Entering Treatment around the Holidays

Champagner on Glass Table with Bokeh backgroundWhen the holidays roll around, people often put things on hold, including work projects, fitness goals, home-improvement undertakings, and much more. Unfortunately, people struggling with substance abuse disorders may allow their addiction to reach this same priority, with intentions to “deal with it” after the holiday chaos has passed. But why wait until the new year to make long overdue changes?

The upsides to treatment during the holidays may take you by surprise. Those in need of treatment may find that fitting a program into their schedule is actually easier in the months of November and December due to the fact that employers regularly foresee absences during these slow business months. Additionally, treatment may be easier to finance, as many people have already met their insurance deductibles.

The most noteworthy benefit of holiday treatment, however, is avoiding the possibility of substance abuse intensifying. The stress of family obligations, gift buying, and holiday celebrations can increase the desires of those struggling to turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of coping. Also, many holiday parties revolve around drinking alcohol, sometimes excessively in the form of binge drinking.

It can be dangerous to delay treatment, too. There is a higher incidence of drunk driving arrests, fatal accidents, and drug overdoses during the holiday season. Seeking treatment can keep you or your loved one safe, as well as offer the opportunity to start a new year off in recovery. Going to treatment during the holidays means starting the new year already having achieved some important goals. Instead of making a New Year’s resolution to get well, you or your loved one will already have strategies and plans in place.

The sooner treatment is considered, the better. You can learn more about drug and alcohol abuse and treatment options at RecoverGateway.org or by calling Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers for a confidential consultation at 877-505-HOPE (4673).

Shame, Stigma, and Addiction

Individuals struggling with substance abuse may often feel a sense of shame or stigma and find that it is easier to lie and hide rather than seek treatment. However, more prevalent coverage of substance use disorder-related issues in media and depictions on television of individuals who are not only struggling with drugs and alcohol but also seeking treatment and sobriety, is helping reduce the shame and stigma associated with addiction.

THE FIX REPORTS:

With addiction, stigma can crush you. Stigma is what says your drug and alcohol use is a character flaw. It’s what says you’re a bad mother, it is what says you are a bad son, or a bad husband.

TheFix

It took me a while to get to rehab. I spent years bashing around, harming myself and the people around me before I finally went. I knew I had some serious issues with booze, drugs and sex that I could not get under control on my own, but still, at least people didn’t know I had those problems, and at the time that was all that mattered. It wasn’t like my parents, friends, employers, wives and lovers, knew I was a drunk, a freak and a loser. Sure, it might help if I went to rehab, but as ridiculous as it sounds to me now, the embarrassment of going, and the stigma attached to it, outweighed the fact that I actually might be able to get help. I was terrified of people finding out what my problems were. I had fallen victim to shame, that was perpetuated by stigma.

If you are suffering with an issue of addiction, stigma can crush you. Stigma is what says your drug and alcohol use is a character flaw. It’s what says you’re a bad mother, it is what says you are a bad son, or a bad husband. It is what says you are weak, that you are crazy, that you are a piece of crap. It is why you are afraid to tell your boss that you need some time off to go get help. It is why you would rather lie than tell someone that you are not doing okay. It was why I would rather steal than let people know I needed help.

That was ten years ago. Now, when I look around at the people I know who are struggling with similar issues, there seems to be much less stigma attached to addiction and getting help for one’s problems, at least when it comes to the younger people I know. I am a member of Generation X, my generation hid everything we could about our issues as a rule, but with the coming of Generation Y, otherwise known as millennials, things finally seem to be changing.

Mike Reis, CEO and Founder of DecisionPoint Wellness, had this to say to me about stigma and the younger generation over an email interview: “A big factor that prevents many people from getting the help they need is the stigma associated with being labeled an addict. This is especially true for older Americans who isolate and feel an overwhelming sense of shame. Surprisingly, millennials are leading the way to remove the social stigma. I’ve learned a lot from the millennials that have come through our intensive outpatient program at DecisionPoint in Johns Creek, Georgia. They are connecting to others in recovery through technology and social media. Millennials openly share their recovery stories and daily journey on the Internet too. Unlike previous generations that came into recovery through the anonymity of AA, millennials don’t feel the need to be shackled to those traditions. They are more focused being individuals, and building a community of support. It’s common to see them proudly posting their sober anniversary dates on Facebook. Millennials seem to understand that the way to maintain their sobriety long-term is to publicly share their personal stories as survivors, and bring truth to the spotlight while creating a community of support. In doing so, they help others realize that addiction is a disease, and it needs to be treated as such without shame.”

Many millennials just don’t care a whole lot about what anyone thinks. A good example of this is Kassia Kristoff, a 30-year-old woman who once went to rehab to get help with her heroin use. “Fortunately for me, I have never cared much if at all what ‘society’ thinks of me, and as a result, felt no shame going to rehab. My world by the end consisted of only other addicts, so the only shame might have been in throwing in the towel. What I do feel shame about is the fact that people in this country are judged so harshly for being addicts. As someone who now works in a rehab and works with addicts in my personal life as well, I have seen the devastation that addiction causes to all who suffer from it. Most addicts, when clean, are extremely loving, caring and productive people. They simply need to be taught how to live without using first. Rehab is very helpful in this regard, because it teaches addicts (a term I use for all who suffer from addiction to any substance, including alcohol) about their addiction, and ways to cope without the crutch of their substance. Rehab gives addicts an opportunity to temporarily thrive in a safe and compassionate controlled environment, and to allow their brains and bodies to ‘sober up.'”

According to Karen Wolownik Albert, LCSW, who is executive director of Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment, social and traditional media has a lot to do with this change. She said to me in an interview: “More prevalent coverage of substance use disorder-related issues in media and depictions on television of individuals who are not only struggling with drugs and alcohol but also seeking treatment and sobriety, is helping reduce the shame and stigma associated with addiction. Younger generations are more likely to openly discuss the topic and be more transparent with their families and friends about their desire to seek help, compared to previous generations that kept their struggles private due the negative stigma of being an ‘addict.'”

Of course, it isn’t easy to go to rehab, no matter what generation you are in. But the stigma is way harder to deal with when you are going to get help than it is once you come out on the other side. As an obvious example, I have gone from someone who was terrified about letting anyone know about my issues, to writing about them in forums such as this one. Someone else who has done that is Lindsey Hall, who writes for many websites about her experiences with her eating disorder, including her own.

She told me that “I do not feel stigma around my eating disorder. Not anymore, at least… but I also write about it publicly and have connected with hundreds of people who have been through what I experienced, and I think that has slowly worn away the fear of stigma. Also, we live in a world where opioid addiction and eating disorders are on the rise, so it’s more likely than ever that you have a loved one or you yourself have experienced addiction. Due to social media, people talk about their ‘issues’ more openly than ever and for an eating disorder, there are so many body positive Instagram accounts as well as recovery websites and essays and blogs (including mine) about this exact topic that make you feel like you’re actually in a community. However, before I went to rehab in 2013, I absolutely did feel stigma. I was terrified to tell people I was going. I wanted people to respect me and think of me as someone who had her life together, and I felt like rehab had this whole stigma of ‘Oh, you went to rehab? You must be like super messed up. You’re crazy. I can’t take you seriously anymore.’ At the end of the day, I’m not going to say it’s easy to proclaim, when meeting new people, that I’ve been in rehab. But, it’s just becoming more of an acceptable reality in a culture where drug addiction/binge drinking/and eating disorders are rampant.”

David Rosenbloom, PhD, is a professor of Public Health at Boston University where he directs Join Together, a program that helps communities prevent and reduce alcohol and drug problems.

Dr. Rosenbloom told me that he believes millennials are more tolerant of a much broader range of human conditions than their parents or prior generations. When I asked him what we could do as a society to decrease stigma, he said, “We need to significantly expand access to medication-assisted treatment and conduct a public education campaign in support of their long-term use. We also need to apologize for past excesses in the criminal justice system, and systematically review and release hundreds of thousands of people who are in prison or jail because of their substance use disorder. We should repeal all laws that prevent individuals with criminal records associated with drug or alcohol use from getting jobs, housing or education, and expand public investments to provide jobs for these people.”

When it comes right down to it, more and more people of the millennial generation are not only not ashamed of their seeking help for their issues, they make a point of that for all to see. One of those people is Seth Leaf Pruzansky, who is shopping a book about his spiritual awakening that came when he was incarcerated for a drug-related offense.

Seth told me that, “The stigma of being an addict shouldn’t stop anyone from getting help. Taking responsibility for getting it is squarely in the lap of the addict him or herself. Until they really own the fact that despite the circumstances leading to their addiction, they are the ones who ultimately made the choice of devolving into their current station in life, they will remain in a state of not believing that help is available. They will continue to play the victim card because in the short run, it’s a lot easier to stay in that rut rather than to get help and clean up. But in the long run, the continuing spiral into de-evolution and death is all but inevitable. I know. I personally climbed out of that hell.”

View article on TheFix.com >

If you know someone struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues, know that help is available. Visit RecoverGateway.org for more information or call Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers for a confidential consultation at 877-505-HOPE (4673).

Prince’s Death Puts Opioid Fentanyl Overdose under Spotlight

According to a Minnesota medical examiner report, musician Prince passed away after a self-administered dose of fentanyl. (Forbes, 2016)

It is not clear whether Prince habitually used fentanyl or other prescription opioids or how long he used such medication; there is not enough information to classify this as an addiction. Nevertheless, this tragic and untimely loss is increasing awareness of the ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States – and more specifically, fentanyl abuse. During this devastating time, Gateway hopes to educate individuals on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse and help a loved one who may be struggling.

Addressing the Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic

Medicine pill capsules with medicine bottleStudies show that more than 28,000 people died from opioids, which includes heroin and painkillers, in 2014, and 4.3 million people were taking pain medication for non-medical purposes that year. (NY Times, 2016)

In March of 2015, the DEA issued a nationwide alert regarding fentanyl. “Drug incidents and overdoses related to fentanyl are occurring at an alarming rate throughout the United States and represent a significant threat to public health and safety,” wrote DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart.

Fortunately, there is hope. Treatment is available for those who wish to seek help for prescription drug abuse.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a powerful prescription opioid. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that fentanyl is nearly one hundred times as strong as morphine and hundreds of times more potent than heroin.

Fentanyl is typically prescribed to treat severe pain, or to manage pain after surgery. Like heroin, morphine, and other opioids, fentanyl binds to the body’s opiate receptors – driving up dopamine levels in the brain’s reward areas and producing a state of euphoria and relaxation.

When prescribed by a physician, fentanyl is often administered via injection, transdermal patch, or in lozenge form. However, the type of fentanyl associated with most overdoses is produced in underground laboratories and mixed with heroin or other substances in a powder form.

Mixing fentanyl with street drugs such as heroin or cocaine increases potency and potential dangers. (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016)

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Abuse?
If your loved one is prescribed an opioid painkiller, keep a watchful eye and ensure he or she takes the medication as directed. Some warning signs of prescription drug abuse to watch for include:

  • Appearing drowsy or intoxicated
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Not performing well at work or school (or just not attending at all)
  • Running out of medication too early
  • Changing doctors often

Effects of Fentanyl Abuse
There are serious mental and physical effects of prolonged fentanyl abuse in addition to the signs and symptoms of abuse listed above. Physical side effects include severe gastrointestinal problems, weakened immune system, difficulty breathing and seizures. Mental effects may include paranoia, lack of motivation, personality changes and social withdrawal. When combined with street drugs, the depression of the central nervous system can lead to respiratory distress, coma and even death. (DrugAbuse.com)

To learn more about prescription drug abuse and treatment visit RecoverGateway.org/RxDrugs.

 

Durbin Introduces Bill to Expand Access to Substance Abuse Treatment Under Medicaid

Source: http://www.durbin.senate.gov

2.29.16 – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today joined doctors (including those from Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers) and substance abuse treatment clients at Haymarket Center to discuss legislation he is introducing this week that will expand access to treatment for vulnerable populations who currently are not receiving the addiction care they need while the heroin and opioid prescription drug abuse epidemic continues to grow. The Medicaid Coverage for Addiction Recovery Expansion (Medicaid CARE) Act would modify the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) Exclusion policy—a decades-old Medicaid policy that has had the unintended consequence of limiting treatment for our most at-risk populations.  The measure would allow more than 2,000 additional Illinois Medicaid recipients in Illinois to receive care annually.

 “Too many substance abuse centers do not qualify for Medicaid because of an outdated understanding of addiction, which restricts access to care. Less than 12 percent of Illinoisans in need of substance abuse treatment actually receive it.  That unacceptable treatment rate is hindering our ability to help these individuals turn their lives around and start curtailing this public health epidemic that’s feeding on our state’s youth,” Durbin said. “That’s why I am introducing a bill to change this outdated and ill-advised policy to ensure that patients in need of substance abuse care can get it.”

 Currently, the IMD Exclusion prohibits the use of federal Medicaid financing for care provided to most patients in residential mental health and substance use disorder residential treatment facilities larger than 16 beds. Illinois has 585 residential addiction treatment beds across 15 facilities that are larger than the 16-bed threshold and thus ineligible for Medicaid payments.

Under the Medicaid CARE Act, residential addiction treatment facilities across the nation and here in Illinois would qualify if they:

  • Provide substance use disorder treatment services;
  • Are accredited by a national agency;
  • Have less than 40 beds; and
  • Provide services to adults for up to 60 consecutive days

The legislation also establishes a new $50 million youth grant program to fund inpatient substance abuse treatment to Medicaid beneficiaries younger than 21 in underserved, high-risk and rural communities.

Durbin is introducing the Medicaid CARE Act as the Senate this week begins debate on the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) of 2015—of which Durbin is a cosponsor.  The CARA legislation authorizes grants to help states adopt a comprehensive approach to the opiate crisis that involves law enforcement, the criminal justice system, the public health system and the recovery support community

The bill would:

  • Require the establishment of a federal interagency task force to develop best practices for pain management and pain medication prescribing;
  • Require a national drug awareness campaign on the risks of opioid abuse;
  • Authorize the Justice Department, in coordination with other federal agencies like the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to make grants to states, locals, and non-profits to:
    • expand education campaigns and prevention strategies to combat opiate abuse;
    • fund treatment alternatives to incarceration for addicts;
    • provide training for first responders for naloxone use;
    • make grants to help develop disposal sites for unwanted prescription drugs;
    • fund heroin and methamphetamine law enforcement task forces
    • implement medication-assisted treatment programs;
    • provide for school-based programs to support recovery from substance abuse;
    • expand education opportunities for offenders in jails or juvenile detention facilities
    • expand family-based substance abuse treatment programs, and expand services for pregnant substance abusers and those with young children;
    • support veterans treatment courts

Illinois experienced 1,652 overdose deaths in 2014 – a nearly 30 percent increase since 2010. Forty percent of those deaths were associated with heroin. Illinois is ranked number one in the nation for a decline in treatment capacity between 2007 and 2012 – and is now ranked the third worst in the country for state-funded treatment capacity.

Nationally, the number of deaths from heroin overdoses more than tripled since 2010. Yet according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, less than 12 percent of the 21.5 million Americans suffering with a substance use disorder received specialty treatment in 2014.

Durbin was joined at today’s announcement by doctors from the Haymarket Center and the Gateway Foundation.  The Haymarket Center is the largest substance use and mental health disorder treatment facility in Chicago.  Founded in 1975, it is one of the only treatment centers in the state that offers all levels of care as defined by the American Society of Addictions Medicine.  Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment was founded in 1968 and is the largest provider of substance abuse treatment in Illinois, with locations throughout the state. 

Prescription Drug Abuse is on the Rise

prescription drug abuse, prescription pills, prescription drugs“Abuse of pain medications may start when a person takes them for an injury or medical condition that causes chronic pain. It can get out of control. Over time, people develop a tolerance level to opiates which often prompts them to increase their dosages,” says Cynthia Miles, LCSW, Clinical Supervisor, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers

Prescription drugs are often perceived as safer than illicit drugs but, when abused, pose serious health risks including overdose. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that more people die from prescription opioid overdose than all other drugs combined.

What Can You Do?

It is important to safeguard and keep track of prescription drugs. Following are steps you can immediately take to limit access to your prescription drugs:

  • Safeguard all drugs at home, including over-the-counter medicines. Conceal, monitor quantities and control access.
  • If you have children, set clear rules for teens about all drug use, including not sharing medicine and always following the medical provider’s advice and dosages.
  • Be a good role model by following these same rules with your own medicines.
  • Ask friends and family to safeguard their prescription drugs as well.
  • Properly dispose of old or unused medicines

Read More about Prescription Drug Abuse >

Alternatives to Managing Pain

Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment’s H.O.P.E. program is a voluntary program designed to help people find alternatives to taking pain medications and/or narcotics. The program name acronym stands for Healthy Options to Treat Pain Effectively. Offered at the Gateway Treatment Center in Carbondale, Illinois, the H.O.P.E. program educates attendees on ways to take a more holistic approach to their health.

Provided in a group format, the program’s goals include helping people gain an understanding of their pain, and how to identify the ways in which it goes further than the physical sensations to include emotional pain and cognitive disorders. Once people can identify this, they can use this knowledge to begin to alter their thinking.

Participants learn how to use techniques designed to improve their emotional pain, which should in turn help to decrease the perception of physical pain. Daily grounding and coping skills are practiced, which are ideally, performed even when a person’s pain level is not high. By being consistent, a life change that is conducive to self-awareness and pain management is reinforced.

If you know someone who may be abusing presription drugs, don’t wait. Call Gateway at 877-971-4673.

Learn more about Substance Abuse Treatment Programs at Gateway Treatment Centers >

Can Low Self-Esteem Lead to Substance Abuse?

low self esteem, substance abuseLow self-esteem, a perception that one is inadequate, unlovable, unworthy and/or incompetent, often stems from exposure to dysfunctional behavior as a child. If children bear the brunt of anger, abandonment, abuse, neglect or continual negative criticism, it can lead to feelings of low self-worth.

With little to live up to, people with chronic self-esteem issues may take on behaviors that reinforce their feelings of inadequacy, including drug use. When people use drugs or alcohol as an artificial boost to self-esteem, they’re attempting to function in situations where they lack confidence.

Signs of Low Self-Esteem:

  • Overly critical of self and others and believes others view them in the same negative ways that they view themselves.
  • Makes a big deal about comments or behavior of others they view as inappropriate or offensive.
  • Only thinks about what goes on around them in terms of their own needs and wants.
  • Excessively submissive to authority figures.

With professional help, people who suffer with low self-esteem and substance abuse issues can enhance relationships by improving their coping and communication skills. Rather than reacting to preconceived notions, each person has the ability to learn how to resolve their disagreements with others in a healthy, productive manner.

“Treatment is about rebuilding self-esteem. Thanks to Gateway, I finally saw the beauty inside me. They helped me work through issues that were too heavy for me to tackle on my own—some issues were deeply buried since childhood,” explains Christine, a 25-year-old woman who completed treatment for alcohol and drug abuse at a Gateway Center located in Carbondale, IL.

Does someone you know suffer from low self-esteem combined with substance abuse? Gateway can help get life back on track. Call 877-505-HOPE (4673).

Encouraging Substance Abuse Treatment

encouraging-substance-abuse-treatment, gateway treatment centers, gateway alcohol and drug treatmentIt is very important to remember that someone who abuses alcohol or drugs will continue to do so as long as the consequences of use do not outweigh the benefits. Once someone with an addiction problem experiences more consequences and fewer benefits they may begin to understand he or she needs help, and may consider substance abuse treatment. Do not feel obliged to cover up for another person’s habits, or make excuses about his or her behavior, that only puts you in the position of co-dependency and enabling.

As much as you may want a substance abuser to get help, you can’t force an individual to attend substance abuse treatment; begging or threatening won’t work either. You can only encourage someone to consider treatment as an option. Recovery will come, only if and when the substance abuser truly decides to seek a healthier lifestyle.

Discuss Substance Abuse in A Way That Places Importance On The Topic

It’s a tough subject, and sometimes it’s even harder to have time for a conversation that seems meaningful. Having a quick conversation about alcohol or drug abuse  in between texting and phone calls, or in the car on the way to work, doesn’t always signal the gravity and importance of the topic.

Tips for talking to a loved one about substance abuse: 

In approaching a loved one with substance abuse, the key is to choose your words and moment carefully when telling him or her how you feel. Ideally, pick a time when he or she is sober and when both of you are feeling calm.

  • Begin the dialog in an open, caring and supportive frame of mind. Anything less and the dialog may not go as planned.
  • Plan what you are going to say. This can be an emotionally charged conversation. There is a risk that you may say things under the stress of the situation that you don’t mean.
  • It is important that your loved one knows where he or she stands with you and that you mean what you say. Script out what you’d like to say, and go over it – it will help keep you on track.

If you have questions or are concerned about a friend or family member, call Gateway at 877-505-HOPE (4673) or visit RecoverGateway.org. Let us provide you with the answers you need to take the next step.

Integrated Treatment for Co-Occurring Substance Abuse And Mental Health Issues

drug abuse treatment carbondale

Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment
Carbondale, IL

For men and teens with dual-diagnosis or co-occurring disorders, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers provide the kind of experience and knowledge needed to help them get life back on track. Our Carbondale center has expertise in integrated treatment, which means our clinical professionals treat both issues—addiction and mental health—at the same time, in the same program, by the same clinical team. Research supports that integrated treatment for co-occurring disorders is the most effective approach— more so than concurrent or sequential treatment models—and decreases one’s chances for relapse.

In addition to understanding the impact of mental illness and addiction issues on them and their loved ones, men and teens with co-occurring disorders will learn
how to:

  • Manage their condition and unique circumstances with a healthy lifestyle and prescribed medications.
  • Regulate their emotions using techniques like mindfulness.
  • Nurture gratifying relationships by improving communication and coping skills.

What is a Co-Occurring Disorder?
Often times people abuse alcohol or drugs in an attempt to escape their distressing thoughts and painful feelings created by an underlying mental health concern. In fact, it’s more common than not for people with a substance abuse problem to also have a mental health issue, such as depression, bipolar disorder or anxiety. When someone has both issues it is referred to as a co-occurring disorder.

For lasting recovery, it’s extremely important for people with co-occurring disorders to take the necessary measures to manage both concerns. That’s because untreated mental health problems increase the likelihood for substance relapse.

SPECIALIZED DRUG TREATMENT FOR MEN

The Men’s Residential Co-Occurring Treatment Program caters to the unique challenges confronting men who struggle with co-occurring disorders. With increased staffing ratios, our clinical team seamlessly addresses the intricacies involved with co-occurring disorders, such as medication management,
behavior modification therapy and post-treatment recovery planning.

Grounded in Gateway’s empowering treatment philosophy, men in this program get the responsiveness they need in order to thoroughly understand substance abuse as well as their mental health diagnoses. While treatment is personalized based on individual needs, men in drug treatment experience enhanced self-awareness and improved coping/social skills through classroom work, individual counseling and group therapy. Activities in group may include tasks like recreating a negative experience with a positive outcome and/or practicing difficult conversations in a safe environment. When the time is right, men can invite their loved ones to family counseling sessions where problems may be addressed through honest yet respectful dialogue moderated by solution-seeking counselors.

ENHANCED CARE FOR TEENS STRUGGLING WITH MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS

Gateway’s Carbondale center has the specialized expertise to instill in teens the tools and knowledge needed to manage their addiction and mental health concerns on an on-going basis. In fact, both our Male and our Female Adolescent Residential Programs at Carbondale have been independently rated as Dual-Diagnosis Capable (DDC) to Dual-Diagnosis Enhanced (DDE). This esteemed designation underscores the expertise of Carbondale’s clinical team and the organization’s dedication to evolving treatment of alcohol and drug abuse.

For more information about the Co-Occurring Treatment program for Men and Teens at Gateway Carbondale, call 877-505-HOPE (4673).

 

Gateway Expert Discusses Robitussin DM Abuse or “Robo-Tripping”

gateway foundation clinical director, mindfulness trainingAsk the Expert:

Dr. Phil Welches
Clinical Director, Gateway Foundation

Question:

How can you help someone who is abusing Robitussin DM in liquid and pill forms?

Answer:

Abuse of Robitussin DM is not rare, especially among teenagers but also some younger adults.  It’s sometimes called “Robo-tripping.”  The “D” in the “DM” refers to dextromethorphan (a cough suppressant), and that’s what causes the “high.” Robitussin DM is available over-the-counter and it’s not very expensive.  That, along with the effects users seek, make this a high potential drug for abuse.

The effects of Robitussin DM vary a little from person to person, but commonly they include altered time perception and visual hallucinations. Signs of abuse include: anxiety, excitability, slurred speech, sweating and obvious altered perception of reality in speech content and response. For some, the effects can include relaxation or drowsiness.

Finally, as to your question, what can be done to help someone stop abusing Robitussin DM? This will depend on the person. Since the drug is over-the-counter, some mistakenly believe that it is harmless. Some individuals, when they learn the risks, are motivated to stop using it. For others, even ones who are motivated to stop, actually quitting can be a struggle.

There can be serious side effects when one uses more than the suggested amount and even for some who use the suggested amount of Robitussin DM. These side effects can include: difficulty breathing, allergic reactions (sometimes with swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat), dizziness (which can be severe), anxiety/restlessness, confusion and shallow breathing.

If the person has been using high doses fairly regularly, there can be withdrawal symptoms, much like from narcotic drugs, and these can include: restlessness, insomnia, muscle and bone aches, diarrhea and vomiting.  If the person’s addiction is severe, then the withdrawal process may need to be medically monitored as, in some cases, it can be life threatening.

From your question, I don’t know the extent of this person’s Robitussin DM use pattern: how much, how frequently and how long? If learning the risks isn’t enough to cease abuse, I recommend that you encourage him/her to be evaluated as to the most effective kind of treatment, such as outpatient drug treatment, residential substance abuse treatment or hospitalization with medical monitoring.

This person can get a free and confidential assessment at a Gateway Foundation Treatment Center by calling us at 877-505-4673. Thanks for your question and your concern for this individual.

Have a Question? Ask the Expert.

Visit RecoverGateway.org/Alumni and click on “Ask the Expert.” Fill out the short online form and your question will be submitted to one of our staff experts. If we choose your question you may see it answered on our blog.

Do I Have a Problem?: Self-Test for Drug Abuse or Drug Dependency

drug abuse self test, drug dependency, drug treatment, drug addictionMany times people who use drugs think they can handle it, or they can quit anytime. If you feel like you can stop using drugs, but aren’t sure if you have a problem, here are few warning signs to help you understand if you have a drug abuse or drug dependency problem and need help.

Denial is common with drug addiction so as you answer these questions try to be as honest and objective as possible. Also try to think about how things have progressed or changed for you in the last six months. Are there more signs now then there where six months ago?

Please answer every question “Yes” or “No.” If a question is not applicable, select No.

  • Do you feel like you need to have the drug regularly, every day or more than every day?
  • Do you make sure you have a steady supply of your drug of choice on hand?
  • Do you want to stop, but can’t?
  • If you feel you can’t stop using, do you do things you normally would not do to get drugs?
  • Do you feel you need drugs to function normally?
  • Are you willing to do something dangerous while taking drugs, like operating a motor vehicle, or some kind of equipment that could cause bodily harm?

If you answered “yes” to 2 or more of these questions you may have a alcohol or drug abuse problem.

If you or someone you know may be abusing drugs or alcohol, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers can help get life back on track. To learn more about our free, confidential consultation call 877-505-HOPE (877-505-4673).

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