Ultra Rapid Detox?

Not only is an ultra rapid detox not necessarily more successful than other techniques, it also carries some risks. In one study of ultra rapid detox techniques, 3 patients out of 35 experienced serious health consequences as a result of the treatment and needed to be hospitalized. While most patients undergoing this treatment will not experience anything so serious, the possibility exists.

What is more likely to happen with ultra rapid detox, and of serious concern, is that patients may not receive any other kind of treatment. There is no quick fix for addiction, but many who receive this type of care believe it is all they need to get sober and to stay sober. Detox, no matter how it is done, is only the first step in recovery from addiction.

Should I Consider Ultra Rapid Detox?

If you are considering this type of medically assisted detox, speak with your doctor about it first. You also have another option, called rapid detox. With a rapid detox, you will be mildly sedated, but not to the extent that is needed for ultra rapid detox. If you are seriously considering either type of procedure, make sure you understand the risks and that detox is just one part of a complete treatment plan. Be sure to include a stay at a rehab facility, counseling sessions, support group meetings and other tried-and-tested recovery support to ensure the best odds of success.

Read More About Detox Programs For Addiction

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