From our blog, articles tagged: Prevention

As a parent, you want the absolute best for your children. You spend quite a bit of time teaching them how to make decisions that will benefit them now and down the road as an adult.

When it comes to drinking, you certainly want to educate your children about alcohol and encourage them to steer clear from the substance.

At the very least, you don’t want your children to try drinking at a young age. Maybe you can be on board if they want to have a social drink when they are adults, but as teenagers, you may be inclined to believe that they are not old enough to handle the responsibility.

As such, just how do you set strong boundaries with children about drinking? What if you and/or your spouse drink? Does this make a difference in what you should expect from your children? Will teens be more apt to rebel or sneak off and drink if you set strong boundaries?

These are all great questions. Today, let’s discuss a bit about setting strong boundaries when it comes to alcohol and your children.

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When you give up drinking it can seem like all of the fun things you used to do go with it. Most of our social lives revolve around alcohol, which not only is unhealthy but can lead to the slippery slope of addiction.

Choosing to live alcohol-free may seem like a daunting task, but all you need to do is find things that can replace drinking.


Why You Can Still Have Fun and Be Sober

While it can feel lonely being one of the only of your friends that is sober, it’s more likely than not that someone around is going through the same situation as you. Almost one-third of adult Americans don’t drink at all and another third have less than one alcoholic drink a week. People who don’t drink have reported several benefits like better skin, more focus, and a deeper connection with themselves and those around them.

Just because you’re sober doesn’t mean that you can’t have a little fun. There are plenty of ways for you to have a great time alcohol-free. Don’t believe us? We’ve put together a list of 30 things you can do instead of drinking. An entire month’s worth of activities that you can do without alcohol, with friends, or by yourself. The next time you’re tempted to pick up a drink or just can’t think of anything fun to do sober, check out these 30 options you have to choose from.

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Hanging out with your friends is always a good time. You guys make each other laugh, talk about the things that matter, and are always there for each other when you need them the most.

If you have a truly supportive group of friends, they will understand the struggles you’ve overcome in rehab and will want to support you in any way they can. Even if that means not involving alcohol when you hang out together.

Once you get out of rehab and you’re ready to start seeing your friends again, you may notice that a lot of the things you use to enjoy doing together revolved around alcohol. You may have found it easier to stay away from alcohol in a controlled environment like rehab or group therapy sessions. Now that you’re out in the real world, there’s nothing to worry about. You can still have plenty of fun with your friends without the help of alcohol. Below are twenty ideas you can use the next time you need a sober way to have fun.

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When Fall comes around, so does sports season and the tradition of tailgating.

When most people think of tailgating they think of alcohol. 82 percent of tailgaters reported having two or more drinks at the big game. Whether it’s chugging a keg or making cocktails, there’s no doubting that alcohol is an integral part of the tailgating tradition. But that doesn’t mean that tailgating can’t be enjoyed just as much when you’re sober.

Sober Tailgating is Easy and Fun!

Sober tailgating may be a new phenomenon for most people, but it’s one that allows you to enjoy the spirit of the game and the festivities without a drink in hand. Below are ten amazing tips for a great sober tailgate. Whether you’re hosting the tailgate yourself or you’re a guest at someone else’s, remember that alcohol isn’t necessary to enjoy the company of your friends and a great ball game. With these tips, staying sober at tailgate is easier than ever.

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Researchers have discovered that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used to identify structural and neural alterations in the brains of youth with a family history of alcohol and drug use disorders. This technique may be used to predict adolescent susceptibility to substance abuse disorders before substance abuse even begins.

Contact us today at 504-510-2331 if you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse; the earlier the better! Read more here:

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In 2008, the NIH started funding the Human Microbiome Project in an effort to identify and characterize the microorganisms of the human body (such as those on the skin and in the vagina, mouth, and the intestinal tract) to determine if they play a role in human health and disease.

This research has started unraveling the relationship between the humane microbiome and our health, and has revealed that these organisms contribute to diseases, including psychological disorders.


Nervous System in the Gut

The gut has its own nervous system, known as the enteric nervous system. It is commonly referred to as “the second brain” because it contains as many neurons (50-100 million) as are present in the spinal cord. The gut is lined with endocrine cells that can release as many as 20 different hormones, which go on to affect our body and interact with our brains. The vagus nerve coordinates the information exchange between our guts and brains; it causes our brain to react when we are hungry and our stomach to react when we are upset.


A happy person


The hormone serotonin, involved in creating the feeling of happiness, was a hormone once thought to be predominantly located in the brain. It was later discovered that serotonin is actually predominantly stored in the stomach. As much as 96% of the body’s serotonin is stored in the stomach, perhaps because it is synthesized from the biochemical tryptophan in our diets; diets low in tryptophan can induce the onset of depression.

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A recent study suggests that mindfulness training can be used to reduce relapse rates related to cocaine or methamphetamine addiction in persons diagnosed with depression or anxiety.


What Are Stimulants?

Stimulants are drugs that increase the body’s alertness and energy levels. They also increase blood pressure and heart rate, constrict blood vessels, and open up the airways in the lungs, increasing the respiratory rate. A doctor might prescribe stimulant drugs to treat certain medical conditions, such as ADHD, narcolepsy, or depression.


Problems with Stimulant Use

While it is acceptable to use stimulants for a number of health conditions, many people perceive these drugs to be safe for general use and are beginning to use them without a prescription. Drugs like Ritalin and Adderall are being used more and more frequently to induce euphoria or increase performance. These drugs are dangerous when used for nonmedical purposes because they can lead to addiction, major cardiovascular events, and psychosis.


Thinking on the beach


What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness training teaches you to actively evaluate your present situation, thoughts, and feelings from a distance without passing judgment. Mindfulness is a state of being in which you do not think about the past or present, and instead live actively in the moment.


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In a perfect world, doctors would be able to identify patients who are prone to opioid addiction and prescribe them non-opioid painkillers that wouldn’t lead to dependence.

For years, researchers have been trying to advance care to this point by looking for genes that contribute to addiction. There are currently a number of potential candidates, so patients may request genetic testing to see if the carry one or two copies of susceptibility gene variants before deciding on a course of treatment.


What Are Opioids?

Opioids are a group of sleep inducing pain relievers that specifically interact with an opioid receptor. There are three opioid receptors – µ (pronounced mu), κ (kappa), and δ (delta) – and opioids predominantly bind to the µ receptor. Binding at this receptor can alter respiration, gastrointestinal tract motility, physical dependence, euphoria, and pain relief. Opioids are typically used to relieve acute and severe chronic pain.

Commonly prescribed opioids include: Dolophine (methadone), codeine, hydrocodone, OxyContin (oxycodone), Duramorph (morphine), propoxyphene, Duragesic (fentanyl), Ultram (tramadol), Dilaudid (hydromorphone), Levo-Dromoran (levorphanol), or Demerol (meperidine).

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When e-cigarettes first arrived on the market in 2006, companies proclaimed that they were safer than regular cigarettes and that they could be used to help people quit smoking. The jury is still out on whether or not these claims are actually true.

Some say that there are fewer toxic chemicals in e-cigarettes, but there is little to no regulation of the contents allowed in them. In one study, researchers found propylene glycol (a probable carcinogen), glycerin, nicotine, ethanol, acetol, and propylene oxide (another probable carcinogen) when looking at the contents in a number of different liquids. Inclusion of potentially carcinogenic substances should not be allowed, especially in tobacco cessation products.


Is Liquid Nicotine Safe?

In contrast to regular cigarettes, nicotine in e-cigarettes must be solubilized for inclusion into the product. This is a concern because even small amounts of nicotine (30 to 60 mg for adults) can be toxic, and the liquid form can be absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin. Considering the concentrations typically found in e-cigarettes are 30 mg/mL, it is safe to say that the nicotine levels are dangerously high. In fact, it is not uncommon for the nicotine concentration to actually be even higher than what is stated on the package.

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Although many have been describing the new street drug W-18 as an opioid, and although illegal drug manufacturers have been using it as a fentanyl substitute, recent news suggests that it is most likely not an opioid.

What Is W-18?

W-18 was originally found in drug products in Sweden in 2014 and later in Canada in 2015. Fake OxyContin pills are usually laced with the opioid fentanyl, but in a recent drug bust in Calgary they were instead laced with W-18, an analgesic. These pills are sometimes referred to as “beans” and/or “shady 80s.” It is presumed that, since there are more crackdowns on the use of fentanyl, W-18 will be substituted into drugs if it proves to be popular among illegal drug consumers.


The Opioid Classification Controversy

The chemical structure of W-18 is dissimilar to that of other opioids like morphine and heroine, so a number of reports have expressed caution about calling W-18 an opioid. It is a painkiller; that much we know. But does it interact with the opioid receptors in the body and induce a chemical high in the same way? Interestingly, fentanyl also has a chemical structure different from the typical opioid, but it is still classified as an opioid.

A pharmacology article by Huang et al. was recently published stating that W-18 does not interact with the opioid receptors at all. While more research is needed, this article strongly suggests that W-18 does not induce a chemical high the same way as a typical opioid. This is an important topic because the drug naloxone can reverse opioid drug toxicity. If W-18 does not induce a high through the opioid receptors, naloxone cannot be used to treat W-18 overdoses.

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After cannabis, amphetamines are the most widely used illegal drugs in the world, with about 14 to 57 million people using methamphetamine.

Based on the increasing number of drug busts for methamphetamine laboratories in the United States, it is clear that its use is on the rise. 45% percent of users are women, and according to the ongoing IDEAL (Infant Development, Environment, and Lifestyle) study examining the affects of meth use on child development, 6% of women used the drug while pregnant.


What Is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine (also known as meth, crystal, and ice) can be put in various forms (powder, crystal, or dissolved in ethanol) so that it can be ingested, smoked, snorted, or injected. It can be made from basic chemicals found in regular stores, but also requires the use of the somewhat restricted substance pseudoephedrine. Despite limitations on the access of this cold medicine, methamphetamine drug makers can still usually obtain it to make crystal meth.


How Does Meth Work?

This drug increases the extracellular concentration of the neurotransmitter ‘dopamine’ in reward regions of the brain, which leads to the feeling of a euphoric high. Although the rush experienced by the body is brief, the drug has a long half-life (10.7 hours) in the body, which is thought to contribute its ability to cause so much neurological damage. Methamphetamine can interact with other neurotransmitters, specifically norepinephrine and catecholamine, and this activity likely contributes to some of the neurological defects seen in regular crystal meth users.


How Can Methamphetamine Affect a Person’s Health?

Long-term meth users may experience symptoms such as anxiety, confusion, insomnia, and mood disturbances. They may also experience increased heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate. The core temperature of a meth user may rise, which is thought to contribute to neurological damage.

Physical signs of use include extreme weight lost, dental problems, and skin sores. A person on methamphetamine may display violent behavior, feel paranoid, and/or hallucinate. Some people have also reported delusions, such as the feeling of insects crawling on the skin. Unfortunately, these symptoms can last for as long as a year after the user’s last use.

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Robert L. DuPont, Jr, MD, made the term “gateway drug” famous in his book Getting Tough on Gateway Drugs: a Guide for the Family.

DuPont observed that youths at his clinic often engaged in alcohol and tobacco use before proceeding on to marijuana use. He thought that psychological barriers prevented the use of hard drugs and that once a person started frequently using certain soft drugs, they would move on to using marijuana and eventually progress to other illicit drugs as well.

This book started the conversation about soft (or legal) drugs leading to the use of illegal and controlled substances, and led to what we now call the “gateway drug hypothesis.” While it seems reasonable to accept that illegal drug use is preceded by the use of less dangerous, easily accessible drugs, the reasoning behind why a person decides to use another drug is not well understood. This is potentially the reason why the gateway drug hypothesis has never progressed to the elevated status of a scientific theory.


Which Drugs Are Gateway Drugs?

Many people are inclined to call marijuana a gateway drug. The gateway hypothesis has been used to demonize marijuana when technically alcohol and tobacco are the real culprits here, as their use typically precedes that of marijuana.


Is the Gateway Drug Hypothesis Valid?

Following DuPont’s original ideas about gateway drugs, the hypothesis morphed into another concept: gateway drugs are those that change neurological responses and make the use of other illegal drugs more pleasurable. This neuroplastic reward response is thought to be the driving force behind obtaining other illicit substances.

Animal research supports this neurological change theory. Mouse models have shown that nicotine triggers a dopamine response, which increases the sense of pleasure felt during drug use; some mouse studies also suggest that these dopaminergic effects are greater in adolescent mice than in adults. There are additional studies indicating that exposure to nicotine enhances responses to cocaine and encourages increased alcohol intake. However, all of this research is considered pre-clinical. Few studies have been conducted in humans evaluating nicotine’s effect on later drug use.

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We previously posted a list of 60 substance abuse group therapy activities to give readers an idea of what kinds of topics they might encounter during a theme/support group.

We received positive feedback on the list, so we found 60 more to keep you inspired!

Please note that Two Dreams utilizes process groups as opposed to theme/support groups. Process groups are focused on self-exploration and giving/receiving feedback. They provide a safe environment in which members can practice newfound interpersonal skills and behaviors. Process groups are mostly unstructured with no singular topic of discussion. Theme groups are focused on support and finding commonalities between members. They tend to have more structure than process groups and focus on a single topic.

Two Dreams prefers to hold process groups in order to enhance the holistic treatment experience and to help clients equip themselves with the tools needed for their own recovery.

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A common question we get here at Two Dreams is, “why me?” People want to know what it is about their core that makes them an addict.

They want to know why they are dependent on drugs while their friends are able to use in moderation. Were they born that way? Is it the way they were raised? Is there a certain type of person more susceptible to developing addictive tendencies?

Most people who use drugs never actually become addicted. Some substances are more addictive than others by virtue of their chemical makeup, but addiction is comprised of so much more than physical dependence, such as psychological factors and situational circumstances.

Studies show that there is not actually a definitive “addictive personality type,” though there are certain personality traits and mannerisms that addicts seem to share. This observation is a prime example of correlation vs. causation, in which characteristics may appear to be linked to addiction, but there is no actual established relationship of cause-and-effect.

There are three main personality traits that seem in increase the risk of addiction:

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8 to 9% of adults in the United States have some form of alcohol use disorder, according to the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

If someone you love is one of the millions struggling, you’re probably concerned and looking for answers. Helping an alcoholic to stop drinking is never easy… but we’ve put together some “dos” and “don’ts” to help guide you through the situation.


DO: Seek Professional Treatment As Needed.

Remind your loved one that there is absolutely no shame in getting help for alcohol use disorder. If they are open to receiving treatment, you can help them look into treatment facility types and locations. Discuss the options of outpatient, intensive outpatient, and inpatient with them. Discuss whether or not detoxification services are necessary. Be willing to speak to staff members at different facilities to help with the admission process, or stand by your loved ones side to offer support while they speak with admissions directors.


DON’T: Encourage Them to Quit Cold Turkey.

Advise them to consult with a doctor before making any sudden changes in their drinking patterns. Long-term, heavy drinkers are especially at risk for a condition called “delirium tremens,” a serious form of alcohol withdrawal characterized by tremors, cognitive decline, hallucinations, stupor, seizures, etc. Sudden alcohol withdrawal can even lead to coma or death, so it is imperative to move slowly towards sobriety.

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Are you or a loved one struggling with substance abuse and you’re not sure why?

Gaining insight into the motivation behind the drug use is a great first step towards recovery. There is no one answer to the question "why do people use drugs?" but we have provided the following list of potential reasons as a starting point for your inquiry.

Feel free to call the Two Dreams admissions team at 504-510-2331 to jumpstart your recovery today!

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Substance use is problematic and extensive in its many forms: alcohol use, cocaine use, hallucinogen use, heroin use, inhalant use, marijuana use, methamphetamine use, sedative-hypnotics, anxiolytics use, etc.

Different types of drugs are being synthesized on a regular basis and users are finding more and more creative ways to use and conceal them. How can parents be expected to keep their teens from using drugs and alcohol? What are the best forms of risk management?

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Individuals with chronic pain are increasingly demanding alternative/integrative treatments and attempting to avoid opioids when possible.

While opioids can be great for short-term use, their long-term potential for addiction is concerning and a major contributing factor in the current opioid crisis. Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington are working on a new electronic stimulation device that will hopefully serve as an opioid-free method of pain management.

The wireless device stimulates neurons deep in the brain’s pleasure center to cause the release of dopamine and reduce the sensation of pain.

Click here to learn more:

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Has your loved one been acting "off" lately? Do you have reason to suspect that drug use may be the cause of their behavior?

The following list of signs and symptoms of drug use can be used as a guideline when trying to determine whether or not you should ask them about their substance use. If you do choose to discuss your concerns with your loved one, be sure to approach the topic from a place of genuine care and concern. Spitting accusations will cause the individual to recoil, but compassion can have a significant impact.

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The CDC recently released their guidelines regarding opioid prescriptions for individuals with chronic pain. The opioid endemic is, of course, concerning and requires immediate attention, but not in the form of restricting access to treatment. Individuals with chronic pain need and deserve appropriate care; they should not be forced to jump through hoops for their health.

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Light regulates circadian rhythms

Why and How We Live Rhythmically at Two Dreams

The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken

- Samuel Johnson

Every living organism has a natural rhythm. These rhythms are disrupted by illness, particularly drug and alcohol use. A drug can create false sleep. A drug can stimulate alertness. A drug can suppress appetite. Another can stimulate appetite.

The science behind living rhythmically, strategies that promote and restore natural rhythms, and the role of sleep, nutrition, meditation, and exercise in the 21st century approach to healing oneself in recovery are all important aspects of your journey at Two Dreams.

At Two Dreams the concept of living in the NOW (No Other Way) is central to living a life in recovery. Similarly, mindfulness is a state of active, open, non-judgmental attention on the present. Many treatment programs and practitioners are employing mindfulness in the care and management of patients with mood, anxiety, and substance use disorders- diseases and symptoms which tend to cluster together.

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