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Non-Fatal Drug Overdoses Cause Adverse Health Consequences

Non-Fatal Drug Overdoses Cause Adverse Health Consequences

When someone survives an overdose they gain the opportunity to make a new start.  It is something to be thankful for, especially when compared to the 70,000 people who died from drug overdoses last year.  Nevertheless, non-fatal drug overdoses often leave a person facing challenges and health consequences that can be severe.

Studies show that the majority of overdoses are opioid-related.  But, a person can overdose on amphetamines, cocaine, alcohol, inhalants, stimulants, and more.  These drugs cause thousands of fatal overdoses every year.   

Saving lives is the priority when it comes to overdose prevention. However, the person is vulnerable after suffering an overdose.  This vulnerability puts them at risk of relapse and another overdose.  It’s important to make sure they receive treatment and support that will help them avoid continued substance use.

What Can a Person Expect After Surviving an Overdose?  

At first, an overdose survivor may feel invincible and won’t realize the likelihood of side effects that may show up later.  Depending on the substance involved and the severity of the addiction, the individual can suffer a range of physical and psychological health problems that can persist for a lifetime.

Sadly, some people survive more than one overdose. Although it’s a good thing they survived, it’s not good that they keep repeating the pattern.   With each incident, their health diminishes a little more.  Over time, the accumulating effects can become permanent.  About 75 percent of overdose survivors have some sort of injury associated with the incident.

Some of the chronic health problems that can result from non-fatal overdoses may include the following:

Brain injury:  Respiratory depression during an overdose deprives the brain of the oxygen it requires.  As a result, physical and mental problems can appear, such as:

  • Disorientation
  • Partial paralysis
  • Memory loss
  • Inability control bodily functions
  • Slower reaction times
  • Acute amnesia
  • Nerve damage
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Poor coordination
  • Depression, suicidal ideation.

When a person survives an overdose, they should be screened for brain injury.  The screening will help determine the level of treatment they need for behavioral, cognitive, or physical issues.

  • Damage to major organs.  When a person is suffering an overdose, they often remain in one position for a long time.  This lack of movement can restrict blood flow which is necessary for filtering toxins from the body.  As a result, the kidney and liver can shut down, and the damage may be permanent.  In some cases, long-term dialysis is necessary.
  • Nerve damage.  Remaining in one position for a long time during an overdose can also cause permanent nerve damage.  For instance, if the person is awkwardly positioned with a bent arm or leg, blood can’t circulate in the limb. This may result in long-term pain, decreased mobility, paralysis, or amputation.  

Warning Signs of Overdose You Need to Know

An overdose is the body’s way of saying it has had enough and cannot tolerate or process any more of the poisonous chemical.  When this happens, the body produces various mental and physical problems that should not be ignored.  

In far too many cases, overdose warning signs are often overlooked.  Or, observers will think the person just needs to “sleep it off.”  So, it’s important to know the warning signs and take them seriously.  A person’s life could be in jeopardy.

To help prevent someone from suffering a fatal overdose, watch for these warning signs:

  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Blue-tinged lips or fingernails.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • High body temperature.
  • Agitation, aggression.
  • Paranoia.
  • Confusion, disorientation.
  • Convulsions, seizures.
  • Tremors.
  • Unresponsiveness, coma.

When someone is experiencing an overdose, he or she may not exhibit all of the symptoms listed above.  However, it’s best not to make assumptions.  If a person shows some of the warning signs, the best course of action is to contact 911 right away.  

What to do After a Non-Fatal Drug Overdose

What happens after a person survives an overdose?  That depends on how the person responds to the experience.  Some are terrified that it could happen again and fear they won’t be as lucky next time.  This fear may prompt them to seek treatment.  But, many others go back to the same routine of drug use and continue putting their life at risk.  

Surviving an overdose gives a person an opportunity to change their drug use behavior.  It’s a second chance to protect themselves from the deadly consequences of continued drug abuse.  Proper addiction treatment is the best way to begin.  

Overdose Prevention Begins at Cycles of Change Recovery

If you have suffered a non-fatal overdose, you know how scary and devastating the experience can be.  The next one may be worse, or fatal, so take steps now to protect yourself.  Contact us at Cycles of Change Recovery and let us help you overcome substance abuse and eliminate the threat and fear of overdose.  

At our beautiful Palmdale, CA facility, you’ll get evidence-based treatment in a comforting, secure environment.  Our compassionate and skilled staff will ensure that your needs are met throughout your time in our program.  We offer a variety of treatment options that can be customized specifically for your situation.  So, let’s get started. Call now.  One of our staff members will be happy to talk to you and recommend a program that is right for your needs.


Understanding the Importance of Aftercare in Addiction Recovery

Understanding the Importance of Aftercare in Addiction Recovery

Many people mistakenly believe detox and rehab are a cure for addiction.  With that in mind, they don’t take advantage of an aftercare or extended care program after leaving rehab.  Considering the high potential for relapse after rehab, their decision to “go it alone” can have terrible repercussions.  This is one reason many people succeed in recovery while others don’t.  It also highlights the importance of aftercare in addiction recovery.

When someone relapses, feelings of anguish, shame, and guilt can be overwhelming.  In many cases, the individual continues their substance use because they see themselves as having failed in recovery.  Sadly, this happens far too often.  However, relapse doesn’t mean failure on the person’s behalf.  And, it doesn’t mean the treatment program didn’t work.  It simply means the individual needs to get back on track, maybe do a little more time in rehab, and not give up.

Aftercare Helps a Person Transition from Rehab to Reality

Rehab facilities offer patients a secure, comfortable environment.  They enjoy companionship, support, guidance, healthy meals, and more.  But, who will provide those things for them when they step back out into the real world?  This question can weigh heavily on a recovering person’s mind and creates added stress and self-doubt.  

One way to avoid those anxious feelings is to participate in an aftercare program, especially in the early days of recovery.  For that reason, many rehab programs work with their patients to establish an aftercare plan before the person leaves treatment.  This is a good way to ensure the patient gets continued support and guidance during their attempts to rejoin society.  

Accepting personal responsibility for your own sobriety in a world filled with temptation can be a scary thought.  That’s why aftercare programs are highly recommended for all individuals who are embarking on a new, sober lifestyle.  The programs provide assistance and support in several ways.  Let’s take a look at why aftercare is an important aspect of addiction recovery.

Different Types of Aftercare Programs

Reestablishing one’s place in society after rehab can be overwhelming at times.  Finding a job, reuniting with family and friends, or going back to school can seem like a lot to accomplish.  Of course, the coping skills and life skills training learned in rehab can help.  But, sometimes a personal contact is needed as well.  So, here are some of the aftercare programs that help people adjust to sober living:

  • Group meetings.  It’s important for a person in recovery to keep in touch with like-minded people.  One way to stay connected is through group or self-help meetings such as NA, AA, Smart Recovery, or others.  The regularly scheduled meetings provide a sense of structure and give participants an opportunity to share tips and support each other.  
  • Sober Living Homes.  Also known as halfway houses or recovery houses, they offer a structured, drug-free environment.  Residents are required to attend school or work and must adhere to curfews and contribute to daily chores.  These homes are an ideal option for those who don’t have family or another support structure to help them transition.
  • Outpatient Programs.  These programs offer treatment for people who are struggling with addiction but must continue working and caring for their families.  But, they are also beneficial for people who have completed treatment but still need counseling and therapy to help them manage triggers.  Counselors stay apprised of the person’s progress, make follow-up phone calls, and seeks to address issues before they get out of hand.
  • Alumni Programs.  Many rehab facilities hold weekly or monthly events for former clients.  Everyone has an opportunity to participate in telling their story about addiction and recovery.  These events are a great way to gain support and motivation from others.  The facility may also provide online support groups through email, message boards, or social media.  

These programs offer assistance finding employment, finding sober community activities, and locating self-help groups or sober living homes.

How Long Will an Aftercare Program Last?

Aftercare programs don’t have a set time limit.  They are based on each person’s specific needs.  Some people remain in an aftercare program for a few weeks or months, while others may continue in the program for a year or more.  However, most addiction treatment specialists recommend remaining in the aftercare program for at least one year.

Of course, as a person progresses in recovery their situation will change, so the program can be modified to adapt to those changing goals or needs.  

What to Expect in an Aftercare Program

The goal of an aftercare program is to help a person develop the discipline and habits that are needed for maintaining a sober lifestyle.  Some of the elements of an aftercare program can include:

  • Group or individual counseling
  • Relapse support sessions
  • Voluntary drug tests
  • Household chores
  • Mandatory curfew

An aftercare program is not intended to make clients feel restricted.  Instead, it seeks to create a balance between structure and freedom.  The main goal is to allow individuals time to build confidence and strength before going out into the world where temptations lurk around every corner.  

Addiction Treatment and Aftercare at Cycles of Change Recovery

At Cycles of Change Recovery, we offer a customized approach to treatment that can address your unique needs.  We understand the complexities of addiction and have developed a comprehensive program that focuses on the physical, psychological, and spiritual aspects involved in substance abuse.  Our goal is to provide lasting recovery for each of our clients. 

If you are experiencing problems with substance abuse or addiction, we can help you end the struggle.  Our extended care or aftercare program can provide the stability you need during the early days of recovery.  

To learn more about our programs, contact our facility in beautiful Palmdale, CA today, and begin your journey toward freedom from addiction.


  • ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ – Continuing Care Research: What We’ve Learned and Where We’re Going
Understanding the Misconceptions About Intervention for Addicts

Understanding the Misconceptions About Intervention for Addicts

Sad to say, many Americans base their beliefs and opinions on what they watch on television.  Whether it be the news, sitcoms, movies, or documentaries, some of the information they relay to the public is not always accurate. 

Evidence of this type of distorted information is quite obvious when it comes to intervention for addicts.  Reality shows about intervention usually focus on drama and anger because they want to improve their ratings.  In real life, interventions aren’t always quite so dramatic.

If you’ve watched any intervention reality programs, did you wonder why it seemed to be such a spectacle?  And, what about the person who was supposedly whisked off to rehab?  Did they succeed in overcoming their addiction?  Unfortunately, those questions won’t be answered because these programs are not an accurate portrayal of the intervention process.

When an intervention is conducted properly, it is not likely to erupt into a drama-fest as you see on reality TV.  

A Realistic Picture of Intervention for Addicts

Interventions for addiction are necessary in many cases because a person may be in denial or does not realize the severity of their substance abuse.  Friends and family agree to come together and approach their loved one as a group about the issue.  The goal is to help the addicted person admit they have a problem and agree to enter treatment.  

An intervention is not about placing blame or guilt-tripping the individual.  It should be a loving yet persuasive blend of expressing expectations and setting boundaries.  The end goal is to convince the person to enter treatment right away.  

How to Conduct an Intervention

Sometimes, even the most well-planned intervention can go wrong.  People lose control, get angry, or become physically threatening.  The best way to ensure a successful outcome is to include the expertise of a professional interventionist.  These experts know how to manage emotional outbursts to prevent them from escalating.  An interventionist can coordinate and supervise the process if the family agrees to this arrangement.

To be effective, intervention for addicts should involve the following steps:

Step 1 – Be informed.  

Learn about substance abuse and addiction.  Also, gather information about detoxification and rehabilitation programs.  If you are well-informed before the intervention, it will be easier to talk to the individual about these options.  Choose a facility and make arrangements before holding the intervention so the individual can enter treatment right away.

Step 2 – Write personal statements.

All participants in the intervention should speak about their experiences involving the person’s addiction.  Writing the statement ahead of time will help avoid saying things that weren’t intended.  The statement should describe how the addiction has affected them personally.  The goal is to help the addicted person realize that their addiction has harmed others in their life.  Keep in mind that the statements should be honest but non-confrontational.  

Step 3 – Offer your help.

Let the person know you will support them during detox, rehab, and recovery.  Offer to drive them to treatment or attend therapy and support group meetings.  A person in recovery needs to know they are not alone in their struggle.

Step 4 – Set boundaries.

Everyone should let the individual know there will be consequences if treatment is refused.  Friends or family members can stop their enabling behaviors such as loaning money, providing a place to live, or loaning out their car.  Everyone involved should rehearse this aspect of the intervention together to be sure they are on the same page.

Step 5 –  Manage expectations.

The intervention may not achieve the desired result.  So, if the loved one refuses to enter treatment, everyone must be prepared to follow through with the boundaries they outlined during the intervention.  

What Should You Avoid During an Intervention?

We hear a lot about “tough love” these days.  It is defined as “ love or affectionate concern expressed in a stern or unsentimental manner (as through discipline) especially to promote responsible behavior.”   However,  it can be easy to cross the fine line between tough love and cruelty.  With that in mind, some things should be avoided during an intervention that could be hurtful.  

Things to avoid during an intervention:

  • Using labels such as addict, junkie, alcoholic, etc.  These terms can be taken as accusatory and seem to define a person by their addiction.  
  • Becoming upset or emotional.  If participants become emotional or upset, the intervention can spin out of control.  Before the meeting, think about ways to manage personal feelings so the intervention can stay on course.
  • Involving too many people..  A large group can be intimidating or feel an ambush.  It’s best to choose a small group of close friends and family who genuinely care about helping the individual.
  • Bad timing.  If the person shows up intoxicated, the intervention will not be effective.  Plan the event for a time when you are sure the individual is sober.

Misconceptions about intervention prevent people from getting the help they need.  If friends or family don’t step up and help a loved one face the truth about their substance use, they may never reach out for professional treatment.  So, it’s vital to learn the facts about intervention.

Get Help Staging an Intervention at Cycles for Change Recovery

The prospect of confronting a loved one about their substance abuse or addiction can be a little scary.  You’re not sure how they will react or how the process will unfold.  So, if you’re considering an intervention, but aren’t sure how to begin, Cycles for Change Recovery can help.  Contact us at our Palmdale, CA facility today to learn about our professional intervention services and addiction treatment programs.  Don’t let misconceptions about intervention prevent you from helping your loved one.


What is the Difference Between Substance Abuse and Addiction?

What is the Difference Between Substance Abuse and Addiction?

The terms substance abuse and addiction are often used to describe the same thing.  But, there are some significant differences between the two disorders.  Knowing the difference between them can help a person seek treatment before drastic consequences occur.  

Substance Abuse or Addiction?  Which Is It?

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

Substance abuse is “the use of illegal drugs or the use of prescription or over-the-counter drugs or alcohol for purposes other than those for which they are meant to be used, or in excessive amounts. Substance abuse may lead to social, physical, emotional, and job-related problems.”

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):

Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking, continued use despite harmful consequences, and long-lasting changes in the brain.”

The main difference between substance abuse and addiction is as follows:

  • When a person struggles with substance abuse, they still have control over their daily functioning. 
  • When substance abuse progresses into addiction, the drug becomes the individual’s primary focus.  The person has no control over their substance use.  As a result, they may lose their job, family, friends, home and ruin their health. 

Contrary to the NIDA and NIH definitions, the DSM-5 categorizes substance abuse, dependence, or addiction under the single category of substance use disorder (SUD).  Under this category, there are three subclassifications of mild, moderate, or severe SUD.  The DSM classifies the symptoms associated with SUD into four groups: (1) impaired control, (2) social impairment, (3) risky use, and (4) pharmacological criteria such as tolerance and withdrawal.  

Understanding Drug Use, Misuse, and Addiction

Many studies have not yet been modified to reflect the DSM-5 classifications.  Therefore, the reports still refer to substance abuse and dependence as separate disorders.  The terms drug use, misuse, and addiction are still defined as follows:

  • Drug use:  refers to any illegal substance use such as cocaine, heroin, tobacco, or others.
  • Drug misuse:  refers to unhealthy or improper use of prescription medications or alcohol in moderation.  It also includes using drugs in ways other than prescribed or using someone else’s prescription.
  • Drug addiction:  refers to a person’s inability to control their drug use despite negative consequences.  

The terms can be confusing and hard to know which to use when.  For instance, rather than use the term “drug abuse”, the NIDA now uses “drug misuse.”  They believe the term “abuse” is shaming and adds to the stigma surrounding SUD.  

Differences Between Dependence, Tolerance, and Addiction

To make things even more confusing, we have to look at the differences between dependence, tolerance, and addiction.  Understanding these terms can help when trying to determine whether professional treatment is necessary.  

Dependence can happen with regular use of a substance whether legal or illegal.  Many prescription drugs cause dependency even when taken as recommended.  With regular use of a substance, the body adapts to the chemicals.  When the substance is withheld, the body produces symptoms of readjustment.  Over time, the symptoms diminish without any further issues.  

Tolerance refers to the body’s response to repeated substance use.  The person finds that they need larger doses of the drug to get the desired effects.  

It’s often difficult to distinguish between dependence, tolerance, and addiction.  The main difference between the three is that addiction can cause a person to resort to drastic means to obtain more of the drug.  They have no regard for the damage to their life, health, or loved ones.  

Side Effects and Health Consequences of SUD

Substance use disorder can result in a range of side effects that differ depending on the drug involved.  However, some common symptoms are felt, regardless of the substance.  They can include mild to moderate symptoms such as:

  • Stomach distress
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Anxiety, nervousness
  • Flu-like symptoms

Severe symptoms can appear after prolonged SUD:

  • Heart or lung disease
  • Cancer
  • Respiratory issues
  • Kidney or liver damage
  • Mental health problems
  • Seizures
  • Stroke

SUD can also result in a fatal overdose.  In fact, the CDC reports more than 93,000 fatal overdoses occurred in 2020.  A large number of the deaths were attributed to prescription drugs and illicit substances such as fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.

Overcome Substance Use Disorder at Cycles of Change Recovery

Have you started to worry about your substance use behavior?  If so, it’s time to seek treatment. You should start now before the consequences begin to affect all areas of your life.  Contact us today at Cycles of Change Recovery.  We’re here to help you overcome substance use disorder and take back control of your life.  In our Palmdale, CA facility, you’ll enjoy a comforting environment where you can escape negative influences and focus on healing.  

We offer a unique, customized approach to treatment that adapts to your needs and preferences.  If you are ready to get back on track with your life, contact us today.  It’s never too soon to begin.


Questions About Addiction? Here are Some of the Answers You Want

Questions About Addiction? Here are Some of the Answers You Want

To truly understand addiction we must abandon stigma and learn the facts.  Thousands of studies show us that addiction is not a matter of choice.  Research by leading addiction specialists proves that the disorder is composed of many factors.  Yet many people still cling to the idea that an addicted individual could quit using drugs if they wanted to badly enough.  

Asking questions about addiction is the best way to learn the truth about this complex disorder.  But, first, let’s look at the definition of addiction.  According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM):

“Addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences.”

So, what are the questions about addiction we should ask to further our understanding of this life-altering disorder?   

Ask These Questions About Addiction to Find the Truth

Americans have an abundance of information at their fingertips all day every day.  But, many of them are still uninformed about the causes of addiction and the dangers involved.  So, the following questions and answers may help people get the addiction treatment they need.  

#1.  Are addiction and habit the same thing?

Addiction is often referred to as a bad habit.  But, there is a significant difference between the two.  Most habits are things a person does without thinking about them.  They do it because it makes them feel good or makes things easier for them.  Addiction is similar, yet it often results in negative consequences.  But, regardless of those consequences, the individual is unable to stop the behavior.  

#2.  What causes addiction?

Drugs and alcohol contain powerful chemicals that alter brain functioning by reducing dopamine production.  Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the area of the brain known as the reward center.  It is known as the “feel-good” hormone. Drugs or alcohol stimulate dopamine production, resulting in euphoria.  With repeated use of the substance, the brain loses its ability to produce dopamine naturally.  When this happens, the individual thinks more of the drug will help them feel “normal” again.  Over time, uncomfortable or severe withdrawal symptoms force the person to seek more of the substance.  

The severity of withdrawal symptoms depends on the duration of the addiction and the substance involved.  But, these are some of the most common symptoms of withdrawal syndrome:

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.
  • Muscle aches or pains.
  • Tremors or shakiness.
  • Mood swings, agitation, anxiety.
  • Depression.
  • Confusion.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Intense craving for the substance.
  • Seizures.
  • Coma.

Several factors influence a person’s risk for developing an addiction.  Here are a few examples of those contributing factors:

  • Environment – Factors such as stress, peer pressure, and parental substance use can play a role in a person’s risk for addiction.  Also, environmental influences such as financial status, family dysfunction, or relationship problems can be contributing factors.  
  • Genetic predisposition – People who have a family history of substance use are at increased risk for addiction.  Studies show that genetics account for 50% of an individual’s risk for substance abuse or addiction. 
  • Mental health – Low self-esteem, depression, anger issues, or other mental or emotional problems can lead a person to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.  
  • Media influences – Substance use is blatantly promoted in movies, social media, music, and books.  These platforms portray drug or alcohol use as a normal way to have fun.  Young, impressionable teens get caught up in the fervor and want to be part of the crowd.  As a result, we have a teenage drug epidemic in America today.  Of course, many adults fall victim to the same influences.

Currently, it’s not possible to determine whether a person will become addicted or not.  The above factors are merely a guideline to help answer questions about addiction that aren’t often asked.  

#3.  What causes cravings for drugs or alcohol?

Drugs or alcohol increase dopamine production in the brain’s reward center.  The brain then learns to associate the substance with pleasure.  As a result, the brain stops producing dopamine and relies on the substance to deliver those feelings of pleasure.  Over time, the brain will produce withdrawal symptoms that cause the individual to crave the substance.  Getting more of the drug becomes the person’s primary focus each day.  The intense craving causes many people to resort to illegal behaviors to obtain their drug of choice.  For this reason, drug-related crime has increased significantly today during the opioid epidemic.

#4.  Are cravings a sign of addiction?

Cravings are the brain and body’s response to a lack of dopamine that the addictive substance provides.  When the substance is no longer present in the body, dopamine levels drop and cravings begin.  Therefore, cravings are a sign of addiction.  Certain things can trigger cravings such as seeing a hypodermic needle, seeing a bottle of alcohol, or anything that reminds the person of their substance of choice.

#5.  What does it mean to be in recovery?

Recovery means different things to different people.  Generally, recovery begins with detox and rehab.  Treatment programs like Cycles of Change Recovery assist with a person’s effort to move past their addiction.  When a person is in treatment, they are referred to as being in recovery.  Unfortunately, recovery has no predetermined end date.  It’s something a person will face each day when they leave treatment and attempt to rebuild their life.  Being in recovery means finding ways to enjoy a lifestyle that doesn’t involve drugs or alcohol.  

Understanding Addiction is a Priority at Cycles of Change Recovery 

At Cycles of Change Recovery, we understand that no one wants or chooses to be addicted.  For that reason, our program combines compassion, respect, and expertise to ensure that our clients get the best level of treatment available today.  We offer a comprehensive, individualized program that can adapt to each client’s unique needs.  

If you have more questions about addiction or are ready to enter treatment, contact our facility in beautiful Palmdale, CA today.  


  • asam.org – What is the definition of addiction?
  • drugabuse.gov –  Why Do Some People Become Addicted to Drugs While Others Don’t?

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