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How to Help a Meth Addict

A Loved One in Crisis: How to Help a Meth Addict

Despite interacting with her on a near-daily basis, I had no idea an acquaintance from work was using methamphetamine.

This mother of two bright young girls was, unfortunately, going through a painful divorce. She sought solace in an unhealthy relationship with a man who would eventually be arrested for distributing meth.

In the span of fewer than six months, she went from being a mother who proudly displayed her daughters’ artwork on her desk to sleeping through her own custody hearing.

Her story is not one of personal failing. It’s about the rapidly escalating danger of meth addiction and how it can unravel someone’s life. If you’re worried that a loved one might be using meth, look closely for these warning signs.

Signs of a Meth Addict: The Hook Brings You Back

Every case of addiction is unique. Depending on the user, meth might give you an intense feeling of happiness and excitement, or it could dull your emotions and senses, granting you a temporary respite from painful feelings. Either way, meth is making changes to your brain’s chemical and physical makeup to bring about these changes.

The more you use it, the more it takes each time to get back to that same place. To make matters worse, crashing from the drug can leave the user feeling much more intense lows.

These patterns turn occasional indulgences into regular affairs, and rapidly, the high becomes all that matters.

Is My Loved One Using?

Have you found syringes? Burn marks on spoons or crumpled aluminum foil are common signs someone injects or smokes the drug, respectively.

In addition to changes within the brain, meth initiates changes in body chemistry, leading to the development of sores. Addicts tend to pick at these repeatedly, which can lead to infection and additional health risks.

Meth mouth” is a real phenomenon where an addict’s teeth basically erode. A combination of factors is to blame, including:

  • Teeth grinding
  • Poor diet
  • Dehydration and exhausted salivary glands
  • Breakdown of dental hygiene

Spotting the Warning Signs of a Meth Addict

When someone is addicted to meth, they may go for long periods without sleeping or eating. Rapid weight loss and mood swings are common. Personal hygiene often falls by the wayside. They may also exhibit:

  • Anxiety
  • Lack of coordination
  • Violent behavior
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures

Help for Meth Addiction in Palmdale

Long-term meth use can cause severe damage to brain function. While some effects can be reversed, it may not be possible to heal fully. That’s why it’s vital to treat addiction as soon as it’s recognized.

At Cycles of Change, we understand how difficult it can be to watch a loved one struggle with addiction. We are fully invested in helping you and your family heal from this disease.

You read that each addiction case is unique. That’s why we believe in developing a personalized plan for each client based on their individual needs. Contact us today for help breaking the destructive cycle of meth addiction.

Off duty first responders share drinks at a sports bar.

Avoiding Alcohol When Off Duty

You Don’t Have to Spoil the Fun with These Ways to Avoid Alcohol

As a first responder, you put your life and well-being on the line day in and day out. A single week could include fighting the roaring flames of house or forest fires, protecting your community’s businesses and residents from criminals or trying to keep civilians alive after accidents or overdoses.

You see and experience a lot on the job, which can take a toll on your own physical, emotional and mental health. That’s why it feels like drinking together with your colleagues while you cheer on your favorite sports team is one of the few simple pleasures you have left at the end of a long week.

You deserve it after all, right?

While kicking back and enjoying a cold one is normal, it’s vital that you keep your mind and reflexes sharp – for the sake of yourself, your colleagues and the people you protect. If you find yourself partying a little too hard after work more regularly, you can end up putting yourself and others at risk.

Are you worried you might be drinking too much? Saying “no” to alcohol occasionally or completely can feel a little awkward and alienating at first, so we’re here to give you some tips on how to stay engaged with your colleagues without putting yourself at risk for struggles with alcoholism.

Ways to Avoid Drinking Too Much While Watching Sports

This may sound like a no-brainer, but trying to limit the amount of time you spend in bars is one way to cut back on drinking. Maybe you and the crew can try getting together at a restaurant or at one of your homes instead. This gives you a chance to focus more on food and your friends and less time with alcohol being center stage.

Avoid drinking to cope with difficult emotions or traumatic experiences on the job. Try to keep a responsible amount of alcohol reserved for celebrating joyous occasions, instead. When you drink to take the pain away, it just comes back stronger.

You could also offer to be the designated driver. That gives you a perfectly valid and non-confrontational reason to limit your drinking for the evening, but it might not be a long-term solution.

Honesty is the Best Policy

Ultimately, if you’re trying to limit your alcohol intake or stop drinking altogether, you should consider being honest and open with your friends, supervisor and colleagues. While you might worry how they’ll respond, many first responders experience the benefits of being open and are encouraged to reach out to get help. View a first responders story here.

If you don’t want to admit to your crew that you think you have a drinking problem, try approaching the conversation by saying you’re limiting your alcohol intake to try to stay fit and healthy.

And remember, practice saying “no” in your head or in front of a mirror. Be confident. You deal with high pressure situations all the time on the job. You’ve got this!

Signs You Might Be Dependent on Alcohol

If you’ve tried cutting back or quitting already and found yourself drinking just as much or more than before, you might have an issue with alcoholism. Other warning signs to look for include:

  • Intense cravings for a drink
  • Loss of interest in maintaining relationships or enjoying hobbies
  • Feeling the need to hide how much you’re drinking

When your body becomes dependent on alcohol to function, you may experience these and other withdrawal symptoms when you go without:

  • Headaches
  • Shaking or tremors
  • Nausea and vomitting
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Fever and sweating

Help for First Responders Struggling with Alcoholism at Cycles of Change

Having trouble with alcohol abuse is not cause for shame. This isn’t a sign of weakness or something you chose. This doesn’t mean you’re any less of a first responder than the rest of your crew. Alcoholism is a serious illness that can be treated. You can recover and live a happier, healthier life.

At Cycles of Change, our team has extensive experience working with the first responder community. We partner with each of our clients on a personalized treatment plan to meet the needs of the individual. This is accomplished through a variety of therapeutic techniques, education, relapse prevention and other programs that can give you the tools you need to achieve and maintain sobriety.

Contact us today for a confidential conversation about alcoholism treatment customized for your needs.

How Do Benzodiazepines Work on the Brain

Can Benzodiazepines’ Effects on the Brain Lead to Alzheimer’s or Dementia?

Living with Alzheimer’s can be unbelievably frustrating and depressing. In the early stages, you’re aware of the short-term memory loss. You know you’re forgetting details or even complete conversations with loved ones.

As the disease progressively destroys more and more nerve cells in the brain, your ability to plan and make judgment calls atrophies. Then, the things that make you “you” start to change as your personality transforms. Eventually, you may have trouble walking and even talking.

This diagnosis awaits 1 in 5 people over the age of 80 and half of those 90 and older, but if you’re abusing benzodiazepines (often called benzos for short), your chance of developing Alzheimer’s jumps between 80-90%.

How Do Benzodiazepines Work on the Brain?

People struggling with paranoia, anxiety or sleep disorders might be suffering due to nerve overactivity within the brain. When you take benzodiazepines like Xanax, Valium, Klonopin and others as prescribed by your doctor, the drugs stimulate areas of the brain that suppress nerve activity, which may calm the unease associated with your condition.

Unfortunately, benzodiazepines lead to other changes in the brain, as well. When you take benzos, a rush of dopamine is released and the areas responsible for this feel-good chemical are altered.

This makes these areas of your brain less able to naturally release dopamine on their own, and these larger feel-good surges caused by the drug put you at risk for developing addiction.

Benzodiazepine Abuse Damages the Brain

When you abuse benzos or combine them with other substances like alcohol or painkillers, your brain may shrink or become damaged. Some of the long-term effects may include:

  • Impaired ability to judge spaces or distances
  • Reduced ability to learn through written or spoken word
  • Impairment to thinking and memory
  • Disorientation or confusion

Even more alarming, studies have shown that those who take benzodiazepines for more than six months are 84% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s and 50% more likely to develop dementia.

You Can Quit Taking Benzos Whenever You Want, Right?

Addiction affects everyone differently. Some people might be able to stop taking a drug like benzodiazepines whenever they want without assistance. However, it’s advisable that you slowly wean yourself off the drug by gradually reducing your dosage first.

Unfortunately, most people who are addicted to benzos will experience relapse when trying to do so alone. This is largely due to the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms associated with the drug like:

  • Dry heaving and vomiting
  • Heart palpitations
  • Increased anxiety or panic attacks
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures

That’s why it’s best to try to seek medical help or addiction treatment if you or a loved one is struggling to stop taking benzos.

Treatment for Benzodiazepine Abuse at Cycles of Change in Palmdale, CA

If you’re worried that you might be addicted to benzodiazepines, you don’t have to face this challenge alone. At Cycles of Change Recovery Services, we help clients recover from addiction every day with treatment programs that are tailored to meet each person’s individual needs.

We know that benzodiazepines can take a toll on your body, and our programs seek to heal your body, mind and soul. Here, you’ll learn relapse prevention skills and participate in therapy that can begin repairing the damage addiction has caused in your home.

Don’t let addiction maintain a foothold in your life any longer. Reach out to one of our admissions specialists to break the destructive cycle of addiction and to begin your recovery journey today.

The Beauty of Art Therapy for Addiction Recovery

How have you seen art therapy help people in addiction recovery?

“How important the art therapy program is” Sal Vasquez, art therapy teacher at Cycles of Change, says many clients at Cycles of Change told him before they leave the facility. “Art helps them relax,” he continues. It helps them relax while they are doing on artworks. The relaxing part is very important for some of these clients because they’re stressed out.

It helps them relieve stress, it helps them communicate with the other clients because they work together on projects. Basically, it helps them think positively and it increases their attention span.

When they first come in here, I notice that their attention span is very limited. They’re very fidgety and unsure of themselves. And after one or two weeks of working the program, I notice a change in attitude, they’re more relaxed and not as stressed.

In fact, art therapy has been found to decrease stress and can even help those in addiction recovery heal relationships with loved ones. That is why Cycles of Change weighs in on the benefits of art therapy for addiction treatment.

Can you give an example of how art therapy has helped a client of yours?

One good example of how it relates to the client and family, is a client some years back had a daughter come in and visit him. I had given him designs to work with, and you know, some of these clients don’t have a lot of art talent, so I go on the computer and print off designs and things that relate to everyday life.

And so, he took an image of a cat or a dog, some abstract with geometric design, and he transferred it into a watercolor. When his daughter came in to visit one weekend, she had crayons with her and she colored in his picture.

So, after that, what he would do in each session is he would outline a design and send it home, and she would color it in and send it back. This created a relationship between him and his daughter, which had been lost for some time because of his addiction. They were able to do something they both enjoyed doing.

How do you help clients with no artistic experience?

A friend of mine years ago did a research project at Cal Tech where they used monkeys. They used a monkey’s brain and electrodes, and from that they came up with the theory that the right side of the brain is used by artists and musicians more than the left side of the brain.

I used that experiment a few years ago with clients with no art talent at all, and I had them draw a horse and had them put the horse upside down. Drawing upside is one of the training tools we use for people who have no art talent.

By turning the horse upside down, people are forced to use the right side of the brain more than the left. I use that once in a while on clients who have no art experience at all.

What sort of art do you use in your program?

When researching, there are different things like Mandala art, a universal art where objects like circles, organic designs and geometric designs are incorporated into the design of work.

One of the most popular items that I found that the clients like to do is bookmarks. They personalize these bookmarks – some use their hometowns or sports teams – and it kind of relaxes them. I’ve been complimented by clients with no art experience at all about how relaxed they are for an hour, hour and a half during the day.

I found out from these clients that something they can do to personally send home – greeting cards, bookmarks, scratchboards, things they can frame and send home – helps them get back to their home life and relate to their family.

A lot of clients here have lost bonds with their family life and by doing art and sending these personal items home, it helps them get back in touch with their family. I think that’s important.

Holistic Addiction Treatment at Cycles of Change

At Cycles of Change, we believe recovering from addiction takes more than traditional treatments. When you or your loved one come here, your recovery program will include holistic treatments like art therapy and you’ll work with our experienced staff members like Sal Vasquez to help heal your mind, body and soul from addiction.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and you’re ready to seek treatment, contact us today.


3 Ways Cycles of Change Can Help Your Family Recover from Addiction

When people enter residential treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, they’re submerged in a caring, supportive environment. During rehab, they can learn about their disease, how it impacts their brain and body and what they can do to protect themselves against the threat of relapse.

While these are all important components of recovery, it’s vital that the family is not overlooked during the healing process. Family members of people struggling with addiction also need help recovering from emotional stress, learning how to help their loved one deal with addiction and reopening the lines of communication.

Here are some of the ways Cycles of Change works to heal families in recovery:

1. Recovery from Emotional Distress

Anger, anxiety, fear, helplessness, stress. These are all valid feelings that can be experienced by family members of someone caught in the destructive cycle of addiction. Their households are often impacted with financial issues stemming from property damage, legal trouble and hospital bills.

However, hostility and repressed anger can continue to wreak havoc even after their loved one recovers. Cycles of Change’s compassionate counseling team can help you with processing and recovering from this emotional distress-promoting healing within the family and helping your loved one’s sobriety stay on track.

2. Education Around Your Loved One’s Addiction

Addiction is a chronic disease with many underlying causes. No one would willingly choose to suffer the devastating consequences of this disease, including your loved one.

Perhaps it started with seemingly harmless experimentation. Or maybe a friend offered your loved one some left over prescription medication to help with a nagging injury. This first time provided such a positive feeling that it turned into a second time, then a third.

Before your loved one knew it, their body had built a tolerance to their drug of choice and are now taking it in higher doses to get the same effects as the first time.

At Cycles of Change, we help you understand the slippery slope of addiction and what your loved one has gone through. This knowledge can help you also heal and learn ways to positively impact your loved one’s recovery.

3. Re-establish Healthy Communication in the Family

When your loved one is struggling with addiction, you have difficulty understanding one another. The blame game starts and supporting each other becomes difficult, if not impossible.

Cycles of Change teaches family members how to communicate in healthier ways. When you can share your needs, wants and appreciation with each other, your relationship has the opportunity to grow stronger. Empathy is vital. To keep growing in recovery, you need to stop providing evidence to show who is at fault and start offering solutions to problematic situations. Remember: how you talk to someone reflects how you feel about him or her, and it sets the tone for a response.

Recovering Through Family Therapy at Cycles of Change

At Cycles of Change, we have helped countless families overcome addiction and grow closer because of it. Our entire staff – from the CEO to our therapists and counselors – care deeply about healing families like yours struggling with addiction.

When you’re considering options for rehab from heroin, alcohol, opioids or other drugs, ask about the family therapy component of each program. If you have any questions about our programs or about staging an intervention for your loved one, contact us today for a confidential conversation.